Our Ongoing Hunt for Great Japanese Knife Sets

We tested a lot of Japanese knives and knife sets for this article and listed our favorites. We also made sure that every set listed is made in Japan. If you are a serious cook or even a chef who is looking for a good Japanese cooking knife or set on a bit of a budget this post should be helpful.

We tried to include Japanese knife sets that will work for almost any budget from affordable to high end. Many of Japanese Cutlery brands we recommend here like Shun and Global are household names, because they deliver amazing performance. However, we added some lesser known brands to this article to help ensure you make an informed decision when choosing a Japanese Knife Set.

A tomato being sliced with the Japanese made Shun Premiere chef knife.
We tested a lot of Japanese Knife Sets and Series for this article unlike the majority of sites with this sort of content who like to steal from us, and then hit us with spammy backlinks to destroy our ranking.

We Have Found Excellent Japanese Knife Sets At Almost Every Price Point

A lot people believe that good Japanese Chef knives or full knife sets are really expensive, but there are  some excellent mid range knives from companies like Yaxell and Tojiro that deliver great value in 2023. If you are looking to get started with Japanese cutlery this guide will help you find what you need regardless of your budget.

We have included a brand summery at the end of this article that gives a brief description and history of the Japanese cutlery companies that make the kitchen knife sets we recommend. Most of the companies are based in Seki, Japan which is one of the most famous knife making cities on earth.

Yaxell Mon 6 Piece Knife Set

Yaxell Mon 6 Piece knife set with a dark ash storage block. This is a good budget option for a quality Japanese knife set in 2021.


Size:17.9″ x 13.2″ x 8.9“


Lifetime Replacement Warranty
Full Tang
Very sharp right out of the box
Forged not stamped
VG-10 stainless steel
Great edge retention
Micarta handles
Rockwell hardness of 61
12° blade angle


No empty slots In the storage block

Set Includes:  one 3.25″ paring knife, one 4.75″ utility knife, one 6.5″ santoku knife, one 8″ chef knife, one 9″ bread knife and one dark Ash storage block

This is an excellent Japanese knife set at a great price. Yaxell has been making high quality kitchen cutlery for almost 100 years in Seki, Japan. They have a great mix of traditional knife making combined with modern manufacturing that has resulted in knives that perform at a high level, but are still relatively affordable.

The Yaxell Mon 8 inch Japanese chef knife on a cutting board over a black background.
We love the look of the Katana wave and micarta handles on the Mon series of Yaxell knives.

The layered VG-10 stainless steel blades of this set are incredibly sharp and hold their edge well. They also look great thanks to the sandblasted finish and Katana sword wave. The handles are made of micarta which is my all time favorite handle material. The handle end caps look good and help give these knives their excellent balance. This really is an incredible set at it’s current sub $300 price point, but I do wish it shipped with a storage block that had some empty knife slots, so more Yaxell knives could be added later.

A man's hand shown dicing green onions on a wooden cutting board with the Yaxell Mon Chef knife.
The Yaxell Mon chef knife impressed us with it’s versatility and slicing prowess.

The Yaxell Mon series of knives seem to be growing in popularity, but they don’t offer a lot of set options. Hopefully that will change soon to give consumers more options.

Check out our Yaxell Knife Guide if you want to learn more about Yaxell knives. We also did an in depth review of the Yaxell Mon chef knife that is worth checking out  if you think you might want to start with a single knife rather than a set.

Yaxell also makes a slightly more premium Damascus knife set made up of their Ran Plus knives. If you are looking for something a little more artistic for your kitchen counter, check out the Yaxell Ran Plus 7-Piece Knife Set.

Shun Premier Build-A-Block 3-Piece Knife Set

Our Ongoing Hunt for Great Japanese Knife Sets - Image 1: Shun Premier Build a Block Kitchen Knife Set


Weight: 3.8lbs
Size: 11.25″ x3″ x8.5″


Limited Lifetime Warranty
Full Tang
Very sharp right out of the box.
Forged not stamped
VG-MAX steel core blade with 34 layers of high carbon Damascus steel cladding
Great edge retention.
Pakkawood handles
Rockwell hardness of 61
Empty slots in the wood block, so more knives can be added later.
Made in Seki, Japan


Very Small Set
The storage block seems a little plain for such great looking knives.

Set Includes:  one 8″ chef knife, one 9″ honing steel, and one bamboo storage block.

The Shun Premier chef knife being used to slice and onion.
The storage block that ships with the Shun Premier 3-piece set has an empty slot, so another knife can be added.

