Japanese Chef Knives

Sushikiri | Sushi slicer


Sushikiri means sushi slicer in Japanese. The long symmetrically curved blade is designed to slice sushi rolls and battera sushi in one rolling slice without crushing them. These knives are particular popular in the Kansai (Osaka and Kyoto) regions.

Some types of sushi are made in long pressed bars (“oshisushi”) or  thick rolls (futomaki) and cut, just before serving, into smaller portions. Cutting though the fish ingredients should also ays be done in a single stroke and any nori seaweed should remain dry and brittle, so it is tough to cut with anything but the sharpest blade. 

The main rice body has a rather sticky texture that quickly builds up on the blade, which therefor requires constant wiping with a wet cloth. Both the yanagiba as well as the sushikiri can do the job and have evolved for the purpose of cutting rolls or bars of sushi for this elegant presentation.

Takohiki | Octopus Slicer


The Takohiki or octopus slicer is used in exactly the same way as the yanagiba with the only exception that the blade edge is straighter. In Japanese “tako” means octopus while “hiki” means to pull. They are common in the east of Japan and around Tokyo while the yanagiba is traditionally found in the west of Japan and around Osaka. 

The slicing action is a long pull and there are few circumstances in which you would want to use the sharp tip because it would be very difficult to control in such a long blade. The squared-off tip of the knife is also useful for lifting and transferring sliced fish the cutting board to the serving plate. 

The story goes that the Takohiki was developed because, unlike the chefs of the Kansai (Osaka) region of Japan where the Yanagiba originated, the sushi chefs of the Kanto (Tokyo) region sat down whilst cutting. This had the effect of increasing the height of their cutting boards relative to their arms, and consequently the almost straight edge profile of the Takohiki was more suitable for their seated position than the curved edge profile of the Yanagiba.

Yanagiba | Sushi Knife


Overview:  Yanagiba (in Japanese meaning “willow blade”) is the most popular knife for slicing raw fish and fillets , also known as hobu-bocho (sashimi knife).

This Japanese knife style is used to skin and sometimes scale and de-bone certain fish (for instance salmon).There is a clear difference between using an ordinary knife and a sushi knife during preparation; when you use a normal knife, especially one with a thick and short blade, you will find yourself with uneven fish slices and roughly chopped vegetables. Also when you work with a conventional knife, the rice tends to stick to the edge of the blade and this can be quite annoying while you are preparing your  seaweed rolls.

Traditional Japanese knives are different from western knives in that many types are honed only on one side, the right side. This single side honing allows one to have a much lower inclusive angle when sharpening, so the knife seems sharper and cuts easier.. These chefs knives are sharpened so that only one side holds the cutting edge and the other side remains flat. The flat edge is there so that food doesn’t stick to the knife.The Yanagiba knife is long, very thin and single beveled. The reason for this is that with a longer blade, the cut can be made with a single motion.

This knife is designed to be pulled in one direction in order to sever the cut in one motion beginning at the heel of the knife and finishing at the tip. Pushing is not recommended as this would possibly tear the surface. The knife is used to highlight diferent textures of fish in their techniques:  hirazukuri to pull cut vertically, usuzukuri to pull cut thin vertically, and sogizukuri to pull cut at an angle. The thinness of the blade allows the knife to be pulled with very little force.

With this knife you are able to make clean sashimi cuts and cut cleanly though any seaweed roll (“Maki”)

Another unique quality of the knives is the handle. Traditionally, the handle was shaped with a “D” cross section. This was to make using the knife for long periods of time more comfortable. The handles are made with various types of wood.