Japanese sharp knife. Which knives are the sharpest?

The taste of the dish changes depending on the sharpness of the kitchen knife. If you use a blunt knife, you may reduce the taste of the food. (Although there are some dishes that taste better when the ingredients are crushed.)

On this page, it is explained about the sharpness of knives from various perspectives, and also some recommended knives are introduced. Many other blogs have introduced various knives, but here only really sharp knives are presented. If you are looking for a sharp knife, it will be helpful.

About the sharpness of knife

Which kind of knife is the sharpest? What determines the sharpness of the knife?

The answer is simple. It is determined by the hardness of the steel.

Most knives are made of steel. Rarely there are knives made of different materials such as ceramic, but most knives are made of steel. And the sharpness of the knife is determined by the hardness of steel. Of course, it depends on how the knife is sharpened , and the thickness of the blade, but basically the sharpness is determined by the hardness of the steel. So if you want a sharp knife, you should look for a knife made of hard steel.

Unit indicating the hardness of steel = HRC

The hardness of home use knives is about 58HRC. If it is 60HRC or more, it can be said that the steel is sufficiently hard.

Even if you don’t know the HRC value, the following steels knives are hard and sharp. 
Aogami(Blue) steel, VG10 , AUS10 , Gingami#3 Powdered R2 steel… etc.

And in addition to hard steel and non-hard steel, it can be divided into those that are easy to rust and those that are hard to rust. In the next paragraph, you can see various knives based on the HRC value and the characteristics of each material.

The sharpest Japanese kitchen knife : Aogami Super

Aogami Super is a steel for knives that is manufactured by Hitachi Metals. There are various carbon steels in Japan, and the highest grade steel is Aogami Super. Hardness is about HRC 65-67. Aogami Super is the hardest carbon steel in Japan, that is, Aogami Super’s knives are the sharpest.

JIS = Japanese Industrial Standards
Aogami means blue
Shirogami means white
Kigami means yellow

Japanese Black Gyuto knife Zenpou Aogami super very sharp steel 21cm

The core of the blade is Aogami super steel, and both sides are covered with stainless steel to reduce the risk of rust. And the blade is black, because it retains the color produced by the forging process.


Japanese Hammered Santoku knife Zenpou Aogami super very sharp steel 18cm

The sharpness is the same as the black knife listed above (made by the same craftsman). Both sides are covered with stainless steel to reduce the risk of rust.


Japanese Black Santoku knife Moritaka Aogami super very sharp steel 18cm

It is a traditional forging Santoku knife by sandwiching Aogami super steel with iron. Both iron and Aogami super steel are prone to rust, so wipe off any water after use.


Japanese Black Gyuto knife Yamamoto Aogami super steel 21cm

Aogami super steel Gyuto made by a knife craftsman, Mr. Yamamoto. The blade is thick and much heavier than a regular Japanese knife. But it’s easy to use and we get a lot of good feedback.


Japanese Santoku knife Sakai Sekitou Aogami super steel 17cm

It is a simple and standard type Japanese Santoku knife made of Aogami super steel. Three-layer blade of stainless steel and Aogami super carbon steel reduces the risk of rusting.

VG10 knife is sharp and has good balance

Sharpness, rust resistance, and stickiness… VG10 knife has a good balance between them.

Previously it was said that stainless steel knives were not as sharp as carbon steel knives. However, nowadays, there are some stainless steels that are hard and sharp like carbon steel, and professional chefs often use stainless steel knives. And the representative of these stainless steels is VG10. It is sharp, rust-resistant, sticky, and has a long-lasting sharpness. Hardness HRC = approx. 61

VG10 is mainly used as the core material for Damascus blades.

Japanese Gyuto knife Minamoto VG10 Damascus steel 21cm

Minamoto is a famous knife maker that owns an OEM factory that receives orders from various knife makers. This knife is lightweight, easy to use, sharp and rust resistant.


Japanese Bunka knife VG10 Black Damascus steel 16.5cm

VG10 Damascus Bunka knife with traditional Japanese handle. Tip pointed knife is called Bunka or Kiritsuke knife. Bunka knife is traditional Japanese kitchen knife. And Santoku was made by arranging this Bunka knife in 1940S.


Japanese Santoku knife Sakai Takayuki VG10 Damascus steel 18cm

VG10 Damasus Santoku Knife by Takayuki Sakai, a famous knife brand in Osaka.


Japanese Petty knife VG10 Black Damascus steel 12cm


Japanese Petty knife Saiun VG10 Damascus steel 15cm

Gingami#3 is as sharp as carbon steel knife

You will feel a stronger sharpness than other stainless steels. And it’s easy to sharpen with stone. Gingami#3 steel is manufactured by Hitachi Metals, which is the same as Aogami Super carbon steel, so although it is stainless steel, it has properties close to carbon steel. 

If you want a very sharp carbon steel knife but don’t want rust, Gingami#3 steel knife is recommended. HRC= around 61

Japanese Gyuto knife Zenpou Gingami#3 steel – 21cm

It’s very sharp and has resistance to oxidation. Japanese Gingami3 steel gyuto chef’s knife forged in the traditional way.


Japanese Santoku knife Jikko Gingami#3 steel – 16.5cm

Japanese new stainless material ZDP-189

It is a new stainless steel material developed by Hitachi Metals. Hardness is about HRC65, which is the hardest material among stainless steels. ZDP-189 knife is very sharp, but it also has the disadvantage that you can’t sharpen it yourself. Hard stainless steel is difficult to sharpen. Also, very hard steel is easy to chip. This steel is not recommended unless you are good at knife sharpening.

Japanese Santoku knife Yoshida ZDP189 steel 18cm

Hardness HRC65-67, the highest hardness among stainless steels. In other words, it’s very sharp.


Japanese Santoku knife Yoshihira ZDP189 steel 18cm

A blacksmith family who has continued for five generations in Sanjo City, Niigata prefecture. It is made by two people, the 4th generation and the 5th generation.

Ceramic knives that never rust

Ceramic is a kind of pottery, so it will not rust. Also, the sharpness is not bad. There are two types of materials for kitchen knives, normal ceramics and fine(premier) ceramics. The more expensive and high-grade fine ceramics are sharp and have a long-lasting sharpness.

However, there are two things to keep in mind with ceramic knives. One is that it is easy to chip. The other is that it is difficult to sharpen. It is so hard that it needs to be sharpened with a diamond sharpener. There are these disadvantages, but in some situations it may be the best choice.

Japanese chef’s knife fine(premier) ceramic 18cm

The famous brand of ceramic knives is Kyocera. And this is the Kyocera’s finest ceramic chef knife.

Choose a good cutting board and make the sharpness of knife last longer

Is the cutting board you are using wooden or plastic?

Every time you cut the ingredients, your kitchen knife hits the cutting board and the sharpness gradually decreases. Wood cutting boards are softer than plastic and do not round the blades.

If you are using a plastic cutting board, by changing to a wooden board, you can prolong the sharpness of the knife.