This set is so small it almost seems weird to call it a set. It only ships with a chef knife and a honing rod. However, that knife is really good. We included the Premier Build-A-Block in this article, because it is a great way to get a good Japanese knife set started without spending a lot of money. The Shun Premier line is one of the best production knife series from Japan. These knives are lightweight, incredibly sharp and they offer excellent performance for the money. The storage block that is included in this set has three empty slots, so you can add more knives as you need them or when your budget allows.

Our Ongoing Hunt for Great Japanese Knife Sets - Image 2: Shun Premier Utility Knife
The Shun Premier 6.5″ utility knife pictured here is the first knife we added to our 3-Piece Build-A-Block set.

The Pakkawood handles of the Premier line of knives are comfortable, and they look great. The comfort factor is improved by the fact that these knives are such effortless slicers they require very little pressure. We cut, sliced and chopped for a few hours straight when we first began testing this set, and we did not experience any hand discomfort.

The blades of the Premier series are made with a VG-MAX steel core covered by 34 layers of high carbon steel hardened to 61 HRC, and they hold their edge extremely well. The blades also looks great thanks to the Damascus layering and San Mai edge. As the photographer who took the two photos above, I can say with some authority that the pictures do not do the knives justice. The hammered steel and Damascus pattern are hard to accurately photograph, and these knives look better in real life.

One of the reasons for the excellent performance of the Premier line of knives is that the blades are extremely thin behind their 16° edge. This helps make Shun Premier knives effortless slicers, but it also makes them a little more prone to chipping. These are high performance knives that should not be used to cut frozen or extremely hard food. Shun Premier knives are more sports car than SUV.

Shun also offer the Premier series in a 5 Piece Set #AD and a 7 Piece Set #AD Set if you want an option with more knives.

Shun Classic 6 Piece Kitchen Knife Block Set

High end six piece knife Set from Shun.


Size:17.6″ x 13.7″ x 9.2“


Lifetime Replacement Warranty
Full Tang
Very sharp right out of the box
Forged not stamped
VG10 core blade with 34 layers of stainless steel Damascus cladding
Great edge retention
Pakkawood handles
Rockwell hardness of 61
Empty slots in the wood block, so more knives can be added later
Made in Seki, Japan


No steak knives
Relatively small set at this price point

Set Includes: one 3.5″ paring knife, one 7″ santoku knife, one 8″ chef knife, one pair of herb shears, one honing steel and one dark wood storage block.

The knives in the Shun Classic 6 piece knife set are obviously a work of art from an aesthetic standpoint, but they also deliver in the performance department. It may seem like the price point is a bit steep for a set that doesn’t include steak knives, but these are high end knives designed to last a lifetime or more.

If you like the look and specs of Shun Classic knives, but want a larger set with a more traditional storage block check out the Shun Classic 10 Piece Set or the Shun Classic 7-Piece Black Set #AD.

Shun Classic 8 Inch Chef knife with a Damascus layering pattern and Pakkawood handles on a white background.
The Shun Classic 8 inch chef knife has Pakkawood handles and a real Damascus layered blade.

The blades are made of Damascus stainless steel  layered over Shun’s impressive VG-10 steel, and the results are a well balanced, lightweight blades that are a joy to use. The classic D shaped handles are made of ebony pakkawood which is widely respected for it’s durability.  The block that ships with this set includes several empty slots which is a practice I wish more cutlery companies would adopt. It is really nice to have the option to add to your set as your home cooking needs change.

The Shun Classic Santoku knife being used to dice a yellow onion.

While this Shun set is certainly impressive,  I personally would not choose it over the Tojiro set mentioned later in this article, because to me it just isn’t worth the extra 150 bucks. However, I am far from a professional chef or even  a great home cook, so my needs may be far different from yours, and the Shun Classic 10 Piece Essential Cutlery set is definitely an excellent product. It is also far better from an aesthetic standpoint than the more budget friendly sets mentioned in this article.

If you want to learn more about Shun knives and knife sets, check out our Shun Knife Guide. We also did an in-depth Shun Classic Santoku knife review that is worth checking out if you are building a custom set.

Shun also offers a 8 Piece Classic Set in a knife roll #AD rather than a storage block for professional chefs or busy home cooks on the move.

Shun Sora 6-Piece Knife Set

The Shun Sora six piece knife set shown with the knives next to the wooden storage block.
This set from Shun ships with a ceramic and diamond blade sharpener.


Size:17.5″ x 13.6″ x 9.3“


Lifetime Replacement Warranty
Full Tang
Very sharp right out of the box
Forged not stamped
VG10 cutting core blade
Great edge retention
Rockwell hardness of 61
Empty slots in the wood block, so more knives can be added later
Made in Seki, Japan


No steak knives
Relatively small set

Set Includes: one 3,5″ paring knife, one 6″ utility knife, one 8″ chef knife, one 6″ utility knife, one pair of herb shears, one 9″ honing steel, one diamond and ceramic retractable sharpener and one eleven slot Bamboo wood block.

