"Big brand" knives (Takamura) vs Smaller independent Businesses / Blacksmiths

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Chanl43

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Been meaning to get a proper Japanese knife (Santoku specifically), and have been researching for a good couple days now. Narrowed down my selection to the following, though open to any new suggestions as well:

- Takamura Hamano SG2 Santoku;
~ From what I've read, you can't go wrong with Takamura knives. The "ol' reliable" brand it seems?
1663684270523.png


- Jikko Knives R2 Santoku;
~ Simple, elegant design. But not a lot of information available online. Can anyone vouch for this one?
1663684325105.png


- Nigara Hamono SG2 Kurouchi Tsuchime Santoku;
~ Stunning finish, an absolute work of art. But would the beautiful Tsuchime wear off over time? And is this one of those "show knives" where it's style over substance? Performance is a much more important factor for me than looks.
1663684376206.png


- Kei Kobayashi R2/SG2 Santoku;
~ Much like the Jikko, another simple yet elegant beauty, but pricey considering it doesn't have anything fancy about it. So I guess that means it's fit and finish is of impeccable quality?
1663684419370.png


Has anyone had any experience with the Santokus listed above? And are knives made by smaller-operation blacksmiths worth the extra money compared to bigger brands like Takamura?
 
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Chanl43

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Questionnaire:

LOCATION
What country are you in? UK



KNIFE TYPE
What type of knife are you interested in? SANTOKU

Are you right or left handed? Right

Are you interested in a Western handle or Japanese handle? Partial to Wa handles, but also looking at Yo handles with good balance.

What length of knife (blade) are you interested in? Minimum 170mm ( 6.7")

Do you require a stainless knife? Yes

What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife? £250 (~$285)



KNIFE USE
Do you primarily intend to use this knife at home or a professional environment? Home cook

What are the main tasks you primarily intend to use the knife for? All purpose, save for the obvious knife damaging tasks.

What knife, if any, are you replacing? Zwilling SANTOKU

Do you have a particular grip that you primarily use? Pinch grip

What cutting motions do you primarily use? Push-pull

What improvements do you want from your current knife? If you are not replacing a knife, please identify as many characteristics identified below in parentheses that you would like this knife to have.)

Better aesthetics? Really like the aesthetics of traditional Japanese Wa handles. I prioritise performance over knife finish, but wouldn't say no to a pretty blade so long as it's not too garish.

Comfort? Lighter more nimble knife. Needs to be comfortable in a pinch grip. Good balance, dislike handle heavy knives.

Ease of Use? Looking for a laser since I'm getting a cheap Chinese cleaver as a workhorse.

Edge Retention? Good edge retention



KNIFE MAINTENANCE
Do you use a bamboo, wood, rubber, or synthetic cutting board? Wood, not end grain.

Do you sharpen your own knives? No

If not, are you interested in learning how to sharpen your knives? Yes, but will be a while before I'm comfortable sharpening expensive blades.

Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives? Yes. Considering getting a leather strop for daily maintenance, but have also heard that 8K grit whetstones are used for daily maintenance as well.
 

chiffonodd

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The takamura is the epitome of western laser. You can think of the kei kobayashi as basically a wa-handled version -- another extremely thin grind. The jikko I don't know but it looks very similar to an OEM knife (akifusa, etc.). If that is truly what it is, then it should be quite thin as well.

Can't see the grind on the Nigara so difficult for me to compare. But i will say that kurouchi finish on a stainless clad knife tends to be a bit different from carbon. Usually kinda matte finish and less likely to wear off.

As for western vs eastern handle that is a personal preference so you may have to try both 😁
 

Chanl43

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Thanks for the breakdown @chiffonodd ! The Takamura would've been an easy buy for me if it had a Wa handle... That knife is great value for money from what I've seen. Are Kei Kobayashi knives well regarded here? As of now the Kobayashi would be my first pick out of the four, but I wonder if the difference in $$ is really worth it compared to the noticeably cheaper Takamura.

As for Wa vs Yo handles, I definitely plan to get my hands on both to see which one I like more, and subsequently which one I'll keep.

Also, found some more pics of the Nigara showing the grind. How does one tell if a knife is a laser or not just by pictures alone?
1663709127311.png
1663709130280.png
 

blokey

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Thanks for the breakdown @chiffonodd ! The Takamura would've been an easy buy for me if it had a Wa handle... That knife is great value for money from what I've seen. Are Kei Kobayashi knives well regarded here? As of now the Kobayashi would be my first pick out of the four, but I wonder if the difference in $$ is really worth it compared to the noticeably cheaper Takamura.

