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Tojiro Knife Review: The Best Japanese Knife You’ve Never Heard Of

By trk

Last Updated: January 29, 2024

best kitchen knives, Japanese knives, kitchen knives, Tojiro

Tojiro could be the best Japanese knife you've ever heard of. The company keeps prices down by doing very little advertising and counting on word-of-mouth reputation to sell their products. They make several lines of knives, with their most popular knife in the US being a Japanese blade with a Western style handle. Prices are surprisingly affordable for knives with VG10 steel--probably the best knife steel in the world. 

We take a detailed look at Tojiro knives and review the most popular Tojiro gyuto sold in the USA. If you're in the market for an affordable yet high quality Japanese blade, Tojiro may be exactly what you're looking for.

Tojiro Knives at a Glance

These are the most popular Tojiro knives sold in the USA. The most popular is the 210mm Classic (DP) gyuto (F-808). 

Tojiro makes several other knives including Western, Japanese, and Chinese cleavers, but they can be hard to find in the US. Go to Tojiro's website to see the full lineup.

All Tojiro knives are made in Japan. 

Tojiro Knife

Features

Tojiro DP Gyuto 210mm

-VG10 core with stainless steel overlay, hand finished and heat treated for hardness

-HRC 60-61

-Full tang

-Bolster 18/8 stainless steel

-12 degree bevel (24 degrees inclusive)

-Spine 1.8mm thick at heel (8" gyuto)

-6.9 ounces/195g** (8" gyuto)

-Western style reinforced laminated handle

-About $100 for the 210mm (8") gyuto.

Tojiro DP Classic Damascus gyuto

-37 layers of low carbon and high carbon steel over VG10 core

-HRC 60-61

-Full tang

-Bolster 18/10 stainless steel

-12 degree bevel (24 degrees inclusive)

-Spine 1.8mm thick at heel (8" gyuto)

-7.2 oz/205g (8" gyuto)

-Western style reinforced laminated handle

-About $150 for the 210mm (8") gyuto.

Tojiro Pro DP santoku F895

-VG10 core with stainless steel overlay, hand finished and heat treated for hardness

-HRC 60-61

-Full tang

-Bolster 18/8 stainless steel

-12 degree bevel (24 degrees inclusive)

-Spine 1.8mm thick at heel

-5.3 oz./150g (6.7" santoku)

-Stainless steel "tornado" pattern handle

-About $90 for the 6.7" santoku.

Tojiro Bread Knife

-High carbon stainless steel blade

-10" blade

-Full tang, no bolster

-3.8 oz./109g

-Wood/resin handle

-About $37.

*This set is not sold by Tojiro and may not be Amazon Prime.

**The given weight is 7.4oz/210g, but our tester knife weighed 6.9oz/195g.

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About Tojiro

Tojiro began life as an agricultural machinery company in the 1950s, but switched to cutlery to try to capture a year-round market (farm machinery did not sell in the winter). They made their first stainless steel knife in 1955 (a fruit knife), but at the time, stainless steel was considered inferior to carbon steel for knife blades. Tojiro worked to improved the quality of the stainless steel blade, and were one of the early makers of high carbon stainless steel knives in Japan. 

Tojiro has made many high quality kitchen knives and has won several awards for their innovations and design. They have expanded over the years and today they make knives for the global market. They are located in Tsubame-Sanjo, Niigata, Japan.

Tojiro makes several lines of knives for the Western and Japanese markets. They also make some Chinese-style knives, whetstones and sharpeners, and tableware. Their Western knives have Western-style handles and most of them have a VG10 core clad with softer steel or Damascus steel.

Their Japanese knives have wa-style handles and most of them have the same blade materials as their Western knives.

Both Western and Japanese Tojiros are available in the US, but the Classic DP line (Western) is by far the most popular line sold here. 

Go to Tojiro's website to see their full lineup (though you can't buy through this site).

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How We Tested

We tested the Tojiro Classic DP 8" gyuto (F808). First we tested out-of-box sharpness with a professional edge tester that measures the force needed to cut through a thin wire. We're looking for a sharpness below 400 grams, per this table of sharpness standards (the lower the number, the sharper the blade):

Bess C knife sharpness scale

The average of three tests was 230g ("new high end cutlery").

After sharpness testing, we used the knife for standard cutting work in the kitchen for about a month. We cut tomatoes, onions, carrots, herbs, potatoes, apples, cheese, meats, and more. The hard Japanese steel is not meant for hard foods like bone, hard squashes, and frozen foods, so we stayed away from those. 

Several testers used the knife so we could get different perspectives on the knife's performance and handling.

We do a detailed review below of the F808 gyuto. Because most Tojiro blades have the same construction--VG10 steel clad with high carbon stainless steel--this review applies to most Tojiro blades. 

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Steel Used in Tojiro Knives

Tojiro uses a few different Japanese steels for their knives. Most Tojiro lines have two types of steel: a hard steel for the core (VG10) wrapped with a softer steel which adds durability.

Here are the types of steel Tojiro uses (in alphabetical order):

13 Chrome Stainless Steel: This is a high chromium, low carbon stainless steel that's very corrosion resistant. Tojiro uses it to clad the harder VG10 core to protect it and add durability.

18/8 Stainless Steel: Tojiro uses 18/8 steel for many of their bolsters and for their steel handles (such as on the Pro DP line). They don't use 18/8 for any actual blades.

