Japanese vs German Knives: What’s the Difference?

CRYSTAL H.  |   |   Updated
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What is the difference between the German Knives vs the Japanese ones? Apart from originating from different countries, here I attempt to explain the intricacies of their differences.

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The columnist, Susan Sampson, in her 2009 book on kitchen and cooking secrets (see Amazon) rated the German-style knives best for tackling the heavy jobs, and the Japanese-style better for fine slicing and carving.

So the basic difference, apart from their design, is their utility.

Japanese vs German knives

Japanese knives tend to have a smaller angle than German knives and are therefore sharper. The downside is that with less steel at the edge they also tend to be more brittle. Japanese knives need extra care to remain sharp. German knives while less sharp, need less care.

Unless you are a professional, you’re not likely to notice the difference in sharpness.


Blade has hard acute angles

√ Tend to be thinner and sharper

√ For delicate foods and fine slicing

√ Good for Sushi

x Not well suited to scraping bones


√ Thicker steel

√ Bulkier meats

√ Handles pressure better

√ Good for carving meats and scraping bones

Japanese knife styles

I mention the Santoku in my article on ceramic knives for the kitchen. It’s one of many. Yanagi is another.

Japanese knife brands

Japanese knife brands include many. Kyoto Ceramics is one with a similar design to the Japanese brand, Kyocera. Click here to see Kyocera’s black zirconium knives.

German brands

  • Wusthoff
  • Zwilling
  • Henckels
  • Messermeister
  • Güde
  • Mercer

Bottom line

Everyone wants a good kitchen knife set.

Consider the tasks you are most going to use them before buying your knives. And a word of advice: include sharpening stones in your budget — I cover an array here.

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