What Is A Bunka Knife Used For?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 04/12/21 •  4 min read

The Bunka is a Japanese knife that resembles the Santoku and shares the same responsibilities: cutting, slicing, and chopping, just to name a few. Dubbed as the Santoku’s flashier sibling, this has the high heel, straight spine, and slightly curved belly of the popular J-knife but does not have its gently sloping sheep’s foot tip. Instead, the spine falls to meet the belly at a sharp angle.

Japanese knives can be categorized into two groups: traditional and (more often than not) single-beveled, and modern and double-beveled.

The Bunka, a Santoku-like knife except for its sharply-angled tip, is a modern knife despite its slanted, piercing appearance that is reminiscent of katanas.

Many people also mistake this as such because the term ‘bunka’ in Japanese means culture, giving the misconception that this is used for traditional dishes.

The truth is, it’s very much like the Santoku but is just more ‘modern’ and ‘chic’ – other definitions of the word.

What is it?

“Bunka” is a Japanese word that literally means “kitchen knife”.

They were formerly used for making cultural cuisine in Japanese homes.

The interesting part?

The Japanese people often called them Bunno which means “a convenient tool”.

So we can also call it a convenient cultural knife.

What is it used for?

As discussed earlier, the blade is extremely thin and sharp, even sharper than the chef knives.

So you can use them for extremely fine chopping, cutting, and mincing purposes.

If you love to eat minced meat, you can easily get it at your home.

You have a Bunka knife in your kitchen.

The efficiency is hidden in the straight edges that make them a perfect knife for swift and clean cutting.

Seafood lovers particularly love these blades as they enable them to get the fine chops and pieces of fish, cheese, meat, seafood, and all the relevant foodstuff.

Being a bit fragile than the butcher knives, you cannot use them to carry out heavy butchering tasks, yet they are available for light butchering work.

If you are still confused about how this knife is more efficient than the traditional western chef knife, you should remember that these Bunka cutters are smaller, lighter, and easier to handle than chef knives.


Looking at the characteristics will motivate you about the purchase.


The length of the blade is not more than 180 mm which is equal to the size of the average adult female.

The thinness of the blade makes it look smaller than it is.

You can find considerably small Bunka knives as well, whose blade lengths can anywhere between 120 mm to 130 mm.

However, if you do not know what the standard size is, you should choose the 165 mm blade length.

This size is very perfect for carrying out multiple tasks with the feeling of weightlessness.

The 165 mm blade length is the first preference of the professional chef and the experienced users.


The cutting edge is straight without any curves.

The tip is the “reverse-tanto-shaped” which simply means that the shape of the tip is like the alphabet “K”.

The flatness of the blade makes it an amazing tool for pull-cutting, push-cutting, and other chopping and mincing techniques.

However, you can proceed with the rock-cutting with this knife.


The edge of this cutter is very sharp.

Keep in that the sharpness of the edges is a feature that is common to almost all Japanese knives and is not particularly associated with the Bunka knives.


Though, there are multiple variations available for the handles; oval, d-shaped, and octagonal handles are the most common handle types.

We can also broadly classify the handles into two major categories:

The primary origin of the Bunka is in Japan, so the major manufacturers belong primarily to Japan.

Osaka, Gifu, and Fukui are the major brands that are the popular areas where you can find the popular Japanese manufacturers.

Some of the major Japanese brands include Masamoto, Global, Anryu, and Tojiro.

How much to spend on one?

Bunka can be cheap as well as expensive too.

The price of the Bunka depends on the type of blade (carbon and stainless steel) as well as on the type of handles and the styles.

So you can find one for $60 to several hundred dollars.

Traditionally hand-forged knives that are available in the modern designs are expensive options for the Bunka knives, while the budget-friendly options are also there.

Final Verdict

If you have not ever considered the Bunka knives, now you should enter this beautiful world of Japanese knives and see what these tools have for you to offer.

Then what are you waiting for?

Get one now and experience it.

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.