Damascus Steel: Damascus steel (see our Damascus steel article to learn more) is made of layers of different steels, usually high carbon and low carbon steels, hammered and folded together to create the patterns Damascus steel is known for. Some Tojiro knives have a VG10 cutting edge that's clad with a Damascus overlay rather than 13 Chrome steel. The number of layers of Damascus in Tojiro knives can vary, with more layers increasing the price. Damascus steel adds both beauty and cost to a blade, but its purpose is the same: to protect the hard VG10 steel core. The original Damascus process produced stronger steel, but today its purpose is mainly decorative (because knife and steel technology has come a long way since the early days of Damascus steel).

VG10: VG10 is a premium Japanese steel with high chromium content and high carbon content (1%), as well as containing vanadium, molybdenum, cobalt, and manganese, elements that improve strength, toughness, corrosion resistance, and edge retention. VG10 is considered one of the best knife steels on the market, if not the best. It has a Rockwell hardness rating of 60-62 HRC, depending on how it's treated. Tojiro VG10 knives are rated at 60-61 HRC. 

***

Tojiro uses other steels, too, though the most popular lines in the US have a VG10 core with a 13 chrome or Damascus overlay. Other steels include: 

High Carbon Stainless Steel: Most knife steel is high carbon stainless, so this could one of hundreds of knife steels on the market. In general, it's a tough, corrosion resistant steel that's good quality, but not as good as VG10. It is softer than VG10, which means it will need to be sharpened more often, but is also more durable.

Molybdenum Vanadium Steel: Most knife steels contain molybdenum and vanadium and there are hundreds of different steels that contain these elements, so we can't say for sure which steel this is, either. You see these on less expensive Tojiro lines, so this steel isn't as hard or as corrosion resistant as VG10, but still good quality.

Powdered High Speed Steel (R2): This is a super hard steel with a hardness rating of 62-65 HRC. It has excellent edge retention but only decent corrosion resistance, and may be hard for home users to sharpen (because it's so hard). We don't see any R2 knives on the Tojiro website so they may have discontinued this steel, but you can see the R2 knife here. They do say they use this steel on their site.

Shirogami/Aogami Steel: Also called "white steel," shirogami steel is seen on some of Tojiro's Japanese lines and is a more purified form of aogami steel; it is a subset of aogami steel which is also called "blue steel." There are different types of shirogami steel with different carbon contents, and Tojiro doesn't say which shirogami they use. In general, shirogami steel has a high carbon content, ranging from 1-1.5% and can be hardened to 64 HRC (depending on the carbon content and hardening process). It has excellent edge retention but is brittle and not as corrosion resistant as some other knife steels, like VG10. 

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About Tojiro Handles

Tojiro divides their knives into two main groups: Western Knives and Japanese Knives. They have several of the same knife types (gyuto, santoku, nakiri, deba), with both handle designs:

Tojiro DP Gyuto 210mm

Western handle: contoured and riveted.

Tojiro Japanese Deba knife

Japanese wa handle: round, octagonal, or D-shaped.

As shown here, Western handles are contoured to fit the hand, flat on both sides, and usually riveted. Japanese handles can be round, octagonal, or D-shaped, and the tang is hammered into the knife in such a way that it can be swapped out for a different handle if desired (this is a common trait of Japanese knives).

Tojiro uses a few different handle materials. In fact, the handle materials are usually the main difference between knife series that have the same blade: either VG10 clad with stainless steel or VG10 clad with Damascus steel. 

Tojiro handle materials are frequently mislabeled, so it's hard to know exactly what you're getting. For example, on Tojiro's website the Classic DP handle is labeled "reinforced laminated material" and on other sites, we've seen it labeled "micarta." However, it feels much like the POM used on many Western knives, which is a hard, smooth, durable synthetic that is resistant to heat and cold (i.e., it won't melt or crack). 

We're going with Tojiro's website, which includes these handle materials:

Reinforced Laminated Material: Most Tojiro knife handles are "reinforced laminated material," but there is no description of what these materials are. It's understandable that some sites would call this micarta, which is a high-end reinforced handle material seen often on kitchen knives. All we can say is this handle is smooth, hard, and comfortable to hold, and feels quite durable.

Stainless Steel: A few Tojiro handles are stainless steel, but this doesn't mean the knife is all one piece. Rather, a stainless steel handle is welded to the harder blade steel, giving the appearance of one piece of steel. Using expensive VG10 steel in a handle would be a waste, though, because it's only necessary for a cutting edge. Tojiro steel handles have a wavy "tornado" pattern that provides good grip and is quite comfortable. It is also quite attractive.

TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer): TPE is an inexpensive plastic seen on budget knife brands such as Victorinox. It's a soft, slightly rough plastic that is less durable than POM or laminated handles, but provides nice grip and feels comfortable in the hand. Tojiro uses elastomer (TPE) on the Color series, their lowest priced, non-VG10 knives.

Wood/Resin Composite: The Tojiro bread knife (see table above) has a wood/resin handle, and most of their Japanese knives have a magnolia wood and resin composite handle. Wood/resin composites make nice handles: they have the appearance of wood, but are more durable, and usually quite comfortable to hold. Many popular Japanese knife brands use a wood composite, such as the pakka wood handles on Shun knives.

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Interesting Features of Tojiro Knives

These are some of the features of Tojiro knives that separate them from other Japanese knife brands.

Both Stamped and Forged 

Tojiro knives are stamped and forged. For all we know, maybe most knives are made this way today, but Tojiro shows their manufacturing process in a video on their website, so you can clearly see that their knives have characteristics of each. The knives are cut out of a sheet of metal like a stamped knife, then heat treated and hammered into shape like a forged knife. 

Thus, these knives have the best features of each type of knife: they're light like a stamped knife, but have the good heat treatment of a properly forged knife that gives the blade excellent edge retention. 