As for Wa vs Yo handles, I definitely plan to get my hands on both to see which one I like more, and subsequently which one I'll keep.

Also, found some more pics of the Nigara showing the grind. How does one tell if a knife is a laser or not just by pictures alone?
View attachment 199462 View attachment 199463
Kobayashi Kei has better fit&finish, his knives usually have rounded spine and choil, and even thinner than Takamura, however if that's a pro or con is up to you.
 

Chanl43

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Kobayashi Kei has better fit&finish, his knives usually have rounded spine and choil, and even thinner than Takamura, however if that's a pro or con is up to you.

I assume the extra attention to detail on the Kobayashi is for added comfort while holding the blade in a pinch grip.

Hmm, never used proper Japanese knives before so the Kobayashi being even thinner than the Takamura isn't too encouraging. Would you say the Kobayashi is particularly delicate even for a laser?
 

Dull_Apex

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I have a Kobayashi and the spine from the handle to the tip as well as the handle to heel are fully rounded.

One thing I've noticed is that the edge profile means that I need to position the push cut more at the tip end vs the heel end like I prefer to.
 

blokey

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I assume the extra attention to detail on the Kobayashi is for added comfort while holding the blade in a pinch grip.

Hmm, never used proper Japanese knives before so the Kobayashi being even thinner than the Takamura isn't too encouraging. Would you say the Kobayashi is particularly delicate even for a laser?
Not super delicate, but should be use with some care.
 

chiffonodd

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Thanks for the breakdown @chiffonodd ! The Takamura would've been an easy buy for me if it had a Wa handle... That knife is great value for money from what I've seen. Are Kei Kobayashi knives well regarded here? As of now the Kobayashi would be my first pick out of the four, but I wonder if the difference in $$ is really worth it compared to the noticeably cheaper Takamura.

As for Wa vs Yo handles, I definitely plan to get my hands on both to see which one I like more, and subsequently which one I'll keep.

Also, found some more pics of the Nigara showing the grind. How does one tell if a knife is a laser or not just by pictures alone?
View attachment 199462 View attachment 199463
Looks wide bevel with some slight concavity tapering to nice and thin behind the edge. Knives with this style of grind (e.g., kochi) cut very well and tend to have better food release than a laser. However, you may get some slight wedging in harder product like carrot, butternut squash, etc.
 

gentiscid

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both Takamura and Kobayashi are great knives. Whichever you get u will love it. Kei’s handle are heptagonals and lacquered. Amazing colors. Both Takamura & Kei are slick. You won’t regret. Dont overthink, get what clicks you!
 
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tostadas

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I've bought the same takamura 210mm 3 times now. It was my very first Japanese knife, and also one of my most recent ones. Still good, you cant go wrong with it.
 

ModRQC

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Takamura was… nicely boring. It’s a nice knife that cuts super nicely. Sorts of lacking a proper character though. Which I guess is no con for a first J-knife: here you are expecting a goal to be achieved with the highest marks you can hope for, and here it delivers aplenty. Epitomy of a J-knife to the western audience and it’s great.

From there you’ll probably buy a bit « wiser to your own » personal clickbait, and if it’s genuinely something more in house it will completely throw you off the hook to a thousand new hooks.

And such is KKF’s flesh and soul - that we’re all still hunting down more and more specific personal clickbaits throughout various personal « stories » highly colored by exactly the choices we made in precisely the order and wows we personally experienced, with common goalposts we all eventually go through where our thinking can widely and easily be compared with that of others, helping anchoring that personal experience in various patterns of speech and limbo that are both fortifying us into, and diverting us astray the path we initially set upon very intimately.

Ok ok… just buy any of them clickbait only based on how best it feels thinking of yourself holding it, and join us down the freefall to all these popular terraces we might find happenstance to share a metaphorical brotherhoodly toast - or cannonballing past it with a shy wave, to that new knife that might only make sense the way it makes sense to YOU.
 
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sumis

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kei kobayashi is really thin, laser, but not really fragile. i use the gyuto a lot. a also use a takamura sg2 large petty frequently and find it quite fragile tbh. regarding fit, finish, grind and feel, the kobayashi is in a league above the takamura.

.
 

Steampunk

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A couple of thoughts...

