Yanagiba knife, deba knife, nakiri knife, men-kiri knife, sushi-kiri knife, and funayuki knife.

These are traditional Japanese knives.

They are called wabocho in Japan.


And these are specialized knives for specific needs.

Almost all knives have a single edged bevel.

1. These knives are like your pokemon party

Have you ever played pokemon?

When you have a battle, you use a pokemon that is suitable to fight against your opponent’s pokemon.


If your opponent has a fire pokemon, you will need to use a water pokemon.

Wabocho has predetermined usages.

They are not multi-purpose.

There are knives for cleaning fish,

Slicing sashimi,

Cutting veggies,

Slicing sushi rolls, etc..

2. They are very efficient for their tasks

When I was a kid, at my maternal grandparent’s house,

my grandpa’s brother would clean a big carp using a deba knife in the garden…

I was a curious kid so I peeked at it, but at the same time, I was scared.

Have you ever had this kind of experience?

The grown-ups were doing something and you were wondering what is going on,

But you felt that you were not supposed to look?

3. Traditional Japanese knives have evolved from a fish-oriented diet

Before modernization of Japan,  people there enjoyed vegetarian-style meals plus fish.


Almost all Japanese people didn’t have a custom of eating meat at the time.

Japanese knives were created under these circumstances.

The priority of kitchen knives was to cut these ingredients beautifully.

In particular, the cross section of the food must be clean and fresh.

Because having a clean cross section means…

The knife didn’t do any damage to the food.

4. Yanagiba Knife

This is a knife for slicing sushi and sashimi.

It has a long and narrow blade, and when you use it, you slice the fish meat with one move.

Because of that, you can make a beautiful cross section.

It is fresh because you can avoid crushing small cells of the fish meat.

5. Deba Knife

A deba knife is a knife used for cleaning fish. The edge close to the heel of a deba knife is thick, so you can cut the fish head clean off.

And the edge close to the tip is thin and sharp, so you can easily filet fish meat.

6. Usuba knife

Usuba knife is a knife for cutting vegetables.

This is the first knife that professional chefs use when they start their careers.

You can learn the basics of using knives.

How to move the knife, the proper grip of the knife, and…

How to take care of the knife, etc..

The word “usuba” means thin blade in Japanese.

The Usuba knife is good at delicate tasks, 

Like chopping vegetables into very thin slices, and peeling veggie skins.

A usuba knife has a straight shape on the knife edge.

Having this straight shape makes it easier to cut vegetables.

7. Nakiri Knife

Nakiri knives have a very similar shape to usuba knives.

But wait:

While usuba knives have a single edged bevel, nakiri knives have double edged bevels.

Nakiri knives are very unique since this type is the only knife that has double edge bevels among all the traditional Japanese knives.

Nakiri means cutting vegetables in Japanese.

It is great for cutting vegetables, peeling skins of root vegetables, trimming the edge of vegetables, etc.

8. Men-kiri Knife

You use a menkiri knife to make noodles. It is also called udon kiri knife or soba kiri knife.

You can turn a flattened and folded dough into noodle shapes.

“Men” in Japanese is noodles,

And “kiri” is to cut.

9. Sushi-kiri Knife

This knife is for cutting sushi rolls. It is designed not to break rice, nori, and seafood in the roll while you are using it.

The shape is specialized for cutting the roll.

10. Funayuki Knife

Funayuki knives were originally for fishermen in Japan. Funayuki literally means “going on the boat”.

The blade is thin and light, so it is really useful on the boat.

Fishermen use this knife to cut bait for bigger fish.

Or to cook some simple snacks out of a catch.

It is considered as an all-purpose knife like a santoku knife.

You can use it for fish, meat, and veggies.

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