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    Japanese knives

    Japanese knives

    Blades and shapes
    How to sharpen knives
    Maintenance advices
    Sushi master's advices and tricks
    SHUN series' technique and design
    SHUN PRO series' technique and design
    WASABI series' technique and design
    SEKI MAGOROKU series' technique and design
    PURE KOMACHI series' technique and design


    Blades and shapes

    Following are the forms of traditional Japanese knives:

     SANTOKU (Japanese) = three advantages

    - the traditional Japanese global knife
    - lends itself best to cut all foods
    - preferably to cut meat
    - kitchen knife alike
     NAKIRI (Japanese) = vegetable cutter

    - the traditional Japanese vegetable knife
    - preferably to cut all kinds of vegetables
    - despite its cleaver shape it's inappropriate to crush bones
     DEBA (Japanese) = jutting blade

    - the traditional Japanese cleaver
    - the blade is sharpened on just one side
    - stable, heavy knife with strong and broad blade
    - the front of the blade is used preferably to fillet the fish
    - the back of the blade is more robust and is used preferably to crush bones
     YANAGIBA (Japanese) = willow leaf blade

    This blade form is also called SASHIMI (Japanese) = fish fillet strips.

    - Traditional Japanese fillet knife
    - to fillet finely fish and meat
    - thanks to the long thin blade, this knife is particularly suitable for cutting thin slices, especially helpful in the sushi and sashimi kitchen
    - it guarantess a stylish and most of all clear smooth cut
    - the length and shape of the blade allow a long and safe cut


    To Damascus steel knives are attributed legendary properties. They preserve the myth of the ancient art of forging swords. The permanent sharpness, toughness and hardness make of Damascus steel the world's highest method of refining steel.


    Damascus steel smiths exist since more than 2500 years. At that time smiths were compared with a specific problem: the production of a hard but fragile, or soft but tough steel. The hard iron types were very resistent in battles, but bent easily and suffered deep cuts at every shot. The hard iron types and the ones can be hardened by simple procedure (steels) stayed sharp for a long time, bore heavy loads, but were very fragile. The objective of blacksmiths was therefore to combine the positive properties of soft and hard iron.


    Steel is called "of Damascus" when by fire welding of soft and hard iron an iron bar is originated, being afterwards wrought. The forged piece is then divided into two halves, placed on each other and "welded on fire" once again. This expensive process is repeated many times until the typical pattern of extraordinarily attractive knife is obtained. The iron bars surround the precious intermediate layer of the blade. A very hard steel with a high carbon content ensures an excellent resistance of the blade. The more the internal structure of the steel is homogeneous and fine, the more the blade will be sharp and precious.

    How to sharpen knives

    Because even the hardest material is consumed over time, also the best knives need periodically to be sharpened. A good knife is recognized when it cuts well and long and when it is easy to sharpen.

    To leverage your quality knives as long as possible, to sharpen them do not use sharpening steels or dry grinders, because then the blade overheats. Inside short temperature peaks are formed, destroying the hardness of the knife. The resistance and the edge of the blade get irreversibly lost.

    For this reason, use only Japanese whetstones, waterstones or electric sharpeners.

    Japanese whetstones

    In order to sharpen your knives and polish them to perfection, we recommend the use of traditional ceramic alloy whetstones.

    More precisely this combination of whetstones with double grain is recommended:

    - DM-0708 offers a raw side to sharpen small imperfections, and a fine side to refine the blade
    - DM-0600 offers professionals moreover the possibility of finely polishing the blade on the side with 6000 grit.

    Before using the whetstone it must immersed completely in water for 5-10 minutes, which allows you to make it pretty chill. Pay attention while sharpening to never miss a light layer of water on the surface of the grindstone. As the whetstone is composed of a water-soluble matrix, during the sharpening cool grinding particles are continuously emitted that enhance the sharpening quality. Use the whetstone in a uniform way by exploiting the whole surface.

    One-side sharpened knives should be leant on the grindstone right from this side. Be careful to tilt the knife at the angle recommended by the manufacturer. Now hone the knife as far as possible with an angle of 45° to the grindstone (in order to have a wider support surface) by pushing onto the blade, then release the pressure by pulling the knife along the blade. Repeat this process at any honing passage. After you have sharpened the knife, lay it flat on the hollow side and repeat the same process, however 1/10 times less.

    Double-sharpened knives should be honed like the one-side ones, anyway by tilting them with an of about 15 °. In this case it is important to sharpen the sides evenly and with the same number of steps, in order to obtain a symmetrically sharp blade.

    Electric sharpeners

    To become familiar with the Japanese whetstones a certain period of time, practice and experience are necessary.

    A good and fast alternative is KAI's electric sharpener AP-118.

