If there is one thing that is consistent about the Japanese people that you should know about, is that they are meticulous about almost everything in their lives.
You can see it every day play out before your eyes like clockwork – from their daily routines, traffic & pedestrian management, trains always on time (or even earlier than their estimated time of arrival ETA), anime, food preparation and a lot more!
Suffice it to say, it wouldn’t be fair to talk about the takohiki without mentioning the various types of Japanese kitchen knives, because there is a whole slew of them.
Japanese kitchen knives are bladed tools that derived from ancient swords and are specially designed for food preparation.
These knives are often made using traditional Japanese blacksmithing techniques and each have a special purpose (i.e. you can’t use a knife that is used for cutting squid and octopus like the Takohiki knife, or knives to cut or chop a different kind of meat).
The best Takohiki knife is this Tojiro Shirogami steel 300mm knife on Amazon. It’s length is great for raw fish when preparing Sushi or Sashimi and especially perfect because of it’s square tip.
It’s definitely not the most expensive so I’ve got some more knives and reviews below of some of the most professional knives. But I personally decided to stay at under $150,- instead of spending close to $800,-.
Read on to see them all.
Japanese Kitchen Knives
Exclusivity is the forte of Japanese kitchen knives which is very different from Western culture.
Since the age of the samurais ended with the ushering of the Meiji Restoration (明治 Meiji), Japanese blacksmiths shifted their work from sword making to kitchen knives crafting, and created successful businesses out of it.
Before the industrial revolution in the late 19th century Japanese sword smiths used tamahagane (玉鋼:たまはがね), or “jewel steel” to make kitchen knives. This is also the same steel used to make the katana which is the sword that the legendary samurais used for battle.
When the modern age arrived modern sword smiths now use as much stainless steel as the tamahagane in creating high quality kitchen knives.
The Japanese would often refer their kitchen knives as hocho (包丁/庖丁) or bocho (due to rendaku – a sequential voicing in Japanese morphophonology).
Sometimes kitchen knives are also called kiri (〜切りor “cutter”) as well as other names depending on how they are used or what they are used for.
Japanese kitchen knives have 4 general categories, including:
- Its handle (Western vs. Japanese)
- Its blade grind (single bevel vs. double bevel)
- The kind of steel used to manufacture it (stainless vs. carbon), and
- Its construction (laminated vs. monosteel)
Design and Use
Japanese knives are mostly crafted with only a single ground; this means that the sword smith only sharpens one side of the blade to form its cutting edge, which is very different from Western grind on kitchen knives.
However, there are also Japanese kitchen knives that have double bevel and both sides of the blade are sharpened.
Both sword smiths and chefs traditionally believed that single-beveled blades made better and cleaner cuts than knives with double-beveled edge, except the former required the user to be more skilled in using the blade.
Sword smiths often makes the right-hand side of the knife’s blade angled, because most people are right-handed.
This makes the knife easy to use and help the chef/cook prepare food more efficiently.
Left-handed models are rare and must be specially ordered and custom made.
What is a Takohiki Knife?
The takohiki knife falls under the category of Yanagiba knives where the name takohiki literally translates to “octopus cutter.” It is a knife specifically designed to cut squid and octopus.
Yanagiba knives (Japanese for willow blade) are the most popular fish-cutting knives in Japan, and they also go by another name: shobu-bocho (sashimi knife).
Sushi chefs and specialists use the yanagiba knife to highlight different textures of fish in demonstrating their fish cutting techniques.
Yes, as incredible as it may sound, in Japan even cutting fish is considered an art, especially cutting fish for sushi.
The types of cuts are:
- Hirazukuri to pull cut vertically
- Usuzukuri to pull cut thin vertically
- Sogizukuri to pull cut at an angle
Yanagibas are used to scale, skin and remove the bones of certain types of fish such as salmon, for example.
Kensaki or kiritsuke tip, yanagiba knives are usually heavier with angled tips and have less sloping.
The takohiki knife is a yanagiba variant (from a particular region in Japan) which is used exclusively to cut octopus (in making takoyaki) and is lighter, thinner, flatter, and shorter in blade height than yanagiba.
This particular knife design allows for cutting through denser meat with ease like that of an octopus.
The average size of yanagiba knives as well as the takohiki is around 270 mm to 330 mm long.
Best Takohiki Knife Brands
Following our discussion above we will now explore the different brands that manufactures and sells takohaki chef’s knife on the market.
Because sushi, sashimi, takoyaki and other seafood-based dishes have been exported throughout the world, the manufacturers featured in this list may not just include Japanese companies, but from other countries as well.
Below are some of the best takohiki knives that we highly recommend you buy if you’re making sushi and sashimi or are still in the process of deciding to make them soon.
Tojiro Shirogami Steel Sushi / Sashimi Chef Knife Takohiki Knife 300mm
Tojiro Shirogami fish, sushi and octopus knife is forged with the Sanmai technique and has a core made out of very tough carbon steel known as Japanese Shirogami #2 steel (also called white steel).
The shape, length and square end of the knife is ideal for cutting raw fish and denser flesh like that of an octopus.
Once you’ve master the cutting of fish with this knife, then you can easily cut a piece of sashimi or takoyaki in a single pass.
Its dimensions are:
- Blade length is approximately 300 mm
- Total length from the handle to the tip of the knife is 420 mm
- Weight is about 144 grams
- Blade thickness (at its thickest point) is 3.3mm
- Steel type: forged with the tamahagane steel and has a core steel of the Japanese Shirogami #2 steel carbon steel also called “white steel” (single-beveled design).
- Hardness: 62-64 (Rockwell C)
- The handle has a D-shaped designed made from traditional Honoki wood (“Whitebark Magnolia”) with black buffalo horn bolster.