Cutting Angle

Tojiro knives have a very thin cutting angle. Because they're hand finished, the angle can vary somewhat, but in general the cutting angle is about 9-12 degrees. This is quite thin compared to Western knives and even to most Japanese knives sold in the Western market. For example, Shun knives have a 16 degree cutting angle. The only other Japanese knife we've reviewed with a cutting angle this thin is Miyabi.

Cladding

From the Tojiro website:

What Tojiro values most in its cutting tools is sharpness. It is said that Tojiro is a pioneer of the development of a process called “warikomi”, which means cladding in English. Most of their kitchen knives have multi-layered blades: they use hagane (carbon steel) as a core material, and both of their ends are cladded with stainless steel. As a result, their cutting tools combine the fine cutting ability of hagane steel and the anti-corrosion benefits of stainless steel, making them both versatile and convenient.

The cladding, whether stainless or Damascus steel, protects the harder, more brittle cutting steel, providing the best of both worlds: the hard cutting edge of carbon steel (or high carbon stainless steel) and the corrosion resistance of high chromium stainless steel (or nickel Damascus).

Heat Treatment

Some VG10 blades chip easily (Shun often gets accused of this), but the Tojiro knives are heat treated differently, and this results in a more durable steel. (Sorry, we don't know enough about the heat treating process to explain how it's different, but we know it is.) The steel is hard, so it can still chip, but it is less prone to chipping than other VG10 knives (like Shun). 

The way Tojiro VG10 blades are treated allows them to keep an edge for a long time and resist chipping.

A lot of knife experts believe that Tojiro VG10 is superior to other VG10 knives.

Bolster

Tojiro knife with bolster callout

Tojiro knife blade have no bolster (another feature of a stamped blade), but most of the lines have a stainless steel bolster added. It looks like it's part of the blade, but it's not; it's added in the manufacturing process. This fits the handle to the blade seamlessly and improves balance: whereas most stamped knives are blade heavy, Tojiro knives are balanced much more like a forged knife.

All Tojiro knives with bolsters have just partial bolsters, which are great because they keep the knife light, and they don't obstruct the blade heel so you can sharpen the entire blade easily.

They Make Western Japanese Knives

Tojiro makes Japanese knives for the Western market as well as traditional Japanese knives. Their knives for the Western market have Western style handles but mostly Japanese blades (gyuto, santoku, nakiri, etc.) Their Japanese knives have Japanese "wa" handles and many of them single bevel (i.e., the cutting edge is flat on one side).

Tojiro Western knives include:

  • Gyuto (chef's knife)
  • Santoku (meant for vegetables but also a good all purpose chef's knife)
  • Nakiri (a vegetable knife with a rectangular blade)
  • Petty knife (a small gyuto or utility knife or large paring knife)
  • Sujihiki (a long, thin slicer).

Tojiro Japanese knives include:

  • Deba--single bevel (a heavy knife for gutting fish and cutting meat)
  • Mini Light Deba (Ajikiri)--single bevel (a smaller, lighter deba for smaller jobs)
  • Mini Deba (Kodeba)--single bevel (a smaller, lighter deba for smaller jobs)
  • Yanagi-Sashimi--single bevel (used for sashimi)
  • Tako-Sashimi--single bevel (used for sashimi)
  • Usuba--single bevel (same as a nakiri but single bevel)
  • Eel Knife--single bevel (used for cutting up eel)
  • Gyuto/Chef Knife--double bevel
  • Santoku--double bevel
  • Nakiri--double bevel
  • Paring knife--double bevel.

For the overlap (e.g., gyuto, santoku, etc.), note that the Western lines have a Western handle and the Japanese lines have a Japanese handle, but all blades are double bevel.

Note that the single bevel blades are made for right-handed users, but Tojiro will make a left-handed knife on request.

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Who Are Tojiro Knives Best For?

Many people consider Tojiro to be one of the best entry level Japanese knives, so they're a great choice for people who are just getting into Japanese cutlery. This is because they are made of excellent steel, yet aren't so hard and brittle that they're difficult to keep sharp. They also have excellent edge retention, and the Western style handle will feel more familiar to people who are new to Japanese blades.

But perhaps the biggest reason Tojiros are good for J-knife newbies is that they're affordable: the steel is the same as that used on many Shun lines, but for much less. You can get a Tojiro Classic DP 210mm gyuto for about $100; a similar Shun goes for more than $160.

But Tojiros aren't restricted to those unfamiliar with Japanese cutlery. They're a good choice for anyone who wants top quality steel at an affordable price. They're also seen often in professional kitchens, so even experienced cooks use these knives. And, Tojiro makes some very high end Japanese knives for use by sushi chefs and other professional cooks.

Not everybody needs a Japanese knife, and if you're looking for an all-purpose kitchen knife, you should probably go with a German brand such as Wusthof or Zwilling. Japanese chef's knives are not the all-purpose workhorses that German chef's knives are. Rather, they have thinner, harder blades that are excellent at precision and really fun to use, but not suitable for hard foods and bone. So if you want a one-size-fits-all, a Japanese knife isn't the right choice.

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German Chef's Knife Vs. Japanese Gyuto: What's the Difference?

Wusthof Classic Ikon Chef's Knive

Wusthof Western chef's knife.

Tojiro DP Classic Damascus gyuto

Tojiro gyuto.

A gyuto is the Japanese version of the Western chef's knife. Blades are available in similar lengths, with the 8-inch/210mm blade the most common length for both knives.

Most gyutos are narrower in height and have a flatter blade and less belly than a Western chef's knife. Gyuto blades are also thinner, lighter, and have a narrower cutting angle. It's hard to tell in the pics above, but the gyuto is narrower and has a lot less belly than the chef's knife (meaning there's less curve from the blade to the tip).

