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Apr 23, 2014 11:29 AM

Radioactive Japanese knives

I know this sounds insane but is there any merit to questioning the safety of Japanese steel? The internet abounds with discussions of food products being, let's say "tainted" bythe sad events at Fukashima. Can the same circumstances affect the ore (or whatever) from which knives are produced. I have some pre-Fukashima Shuns that are exquisite pieces of cutlery and I'd like to get more.
Someone please tell me I just have too much free time on my hands.

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  1. Yes. definitely too much free time. The problem with foods is that they have a nasty tendency to concentrate radioactivity.

    Also, we still have radioactive food in this country (milk) from atomic bomb testing. (Utah and Nevada,not everywhere)

    1. this is a complex and multi-part answer.

      in terms of health risk; more than likely, the knives don't pose a serious health risk.

      the fine print:
      first, depends where the knives are manufactured and shipped through. this year, for example, many countries have rejected japanese cars because they failed radiation inspections; so it is possible for inorganic items to carry contamination. the levels, though, vary widely.
      second, the real question is whether (relative to the overall environmental and global impact of the fukushima leak) the knife is even a relevant concern compared to things like fish, milk, seaweed, seaweed extracts, etc.

      contaminated? possible. how much? depends. enough to matter in the grand scheme of things? almost certainly not.

      (PS: i lived an hour or so drive from fukushima for 3.5 years before, during and after the quake, tsunami, and fukushima meltdown, so i have followed the whole thing pretty closely in a variety of languages, forums, and national media pipelines from several countries. this is my basic conclusion.)

      1 Reply
      1. re: chartreauxx

        FWIW, the cars rejected due to radiation contamination were all used cars, not ones newly manufactured in Japan during or after the Fukushima crisis.

      2. Don't worry about it. Go pick up more j-knives. Try other brands besides Shun as well, there's some great stuff out there waiting for you.

        1. for what its worth, there arent many knifemaking areas near the most effected areas... for example, the vast majority of factory produced knives from japan are coming from seki city in gifu prefecture... well away from radioactive concerns. Moreover, the steel used in your shuns is produced in fukui prefecture, again, well away from radioactive concerns.

          1. Thanks to all. Actually, I'm looking at a set of Globals for my son's wedding shower. Apparently, just a hair lighter, just as high metal quality and oh yea, a few bucks cheaper.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Moneemaniac

              if you're looking for good shuns, check out and keep checking. WS offloads a ton, and when they're on "overstock" they are priced very reasonably.

              sample link: