German vs Japanese Knives – 2020 Comparison

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On the market, you will be able to find two main different types of knives. One is German and the other type is Japanese. Of course, you may wonder what’s the difference between the two and which one you should choose. Both of these types are the most prevalent and it’s generally known that each knife has its own purpose. Let’s settle the German VS Japanese knives debate once and for all.

The main difference between the Japanese and German is in its steel hardness and quality. The second most important difference is the edge angle. Both of these features should let you know about the knife’s durability and purpose. This article is here to inform you all about the differences between German and Japanese knives. So, which one is better?

To find out more about kitchen knives have a look at our brisket knives review or Tomodachi knives review


Japanese Knives

BGT Japanese 67 Layer High Grade VG-10 Super Damascus Steel Knives, Sharp, Teak Handle Professional Hammered Kitchen Knife Set with Knife Roll Bag 6Pcs Set (Silver Blade)

Blade Purpose

There are many things one can find out by just looking at the way the blade looks, or its shape. It’s really important how long it is, its thickness, its edge and angle as well as the overall geometry of it. All of those features matter when using a knife and to figure out what the knife is intended for. There are only a few differences when it comes to the Japanese and German knives so they’re somewhat similar.

Most of the Japanese knives are straighter than the German ones. This means there is almost no curve to its balde and it has a steeper edge angle. Most often the degree range is at 12. If a blade has a round geometry, it is mostly used for long chopping as well as repetitive one. However since these knives have straight edges, they are more focused on details when cutting. They are more often than not used in very classy sushi restaurants.

Also, due to the steepness of the edge, it makes the blade much sharper and allows for much cleaner cutting. Japanese knives don’t come with a heavy bolster or a full tang. This makes them generally more lightweight than their German counterpart. So, overall, if you are looking for a knife that makes clean cuts and is known for its good accuracy then the Japanese knife is the right choice for you.

Left-Handed VS Right-Handed

This is one of the features that most people forget to pay attention to. However, it is rather important and that’s especially if you’re left-handed. A lot of people forget to think about the ambidexterity of knives while shopping. But, with these knives it’s an important feature because Japanese knives aren’t ambidextrous and that should be kept in mind.

In other words, Japanese knives have an edge which is flat and vertical on one side. However, its opposite side is different and has ground towards the edge’s peak. Like mentioned earlier, these knives are really sharp and this only adds to it. However, this feature also makes them not ideal for both left-handed and right-handed people. More often than not they aren’t, but there are a few which are. But we are speaking generally here. Overall, you should still keep it in mind if you’re left-handed.

Strength & Durability

There is a distinct difference when it comes to the type of steel German and Japanese kitchen knives have. The type of steel also gives more information regarding what they are intended for. Obviously, it’s not possible to go over every single steel that makes the knife but steel quality can be measured. It is measured by using the Rockwell Scale and such scale measures the value of any steel. The higher the number is the harder the steel is.

Having said that, the scale measures the Japanese knives to be between 58 to 62 of steel value. This means that the steel has a much better edge and is very strong. This adds to their precision and smoother cutting. On the downside, these knives can be brittle which means there is a chance for them to chip or break if one is too aggressive while using it. As already mentioned, Japanese knives are made mostly for accurate and precise cuts than for volume and repetitive chopping.


German Knives

Cangshan S1 Series 1022599 German Steel Forged 17-Piece Knife Block Set, Walnut

Blade Purpose

There are many things one can find out by just looking at the way the blade looks, or its shape. It’s really important how long it is, its thickness, its edge and angle as well as the overall geometry of it. All of those features matter when using a knife and to figure out what the knife’s purpose is. There are only a few differences when it comes to the Japanese and German knives so they’re somewhat similar.

Unlike Japanese knives, German knives do come with a rounded blade from tip to bolster. They also have a very wide blade angle which is in the range of twenty degrees. Due to the curved geometry, one should best use German knives for repetitive chopping as well as voluminous cutting tasks like dicing. Such tasks require more speed and quantity is more important than precision and accuracy.

Considering that the German knives come with an angle that is in the 20 degree range, it doesn’t make them sharp but they can be used for a very long time. They also come with a very thick and sturdy bolster and a full tang. This serves the purpose to make it more convenient to cut for a long period of time. Bolesters and a full tang aren’t very good for clean and precise cutting. German knives are popular for having a workhorse blade so if that’s what you’re looking for then look no further.

To learn more about German knives please check out the 7 best Wusthof knives or Wusthof vs Zwilling comparison.

Left-Handed V.S. Right-Handed

This is one of the features that most people forget to pay attention to. However, it is rather important and that’s especially if you’re left-handed. A lot of people forget to think about the ambidexterity of knives while shopping. But, with these knives it’s an important feature because while Japanese knives aren’t ambidextrous, German knives are so you can rest assured.

The reason why German knives are usually ambidextrous is because the edges are sharp on both sides. This makes the edge have a symmetrical peak so it allows for either a right-handed or a left-handed person to use it without much problems. The only problem with such knives is that it results in less sharpness. However, one shouldn’t use German knives for clean and precise cuts, so it shouldn’t pose a big problem.

Strength & Durability

There is a distinct difference when it comes to the type of steel German and Japanese kitchen knives have. The type of steel also gives more information regarding what their purpose is. Obviously, it’s not possible to go over every single steel that is there but one can still measure steel quality. One can measure it by using the Rockwell Scale and such scale measures the value of any steel. The higher the number is the harder the steel is.

When it comes to German knives, they usually feature rather soft steel which is in range of 56 to 60. This goes really well with the workhorse purpose of these knives. The softness of that steel makes the knives less likely to chip or break so they can last you for a very long time. However, you will need to sharpen the blade regularly and frequently. But that shouldn’t be a problem considering that they are supposed to last you for quite some time.


Which One Is The Right One For You?

After reading about so many differences, you still may not be sure about which one to buy. To put it simply, Japanese knives are usually slimy, very sharp and are much more lightweight. They are meant for precise cutting as Japanese cooking is generally more particular and careful. They also come with a very hard steel which results in an extremely sharp edge. Such a sharp edge doesn’t require you to sharpen it often.

However, the problem with Japanese knives is that they are more prone to chipping and breaking. That is because they are very thin so one should be quite gentle when using them. However, their counterpart, German knives, one can be as aggressive as they like with them. That is because they have a rounded edge and are much heavier and thicker.

The weight and softness of the steel makes the knife much meatier and also durable. With German knives you will be able to even cut through the bone. So, overall, it’s not about which one is better but which one you need more depending on your cooking style. It’s also important to note that some German knives today with a more sharp angle can be found on the market. So, the gap between these two types of knives is slowly disappearing.


German VS Japanese Knives: Conclusion

As one can notice, there are a lot of different types of knives on the market all around the world. However, there are two main types in which they differ in which are German and Japanese. From this article, you have probably noticed that there are very important differences that separate these two types so it’s important to keep those in mind when purchasing. Both of these types are of good quality and one shouldn’t look at which knives are better but which knife does one need more.

In the end, of course it’s entirely up to you which type of knife is more ideal for you. Just know to keep in mind these most important differences and you should be fine when picking. That’s why we hope that this article has been informative enough and you have come to know the most important features of both German and Japanese knives.

If you are interested in more of our comparisons have a look at ceramic vs steel knives or carbon vs stainless steel knives.

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