Because gyutos typically have a narrower blade, they can have less knuckle clearance than a Western chef's knife. The flatter blade with less belly also may not do well at the rock chop cut, which is a Western cutting style. Most Japanese chefs use a push-pull cut, which is easier with the flatter blade.

Some gyutos do perform much like Western chef's knives, but you have to try them out. The Tojiro gyutos have a fairly flat blade and will do a satisfactory (but not ideal) rock chop.

Probably the most important difference between a Western chef's knife and a gyuto is that the Western knife has a heavier, softer, more all-purpose blade, and a gyuto has a thinner, harder blade that is extremely precise and maneuverable, but not suitable for hard foods. If you want an all-purpose knife, go with a German/Western knife. If you want something for precise cuts or a lighter knife for veggie prepping, get a gyuto. 

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Is a Santoku a Good Choice for a Chef's Knife?

Tojiro Pro DP santoku F895

Tojiro Pro DP santoku (see it on Amazon).

A santoku knife has a very flat blade with little to no curve compared to a gyuto or Western chef's knife. Santokus have become hugely popular in the USA, replacing many cooks' standard chef's knife for basic prep work. 

Whether a santoku is a good choice for you depends on your cutting style. With the flat blade, santokus are not meant to use with a rock chop, which is a popular cutting style in Western kitchens. Instead, a santoku is best at push/pull cutting, which is a more traditional Japanese cutting style. 

If you prefer push/pull cutting, a santoku could be a good choice for you. 

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Tojiro Vs. Shun

Tojiro DP Gyuto 210mm

Tiojiro Classic DP gyuto.

Shun Classic Chef's Knife 8

Shun Classic gyuto.

Tojiro and Shun both use VG10 steel on their most popular blades, but Tojiro offers it in an affordable package with basic handle materials and mediocre finishing, while Shun offers higher end handles and superb fit and finish. 

The brands offer different cutting angles, as well, with Shun having a more Westernized cutting angle of 16 degrees and Tojiro having a more traditional Japanese cutting angle of 9-12 degrees.

If you want a pretty knife with an fancy handle, go for the Shun. If you want the top notch steel at an affordable price, go for the Tojiro.

Even though the Shun has a Japanese handle, Tojiro provides the more traditional Japanese cutting experience because of the thinner blade and narrower cutting angle.

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Tojiro Vs. Miyabi

Tojiro DP Gyuto 210mm

Tiojiro Classic DP gyuto.

Miyabi Birchwood chef's knife

Miyabi Birchwood gyuto.

We love Miyabi knives, though not everyone does. They're high quality and offer traditional Japanese handles and a narrow 9-12 degree cutting angle. The fit and finish of Miyabi knives is superb. They use several high end steels, including powdered "super" steels and VG10. They also use the same overlay technique as Tojiro to protect the harder cutting core with softer steel on some of their knives. The cutting angle is the same as on a Tojiro at 9-12 degrees. Most of the handles are Japanese style or a hybrid Japanese/Western style.

We've been using a Miyabi Birchwood gyuto in the kitchen since we did our Miyabi review more than a year ago, and the blade has held up astonishingly well with just a few swipes on the steel and no sharpening at all. It's also light, nimble, and very fun to use.

Miyabis offer great selection and beautiful knives, but at a premium price. If budget is not an issue, Miyabi is a great maker that we recommend. If you want an affordable blade but with excellent steel, Tojiro is the way to go.

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Pros and Cons of Tojiro Knives

Pros
  • Very affordable top quality VG10 blade
  • Excellent edge retention/low maintenance
  • Durable handles in Western and Japanese shapes
  • Heat treatment makes the blade less prone to chipping than other VG10 brands
  • A great choice as an introduction to Japanese knives.
Cons
  • Quality control is inconsistent, so some dull blades and rough finishes get through
  • No sets available (from Tojiro)
  • Not great for rock chopping
  • Too brittle for hard foods and bone.


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Review: Tojiro Classic/DP Gyuto

Tojiro DP Gyuto 210mm
Tojiro DP Classic Damascus gyuto

Tojiro Classic DP Damascus

See 8" gyuto on Amazon (F655)

See 9.5" gyuto on Amazon (F656)

See 10.75" gyuto on Amazon (F657)

See 7" santoku on Amazon (F659)

About $165 for the 8" gyuto

The Classic/DP is the most popular Tojiro sold in the US, so this is the one we decided to review. However, several of their lines have the same blade, or the same VG10 core with a Damascus overly, which doesn't affect the knife's performance. So, you can apply our testing results to several Tojiro lines.

The Classic DP Damascus is the same knife with a Damascus overlay rather than a stainless steel overlay. It's a pretty knife, but much more expensive than the regular Classic at about $165. The Damascus adds beauty, but the performance is the same, with some reviewers saying food sticks more to the Damascus steel.

Knife tested: 210m/8.2-inch gyuto (Japanese chef's knife)

Out of box sharpness: 230g (razor sharp)

Hardness: 60-61 HRC

Weight: 6.9oz/195g

Spine thickness at heel: 1.8mm at heel

Features:

  • VG10 core with stainless steel overlay, hand finished and heat treated for hardness
  • Hardness 60-61 HRC
  • Full tang
  • Partial bolster of 18/8 steel (not VG10)
  • 12 degree bevel (24 degrees inclusive)
  • Western style reinforced laminated handle
  • Low maintenance because of the excellent edge retention.

What We Like

Tojiro is widely regarded as one of the "best bang for the buck" brands of Japanese knives, with a standard 210mm (8.2") gyuto Classic (F808) going for about $100. They do almost no advertising, which probably helps keep costs down. Their blades are comparable to Shun-many of both are VG10 steel--but many people think they're better due to a better heat treatment, which keeps the edge longer and makes the blade fairly resistant to chipping.

