Haruyuki: The Best Affordable Japanese Kitchen Knives
May 09, 20233 min read
Designed for kitchen success, Haruyuki knives are beloved among professionals and home cooks alike for their reliable, high-performance blades. While there are many different Haruyuki lines, they’re all crazy sharp, a joy to cook with, and easy to care for. They also have a special place in the origin story of Knifewear! In 1999 Knifewear founder Kevin Kent bought the knife that launched his lifelong Japanese knife obsession. That knife was a 180mm Haruyuki Santoku that now lives in a frame on the wall of the Calgary shop.
Visitors to the shop can see how that first Haruyuki has been used, abused, sharpened, resharpened, and loved over the years. There is some strange damage along the spine that Kevin explains was from opening beer bottles with the back of the knife. It was in his hands while he worked in some of the busiest kitchens in London and Canada for close to a decade, and it is still cuts as well as it did the day he got it.
Haruyuki blades are made in a way that combines ancient Japanese tradition with efficient modern technology: blades are forged by machine for unparalleled precision, consistency, and affordability. Skilled artisans complete each step with care, from polishing and sharpening the blade to affixing its handle. The resulting knives have the feel and aesthetics of a traditional handmade knife without the price tag. These are the main Haruyuki lines to date:
Looking for a knife with a movie star good looks? You found it. The line is made with AUS8 Stainless steel, which makes them more rugged than others. For those who love traditional Western-style handles and prefer not to worry about care and maintenance, this line is for you. The name, Mugi, comes from a type of shochu (Japanese liquor) made from barley.
This line is so popular it has been difficult to keep it in stock for the better part of a decade! Super popular amongst home cooks and professionals alike, and a great gift knife. Goma is made with a VG10 stainless steel core and 16 layers Damascus steel, to give you a beautiful ‘damascus’ look. VG10 stainless steel is a relatively new star of the knife steel world, renowned for its performance, and it retains its edge a bit longer than the Mugi. If you want both looks and performance, this knife offers the best of both worlds. The name, Goma, comes from shochu made from sesame seeds.
The look and feel of a traditional hand-forged knife, at a fraction of the price! Ginsan stainless steel is the favourite steel for many blacksmiths, as it is high carbon but stainless! That means you get great sharpness and edge-retention from a knife that's easy to care for. If you like the traditional Japanese look, ease of care and great performance, Kokuto is for you. The name, Kokuto, comes from a shochu made from brown sugar.
These Knifewear staff favourites have blackened blades with a rough nashiji finish that demands your attention. Easily the top-performing Haruyuki line, the core steel is Aogami Super which is one of our favourite knifemaking steels as it gives the knife incredible edge retention and sharpness. An outer layer of stasinless steel helps keep the maintenance down, and the traditional morado wood handle really takes the presentation over the top! The name, Shiso, comes from shochu infused with shiso leaves, Kevin’s favourite.
The Zanpa is definitely the fan favourite; just look at it! The outer cladding steel on the blade has been layered in a very unique way to form a pattern we've nicknamed 'whirlpool damascus', and the name Zanpa means 'ocean waves' in Japanese. Not just a pretty face, the blade is made from AUS10, the big brother of the steel in the Mugi. It cuts incredibly well and isn't too delicate, perfect for new and experienced users alike.
Last but certainly not least, the Nagisa is the latest addition to the Haruyuki lineup. The combination of damascus and tsuchime finishes is amazing to behold, and the name Nagisa refers to the magic spot where the waves hit the beach, inspired by the combination of the two finishes. This line is fairly lightweight and thin, a traditional Japanese design that I'm a huge fan of. Despite being lightweight, they cut super smoothly and effortlessly, and you're guaranteed to be delighted by the Nagisa!
And there you have it! If you're still unsure of what Haruyuki knife you should get, we'll be happy to help. Just contact us, and we'll make our recommendations. Happy chopping!
Naoto came to Canada several years ago and we aren't letting him go back. After getting angry with his roommate's dull knives, he started to dream of sharp Japanese knives. Naoto graduated from University of Calgary with a bachelor degree of art, majoring International Relations and finds that selling Japanese knives is his own way of doing international relations. Naoto is our Head of Shipping and receiving. You can also see him in SpringHammer looking cool and holding it all together.