The Sora series of knives from Shun is their more budget friendly line. They do not have the the excellent aesthetics and top end materials of the Shun Classic collection listed above, but they are durable, and they perform extremely well considering their relatively low price point.

A close up of a man's hand using the Shun Sora chef knife to cut through a yellow onion.
We were impressed with the overall performance of the Shun Sora knives.

Shun is able to keep the price down on the Sora series without sacrificing edge retention making the cutting edge of high end VG10 steel and the upper part of the blade out of more affordable 420J steel. The end result is a great looking San Mai cutting edge. This is a technique used by a lot of Japanese companies, and Shun’s parent company, Kai, has even used this technique in Kershaw pocket knives.

The TPE handles of the Sora series of knives are comfortable and grippy, but they do not have the same great look of Shun’s Classic series of knives. This set ships a Kai diamond and ceramic retractable sharpener, so keeping the knives in this set sharp is pretty easy.

Enso HD 7-Piece Knife Set

The Enso HD seven piece kitchen knife set shown with the knives inside the storage block on the left and outside the storage block on the right.


Weight: 6.65lbs
Size20″ x 14″ x 6″


Lifetime Replacement Warranty
Full Tang
Very sharp right out of the box
Forged not stamped
37 layer VG10 steel
Great edge retention
Canvas micarta handles
Rockwell hardness of 61


Not dishwasher safe (Please do not put these beautiful knives in the dishwasher)
No honing rod included
No empty slots in the storage block

Set Includes – one 3,25″ paring knife, one 6″ utility knife, one 6.5″ santoku knife, one 8″ chef knife, one 9″ bread knife, one six slot storage bloack and one pair of stainless steel kitchen shears.

Enso is a well respected Japanese knife company that has been making high quality, hand crafted knives since 1932. This great looking sixteen piece set has blades constructed with 37 layers of stainless steel over the top of a VG10 core. The unique look of the knives come from the hammered sashimi finish. The result are knives with tough blades with a distinctive look. The 12° cutting angle of Enso knives  makes them some of the most impressively sharp knives on the market right out of the box.

The hammered Damascus steel Enso HD chef knife sitting next to a tomato on a wooden cutting board over a black background.
The hammered Damascus steel of the Enso HD series of knives looks great.

While the blades of the knives in this set are certainly impressive, it was the handle material that first caught my eye. The handles are made of canvas micarta which is an extremely durable and grippable material often found on premium survival knives. Canvas micarta is my personal favorite knife handle material, but it is not often found on kitchen knives.

A man's hands dicing a tomato with the Enso HD santoku knife.
The 6.5 inch santoku knife is one of the best knives in this set, and we thought it outperformed several other more expensive santoku knives we have tried.

The Enso HD series offers excellent all around quality and performance at a relatively low price when compared to other high end Japanese knife brands. I personally appreciated the comfortable oval shaped handles of the HD series. I found them to be for comfortable than the D shaped handles often found on Japanese cutlery.

Check out our in-depth review of the Enso HD santoku knife to learn more about the Enso HD series.

Kanetsune KC-950 DSR-1K6 7-Pice knife Set

Kanetsune makes some of the best affordable Japanese knife sets available. This 7-Piece KC-(50 set is one of our favorites.


Super lightweight
DSR-1K6 steel is easy to maintain.
HRC 58 – 59
Wood handles have a simple single-pin construction.
Great workhorse knives in the budget range.
Made in Seki, Japan.


Doesn’t ship with a storage block.
Softer stainless steel.
Not quite as sharp out of the box as other Japanese knives.

Set Includes – one 6.5″ santoku knife, one 6.5″ nakiri knife, one 4.7″ utility knife, one 8.3″ slicer, one 8.3″ gyuto chef knife, one 9.4″ gyuto chef knife and a 9.4 inch slicer.

These knives are softer than your average Japanese knives, which could be a good or bad thing depending on where you’re coming from. They don’t have the same level of edge retention as a Shun or even a Tojiro, but DSR-1K6 strops and hones a lot quicker than VG-10. It’s also not quite as prone to chipping.

The Nakiri knife is a standout performer in this Japanese knife set. It is well balanced and easy to sharpen.
The Kanatsune KC-950 Nakiri knife cleaver is popular due to its great balance, good looks and comfortable handle.

