The Best Japanese Kitchen Knife Sets For Your Money – Which One Would You Choose?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 09/22/20 •  16 min read

Anybody who is experienced with cooking and knows the ins and outs of the kitchen would understand the importance of a good set of knives.

And it doesn’t get much better than Japanese cooking knives. 

These knives cut like no other and are well-known all around for their thin edge and virtually unparalleled sharpness.

But with those benefits come some cons as well.

Japanese cooking knives tend to break easier since they’re very thin, especially if you don’t take care of them.

Another thing about these knives is that sets can be costly and choosing the right one is very tough.

If you’ve been having trouble finding the best Japanese set for you, this list might help you out.

In this article, we take a look at some of the best Japanese kitchen sets you can find on the market today, and maybe by the end of it, you’ll know which set is right for you!

Keep reading to learn more.

The Best Japanese Knife Sets (Updated List)

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How to Buy a Decent Kitchen Knife Set From Japan

When buying knife sets, there are a couple of things you should be looking at, and we get into them in this section.

1. The Knives

First of all, you should be looking at them that come in the set.

Now, in today’s market, you can find small 2-3 piece sets and larger 7-12 piece sets.

While having more tools is essential, sometimes, you’ll find that all you’ll need in the kitchen is two knives.

So it’s important to understand what tools you’ll need before going out and buying a set.

2. Build Quality Of The Blade & Handle

Once you’ve determined how many knives and what kind you need, you also need to look at how they were built.

Check if they are full tang, which gives you a lot of balance and is almost necessary for a high-quality knife.

It’s also important to know the material being used in constructing them and what maintenance is needed.

3. Storage

If you already have a proper storage procedure in your kitchen, you probably won’t need a set that comes with a block.

However, large sets that come with storage blocks can be a huge help in the kitchen.

Safely keeping all your knives in the same place will ensure that you don’t lose anything and they maintain their quality.

4. Price

When looking at sets, it’s important to have an understanding of how much you’re willing to spend.

Prices for sets can vary greatly, and knowing the amount of money that you can spend on knives can help out a lot when it comes to narrowing down your options.

Reviews of the Best Products

1. Tojiro DP 2 Knife Block – Best Overall

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Some people may be quick to dismiss this product because there are only two knives that come in it.

While that may be a valid criticism, there is a lot that can be done with these two that you will discover soon.

Included in this knife set are an 8.25” chef’s knife and a 4” paring knife, which are some of the most important tools for any home cook or professional chef.

The knives in this product are of very high quality, and it honestly seems like they belong in a much more expensive set.

They are forged and not stamped, and they also have a hybrid design that seamlessly combines Western and Japanese style handles.

This makes cutting and using them very easy, making it perfect for home cooks everywhere.

The main selling point of this Tojiro set is the superior quality of their blades.

Right out of the box, they are very sharp, so you don’t need to worry about taking out your whetstone before use.

It’s hard to beat this product when it comes to quality, especially if you consider its price point.

If you’re looking for two basic knives that will get almost any kitchen job done, you might have just found them in this Tojiro set.

One of the best Japanese cutlery sets in my personal view for sure.

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Interesting knife comparisons:

2. Mac Knife Superior Santoku Set – Best Set of 2

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Next up, we have another basic two-set.

This knife set comes with a 6.5” Santoku and a 5” mini-Santoku.

Ask any Japanese chef out there, and they might testify that these are the only two blades you will need in the kitchen.

These specific knives are constructed with high carbon stainless steel, which gives them an extremely sharp edge that will last a while.

That means you won’t have to sharpen these pieces too much, which could be great for both home cooks and professionals who don’t want to spend too much time on maintenance.

However, it needs to be noted that to keep the edge on these blades, they have to be washed and dried immediately after use to prevent rust.

It’s a small sacrifice that’s well worth it.

They also come with a Pakkawood handle that feels very comfortable in the hand and can make cutting, slicing, and chopping so much easier.

Like most Japanese sets, this one doesn’t come with a storage block, but you can easily get a compatible magnetic block out there to keep the blades safe.

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Related product reviews:

3. Global Kabuto Block Knife Set – Best Bang for Your Bucks

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These blades have stamped blades, not forged blades.

