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Are Miyabi Knives High Quality? A Detailed Review

By trk

Last Updated: February 15, 2024

best kitchen knives, kitchen knife review, Miyabi, Miyabi knives

Miyabi knives are owned by Zwilling-Henckels but made in Seki, Japan by traditional Japanese craftsmen, as they have been making knives for hundreds of years. Miyabi is a premium brand made with some of the hardest steel found in kitchen knives and are quite high quality. All Miyabi knives are hand-finished with beautiful polishing and detail. Maybe best of all, some Miyabi lines are quite affordable!

Find out more about Miyabi knives in this detailed review. We talk about the Miyabi lines, steel, handles, what and who they're best for, pros and cons, and more. We also include a buying guide section on how to buy kitchen knives--so if Miyabi isn't a good fit for you, you can find a brand that is.

Miyabi Knives at a Glance

Here are the Miyabi knife lines, with features. They are listed in alphabetical order. Though we looked at and tested primarily the chef's knives from each line, you can assume that the other knives of the line have the same basic features. 

See the next section for explanations of terminology you may not be familiar with.

Miyabi Line

Features

Miyabi Artisan chef's knife

-SG2 micro carbide powdered steel

-HRC 63

-Cryodur hardened blade

-Honbazuke finish

-9.5-12 degree cutting edge

-Concealed tang/partial bolster

-D-shaped Cocobolo pakkawood handle.

Birchwood 5000MCD

see on Amazon

see at Sur la Table

see at Zwilling

8" Chef's knife about $300

Miyabi Birchwood chef's knife

-SG2 steel core w/MC 101 layer Damascus overlay

-HRC 63

-Cryodur hardened blade

-Honbazuke hand crafted

-Hamon edge

-9.5-12 degree cutting edge

-Concealed tang/partial bolster

-D-shaped Masur birchwood handle.

Black 5000MCD67

see on Amazon

see at Sur la Table

see at Zwilling

8" Chef's knife about $400

Miyabi Black chef's knife

-Microcarbide steel w/133 layer Damascus overlay

-HRC 66

-Cryodur hardened blade

-9.5-12 degree cutting edge

-Concealed tang/partial bolster

-D-shaped blackened maple handle.

Evolution 400FC

see on Amazon

see at Sur la Table

see at Zwilling

8" Chef's knife about $130

Miyabi Evolution chef's knife

-FC61 steel ("fine carbide")

-HRC 61

-Friodur hardened blade

-9.5-12 degree cutting edge

-Concealed tang/partial bolster

-POM (synthetic) handle.

Miyabi Kaizen chef's knife

-VG10 "super steel" w/64 layer Damascus overlay

-HRC 60

-Cryodur hardened blade

-Honbazuke hand crafted

-9.5-12 degree cutting edge

-Concealed tang/partial bolster

-D-shaped black linen Micarta handle.

Kaizen II 5000FCD

see on Amazon

see at Sur la Table

see at Zwilling

8" Chef's knife about $150

Miyabi Kaizen II chef's knife

-FC61 steel w/48 layer Damascus overlay

-HRC 61

-Friodur hardened blade

-Honbazuke hand crafted

-9.5-12 degree cutting edge

-Concealed tang/partial bolster

-Black pakkawood handle (oval).

Koh 400FC

see on Amazon

see at Sur la Table

see at Zwilling

8" Chef's knife about $120

Miyabi Koh chef's knife

-FC61 steel

-HRC 61

-Friodur hardened blade

-Honbazuke hand crafted

-Sandblasted Katana edge with mirror polishing

-Concealed tang/partial bolster

-Octagon pakkawood handle.

Red Morimoto 600S/Fusion Morimoto 600D

see Fusion 600D on Amazon

see Red 600S at Zwilling

8" chef's knife about $180 (for Fusion 600D)

Kaizen Morimoto chef's knife

-600S is high carbon German steel HRC 57

-600D is VG10 steel Cryodur hardened to HRC 60

-Contoured Western style POM handle

-Rocking santoku the main offering.

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About Miyabi

In 2004, the German knife maker and kitchen product conglomerate Zwilling J.A. Henckels acquired a Japanese knife company located in Seki, Japan's "City of Blades." This partnership produced Miyabi, a company that combines German engineering with Japanese tradition to produce extremely high quality Japanese knives.

Today, Miyabi knives are made by skilled Japanese craftsmen using traditional sword-making knowledge (more on this in the next sections). 

All Miyabi knives are made in Seki, Japan.

Here's more from the Zwilling website:

Since as early as the 14th century, the city of Seki has served as the sword-making center of Japan. Samurai swords, also known as katana, were used by samurai warriors in feudal Japan. They were slowly banned during the mid-19th century Meiji Restoration in an attempt to modernize the country. Consequently, many swordsmiths needed to refocus their skills. They began to produce knives, this time for the kitchen instead of the battlefield. Today, these specialty-steel blades are crafted by a combination of traditional hand tools and modern machinery. Seki is now the revered home of modern Japanese cutlery.
Why should you choose Japanese knives? Light in weight, Japanese knives feature blades made of thin, hard steel with an ultra-sharp edge and long-lasting sharpness. These beautiful knives are designed for exceptionally precise cutting and superior performance. Miyabi’s intricate knife-making method incorporates time-honored techniques, premium steels and innovative hardening processes. Each blade touches the hands of skilled artisans, ensuring a beauty and quality like no other. Honbazuke, Japanese for “true cutting edge,” is the three-step honing process that gives Japanese blades their exceptional sharpness. Each step of this traditional technique is done by hand. Blades are coarsely ground with a vertically rotating whetstone, fine-honed with a horizontal rotating whetstone, then polished using a leather belt. Combined with a traditional Japanese 9.5 to 12 degree edge angle, Honbazuke makes Miyabi knives remarkably sharp Miyabi Steels.
Three distinct types of steel are used in the Miyabi collection. Each one has a different degree of hardness — as shown on the Rockwell scale — that affects the sharpness and the length of time the knives stay sharp.
SG2 (MC63) Steel Miyabi Birchwood and Artisan Microcarbide powder steel with the hardness of 63 Rockwell. SG2 is synonymous with Japanese sharpness. Evenly-spread carbides give SG2 its scalpel-like precision and impressive cutting edge retention. Unsurpassed sharpness for the ultimate Japanese knife.
VG10 (CMV60) Steel Miyabi Kaizen and Fusion Morimoto Edition with a hardness of 60 HRC. The highly complex composition gives the cutting edge long-lasting sharpness. 
Special Formula Steel Miyabi Red Morimoto Edition steel with a hardness of 57 Rockwell. This traditional German composition includes carbon for hardness and chromium for corrosion resistance. Perfect balance between Japanese bladesmithing and Western-style ease of use. (Note: We did not review this knife because it seems to be out of stock in most places.)

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Helpful Terminology (Including Types of Steel)

Knife Parts Diagram

This section contains definitions for terminology you may not be familiar with. Some of it is about kitchen knives in general (like the image above), some of it is types of steel, and some of it is Japanese terms and other terms specific to Miyabi knives. 

If you come across a term that you don't know, the definition should be here (and if not, contact us and we will add it).

