Japanese knives are a mystery to most Western home cooks. Their names speak about tradition, but in a foreign and strange way. The same way when someone tells you about a long-standing tradition in their family that has nothing to do with how you do things at home.
Yet that doesn’t need to be the case. Japanese knives, along with German, French, and American counterparts, are some of the best knives in the world.
It’s true that some Japanese knives are deeply traditional and make little sense to a Western person like you and me. Others—like the santoku knife—can be a surprisingly practical culinary tool for your day-to-day cooking.