Note: This knife specifically is for right-handed persons and the handmade knives from Tojiro are also non dishwasher safe. Please see package information on how to do cleaning and maintenance on the blade.
Masamoto HonKasumi Gyokuhakukou Takohiki (sushi knife), KS0124, 240 mm
The Masamoto HonKasumi Gyokuhakukou Takohiki knife is forged with the Shirogami #1 carbon steel, is manually ground and is laminated with the tamahagane metal under the strict sword smithing techniques of HonKasumi Gyokuhakukou.
The traditional blade is manually forged and sharpened by the 7th generation sword smith masters trained under Tsukiji Masamoto.
The Masamoto Forge has been in operation in Tokyo since 1845 and it is considered as one of the best forging techniques in Japan as well as the rest of the world.
Sword smiths back in the day thought that they needed to create a knife that’s suited for filleting fish for sashimi, cutting sushi and cutting dense octopus meat for takoyaki, so they created the takohiki.
With the appropriate length of the takohiki blade plus its sharpness, chefs could easily cut fish and octopus meat in one slice.
Thus the takohiki has been in use ever since as it has proven its worth to both the chefs and the sword smiths.
- The blade length is 240 mm
- Total length from tip of the blade to the base of the handle is 390 mm
- Weight is 102 grams
- Steel type is tamahagane coated with Japanese Shirogami #1 White Steel core
- Hardness: 62-64 (Rockwell C)
- The handle is made of traditional Japanese Honoki (Magnolia Hypoleuca) with octagonal shaped cross section
- Bolster: real buffalo horn
- Special features: single-beveled edge design for right-handed people
- This takohiki knife in particular has been forged, sharpened and polished using the “iHonKasumi” method, which gives it a smoked/foggy outlook.
Reminder: this knife is not safe for dishwashers and must be cleaned and maintained according to the guidelines given in the user’s manual.
Sakai Takayuki White Steel #1 Takohiki 270mm (10.6 inches) Ebony Handle with Saya
Here’s another high quality takohiki knife that I highly recommend any chef or Japanese food enthusiast should own, the Sakai Takayuki Carbon Steel Takohiki!
The tough and sharp carbon steel blade will make fish and other seafood meat an easy work each time you pass the knife through their meat.
Make sushi, sashimi, fish fillet, takoyaki cuts and more with this knife!
Blade & Handle
Sword smith master Sakai Takayuki is said to be very proud of this white steel kasumi style takohiki knife.
Every knife that Sakai Takayuki creates goes through a rigorous forging process with the utmost forging disciplines applied by expert blacksmiths in Sakai City (one of the most famous cities in Japan known for forging the best kitchen knives).
Harmony and balance is the best feature of this professional takohiki knife that fuses cutting edge and flexibility in a single tool.
Functions of a Takohiki Knife
The takohiki is similar to the fish-slicing knife known as the yanagi or yanagiba, except that it comes from the Kanto region of Japan, which is modern day Tokyo now.
The single bevel blade design of the takohiki functions very much like its predecessor (yanagi), which allows the chef to make one clean slice off of any raw fish or seafood meat without creating rough surfaces or bruising on the meat slices.
Warning: This takohiki blade is made from carbon steel and will rust if not maintained properly. It is highly recommended that you use a rust remover each time you clean this blade after every use.
- Style : Takohiki
- Length : 270mm (10.6 inches)
- Weight : 158.757 grams
- Blade Steel Type : Shiro-ko (White Steel #1)
- Handle material : (Kokutan) Ebony
- HRC : 60-61
- Bevel Angle Ratio : Single bevel
- Special Feature : Kasumi
- Cover : Included
Also check out these 7 best grills for Binchotan charcoal
Nenohi Kaede Sakimaru Takohiki 300mm (11.8 inches)
You should definitely get this Nenohi Kaede Sakimaru Takohiki knife! Although the price tag for this professional Japanese kitchen knife is $1,070, it’s very useful and it will last long.
It will give you a great value for your money’s worth.
Nenox Blade & Handle
This takohiki knife is forged from carbon steel (rust-resistant special steel alloy) and tamahagane steel.
Nenohi blades have the best of both worlds! They are sharp and durable as they are made from carbon steel, and they are also resistant to rust and oxidation, which makes them easy to maintain.
The Kaede series has a kyomen mirror finish and comes with an octagonal shaped, Japanese magnolia handle.
The handle at the time when it is fused with the blade is filled with the same type of steel used to create the handle.
Moreover, to ensure that no water or other foreign elements will enter the gap between the handle and the blade, a waterproof wax (which is also a type of steel) is poured into the handle crevice.
This technique is called E-ume and it helps prevents the blade from rusting within the handle.
Severe moisturing and over use can still cause high carbon steel knives like the Nenohi Kaede Sakimaru Takohiki knife to oxidize and rust. Please use a high quality rust remover when cleaning and maintaining this blade.
- Style : Takohiki
- Length : 300mm (11.8 inches)
- Weight : 172.4 grams
- Special Feature : Kyomen
- Blade Steel Type : High Carbon Rust-Resistant Steel
- Handle material : (Hō) Japanese Magnolia
- Bolster material : Water Buffalo Horn
- HRC : 61
- Bevel Angle Ratio : Single bevel
- Cover : This knife comes with a wooden cover called “saya”
If you have the time, read my post on the right Japanese table manners as well. It’ll change your outlook
If you’re a chef or just a Japanese food enthusiast who is on your way to cooking great Japanese cuisines, then you should consider the tools you’ll need to do this.
The takohiki is a great kitchen knife and it can help you make great sushis and sashimis, not to mention takoyakis as well.
Of course, there are dozens of other specially made Japanese kitchen knives that you will need when you’ll cook other recipes.
But you may want to start with the takohiki and making sushi first before venturing into other dishes.