Bolster: The handle end of a knife blade that provides a balancing point between the blade and the handle and also provides protection for your fingers. A kitchen knife can have a full bolster, which goes down to the cutting edge, a partial bolster which goes halfway down or less, or no bolster, which is usually the case with stamped knives.

All Miyabi knives have a partial bolster, which offers balance and protection yet keeps the knives light and nimble.

Cryodur: One of two ice-hardening processes used to lock in a blade’s long-lasting sharpness. Used on the Artisan, Birchwood, Black, and Kaizen lines of Miyabi knives. The steel is heated, then cooled/quenched to room temperature, then frozen and hardened at -196F.

Damascus: Steel that's folded into several layers--sometimes hundreds of layers--which enhances strength and provides a lovely, flowered appearance on Miyabi knives. The Damascus steel is an overlay of protective steel that protects the core cutting edge of the knife, usually a harder, more brittle steel. The Miyabi lines that have a Damascus steel overlay are the Birchwood, Black, Kaizen, and Kaizen II.

FC61 Steel: FC61 steel is a fine-grained martensitic stainless steel with carbon and chromium as its main elements. It is Zwilling J.A. Henckels proprietary name for Sandvik 13C26 Steel and is commonly used for the Miyabi Evolution, Kaizen II, and Koh lines. "FC" stands for fine carbon and can be hardened to 61 HRC. It is considered a good quality high carbon stainless steel for kitchen cutlery.

Friodur: Zwilling J.A. Henckels proprietary four-step ice-hardening process includes freezing the steel to -94F to produce an exceptionally hard, tough and corrosion resistant blade that is very sharp and has great edge retention (from this document).

Hamon Edge:  A visible line on a knife blade caused by differential hardening. You can create a hamon by using insulating clay on the blade, which will affect the way the steel transforms with heat. The parts of the blade with and without clay will harden differently, creating the hamon. Seen on the Miyabi Birchwood line.

Honbazuke: Japanese for “true cutting edge,” this is the three-step honing process that gives Japanese blades their exceptional sharpness. Each step of this traditional technique is done by hand. Blades are coarsely ground with a vertically rotating whetstone, fine-honed with a horizontal rotating whetstone, then polished using a leather belt. Combined with a traditional Japanese 9.5-12 degree edge angle, Honbazuke makes Miyabi knives remarkably sharp. (from the Zwilling/Miyabi website)

HRC: The Rockwell hardness rating of a knife. Good quality German knives are rated around 56-58, and most Japanese knives tend to be 60-62. The higher the rating, the harder the steel and the longer a knife will hold its edge--but harder blades are also more brittle and prone to chipping. Thus, harder Japanese steel is best for standard prep work and thin slicing, while softer, more durable German steel is better for cutting through bone and hard foods (and also good for prep work). Which type of knife you prefer comes down to cooking style and personal taste.

Katana: This is the term for Samurai sword in Japanese and simply means the blade has an edge finished much like a Samurai sword. 

Micarta: Handle material in the Kaizen line. It is linen combined with thermoset resin. Very comfortable grip and durable construction. 

Pakkawood: Pakkawood is a wood/resin composite handle material. It is a combination of layered wood and resin (plastic) that makes for a solid, durable, bacteria-resistant handle. The Miyabi Artisan, Kaizen II and Koh knives have pakkawood handles.

POM: POM is polyoxymethylene, a hard, thermoplastic synthetic with extreme durability and resistance to damage from heat and cold. POM is resistant to bacteria, making it a hygienic choice. It is also less expensive than natural wood choices and feels comfortable  in your hand. This makes it an excellent entry level choice and ialso good for more experienced cooks. 

SG2 Steel (MC63): Also known as Super Gold 2, SG2 is a high carbon stainless steel developed by the Takefu Steel Company. It is used mostly in Japanese kitchen cutlery (source), and is considered to be one of the highest end knife steels on the market today (maybe the highest). MC63 is Zwilling J.A. Henckel's proprietary version of SG2 steel. This steel has a hardness rating of 63 HRC, is highly corrosion resistant, will hold an edge for a long time (compared to many other kitchen knife steels), and is even fairly easy to sharpen due to their "fine grain microstructure" (source). It is also less prone to chipping than VG10, another hard Japanese knife steel (see below).

Tang: The tang is the non-visible part of the knife blade that extends into the handle. A full tang knife has a blade that extends all the way to the butt of the knife; a partial (or "rabbet") tang extends partially down the handle. Full tang knives have traditionally been considered the highest quality, though some good quality brands use a partial tang to lighten a knife and give it a different center of balance. So a full tang is good, but a partial tang isn't necessarily bad. All Miyabi knives have a full tang. 

Tsuchime: A hammered finish on a knife blade. The visible hammer marks are beautiful as well as helping food to release more smoothly. 

VG10 Steel (CMV 60): VG10 is a premium Japanese steel with high chromium and carbon content, plus vanadium and molybdenum, which add to corrosion resistance. It has a Rockwell hardness rating of 60-62, depending on how it's treated. It is considered a premium Japanese knife steel. CMV60 is Zwilling J.A. Henckel's proprietary version of VG10. This steel has a hardness rating of 60 HRC. VG10/CMV60 is used on the Miyabi Kaizen line of knives.

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Miyabi Knife Construction: Important Features

Miyabi magnetic knife block

Miyabi knives are constructed of high carbon stainless steel (different lines have different steels) and several types of natural wood or synthetic handles. See the table above for details about the different Miyabi knife lines.

Miyabi makes traditional Japanese style knives like santokus and nakiris, as well as German-style chef's knives, carving knives, paring knives, bread knives, and more. 

Maybe most impressively, Miyabi knives are hand-made and hand-finished, with an exquisite attention to detail. All the edges are smooth and rounded, so there are no sharp spots or burrs to catch on your hand. Blades are hand finished with the 3 step Honbazuke method. The mosaic pin on several of the Miyabi handles is not actually a pin but rather, hand assembled from different pieces--copper, steel, bronze, etc.--and fit in gently by hand.

All Miyabi knives go through a 100-step, 42 day process to complete. Whichever Miyabi you choose, it's going to be have hand-finished attention to detail that's hard to find in other brands, especially at this price point.

All Miyabi knives are forged the traditional Japanese way, with full tangs and partial bolsters for superb balance. All Miyabi knives also have a traditional super-thin Japanese blade, with a double edge of 9.5-12 degrees--compare to 15 degree Global knives and 16 degree Shun knives. (The range 9.5-12 degrees comes from the fact that all Miyabi blades are hand finished, so the angle isn't exact--but at about half what most knives are, Miyabis are astonishingly sharp in comparison.)

Miyabi blades are, like most Japanese knives, thin: most Miyabis have a spine that's about 1.6-2mm thick:

Miyabi Artisan chef's knife

Miyabi Artisan spine: very thin.

Along with the scalpel-like blade, this thinness makes Miyabi knives incredibly smooth to use. However, the thinness as well as the extreme hardness of most Miyabi blades means you should avoid using them on hard foods and bone, which could cause the blade to chip. This is the norm for high-end Japanese knives, and the way Japanese knives are designed to be used: If you need a knife for hard foods or bone, consider a German chef's knife or a Japanese knife made for hard foods such as a deba knife or cleaver

Most Miyabi knives are also very light, with most of the Miyabi 8-inch chef's knives weighing in around 6 ounces. Handle material will affect this weight, but the lightness and balance of all Miyabi knives is exceptional.

