It would be awesome if every kitchen would own a samurai sword-like knife! Japanese steel is the golden standard when it comes to superb blades that offer a cutting edge prowess. The Kamikoto brand is known for its pure use of Japanese steel in all of its blades. With the growing demand for Japanese knives, any serious home cook would need a Japanese knife for his/her kitchen. Kamikoto is one brand that is starting to take over the home kitchens in North America, not just in producing quality knives but other slicing equipment like whetstones, chopping blocks, and even Japanese dining ware. Here is an in-depth Kamikoto Knives review to help you further understand the brand and why you should have this premium set in your kitchen.
Kamikoto: What is it all About
Kamikoto is a popular premium brand of handcrafted knives. It is owned by four generations of master knife smiths dedicated to retaining the traditional method of Japanese blade forging. The company not only produces high-quality utility knives it’s also renowned for its unique century-old blacksmithing techniques.
Kamikoto has a line of highly dedicated knife smiths. The brand finds its origins back to the Edo Period of 15th Century Japan where the metalworks of the country flourished into an art form. The metal industry was refined and perfected creating century-old secrets in crafting different types of blades - usually from one family to another across the country. Kamikoto is a modern descendant of these craftsmen which is now providing the world with premium knives for professional and home kitchens.
What is Japanese Steel?
Japanese steel is a special metal mixture unique only to steel mills in Japan. It is popularly known as steel that never rusts or corrodes. Japanese steels are created to serve you for a lifetime. It does not follow a single recipe. Steel mills around Japan have their own mix of alloys that have proven to be superior across the world.
Why is Japanese Steel so Popular?
Kamikoto knives are made with the same technique used in forging samurai swords. Samurai swords are known for their “finesse slicing” and is considered as one of the most feared types of swords. Japanese steel uses forging techniques that reform steel into an extremely sharp and delicate blade that easily slices through meat and bone.
Japanese steel has always been in demand because it is crafted differently from other types of blades. They are milled using secret combinations of metal alloy. What’s surprising about it is that the steel composition depends on which mill created the steel. In Kamikoto, they get their steel from Honshu, Ibaraki, Niigata, and Kanagawa. These are central areas in Japan that develop high-grade steel.
How is Japanese Steel Different from Other Types of Steel?
As compared to other types of steel across the world, Japanese steel reigns supreme. Let’s find out the reasons why Japanese steel is the gold standard in bladesmithing.
Unique Types of Steel
There are two main types of blades made in Japan: honyaki and kasumi.
- Honyaki knives are crafted using pure steel. The single-origin steel uses either white or blue steel known as hagane. Honyaki knives are known to be very hard with incredible sharpness. However, since they are made of only one type of metal, they need frequent maintenance. Though hagane is rust-resistant, it is quite malleable and can be prone to warping under intense pressure.
- Kasumi knives are forged using a unique mixture of hagane and jigane, or soft iron. This is to make the knives’ blades harder and sharper. Kasumi blades are made with the same material as a samurai sword, or katana, andare easier to maintain than the honyaki.
Japanese knives are known because they literally have ‘cutting edge’ technology. The cutting prowess of these knives is superb because they are very thin and highly adaptable to various types of cutting and slicing methods. From delicate types of slices to bone crunching stabs, Japanese knives are made to retain their edge longer than any other type of knife.
Control and Precision
What’s interesting about Japanese knives is that they are made bigger yet they are lighter than most knives. Their handles are practically featherweight because most of the weight would be centered on the blades. On the other hand, heavier types of blades are surprisingly easy to handle because gravity helps pull the heavy metal down. The weight provides extra support and better control and that’s why they’re very easy to handle and allow you to make precise cuts.
Japanese knives often come with a special handle made of wood - typically ho-wood. This particular wood is very porous, light and great at absorbing moisture so it’s a perfect material to use as a handle. In addition, this type of wooden handle prevents the knife from slipping off your hands while providing you with a comfortable grip even after a long period of use.
The handles are treated to prevent bacteria to breed but you can simply replace the handle if necessary. This is one benefit of using wooden handles, they are very easy to replace.
Forged Quality Steel
Japanese blades are always forged by hand. Most of them are custom made because each blade is handcrafted by a professional knife smith. This makes each blade special. The blades undergo a series of heating, cooling, and hammering which would result in the greatest steel blades you can ever come across.
