What are the best Japanese knife brands?
Good question. It probably depends on what you’re looking for — Price? Steel? Durability? Reputation? Beauty? Something else?
There are literally HUNDREDS of Japanese knife brands. Some are small, independent makers/blacksmiths, and some are large multi-million dollar corporations.
In this post, I take a look at:
- The most famous brands and companies
- A list every single Japanese knife brand
10 Famous Japanese Knife Brands
Here are the most popular, or perhaps internationally “famous” Japanese knife brands.
Famous does not necessarily mean best, but they are famous for a reason. Example: Starbucks does not have the best coffee, but it’s still good enough for millions of people around the world.
This list is based off of Google search volume.
Disclaimer: The Chef Dojo may receive a small commission if you decided to purchase through some of these links. It helps to support the website. Thanks!
Shun knives are excellent entry level knives. They sell all the main Western-style Japanese knife types (gyuto, santoku, nakiri, etc.). The designs are sort of a fusion between classic Japanese and more Western/German knives.
Overall, the knives look great, and are super sharp out of the box. One downside is that they are typically a bit pricey compared to other similar entry level knives.
If you don’t mind the price, then Shun is a solid, reliable choice.
Note: The Shun Classic Gyuto is one of my top recommended knives
Check out this Shun promo video in Japan:
You have probably seen Global knives before, but maybe didn’t know it was a Japanese brand.
They are best known for their unique unibody design/appearance where the handle and blade are all formed from steel. Some people love the design, some people hate it.
In any case, Global makes decent knives (not the best, not the worst).
They sell all the main Western-style knives (gyuto, santoku, nakiri, etc.). The blade profiles are a bit more curved than classic Japanese design. You may prefer this depending on your cutting habits.
One thing to note is that the steel they use (”Cromova 18” / SUS440B ) is a cheaper, softer steel compared to most equivalent Japanese knives. It definitely can not be considered a premium steel type. For casual users, it is probably fine.
Global knives are usually reasonably priced, and easily purchasable at major big-box retailers like Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Sur La Table. If you just want to quickly buy a Japanese knife, you can probably run to a store now and find a Global.
Mac is a much smaller brand than Shun or Global, but is still well known in the States due to their mentions in popular magazine “Cook’s Illustrated”.
The brand has been around since 1964, and makes all of their knives in Seki City (i.e. one of the most famous knife making towns in Japan).
MAC knives are known for being lightweight with super thin and sharp blades. The knife designs have a much more classic Japanese style/profile, especially compared to Shun or Global.
You can find all the typical Western-style knives (gyuto, santoku, nakiri, etc.) from MAC, as well as a couple traditional, single-bevel Japanese knives like yanagiba (i.e. sashimi knife*)*.
Overall MAC knives are reasonably priced, and can be found at specialty knife shops around the country. Of course, you can also order online.
The MAC Santoku is one of my top recommended santoku knives under $100
4. Tojiro (Fujitora)
Tojiro is maybe the most popular budget-friendly / entry-level brand for Japanese knife enthusiasts.
The company behind the brand was originally called “Fujitora”. They decided to change the entire company name to Tojiro due to its popularity. The company is based out of Sanjo (Niigata, Japan) and has been around since 1953!
Tojiro is best known for making high quality, budget friendly kitchen knives. They sell every type of knife (Western style and traditional Japanese), so you can definitely find what you’re looking for.
The “DP” line of knives is their best known. It won the “Good Design Award” in Japan, and has been selling since 1981, so you know it’s a reliable/durable design.
Takamura is a small, family owned knife company based out of Echizen (Fukui, Japan).
The company started in 1945, and is currently run by the 3rd generation of the family.
You may have never heard of Takamura, but they are the knife choice of some top profesional chefs around the world. This includes René Redzepi of “Noma” (winner of 3 Michelin Stars), and Chef Narisawa of “Les Créations de Narisawa” (winner of 2 Michelin Stars).
The brand is particularly gaining popularity in European countries, as one of their knives (Takamura Synergy) was the top ranked knife in a consumer test report by Smartson (major Swedish review company). It beat out other well known knife brands like MAC, Wusthof, Global, and Fujiwara.
Takamura specializes in knives made with SG2 / R2 steel. It is a “high speed powdered steel” which — when used correctly — can make knives that have ultimate cutting performance and edge retention while still being stain/corrosion resistant.
Takumara knives aren’t cheap (gyuto will cost around $200), but if you want a kitchen knife that is good enough for Michelin-star restaurants, then you should definitely check them out.
Kyocera is a brand best known for making “ceramic” knives. In fact, they were one of the first companies to create the “zirconia ceramic knife”.
They are based out of Kyoto, Japan and have been around since 1959.