Miyabi also offers a wide range of handle material, from a few types of natural wood to traditional Japanese pakkawood to fully synthetic (that is, plastic). Some are D-shaped, some are round, some have a contoured grip like a German knife. They all feel different in your hand and have a different grip. In general, Miyabi handles are considered on the small side, so if you have large hands, they may not be the right choice for you.

We like the weight, balance, and overall feel of all the Miyabis, but knives are a very personal purchase, so you should be sure you like how a knife cuts and feels in your hand before you decide to keep it.  Be sure to try a few out before you decide which one is right for you.

see our article on japanese vs german knives for more information

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Caring for Miyabi Knives

Miyabi magnetic knife block

A magnetic knife block is a safe way to store your knives.

As with all high quality knives, you have to care for Miyabi knives if you want them to last. Here are some guidelines to help you take proper care of your high-end knives (not just Miyabi):

  • Always wash by hand--do not put them in a dishwasher, even if the handle is "dishwasher" safe.
  • Most of the time you can just rinse a blade with warm water. Use gentle soap only when necessary.
  • Air dry or wipe with a towel after washing to avoid rusting.
  • Wash and dry your knife after each use.
  • Use a honing rod frequently to keep blades smooth and increase time between sharpening.
  • Use a soft cutting board such as wood, rubber or plastic. Avoid cutting on hard surfaces.
  • Never twist a blade when cutting--this can result in chips.
  • Never store loose in a drawer with other knives. Use a block, magnetic strip, or sheaths to protect the blades.

See our article Knife Safety, Knife Care, and Knife Skills: Basics for Beginners for more information.

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Sharpening Miyabi Knives

Miyabi Pull-Through Knife Sharpener

Miyabi pull-through sharpener with 10 degree angle.

Most Miyabi knives are exceptionally hard out of the box, with ratings from 57 HRC (Red Morimoto) all the way up to an astonishing 66 HRC (the Miyabi Black), with at least three lines at 63 HRC, which is uncommonly hard, even for Japanese knives. Hardness isn't the only measure of how well a blade will keep its edge, but it's a pretty good one: harder blades tend to hold an edge longer than softer blades. 

Thus, Miyabi blades tend to stay sharp longer than many other premium brands. German knives are much softer, with hardness ratings of about 56-59 HRC, while other Japanese blades average about 60-62 HRC.

So yes, Miyabi knives are sharp, and they stay sharp. But all knives need sharpening eventually (despite what some reviewers say), and because the steel on most Miyabis is so hard, this means that they can be difficult to sharpen (because harder steel is harder to sharpen). For this reason, you should have a honing rod that's harder than the knife blades for routine smoothing of the blade, and a sharpening system designed for Japanese knives, such as a Japanese whet stone kit or guided rod system that can sharpen down to 9 degrees (the one we know of is the TS Prof). 

Miyabi also makes a pull-through sharpener for their knives that has a 10 degree edge. Though this will sharpen the blade adequately (and without destroying the cutting angle), you will probably have to invest in a more sophisticated system or send your knives out once a year or so to restore the scalpel-like factory edge they come with.

One great thing about Miyabis is their partial bolster, which makes them easier to sharpen than knives with a full bolster because you can easily access the entire blade:

Full bolster knife diagram with callout
Miyabi partial bolster callout

For more information on knife sharpening, see our Beginner's Guide to Knife Sharpeners.

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Who Are Miyabi Knives Best For?

Miyabi knife cutting orange

Anyone who wants a light, nimble, extremely sharp knife that can keep an edge longer than most other brands will probably be happy with any of Miyabi's lines.

None of the Miyabi knives are "entry level" as they are all extremely sharp and made with extremely high quality materials, although some of them are priced at entry level prices. (For Miyabi, this means an 8-inch chef's knife is about $120--not cheap, but quite far from the high-end of Japanese cutlery.)

Having said that, Miyabi knives are a great choice for any cook who knows enough about Japanese knives to:

1) use them properly (not for hard foods or bones), and

2) take proper care of them (they have to be stored safely and sharpened with a method that will keep the 9-12 degree edge, such as a Japanese water stone or other sharpening stone, or a guided rod system that can do such narrow angles, like the TS Prof.

We don't think novices should buy lower quality tools, so if you're new to knives or cooking, this doesn't mean you shouldn't get a Miyabi. Just be sure you understand use and care involved and you'll be fine.

If you're an experienced cook and are looking to upgrade your knife collection or add a high-end Japanese knife to it, then Miyabi is an excellent choice, as well. 

Which of Miyabi's lines are best? It really depends on what you're looking for and how much you want to spend. You're going to get top quality no matter which line you buy, but if you want to save a few bucks, go with one of the synthetic handle lines. If you want the best of the best, then go with Birchwood, Black, or Kaizen II. 

You should also try a few of the handles to find out which feels best in your hand.

You should also choose a knife that you think is beautiful, because this adds to your enjoyment every time you use the knife.

Remember, knives are a very personal decision. What works for someone else may not be right for you. If you find a knife that performs well, feels great in your hand, and is beautiful (in your eyes), you'll have made the right decision. 🙂

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Miyabi Vs. Shun

Miyabi Birchwood chef's knife

Miyabi Birchwood chef's knife.

Shun Premier Chef's Knife, Grey

Shun Premier chef's knife.

Miyabi and Shun are close in price and quality, as well as being well-known brands in the Western world. But which is better?

Of course it always depends on what you're looking for, and more specifically, how a knife feels in your hand. Both of these brands are high quality, so which one you prefer is a personal choice.

However, if coming at it from a strictly "features and specifications" point of view, Miyabi wins over Shun on most fronts.

For example:

Steels and Hardness: Shun uses high quality VG10 and VGMax steels, but Miyabi offers this as well as the even harder SG2 and other fine carbide steels. Thus, while Shun offers a hardness rating of 60-62 HRC, Miyabi has a wider range of 57 HRC-66 HRC, with three lines that have a rating of 63 HRC. So if hardness is your thing, Miyabi wins.

Blade Angle: Shun offers a respectable 16 degree double bevel, which many people might prefer. Miyabi offers a scalpel-thin 9.5-12 degree double bevel, which is rare in the Western market. Now, this thin edge has both pros and cons: the con is that it can chip more easily than a thicker blade. But the pro is that using a blade this thin feels like everything you're cutting through is butter. Along with the hardness, this extremely thin blade provides an amazing user experience.

Handles: Most Shun knives have pakkawood handles, including their Premier line. Miyabi uses woods, pakkawood, and synthetics depending on the line. The difference in handles means that you can get an extremely high quality Miyabi blade for a fairly entry-level price ($120-$130). 

Finishing: All Miyabi knives are hand-finished (which is why the blade angle is a range and not exact). They have rounded spines for comfort, hand-sharpened blades, and exquisite attention to detail. Shun knives are finished with a combination of machinery and personal attention, so the tiny-yet-impressive details on the Miyabi are not seen in Shun.

Price: With the higher-end steels and hand finishing, you'd probably assume that Miyabis are in a different price class than Shun--but this isn't so much the case. Yes, the premier lines of Miyabi, the Birchwood and the Black, are going to cost about double what you'd pay for a Shun Premier (top of the line Shun). However, you can get Miyabi knives with the SG2 steel for about the same price as a Shun Premier, and you can pick up an "entry level" Miyabi for under $150--but this "entry level" blade will be made of steel as good as or better than Shun steel. 

