Handcrafted to Perfection: Traditional Shun Sushi Knives

If you are using a mass-produced knife when making sushi, you are missing out on all the joy. And your sushi rolls probably look like that somebody just sat on them accidentally. Regardless of how sharp your general knife is, sushi and sashimi require selective cutlery. So, if you don’t want your first sushi making attempt to be your last, then consider getting yourself a high-quality, traditionally handcrafted, razor-sharp Japanese knife with a really long blade. In other words, get yourself a Shun sushi knife.

I think it is fair to say that sushi making is a bit of art. You don’t just pour over the ingredients into a pan and close the lid as if you were making meat stew. Instead, you need to use your hands to form that roll the right way. Plus, you need to select the right ingredients. There are various sushi kits available to help you get started if you are new to this delicacy type. However, choosing a suitable knife is one of the most crucial aspects of making fantastic sushi. If you are wondering why, then try slicing the sushi roll with your bread knife. It would summarize my point fast and clear. You will soon realize that the vinegar added sticky rice, fresh vegetables, and the nori are all competing with each other to get stuck on the blade.

I do have many favorites when it comes to Japanese sushi knives. Their characteristics and price ranges differ. However, I want to dedicate this whole article to Shun sushi knives since these exceptional items deserve special attention. Produced by the Kai Group, the Shun series are handcrafted with experienced artisans in Seki, the knife capital of Japan. The company has been in operation since the early 1900s.

My top Shun sushi knife selections are:

  1. Shun Dual Core 10.5-inch Yanagiba with Ebony Pakkawood Handle | Premium Selection
  2. Shun Sora Chef’s Knife 8-inch | Budget Selection
  3. Shun Cutlery Premier 9.5-inch Slicing Knife
  4. Shun TDM0707 Premier Chef’s Knife 10 inch + Retractable Knife Sharpener | Bundle Selection
  5. Shun Classic 9-inch Hollow Ground Slicing Knife

√ – Premium Selection

Shun Dual Core 10.5-inch Yanagiba with Ebony Pakkawood Handle

The dual core Shun Yanagiba beats the competition when compared to most other sushi knives in the market. Unique and assertive, it can sure set new standards for the rest. I believe the Kai-Group undoubtedly tried to create a Rock star model with unparalleled features. Well, it looks like they achieved what they aimed for in the first place. This is absolutely a dream come true item for sushi and sashimi enthusiasts.

Japanese handcrafted and hand sharpened sushi and sahimi knives.

Talking about durability; the dual core blade of the Shun Yanagiba is comprised of 71 layers of two alternating, premium quality stainless steels, namely VG2 and VG10. That is a number high enough to make anyone who is experienced in knife manufacturing go blind or at least be dazzled. Regular stainless steel can never be hardened to this level. What does this mean? The heft and rigidity level is perfected—meaning you can cut and slice almost effortlessly with incredible precision. Now you can glide through that raw fish and vegetables like they don’t exist. If you are a seasoned sushi chef, you would instantly understand this concept’s value the second you get this amazing cutlery in your hands. It is lightweight yet extraordinarily firm. The hardened steel used on the blade allows the company to make the knife extra sharp to a 16°-degree angle.

The handle is made from pakkawood material, which is an engineered wood/plastic composite. It looks and feels like wood, but it will not absorb water. Additionally, it will not warp. The company ensured that you get a secure grip and good balance while working on your cutting board. It has a traditional Japanese octagon shape.

Your Shun Yanagiba knife will arrive with a Japanese Saya, a sheath to protect the blade’s edge when not in use. The sheath also protects you from the razor-sharp knife. Please do not store without an appropriate cover, or you might easily cut yourself. As it is the case with all high carbon knives, never put this in the dishwasher. It is easy to clean, but you need to wash by hand with warm water and mild soup. Furthermore, I suggest you dry it well afterward to prevent any corrosion or stain.

Needless to say, this rare Yanagiba model is handcrafted in the knife capital Seki of Japan. The city is well known for its highly competent blade manufacturing artisans. They have been perfecting their skills for the last 700 years. I believe that is a reasonable amount of time to perfect anything.


