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Western vs Japanese Blade Geometry

The majority of knives sold in the world market today are ground with either Western or Japanese geometry, with both rooted in their respective food and knife culture:

  Western knife culture

  • Cutting in slicing motion, using the weight of the knife

  • Preparation of large pieces of food; cutting on the plate

  • Most food is cooked

  • Taste is mainly created by seasoning

  • Focus on taste of food; presentation of lower importance

  • Cutting through /on bones

  • Cleaning in dishwasher

  • Storage in drawer

Robust, heavy and corrosion resistant blade

  Japanese knife culture

  • Cutting in chopping motion, lifting the knife and pushing it down

  • Preparation of small pieces of food; cutting in the kitchen

  • Eating a lot of raw food: cutting = cooking

  • Taste is created by quality of ingredients and light seasoning

  • Taste of food & presentation are of equal importance

  • Food on bones hardly available in supermarkets

  • Dishwashers hardly used

  • Storage in knife rack

Thin, light and sharp blade

Subsequently, Western blades tend to be heavier, edges thicker and sturdier, and steel softer and less brittle. Thus the typical convex grind of the blade. As a result, the knives are very forgiving in daily kitchen use, but less sharp and need more frequent sharpening.

Graphic drawing showing geometry of a thicker Western knife blade in a cross section with full convex grind

Japanese blades are thinner, with thin edges and harder steel. Thus the straighter grind (except single bevel edges). As a result, the blades are sharper and stay sharp longer, but need to be handled with more care during cutting, cleaning and storing, to avoid breaking, chipping and corroding.

Graphic drawing showing geometry of a thinner Japanese knife blade in a cross section with thin combination grind almost flat on upper part and thin and conves behind the edge
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