Shun is a great brand, and if you like how it cuts and feels in your hand, it's an excellent and high quality choice. But we recommend you also try a few Miyabis before you decide.

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Miyabi Knives Pros and Cons

Here's a quick list of Miyabi pros and cons to help you decide.

Pros
  • All hand made with traditional Japanese skills
  • Super steels that stay extremely sharp
  • Several handle designs to choose from
  • All high quality materials
  • Exquisite attention to detail
  • Not overly expensive compared to some other Japanese brands (Shun).
Cons
  • Not entry level knives (require some knowledge for proper use and care)
  • Fairly high price point on the premium lines.

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What to Look for in a Kitchen Knife (A Buying Guide)

This section is a generic buying guide for kitchen knives. We'll start with the basics--what knives do you need?--and drill down into the details to look at before buying. 

Even if you decide Miyabis aren't the right knives for you, this section will help you decide how to pick out the right kitchen knives. 

Sets Vs. Individual Knives

Miyabi 7pc block knife set

If you need several knives, then a set can be great. And knife sets can make great gifts, too. But a set should include the knives you need, and none that you don't--which means that the biggest set you should get is about six pieces, including a block and a honing steel (a kitchen shears is a nice piece, too, but they often don't have the same quality steel as the knives in a set). 

We think it's wise to start out with too few rather than too many knives. This way, you can invest in the knives you know you'll need as you figure it out. 

If you go with a set, we recommend going with a small set. One smart option is to buy a block that has the basic knives you need and several empty spaces so you can expand your collection with the knives of your choice. This way, you get the better price on a set, as well as the option to grow your collection as you want to. Win-win.

Which Knives Do You Really Need?

Miyabi Birchwood chef's knife

Miyabi 8" chef's knife for all basic cutting tasks (santoku works, if you prefer it).

Miyabi Birchwood bread knife

Miyabi serrated bread knife.

Miyabi Birchwood paring knife

Miyabe 4.5" paring knife.

The only knives most cooks really need are a chef's knife, a paring knife, and a bread (serrated) knife. This covers all your food prep needs, so everything else is extra. 

The chef's knife comes in a variety of styles and sizes, so you have to decide which one works best for you. The most common length is 8 inches, but you can get shorter ones (6") and longer ones (9.5"). For styles, you can go with a standard German chef's knife, which has a wider, heavier blade and a deeply curved belly for rocking motion cutting, or you can go with a flatter Japanese chef's knife (pictured here) that's better for slicing and slight rocking cutting.

Some people even prefer a santoku for their chef's knife, which has a nearly flat blade and requires an up-and-down cutting motion:

Miyabi Birchwood Santoku

There's no wrong answer, and it all depends on how you like to cut. The point is that there are a number of options for an all-purpose chef's knife--and you may even want more than one chef's knife for different uses.

Furthermore, if your chef's knife is Japanese, then you'll also probably need a heavier knife for cutting bones and hard foods (squash, for example). For this, you can get a German chef's knife, made of softer, more durable steel that's designed for hard foods, a cleaver, or a Japanese cleaver.

So how many knives you need depends on your cooking style, your cutting style, the food you eat, and personal preferences. So we're not saying you only need three knives. Rather, we're saying that the main three knives to build your collection around are a chef's knife, a bread knife, and a paring knife.

You may also want a carving knife, a boning knife, a utility knife, a smaller serrated knife, a cheese knife, a set of steak knives...there are many types of knives to choose from. 

For a more detailed discussion about choosing knives, see our article How to Choose the Right Kitchen Knives.

Cost

How much do you need to spend to get good quality kitchen knives? Opinions differ on this. Some people say $30 for a decent chef's knife, others say $100, still others say $300. 

The truth is that all of these answers could be correct, depending on what you're looking for. You can find decent quality knives at lower price points if you don't mind lower quality handles (such as molded plastic rather than resin or wood), stamped blades rather than forged, and steel that will need more frequent sharpening because it's soft (though soft steels are also very durable). 

We think the price point of a decent quality kitchen knife starts at right around $100 for an 8-inch chef's knife. No Miyabi lines are priced this low, but some Miyabi lines have chef's knives at around $120 (for the Koh)  and $130 (for the Evolution). These are excellent prices for hand-crafted knives with a hardness rating of 60-61. 

And of course, you can spend much more for a premium Miyabi line such as the Birchwood or Black lines. Here, you'll pay $300-$400 for a chef's knife, which is a lot. Is this too much for a knife? It all depends on what you're looking for, but we think that if you have the budget, there's certainly nothing wrong with buying a knife in this price range. 

The Knife Blade

The two main considerations when buying a knife are the blade and the handle. Here we take a detailed look at the blade, including type of steel, hardness, forged vs stamped, edge/bevel, shape and size, and balance.

Type of Steel

We've already talked at length about steel type because it's an important topic. In fact, steel is a huge topic when it comes to knives. You can spend a lot of time learning about all the different kinds of knife steel and the pros and cons of each. That's a worthwhile endeavor, but it's also not necessary if all you want to do is buy a good quality knife. 

Nearly all knives made for the home kitchen market are made from high carbon stainless steel. The high carbon content makes the steel hard and helps to prevent rusting. Most knife steel also contains other elements such as molybdenum, chromium, and vanadium to strengthen the steel and help it resist rusting and corrosion.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different stainless steel alloys used for kitchen cutlery. You don't need to know all of them to find a good knife, but understanding the basic differences between them can help.

The two main options are German steel and Japanese steel. German steel is softer than Japanese steel. This means it doesn't hold a blade as well--needs more frequent sharpening--but is more durable, so you can use it for anything and it won't chip or break. Most German knife steel has a hardness rating of 56-58 HRC.

Japanese steel, then, is harder then German steel, with a typical hardness rating of 60-62 HRC. This means it will hold an edge longer between sharpening, but is also brittle, so it's prone to chipping if used incorrectly. Japanese chef's knives should, in general, not be used for hard foods and bone. 

Japanese blades are also typically thinner and lighter and have a more nimble feel. The thinner blades slice through foods easily, with very little pressure required.

German blades are thicker and heavier, but their weight and bulk can help with cutting. 

Most German knives use a very similar high carbon stainless steel formula. However, Japanese knife steel can vary greatly in composition, resulting in different hardness ratings, different performance, and a different feel in your hand. Japanese blades can also have a variety of cutting angles. For these reasons, we discuss the type of steel, hardness, and cutting edge of all Japanese knives we review, including Miyabis (see the table at the beginning of this article or the more detailed reviews below for information about the steel used in Miyabi knives).

Unless you understand the chemistry of steel, a type of steel probably won't mean very much to you (what's the difference between VG10 and SG2?). The biggest thing to know is that the two main types of steel are German and Japanese--and if you go with Japanese, there are a number of subgroups with different compositions.

Steel Hardness

The hardness rating of a blade is a measure of how long it will hold an edge between sharpening. In general, German steel is typically rated at 56-58 HRC on the Rockwell scale, while Japanese steel is typically rated at 60-62 HRC.  