The blades also have a san mai structure, even though they aren’t advertised heavily as having it. But there is some kind of cladding of softer steel around the DSR-1K6 steel core, so not only are these knives highly stainless, they should be quite a bit tougher than your average Japanese kitchen knife.

While they don’t feel as premium as a lot of other options on this list, they are very reliable workhorse knives. They can take a fair amount of abuse, and even clean up a little easier than a lot of knives we’ve tested.

The seven inch chef knife that ships with the Kanetsune KC-950 Japanese knife set is smaller than the average Western style chef knife, but it capable and well balanced.
Slicing and dicing with the Kanetsune KC-950 chef knife.

Currently this is the only set on here that comes without a block. Kanetsune doesn’t make much in the way of storage options beyond sheaths, sayas, and bags, but the KC-950 series is priced pretty well, so it might leave a little more room in the budget for picking up a magnetic strip or a storage block from another company. These should fit in most standard block sizes.

Kanetsune offers a variety of KC-950 sets. You can find the version that fits your needs best on the Kanetsune KC-950 page on Hocho Knife #AD.

A word about Hocho Knife.
Hocho Knife is one of the few places where this set is available online. They are very well known and trusted in the kitchen cutlery industry. We happen to have an affiliate deal with them, but we were happy customers of Hocho Knife long before were an affiliate.

Global 20 Piece Knife Block Set

20 piece knife set from Global. This image shows the knives outside the storage block and inside the storage block to give the viewer an idea of the scale and the types of knives included in the set.


Size:11.5″ x 13.5″ x 6“


Lifetime Replacement Warranty
Sleek modern design
Very sharp right out of the box
Great balance
Great edge retention
Ergonomic handle design
Easy to clean


Develops spotting a little easier than similarly priced knives.
Stamped not forged

Set Includes: one 3.5″ paring knife, one 4.25″ Asian utility knife, one 5″ chef’s prep knife, one 5.5″ hollow edge Nakiri knife, one 6″ flexible boning knife, one 6″ serrated utility knife, one 7″ hollow edge santoku knife, one 7″ hollow edge Nakiri vegetable knife, one 8″ hollow edge carving knife, one 8″ chef’s knife, one 8.5″ bread knife, six 4.5″ steak knives, one ceramic sharpening rod, and one 19 slot wood storage block.

A Global 8 inch chef knife on a wooden cutting board surrounded by Brussel sprouts.

I always sort of had a negative view of Global knives prior to actually using them. I knew they were popular with a lot of chefs and busy home cooks, but I just thought they looked uncomfortable. Man, was I was wrong. Global knives are light, well balanced and the weird looking perforated handles are extremely comfortable. The word, nimble, probably best describes the way these knives feel when they are being used.

The unique feel of Global knives cause many people to fall in love with them  including my wife. At any given time we have scores of kitchen knives to choose from at our house thanks to this site, but my wife consistently reaches for Global knives when she is cooking.

Normally I would not include a knife set with stamped blades in a premium kitchen cutlery review, but Global’s manufacturing and quality assurance standards are so high that they have managed to create kitchen knives with stamped blades that more than compete with many of the high end forged knives from well known brands.

A close-up of a man's hand slixing Brissel sprouts with a Global chef knife.

The lack of a bolster on the handles make the knives easier to clean and sharpen. The unique handle shape of the Global knives make them popular with people who dislike the sometimes square feel of Western style cutlery handles, and they seem to be a great alternative for those who experience discomfort  when using conventional knives for long periods of time.

Another unique feature of the Global knives is their convex edge which seems to help with edge retention even though they are slightly lower on the Rockwell harness scale than some of their competitors. Overall the Global makes high performance knives that are a lot of fun to use in the kitchen. However, they do seem to develop rust spots a little easier than other knives at this price point. As a result they should never be cleaned in the dishwasher, and they should also be dried immediately after being hand washed.

The 20 piece set is Global’s largest set, and one of the few they have released that include steak knives.

You can learn more about the performance of the G-2 series knives by reading our in-depth review of the Global G-2 chef knife.

If you are looking for a smaller more affordable Global set, check out the Global Kabuto 7-Piece Knife Set. #AD

Tojiro DP 8-Piece Slim Knife Set

This image shows the Japanese made Tojiro DP slim knife set in the wood block and outside the block on a white background.


Size:11″ x 3.5″ x 9″


Lifetime Replacement Warranty
Full Tang
Very sharp right out of the box
Forged not stamped
3 Ply Clad Construction
Great edge retention
Triple Riveted
Rockwell hardness of 60


Tojiro often sells out of this set
No empty slots In the storage block

The Tojiro DP 8 piece set is one of the absolute best buys in the cutlery world. There are many kitchen knife sets that cost much more than this one that do not come close to the Tojiro DP set from a quality and performance standpoint. One of the benefits of the DP series of knives is that they are a well designed hybrid consisting a Japanese style blade and a Western style handle. This East meets West combination has resulted in a line of knives that have become extremely popular with home cooks and professional chefs alike.