    The attractive design and compact, the weight of only 875 g and the double pair of ceramic grinding units are just some of the features of KAI's new electric sharpener.

    Thanks to its size it fits to any kitchen. The power cord can be placed into the frame, the cover protects the grinding unit from dirt. Concave handles and non-slip feet ensure a secure hold. The two pairs of wheels, placed one behind the other, allow to perform the two phases of work at the same time. The first pair, composed of raw grindstones, gives the blade its original shape back. The second, finer one refines the blade.

    Maintenance advices

    In Japanese culture kitchen knives have a very special importance. They are handed down, or they are finally buried. In order to enjoy for a lifetime your high quality KAI knives, it is essential to follow these maintenance guidelines. As a general rule the longer a blade is sharp, the more it is fragile.

    - Before using the knife rinse it with hot water.
    - After each use, wash them without using any harmful detergents and dry them with a soft cloth. For your safety, always wipe them from the back of the blade with a sponge or cloth.
    - Rinse them especially after contact with acidic materials such as lemon juice.
    - Japanese knives are not dishwasher safe. The huge changes in temperature affect the crystal structure of the steel. The resistance and the cutting ability of the blade in this way will be lost permanently. Simply clean your knives with warm water and then dry them.
    - Do not use glass or granite counter tops as cutting base. They are really easy to clean, but also damage even the hardest blade, what forces you to sharpen it more frequently. Only use wooden or medium-hard plastic cutting boards.
    - Natural wood-handled knives need not to be kept too long in water. Oil the handle periodically with neutral vegetable oil.
    - To cure the dull blade of the Wasabi series , we recommend to wipe it with vegetable oil or olive oil or rather with our special food-safe silicone oil.
    - When placing the knives be careful that the blade does not come into contact with other metal objects to avoid damages. Keep them in a knife holder, a wooden cutlery tray or in a wooden sheath.
    - Do not make lever or breaking movements and don't cut hard foods such as fish heads or frozen meat. Compared to the usual kitchen knives, these blades are more brittle.

    Sushi master's advices and tricks

    Kiyoshi Hayamizu

    Kiyoshi Hayamizu, advisor of the Japanese Cuisine company, is an expert on Japanese cuisine chef and convinced Shun ambassador. Apart from his representative function of KAI Europe GmbH, he also carries out the task as head of Kikkoman (the largest producer of soy sauce) and regularly cooks exclusively for the Toyota Formula 1 Team.
    The sushi roll

    Roll out half sheet of nori (dried seaweed) on a bamboo mat and spread evenly the sushi rice over the sheet. Leave approximately 1 cm of the upper side of the nori sheet.
    Add a filling to your liking (eg. fish, fresh vegetables and cucumber sticks) in the notch of the nori and roll the bamboo mat. In doing this the empty strip of nori should be clearly visible. Unroll the mat and lift and turn the roll forward, in order that the two ends of the sheet of nori stick well to each other. Finally press the sushi roll to make it square.
    How to cut the sushi roll

    A sushi roll is cut with a Yanagiba knife into six parts. First you need to wet the blade with water and vinegar. Then etch the surface (i.e. the sheet of nori) and divide the roll under a continous forward pressure with a long and clean cut.

    A tip: occasionally clean up the blade with a clean, slightly damp cloth, so the rice does not stick.

    How to cut raw fish

    Elementary raw fish fillets (tuna, salmon, etc.) for sushi and sashimi should be cut with a Yanagiba knife. In order that the cutting surface of the fish remains always linear and the flesh doesn't crush, put the blade of the knife sideways and cut the fish in one long act.
      How to decorate sashimi with turnip

    Peel the turnip and cut it into pieces of about 10 cm. Cut the ends to get a piece uniform. With the Nakiri knife you should cut now the turnip as if you were unrolling a roll of paper. To do this, hold it tightly with the left and let it turn around the thumb. At the same time put with your right hand the knife Nakiri on the turnip and move quickly up and down, in order to obtain thin strips.
    Then roll the strips of turnip and cut them into even smaller strips, about 1 mm wide. Dip them into water and when you serve the sashimi put them on the plate as a garnish.
    In all this, always use the entire blade of the knife, not just the center, trying not to press while cutting the fillets.

    SHUN series' technique and design

    SHUN kitchen knives series

    SHUN series belongs to the most extensive worldwide series of knives damask and finds huge approval among the gastronomic elite and the most ambitious amateur cooks.

    The professional Shun knives are manufactured in stainless Damask steel and improved in their 32 layers. The inner layer is made of VG-10 metal. This type of metal is anticorrosive and extremely hard (61 + / - 1 HRC, 1.0% carbon, 1.5% cobalt) and the permanent sharp blade makes it unique.

