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  • What's a Kiritsuke and Why do I Need one?

    March 17, 2022 3 min read

    What's a Kiritsuke and Why do I Need one?

    Some knives, at first glance, simply scream: YOU NEED ME! We’ve all seen them before—insane psychedelic handles. Unreal damascus patterns. A dragon engraved right on the blade! You know the ones I’m talking about.  But some other knives demand your attention based on their shape alone. The mighty Kiritsuke is exactly that knife! 

    When selecting a new Kiritsuke for your collection, think to yourself, “What do I need this knife to do?” “What do I want to do with this knife?”.  Are you looking to slice sashimi and play sushi chef at home? Then you’re looking for an old-school, traditional  single-bevel Kiritsuke. Thinking about owning one badass knife to tackle almost any job? You’re headed towards the more modern double-bevel kiritsuke! Let’s peek at the differences between the two most common styles. 

    Traditional Kiritsuke knives range from  240mm to 270mm. They are easily identifiable by that bad-ass, aggressive drop tip (known nowadays by knife nerds as a ‘K-Tip’) and their single-bevel construction. This is the knife you can slice sashimi with, turn scallions into tiny ribbons, and rotary peel a daikon radish for delicate garnishes. Long and slender but just tall enough to provide knuckle clearance when cutting on a board, the original design is a hybrid between a Yanagiba and an Usuba. They are best for long, clean slices or insane precise work. You can’t help but  feel like a chef when holding one of these!

    Both modern and traditional kiritsukes are super rad. You probably need both!

    Many modern Kiritsuke knives are similar to a gyuto, but with that fantastic “reverse tanto tip”! This means they are sharpened on both sides, making them usable for right and left-handed users. The aggressive tip acts like a precise petty knife sticking off of the front end of your blade, perfect for mincing shallots and garlic, while the height of the knife typically affords more knuckle clearance. Ranging in size from 165mm to 240mm in length, think of the modern Kiritsuke Gyuto as a hybrid between a Nakiri and a Sujihiki. With a cutting edge that is mostly flat, these knives truly excel at push-cutting or pull-cutting and may not be the best choice for someone keen to rock n’ chop!

    Pro Tip: When shopping for knives, know that “Kiritsuke'' can be a very general term. It’s primarily used in reference to the tip shape, so you’ll find gyutos, sujihikis, petty, and even nakiris with that wicked kiritsuke tip. The term is also often used interchangeably with “bunka” and “hakata”, depending on the maker and region. But they’re all equally badass!

    Traditional Single Bevel Kiritsukes

    Masashi Shirogami 270mm Kiritsuke Yanagiba

    Masashi Yamamoto is a man of many talents, and his foray into classic Single Bevel Knives has us utterly blown away. Easily the most popular Kiritsuke amongst staff and customers alike, featuring a traditional shirogami core, this full carbon steel knife can tackle a brisket just as quickly as it can rotary peel a daikon radish and shave some gorgeous sashimi! A must-have for sure.

    Sakai Takayuki Ginryu 300mm Kengata Yanagiba

    While not “technically” classified as a Kiritsuke, that unmistakable tip is present on this unique knife. With the length to tackle any slicing job, the Zangetsu is most at home when sectioning a watermelon or taking down a giant side of Tuna. Just look at it; who’s going to tell what you can and can’t do when you’re holding this beast!

    Modern Kiritsuke Gyutos

    Hatsukokoro SG Saihyo 210mm Kiritsuke Gyuto

    If you want precision and insane thinness, this is the Kiritsuke Gyuto for you! Incredibly hard and surgical feeling SG2 powder stainless steel coupled with an oh-so-subtle suminagashi damascus finish.  

    Masashi SLD Shiroshu 210mm Kiritsuke Gyuto

    Oh, look, Masashi-san is at it again! Designed with chefs in mind, this knife's long, nearly flat belly ensures you get a complete cut with every slice. And don’t even get me started on that near mirror Damascus cladding steel. Top 5 all-time Knife Nerd choice!

    Haruyuki Mugi AUS8 240mm Kiritsuke Gyuto

    An incredible gift for that BBQ Pit Master in your life (or for yourself!). The Haruyuki Mugi is the flattest out of all of our Kiritsuke Gyutos. Perfect for large protein work or making short work of some french onion soup, the AUS8 core steel is even a bit more rugged than some other options.

    Seki Kanetsugu Zuiun 180mm Bunka

    Alright, alright, I’m bending the rules a little bit here, but if you find 210mm or 240mm knives intimidating, but you’re just lusting after that gorgeous drop tip, the Kiritsuke Santoku (Also known) as bunka, has you covered. Measuring at a respectable, comfortable 180mm, the Zuiun series utilizes the famous SG2 powder steel steel.  Designed to have that incredible silky edge like carbon steel, but without the challenges of rust!

    Grab yourself a kiritsuke!