Knifeis a very essential part of cooking whether it is used in a chef’s kitchen orin your home. When you are shopping for a new knife, it’s likely that you willcome across two main types of knives: German and Japanese. There are many more differenttypes of knives available besides these two. Whether Japanese or German, eachtype of knife has been influenced by its culture. However, it is safe to saythat these two are the most prevalent and worthy of understanding. JapaneseKnives:The Japanese believe in having aperfect tool for an explicit purpose, and as such have many specific knives forspecific tasks.
Japan is the land of long traditions, where hundreds of yearsof accumulated knowledge and experience are passed down from master toapprentice, from teacher to pupil to form the knife-making industry we knowtoday. Japanese chef knives are fashioned by techniques that were originallydeveloped for making katana (samurai swords) over 1000 years ago. The shiftfrom sword crafting to knife crafting began in the 1850’s when CommodoreMatthew Perry’s “black ships” (steam boat) anchored in Edo (Tokyo) Bay, anddemanded the emperor to open Japan’s long isolated ports to Western trade.However, it wasn’t until after World WarII that knife making in Japan really begin its magnificent journey. When theUnited States occupied Japan after World War II, General MacArthur banned theproduction and possession of katana. The ban forced large numbers of highlyskilled craftsmen to turn their skills and attention to crafting kitchen knives.
Although, the sword ban was lifted after seven years, therewas still a limit placed on production, causing the craftsmen making very few katanaa year. However, the legacy and unforgettable sharpness of the katana stilllives on in the heart of the kitchen even 1200 years later.Japanese knives for the mostpart have no bolster. The bolster of a knife is a thick junction between thehandle and the blade which provides a smooth transition from the blade to thehandle.
It strengthens the knife adding durability. Since the handle is lighterthan the blade, the bolster contributes to better balance and improves control.Also, the tang of Japanese knives vary based on the knife maker. Tang is the partthat connects the blade with the handle. Japanese knives contain mostly hiddenor partial tang.
GermanKnives:The German value versatility anddurability in their culinary efforts and therefore have designed knives thatare good at many different undertakings. Solingen, a city in Germany is aGerman knife mecca and that is where the history of the major and more popularGerman knives are stated. The storied history of German knife making begins inSolingen around 1814, which is the second largest city in the Bergisches Land.
Thenickname of the city is the “City of Blades”. Medieval sword makers put it onthe map and lent it a reputation that has stood the test of time. At thetime, Solingen was the place to go in Germany for a sword. Just like theJapanese, once the Germans had perfected swords, they turned their hand toknife making.
Even today, Solingen is still the knife capital of Germany.German knives usually have afull-tang and a bolster. Full tang means that the knife is one solid piece andthe metal of the blade starts from the tip and continues to the end of thehandle with the two handle pieces pinned on to the blade, one on each side.This is the strongest of the tang types.Comparisons: Contents Japanese Knives German Knives Angle 12 to 15 degrees. 20 to 22 degrees.
Shape Straighter edge in general. Curved in general. Suitable For Better-suited for chopping and making clean slices. Better-suited for the rocking style of chopping.
Weight Lightweight. Example: An eight-inch Global Classic Chef’s Knife weighs 5.5 ounces. Heavyweight. Example: A Wusthof eight-inch chef’s knife weighs 9.6 ounces. Thickness Thinner. Thicker.
Bolster Bolster-free. With bolster. Tang Mostly hidden or partial tang. Full tang. Hardness of steel Typically on the harder side.
Typically on the softer side. Amount of carbon in steel More amount of carbon. Less amount of carbon. Edge Sharper. Less sharp. Edge Retention Longer than German knives. Less than Japanese knives. Rockwell scale value 60 to 61.
56 to 58. In conclusion, everythingdepends on the needs and preferences of the person buying the knife. Japanese knivesare slim, razor-sharp, and lightweight so they are ideal for precise work. Theharder steel means getting a very sharp edge is possible that can go longerbetween sharpening. However, the delicacy of the blade and the hardness of thesteel make it more prone to chipping and cracking.
On the other hand, Germanknives are heavier, thicker and the weight and softer steel make the knivesmore durable. Fundamentally, German vs. Japanese is not that important,especially since the gap between the styles of knives is diminishing. SomeGerman knives are now sharpened to a more acute angle while using new alloyshave improved the durability of Japanese knives. In the end, each knife has itsown strengths and weaknesses. It’s not that one style of knife is better thanthe other, it’s just a matter of use and preference.