Set Includes: one 8.25″ Chef’s knife, one 6.5″ Nakiri knife, one 3.5″ straight paring knife, one 4″ paring knife, one 6-inch utility knife, one 8.5″ bread knife, one pair of kitchen shears and one Acacia wood storage block

The Tojiro DP F808 chef knife slicing a tomato on a wooden cutting board.
We always enjoy testing out Tojiro knives, because they are so fun to use.

From an aesthetics standpoint the knives in the Tojiro DP set won’t turn any heads. This set is all about performance. Tojiro’s impressive forging technique for these knives has resulted in three ply clad blades with a tough VG-10 steel core. From a performance and durability standpoint this set is tough to beat. Ultimately if you are looking for a high performance Japanese kitchen knife set at a great price the Tojiro 8-piece block should be at the top of your list from a value standpoint.

At it’s current sub $350 price it is tough to find fault with the Tojiro DP set other than the fact that the storage block has no empty slots. The set is relatively small, but that is a trade-off I am happy to make to get this level of quality. All the knives in this set feel like they should be part of a much more expensive set.

A close-up of the Tojiro DP paring knife to show its peeling ability and ergonomic handle.
The comfortable handle and capable blade of the Tojiro DP paring knife make it a great option from an overall value standpoint.

For some reason Tojiro seems to run out of this set on a regular basis. However, I think it is worth the effort to build this knife set by buying the knives individually if that is the only option. This process is a bit tedious, but it can also be fun. A good starter knife storage block for this process is the Coninx Magnetic Knife Holder.

Check out our in depth review of the Tojiro DP F808 chef knife if you want to learn more about the excellent chef knife included in this set.

Tojiro DP Damasus 3-Piece Slim Knife Set

The 3 piece Tojiro DP Damascus knife set on a white background with the Tojiro logo in the top right


Number of Knives in Set:3
Steel:VG-10 core with 37 Layer of high and low carbon steel


Lifetime Replacement Warranty
Full Tang
Very sharp right out of the box
Forged not stamped
37 layers of high and low carbon steel over a VG-10 core
Great edge retention
Triple Riveted
Rockwell hardness of 60
Great looking knives


Only three knives in the set
No storage block included

Set Includes: one 8.25″ chef’s knife, one 4″ paring knife, and one 6″ utility knife.

The three knives in this set are exactly like their counterparts in the 8 piece Tojiro DP set mentioned above except that they have Damascus steel blades. These blades are made of 37 layers of high and low carbon steel folded over a VG-10 steel core. This results in knives that not only perform at a high level but also look great. With a blade angle of 9 – 12 degrees these knives are effortless slicers.

I really wish Tojiro would offer a storage block with this set, but those can be bought separately. Even though the DP Damascus knives cost a bit more per knife than the conventional DP knives they are still really well priced for Japanese Damascus steel knives, and this set is a great way to get an excellent Japanese knife set started.

Like the regular Tojiro DP set mentioned above the Damascus version is often out of stock. Here are some links to build the one knife at a time.

Miyabi Kaizen II 7 Piece Block Set

This image show the Miyabi Kaizen II 7 piece knife set with the knives inside the storage block on the left side of the graphic and the knives outside the storage block on the right side.


Size:16.75″ x 5.5″ x 9.8“


Lifetime Replacement Warranty
Full Tang
Very sharp right out of the box
Forged not stamped
Micarta Handles
Great edge retention
64-layer flower Damascus
VG10 Steel Core
Comfortable D-shaped handles
Empty slots in the wood block


No steak knives
Included Shears are not as high quality as the rest of the set

Set Includes: one 3,5″ paring knife, one 4.5″ utility knife, one 8″ chef knife, one 9″inch bread knife, one 9″ sharpening steel, one pair of kitchen shears and one bamboo wood block.

This excellent Japanese knife set from Miyabi has a relatively steep price tag, but if you are looking for premiere quality and classic Japanese styling this set is tough to beat. These knives have a VG10 steel core wrapped in a 64 layer flower Damascus pattern. Then the blades are hardened using the CRYODUR ice hardening treatment to ensure they are durable and hold an edge extremely well. Finally the blades are hand honed to a very sharp 9.5 to 12 degree edge.

The black linen micarta D shaped handles are extremely comfortable and a great choice for a busy home cook. If your current knife set causes discomfort after extended use this set may be the perfect upgrade.