And while that’s usually an indicator of sub-par quality, but the quality control and the standards of the brand are very high which results in this very useful, very high-quality stamped knife set.

There are 7 blades included in this knife set which include an 8” chef’s knife, an 8.5” bread knife, a 3” paring knife, a 4.5” utility knife, a 5” chef’s prep knife, and a 5.5” Nakiri knife for vegetables.

This product also includes a 7-blade storage block for you. 

They are very sharp, which is a testament to the brand’s standards, but one of the main perks is the lightweight and ergonomic design.

This allows you to cut easily and quickly, which could mean all the difference in the kitchen.

It also has all the standard knives you’ll need in the kitchen minus steak knives.

They are also constructed to make sure the edge remains sharp despite the lower hardness rating.

All in all, this is a good choice for anyone who needs a complete set in their kitchen.

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4. Shun Classic Essential Block Knife Set – Best 7-Piece Collection

This product comes with a 3.5” paring knife, 6” utility knife, 8” chef knife, 9” chef knife, 9” bread knife, an Acacia storage block, a honing rod, and a set of kitchen shears.

The tools that come in this knife set are all you’ll need in the kitchen and more, except for steak knives.

They are forged and not stamped, and are also made of Damascus steel.

This gives them a lot of durabilities and a very sharp edge that doesn’t need too much sharpening.

The blades in this product are all well-balanced and very sharp, which makes them a joy to use in the kitchen.

Using these knives can make any cutting and slicing job much easier, and since they’re lightweight, you don’t have to worry about a sharp learning curve when using them.

The set comes with a high price, and some might say the price is too much for five knives and a set of kitchen shears, but since everything in the set is of such high quality, it’s easy to see why it demands that price.

So if you’re willing to spend a bit for a set of very high-quality knives, the Shun Cutlery Classic Set might be your best bet.

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5. TUO Cutlery Knife Set – Best 8-Piece Set

This product is one of the prettiest on the list.

The Pakkawood handles look good and feel very comfortable in the hand.

This makes chopping and slicing with this knife set very easy, which can save you a lot of time and effort in the kitchen.

It comes with a 7” cleaver, 7” Santoku, 9” bread knife, 8” chef knife, 4” paring knife, kitchen shears, honing steel, and a block.

These knives cover all the essentials in the kitchen, and if you’ve been getting tired of seeing the same black-handle construction, this might be your best pick.

They have a truly unique look to them because of the Pakkawood handle, but they perform at the highest level as well.

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6. Yoshihiro Hammered Steel Knife Set – Best Damascus Set

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Next up we have this product from Yoshihiro that contains a 9” chef knife, 8.25” chef knife, 9.5” Nakiri knife, 6.5” utility knife, 5.3” Santoku, and a 9.” Sujihiri.

All these knives are good at handling all the essentials in the kitchen, especially if you work with a variety of ingredients often. 

They are made of Hammered Damascus steel, which is incredibly strong and can retain its edge very well.

For those who want a knife set that looks elegant while performing very well in the kitchen, this might be the one for you.

This is also an ideal setting for chefs who want to begin their careers as the set is very high quality and is relatively affordable.

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7. Enso Forged Steel Knife Set – Best for Beginners

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In this set, you’ll find a 6” utility knife, 8” chef knife, 6.5” Santoku knife, 9” bread knife, kitchen shears, and a knife block.

All the blades are made of forged stainless steel, which is an indicator of high-quality blades.

This knife set is ideal for those who do a lot of slicing and dicing.

So if you work with a lot of fruits and vegetables in the kitchen, this product will be ideal.

They also come with a very nice knife block to keep your tools safe.

It’s important to note though, that because of their high quality, some care has to be taken with this Japanese knife set.

For example, after every use, make sure to hand wash and dry them to keep them in tip-top shape.

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8. Miyabi Knife Morimoto 6-Piece Knife Block Set – Most Versatile

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As you can tell by the name, this knife set comes with a block and honing steel, along with a 3.5” paring knife, 6” utility knife, 8” chef’s knife, and kitchen shears.

This product doesn’t contain the most knives and that can be somewhat of a con, but all the other tools it comes with make it a great fit in any basic kitchen.

They have a Rockwell hardness rating of 57, which is very high, which can help the blades retain their edge, which is very sharp straight out of the box.

The design of these knives is very basic, but it also has options.