    Thanks to the convex sharpening of the blade, the result is an incomparable sharpness that lets slide the knife even in the most solid food like no other. This sharpness, combined with the balanced weight of the knife, allows you to work effortlessly.

    Each SHUN knife is unique

    Each SHUN knife gets a unique character and individual, through the refinement of the already attractive damascened grain. This makes every single Shun knife a unique single copy, a masterpiece embracing handicraft, design and technology.

    Each SHUN knife is a masterpiece

    This technique, derived from the art of forging samurai swords, adapts the Shun kitchen knives series to the production of western blade shapes. In this way, the series also offers to local chefs knives with their usual form in added to the traditional Japanese manufacturing quality.

    In this range are included among others some techniques such as the alveolar profile, influenced by the European manufacture of knives.
    The Shun handle

    The Shun handle is made from refined laminate and ergonomic pakka wood. The section of the handle shows the typical Japanese chestnut shape Chestnut, nice to caress with the hand. With the innovative full tang technique, the blade extends until the end of the handle. In this way, blade and handle are joined perfectly and you can lead the knife in an optimal way.
    Wavy blade

    The patented blade is one wavy of the revolutionary conceptions KAI's. The wave moves from the center of the blade in the opposite direction and tilts to the outside. So the bread does not tear, but is cut perfectly to every gesture and the crumbling is reduced to a minimum.
    Alveolar blade profile

    The alveolar profile is a step ahead in the cut perfection . Bringing the honeycomb shape, the unique sharpness of the series is improved by reducing friction. When cutting the alveoli generate air cushions between the blade and the food, minimizing the adherence of food to the blade.

    SHUN PRO series' technique and design

    The Shun Pro series completes the collection of Shun knives with sharp Japanese knife one side forms. The blades are manufactured with the main material of the damask series , VG-10 steel.
    These class Japanese knives are not only appreciated by sushi chefs all over the world, but also enjoy growing popularity in European cuisine. The one side sharpened blade , provided with hollow sharpening on the opposite side , cuts with an exceptional result, unknown by most of the European blades.

    The blade of the Shun Pro Series is fully VG-10 steel. KAI employs this high quality steel as main material of the Shun collection . The steel is extremely anticorrosive and hard (61 + / -1 HRC, 1% carbon, 1.5% cobalt) and makes the blade permanently sharp and unmatched.

    The one side sharp knives traditionally have from the flat side a neutral sharpening, creating a cushion of air between the food and the blade. Shortly after the food will also find on the other side of the blade a certain distance from it. This reduces the friction caused by food, thus obtaining a unique cutting performance.

    The one-sided honing technique derives from a secular tradition. The Shun Pro series is produced by hand by master blacksmiths and represents for the Japanese professional chef The Knife. This type of sharpening not only confers the knife a perfect cut, but also a lasting and easily restorable cut. In fact, thanks to the angle of sharpening established by blacksmiths can be reground with a little exercise on the appropriate stone water.

    WASABI series' technique and design

    The WASABI series stands out, as well as traditional Samurai swords, for one side sharpened blade. The result is an exceptional cutting performance. These knives, developed in Japan and equipped with satin stainless steel , give your kitchen an unmistakable Oriental touch.
    For the WASABI series has been designed a hygienically excellent handle, thanks to its unique combination of bamboo powder and polypropylene and antibacterial action of bamboo. Unlike the traditional Japanese wooden handle, this is not attached to the blade, but it surrounds this, so that one side can not come off from the hilt, and on the other no dirt lies on. With it this knife is well suited to the professional and commercial kitchen.

    SEKI MAGOROKU series' technique and design

    Seki Magoroku , the traditional Japanese knife, is produced since centuries in the same form. This series is fascinating because of its high carbon steel shiny blade with the hardness of 58 + / -1 HRC and the processed magnolia handle, in the form of chestnut and with a black polypropylene socket. To keep at best the knives there is a wooden sheath for each blade shape. This protects the delicate blade from every injury.

    PURE KOMACHI series' technique and design

    Pure Komachi is the young series of KAI. This series offers slightly fun features and design.

    On the high-quality stainless steel was made a colored coating similar to Teflon, in order to prevent food from tightly sticking to the blade and to recognize the function by the color of the knife.
    New in this series are two utility knives , particularly well suited to peel fruits and vegetables, and also to cut the cheese. They are equipped with flat or wavy blade as well as practical vertical case.

    Moreover on the transparent handle are depicted the foods that can be cut with, eg. the meat represented by the pig, the rooster etc..

    The bread knife, as the bread knife SHUN DM-0705, features the patented wavy blade, the revolutionary reworking of KAI. With this, the crumbling of the bread is reduced to a minimum.

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