Whilst one can have handle preferences, I find it's generally something one can adapt to if you like how the knife cuts. What I've at least struggled to adapt to, is the actual grind and shape of the blade. If it doesn't line up with what you're cutting, and how you need to cut it, it's very unpleasant. All of those knives have different grinds, and will cut quite differently as a result. They're also all santoku, with subtly different profiles, which is another story...

The Takamura has a thin tip and grind overall. A little fragile even, perhaps, but it makes the experience of doing crosscuts on onions/shallots/garlic quite exquisite. Very little resistance going through most foods, generally.

That Nigara in comparison is more in the Takefu style; a thicker wide-bevel, with no distal taper, and a slightly concave grind. They make doing those crosscuts on onions/shallots/garlic feel like you're using an axe, but have good separation on things that tend to stick, like potatoes, etc.

The other two appear to be something in between.

The biggest concern I would have, is your lack of sharpening experience. Takamura's in particular come with maybe the best factory edges/grinds I've ever tried, which is a positive, as it will at least give you a great user experience right out of the box (Many J-Knives ship with somewhat disappointing edges.). However, the SG-2/R2 steel on all of them, isn't just a steel that demands some skill, it also - in my experience - demands some of the more expensive stones (Ideally resinoid or vitrified diamond, or a hybrid edge starting with a 600-1K SiC or AlOx stone, followed by diamond/CBN stropping.) to maintain the sort of edge quality that Takamura delivers. It's got a good bit of vanadium carbide, and puts up a good fight against the abrasives, if you're aiming to maintain good edge bite. The sort of grind on that Nigara also gets thick pretty quickly with routine sharpening, which will then lead to a somewhat intensive thinning job, since it takes some more serious sharpening to 'retrain' that concave grind into a convex one that can be maintained on stones. You can't just sharpen these things from a severely dulled state on a 1K/6K King, and expect the best results, or an experience that isn't quite frustrating.

SG-2/R2 is a good steel for edge retention in the kitchen when heat treated well, but steels with that kind of carbide content, also are more expensive/challenging to sharpen. I've worked with worse, but if you're working with simple stones/basic skills, it's still not going to flatter too much.

Takamura's a good choice when you're starting out, because it's basically flawless out of the box, with no real tuning needed... I can't think of too many knives at any price point that are like this. However, I'd probably err towards the VG-10 or Chromax series if you can find them. They don't have the same edge retention, but the grinds (Whilst still 'Laser'.) aren't quite as delicate, and the steels require less expensive stones to sharpen.

Philosophically, I understand your logic in choosing these knives, in this steel. It's also how I leaned, early on... However, if I could do it over again, I'm kind of split between two philosophies... Starting with something largely defect-free, like Takamura's, but in the more forgiving steels I mentioned. Or, alternatively, starting with something that isn't ready, but is cheap enough that you can treat it like the 'village bike', but has good 'bones', and you learn to tune it into something really special yourself without any fear. Something like a Tojiro, or a Tosa/Zakuri, etc.

If you'd truly like a knife in a sort-of-super-steel, with excellent edge retention, that's pretty easy to sharpen, I'd go for Akifusa (Or one of the re-labeled versions.) in SRS-15 over SG-2 / R2 almost any day. It's much more forgiving in terms of what sorts of stones you use. I don't like the grinds, profiles, or out-of-the-box edge quality as much as Takamura, but it's much easier to work with. SRS-15 is a steel that really wants to get sharp, even with pretty basic means, but holds its edge. The grinds can also be tuned up a bit, though the more curvy profiles suit some techniques/cutting-surface-heights better than others.

There's a balance in real-world usage, between time spent sharpening, and actual edge retention. How this pays off for different people varies. Some favor knives that take awhile, and more expensive stones to sharpen, but hold it for a REALLY long time afterwards. Others, favor steels that can be sharpened with much more primitive tools in a much shorter time, but need work much more frequently. Both are viable approaches, and can be equally efficient depending upon your own budget/workflow/personality.

Hope this helps...
 
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As you have a Santoku already, I would buy this Yoshi

use it and if you don't like it you could resell for a minimal loss, Do this for a few times to see what floats your boat

Edit: Also get a 1k stone and start sharpening... its not that hard to start and with a 1k you wont do any damage that cannot be fixed

 
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Delat

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If what @Steampunk said resonated at all, then consider this guy. Shiro Kamo’s grinds these days are reportedly quite thin (I have one from 3 years back that’s a midweight). The price is killer and the steel is easy to sharpen. So you can use this as your “project” knife to both use and learn sharpening on.