  • Premium high carbon steel
  • Pakkawood handle
  • 10.5-inch blade
  • 16°-degree edge

√ – Budget Selection

Shun Sora Chef’s Knife 8-inch Handcrafted

Here is my economical selection for you if you are on a budget and looking for a quality sushi knife. Note that it can confidently get the work done and is versatile enough to use when preparing dishes other than sushi or sashimi. You get the best of both worlds. Shun Sora’s blade is made from proprietary composite that combines the powerful edge-holding feature of high carbon steel with stain and corrosion resistance of standard steel. They are namely identified as VG10 San Mai and Japanese 420J stainless steel.

Notice that this knife comes with a unique handle. It is actually a traditional Gyuto, an all-purpose Japanese chef’s knife. The curved design of the handle allows you to grab it like you were holding a sword in your hand. It definitely puts you in the mood! Do not worry about the balance since the handle is molded and weighted to enhance user comfortability.

Additionally, the curve on the edge of the 8-inch blade allows you to slice more productively. You don’t have to lift it much while cutting, chopping, and slicing food. This is a clear distinction from Western style chef knives.

Shun Sora is handcrafted, and it sure has an elegant design. The state-of-the-art technology is combined with the ancient traditions of knife mastery. Keep in mind that it takes at least 100 individual steps to complete a Shun knife production. Plus, the blade’s edge is hand-sharpened to 16 degrees for ultimate precision. Its geometry is 50/50, unlike the Japanese style knives 70/30 shape.

You can clean it easily with warm water and non-acidic detergent, but never put it in the dishwasher. Overall, I believe it is an excellent model to get started with the Shun series. Just be aware that you can easily get addicted to the incredible features of the Shun models.


  • Layered Steel: High carbon steel and stainless steel
  • Curved handle
  • 8-inch blade
  • 16°-degree composite edge
  • Free sharpening
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Shun Cutlery Premier 9.5-inch Slicing Knife

This is another fascinating knife from the Kai-Group. You can manage extra thin slices without damaging the integrity or freshness of the food you are currently working on. Shun Premier 9.5-inch knife will never tear or saw into raw fish or fresh vegetables. It is specifically designed to obtain flawless cuts each time.

The highlights of this fancy model include its longer blade length, narrower blade, and unusual design for releasing food smoothly. Its hammered Tsuchime finish is extra helpful when it comes to releasing the sliced food from the blade without hassle. Plus, you get a 16°-degree extra sharp cutting edge that you would expect from a talented Japanese sushi knife.

Furthermore, the layered Damascus and the mirror blade polish give the Shun Premier a rustic look. You can effectively use it in a professional setting to impress your guests. Made from highly durable Japanese steel. No chipping should occur if maintained appropriately.

It is certainly lightweight and super easy to use, whether you have big or small hands. One of my favorite features is the full tang. You don’t have to worry about breaking the knife from the mid-section with usage over time. In addition, having the full tang style adds to the overall strength and rigidity.

The unmatched balance and the easy grip of the walnut-colored pakkawood handle would surely impress any seasoned cook. Once you grab the knife, you immediately fancy the soft touch. I think the pakkawood is an excellent choice since it does not absorb water and resistant to bacteria growth. It is an important factor since you cannot put these handcrafted knives into the dishwasher. Instead, you need to hand wash with mild soap and water. Therefore, there should be no parts that could compromise bacteria growth, especially when working with raw seafood frequently. Rest assured that the Shun took the necessary steps to maximize hygiene on all of its cutlery.


  • Durable High carbon steel
  • Walnut-colored pakkawood handle
  • 9.5-inch blade
  • 16°-degree edge
  • Narrow blade
  • Hammered Tsuchime finish

√ – Bundle Selection

Shun TDM0707 Premier Chef’s Knife 10 inch + Retractable Knife Sharpener

If you are looking for a bundle that also includes a quality knife sharpener, then your search is over. This package consists of a larger chef’s knife that you can efficiently use for sushi and sashimi preparation. It is lightweight and highly maneuverable. This knife also has a hammered Tsuchime finish to improve the release of the sliced food from the blade very much like the Premier model I listed above. No food should get stuck on it. Another common feature of most Shun knives is that you get 16°-degree extra sharp cutting edge. So, you can be sure that it is as sharp as a razor. Made from layered steel, mainly 34 of them are used to produce a really hard blade. Material wise; it is proprietary VG-MAX and Damascus cladding.