You may think harder steel is better, but this is not always the case. Harder steel is more brittle, so it can chip more easily. Softer steel is more durable, so it's better for hard foods and bones.

In any case, familiarize yourself with what these ratings mean--so you know what your preferences are--and be sure to check the hardness of a blade before you buy. 

Forged Vs Stamped

Miyabi Kaizen II chef's knife

Miyabi Kaizen forged blade with partial bolster.

Wusthof Gourmet Chef's Knife

Wusthof Gourmet stamped knife: no bolster.

Knives can be either forged or stamped. There are important difference between forged and stamped knives.

A forged knife is made from a piece of heated metal under pressure. The blade is thicker at the top and tapers down to a thin edge. Forged knives have a full or partial bolster and typically a full tang (though some forged knives have a partial tang, particularly lighter Japanese knives).

A stamped knife is cut out of a sheet of steel. It has a uniform thickness throughout the knife (except where the blade is ground), and typically has no bolster or tang: the blade is simply attached to the handle, as shown in the image above. Stamped knives are usually lighter than forged knives for these reasons. 

Forged blades tend to be stronger than stamped blades because the forging process toughens the steel, plus there's a bolster that "bolsters" the blade. This means that forged knives are less susceptible to chipping and cracking. 

Stamped knives are usually more affordable than forged knives because it costs less to make them. Though the blades aren't as durable as forged blades, they are still plenty durable for most kitchens and can be a great way for budget conscious buyers to get good quality knives for less.

All Miyabi knives are forged and have a full tang/partial bolster construction. 

Edge/Bevel

The edge, or bevel, of a knife is the angle to which it is sharpened. As we've already said, Miyabi sharpens all their blades to a 9.5-12 degree double bevel; the range is due to Miyabi's hand finishing, which can result in variation of the edge.

This is an extremely thin edge, even compared to other Japanese brands. Most knives have a double bevel of 14-16 degrees. Only German brands of Japanese knives (santokus and nakiris) have such a thin edge, which is just 10 degrees. 

This thin edge makes Miyabi knives extremely sharp. They feel like a scalpel or razor blade in your hand. This is a great feature and it makes the knife a joy to use, but it's not the right choice for everything. You should not use such a thin edge for cutting hard foods, or you risk chipping the knife.

Shape and Size of the Blade

We talked about this above in Which Knives Do You Need? Though every cook needs at least one chef's knife, which size and shape is right for you can vary. The most common chef's knife is 8 inches, but you may prefer a smaller or larger one. 

Also, as we already said, there are different types of "chef's knives," including Japanese chef's knives with a narrow, fairly straight blade, German chef's knives with a wider, steeply curved blade, santokus, and nakiris. All work great as a standard chef's knife, depending on your cutting style, the food you like to cook, and other personal preferences.

The only way to know is to practice with different styles and sizes of blades to figure out what works best for you.

Balance and Weight

Balance and weight speak to the blade and the handle, but in general, you want a knife with a center of balance right where you hold it to cut. This keeps the knife feeling light and comfortable in your hand and will reduce hand strain if you're using the knife for a long period.

Weight is really a personal preference. Some people like a heavier knife that helps them slice through foods, while other people like a light knife that feels almost like an extension of their hand. 

As with shape and size, be sure to try out several different knives and choose one that feels well balanced in your hand.

Handle Shape, Size, and Material

Miyabi Birchwood Santoku

Handle material is important for comfort, hygiene, and durability.

You want a handle that's comfortable, not too heavy or too light (giving the knife poor balance), and conforms well to your hand.

Most knife handles are made from wood or synthetic, with many tiers of quality. Miyabi has both wood and synthetic handles. Their synthetic handles are durable and comfortable, and do not feel like a sacrifice because they come on very high quality blades (HRC 60-61!). They are also surprisingly affordable.

If you want to go up a notch or two in quality, then Miyabi has some beautiful wooden handles to choose from. Their Birchwood line has one of the most beautiful knife handles in the world.

One issue with Miyabi handles is that they tend to be on the small side, so if you have large hands, they may be too short or too narrow to be comfortable.

Just be sure that a knife handle feels comfortable in your hand before you decide to keep it.

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Review: Miyabi Artisan 6000MCT

Miyabi Artisan chef's knife
  • SG2 micro carbide powdered steel
  • HRC 63
  • Honbazuke hand crafted Tsuchime finish
  • 9.5-12 degree cutting edge
  • Cryodur hardened blade
  • Concealed tang
  • Partial bolster
  • D-shaped Cocobolo pakkawood handle
  • 8-inch chef's knife weighs 7 ounces.

The Artisan is Miyabi's updated Mizu line and features hand-finished blades with a Tsuchime finish (hammered) and a katana (Samurai sword) edge. (The Mizu line has the same blade but a different handle.) The Artisan has an SG2 super steel core hardened to Rockwell 63, which is harder than even most other Japanese knives. The handles are Cocobolo Rosewood style pakkawood, a wood/synthetic composite that's durable, hygienic, and comfortable as well as beautiful. The handle is D-shaped with a swell in the middle for excellent grip. It has red and brass spacers and a stainless steel end cap with Miyabi logo, as well as a mosaic pin. 

Miyabi Artisan handle closeup

The pakkawood handle and lack of Damascus overlay keeps the price of this knife down, even though it's got the same SG2 cutting core as the top-of-the-line Birchwood. So if you want superior edge retention in a less expensive package, the Artisan should be a serious contender. 

Overall, a beautiful and usable knife that gets mostly excellent reviews from users, with a few complaints about chipping (you must be very careful how you use a knife like this!) and cheap packaging.

The Miyabi Artisan line is available in a full range of German-style and Japanese knives, including steak knives and block sets

Using the Knife

The  Artisan 8-inch chef's knife weighs about 6 ounces, which is a light, nimble knife. The weight seems to be mostly in the handle, which some users may find unbalanced. However, we thought the knife handled beautifully: the blade is sharp enough that you need to use only slight pressure; just guide the knife through the food and the super thin, super sharp blade does the rest.

The blade is pretty straight, and shaped kind of between a Japanese gyuto and a German chef's knife. This means it's not a great choice for a rocking cut. You can use it this way, but you may get some wrist fatigue if you do so for more than a few minutes at a time. Rather, this knife is excellent for chopping and slicing.

The handle is comfortable and even though it's D-shaped, the oval is subtle, so the knife is suitable for both right- and left-handed users. This handle is a little longer and a little larger in circumference than the Birchwood, which some people prefer (it's a great choice for large hands). The pakkawood makes this knife more affordable than some of Miyabi's natural wood-handled knives, but it's beautiful and comfortable, and doesn't feel like a sacrifice in the least--especially with the high-end SG2 blade.

As with all Japanese knives, do not use this for cutting hard foods and bones and avoid twisting the blade while using. The super hard steel is brittle, so it can chip.

Sharpening: Though we recommend a whetstone or guided rod system for sharpening a high-end blade like this, if you want an easier method get Miyabi's pull-through sharpener. It has a 10 degree angle so it will maintain the right cutting edge on your Miyabi blades (as well as being usable for Zwilling and Wusthof santokus and nakiris).  

Who Is this Knife For?

