Japanese vs German knives: Head to head comparison

Both German and Japanese knives have centuries-long history and heritage. Their service and reputation are something to be reckoned with even today. As they both manufacture some of the best kitchen knives in the world, choosing one over the other is a tricky venture. 

Why? Simply because Japanese knife sets and German knife sets have almost the same quality and performance. Well, how to choose between them? 

To facilitate the choice, we have come up with this Japanese vs German knife: a head-to-head comparison. Hopefully, it shall be a freaking awesome experience to unravel the better option between these two. 

Let’s find out every single aspect of these two rivals, buddy. 

Japanese vs German knives: Steel Material

Most of the knives are made of stainless steel. And Japanese and German knives are no different. Iron and carbon are the primary constituents of steel. A knife’s characteristics depend on the steel used as a material. 

Japanese steel contains a substantially higher proportion of carbon due to the forging techniques. This harder steel makes the Japanese knife harder and sharper. 


On the other hand, German western steel is comparatively softer steel and has a less proportion of carbon. While this does not make the knife as hard as a Japanese knife, it does provide more durability. That becomes a tie, isn’t it?

Japanese vs German Knives: Design

It is a common phenomenon that Japanese knives are more or less lightweight. They use thinner blades and designs for delicate cuts. That makes their overall design very attractive and charming. 


Contrarily, German knives hold their traditional solid design even today. They use full tang and bolster for finger protection. Moreover, this thick portion gives a sort of balance for the users. 


But it makes the design a bit less charming. But it ensures better safety. So, who is the winner here? You better decide. 

German vs Japanese Knife: Edge retention

Edge retention is a crucial phenomenon in kitchen cutlery, isn’t it? But what does it mean by the way? 


It simply means how long it shall retain the sharp edge before you need to do the tedious job of sharpening again. In this case, the Japanese knife has better edge retention. But this makes them vulnerable in terms of durability. 

In contrast, the german knife being softer steel provides less edge retention. But it makes German knives durable and suitable for heavy-duty cutting. 

Japanese vs German Knives: Blade angle

The sharpness of a knife is determined by the angle of its blade. The lower the knife blade angle, the sharper the knife. The smaller angle will provide you with the perfect cut of the food. Most Japanese knives offer a thinner blade angle. This angle is somewhere between 10 to 15 degrees on both sides.


On the contrary, a typical german blade offers you a blade angle of 17.5 degrees or more. It makes the knife tough to provide a high precision cut. But the higher angle makes it easier for a german knife to cut through tough items like bones.

Japanese vs German Knives: Construction

Almost all german knives have a full-tang construction. In this construction, a single piece of stainless steel runs from the blade to the butt. These blades are symmetrical and well-balanced, making them suitable for both right and left-handed players.

But in the case of Japanese knives, there comes a slight variation. They are often tapered constructed and made without the full-tang option. But it makes Japanese knives lightweight. 

Conversely, if you’re looking for a knife that’s lighter and more responsive to your movements, a Japanese knife is a great option.`

Japanese vs German Knives: Sharpness

A Japanese blade is normally made from comparatively thinner and harder steel. Harder steel allows you to sharpen the knife to a smaller angle. A smaller angle provides more sharpness than a higher angle. 

This enables a Japanese knife to cut far more precisely and cleanly than its German counterpart.

Again, a German knife is made from softer steel. As a result, it offers a higher blade angle and thus cannot be sharp enough.

Japanese vs German Knives: Hardness and Durability

Steel’s hardness is quantified using a technique called the Rockwell scale. It is designated by HRC. The carbon content in the steel determines the hardness of a knife. 

A traditional Japanese knife enriched with high carbon-containing steel can be hardened up to 60-65 HRC. Where a German knife’s hardness can vary between 55-57 HRC. The hardness of a knife has some pros and cons on the other characteristics though.

Durability is an area where German steel and its qualities outperform Japanese steel. Since Japanese knives are hard enough, this makes them comparatively vulnerable. Hard thing tends to break the most. The cutting edge can easily break or crack if you drop it.

On the contrary, a german knife contains softer steel. It will not break that easily if you misuse it. Rather it will bend due to its flexibility. Besides, the high carbon content inside the Japanese steel makes it rustier. Rusty blades break easily.

German western vs Japanese knives: Thickness

Thickness of a knife also depends on the steel. Due to the high carbon content, a Japanese knife hardens enough. Harden knife can be easily made thinner. 

But a german knife is made from softer steel, and that’s why its cutting edge can not be made thinner enough. Remember here, that a thin blade can maintain the proper texture of your food.