The Classic gyuto does a great job fusing the Western and Japanese styles together which makes the knife good at most cutting tasks. As with most gyutos (and Japanese knives in general), don't use the knife on hard foods, frozen foods, or bone, or you can chip the blade. You also have to be careful not to twist or scrape the blade on your cutting board, which can also chip it.

The uber-thin blade and narrow cutting angle (about 12 degrees) gives this knife a razor-like feel. Cuts are incredibly precise, almost as good as a single bevel knife, but without the drawbacks. 

This knife has good balance. It's light (though not as light as some other gyutos we've tested), and it handles well. The blade is super sharp and it held an edge well over several weeks of use. We used it for three weeks straight before we started to steel it before use, and the steeling brought the blade back to razor sharpness.

The Western style handle is comfortable and fit most hands well. Overall, the knife was nimble and really fun to use. 

We didn't sharpen the blade, but most reviewers say the blade takes an edge fairly easily for VG10; more easily than some other VG10 knife brands.

The reviews on this knife are overwhelmingly positive on Amazon and elsewhere. There are a few knife nerd forums where people complain about  

What We Don't Like

The biggest drawback to Tojiro knives is probably quality control. They're known for having a poor fit and finish, and blade sharpness out of the box can vary quite a bit. Many people who buy this brand are getting it for the VG10 steel, which is usually much more expensive, and have the skills to polish up and sharpen the knife to get it how they want it. If you're not in this category and you're not happy with your new Tojiro, return it and get another one. Our tester knives were all excellent, with a smooth finish and a super sharp blade, but yours may not be.

Even though our knife weighed less than 7 ounces, one tester thought it felt a little heavy in the hand, almost like a German knife. This may have been due to the somewhat large handle or the Western style handle, but we're not sure. The performance was great despite this heavy-in-the-hand feeling.

Like most Japanese knives, this is not meant to be an all-purpose kitchen work horse like a Western chef's knife (like Wusthof). Rather, it excels at precision work and thin slicing. You can't use it on hard foods or it can chip--though having said that, our testers found this blade much more durable than other VG10 knives they've tested, so it can take more abuse than, say, a Shun Classic. (Even so, we don't recommend using it for hard foods.)

Also like most Japanese gyutos, the blade is flat compared to Western chef's knives, so this knife isn't good for rock chopping. It is designed for push-and pull-cutting, which is the standard Japanese gyuto cutting style. The belly does have a slight curve, so it will do a satisfactory rock chop, but that isn't what it's meant for.

Some people dislike the Tojiro Western handles, saying they're boxy, uncomfortable, and meant for large hands. Our testers thought the handle was fine; not the best they've tried but not the worst, either. If you do get this knife, pay attention to how it feels in your hand so you can return it if it doesn't work for you.

Finally, Tojiro doesn't offer a warranty on any of their knives sold outside of Japan. You have to buy from an authorized dealer that offers a warranty on Tojiro products, or buy from Amazon and be sure to return the knife within the 30 day window if you don't like it. 

Buying Options

Amazon offers several Tojiro knives, but none of their Japanese blades as far as we could tell. If you want something other than the most popular choices, you'll have to find a Japanese knife dealer that carries Tojiro knives. We don't have any recommendations, and the Tojiro site doesn't actually sell anything, but there are dozens of dealer sites to choose from: just do an Internet search for "Tojiro knives for sale" to find your knife. Also, be sure that the dealer offers a warranty on the knife, because as we said above, Tojiro does not offer a warranty on any of their knives sold outside Japan.

If you're looking at just the Classic gyuto or santoku, you can easily find one on Amazon. The gyuto comes in several lengths, with our favorite being the standard 210mm (8.2"). The santoku is also a great choice.

You can find the Classic line with Damascus cladding as well. The Damascus steel adds beauty, but it's more expensive and doesn't improve the knife's performance. In fact, some people think the Damascus causes food to stick to the blade because of the fine lines and crevices in the pattern. 

There's one set of Tojiro Classic DP knives on Amazon, but the set is not sold by Tojiro and Tojiro doesn't seem to sell sets. This set is a great collection, with the gyuto, nakiri, bread knife, utility knife, two paring knives, and a kitchen shears in a slim block for about $450:

Tojiro DP Classic 8pc Slim Knife Block

We haven't seen any other Tojiro sets (and no sets at all on Tojiro's website).

Recommendation 

The Tojiro Classic gyuto is an excellent choice. It is one of the most affordable VG10 blades on the market (maybe the most affordable), with excellent durability and edge retention. Many knife experts recommend this knife as a great introduction to Japanese knives. 

We also highly recommend this Tojiro bread knife, which gets outstanding reviews and is extremely affordable (under $40).

Tojiro DP Gyuto 210mm

buy the tojiro classic dp gyuto:

Amazon buy button
Tojiro Pro DP santoku F895

see all tojiro knives on amazon:

Amazon buy button

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How to Choose a Kitchen Knife (A Buying Guide)

Parts of a Knife

If you're in the market for a kitchen knife (or set), this section shows you the important features to think about before you buy.

Which Knives Do You Really Need?

The most important knife in any kitchen is a chef's knife or gyuto; or, some people prefer a santoku for their all-purpose chef knife. You will reach for this knife about 80% of the time, so be sure to get one you like.

A serrated knife is essential for bread because you can crush bread even with a very sharp smooth blade. And a paring knife is nice to have for small jobs and peeling fruits and veggies. 

With these three, you can do everything you need to do. Other knives can be nice to have, but they aren't as essential.

