View Full Version : Glossary of Japanese Cutlery Terms.
Someone posted a suggestion that we put together a glossary of Japanese cutlery terms. It seems like a worthwhile project. I don't feel competent to write one myself but I suspect that, as a group, we can probably do a fairly creditable job.
I'd like to have suggestions for terms you'd like to see defined in the glossary and, if you like, a suggested definition. I'll try to act as an editor and put the thing together in our resources section for review. Of course we can add, delete, amend, correct or whatever as we go along. At least it might spark some interesting dialogue for the forum. Any interest?
02-16-2005, 11:54 AM
Something like this? Or less wordy? This is from the Tadatsuna website.
Deba's "De" means protruding. "Ba" means blade. Deba knives have the thick blade base, yet have the thin and sharp edges. They can be used out for chopping the whole fish or small games with bones or filleting fish in layers.
Gyutou's "Gyu" means cattle. "Tou" means knife in Japanese. Gyutou was originally made for cutting meat. Its name and the knife's style were adapted from the life style of Westerners' mostly meat diet. It is most comparable to Chef's knife in western cutlery.
High quality stainless steel originally produced in Europe. The term, "Inox" is often used in place of "stainless steel" even the steel is made in Japan.
Blades which are made of high quality soft iron and premium steel. There are two types of blades in Japanese style kitchen knives. Kasumi and Honyaki. Honyaki blades are made of all premium steel. They are made in the similar process as the Samurai sword. Because of the use of the high quality steel plus its highly skillful forging process, Honyaki knives are much more expensive than Kasumi knives, though they can be brittle and more difficult to sharpen. Kasumi knives are more durable and easier to sharpen.
NOTE: Although we do not list any of our Honyaki kitchen knives in our catalog site, if you are interested, please let us know.
Type of stainless steel which contains Molybdenum as a raw material. Molybdenum heightens resistance to corrosion.
Sujibiki's "Suji" means tendon. "Biki" means pull in Japanese. Sujibiki knives were made and used originally for separating tendon from red meat in the butchering process. These knives are best suited for carving and slicing meat.
White Carbon Steel
A type of Yasugi steel whose raw materials are of traditionally purest form of iron sand. There are blue carbon steel, yellow carbon steel, besides white carbon steel, based on the purity of the raw materials and mixing agents.
Yanagiba's "Yanagi" means willow. "Ba" means blade. Yanagiba knives are mainly used for slicing raw fish. These knives are well known for their sharpness and creation of a beautiful cutting edge without breaking the cell structure of the material.
Yasugi Special Steel
Yasugi city of Shimane prefecture in Japan has a long history of steel manufacture using the high premium iron sand that are rich in the area. Most of all masterpiece Japanese Samurai swords were made of best kind of steel, Tamahagane, which were produced by the traditional Iron work method, called Tatara. Hitachi Heavy Metal took over the Tatara technique and continues to produce the highest quality steel as YSS at its Yasugi steel factory.
02-16-2005, 07:03 PM
I am lazy.
Here is a light description of steels from watenabes site:
The Steel Used In Japanese Knives
When people talk about traditional Japanese knives, you may hear them say that the knives were made from "white (Shiro in Japanese)" steel or "blue (Ao)" steel. Alternatively, they might say "white paper (Shiro Kami)" steel or "blue paper (Ao Kami)" steel. These are not technical standards but refer to the color of the labels that Hitachi uses for some of their commercial grade steels. Among Japanese manufacturers, these become "Blue Label #1," "White Label #2," and so on. Both types are high-carbon steels in the 1.0% to 1.2% carbon range alloyed with silica (0.1% to 0.2%) and manganese (0.2% to 0.3%). The "blue paper" steels also have chromium (0.2% to 0.5%) and Tungsten (1.0% to 1.5%) added for toughness. Japanese manufacturers routinely produce knives from these steels in the Rc62 to Rc64 range, substantially harder than any Western-style blades.
For the soft-steel back, they use a very low carbon steel (0.06%) with a bit of silica and manganese (both at 0.2%). The highest-quality tools still use wrought iron from old anchors or anchor chain as the backing material.
To elaborate on YSS steel types.
The Japanese steels used for the quality knife are basically simple high carbon steel. Their quality is mainly due to the very slow percentage of the contaminating Sulphur and Phosphor.
There are two main variants:
Shiroko : Shiro is white, ko is steel, hence White steel.
Aoko: Ao is blue ko is steel, hence Blue steel.
These steels are also referred to as Aogami and Shirogami. Kami means paper (and god and hair as well). The reason is that the steel billets are supplied wrapped with white and blue paper respectively.
The white steel is the simplest, having only minute amounts of Silica and Manganese alloys. White steel is delicate can only be quenched in water and has a very narrow quenching window.
Shiroko has few subtypes, according to the amount of Carbon:
Shiroichiko: Ichi is 1 hence White steel #1. The #1A has 1.3% – 1.4% Carbon and the #1B has 1.2% – 1.3% Carbon.
Shironiko: Ni is 2, hence White steel #2. The #2A has 1.1% – 1.2% Carbon, #2B is 1.0% - 1.1% Carbon.
There is also White steel #3 with even less Carbon. As far as I am aware it is not widely used (if at all) for cutlery.
Aoichiko, Aoniko: Blue steel #1 and #2. The only difference between Aoko and Shiroko is the addition of Tungsten and Chromium, alloys that contribute to increased strength and toughness, and improved hardenability. Aoko has the same first four types as Shiroko i.e. Aoichiko A and B, Aoniko A and B.
Super Blue steel: Another sub-type with added Molybdenum and Vanadium and 1.4% - 1.5% Carbon.
Kigami (Yellow paper steel): A low quality version of the White steel with slightly larger amounts of Sulphur and Phosphor. Not widely used for cutlery.
02-17-2005, 03:38 PM
This is all great information on the steels. Some others would be VG-10, Cowry-X, KAD-181 (powdered steel like the Cowry), and then some of the lesser Western stainless steels. Also, the hardness ranges they are typically hardened to would be useful (like the Watanabe info.), sharpening characteristics, and brittleness/durability.
If I were to have my druthers, one thing that would help Japanese knife rookies like me would be more information about the uses of the various types of knives. I guess more historical information about how they developed, what they developed for, and the "theory" behind their design.
Thanks for this thread and the great information in it!
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