The onlu benifit that I've heard mentioned is that kitaeji is stronger and less likely to warp on single bevels like yanagi, allows him to make single bevels thinner and that the finish is even heigher.
I own both, and i cant say that i noticed a difference in food release as that kitaeji is very smooth and lightly etched (i actually think that the contrast comes form the polishing stones, not an etchant).
But there is a difference in magic aura.
Stainless would a completely different animal to forge, heat treat and finish by hand. And Shigefusa really doesn't need to produce stainless knives - their order list is probably months long. So, don't hold your breath.
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I have a lot of knives now and besides its awesome cutting ability, my yo shig handle is just somehow "right" - when I use it I feel the knife is truly an extension of my hand and none of my other yo handles have that magic feel.
My wa shig is nice and cuts equally well of course, but, at least for me, not quite that feeling of perfection in my hand...
I don't know enough about knives to articulate what makes the Shig spectacular. I was curious and finally snagged a lightly used 210mm a few months ago. I'm a long time laser fan, but this is no laser. And the 210 is not my preferred length, but it's stayed on top as my favorite go to knife despite the length disadvantage. Others, especially Marko, have given great specifics in more tech detail than I could. I'll just say I kind of play with knives, looking for "the perfect" fit for me. Hearing so much about Shigs, I was skeptical but finally went for one. And the hype was proved out. There's nothing wrong with it--you have to know me to understand I always find something wrong, so this is highest praise--and everything was thought about and works as planned. It's pretty much poetry in hand.
I own 5 shings and love them all - especially after getting to know them. I use them almost daily. I agree with everything said before and would add, that as a professional maker of objects myself (furniture) I appreciate the integrity and clarity of intention that you can just feel in his knives from the moment you pick them up. There is a rightness to them. I also appreciate that the weight, handles and balance seem to work well with larger hands like mine well. There is a very "solid" feel to them in use that makes them feel more like a part of my hand than most knives, and I have found less inclination to make changes to the Shingefusa knives to suit my own taste. I find that in time the logic of these knives comes thru even if I am not 100% sure at the start. The knives also need less setup than most knives and the hand sharpening they come with is a useful indicator of what sharpening bevels work best with the steel (not true with many knives)
my shig was one of my first knives that really felt like a high end cutter, effortlessly cutting whatever laid in its path
Shig is one of the makers that just makes what they feel is optimal / best fits their vision without hedging or concern for the lowest common denominator or users.
The knives are tools that show an assumption/ expectation of competence in the user.
No warning labels or idiot proofing.
I was one post away from getting a shig, but didn't. got a Kato Workhorse instead. Next paycheck....next paycheck....
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