Ask people of a certain age about Japanese knives, and the first thing they'll likely think of is Ginsu. A staple of late-night informercials in the 1980s, the Ginsu sales pitch promised a miraculous knife that "could chop wood and still remain razor sharp," among other dubious features.
In reality, the Ginsu knife had nothing to do with Japan – they were manufactured in Fremont, Ohio, and "ginsu" is a made-up word that inventor Barry Becher translated as "I never have to work again."
But there's a reason Ginsu's copywriters created a pseudo-Japanese backstory for their product – actual Japanese knives are among the world's best, part of the country's millennium-long tradition of forging preternaturally strong, sharp blades.
Japan's Kamikoto knives are part of that tradition, but their appeal is not in centuries-old lore – it's in their ability to cut with incredible precision and dexterity. Among the fans of their handcrafted steel knives are world class, Michelin Starred chefs like Nick Dostal, Rupert & Carrie Blease, and Scott Schneider, as well as our hometown favorite Holly Smith of Café Juanita.
The high-end Japanese knife category has exploded in popularity in recent years, supplanting blades forged in France and Germany. Where European knives are typically double-beveled (i.e. the knife edge is formed by both sides of the blade angling to meet), Japanese knives are single-beveled – one side of the blade is completely flat while the other angles in to form the edge.
The single-bevel of a Japanese knife like the Kamikoto means they are significantly sharper, more precise, and durable than their double-beveled counterparts.
Single-bevel Kamikoto knives are also made from some of the finest steel in the world. Inspired by the 800-year legacy of steelmaking on Japan's Honshu island, Kamikoto's knives are handcrafted out of that same Honshu steel, forged in a rigorous 19-step process that requires several years to complete each knife.
Kamikoto offers several different varieties of Japanese knife: the nakiri, used to make precision cuts in vegetable; the all-purpose santoku, suitable to cut fish, meat, and vegetables; and the heavy Chuka Boch, used for slicing, chopping, mincing and crushing. They're able to keep prices low by selling direct-to-consumer.
Josh Hershkovitz, chef and owner of Hersh's in Baltimore attests to their remarkable qualities, "As soon as I picked up the nakiri, the weight and balance told me I was going to love it. Anything I cut with the nakiri feels like slicing through soft butter with that wonderful blade."
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