I have not really gone into ceramic knives on this site. The benefits of ceramic knives are that they are light, easy to maintain, and clean. They are usually are very sharp out of the box, and take a long time to dull (ceramic is a super hard material).
The downside of ceramic knives is that they are very brittle (easy to chip), and can not really be sharpened once they actually do become damaged or dull.
If you want a ceramic knife though, Kyocera is the brand to go for.
Misono is a well respected Japanese knife brand, known for making professional kitchen knives.
They are based out of Seki City, and have been around since 1935.
Misono focuses on Western-style knives only (i.e. gyuto, santoku, sujihiki). All of their knives are produced 100% in-house to maintain quality control. If you purchase a Misono, you can rest assured that you are going to get a quality knife.
Misono knives typically aren’t cheap, as they sell mainly to professional chefs. They do have one budget friendly line of knives known as the “Misono Molybdenum Series”.
8. Yoshihiro (Goh Umanosuke Yoshihiro)
The company has been around since 1927 and is based in the famous knife making town of Sakai (Osaka, Japan). They work with blacksmiths throughout Sakai to produce their knives.
You can find every type of Japanese knife from Yoshihiro (Western style or Traditional style).
They also have a huge price range. You can find budget friendly knives, as well as super premium ones (i.e. $500+).
Yoshihiro sells many of their knives on Amazon, so they are easier to purchase than many other Japanese knife brands (which is one reason why they are popular).
9. Sakai Takayuki
Sakai Takayuki is a well established knife brand from Aoki Cutlery Company.
They are also based out of Sakai, and have been around since 1947. They are actually the largest, most famous knife maker within Sakai.
The company works with many well established blacksmiths in Sakai (e.g. Itsuo Doi, Kenji Togashi) to produce knives for their brand.
They sell all types of Japanese knife types across a huge price range. You can definitely find a Sakai Takyuki knife that fits your needs.
10. Masamoto Sohonten
Masamoto is one of the top professional knife brands in Japan. In fact, they are the number one sushi chef knife manufacturer in the country (and thus the world)!
The company was founded in 1866 (over 150 years!) in Osawa, Japan. It is currently based out of Tokyo.
Masamoto makes all types of Japanese knives (Western and Japanese style), but their specialty is sushi chef knives (i.e. yanagiba, takobiki, etc.).
Prices are typically quite expensive, though do have one more budget friendly line of knives called “Masamoto Molybdenum”.
If you are a sushi chef, or aspiring to be one, Masamoto should be your go to Japanese knife brand
Note: Another similar looking brand called Tsukiji Masamoto is unrelated to Masamoto Sohonten.
Full list of Japanese Knife Brands (130+)
Here is an ongoing compilation of every authentic Japanese knife brand I can find. Some are large companies, while others are small individual blacksmiths. So far, there are over 130 brands. I will continue adding more as I come across them.
You can use this list to check if the knife you’re looking at on Amazon (or eBay, etc) is actually an authentic Japanese knife or not.
|Brand Name (Company)||Type|
|Anryu Hamono / Takumi Ikeda||Company / Blacksmith|
|Brieto (Kataoka Co.)||Company|
|Daisuke Nishida||Blacksmith / Company|
|Gesshin / En / Gen (Japanese Knife Imports)||Company|
|Hattori||Blacksmith / Company|
|Hinoura||Blacksmith / Company|
|Ishikawa (nakaniida)||Blacksmith / Company|
|Itsuo Doi & Keijiro Doi||Blacksmith|
|Kanjo||Blacksmith / Company|
|Karaku||Blacksmith / Company|
|Kato||Blacksmith / Company|
|Kitaoka||Blacksmith / Company|
|Konosuke / Kaneshige||Company|
|Murata||Blacksmith / Company|
|Narihira (Fuji Cutlery)||Company|
|Nenohi / Nenox||Company|
|Saji / Takeshi Saji||Blacksmith / Company|
|Sakai Kikumori Hamono||Company|
|Sekimagoroku (Kai Group)||Company|
|Shigeki Tanaka||Blacksmith / Company|
|Shiki (Hiro Knives)||Company|
|Shun (Kai Group)||Company|
|Takada no Hamono||Blacksmith / Company|
|Takayuki Iwai||Blacksmith / Company|
|Takeda / Shosui Takeda||Blacksmith / Company|
|Tani / Yuzo Tani||Blacksmith|
|Teruyasu Fujiwara||Blacksmith / Company|
|Tojiro / Fujitora||Company|
|Tsubaki||Blacksmith / Company|
|Yoshimi Kato (Kato Knife)||Blacksmith / Company|
|Yoshizawa (Nigara)||Blacksmith / Company|
Did I miss anything?
What’s your favorite Japanese knife brand?
Did I miss one on my list?
Let me know in the comments below!