When choosing a Japanese kitchen  knife there's a few things to consider:

Which Knife?

all-rounder: the Gyuto or Santoku - the standard domestic knife in Japan. Technically, the Santoku has a deeper (or taller?) blade,  while the gyuto is more slender, and based on a western chef's knife.
veg knife: Nakiri - good for meat as well. Usuba - for traditional Japanese veg prep, wafer thin sheets of daikon radish, that sort of thing.
small knife: Petty
raw fish: Yanagiba (single bevelled)
carving: Sujihiki
filleting fish: Deba, Mioroshi, Ajikiri (all single bevelled. Deba is the largest and most substantial, Ajikiri the smallest (named after the aji fish, a kind of mackerel) while Mioroshi is an interesting take on the Deba, with a touch of Gyuto thrown in.


Which Range?

For beginners, think about the stainless steel Tetsuhiro range - they won't blow you away, but are a great introduction to Japanese knives. Beyond that, do you want a more traditional Japanese feel (Masashi's knives and the Carbon range all have Japanese style handles) or a heavier, more substantial Western feel - in which case go for the Western range.

White Paper Steel is the easiest to sharpen but Blue Paper Steel holds its edge longer while SLD and VG-10 are hard wearing and semi rust proof (Tadafusa Kobo, Masashi, Shigeki)

Masashi, needless to say, are the nicest...

 

 

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