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Mid-range Japanese-style knives NOT made in Japan?

Anybody knows of good japanese-style knives made in US or Europe? All I can find is a Santoku from non-japanese makers (Victorinox, Wusthoff).

Looking for a couple of knives for my niece (student) to cook with, in about $100 per range, nothing too fancy.


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  1. Can you elaborate the definition of Japanese style knives? Do you mean knives which embrace the Japanese preference for thinner and harder cutting blade steel? Or do you mean knives which take on traditional Japanese knives profiles, like yanagiba, deba, usuba?

    Also, why don't you want Japanese knives made in Japan? I am trying to understand if you really don't want knives made in Japan or knives sold by a Japanese company. There are European brand knives which are made in Japan. Would you accept these? For example, Henckels offers some knives which are made in Japan. There are many Chinese made Japanese style knives. What about those?

    Here are some Japanese styles knives marketed by Dexter-Russell (USA company) and the knives are NOT made in US. I believe they are made in China. I consider these somewhat low quality:


    Zwilling Henckels has two Miyabi lines 7000 Pro and 5000 S which are Japanese styles knives made in Japan. Here are two example of a 7000 Pro Usuba bocho and a 5000 S Usuba bocho:



    Messermeister (German company) has a line of knives called Asian Precision which includes three traditional Japanese styles knives. These knives again are made in Japan. I personally do not like the steel, but it is your calll:


    Now, there are indeed Japanese style knives made by US bladesmiths, but these cost quiet a bit more than your price range. Carter was trained in Japan in the art of Japanese bladesmith, and is making Japanese knives in US:


    At the end, I just don't know many good Japanse-style knives which are not made in Japan and of high quality in the price range of $100.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Thanks for detailed reply!

      Looking for thinner/harder/smaller bevel as far as style, profile does not truly matter but would prefer japanese form. Avoiding made in Japan at the moment for fear of 'em glowing blue in the dark (however rational or irrational that sounds). Avoiding made in china knives for a different, obvious, reason. Interesting that most japanese knives are actually made in japan.

      1. re: VirtualDestructor

        In general I would agree that's is an irrational concern. If they are really "glowing green", do you think they would go through US and Japanese Customs, International carriage on an aircraft, domestic US mail, etc. without causing an international scare and non-stop 24 hour a day news coverage on your favorite news/infomercial/propaganda cable channel?

        1. re: VirtualDestructor

          Dude, if anything radioactive (and I mean anything) leaves a port after entering the US it WILL set off detectors.

          I know truck drivers who have been stopped before leaving ports as well as at weigh stations when they set off "nuclear alarms". Neither were hauling anything radioactive, but both had a nuclear stress test on their own bodies a few days prior.

          The sensors they drive the trucks through actually detected the remnants of the stress test lingering in their bodies.

          So, there is no issue with your Japanese knives being radioactive.

      2. No offense, but I must ask....

        why don't you want the knife to be made in Japan? If you can spend $100 per knife, there's a decent selection of very nice Japanese-made options.

        Unless we're talking about custom knives (which are more expensive), Western-made Japanese-style knives tend to be hybrids - most often santokus, usually softer steel than what the Japanese use, sometimes a little thicker, and a different basic philosophy in how they shape the blade. If these appeal to you, the Victorinox santoku you've already seen isn't a bad knife for the money and holds up pretty well to some of the pricier Western-made santokus.

        4 Replies
        1. re: cowboyardee

          In light of what you said, I want to add this to the original poster. While I can semi-understand using a Western knife philosophy (softer steel and thicker blade) for Westernized Japanese knives like Santoku, Gyutos,...etc, I would opposite the same be done for traditional Japanese style knives like yanagiba, usuba, deba...etc.

          If VirtualDestructor 's niece is getting a traditional Japanese style knives, then I won't entertain the idea of a softer steel yanagiba.

          1. re: cowboyardee

            Avoiding made in Japan at the moment for fear of 'em glowing blue in the dark (however rational or irrational that sounds). Slightly softer steel in a student's kitchen (think dropping etc. the knife) might not be a negative. Good to know Victorinox is reputable, considering paring their santoku with couple of their western knives (chef and a pairing knife?) and let her have east-west fun.

            1. re: VirtualDestructor

              Unfortunately, I don't know of any Western manufacturers (again, outside of custom knifemakers) that do an especially good job mimicking Japanese knife design. The Western hybrids aren't necessarily bad knives - some are pretty decent - but they don't perform like Japanese knives do.

              An alternative suggestion: if you like Japanese knives but you're just worried about the recent disaster in Japan (and btw, many or most Japanese knives are made in the South of the country, far from the epicenter of said disaster), you might consider just buying a Japanese knife that is a few years old. Knifeforums.com has a subforum where knife nuts sell used knives, and I'm sure you could find something in your price range, in good shape, and that has been in the States for 2 or 3 years. Or possibly some of the online vendors could even direct you to an unused knife they've had in the back of their stock room for a couple years.

              1. re: VirtualDestructor

                The plastic handle Forschner (Victorinox) knives are pretty thin and soft enough not to chip out doing most stupid things. Thin so they cut easily, soft so a simple steel will realign the edge, cheap so it isn't a great loss if it is stolen, lost, etc. while your niece learns to take care of a good knife.

                FWIW, in college I would have loved to have a nice ~9inch Forschner "chef's" knife for my first apartment.

            2. LamsomSharp makes a 5" forged Santoku for about $100, made in USA:


              There is a 7" for a little more. I don't own any knives from this series, so am not vouching for them.

              2 Replies
              1. re: GH1618

                If this isn't getting off-thread --- what do you think of LamsonSharp knives in general? We have an outlet store (and factory) less than an hour from here, am planning to go. Already have an offset bread knife that's great. Don't know anything about the other knives, though.

                1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                  I only have a couple of the stamped knifes (e.g. tomato) which I like very much for what they are. I have no experience with their better knives. The utensils I have (2.5" square turner, pie server) are first-rate — very sturdy.

              2. The Fissler Pro Nakiri is made in Germany:


                I might like this one myself!

                1. For ~$100 each you can get some really good knives from Japan. Why the US or Europe? What's wrong with Japan?

                  I just bought a 330mm Gyuto for $120 which, while not a super high premium model will serve me well in the kitchen for several decades if not a long lifetime.

                  Japanese Chef Knives.com will airmail out of Japan for $7 and has served me well with several purchases FWIW.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Sid Post

                    <For ~$100 each you can get some really good knives from Japan. Why the US or Europe? What's wrong with Japan?>

                    The original poster (VirtualDestructor) explained to cowboyardee and me. Quote: "Avoiding made in Japan at the moment for fear of 'em glowing blue in the dark (however rational or irrational that sounds)"

                  2. Another vote here for the Forschner santoku. I've had one for the past couple of years & love it (along with my Japanese-made Kanetsune gyuto/chef's knife).

                    I was also impressed with a Wusthof P-TEC santoku I played with last year, but it was very expensive (IMO) for a starter kit. I think it's better to have a knife you're not afraid to damage, or won't be crushed if it disappears.

                    1. Mercer has an japanese style line.


                      They are affordable, made of the same german steels as the big names & affordable. Their other lines are made in Taiwan, so these are probably too - but I'm not sure. Mercer is headquartered in Deer Park, NY if that helps.

                      There's also the Ikea Slitbar damascus chef's knife. It might be that the only thing japanese about it is the steel: VG-10. At $50 its a bargain. Made in China. Only the damascus knife is VG-10.

                      1. Ive heard some really good things about the richmond artifex. It comes in at $70, but according to most reports performs way better than a $70 knife should.


                        You can add a finish sharpening job and a saya and still come in at $100 and have an excellent gift for a culinary student.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: twyst

                          Interesting suggestion. This one had completely escaped my radar. Not a lot of reviews out there from people who aren't affiliated with Mark from CKTG (the knife's designer)... but I dig the profile, and for the price it looks to be worth a risk.

                          1. re: twyst

                            I was thinking just that (Richmond knives). I have zero experience with his knives. I know he has his line of sharpening too now. Of course, I doubt he makes the stone. He probably license from a small Japanese stone maker.

                          2. Thanks to everybody for insightful replies! Could not have had that many enjoyable options without you!

                            I decided to give LamsonSharp a shot. Going for their Forged Rosewood line. I like their hardness (58), pricing and wooden handles. Niece is new to sharpening so having option to swing by their factory for resharpening is also a plus.

                            Richmond looked interesting but their product line is work in progress, Victorinox was very close 2nd choice. Fissler was very interesting but pricier and had real japanese shapes in 58 hardness, which is a bit dubious to me.

                            So I am getting her a Santoku (probably 7", other option is 5").

                            I am having hard time for some reason (never owned a santoku?) visualizing what other knives would you have to have?
                            I figure a 3.5" paring knife is a must:

                            Then for the 3rd one... to make this universal set... 8" Chef? 6" Utility? 6" Fillet/Boning? 8" Carver? :
                            )For some reason I am gravitating towards 8" Chef, but it seems like duplicating Santoku. Utility or Carver seem more logical choices, given no need for serious processing of supermarket meat cuts.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: VirtualDestructor

                              Good to hear. I didn't think you want a santoku. I would get a 7" santoku. 5" is very short for most people. Unless your niece has indicated that she like a very short knife, I would stay with 7".

                              Like you said, a pairing knife is good. The third knife is a tough one because everyone is a bit different on this one. The conventional suggestion is a serrated bread knife. However, for me, I find I use a boning knife more often than a bread knife. If you cannot decide on the fhird knife, then maybe you can get her something different like a cutting board or a ceramic sharpening rod.

                              1. re: VirtualDestructor

                                When I was looking for a utility knife, I got a Warther knife. I was originally interested in a 150mm petty or 6" utility, but the Warther 5" sandwich knife (I think thats what it was) had too much of an upswing at the end. So I got the 7" slicer instead.


                                Warther knives are made of a newer S35VN steel from New York, knife is made in Ohio. The handles are boxy, the knife blade has embellishments & the convex sharpening (looks mostly on one side) looks to be challenging to sharpen to a flat grind for me. They sharpen for free in-store or for return shipping ($10 east of the Mississippi). This slicing knife will function as my 2nd utility knife - its still in-box downstairs so I haven't used it yet.

                                For me, the Warther 9" French knife is too curvy (I think knife nuts call it belly), so I also will be getting the Richmond Artifex made of AEB-L steel from Uddeholm of Sweden.

                                BTW, when I bought my 6 paring knives, I got Mercer Renaissance. Not real wood handles, but $14 each. Riveted, forged & with less bolster than Lamson & Dexter. It took weeks to get, but I'm thrilled with them.

                                edit: the 7" slicer still has the upswing, but more flat blade length

                              2. try calphalon in spadina, or the kuridori line sold in home hardware...