Foreign tourists who love cooking are mostly interested in Japanese cooking knife. Students in my cooking class often ask me what to buy and where to buy.
I recommend to get in Tsukiji fish market and kappa-bashi kitchen-dining whole sale street. Because there are cooking knife specialty shops in the area. The shop staffs will give you advises in English and you will understand deeper about Japanese cooking knife. Also some shops offer the services which engrave your name on the steel in several minutes.
I have French chef knife and used at culinary school and work in restaurant. The knife worked well when I handle whole chicken, but it is heavy for me to cut vegetables. Also the knife need to sharp almost every week to cut clearly. When I came back and started to use Japanese knife, I was really impressed that the knife is right and sharpness last longer.
I use four Damascus steel knife for daily cooking and for cooking class. I would love the students experience using high quality Japanese products at my kitchen.
Damascus steel Vegetable knife, Jikko about 13000 yen
Square shaped knife on the left is a vegetable knife, it is called Usuba-houcho. This type of knife suites for cutting and peeling vegetables. When I used the knife for slicing, I can slice very thin and that makes me feel very good at cooking. The knife commonly had used among the house holds before Japanese began to eat meat and poultry after world II, that time house holds prepare western dishes at home. Currently the knife hasn't seen at kitchen at home, however, traditional Japanese cooking chefs has been used in the professional kitchen preparing vegetables. The knife is produced in Sakai city in Osaka, used to produced Japanese knives in the age of Civil Wars to Edo period.
Damascus steel small Santoku-knife, Sekimagoroku, Kaihause about 9000 yen
Middle two Japanese knife, we call it santoku-hochou, slimier shape to chefs knife. This shape of Japanese knife is most common one in domestic kitchens. Santoku is literally means three profits in English and means one knife can use for cutting vegetables, meat and seafood. It means like " all in one" . I regularly use this knife for daily meal preps. As seen in the picture, the steel is shorter than the vegetable knife and handle is also shorter. The size fits my hand comfortably and that not make me tired. the products are made in Seki city in Gifu pref. well known for traditional steel products. I sharp the the knife which the stone every 2 month or when I struggle to cut chicken and tomatoes. The sharpening brought back to original sharpness. It is said that as long as you sharp right way, the knife last more than 10 years.
Damascus steel small Santoku Miyabi Zwilling J.A. Henckels 20000 yen
The producer is located in Solingen in German, but the Japanese knife is designed and manufactured in Seki city Gifu pref. in Japan. The small santoku is same usage as Seki-magoroku-one. The sharpness lasts long as long as treated proper way.