Japanese vs German Knives: Versatility

In this case, the German knife supersedes the Japanese knife. Japanese knives are optimal for a particular purpose. Since they are sharp albeit fragile, you cannot use them for multi-purpose. 

Specially, you should not expect Japanese knives for cutting hard objects like bone. They are superbly suitable for bread and vegetables. 

But the thickness and flexibility of a german knife offer you more versatility in the kitchen. You cannot use a Japanese knife for multipurpose like cutting vegetables, bones, meats, etc.

Japanese vs German Knives: Weight 

Another important comparison of German vs Japanese knives is weight. A lightweight knife is easier to control than a heavier one.  Normally a Japanese chef knife weighs only 6 ounces. But a german chef knife can weigh up to 7.5 ounces.

Though it is not a big difference. Yet, weight can be a good concern for some people. 

Japanese vs German Knives: Comparison table

Though the previous discussion would clarify the concept of German steel knives vs Japanese knives, here’s a comparison table in a brief to get you straight to the point.


Characteristics              Japanese knife                German knife
Construction The blade inside the handle is slightly tapered. It has full tang construction, which means a single piece of steel runs from the blade to the butt


Enriched with high carbon steel. Most of its content is chromium and iron. Enriched with less carbon.
Longevity Does not last longer than the German counterpart due to the hardness of the steel. Last longer than the Japanese knife due to its flexibility and soft steel.
Retention of the Edge Good cutting edge retention Comparatively less edge retention
Blade angle


Normally, the blade angle remains between 10 to 15 degrees The normal blade angle for this type of knife is 17.5 degrees


Not suitable for multi-purpose usage Suitable for multi-purpose usage


Due to high carbon content and harder steel it’s strong and hard enough Not hard enough as compared to the Japanese knife for its softer steel.
Ease of sharpening


Easy to give a sharp edge as a consequence of hardness. Not easy to give a sharp edge.


Much more expensive to buy and maintain Cost friendly and easier to maintain


Contains a comparatively sharp edge. Not sharp enough as compared to the Japanese knife
Weight Normally weighs up to 6 ounces Weighs up to 7.5 ounces.


Which one should you choose?

Regardless of the distinctions between Japanese and German knives, both are excellent investments in high-quality kitchen equipment. Though a Japanese knife may seem to have a better aspect, there is really no real winner. They are specialized in different tasks. 

Good grade Japanese knife sets are best for delicate tasks like cutting raw fish or tomatoes into thin slices. You’ll be able to cut more precisely and beautifully than ever before with a Japanese kitchen knife.

On the contrary, western knives like german knives are thicker and stronger. They can undertake the toughest jobs like cutting thick bones and meats. Cooks and chefs use them for multi-purpose usage.

It’s up to you, whether to choose a Japanese knife or a German knife. If you want a precise and delicate knife that will help you maintain the texture of the food, you should definitely go for a Japanese knife. But if you need a multi-purpose knife then a German knife would be the best option for you.


The question of which knives are better German or Japanese has been answered. Each of these types of knives has its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to specific kitchen tasks. 

They both are quality products. You see, both the Japanese and German knives brand offers you different privileges. Now you should yourself choose the best knife set for your kitchen. Adios buddy. 


  1. What is better German or Japanese steel?

German knife blades contain softer steel. This makes the blades more flexible, corrosion-proof, and better for cutting through tough vegetables and meat, like steak. The Japanese steel is harder and straighter, which facilitates clean and simple slicing.

  1. Do chefs prefer German or Japanese knives?

Chefs throughout the world choose Japanese brands such as Shun and Kamikoto, which are constructed of high-quality steel. Some others chose to use western knives from French and German brands.

  1. Are Japanese knives sharper than German?

Japanese knife blades are normally shaper than german knife blades. The Japanese knives contain high carbon enriched hard steel. Harder knives are easy to sharpen. On the other hand, German knives contain softer steel, which means they can not be sharpened like the Japanese ones.

  1. What is the most commonly used knife in the kitchen?

People use both Japanese and German knives in the kitchen. The cooks cannot substitute for one another because their position in the kitchen is fixed. The cook should choose the best kitchen knife set for himself

  1. Why are Japanese blades the best?

A Japanese kitchen knife is sharper and lighter compared to a German knife. It can make precise cuts on softer foods. Unlike bulky or unwieldy German knives, they’re well-known for being lightweight and portable. These knives work exceptionally well due to their structure.

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