How to Sharpen Japanese Sushi Knives for Perfection?

Learning how to sharpen your Japanese sushi knives is vital if you want to keep them well maintained. Nobody likes dull blades, especially when you are trying to slice raw fish and fresh produce. You can easily ruin all the ingredients. What you want is to be able to glaze through the sushi rolls like you are cutting butter, but without squishing them. We are talking Samurai technology here! Traditional Japanese knives can provide you this feature. However, you must know how to take care of them. The good news is that you can even fix old and dull knives with this technique, and make them new and edgy again.

Sharpening your own knife is not as complicated as most people assume. However, it would help if you know your way around the kitchen a little. First of all, get yourself acquainted with the word “whetstone” as you will hear it often. Another term is the “grit”, which will become handy when shopping for a whetstone. The grit size basically indicates the finer quality of the grit. A simple rule to remember is that you get better results as the number gets higher. However, it also takes longer to complete the process. Most whetstones sold today have two sides with different grit sizes. In general, the finer grit side (higher grit) is used for polishing, and the other side with low grit size is used for sharpening.

Grit ranges for sharpening:

100 – 800 gritUse on old blades to get rid of chips and restore
800 – 2000 gritUse on dull knives for re-sharpening
2000 – 8000 gritThis range is for polishing purposes

Take note that Eastern knives are usually honed on one side. This is a major difference when compared with European chef’s knives. Nevertheless, many Japanese cutlery producers started to manufacture double sided blades in recent years. It is important to know what kind of knife you have before you attempt to re-sharpen it.

Common stone types:

  • Water stones
  • Oil stones
  • Arkansas stones
  • Diamond stones

The following list contains 4 simple steps for sharpening sushi knives.

Step 1: Prepare the whetstone

The first thing you do is to prepare the stone for the sharpening process. Get a large enough bowl and fill with water. You need to soak the stone for about 10 to 15 minutes. A simple trick is to check for the bubbles. If there are no bubbles coming out, then the stone is ready.

Now it is time to flatten the stone’s both sides. You should take this seriously because you could damage the blade if the surface of the stone is not fully flattened. Most whetstones come with a flattening stone. Take a pencil and draw a straight line on the stone. Rub the flattening stone until the line disappears.

Step 2: Sharpen the knife

Make sure you place the whetstone on a non-slip surface. Nowadays most stones come with their own nonslip silicone holders. We start from the side with the lower grit size. Do not apply too much pressure while sliding the blade on the stone. Continue to move the blade back and forth for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat this for each side twice. If your knife is honed only on one side, then do not sharpen the other side.

Step 3: Polish the knife

Once you sharpened your knife fully, it is time to polish it. Use the other side of the stone and repeat the same sliding process in step 2. You will notice a residue around the blade. Do not wipe this off as it is crucial for sharpening the knife precisely. Once you are done, clean and rinse the blade with hot water.

Step 4: Test the knife

This is by far the easiest step. Take your knife into action. Some people prefer to cut through thin paper. I usually test it on a soft vegetable like tomato. If you can cut it without squishing, then you are all set.

Sharp Pebble Premium Whetstone Grit 1000/6000

This is a complete kit that includes every item you need for sharpening your premium sushi knives. No wonder that it is a best-seller. The premium quality whetstone is double sided (grit size 1000 / 6000), allowing you to restore and polish the blade to perfection. You can even fix very old and dull knives with this set. Start with the 1000 grit side to clean and re-sharpen, then move on to the 6000 grit side to give it a polish. This way you will have razor-sharp blades in no time.

It is important that you place your whetstone on a nonslip surface for safety reasons. Otherwise, you might hurt yourself or damage the edge of the blade. No worries, this bundle comes with a special bamboo base, and the bottom part is covered with silicone. Hence, it ensures that the stone stays in place while you are sharpening.

You can use this set for any type of blade with confidence. It is durable and would last for years. And the best part is that you do not need to purchase any expensive oils for sharpening. The Sharp Pebble Whetstone kit uses water for that purpose. Keep your knives sharp with this smart tool. It is the only way to prepare good looking and tasty sushi or sashimi at home. Check out our other article if you are looking for best sushi knives. I also suggest purchasing a soft-surface sushi cutting board to protect the edges of your blades.


  • Includes bamboo case with silicone rubber underneath
  • Double sided; 1000 / 6000 grit
  • 7.25 x 2.25 x 1 inches

How often should I sharpen my knives?

Sharpening your knives is essential but you should not go overboard with it. If you use them often, then sharpening a few times a year would be satisfactory. You should also consider honing them for better performance. Honing is basically realigning the edge of your knife. Note that most Eastern style knives are honed only on one side.

Can you sharpen a knife too much?

The simple answer is “No”. Sharpening your knife does not change its properties. You should be in good hands as long as you are taking advantage of general sharpening techniques involving a whetstone (or oil stone). However, your knife can get damaged if you get creative and attempt to use heavy duty equipment.

Do you need to wash knife after sharpening?

You must wash your knife each time you sharpen it. It is important to get rid of any micro particles that might get stuck on the blade while you are sliding it on the whetstone. Always make sure to sanitize the blade after sharpening. Air-dry well for longevity.

In Conclusion

The basics of knife sharpening include learning about whetstones and their grit sizes. Your goal is to use the lower grit size of the stone to get rid of any chips on the blade. Once you restore the blade, all you have to do is to polish it by using the fine grit side. It is that simple. However, it is a dangerous process, and you must pay utmost attention. How do you know if your knife is sharp enough? If you can chop anything from soft vegetables to frozen meat at the same precision level and flawlessly, then you have a sharp enough knife. Since sushi making requires very sharp blades, it is best for you to learn how to sharpen your knives to keep them on track. Get yourself one of the best whetstone bundles in the market to easily accomplish this goal; Sharp Pebble Premium Whetstone Grit 1000/6000. It has everything you need and is very easy to use.

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