Breaking the Controversy
Though Kamikoto is known as a great Japanese knife brand, it underwent certain controversies because of where the knives were manufactured. Many quality knives are produced in China so Kamikoto had been labeled to produce imitation Japanese knives. However, this controversy had been debated and the question of whether or not Kamikoto produces genuine Japanese knives have been answered through the following facts:
- Kamikoto is run by four generations of Japanese knife smiths.
- This brand uses steel produced only in Japanese steel mills.
- The forging of these knives follows the traditional handcrafted care of knife smiths.
- The knives are made by professional knife craftsmen who just happen to live in China.
We can easily conclude that Kamikoto knives are indeed Japanese knives that are only mass-produced outside Japan. Other knife brands also produce their Japanese knives in other countries like China and South America and follow the same standards as the original method of crafting such knives.
Kamikoto Knives Review
They have a superb selection of knives that I believe every home kitchen should start using. Here are amazing knife sets that you should check out:
Kamikoto Ryoshi Knife Set
Knife for Slicing Meat with Finesse
This is knife set is designed for any professional meat slicer. It is created for precision meat cutting allowing you to make a thin and delicate cut with absolute ease.
There are two knives in the Ryoshi set: a 7.5” Deba knife and a 10” Yanagi-ba knife.
- A Deba knife is designed for filleting fish. The wide blade allows you to guide the knife through the filleting process as you separate the meat and the skin. The wide blade also makes the knife easy to handle especially if you use it as a utility knife.
- The Yanagi-ba knife is thinner and longer. Its main function is to serve as a sushi knife. The thin and long blade allows you to cut meat in a single glide. The tapered end is perfect in aiding you because it will not tear the meat. Aside from slicing meat, the Yanagi-ba knife’s sharp end is perfect in mincing delicate herbs and vegetables.
The Ryoshi set is specially designed for cutting fish. Whether it is filleting or cutting thin slices for sushi, it can easily glide through the meat with ease. The blades are incredibly thin and tapered to one side which is ideal for slicing meat. Since the blades have sharpened edges, they could easily slip through joints and cut-off tender cartilage and tendons.
The blades are pretty flexible so you can bend them at will for better cuts. They are also hard enough to cut through tough types of meat which are more than capable of mincing veggies, herbs, and spices like typical utility knives.
Recommended Methods of Usage:
- Gently put your hand over the section of meat you’re going to slice.
- Prop your knife diagonally with the blade leaning towards the same direction as your hand.
- From heel to tip, gently glide your knife to slice the meat into thin cuts.
If you’re you’re planning to slice larger cuts of meat, follow the same steps above but start from the tip to the heel of the blade.
To fillet a fish using your deba knife:
- Make sure you lay your fish flat on a chopping block
- With the tip of your knife, slide to separate the meat off the bone from the tail end.
- Insert the knife gliding diagonally from the tip to the heel.
- Gently move the knife back and forth as you slice the meat towards the head of the fish.
As you slice, make sure that you support your knife by putting your finger at the spine. You should also lay the knife flat as you slice to prevent the knife from creating jagged chunks.
This is the perfect knife for meat lovers. This is made for beautiful cuisine preparations designed for beautiful cuts of meat especially in cleaning, filleting, and slicing fish.
Kamikoto Kensei Knife Set
Intense Heavy Duty Knife Package
For any chef or home cook who is looking for strength and precision, the Kensei set is recommended for you. Designed for agility and great control for heavy usage, the Kensei set is surely something you would love to keep in your kitchen at all times.
The Kensei knife set has two knives: a 6.5” Honesuki, or boning knife, and a 9.5” Kiritsuke Knife. Though larger than most Western crafted knives, these are incredibly light.
- The Honesuki boning knife is especially interesting because it is curved outward to give your knife more flexibility. This knife can withstand strong slashes against tendons and cartilage and can easily carve meat off the bone with ease. Since the knife has a narrower blade, it offers better control when peeling the meat off the bone. And with a long tapered tip, it makes disjointing meat portions very simple. With the flexibility of the knife, you can also trim off fat and skin.
