Me, I am all about quantity over quality!
To the OP, I'd steer clear of single bevel knives. If you get a usuba, you will chip it...many times!
Take a good hard look at Masamoto, and Aritsugu will have a huge variety at their shops, so you will likely find something worthwhile there, in your price range.
If you can find a properly thinned Aritsugu A-Type (you won't...but if you can) it would give you ridiculous durability and retention (from what I've read).
If a person finds his way into a forum like this, its probably because they are a little more interested than the normal person
A Guyto is a knife that is the most versatile in the kitchen. Most home chef needs just one knife and it is a Gyuto and 240 is probably the perfect length.
I agree that Konosuke and the others can make insane knives, but will you find this one on a marked in Japan? I also got the impression the threadstarter wanted something special with some kind of history. I recommended to get in touch with DrNaka, that might tip him on the right knife for the right price.
I know I would feel stupid if I got a knife in Japan, and found it on Sur La Table when I came back home. The reason I suggested a Honykai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honyaki) is that it is a piece of art and history in one knife. At least the threadstarter now knows that there are difference between a massproduced knife and a honyaki made by an old master.
And to be honest if this person goes all the way to Japan to see the old tradition of making knife and end up with a massproduced knife, its like being tricked and hustled like no other. And as I said: DrNaka might be the solution for this man. And if you go to japan to end up with a massproduced medicore japanese knife you could just by it at home or on the net.
My 2 cents
Then again, all the threadstarted really needs is a stainless/semistainless/cladded 240 guyto....
And this he can buy on the net for a lower price than at the touristmagnets in Japan
Keep in mind there are lots of 'mass produced' honyaki knives (if apparently we're dropping Konosuke, Tadatsuna and Nenohi in the mass-produced list), in fact a lot of the same craftsmen make both kasumi and honyaki. You can get honyaki knives from any of the shops already mentioned in this thread too (I was just there and saw them on the shelves). It's not a top secret, members only club deal produced by two old sages living on a mountain top. And well made kasumi knives are in no way 'mediocre', and in fact the performance difference is not overly large IME between a high end hongasumi knife and a honyaki. Implying that getting a hongasumi knife is like being swindled doesn't sit right with me.
But to each their own I guess. The original poster will have to take this all in and decide himself.
Not everyone who ventures here is willing to spend the kind of coin you always refer to...and how can anyone really know what they want in a custom if they have no experience with their likes/dislikes?
did you read my mind?
Wow - I didn't mean to start an almost "religious" discussion between Honyaki and Kasumi. I am pretty certain that based on the little research I have done, a Honyaki is not what I am looking for. Thanks to everyone for chiming in though - I appreciate your insight and willingness to help and I am learning a lot with every post. With regards to Oivind's comments, I appreciate your sense of quality and I might ultimately turn into a serious knife geek, but for now I am trying to "step up my game" a notch or two compared to what I have and know about knives today. So here is what I am thinking:
- I need to revisit my selection of knifes, as it sounds like there is consensus that I need a Gyoto in the lineup. Maybe the gyoto replaces the Nakiri? I don't cut meat with a lot of bones in it - so I think a knife like the Yanagiba/Kiritsuke stays in the mix. I would rather get 2 or 3 knifes now and then keep my old Sabatiers for the "dirty work". After all, I am going to use them at home and I don't butcher things. So maybe the lineup becomes:
4) Slicer or Nakiri if my budget allows
- I think I need a combination of single bevel and double bevel. I understand that there is some learning involved in using single bevel and keeping them sharp, but I am willing to invest that time to learn it. The difference is now clear to me - and I want to try both. Many of you also commented that the single bevels are more traditional, can get crazy sharp and at least need to be part of the portfolio.
- I shouldn't pay for Damascus - although it looks cool, there doesn't seem to be any performance impact to having it/not having it.
- With regards to buying here vs. Japan, I am still not sure if it will be cheaper. I will probably have to zoom in on some knife makes and models and then compare the prices when I get there. I tried to compare prices on the Masamoto link that someone posted (tsukijimasamoto), but it's really hard to figure out what series I am looking at - even with Google translator. Does anyone know which knives on that website are in the KS series?
- I also learned that I probably don't have to spend the same amount of money on every knife - invest my money based on how much I am going to use them.
- Masamoto KS looks like it's still something to consider along with Takeda and a couple of other brands you guys have mentioned.
How does that sound?