I would recommend the Misono 440, I purchased a set for good friends of mine for their wedding and they love them. I sharpen them once every 6 months and they are very easy to get hair popping sharp on the stones. They also feel good on the stones, which isn't always true of stainless steels. They are also very thin so they slice through anything and the fit and finish is very nice.
If you want to try carbon steel, then I would look starting with a Fujiwara FKH 210mm. They are very cheap but they take a very nice edge, stay sharp (certainly much longer than any German steel) and you won't feel terrible about messing up a $75 dollar knife. The Fujiwara was my first Japanese Knife and I still use it all the time.