Western versus Japanese

Most knife manufacturers have both the Japanese-style knives and Western-style knives. If you are looking for precision and presentation, Japanese knives have those qualities. If you are looking for quantity and ease, Western knives are the knives for you.

A Japanese knife is lighter, holds its edge longer, and its edge is cut differently than its counterpart. Japanese knives are usually made with harder steel. Which means the blade holds it edge longer (it doesn’t need to be sharpened as often) and the edge itself can be cut a steeper angle (ie 40 degrees versus 36 degrees). It is recommended that you take your Japanese blades to a professional sharpener. Japanese-style knives are more about precision and exactness.

Western knives use a softer steel. Keep in mind softer steel does not always mean inferior steel. Due to the softer steel the blades do not hold their edge as long as their Japanese counterparts, but are much easier to sharpen and are not as brittle. When held western knives have a bit more heft which can be a good thing, depending on your preferences.

It is recommended with any kitchen knife to hand wash them. Many manufacturers say their knives are dishwasher safe, but do not recommend it. Why? From what I found, erosion (or something close it) and particles in the water will eat away at the knife which can cause rust, edge chipping and/or dullness. It is also recommended to clean and dry your knife immediately after use and in between ‘cutting jobs’ to avoid staining and rusting. Yes you may have a knife that is ‘rust-resistance’. Your knife can still be susceptible to rust. Proper knife care will always lengthen the life of your knife.

Like I’ve said before in previous posts: Getting the right kitchen knife is mainly about preference. Be sure you ‘test drive’ the knife before buying it. Feel the knife in your hand. It may be tool, but it will be a tool you will use everyday. Get one that is comfortable to hold and meets your requirements. 

Below shows the anatomy of a Japanese-style knife and a Western-style knife. I had a lot of fun making this little info-graphic.

 Anatomy of a Kitchen Knife @bladehq.com


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