This knife has an exceptionally sharp SG2 blade and is probably best used by an experienced chef or someone who understands Japanese cutlery and will take proper care of the knife. On the other hand, the pakkawood handle and lack of Damascus overlay keeps the price down, so it's a decent choice for entry-level, high-end Japanese chef's knives. Knowing proper use, storage, and sharpening are essential. 

Miyabi Artisan chef's knife

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Review: Miyabi Birchwood 5000MCD

Miyabi Birchwood chef's knife
  • SG2 steel core
  • 101 layer Damascus steel overlay
  • HRC 63
  • Cryodur hardened blade
  • Honbazuke hand crafted
  • Hamon edge
  • 9.5-12 degree cutting edge
  • Concealed tang
  • Partial bolster
  • D-shaped Karelian (Masur) birchwood handle
  • 8-inch chef's knife weighs about 6 ounces.

All Miyabi knives are excellent quality, with the Birchwood being one of Miyabi's most premium lines (only the Black is more expensive). The SG2 steel blade provides exceptional sharpness with a Rockwell rating of HRC 63, while the 100 layers of Damascus steel overlay provides beauty as it protects the hard SG2 core. The Cryodur hardening treatment makes the blade extremely strong, and the Honbazuke sharpening method makes the knife as sharp as a scalpel right out of its box.

The Karelian (Masur) birchwood handle adds beauty as well as comfort to this knife. Karelian birch ensures a comfortable grip, and even though it's D-shaped the handle works for both right- and left-handed users. A rounded spine adds to the comfort factor. The handle has red spacers, a mosaic pin, and a steel endcap with the Miyabi logo:

Miyabi Birchwood handle closeup

The Birchwood line has a full range of buying options, including German style knives, Japanese knives, steak knives, and blocks.

Using the Knife

This Birchwood knife feels comfortable in your hand thanks to the Karelian birch. The knife is thin, light, and scalpel sharp for excellent cutting. The balance is superb. We used it for several different vegetables, fruits, and cuts of meat, and it cuts through everything beautifully.

Like the Artisan, the blade is fairly straight--more like a Japanese gyuto than a German chef's knife--so a rocking motion can be used, but in a limited way: you can rock the blade slightly, but if you like a deep rocking motion, this may be the wrong knife for you. Of the four people that tested this knife, only one said he would not buy it because of this.

One complaint we've heard about this knife is that the handle is on the short side, so if you have large hands, you may experience some discomfort or strain. The Artisan (above) has a slightly longer handle and may be a better choice for larger hands (and it has the same SG2 cutting edge).

The handle is D-shaped, but appropriate for both right- and left-handed users. Though a little short, it has about a 1-inch diameter, which makes for great grip for most users. The handle is actually quite rounded, so the D-shape isn't all that noticeable. 

The birch is untreated, and though Miyabi recommends not treating it, many users and reviewers said the handle benefits from oiling--it will change the color to a deep golden and seal the wood (which can only be a good thing). If you want to treat it, be sure to Google and watch YouTube videos on this subject.

The Miyabi Birchwood gets outstanding ratings on Amazon and elsewhere, with more than 90% 5-star reviews. It's a gorgeous, high-quality knife.

Sharpening: Though we recommend a whetstone or guided rod system for sharpening, if you want to use an easier method get Miyabi's pull-through sharpener. It has a 10 degree angle so it will maintain the right angle on your Miyabi blades, as well as being usable for Zwilling and Wusthof santokus and nakiris.  

Who Is this Knife For?

Be sure that the owner of this knife knows how to use a Japanese knife correctly, store it safely, and will use the right tools to keep it sharp. It's a lot of knife for a beginner cook, but anyone who wants a high quality, beautiful Japanese knife should love a Miyabi Birchwood.

Miyabi Birchwood chef's knife

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Review: Miyabi Black 5000MCD67

Miyabi Black chef's knife
  • MC66 Microcarbide steel (ZDP189)
  • 133 layer Damascus steel overlay
  • HRC 66
  • Cryodur hardened blade
  • 9.5-12 degree cutting edge
  • Concealed tang
  • Partial bolster
  • D-shaped blackened bigleaf maple handle
  • 8-inch chef's knife weighs about 8 ounces.

The Black line of Miyabi are one of the hardest knives you'll find in retail, with an HRC rating of an incredible 66. This rating comes from the use of a super steel ZDP189, which for some reason Miyabi does not discuss, but we found it discussed on other web sites. 

This knife is not only exceptionally hard, allowing it to hold an edge exceptionally well, it is also beautiful, with a 133 layer of Damascus steel overly in a flowered pattern. The MC66 microcarbide steel provides amazing edge retention, while the Damascus overly protects the hard cutting edge. 

The handle is D-shaped with a rounded spine for comfort and is suitable for right- and left-handed users. The handle is made of blackened bigleaf maple and is durable as well as comfortable. It has black spacers, a mosaic pin, and a steel endcap with the Miyabi logo:

Miyabi Black handle closeup

The Miiyabi Black line is available in a full range of German and Japanese knives, including block sets, steak knives, and more.

Using the Knife

For some reason, the Black is heavier than other Miyabi knives, perhaps because of the maple handle (maple is a very dense wood). This makes the knife less nimble than the Birchwood, though it still cuts very smoothly. 

The handle is rounded D-shape and comfortable, though as with other Miyabis, it's a bit on the small side if you have large hands.

The thinner Japanese blade makes this knife, like other Miyabis, not great for rocking cuts. As one reviewer put it, there isn't a lot of room for "knuckle clearance." So you should definitely try this knife out thoroughly before you decide it's a keeper.

Overall, though this knife has amazing features, we think the Birchwood is a better high-end purchase because it's lighter, and most of our testers just thought it felt more comfortable in their hand.

The Black is a beautiful knife, though, so if you're leaning towards it, definitely give it a try before you decide.

Sharpening: Though we recommend a whetstone or guided rod system for sharpening, if you want to use an easier method, get Miyabi's pull-through sharpener. It has a 10 degree angle so it will maintain the right angle on your Miyabi blades, as well as being usable for Zwilling and Wusthof santokus and nakiris.  

Who Is this Knife For?

Like most Miyabis, this is not an entry level knife. Anyone who buys this knife should know proper Japanese knife use, care, and storage. There were a few negative reviews about the knife chipping, but that's almost certainly from improper use: hard foods, bone, and twisting the knife while cutting can all cause chipping. Know what this knife is for and know how to use it correctly, and it should provide decades of service.

Miyabi Black chef's knife

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Review: Evolution 400FC

Miyabi Evolution chef's knife
  • FC61 steel ("fine carbide")
  • HRC 61
  • Friodur hardened blade
  • Honbazuke finishing
  • 9.5-12 degree cutting edge
  • Concealed tang
  • Partial bolster
  • POM (synthetic) handle
  • Weight of 8-inch chef's knife is about 7.7 ounces.

The Miyabi Evolution is the closest thing to an entry level knife that Miyabi makes. It's made with FC61 steel, a fine carbide steel that's hardened to 61 HRC with the Friodur method (Zwilling's proprietary hardening method).

The handle is POM, a synthetic material that's durable and comfortable in the hand. It has a German-style shape, with a swell on the bottom for grip. The blade is also wider and more curved than most other Miyabi chef's knives, making the Evolution closer in design to German than Japanese. 