The craftsmanship of these knives is obvious the minute you pick one up. There are no gaps or raised edges in the handle or bolster, and the balance is superb. Because they are totally made by hand there are no quality assurance problems. The only problem with this set is that the included shears and honing steel are not on the same quality level as the rest of the set.

The Kaizen II series of knives from Miyabi may not offer the super steel found on the more premium Miyabi Mizu series of knives, but the Kaizen knives are a great value from a performance vs price.

Oishya Sakai Kyuba Knife Set

The three piece Oishya Sakai Kyuba Knife Set is big on quality, but small on quantity.


Steel Type:VG-10 Damascus
Handle Material:Stabilized maple burl


Blade-heavy balance with an aggressive bite
Burl Maple handles available in green, blue, and brown w/ bog oak collar
Blades are forged in Sakai, Japan
Forged not stamped
62 HRC blade with a hammer finish

Comes in a nice European oak box


Only three knives in the set
Doesn’t come with any storage options besides the box

Set Includes: 210 mm gyuto, 160 mm nakiri, 150 mm petty, European oak box w/ letter of authenticity.

This is a great company to go to when you’re ready to pay for a little more form with your function. Along with making a series of well-executed traditional Japanese knives, Oishya makes some excellent handles. They’re made from a combination of maple burl for the main handle and 2,000 year old bog oak for the collar with a copper spacer between the two. Add the color options in there, you get something that stands out beautifully against the sea of other options with black Pakkawood.

The Oishya 8 inch chef knife being used to dice onions on a wood cutting board.
Oishya is one of our favorite new Japanese cutlery companies.

The knives are great perfermors on their own. The blade-heavy balance on the gyuto and the nakiri feel great for push cuts, and the edges feel semi-polished so they bite easily into softer foods. They don’t the secondary bevel grind, but it feels to us like it’s in the 12° range with almost no feeling of wedging.

You’ll probably want a magnetic strip to store these knives (which Oishya actually sells separately). That would be ideal, although they will fit in most blocks if you have a little space in one. Otherwise, these don’t come with any read storage option besides the box they come in, which, to be fair, is pretty nice.

Check out our Oishya Sakai Kyuba Review to learn more about this knife series.

MAC SK-20 Santoku 2-Piece Knife Set

This great Sntoku knife set from MAC is an excellent start to building out a great cutlery set for your kitchen.


Steel Type:molybdenum vanadium stainless steel
Handle Material:Pakkawood


Extremely sharp
Full Tang
Very sharp right out of the box
Forged not stamped
The  high carbon blades hold their edge extremely well for knives at this price point
Well balanced
60 degree Rockwell hardness


Only 2 knives included
No knife storage block included

Set Includes: one 6.5″ santoku knife and one 5″ mini santoku knife 

This is a great set for anyone who really likes Santoku knives. They have been growing in popularity for years, and this 2 knife set would be a great start for a Santoku fan looking to build out a full kitchen cutlery set. Both of the included knives are extremely well balanced. This will be especially noticeable if you are moving up from cheaper knives. The high carbon blades hold there edge really well. However the downside of high carbon blades is that they must be hand washed and immediately dried to avoid rust spots. This slight inconvenience is worth it for the impressive performance and edge retention of these knives.

The Pakkawood handles of these knives are very comfortable and easy to grip. The impressive ergonomics of theses knives make them a great choice for busy cooks who experience hand pain or discomfort with lower end kitchen knives.

Like many Japanese knife sets the this MAC Knife set does not include any type of storage block, but there are many magnetic or conventional storage blocks available that will work for these knives.

Summaries of the Knife Brands In This Article

If you are new to Japanese cutlery you may not know about the companies mentioned in this article. While most of us have heard of famous Western cutlery companies like J.A. Henckels or Wusthoff, many people have never heard of Shun, Tojiro or even Ginsu. With that in mind I figured it would be a good idea to give a quick summery of the Japanese cutlery companies whose products are highlighted in this post.

About Tojiro Knives
Tojiro knives are a great mid range option for cooking.

Our personal favorite Japanese knife company here at Nothing But Knives is Tojiro, because they are a great compromise between quality and price. While they are arguably not on the same quality level as Shun they certainly offer very impressive knives at great prices. You will always get more than you paid for when you buy a Tojiro knife. This is especially true of their F-737 bread knife. It is a relatively cheap bread knife at $22, but it cuts as well as many of the $100 bread knives. If you are looking for a small good quality set the DP Deluxe 3 Piece Starter set is well priced high performance Japanese cutlery kit.