I am fan of Shun’s walnut-colored pakkawood handles since they keep the bacteria away, and certainly provide a soft-touch. The balance of the knife is perfect and it is a good fit for both left or right-handed use. Moreover, it is really easy to use the included retractable knife sharpener. You can sharpen your knife with a simple 3-step process, which is all explained in the user manual.

Maintaining and cleaning is pretty straightforward, but never use scouring pads, steel or gritty cleansers. It is best if you hand wash the knife gently with mild soap and warm water only. Last but not least, make sure you dry thoroughly afterward. Remember, specialty cutlery needs to be well maintained. Do not submerge the knife in a sink full of water. Otherwise it might be impossible to prevent corrosion. Turn it into a habit to store in a wooden sheath when not in use. This is important to protect the blade’s edge and also your hands and other body parts.

This set comes with a 5-Year Warranty.


  • 34 layered high carbon steel
  • Walnut-colored pakkawood handle
  • 10-inch blade
  • 16°-degree edge
  • Hammered Tsuchime finish
  • 5-Year Warranty

Shun Classic 9-inch Hollow Ground Slicing Knife

This is a mid-range slicing knife with distinctive features. You will notice the hollow ground indentations on the narrow blade at first look. This is a special characteristic that allows the knife to glide through the raw meat or fresh vegetables with less drag for fast and relaxed slicing. In the end, you are able to keep more flavor and juice inside the meat.

Blade is made from Shun’s special proprietary high-performance VG-MAX stainless steel clad with a high number of 68 layers of Damascus stainless steel. No doubt that it is a highly durable cutlery. Layered steel surely adds to the improved edge retention. This in turn enables the knife artisan to turn it into a razor-sharp cutter during the manufacturing process. Needless to say, this knife is handcrafted and hand sharpened in Saki, Japan just like all the other Shun series.

Again, the handle is made from pakkawood; a combination of genuine hardwood and resin to ensure that it does not absorb water. Notice that it resembles the ¨D¨ shape design as traditional Japanese cutlery. The handle is lightweight and attractive. But more importantly, it is comfortable when used for longer periods, which is a big plus for chef’s working at sushi restaurants. Note that the stainless-steel bolster helps to protect your knuckles.

This is probably the only knife from the company that is dishwasher safe. However, I would still recommend to hand wash with mild soap. It comes with a lifetime warranty.


  • 68 layered high carbon steel
  • Soft-touch pakkawood handle
  • 9-inch blade
  • 16°-degree edge
  • Hollow-ground indentations on the blade
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Lifetime Warranty.

What kind of knife is used for sushi?

Most sushi chefs use special made Japanese style knives called the Yanagiba for this purpose. Keep in mind that it is important to get a very sharp and durable knife for sushi and sashimi. Japanese knife manufacturers achieve this by using high carbon steel instead of stainless steel. Additionally, the sushi knife must have a longer blade than the usual chef knives. This is a vital feature if you want to attain perfect slices each time—meaning no fish or vegetable should get stuck on it.

Why are Shun Knives Different?

Shun knives are handcrafted and hand sharpened in the knife capital of Japan, the city of Seki. Skillful artisans use the same ancient techniques mastered by the traditional sword and blade producers, which spans over 700 years. Additionally, Kai-Group, the Shun knives manufacturer, blends traditional knife manufacturing with innovative features, as seen in many of their cutlery. Their products are highly durable, razor-sharp, and come with a unique Tsuchime finish to release food easily while slicing.

In Conclusion

There are many models available in the market when it comes to sushi knives. However, you should pay attention to their specific features before you spend a fortune on them. Shun series knives are exceptional when compared to other options. Even better; they are all handcrafted and hand sharpened in Seki, Japan by real knife artisans. If you are looking for the best available model and have some extra cash, I suggest you go with the Shun Dual Core 10.5-inch Yanagiba as you cannot go wrong with this premium cutlery. If you are in need of an economical solution, then the Shun Sora Chef Knife would be a proper choice. In addition to the sushi knives listed above, the company also has a highly popular chef knife with pakkawood handle for the newbies: Shun Classic 8-inch chef’s knife. You can easily use it if you are just starting out with sushi making.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *