Knife Insights

Knife Types and Uses

In this section, we’ve provided a run down of the different types of Japanese knives and their specific uses.


Gyutou / Chef’s Knife

Gyutou are the Japanese equivalent of a European chef’s knife. They are ideal as an all purpose knife in the kitchen and can be used for most tasks. Japanese Gyutou are typically lighter and thinner than a European knife, are made out of a harder steel and hold a better edge as a result. The word Gyutou in Japanese means ‘beef knife’.

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Santoku /  Multipurpose

Santoku, meaning ‘three virtues’ in Japanese, is an all purpose knife with a taller blade profile than a Gyutou. Its three virtues are the knife’s ability to cut fish, meat and vegetables.  Santoku have a flatter ‘belly’ than Gyutou and are used with an up and down chopping motion rather than a ‘rocking’ type cut.

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Sujihiki / Slicer

Sujihiki Knives are the equivalent to a European slicer with a few differences. The difference is the blade is typically thinner and made out of a harder steel, allowing for better edge retention. Additionally, the bevel on the blade is at a steeper angle, allowing for a more precise cut. Sujihiki can be used for filleting, carving and also as an all purpose knife.

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Petty / Paring

Petty knives are small utility or paring knives that are ideal for small, delicate work that a chef’s knife can’t handle.

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Honesuki / Boning

A Honesuki is a Japanese boning knife and differs from a Western boning knife in its triangular shape and the fact that it is stiff with very little flex. The honesuki works very well for deboning poultry and typically has an asymmetrical edge. Due to its shape and height, the honesuki can also double up nicely as a utility or petty style of knife.

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Hankotsu / Boning

A Hankotsu is a Japanese boning knife and differs from a Western boning knife in its shape. It is a thick spined, durable knife and does not have the ‘flex’ of a Western boning knife. Originally, it was designed to debone hanging meats but can also be used as a petty or utility knife.

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Nakiri / Vegetable Knife

Nakiri knives are the double edged Western style equivalent of a one sided Japanese usuba knife.  With their straight blade, they are ideal for cutting vegetables.

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Yo-deba / Butchery

Yo-deba knives are heavy, durable knives with a thick spine, which are used for fish and meat butchery.

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Yanagi / Slicer

Yanagi are single edged traditional Japanese knives. They are used in a long drawing motion to cut precise slices of sushi, sashimi and crudo and their single edge means they get incredibly sharp.

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Takobiki / Slicer

Takobiki are a variation of yanagis and originated in the Kanto (Tokyo) area of Japan. They are single edged allowing for an incredibly sharp edge and are used for slicing sushi, sashimi and crudo.

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Deba / Butchery

Deba are traditional single bevel Japanese knives with a thick spine and a lot of weight. They are used for fish butchery, filleting and can also be used on poultry.

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Usuba / Vegetable Knife

The Usuba is a traditional Japanese vegetable knife with a single edge. Due to its single edge, it gets incredibly sharp and can be used for precise vegetable work. The Kamagata Usuba, which has a curved tip, is a regional variation from Osaka of the square tipped Usuba.

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Kiritsuke / Slicer

The Kiritsuke is a traditional Japanese knife with an angled tip that can be used as either a sashimi knife or as an all-purpose knife. In restaurant kitchens in Japan, this knife is traditionally used by the Executive Chef only and cannot be used by other cooks.

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Pankiri / Bread Knife

Pankiri are designed and used for slicing bread. The ridged teeth are designed specifically for this purpose.

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