Tojiro offers a huge variety of cutlery that includes both traditional Japanese style knives like their Shippu Black DP Damascus Series and Western style Japanese knives like their VG10 Clad Steel. Tojiro is obviously better at making knives than they are at naming them. If you are just considering making the jump to Japanese cutlery you may want to start out with one knife and the popular Tojiro DP Gyutou 8.2 inch Chef’s knife is a good option. It is a Japanese style knife with a Western style contoured handle, and it is a relatively inexpensive way to test the waters of Japanese cutlery.

About MAC Knives
MAC Knives are all manufactured in Japan, and they have developed a reputation for quality and performance over the years.

The MAC Corporation was established in 1965. Since that time the company has manufactured over 30 million knives and developed a reputation for performance and quality. All MAC knives are made in Japan. The blades of every knife are hand ground and hand sharpened on water cooled stones. The attention translates into an impressive performing tool for the busy home cook or professional chef.

Rather than using the traditional beveled chisel edge of most Japanese knives, Mac blades utilize a slightly of center edge with an angle around 45 degrees. This edge is partially responsible for the knives great performance, but it also means that extra care needs to be gives when sharpening them to ensure the integrity of the edge is maintained.

MAC offers a complete cutlery lineup that covers a wide range in cost from relatively inexpensive too fairly pricey. The MAC product series are as follows: Original Series, Superior Series, Chef Series, Professional Series, Ultimate Series, Japanese Series and Damascus Series.

About Shun Knives

Shun Reserve 6 inch Chef's Knife

Shun Knives are known for their beauty and sharpness light weight and incredible balance. Shun knives offers a variety of different product lines that vary in quality and price. The top of the line Shun product line is their Reserve knives which are expensive, but the offer unmatched quality and craftsmanship that includes a SG2 stainless steel core and 32 layers on each side (64 total)  of nickel silver/stainless steel using the Damascus ladder design. This labor intensive technique gives the Reserve and Classic series knives their  distinctive looking blades as you can see in the picture above. Shun’s Classic series knives are similar to the Reserve series in many ways, but lack the contoured handle designs and they use a VG-Max stainless steel core rather than the VG2 stainless steel. The classic series Shun knives have a D shaped handle that many people prefer to contoured especially if they are used to using Japanese knives.

Shun sells knives individually or in sets. Many people like to build their own set of Shun knives, and they usually start with a Chef’s knife like the one pictures above. All of Shun kitchen cutlery set blocks ship with empty slots that allow you to customize your collection. If you would like to learn more about Shun’s sets check out our blog on the best high end kitchen knife sets.

About Global Knives
Global Knives was establisshed in 1985, an they have deeloped a reuptaion for performance.

Global Knives was started in 1985 which makes them a relative new comer in the Japanese cutlery world. However, they have been around long enough to establish themselves as a trusted manufacturer who makes high performance knives with unique and practical designs.

Global uses a proprietary version of  CROMOVA 18 stainless steel. The steel is ice hardened and maintains it’s edge well in spite of the fact that it is easier to sharpen than other kitchen knives. Another unique feature of the Global knife blades are their acute edge. The lack of a bevel seems to help with edge retention and makes sharpening with a stone a little easier. The downside of the steel Global uses is that is seems to be a little more prone to discoloration or rust spots than other high end cutlery. This can of course be avoided with proper are, and Global offers a lot of great information on the care and maintenance of their knives.

What really sets Global knives apart from their completion are their lightweight and excellent balance. They are the sports car of the cutlery world. Like a sports car these knives require a little more maintenance and upkeep, but if performance is your number one goal Global is hard to beat.

About Enso (Yaxell) Knives
This photo shows both Enso knife series. Enso HD series knives are on the left and SG2 series knives are on the right.
Enso HD and SG2 Series knives.
About Enso (Yaxell) Knives

Enso has been making high quality cutlery since 1932. Currently Enso knives are manufactured in Seki, Japan by Yaxell which is another highly respected Japanese knife company with a long history that has combined old world craftmanship with modern manufacturing to produce some truly impressive knives.

Miyabi Cutlery is an excellent Japanese knife company that combines classic Japanese knife making techniques with modern German engineering.

The Myabi factory is located in Seki, Japan which is the center of Japanese knife production. Myabi knives are all crafted with a hard steel core that is surrounded by softer steel layers. This gives the knives the strength of a hard steel without the problem of chipping that would be an issue if the entire blade was made of hard steel. The layering method also results in an aesthetically pleasing pattern that helps make the knives a work of art.

