Although a lot of posts I've seen concern Masamoto's and Shigefusa's, I would simply not buy something like that without trying to find better values first, and in the process, learn some of the ins and outs of the cheaper knives. So hopefully I can help some people understand what I've learned so far! And, steer them clear of the "lazy man's load" in the cheap knives department if they aren't so inclined to read/recreate this somewhat lengthy process.
The tanaka Nashiji is unpretty by design but also not ugly. It's appeal is in its functional look.. they're definitely not stunning kitchen gems but they aren't trying to be. Perhaps quaint elegance is a fair description. The knife came quite close to shaving sharp with a MICRO bevel.. difficult to see.
My goal was to achieve a full hazy polish as you would a top quality Jknife. After all, it's good steel. Yet, from the first minute on the lower stone, I realized this was going to be quite an endeavor. The knife is definitely rough... hence calling it the "flat". However even with some very nice chisels I have, there's always a good deal of setup, I've found... There were some good sized hollows left by the grinder in the "flat" of the knife. I didn't take pics, but these "holes" were 1/4" by 1/2" avg, but not TOO deep..
I started out on the 700 grit sigma "carbon" stone. This was a very good match and I shed the silver steel and stainless VERY quickly. I was pretty impressed how quickly the micro bevel became a full burr on this stone. After maybe 15 to 20 mins of sharpening/checking, I moved to the 1000 grit sigma, and I realized two things. First, I was far from flat, with good sized holes becoming evident in the new scratch pattern (3 main holes and one smaller). Second, I realized that as I tried to grind further into the remaining holes, some strange destruction was happening to my 1k grit "hard" stone, designed for alloys. 400-800 grit would sub for this step.
While the Sigma 1k was eating the steel rapidly with a thick gray puddle, there was an anomaly happening. As I was moving the knife back and forth, pieces of the stainless jigane were separating in surprisingly sizeable chunks and digging into the stone. If I kept going despite them, the blade was becoming slightly gouged, while the stone was much worse off. I messed with this a while and after many flattenings w diamond plate and testing of various pressures, it was clear under no circumstances would the 1k Sigma be participating in the process. For a while I thought the steel was separating from the burr, or the fairly nice "hamon" of the knife, but I eventually managed to stop delicately by feeling a piece still attached and it was dead in the middle of the flat I was trying to create, a small chunk twisted and hanging on by a thread. A 1k-2k grit stone is much preferred at this stage.
So I moved to the 5k, where I was fairly grateful to find the prior self-destruction wasn't repeating. So I polished a bit.. long enough to realize it was indeed going to take a while to fully eliminate the 700's scratches, and that I hadn't even gotten to the bottom of the initial grinding cavaties yet. So clearly I was at a stopping point for that session after the better part of 2 hrs, a good bit of the time spent "figuring out" *** was going on. I will say I don't think a king 1000 would have this same issue w the metal chunks that were jettisoning.. maybe the 1k Sigma is too powerful, in this instance.
Next session I made sure to have a good look at the remaining depressions and targeted them as I retreated back to the 700 grit. Soon I could feel I had established a MOSTLY-flat, so I jumped back to the 5k. After a brief stint there I decided the mirror wasn't coming in very quickly, at all, and it was probably just time to finish the task with some kasumi polishing on the natural stone.
The natural stone was THE MVP in this task. I asked a lot of it by jumping grits pretty massively and it really delivered. That made me pretty happy because I had originally gotten the stone for tool sharpenings, but it seemed a bit soft for the task. However for knives, it made a TON of slurry and really polished the edge well, removed the burr, and even polished into the recesses. So, props to the Japan Woodworker (kinda) because their #5 grade awase-toishi kicks a** for knives, even though it had been collecting dust for a time because it's perhaps too soft for tools (or razors)... even though I believe it's sold for that purpose. hahaha oh well.
Anyway, pics follow.. all in all it was 2.5hrs work, give or take. I have some decent stones and am fairly aggressive with them, but I was also sorta examining my work making sure I wasn't off. As it turned out, getting out the grinder gouges was a compromise no matter what unless I took away too much of the knife for .. well, little reason. Cosmetics, in the end, weren't worth it on this literally $30 knife that was never very cosmetic in the first place. And I made a several mistakes partially out of frustration and lack of patience as I abandoned caring about cosmetics as much.
As to the quality of the forging, I will tentatively say I think it's hovering NEAR the claimed 62 HRC after a few chips.. some from purposeful wrecklessness in the kitchen, one from sliding off the stone. Quite a crisp edge. The retention does seem quite good, and I really liked sharpening the silver steel. I thought it would be more of a bear with the chrome content. I've had much more trouble with Henckels knives so was presently surprised by the Japanese high carbon STAINLESS steel. However, while the edge steel seems quite good so far, I did notice something I wasn't thrilled with: when pressing hard on the stone, I accidentally bent the knife. Luckily, I was also able to bend it back using my thumb and forefinger. And I messed with that a bit, you can bend (at least the spine) with a fair bit of finger power. However, that definitely brings up some questions to the tempering process which in my understanding should make the knife much more like a spring than that. However, I like the thin-ness (not TOO thin, just right for me..) and flexibility a great deal. I would say the only time even a full time cook would bend the blade is smashing garlic in a careless way, and if you can open those really stubborn lids in the fridge you can probably get it back no problem. Plz comment on how unacceptable the bending would be for a higher grade knife.. I honestly don't know, and have had a bent Henckels before.
I also don't think this knife is made by Shigeki Tanaka, but by one of his apprentices. That doesn't matter to much to me, but the lower quality/price make a bit more sense in that regard. For the more practicall person who might get a knife similar to this, I would recommend on refraining from a full polish and mainly micro-bevel the knife for a good while before taking it on. This will actually enhance the non-stick aspect via the roughly ground bevel being more non-stick. I have an unopened Santoku I haven't gotten to yet, and against my better judgment, I will probably finish it the same way as this, only to hopefully improve upon the somewhat rough work I did on this knife. I would definitely say, "worth it!" and at the same time I kinda wanna give it to a close friend or relative who I catch wrangling an obtuse piece of steel if the opportunity presents itself