Sets Vs. Individual Knives

Buying a set is a good way to several knives at once at a good price. However, sets aren't always the right choice. You can end up with knives you don't like or just won't use very often, so small sets are always a better bet than large sets. A 4- or 5-piece set, including the storage block, is usually the best way to go because you'll get the basic knives--usually a chef's knife, a bread knife, a paring knife, and maybe a honing steel and/or kitchen shears--but you won't feel bad when you want to add to your collection. 

You may want a santoku or nakiri, or a different-sized chef's knife. If you go with a German set, you may want to explore Japanese knives; if you go with a Japanese set, you may want to get a more durable German knife for hard foods.

If you don't have a lot of counter space, a knife block could me more of a problem than a solution, so think about storage, too. There are many ways to store your kitchen knives that doesn't involve a block on your countertop. 

So think about which knives you want, storage, how much you want to spend before deciding to go with a set or individual knives. 

Overall Fit and Finish

The overall fit and finish of a knife tells you a lot about its quality. Is the blade well polished and smooth, or does it have sharp spots or edges? Is the handle comfortable, without rivets that stick out or scales that don't line up with the tang and blade? Are the seams where the  bolster, blade, and handle meet seamless, with no cracks or loose spots?

Some knives, usually inexpensive ones, can have poor finishing, meaning the knife could be uncomfortable to use and may not hold up for very long. This is not what you want.

Blade Considerations

The blade is arguably what you're buying a knife for, and there are several things to consider. Here's our list of the most important features.

Steel

We already talked about Tojiro steel, but we're mentioning it again because it's an important aspect of choosing a knife. The types of steel a maker uses--particularly in a Japanese knife, because there are so many steels to choose from--is an important factor to consider when buying a knife.

You could make a career out of studying knife steel, especially in Japanese knives. It's too much information for us to cover in this article, but here are the fundamental facts to know...

First, there are three types of steel used in kitchen knives: stainless steel, carbon steel, and high carbon stainless steel. (There are hundreds of subcategories of these steels, but these are only three steels used to make knives.)

Stainless steel is the softest. This means it doesn't hold an edge very well and requires frequent sharpening. You see it primarily on cheap knives, or as cladding over a sharper steel because of its durability (this is how most Tojiro knives are made). 

Carbon steel is the opposite: It's very hard. It is often the choice of professional chefs because it holds an edge extremely well, which saves time (less sharpening). But carbon steel rusts easily, so you have to keep carbon steel knives dry between uses or they will rust. Harder steel is also more brittle, so it can chip if you use it on hard foods or twist the blade too hard on a cutting board.

High carbon stainless steel is the best steel for most home cooks. As its name implies, this is stainless steel with a high percentage of carbon (higher than cookware steel, for example), which makes this steel great for knives: it's a hard steel that's also durable and resists corrosion. 

High carbon stainless steel can be further divided into two categories: German steel and Japanese steel. There are hundreds of steels in each category, but you don't need to know them all to make a good choice. 

All you really need to know is that German steel is softer and more durable, but needs more frequent sharpening. Japanese steel is harder and holds an edge longer, but can chip due to its brittleness. 

For most cooks, German high carbon stainless steel is the best choice, especially for your first knives because you can use them for anything. Japanese knives are better for more advanced cooks and require more care, but they are excellent tools when used for the right tasks. 

Forged Vs. Stamped

Wusthof Amici chef's knife 8

Forged knife: see the thick bolster at the heel?

Dexter Sofgrip 10 chef knife

Stamped knife: blade is all one thickness (no bolster).

Another important factor is if a blade is forged or stamped.

Forged blades are made from steel heated under pressure and pounded or pressed into shape. Forged knives have a bolster, the area of thicker steel where the blade meets the handle. The bolster adds weight, improves balance, and protects fingers. Forging improves strength and can help a knife hold an edge longer than a stamped blade. 

Bolsters can be full, as shown in the image above, or partial, as shown here:

Tojiro knife with bolster callout

Forged Japanese blades often have an added bolster, as is the case with Tojiro knives, which are a combination of stamped and forged. A partial bolster is a great choice because it makes sharpening easier (a full bolster makes it almost impossible to sharpen the entire blade).

Stamped knives are cut (often sold as "laser cut") out of a sheet of steel. They have a uniform thickness throughout (except the edge), and do not have a bolster--or, the bolster is added as a separate piece of steel or handle material. 

Stamped knives are usually lighter than forged knives and are often not as well balanced. But the lightness can compensate for a lack of balance and isn't an issue for most home cooks.

Forged knives were once considered superior to stamped knives, but knife technology has come a long ways, and some stamped knives today are quite high quality. And, some forged knives can be poor quality. So forged or stamped is no longer a way to tell a good quality knife from a poor one (price is probably the best way).

If you like how a knife feels and performs, then it's the right knife for you, whether forged or stamped.

Hardness and Finishing

The hardness of knife steel is measured by the Rockwell Scale. The units of measurement are "Hardness Rockwell C," or HRC, where C is the scale used for knives. Kitchen knife hardness can vary from about 50 HRC, which is quite soft and typically seen in inexpensive blades, up to 65 HRC, which is extremely hard, seen in high-end Japanese steels.

Good quality German knives have a hardness of about 55-58 HRC. This is hard enough to hold an edge well, but soft enough to be durable and easy to sharpen. 

Japanese knives range from about 58-65 HRC. This increased hardness means the blades will hold an edge longer than most German knives, but the higher you go above 60 HRC, the more brittle the steel and the more easily a blade can chip, so you have to be careful how you use it. It's not the right knife for hard foods, and be careful to not twist the blade or drag it across the cutting board. (If you see reviewers complaining about a Japanese knife chipping or breaking, it's probably because they were using the knife wrong.)

