As you can see from this list, there is basically a Japanese knife for everything.

Here we have some of the most used models in occidental world

Gyuto (牛刀) – Japanese Chef’s Knife

An all-rounder, the Japanese equivalent of the classic French chef’s knife. Recommended for all chefs to have. Can be used for meat, vegetables and fish. The pointed tip also makes it useful for detailed work. The name gyuto literally means “beef-sword”, as it was originally designed for cutting chunks of meat.

Size: 210–270 mm.

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Santoku (三徳包丁) – Home Chef’s Knife

True to its name that means “three-uses”, the santoku is an all-around knife that can be used for meat, vegetables and fish. The design is sort of a mix between a gyuto and nakiri. Traditionally has a very flat blade profile, although recently some companies have begun making more curved blades to cater to Western habits. Its convenient size and versatility makes it the most common knife found in Japanese households. Sometimes also known as “bunka-bochou“, which literally means “culture knife”.

Size: 150–200 mm.

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Petty (ペティナイフ) – Japanese Utility Knife

Japanese version of a paring or utility knife. Good for peeling and slicing fruit, smaller vegetables, and chopping herbs. Sort of shaped like a small gyuto.

Size: around 150 mm.

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Paring Knife (ペティナイフ)

Very small knife for peeling and carving fruits and vegetables. Unlike Petty knife, it is meant to use in hand, not on the cutting board. Many different types of blade shapes can be found depending on intended usage.

Size: 50–130 mm.

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Chukabocho (中華包丁) – Chinese Cleaver

The Chinese chef’s knife adopted by Japanese chefs for making Chinese cuisine. With its rectangular blade and robust handle, it’s another great all-around knife for chopping, crushing, mincing all types of ingredients. Some heavier blade versions can be used to chop bone, and protein.

Size: 180–220 mm.

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Nakiri (菜切り)- Home chef’s Vegetable Knife

Popular knife with a thin rectangular blade, used for chopping and mincing vegetables and fruit. Quick and efficient. This is a lightweight knife and not to be used for heavy duty chopping (despite its resemblance to cleaver). Flat blade profile makes it perfect for push-cutting technique.

Size: various, 165–180 mm.

Check out this list our best best Nakiri knives

Sujihiki (筋引き) – Carving / Slicing Knife

The ultimate slicing knife. Its long, narrow blade makes it good for slicing fish and meats, as it can cut smoothly without sawing and damaging fibers. Sort of a double beveled version of the traditional Japanese style sushi knife, yanagiba.

Size: 230–300 mm.

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Honesuki (骨スキ) / Sabaki (サバキ) – Boning Knife

Distinguished by the pointed tip, this knife was specifically made for taking apart poultry by cutting through the joints (not breaking through bone). Sometimes used for filleting fish. Can also be found as single-bevel version.

Size: 140–150 mm.

Bread knife (パン切り包丁)

Recognized by its long, serrated blade. Originally created to cut bread and baked goods without crushing them. They are also very useful for cutting things like large melons, and cooked meat.

Size: 200–360 mm.

Check this beautiful Bread and Carving Knife

Fillet Knife (フィレナイフ)

For separating fish flesh from bones (i.e. filleting). Japanese fillet knives come in a huge variety of blade designs which vary in flexibility, thickness, length, profile, grind, and materials. Alternative to more traditional debas, which are also used for filleting fish.

Size: 150–280 mm.

Check out this list our best best fillet knives

Yanagiba (柳刃包丁) – Sushi / Sashimi Knife

Yanagiba is the most popular, and commonly found, sashimi-bocho (i.e. sashimi knife). Its long, slender blade is perfect for making the necessary fine, clean, and precise cuts across the fish fillet. The thin blade also helps to preserve the texture, and flavor of the fish, while maintaining its beautiful appearance.

It is typically used with pull-cut technique to make a single clean cut through a fish fillet. The name yanagiba literally means “willow leaf blade” in English. Part of the essential kit of a Japanese chef.

Size: 210–360 mm.

Check out my list of the best yanagiba knives

Deba (薄刃包丁) – Fish Fillet Knife

Thick, more robust knife that is traditionally used for filleting whole fish. Some users have adapted it to taking apart poultry. Its weight allows it to chop through thin bones. Thin pointed tip allows for more delicate work, and perfect for filleting. Comes in a very large range of sizes and variations, to be used depending on size of the fish.

Very small versions (100-120mm) are known as ko-deba (i.e small deba) or aji-deba/aji-kiri (aji is type of small fish in Japan).

Size: 100-330mm.

Check out my list of the best Deba knives

Kiritsuke(切付) – Yanagiba / Usuba Hybrid Knife

Length of a yanagiba, and height of a usuba. A general purpose knife for preparing traditional Japanese cuisine. As essentially a hybrid of two knives that have very different purposes, it requires great skill to use. Can also be found in double bevel versions, known as kiritsuke gyuto.

Size: 210–270 mm.

Check out my list of the Best kiritsuke

Sakimaru Takohiki – Hybrid Sashimi Knife

Combination design of yanagiba and takohiki sashimi knives, that can be used for the same purposes. Easily identified by its unique samurai sword like blade tip.

Size: 270-300 mm.

Check out my list of the best Sakimaru knives


Japanese knife types can be generally split into two categories: Traditional style, and Western style.

Traditional style knives like yanagiba and usuba usually feature single bevel blades, and have a specialized purpose in preparing Japanese cuisine (e.g. slicing sashimi). Western style knives like the gyuto and santoku have double bevel blades, and are typically more general purpose.