- The Kiritsuke knife, on the other hand, is a big, versatile knife. It can be used for hard and heavy slicing meat portions as well as gentle mincing and dicing. The blade is large which allows you to use it as an overall cutting tool like making precision cuts as well as butchering needs. It goes well with the boning knife since it works as a butcher knife that fills whatever a boning knife cannot do. Since the edge of the knife is straight, you can use it for smooth single-downward slicing to make beautifully cut slices of meat as a steak for your grill.
While most boning knives are curved inward at the heel of the knife, the Kamikoto boning knife is curved at outward from the spine to the tip of the knife. This is what makes the boning knife flexible especially in deboning tricky and irregularly shaped bones. You can also make quick slices in-between joints efficiently. Most boning knives would make it hard for you to debone poultry but because of its specialized outward curve, the Kensei Honesuki knife makes it very simple and easy.
Because of the long tail tip, the boning knife is great in using it as a coring tool. You can use it to core apples, pears and the like. It is also great in removing seeds from fruits and vegetables because the thin tip can reach places that most knives cannot.
The Kiritsuke knife is a wonderful utility knife meant for both hard-cutting and gentle slicing methods. You will love how it feels comfortable when held. There is a nice room for your fingers to rest that would allow you to control the knife better. It is also well-balanced.
The Kiritsuke knife a combination of the Usuba, or vegetable knife, and the Yanagi-ba, or sushi knife. This hybrid knife is perfect for delicate and push cutting, or slicing by means of pushing the knife forward. It is the ideal knife for preparing special food under any type of cuisine. It can replace most types of knives because of its multi-functional build.
Recommended Method of Usage:
Both knives of the Kamikoto Kensei Knife Set have long handles that allow ease of use. Here are a few tips in using the knives of this set.
The best grip in using the Honesuki is by grabbing the knife by the heel of the blade.
- Use your index finger and thumb to hold the base where the blade meets the handle and let the handle position itself comfortably in the palm of your hand.
- Glide your knife down from the heel to the tip of the blade in between the meat and the bone.
- To reach difficult areas, use the tip of the knife to create a slit where you can insert the knife with ease.
The Kiritsuke is fairly simple to handle. You can just grab hold of the handle with your entire hand for single downward slices and push cutting. You can slice and dice your vegetables by gently loosening your grip on the handle and letting the fingers take control of the knife.
Every chef wants a knife that has great strength and reliability and what this set offers is power. This is a knife set that is designed to last your kitchen for a very long time. It is a set that is perfect for busy professional kitchens.
Kamikoto Kanpeki Knife Set
Chef’s Favorite Daily Knife Set
For smaller and more intricate slicing needs of the kitchen, you need only the best knives. The Kamikoto Kanpeki knife set has the perfect combination of knives that will provide you and your kitchen all the help you can get. Designed to fit all types of kitchens and culinary enthusiasts, the Kanpeki set offers the most durable and versatile knives.
The Kanpeki knife set comes with three smaller knives: a 7” Nakiri vegetable knife, an 8.5” slicing knife, and a 5” utility knife. This knife set is the prized package of Kamikoto because it is both the favorite of professional chefs and home cooks alike. The three knives offer full control and practical usage.
- The Nakiri vegetable knife is designed for safety. The extra width of the knife prevents your fingers from being cut especially when making quick slices like mincing, dicing, and more. The mere design is optimized to provide the user with the best nakiri knife possible and that includes the blunt tip and single-bevel grind. The single bevel adds extra sharpness to one side of the knife while the opposite side remains flat to keep your fingertips from being harmed.
- The long slicing knife has a gentle curved edge that allows you to dice with ease. It is also a great partner for the Nakiri knife because it is designed to cut meat. This is one of the best slicing knives that are pretty flexible which allows you to make thin slices or chunks like a professional chef.
- The small utility knife is great for small jobs. It becomes an extension of your hand because it is lightweight and perfectly balanced. It is ideal for carving and peeling.
Recommended Method of Usage:
To effectively use the amazing three, it’s all about the proper grip of the knife. Consider the following steps:
In slicing up large vegetables:
- Grab hold of the vegetable tightly to prevent it from wiggling when you slice.
- Hold the handle with a tight grip and slide the knife right in the middle of the blade.
- Gently pull the knife backward for a smooth single cut. Make sure that you tilt the knife as you slice so that it will easily cut through the vegetables with ease.