The use of plastic for the handle and the lack of Damascus overlay keeps the price of this line lower than most other Miyabi lines, yet the knife offers excellent sharpness and blade retention as well as most of the other features of a high-end knife (hardened blade, Honbazuke finishing, full tang, etc.)

Though it is an entry level price, the Evolution has top quality steel that's been treated just as Miyabi's more expensive lines. The plastic handle does not feel like a sacrifice.

Using the Knife

The Evolution is a little thicker and heavier than other Miyabis, probably because of its more German design. At just under 8 ounces, the 8-inch chef's knife is still quite light. The spine is just a hair over 2mm, making it one of the thickest Miyabi lines. This will add to its durability, which makes it a great choice for newer users who aren't accustomed to the thin, light, brittle Japanese blades.

The knife cuts beautifully and feels balanced in the hand. People with large hands may find the handle small.

The plastic handle isn't as pretty as some other Miyabi lines, but it's comfortable and practical. The German styling may also feel more familiar to people who come from a background of German knives (but want to expand). The rounded spine makes this knife easy to use for long stretches at a time.

Because the knife has a wider blade and more curved belly than the other Miyabis, it's also better for the Western-style rocking cut. This makes it a very versatile knife.

Sharpening: Though we recommend a whetstone or guided rod system for sharpening, if you want to use an easier method get Miyabi's pull-through sharpener. It has a 10 degree angle so it will maintain the right angle on your Miyabi blades, as well as being usable for Zwilling and Wusthof santokus and nakiris.  

Who Is this Knife For?

The Evolution is a good choice for someone just starting out with Japanese knives. It's design is very Western, with the contoured handle and deep, curved blade--but the hard HRC 61 steel puts it firmly in the Japanese knife camp. 

Or, if you want top notch Japanese steel for an entry level price, this is also a good choice.

Be sure the user knows proper Japanese knife use, care, and sharpening. 

Miyabi Evolution chef's knife

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Review: Kaizen 5000DP

Miyabi Kaizen chef's knife
  • VG10 "super steel"
  • 64 layer Damascus steel overlay
  • HRC 60
  • Cryodur hardened blade
  • Honbazuke hand crafted blade
  • 9.5-12 degree cutting edge
  • Concealed tang
  • Partial bolster
  • D-shaped black linen Micarta handle
  • 8-inch chef's knife weighs 7.5 ounces.

"Kaizen" means "improvement" or "change for the better" in Japanese. So the Miyabi Kaizen line strives for continuous improvement. This knife has a VG10 "super steel" core that's Cryodur hardened to HRC 60. The 64 layers of Damascus steel overlay add beauty and protect the hard cutting core.

The Micarta handle is a composite of linen and resin, which makes for a very comfortable yet durable handle. It has a traditional Japanese D-shape, but is round enough to be comfortable for all users. The handle is about 5 inches long and about 1 inch in diameter, making it a comfortable size for most people, but on the small side if you have very large hands. 

The handle is black with red spacers, a mosaic pin, and a steel endcap with the Miyabi logo:

Miyabi Kaizen handle closeup

Miyabi keeps the price of the Kaizen line down by using the Micarta handle and a slightly softer steel than they use on their Birchwood, Artisan, and Black lines. However, it is an excellent knife and gets rave reviews from most users, with a few complaints about cheap packaging and the blade not being sharp (our tester knife was extremely sharp out of the box, but this may be a quality issue with Miyabi, as most of their knives have at least a couple of complaints about this). 

As of this writing, the Miyabi Kaizen has limited availability on Amazon, with some styles and a block set available. You may find a more extensive selection at Sur la Table or on the Zwilling site.

Using the Knife

This knife is a little heavier than some other Miyabi knives, perhaps because of the handle material. The blade also has a fairly thick spine (for Miyabi) at about 2mm (which is still quite thin compared to a German chef's knife). 

So the Kaizen was a little less nimble than the Birchwood, but even so, it's a great knife. It cuts smoothly and effortlessly, and feels good in the hand, although if you have large hands, you may find the handle too small. Most of our testers found the handle comfortable and easy to grip (even our left-hander).

The blade is more traditional gyuto-shaped than German chef knife shaped, meaning the blade isn't as tall as a German chef's knife and the belly is fairly straight. This is standard for a Japanese chef's knife, but it is not designed for the rocking Western style cutting motion: you can do it, but it can become uncomfortable fairly quickly. 

Overall, if you're in the market for an excellent yet affordable high quality Japanese chef's knife, the Kaizen is certainly worth a look.

Sharpening: Though we recommend a whetstone or guided rod system for sharpening, if you want to use an easier method get Miyabi's pull-through sharpener. It has a 10 degree angle so it will maintain the right angle on your Miyabi blades, as well as being usable for Zwilling and Wusthof santokus and nakiris. This pull-through sharpener is not going to restore the blade to its original sharpness, so you will have to use a whetstone or send it out once a year or so.

Who Is this Knife For? 

The Kaizen is considered one of Miyabi's entry level knives, although it has a very high quality blade and is hand-finished like all Miyabis. The VG10 steel is very good (seen on Shun knives as well), but not quite as high quality (or hard) as the Birchwood, Black, or Artisan. It's a good knife for someone who wants to get into Japanese cutlery and knows enough about it to use it properly and care for it properly. 

Miyabi Kaizen chef's knife

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Review: Kaizen II 5000FCD

Miyabi Kaizen II chef's knife
  • FC61 steel core
  • 48 layer Damascus steel overlay
  • HRC 61
  • Friodur hardened blade
  • Honbazuke hand crafted
  • 9.5-12 degree cutting edge
  • Concealed tang
  • Partial bolster
  • Black pakkawood handle (D-shaped oval)
  • 8-inch chef's knife weighs about 7.5 ounces.

The Kaizen II carries on the tradition of "improvement" and "change for the better" which is what kaizen means in Japanese. The FC61 steel core is Friodur hardened to HRC 61, so it's slightly harder than the original Kaizen VG10 steel (HRC 60). This is the main difference between these two knives.

The 48 layers of Damascus steel overly are fewer than on the original Kaizen, but they protect the cutting core just as well, and add a beautiful flowered/lined pattern to the blade.

The handle looks much like the Kaizen handle but is made of black pakkawood rather than Micarta. It is D-shaped, has similar red spacers, mosaic pin, and logo in the steel end cap. The main difference (other than the pakkawood) is that the Kaizen II handle is contoured with a swell in the middle rather than being straight like the Kaizen handle:

Miyabi Kaizen II handle closeup

The Miyabi Kaizen II comes in a full range of German and Japanese style knives, including knife blocks and steak knives. Go to Zwilling to see the whole collection. 

Using the Knife

The Kaizen II feels lighter than the Kaizen and is well balanced. The blade cuts beautifully and the knife gets extremely high marks from most reviewers. The only negative comment was about the knife chipping, which is going to happen if the user doesn't understand how to use Japanese knives (they are not designed for hard foods).

Overall, the knife is great. The handle is a little thicker than on the Kaizen original, but is still on the small side, so may not be a good choice for people with larger hands. Other than that, it's an excellent knife.

Sharpening: Though we recommend a whetstone or guided rod system for sharpening, if you want to use an easier method get Miyabi's pull-through sharpener. It has a 10 degree angle so it will maintain the right angle on your Miyabi blades, as well as being usable for Zwilling and Wusthof santokus and nakiris. This sharpener won't restore the original sharpness, so you may want to invest in a whetstone or guided rod system, or send the knives out for sharpening when they need it.

