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About Japanese steel

The steel that made in Japan since medieval times ; was made famous by samurai warrior katana(japanese sword) , although it is a very useful item in daily life. The quality of Japanese steel found an excellent application in kitchen knives.

The Japanese steel to make knives can be classified into 2 types: One is carbon steel, the other is stainless steel.

1.Carbon Steel:

It has been used principally for traditional shape knives, such as Deba and Yanagiba.

(Deba knife)

(Yanagiba knife)

This type steel is very sharp and easy to resharpen, traditionally recognized as a good material for knives. But carbon steel is easily oxidized, so it needs good maintenance after each use. The Japanese restaurant chefs prefer this type knives, as they do not neglect their maintenance. Presently, most of the carbon steel is produced by Hitachi Metals Ltd.
As to the quality of steel, there are various kinds, and the best steel for knives is called Aoiro and SHIROIRO. Aoiro means "blue" and SHIROIRO is "white", although this name has no relation to the color of steel.

2.Stainless Steel:

Most Japanese knives are made from this material.

(Santoku knife made of Stainless Steel)

This is not as sharp as carbon steel, but with the advantage that it is not easily oxidized, so that it does not need much maintenance.
The hardness of steel is in proportion to the carbon content of the steel. Increasing the proportion of chromium , prevent the oxidation. In fact, if proportion of chromium is greater than 13% is considered as a stainless steel.

Commented that stainless steel is not very sharp´╝Ť But currently, steel company is producing new and improved stainless steels, such as:

(1). VG10 is the new stainless steel produced by a Japanese company named Fukui Takefu. Very hard, sharp, and is resistant to oxidation (includes a 15% chromium).

(2). Swedish Steel: The quality depends on the producer, but there are some companies that produce very good steel for knives.

These materials are very expensive. So a technology that the edge made with these materials is integrated into another type of stainless steel is used. This technology is called WARIKOMI in Japanese.
WARIKOMI, with this technology is possible to make a higher quality knife at discount prices.

(3). Molybdenum: A new material for stainless steel. If the molybdenum content increases, hardness acquired, and has oxidation resistance. High quality molybdenum knife is very sharp , but not expensive as VG10 or tab Swedish Steel.

(4). Damascus Steel: is produced mixing various types of steel. Damascus Steel with VG10 (the edge made of VG10 steel ,integrated in Damascus by Warikomi technology), is one of the most luxurious knives in Japan.

Addition to these steels, there is ceramic knives . Ceramic knives can not resharpen, but they are extremely hard, so can be used in good condition for several years. (At risk of breaking down).