In making smaller precision cuts,
- Curl your fingers at the slicing point to prevent it from getting cut. Using the heel of your palm and the tip of your fingers, hold the vegetable down to prevent it from moving.
- Grab your knife using your fingers and not the entire hand. Curl your fingers around the handle with your thumb and index finger positioned at the base of the heel and the handle.
This is certainly a perfect knife set for every home because it has everything you need. This is going to be the knife set that will service all the basic requirements of a busy home kitchen, small restaurants and eateries.
Comparison of The Kamikoto Knife Sets
Here is a simplified table to understand the differences of these Kamikoto knife sets.
Size and Type
Skinning, filleting, and delicate trimming
Boning, separating meat, and heavy duty slicing
Vegetable precision cuts, and daily usage
How to Sharpen a Kamikoto Knife?
Since Kamikoto also manufactures complete care set for their knives, it is best to purchase these maintenance tools from Kamikoto. They offer a single-bevel grind which is easy to maintain because it comes with a replaceable Kamikoto whetstone for your knives. The best sharpening angle is between 15 to 17 degrees. To maximize the use of your whetstone, it is suggested that you soak your whetstone in water for at least 10 minutes or until the point where there are no more bubbles rising from the bench block.
The Kamikoto Commitment
Kamikoto has standards it upholds in all of their knife sets. These four standards are the pillar of their brand.
Single-bevel Blade. Keeping to tradition, their Japanese blades have edges tapered to one side. This is a signature look for most types of Japanese blades to maintain the unique sharpness of the blade. This also allows for optimal quality in slicing and easy maintenance.
- Premium Knife Box. Every knife set you get comes in a beautiful ashwood box. The box is of a superb quality box that allows you to store your knives. Once you start using your knife and store it in a knife block, you can use the box for other purposes.
- Japanese Premium Steel. Kamikoto exclusively uses Japanese steel in forging their knives.
- Individually Created and Customized. To keep the gold standard in forging premium kitchen knives, each knife is individually forged, polished, tried, and inspected. For this reason, their knives are sent to your doorstep in their prime state all the time.
Kamikoto Secret Special: How Kamikoto Blades are Made
Kamikoto has a special secret in creating its blades and they are open to sharing these secrets to the public. You can check out their 19-step forging method here.
The Kamikoto brand is built using the hot-drop forge. This is the same method used in creating a katana or a samurai sword. In Kamikoto, the knife is heated up to a staggering heat of 1922℉ for two hours. The knife is left to cool by itself for two more hours to strengthen the blade. Hardening the blade means reducing its flexibility but it lets the blade have intense edge retention.
It takes skill to be a master knife smith and all the creators of the Kamikoto knives are masters in knife forging using centuries-old secrets. Unlike machine manufactured knives where they are simply stamped out of a single sheet of steel, forged knives undergo a rigorous process. The Kamikoto knives are made to last with supreme cutting edge and strength.
Kamikoto 411: Most Commonly Asked Questions
What is Niigata steel?
This is basically steel that comes from the Niigata prefecture. Niigata is a place in Japan popular for its multiple towns and cities that produce Japanese steel. Niigata steel is very popular because it is lightweight and can have extreme sharpness that is easy to maintain.
Is Kamikoto Worth It?
Though it is considered to be more expensive than most knife sets, the Kamikoto brand is worth it. It is more cost-efficient because it needs frequent sharpening for its knives. It is a premium brand that ensures top quality merchandise.
How Often Should I Sharpen My Kamikoto Knives?
It is suggested that you sharpen your knife every 6 months. However, it is better if you hone the knives more often since they have the tendency to bend; especially, when used in heavy cutting conditions. You don’t have to sharpen often; rather, hone the knives often instead.
The Final Takeaway
When it comes to cooking, my first priority would be the ingredients followed by choosing the right tool set for all of my needs. We all need the right set of knives that will cater to most (if not all) slicing needs for cooking and such. For that very reason, I highly recommend the Kanpeki Knife Set. It has everything that you need for slicing meat and vegetables among other many tasks the set can do. The Kanpeki knife set is great for home cooks. It is specially designed for the home kitchen and is a very ideal set.
I hope this in-depth kamikoto knives review helped you learn how valuable these knives are. If you have any more questions, feel free to leave a comment and I'll answer them for you.