The finishing of knife steel refers to how the steel has been treated with heat or cold, which alters the molecular structure of the steel. Finishing affects hardness, edge retention, and other aspects of the steel, and is an important part of a knife's quality.

There's a lot of science involved in finishing steel blades that we won't go into here, but in general, expensive knives tend to have better finishing than cheaper knives. This makes them more durable and allows them to hold an edge longer.

Sharpness

When a knife is new, sharpness should be a given, so if a new knife is dull, you should return it. (Dull knives do occasionally get through, so if you're proficient at sharpening, you may want to put an edge on it yourself before deciding if you want to return it.)

But sharpness alone is not an indication of a quality knife. Any piece of steel can be made razor sharp with the right sharpening tools and techniques. So you want to think about more than how sharp a new blade is; you want to think about how long a blade will hold its edge. 

Softer steel will of course need to be sharpened more often, so if you go with steel that's too soft, you may be sharpening your knife more often than you want to. This is why we recommend not buying a knife with a Rockwell rating below 56 HRC. 

However, if you go with steel that's too hard, it's probably too delicate to use as an all-purpose knife. 

Most cooks are happy with a steel hardness of 56-60 HRC, which is hard enough to hold an edge, but not so hard that you have to worry about the blade chipping or being hard to sharpen.

How long should a knife stay sharp? It depends on many factors, but a knife with a hardness rating of 57-58 HRC should hold an edge for at least a few months of regular before needing to be sharpened. A lot of home cooks can get away with sharpening their 56-59 HRC knives a few times a year if they're using the honing steel regularly, which is the key to sharpening as infrequently as possible.

Most Tojiro knives have a hardness rating of 60-61 HRC. This is an ideal sharpness for a Japanese knife: hard enough to hold an edge well, but not so hard that the steel is brittle or hard to shapen.

Cutting Angle

Cutting Angle Diagram 15 degrees

Diagram of a knife's cutting angle.

The cutting angle, also called the bevel, is the angle to which a blade is sharpened. 

In general, German or Western knives have a wider cutting angle of 14-20 degrees double bevel (that is, on each side of the knife for a total, or inclusive, angle of 28-40 degrees). Japanese knives typically have a narrower cutting angle of 9-16 degrees double bevel. Japanese knives can also have more interesting cutting angle designs, such as single bevel knives that are flat on one side or asymmetrical bevels with a narrow angle on one side and a wider angle on the other side. Single bevel knives can make extremely thin cuts and are used for sushi and other tasks that require a great deal of precision. Such precision is not usually required in Western cooking. 

Tojiro knives have a thin cutting angle of 9-12 degrees (18-24 inclusive). The narrow angle gives a knife a super sharp feel that makes it a lot of fun to use. Tojiro also makes traditional Japanese knives with a single bevel for cutting sushi and sashimi.

It isn't necessary to know a knife's cutting angle before you buy it, and it won't matter all that much during daily use (though you should steel it at as close to the cutting angle as you can). However, when it comes time to sharpen a knife, knowing the cutting angle is important. This is especially true for a Tojiro knife, because if you sharpen it at too wide of an angle, you'll ruin one of the most special aspects of the knife.

Spine Taper

Spine taper on a knife

Spine taper: thicker at the handle, thinner at the tip.

Spine taper refers to how thick the blade is at the heel vs. how thin it is at the tip. This tells you how thick the blade is, which will affect how durable it is and what you'll use it for.

Most German knives are 2-3mm thick at the heel (handle) end and thin out to about a millimeter at the tip. This is a fairly heavy duty blade that you can use for most cutting tasks.

Japanese knives can be as thin as 1.8mm at the heel, so they can be much lighter and thinner than German knives. This makes them nimble and fun to use, but not as durable as a thicker, heavier blade.

Tojiro knives are on the thin end of Japanese knives, with the gyuto 1.8mm. You won't find a lot of blades thinner than this--so these are fun, nimble knives, but not a good choice for an all-purpose chef's knife.

Grind

Knife Grinds

Knife grinds.

Grind is how the blade tapers from spine to cutting edge. It's helpful to know, not so much when buying, but when sharpening. Most kitchen knives have a flat grind, which is a straight taper from the spine to the edge. This is the easiest blade shape to sharpen: you can use a sharpening stone or even a pull-through sharpener without altering the factory grind.

Balance, Size, and Weight

How a knife feels in your hand is determined mainly by its size, weight, and balance. Different knives can have a vastly different feel, so you should try a lot of knives to find the one that feels best to you.

Chef's knives are the most crucial knife to test, since this is the knife you'll be using the most. Standard chef's knives, both German and Japanese, have an 8-inch blade, but blades can be as short as 4 inches or as long as 12 inches. Different length means different shape, weight, and balance--so try a few different sizes. There are pros and cons to different blade lengths, so in the end it's a personal decision. 

These are features to think about:

  • Blade height: A blade should be tall enough to provide knuckle clearance (the space between your fingers and the cutting board). Japanese gyutos tend to be narrower than Western chef's knives, so blade height can be particularly crucial for them.
  • Belly: The belly of the knife--where the cutting edge curves up to the tip--can be steeply curved, like a Western chef's knife, or flattish, like a gyuto (or even santoku). What belly you prefer has a lot to do with your cutting style: if you use a rock chop, you'll want a curved belly. If you like a push-pull cut, go for a flatter blade, possibly even a santoku or nakiri. 
  • Balance: Balance isn't a big deal for home cooks because they don't use their knives for hours on end like pro chefs do. However, balance can make or break how a knife feels when you're using it. A knife's center of gravity should be right where the blade meets the handle; for most users, this feels the most balanced--and the right balance makes a knife easier to use. If the balance is off, especially if it's a bit more toward the blade, it can cause hand strain and fatigue during long cutting sessions. 