In 2004, Myabi Cutlery was acquired by Zwilling J.A. Henckels which is a highly respected German knife brand that has been manufacturing quality knives for over 100 years. The combination of these two companies had the best possible result for Myabi, because Henckels began using it’s patented CRYODUR ice hardening treatment to make Miyabi knives even more durable. The resulting combination German engineering with Japanese craftsmanship has made Myabi Cutlery one of the most respected and well known names in the cutlery world.

About Kanetsune Knives
Kanetsune is a trusted Japanese knife company that makes high quality, well priced knives in Seki, Japan.

If you have never heard of Kanetsune knives, you are not alone. Like a lot of well respected Japanese knife companies, Kanetsune, does very little marketing. This is unfortunate, because their knives deserve a lot more publicity than they currently get.

Kanetsune has been manufacturing kitchen cutlery and outdoor knives in Seki, Japan since 1964. They have become a trusted source of quality knives for chefs, busy home cooks and outdoors enthusiasts for many years.

Their knives all have a classic look, but they hold up very well in the modern cutlery world.

About Oishya
Oishya is a UK based cutlery company who sources knives from Seki, Japan.

This company is actually based in London, UK, but the founders spent several years visiting Japan to find the right blacksmith for the knife they had on their minds. They came out with their first line, the Sakai Kyuba series, in 2018, but they had been selling knives since 2016, so they already had a sense for the industry and the kind of knife they wanted.

The seed of this company was planted when one of the founders was trying to find a decent Japanese kitchen to give as a Christmas present, but couldn’t find anything that met her standards in London, so she ordered a custom knife directly from a Japanese smith. Both the knife and the effect it had as a gift so enraptured her that she decided to found Oishya and eventually develop her own knife with an emphasis on gift giving. That’s why they ship every knife in an oak box with a letter of authenticity and a 5-yen luck (so the gift won’t sever your relationships)

Currently Oishya a small range of traditional Japanese knives along with some accessories like magnetic storage strips, cutting boards, and utensil holders.

Browse Related Categories
Avatar of Ben North

Ben started a twenty year commercial photography career after a blurry stint in the navy. He spent a lot of time losing and breaking knives and other EDC gear on location shoots before starting Nothing But Knives. He has reviewed and tested hundreds of both outdoor and kitchen knives over the course of the last six years, and he was mostly sober while testing and reviewing.

8 thoughts on “Our Ongoing Hunt for Great Japanese Knife Sets”

    • Hi Joe. I would recommend the Tojiro DP series. Tojiro is our most recommended brand for folks just getting into Japanese kitchen knives. They make great East/West hybrid knives, and they offer a lot of performance at a relatively low price. It can be a bit difficult to find sets this time of year, but it is worth the effort to build your own. Yaxell is also a great starting point for Japanese knives. Specifically the Mon series.

    • I would say any of these brands are good, but read my comment above. Make your life’s mission to find the perfect 8”-10” chefs knife for you, then a decent, pairing knife. Unless you carve fruit or something you don’t have to buy too if the line. I’ve lost enough expensive pairing knives in my career to buy a Bentley, just not worth it.
      Remember that Japanese knives require care and maintenance. There is a great YouTube channel called Burrfection that has tons of info. One thing, he is a collector so don’t think you have to buy knives in his price range for them to be good.
      Finally, and most importantly, if you just care about performance, not how sexy the knife is, the best Japanese style blade, comparable to knives in the $200-300 range is Victorinox with the Fibrox synthetic handles. I have a dozens of expensive Japanese knives I’ve collected being a chef for thirty years, and I can show you side by side how they are the as good as any.
      My personal everyday is a Sakai, 33-layered damascus, 240mm gyuto (western style Japanese chefs knife)

  1. I would recommend every one of these. What I do not recommend is a buying asset of knives. You need a chefs knife and a paring knife, and most chefs do most things with their chef knife. I go days without using anything else.
    Now, if you want to butcher chickens, I recommend a good, one-sided, honesuke style knife. If you are regularly slicing gravalax, you need a long, thin hollow-ground blade 12” long at least.
    But most knives in sets go unused. Essentially, you’re getting more quantity, but definitely not more utility if you buy a set.
    Besides, if you really go out and try everything you’ll find that you might like on company’s boning knife, for example, but prefer another company’s chef knife. So research, get the knives in you hand and see how they feel, but make one well thought out purchase at a time. Start with an 8”-10” chef knife, don’t buy another until you really see the need for it.

  2. I’m not an expert in knifes no do I own high-end knifes but I bought one knife that cost me $27 it’s from Japan on the essential website and I have been shock ever since at how good this knife is and how I’m going down the rabbit whole of knifes.


Leave a Comment

Get the NBK Newsletter

Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com. You can learn more about our editorial and affiliate policy here.