Funayuki: The Traditional Japanese Multi-Purpose Fisherman’s Knife

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A funayuki knife is a slim and lightweight Japanese knife that is perfect for slicing and dicing fish.

The name funayuki (舟行) means “fisherman’s row” in Japanese. They were used on the fishing boat to make fisherman’s rice, boiled freshly caught fish with mixed vegetables.

Traditionally, the funayuki knife is used by fishermen who are fishing on a boat. They also used the knife to test small and medium-sized fish for quality.

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As well, the funayuki is also used to clean, gut, and fillet small fish right there on the boat.

Back in the day, a fisherman had to work and eat his meals at sea. Therefore the funayuki knife had to be versatile.

It’s often mistakenly seen as a type of deba knife because of its shape, but the blade is much thinner and not suitable for cutting through bones.

What are the different types of funayuki knives?

The term “Funayuki” encompasses a wide range of different design features. The funayuki’s original purpose was as a fishing boat multi-tool.

In today’s market, how a knife manufacturer chooses to design and market their knives has a significant impact on how the product is used.

Funayukis share a number of characteristics including a flat blade profile, a small size, and a single bevel.

If you’re looking for a kitchen jack of all trades, these knives are a great alternative or supplement to the chef’s knife. Funayukis, like debas and yanagibas, are ideal for breaking down fish.

As a result of the wide variety in design, users who are considering purchasing one of these knives should carefully review product descriptions to ensure that it is suitable for their intended use.

If you’re looking for a versatile knife that can handle a variety of tasks, then the funayuki knife is a great option.

The blades are razor-sharp and full-tang, making them precise – also, they can cut through flesh and small bones like smoothly.

What is a funayuki knife used for?

The main benefit of a funayuki knife is its versatility. The thin, curved blade is ideal for slicing and dicing fish and seafood, but it can also be used for cutting meat and vegetables.

The knife is lightweight and easy to control, making it a great choice for chefs who want a knife that can handle a variety of tasks.

You might think the shape of the blade looks most like a Deba bocho. However, the funayuki knife’s blade is actually lighter and thinner.

This means you can’t use it to cut through frozen fish and bones.

The funayuki blade has a flat profile so it’s best for push cuts and pull cuts. You can even use it to mince herbs or veggies since you can easily use it in a rocking motion.

However, this type of knife excels at slicing smaller fish.

But, this knife is also ideal if you buy fresh fish from the market and want to clean it and slice it yourself at home.

Also, you can take a funayuki knife on a fishing trip with you, as it is perfect for filleting fish. It even makes a good camping knife because it’s sharp and preps fish and meat easily.

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How are funayuki knives made?

The best funayuki knives are handmade in Japan with great care and precision. The blades are made of high-quality stainless steel, which is hand-sharpened to a razor’s edge.

Most funayuki knives are made of VG-10 stainless steel, which is a high-carbon steel that is known for its excellent edge retention and sharpness.

Aogami steel is another popular material for this sharp knife.

The blades are also full-tang, meaning that the metal goes all the way through the handle, making them incredibly strong and durable.

This makes the knives beautiful to look at, as well as great for use.

Funayuki vs Gyuto

What is the difference between a funayuki and gyuto knife? The answer to this question can be a little confusing because there is no one definitive answer.

In general, however, you can say that a funayuki is a type of Japanese chef’s knife that is designed for slicing seafood. It has a thinner blade than a gyuto, and it curves towards the tip, which makes it easier to slice through fish.

A gyuto, on the other hand, is a general-purpose knife that can be used for slicing meat, fish, and vegetables. It has a thicker blade than a funayuki and a more curved shape, which makes it better suited for chopping than slicing.

So, which one should you choose?

If you’re mainly going to be using your knife for slicing seafood, then a funayuki is the better option.

If you’ll be using your knife for a variety of tasks, not just slicing seafood, then a gyuto is a better choice. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference

Funayuki vs Deba

What is the difference between a funayuki and deba knife?

They both look very similar since their blade width is almost the same.

The main difference between the two knives is that a deba is specifically designed for cutting fish, while a funayuki can be used for slicing both fish and meat.

The shape of the blade is another difference. The deba has a straight blade with a thick spine, which makes it perfect for cutting through fish bones. The funayuki has a curved blade which makes it easier to slice meat and fish.

However, it should be noted that these days, most funayuki and deba knives look almost identical.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.