Handle Considerations

The handle is also important because if it's not comfortable you won't want to use the knife. The most important features to look at are type (Western or Japanese), material, shape/size, and knuckle clearance.

Tojiro knives aren't known for exquisite handles. Though the steel is excellent, the fit and finish of Tojiro handles isn't as good as some more expensive Japanese brands. Be sure to check the handle on a Tojiro to make sure it doesn't have any loose parts or uncomfortable protruding edges or rivets.

Western Vs. Japanese (Wa)

Knife handles fall into two major categories: Western and Japanese (also called "wa" handles). As we discussed above, Western handles are contoured along the bottom for grip, flat on both sides, and usually riveted. Japanese handles are round, D-shaped, or octagonal, and not typically riveted; it's common in Japan for chefs to remove blades from a handle and put a different handle on them. 

Note that D-shaped handles are designed for right-handed users, so if you're a leftie, a D-shaped handle may not work for you. (Several Shun knives have D-shaped handles.)

Both handle types are comfortable, so it's really personal preference. Japanese handles tend to be a little smaller and shorter, but not always. As with other features, try a few different handles to find the style you prefer.

Tojiro makes knives with both Western and Japanese handles. Their most popular lines in the US have a Western style handle on a Japanese style blade. This is an excellent compromise for people who want a Japanese blade but prefer a Western handle.

Material

Handles tend to be either wood or synthetic, but there are many types in both categories. Wood handles can be made from cheap woods or expensive woods, but all wood handles have an organic feel and traditional appearance that most people like. Wood handles can be durable, but they harbor bacteria more than synthetics do. 

Synthetics vary from soft and grippy to hard and smooth. Cheaper synthetics like polypropylene are soft and not very durable, which means they can melt or crack when exposed to too hot or too cold temps. Higher end synthetics, like POM, are quite hard and durable, and won't melt, crack, or discolor over time.

All synthetics make good, comfortable, durable handles. You should try a few different ones to decide what you prefer.

There are also wood/synthetic composites like pakka wood and fabric/resin composites like micarta. These have a great texture and are very durable, and many of them actually look like wood. 

Tojiro uses several different handle materials, but they aren't very specific as to what they are. The Classic DP handles are a "reinforced, laminated" material but they don't say exactly what it is. 

Shape and Size

This goes without saying, but a handle should fit your hand comfortably. Knife handles are made to fit a range of hand sizes, but if your hand is very large or very small, you may have to try a few different handles to find a good fit. If a handle doesn't fit your hand well, using the knife can cause fatigue, strain, blisters, and more.

A handle should be thick enough that you can wrap your hand around it comfortable and long enough that your hand doesn't hang past the edge. 

And this also goes without saying, but be sure the handle doesn't have sharp edges or rivets that aren't flush, because these will dig into your hand during use and be quite uncomforable.

Knuckle Clearance

Knuckle clearance

Knuckle clearance.

Good knuckle clearance means you can wrap your hand comfortably around the handle with clearance between your knuckles and the cutting board. 

Knuckle clearance can be an issue with narrower blades. Since gyutos tend to be narrower than Western chef's knives, be sure to check the knuckle clearance on a gyuto.

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Tojiro Knife FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions about Tojiro knives. 

Are Tojiro Knives Good Quality?

Tojiro knives are good quality, especially the blades. The handles are on the generic side, and sometimes the quality control isn't great, so there can be rough spots and mediocre finishing. A lot of people don't mind because Tojiro prices are so great for a VG10 knife, but be sure to inspect a Tojiro carefully before you decide to keep it.

Are Tojiro Knives Hand Made?

Like most knives today, Tojiro knives are a combination of being machined and being made by hand. They're cut out of a piece of steel (or a few different steels), then heat treated and finished by hand.

Where Are Tojiro Knives Made?

All Tojiro knives are made in Japan.

What Is the Cutting Angle of a Tojiro Knife?

Tojiro knives have a cutting angle of 9-12 degrees on each side of the blade.

What Is the Hardness of a Tojiro Knife?

Tojiro VG10 steel has a hardness rating of 60-61 HRC. They make other blades that are softer and harder, but the VG10 is their most popular line.

How Do Tojiro Knives Compare to Shun Knives?

Tojiro knives have similar steel, VG10, but many people think the Tojiro steel has better finishing that makes it more durable and less prone to chipping. Tojiro knives are also less expensive than Shuns. Shuns have better finishing and offer fancier handle materials, but cost significantly more, too.

What Is the Warranty on Tojiro Knives?

Tojiro does not offer a warranty on knives sold outside of Japan. You can find dealers who will warranty Tojiros, or buy from Amazon and return the knife within the 30 day window if you don't like it.

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Final Thoughts About Tojiro Knives

Tojiro Review featured image 2

Tojiro knives use high quality VG10 steel in several of their lines, including the most popular line sold in the USA, the Classic DP. They make both Western and Japanese style lines. These knives are surprisingly affordable, with the 8" Classic DP gyuto going for about $100. The fit and finish isn't as good as some more expensive VG10 knives, such as Shun, but if you want great steel at a great price, the Tojiro Classic DP is a great choice. Gyutos come in several lengths, and they also have santokus, nakiris, petty knives, paring knives, and more.

Many people recommend the Tojiro DP Classic as an excellent first Japanese blade because the blade quality is good, it's not super hard to sharpen, it holds an edge very well, and it's a great price point.

Other Tojiro knives are also worth considering, but the Classic DP is their most affordable line with VG10 steel.

Thanks for reading!

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