Knivesare very essential part of cooking whether they are used in a chef’s kitchen orin your home. When you are looking for a brand new knife, fundamentally you willfind two main types of knives: German and Japanese. There are many more differenttypes of knives available besides these two.
Both the Japanese and Germanknives have been influenced by its own rich culture. However, these two are themost prevalent and thus proved they are worthy of understanding. JapaneseKnives:The Japanese people believe thatusing an ideal instrument for a specific aim is for the best and all thingsconsidered have numerous particular knives for particular purpose.
As the landof long traditions, they have accumulated hundreds of years’ worth of knowledgeand experience and further refined them to perfection. These information werepassed down from master to apprentice as their legacy to form the knife-makingindustry as we know it today. Japanese knives are created by applyingtechniques that were originally developed for making katana over 1000 yearsago. The artisans started creating knives instead of swords in the 1850’s. Itall began when Commodore Matthew Perry’s steam boat anchored in Edo Bay (nowTokyo). There he demanded the emperor to open Japan’s long isolated ports toWestern trade.
However, it wasn’t until after World WarII that knife making in Japan really began its magnificent journey. After theend of World War II, the United States occupied Japan and General MacArthur imposeda ban on the production and possession of katana. The ban forced large numbersof highly skilled craftsmen to turn their skills and attention to craftingkitchen knives instead. Although, the sword ban was lifted after seven years, therewas still a limit placed on production which in turn caused the craftsmen tomake very few katanaa year.
However, the legacy and exceptionally haunting sharpness of the katanastill lives on in the heart of the kitchen even though more than 1200 yearshave passed by.Japanese knives basically do notcontain any bolster. The wide joint between the handle and the blade of a knifeis called the bolster. It provides a smooth transition from the blade to thehandle and also it strengthens the knife. Moreover, because of the blade beingheavier than the handle, the bolster provides better balance and improvescontrol over the way you use the knife. Additionally, the tang of Japaneseknives vary based on the creator’s choices. Tang is the part that connectsthe blade with the handle.
Japanese knives contain mostly hidden or partial tang. GermanKnives:The German people valueversatility and durability in their culinary efforts and therefore have givenimportance while designing knives that are suitable for different tasks.Solingen, the second largest city in the Bergisches Land in Germany, is a meccafor German knives. The history of German knife making began in Solingen around1814. The nickname of the city is the “City of Blades” that alone describes itsincredible fame. Medieval sword makers marked it on the world map and gave it areputation that has stood the test of time. At the time, Solingen was theplace to go in Germany for a sword. Just like the Japanese, once theGermans had perfected their own way of crafting swords, they focused theirattention to making knives.
Even now, Solingen is the knife capital of Germany.German knives mostly containsboth a full-tang and a bolster. The term full tang means that the knife iscrafted using one solid piece of metal and the metal starts from the tip of theblade and goes uninterrupted to the end of the handle.Furthermore, the two handle pieces are pinned on to the blade, one on eachside. This is the strongest of the available types of tang. Because the Germanknives have bolster, the balance of the whole knife becomes smooth givingbetter control. Comparisons: Contents Japanese Knives German Knives Angle 12 to 15 degrees.
20 to 22 degrees. Shape Straighter edge in general. Curved in general. Suitable For Better-suited for chopping and making clean slices. Better-suited for the rocking style of chopping. Weight Lightweight.
Example: An eight-inch Global Classic Chef’s Knife weighs 5.5 ounces. Heavyweight. Example: A Wusthof eight-inch chef’s knife weighs 9.6 ounces. Thickness Thinner. Thicker. Bolster Bolster-free.
With bolster. Tang Mostly hidden or partial tang. Full tang. Hardness of steel Typically on the harder side.
Typically on the softer side. Amount of carbon in steel More amount of carbon. Less amount of carbon. Edge Sharper.
Less sharp. Edge Retention Longer than German knives. Less than Japanese knives. Rockwell scale value 60 to 61. 56 to 58.
In conclusion, everythingdepends on the needs and desire of the person buying the knife. Japanese knivesare ideal for precise work as they are slim, razor-sharp, and lightweight. Theharder steel means getting a very sharp edge is possible that can go longerbetween sharpening. However, the hardness of the steel and the superb delicacyof the blade and increases the chance of it getting chipped and cracked. On theother hand, German knives are heavier, thicker and the weight and softer steelmake the knives more durable. Fundamentally, now-a-days comparison between Japaneseand German knives is not that important, especially since the gap between thestyles of knives is diminishing.
Some German knives are now sharpened to attaina lower angle than before. On the other hand, usage of new alloys improves thedurability of Japanese knives. In the end, every kind of knives have theirrespective strengths and weaknesses. It’s not that one style of knife is betterthan the other, it’s just a matter of usages and preferences.