You can pick between the classic black handle or a design that features red details.

For anyone looking to build a basic setup in the kitchen, these knives are a great place to start out.

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9. Ginsu Gourmet Chikara Knife Series – Best Multi-purpose

This is probably one of the best budget sets you can get today.

It’s a 12-item set that has four steak knives, a 5” serrated utility knife, a 3.5” paring knife, a 5” utility knife, a 7” Santoku knife, an 8” chef knife, a honing rod, kitchen shears, and a block.

It’s also a very affordable set, with its price point staying below the $150 mark.

But with the low price comes a slight dip in quality.

While these knives are still great tools built very well, they lack some of the sophistication and sharpness of the other sets in this list.

That being said, if you’re looking to build a full set (with steak knives) on a budget, you should definitely take a look at this product from Ginsu.

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10. Miyabi Birchwood GS2 7-Piece Block Set – Best High-end Choice

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Wrapping up our list is arguably one of the best sets you can get on the market today.

All of them have a traditional Japanese handle made of Birchwood, which is great for those who are used to Japanese-style knives.

The blades are also forged using Damascus steel, which gives them that unique look.

Included in this product are a 9” sharpening steel, an 8” bread knife, a 7” Santoku knife, a 9” chef knife, a 6” utility knife, kitchen shears, and a bamboo block.

There was a lot of attention put into the construction and the details of these knives, which is part of the reason they demand such a high price.

But if you’re looking for a premium product and you’re willing to spend on it, this product from Miyabi should be put under consideration.

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FAQ’s

1. What Are The Greatest Japanese Knives?

Answers to this question will vary, but our top pick for Japanese chef’s knives are those made by the Shun brand.

These knives are very sharp and are known to retain their quality for a long time, but they can also be pretty expensive.

2. Are Japanese Knives Really That Great?

This will depend on your preference, however, there are a lot of chefs all around the world that will say they prefer Japanese-style knives over Western-style ones.

3. Are Japanese Knives Or Western Blades Better?

As mentioned earlier, this all depends on your tastes, preferences, and needs. 

Eastern knives are more precise.

They are thinner, usually sharper, and are good for making precision cuts in ingredients.

While this is a decent feature, these knives can also be easy to chip and break if not taken care of properly.

Western knives, on the other hand, are stronger and tougher, best for cutting through dense foods. 

4. What Knives Do Eastern Chefs Use?

Japanese chefs typically use a whole array of knives.

But their top choice and the usual go-to knife in a Japanese kitchen is the Santoku.

These knives are designed to cut through meats, vegetables, and fish, which gives the user a whole range of options.

5. What Is A Japanese Chef Knife Best For?

Japanese knives are best for precision.

They are thinner, which gives you more control over the blade.

That’s why they are commonly used for fruits, vegetables, and cutting up the meat into smaller sections. 

6. What Makes These Cutters From Japan Good?

Japanese chef’s knives usually are constructed with a lot of precision and attention to detail.

This gives them a uniquely elegant look while also making them much sharper and easier to control.

7. What Is The Best Brands to Buy a Japanese Chef’s Knife?

If you’re willing to spend extra money on very good knives, blades from either Shun or Miyabi will serve you well.

Both these brands are renowned for their high standards and very sharp blades, which makes them very popular amongst chefs and home cooks. 

Other great brands might include Dalstrong, Seki, etc.

Conclusion

Japanese knife sets are slowly becoming the go-to option for most chefs and home cooks.

They are known for their superior edge, great functionality, and incredible designs.

And every day, brands are releasing new models that take the market by storm.

If you’re a professional chef in need of professional-grade knives, we highly recommend the Shun Classic 7-Piece Block Set.

Along with having all the essential pieces of kitchen cutlery, each knife in the collection is handmade and sharpened to an incredibly sharp and precise edge.

For those in search of more modern designs, then we recommend the Global Kabuto Knife Set.

With its modern knife block and stainless steel handle, this is a set of knives that looks like they came straight out of the future.

And if you’re a chef on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the Mac Knife Superior Santoku Knife Set.

It comes with two well-crafted Santoku knives, ready to take on just about any kitchen task.

Further reading:

How Japanese Knives Are Made | Serious Eats

In the Details: The Art of Japanese Knife Design – Core77

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Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.

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