The Japanese Must-Have Cow Blade: Gyuto

Japanese cuisine is famous for its variety of unique dishes, the weird yet fiery combination of ingredients that caught our attention with the vivid colors of Salmon, shining Caviars, lush green Nori seaweed, and brown, medium-rare Wagyu beef made our hearts flutter like butterflies lost in the forest. Famed for the intricate processes required to craft culinary arts, Japanese cuisine tops the charts for fine quality dishes, its unique authenticity, and the blends of varying, fresh ingredients together creatively. Japanese chefs are then known for their extraordinary blade skills – the superb, swift chops, perfect slices, and the professional cuts often showcased at open sushi bars and private sushi tables in Omakase restaurants.

The mastery of the blades, the skills and techniques each chef has in their own blood, is what makes sushi and sashimi dishes delicious. Mouth-watering sushi alone would definitely not make people go all the way to luxurious, pricey Omakase restaurants alone. Without the crafting process diners can witness, the beauty of sushi and its delicacy drops down a little. Therefore, the mastery of the blades is highly essential, as it is a major factor which determines the product of success – the savory, stomach-growling hunger-calling sushi.

As knives are important in the crafting of sushi, sashimi, nigiri, and other popular Japanese dishes, Japanese chefs own quite a few knives of their own to craft their ideals. The common knife types include the Santoku, Bunka, Nakiri, Honesuki, Sujihiki, Hankotsu, and Gyuto. Each knife is designed to perform different tasks, but one of the mostly-used knives is no other than the Gyuto knife.

Gyuto, The Cow Blade

If you’re a Japanese food fan, Wagyu beef is definitely a term you must know. And yes, the Japanese word ‘Gyu’ spelled in Gyuto knife is similar to that of Wagyu’s ‘Gyu’. The word ‘Gyuto’ literally means “Cow blade” in Japanese, which also explains why the Gyuto knife is originally used to cut, chop, and slice beef. Often referred to as a Japanese version of the Western chef knife, Gyuto knife is often used for general purposes, be it to cut veggies, slice meat, or chop ingredients of all sorts despite its specific name. Gyuto knife equips an extremely sharp edge, with thinner blade body compared to that of a Western knife. Japanese knives are forged out of extremely high quality materials, where the steel that makes up the blade is mostly rust resistant and durable. The materials that make up the knife handle comes in a variety of forms, be it wood, metal, stone, or synthetic materials, where professionals can choose just their favorite to work with. A Gyuto knife, though, often comes with either wooden or metal handles as their standard.

Among the best Gyuto knife models available, Sakai Takayuki’s 33-Layer VG10 Damascus Hammered Japanese Chef’s Gyuto Knife 210mm is a perfect model for professionals. Its Damascus hammered steel is a 33-layer VG10 upgraded version from the initial 17-layer version, making it extremely durable. Its supreme quality, sharp edge also gives it a water resistance feature along with rust resistance. Sakai Takayuki 33-Layer VG10 Damascus Hammered Japanese Chef’s Gyuto Knife 210mm has excellent edge retention, which also makes it one of the most-loved Gyuto knives. Apart from Sakai Takayuki’s Gyuto, Yu Kurosaki’s R2(SG2) Hammered SHIZUKU WA RS8P Japanese Chef’s Gyuto Knife 210mm with White-Ring Octagonal Handle is yet another perfect Gyuto for both novices and professionals. As a double-edge knife, forged out of the Super Gold 2 micro carbide powder stainless steel, this is definitely a must-have as it is long-lasting, rust resistant, and has unique, original designs. For collectors, this Gyuto knife by Yu Kurosaki not only wows them with pure blade beauty, as the octagonal-shaped Rosewood with White Packer Wood ferrule handle also pushes the bar of satisfaction up.

History of Shigeki Tanaka Knives

Shigeki Tanaka knives are manufactured in an old-fashioned workshop in Miki City, Hyōgo Prefecture by Shigeki Tanaka and a small team of his employees. The knives are known for its unique designs and are forged through traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations.

History of Shigeki Tanaka Knives

A fourth generation blacksmith, Shigeki Tanaka’s knives are well-known not only in Japan, but also around the world. His great grandfather, Mr. Gentaro, started making sickles during the Meiji Period, and Tanaka’s grandfather and father also specialized in manufacturing sickles. Born into a family of blacksmiths, it’s no surprise Tanaka followed in their footsteps and also became a successful blacksmith as it seemed this was his destiny. In 1995, Shigeki was just a child when his grandfather, father, and uncle started a company together, and this is where Shigeki’s desire to become a blacksmith began. To develop the skills required and further hone his talent, Shigeki moved from his hometown of Miki to Takefu, Fukui Prefecture to study the art of blacksmithing. It was in Takefu where Shigeki would learn and develop most of his knowledge and skills, as the town of Takefu is famous for having over 700 years of forging history and where many traditional forging techniques were developed. After three years of training, Shigeki would return to Miki City to work at his family’s factory. In 1999, Shigeki would begin transitioning to manufacture kitchen knives under the brand Shigeki-saku.

With the demand for sickles decreasing, the family began producing kitchen knives as an extra source of income, and in 2000, the company was renamed to Tanaka Kazayuki Blade Manufacturing Co. Once Shigeki took control of the company after his father passed away, he began focusing on manufacturing high-quality, handmade knives which would attract much attention amongst blacksmiths in the city. As his knives grew in popularity, many chefs would begin taking notice and not only use the knives, but recommend them as well. Shigeki would also produce unique knives that mixed modern culture with traditional designs.
One special collection of knives produced by Shigeki that attracted the interest of the public, in particular Generation Z, was his Gothic Knife Series. This line of knives mixed Japanese Gothic-Lolita fashion with traditional craft, and would further fuel the brand’s popularity due to its uniqueness.

Features of Shigeki Tanaka knives

Another one of Shigeki’s popular knives is the Juliette. In the media and on the internet, this knife is known as the “Lolita Knife” or “Goth-Loli Knife”. This knife is a new style of Japanese knives, and was create to appealing more to the younger Japanese generation. While the knife has caught the public’s attention, it is still a very capable knife that’s handy in the kitchen, features sharp edges, and is forged using traditional techniques.

Mikhail is also another uniquely designed kitchen knife produced by Shigeki Tanaka. The knife was designed on the image of an angel dressed like a bride, and the wings were crafted in a way to look as if they were falling. The blade has a cross cut out, and there is a chain on the knife. Both the blade and the accessory can be removed, and the knife is made of Damascus steel.
A fourth generation blacksmith, Shigeki Tanaka has successfully led the company his grandfather started into the modern era while retaining its heritage by producing knives which appeal to the public, and in particular, Generation Z. His unique designs has brought his company and its knives considerable publicity. Despite this, Shigeki continues to operate out of a small, old-fashioned workshop and hand makes all his knives, which continue to be high-quality, well-received, and reliable. If you’re looking for a unique kitchen knife, Shigeki-saku is a brand you need to check out.