Mukimono knives: Discover the History and Uses

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A mukimono knife is a type of vegetable knife used to cut thin slices of vegetables. The blade is thin and flexible, which makes it the perfect tool for slicing delicate vegetables. To use a mukimono knife, hold the vegetable in one hand and the knife in the other. Slice the vegetable by gently drawing the knife towards you in a smooth motion.knife is used for slicing, chopping, and dicing.

The traditional Mukimono kitchen knives are made of either stainless steel or the traditional metal used to make samurai swords called hagane.

Most knives are referred to as hōchō, or sometimes -bōchō (due to rendaku), but can also be called by other names including – kiri, which literally means “cutter.”

Japanese knives are distinguished into 4 general categories and they are:

  1. Handle (Western vs. Japanese)
  2. Blade Grind (single bevel vs. double bevel)
  3. Steel Type (stainless vs. carbon)
  4. Construction (laminated vs. mono steel)

The Mukimono specialized Japanese kitchen knife single-beveled thin blade is designed for chopping and carving vegetables called Mukimono (creating decorative garnishes) and Kazari-giri (decorative vegetable carving).

Mukimono decorative carving

However, its versatility made chefs prefer to use this kitchen knife for general-purpose peeling and cutting fruits and vegetables as it is very efficient in performing these tasks.

This is what decorative fruit carving looks like:

The Mukimono Hōchō has blade geometry similar to the Usuba, but it is ground much thinner and is smaller in size. Meanwhile, the Mukimono knife has a clipped point (reverse tanto tip) which is similar to the Kiritsuke.

It is placed there by the blacksmith to fulfill its intended purpose which is to make the decorative cuts mentioned above.

Mukimono kiri blades are made to have blade lengths measuring between 75mm – 210mm (typically recommended are blade lengths of 150mm – 180mm for chefs).

The design feature of this knife is best suited for peeling vegetables intricately, thus enabling even some to make aesthetically pleasing cuts on fruits and vegetables to accompany the main dish.

Similar to an Usuba knife the blade is flat and quite useful with vegetables, except the Mukimono’s pointed tip is designed for precision carving and peeling.

The single-beveled edge of the blade which is also thin and lightweight is perfect for chopping fruits and vegetables even though its original purpose is for carving.

Since ancient times knives have been known as auspicious gifts with sufficient luck to cultivate fortune, which is why some people keep it as family heirlooms.

Find the best mukimono knives reviewed here (top 4 for all budgets)

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History of Mukimono knives

Japanese kitchen knives have origins in the tradition of katana-making in samurai-era Japan.

During the early years of the 14th century, Japan decided to do away with its isolationist mentality and started trading with its neighbor, China, which also resulted in a boom in Japanese blade crafting as their blade quality is highly sought-after.

Western countries including the United States didn’t see the potential of international trade until much later in the 1850s and demanded Japan to trade with them as well.

After WWII when General MacArthur saw how troublesome the samurais can become he banned katanas in Japan.

When swordsmiths and samurais learned that the Emperor has dissolved the samurais, they turned their knowledge in swordsmithing into crafting smaller blades and quality kitchen knives.

Lucky for them the kitchen knives market was becoming a lucrative business.

Just after 7 years of General MacArthur’s ban on katanas, the Japanese government revoked it and allowed people to own swords once again; however, the tradition of high-caliber carving utensils has been steamrolling into the future.

Guide to Present-Day Knives

Today, there is a whole gamut of Japanese knives with various styles and made for every kind of purpose imaginable. Sub-categories denote the materials and methods used in their construction.

Swordsmiths craft Honyaki blades that are made from a single material of high-carbon steel covered with clay, while the Kasumi blades are an amalgamation of several metals or alloys. And there are also various shapes of knives with specific names assigned to them, so you would know how to use them.

This style of knife is designed to allow for intricate peeling of vegetables and it is mostly used when there is a need for designing peeled artwork on vegetables for aesthetic purposes to serve as a side dish.

The blade is made smaller than other Japanese kitchen knives. It’s also thin and lightweight with the added feature of the pointed tip, which not only makes peeling and carving easy but also precise.

What Can You Do With a Mukimono Knife?

A Mukimono knife is a single bevel, delicate and thin blade that is commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It is a traditional style of knife that is shorter than most other Japanese knives and is sharpened to a fine tip. The primary use of a Mukimono knife is for slicing vegetables and fruits with extreme precision. The sharp edge and angle of the blade are meant to achieve quick and clean cuts, commonly known as “Mukimono cuts.”

Styles and Shapes

There are different styles and shapes of Mukimono knives, each with its own function and purpose. Some of the common styles include:

  • Yanagi- used for slicing sashimi and raw fish
  • Yanagiba- similar to Yanagi, but with a flatter profile
  • Fuguhiki- used for slicing fish fillets
  • Deba- used for butchery and breaking down fish and poultry
  • Bytes- used for carving intricate designs on vegetables and fruits
  • Mukimono- used for general vegetable and fruit slicing and carving
  • Sakimaru- used for slicing and carving vegetables and fruits with a curved blade

Sharpness and Maintenance

The sharpness of a Mukimono knife is essential to its function. The blade is sharpened to a very fine angle, typically around 15 degrees, to increase its sharpness. Given its thin blade, a Mukimono knife may not be able to stand up to heavy use and may break if used for tasks it is not meant for. It is important to maintain the sharpness of the blade by sharpening it regularly, which can be done using a sharpening stone. Mukimono knives are typically ground on one side only, which is why they are known as single bevel knives. Maintaining the asymmetrical edge is key to achieving the cleanest cuts.

Brands and Prices

Mukimono knives are commonly made by Japanese knife makers, with Seki being a well-known brand. They can be quite expensive, with prices ranging from around $50 to several hundred dollars for high-end brands. The price of a Mukimono knife is typically determined by the quality of the blade, the brand, and the time it takes to make the product. While not necessarily a common kitchen tool, Mukimono knives can be found in specialty stores and online.


So, that’s what a Mukimono knife is. It’s a Japanese knife used for cutting vegetables and fruits and can be very decorative. You should look for a knife with a thin blade and a triangular shape, and you should use it with a good grip. You can also use it for butchery and carving. Mukimono knives are a great kitchen tool and can be used for a variety of tasks. So, go ahead and get one!

Also read: Kiritsuke, the knife for the head chef

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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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.