Who Is this Knife For?

With its exceptionally sharp blade, top quality Japanese steel, and gorgeous design, the Kaizen II is for any serious chef who ideally has some experience with Japanese knives--but because this knife has a lower price point than some premium Miyabi lines, it's also more affordable--so like the Kaizen, it's a good knife for someone who wants to get into top-notch Japanese cutlery, but on a tighter budget.

Miyabi Kaizen II chef's knife

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Review: Koh 400FC

Miyabi Koh chef's knife
  • FC61 steel
  • HRC 61
  • Friodur hardened blade
  • Honbazuke hand crafted
  • Sandblasted Katana edge with mirror polishing
  • 9.5-12 degree cutting edge
  • Concealed tang
  • Partial bolster
  • Octagon pakkawood handle
  • The 8-inch chef's knife weighs 6.1 ounces.

The Miyabi Koh is one of Miyabi's simplest knives, but still striking in appearance and just as high quality as the fancier lines. The blade lacks any Damascus overlay, but its mirror polished, sand-blasted edge is just as beautiful--and just as sharp--as the Damascus steel seen on other Miyabis. Hold this knife up to the light and the fine carbide blade (HRC 61) gleams enough to make you squint. 

The handle is octagonal pakkawood and both comfortable to hold and quite durable. It lacks some of the traditional Miyabi detail, such as a steel end cap and colorful spacers on the blade, but the simplicity itself is attractive. It has a simple silver mosaic pin for decoration.

The handle is about 6 inches long, so one of Miyabi's larger handles. With a diameter of about an inch, this is a very comfortable handle for most hands.

Its elegant simplicity makes the Koh very Japanese in design. You can also see by the gyuto-like blade as well that this is a very Japanese knife. 

The Miyabi Koh is similar to the Evolution in price with a more Japanese design. The Honbazuke hand-finishing is rarely seen at this price. If you like simplicity as well as excellent quality and finish, the Koh is a great choice.

Using the Knife

The Koh is beautifully balanced and extremely sharp. It glides through foods and is comfortable in the hand. The handle is one of the longest Miyabi handles, and at about an inch in diameter, it's a good size for most hands.

This is one of Miyabi's lightest knives, with the 8-inch chef's knife weighing just 6.1 ounces. The spine thickness at the heel is just 1.7mm, making this one of Miyabi's lightest, thinnest, most nimble knives.

All of our testers liked the knife and found the octagonal handle comfortable. As with other gyuto-shaped blades, the rocking cutting you can do with it is limited, so be sure you want this type of blade before you buy.

Sharpening: Though we recommend a whetstone or guided rod system for sharpening, if you want to use an easier method get Miyabi's pull-through sharpener. It has a 10 degree angle so it will maintain the right angle on your Miyabi blades, as well as being usable for Zwilling and Wusthof santokus and nakiris.  

Who Is this Knife For?

The Koh blade is high quality Japanese steel, is completely hand finished, and yet has an entry level price of about $130. With these features, this knife is a great choice for newcomers and experienced chefs alike, at a price lower than you'll pay for some other Japanese brands that aren't nearly as high quality.

As long as the user knows how to use and care for the knife, it is an excellent choice.

Miyabi Koh chef's knife

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About the Miyabi Morimoto 600S/600D

Kaizen Morimoto chef's knife

The Morimoto Fusion chef's knife (VG10 steel).

See Miyabi Morimoto Fusion 600D on Amazon (VG10 steel, 8-inch chef's knife about $180)

See Miyabi Morimoto Red 600S at Zwilling (High carbon German steel)

The Morimoto line is designed by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. It has a "fusion" design in the sense that this knife has as many German characteristics as Japanese: It has a Western style handle and the blade is wider than most Japanese chef's knife blades, but it also has the thin 9.5-12 degree cutting edge of all Miyabi knives. It is a fusion of German and Japanese design.

We had a hard time finding these knives, with Amazon the only place that currently has a Fusion, and we couldn't find a Morimoto Red chef's knife anywhere (not even on Zwilling). 

We don't know if these knives are temporarily out of stock, if they're moving from one line to the other (Red to Fusion or vice versa), or if they've been discontinued. For these reasons, we didn't test this knife. 

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Miyabi Knife FAQs

Here are some common questions about Miyabi knives.

Why Are Miyabi Knives So Expensive?

Miyabi knives come in a range of prices, starting around $100 for a chef's knife and going up to about $300. This isn't cheap, but it's also about right for a high quality Japanese knife. They are roughly equivalent to Shun knives in price, so they aren't out of line with other brands.

What Is the Cutting Angle of Miyabi Knives?

Miyabi knives are hand finished, so the cutting angle isn't exact, but it will be between 9 and 12 degrees, which is quite thin compared to Western knives. The thinness makes Miyabi knives quite fun to cut with as they feel like they're gliding right through food.

Do Miyabi Knives Chip Easily?

Miyabi knives have a thin cutting angle, and so theoretically they should be more prone to chipping. However, the steels Miyabi uses are very good, and chipping is not a problem as long as you use the knife correctly. All Japanese knives are designed for use with softer foods and shouldn't be used for anything hard such as bones or frozen food.

Are Miyabi Knives Better than Shun?

Both Miyabi and Shun are high quality brands, but most Miyabi knives are probably a little higher quality than most Shun. Shun uses VG10 or VGMax steel, which is an older steel and not as chip resistant as the SG2 steel and fine carbide steels you see in Miyabi knives. Both are good steels, but the SG2 and fine carbide steels are considered a little higher quality than VG10. Miyabi knives have a thinner cutting angle, which is more traditional Japanese design, and Shun knives have a wider, more Western style cutting angle. There are pros and cons to both, and you really have to decide which features are most important to you.

Are Miyabi Knives Hard to Sharpen?

Miyabi knives are made from hard Japanese steel, so they're not as easy as German knives. Sharpening Japanese steel will always be harder than sharpening German steel. However, Miyabi blades hold an edge very, very well, which is the payoff of having harder steel.

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Final Thoughts on Miyabi Knives

Miyabi makes high-end Japanese cutlery in the traditional way, with each knife hand-honed and finished. They are light, nimble, beautiful knives--some might even call them works of art. They tend to get excellent reviews from users and reviewers alike. Best of all, the prices are reasonable for "entry level" Japanese knives that are made from Japanese "super steels" that are extremely sharp and will hold a blade for a long time. 

Japanese knives aren't the same as Western/German knives in design, so be sure you know how to use one before you decide to buy. But if you want an excellent quality Japanese knife that's also a work of art, Miyabi should be on your short list.

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About the Author

The Rational Kitchen (TRK) is a collaborative effort, but the founder, editor, and writer of most of our articles is Melanie Johnson, an avid cook, kitchenware expert, and technical communications specialist for more than 20 years. Her love of cooking and the frustrating lack of good information about kitchen products led her to create The Rational Kitchen. TRK's mission is to help people make the best decisions they can when buying kitchen gear. 

When not working on product reviews, Melanie enjoys reading, playing with her dog Ruby, vintage video games, and spending time outdoors and with her family.

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