Aogami 2 won’t hold an edge as long as R2, but it’s significantly easier to sharpen by contrast, and your strop will also be more effective on it for simple maintenance.

 

chiffonodd

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A couple of thoughts...

Whilst one can have handle preferences, I find it's generally something one can adapt to if you like how the knife cuts. What I've at least struggled to adapt to, is the actual grind and shape of the blade. If it doesn't line up with what you're cutting, and how you need to cut it, it's very unpleasant. All of those knives have different grinds, and will cut quite differently as a result. They're also all santoku, with subtly different profiles, which is another story...

The Takamura has a thin tip and grind overall. A little fragile even, perhaps, but it makes the experience of doing crosscuts on onions/shallots/garlic quite exquisite. Very little resistance going through most foods, generally.

That Nigara in comparison is more in the Takefu style; a thicker wide-bevel, with no distal taper, and a slightly concave grind. They make doing those crosscuts on onions/shallots/garlic feel like you're using an axe, but have good separation on things that tend to stick, like potatoes, etc.

The other two appear to be something in between.

The biggest concern I would have, is your lack of sharpening experience. Takamura's in particular come with maybe the best factory edges/grinds I've ever tried, which is a positive, as it will at least give you a great user experience right out of the box (Many J-Knives ship with somewhat disappointing edges.). However, the SG-2/R2 steel on all of them, isn't just a steel that demands some skill, it also - in my experience - demands some of the more expensive stones (Ideally resinoid or vitrified diamond, or a hybrid edge starting with a 600-1K SiC or AlOx stone, followed by diamond/CBN stropping.) to maintain the sort of edge quality that Takamura delivers. It's got a good bit of vanadium carbide, and puts up a good fight against the abrasives, if you're aiming to maintain good edge bite. The sort of grind on that Nigara also gets thick pretty quickly with routine sharpening, which will then lead to a somewhat intensive thinning job, since it takes some more serious sharpening to 'retrain' that concave grind into a convex one that can be maintained on stones. You can't just sharpen these things from a severely dulled state on a 1K/6K King, and expect the best results, or an experience that isn't quite frustrating.

SG-2/R2 is a good steel for edge retention in the kitchen when heat treated well, but steels with that kind of carbide content, also are more expensive/challenging to sharpen. I've worked with worse, but if you're working with simple stones/basic skills, it's still not going to flatter too much.

Takamura's a good choice when you're starting out, because it's basically flawless out of the box, with no real tuning needed... I can't think of too many knives at any price point that are like this. However, I'd probably err towards the VG-10 or Chromax series if you can find them. They don't have the same edge retention, but the grinds (Whilst still 'Laser'.) aren't quite as delicate, and the steels require less expensive stones to sharpen.

Philosophically, I understand your logic in choosing these knives, in this steel. It's also how I leaned, early on... However, if I could do it over again, I'm kind of split between two philosophies... Starting with something largely defect-free, like Takamura's, but in the more forgiving steels I mentioned. Or, alternatively, starting with something that isn't ready, but is cheap enough that you can treat it like the 'village bike', but has good 'bones', and you learn to tune it into something really special yourself without any fear. Something like a Tojiro, or a Tosa/Zakuri, etc.

If you'd truly like a knife in a sort-of-super-steel, with excellent edge retention, that's pretty easy to sharpen, I'd go for Akifusa (Or one of the re-labeled versions.) in SRS-15 over SG-2 / R2 almost any day. It's much more forgiving in terms of what sorts of stones you use. I don't like the grinds, profiles, or out-of-the-box edge quality as much as Takamura, but it's much easier to work with. SRS-15 is a steel that really wants to get sharp, even with pretty basic means, but holds its edge. The grinds can also be tuned up a bit, though the more curvy profiles suit some techniques/cutting-surface-heights better than others.

There's a balance in real-world usage, between time spent sharpening, and actual edge retention. How this pays off for different people varies. Some favor knives that take awhile, and more expensive stones to sharpen, but hold it for a REALLY long time afterwards. Others, favor steels that can be sharpened with much more primitive tools in a much shorter time, but need work much more frequently. Both are viable approaches, and can be equally efficient depending upon your own budget/workflow/personality.

Hope this helps...

Takamura so thin tho that it's not difficult to sharpen, you are removing such a small amount of steel, and it's crisp/easy to deburr. At least in my experience. 🤷‍♂️
 

chuggamug

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600-1K SiC or AlOx stone, followed by diamond/CBN stropping.)
Some great advice here. Wanted to ask what SiC/AIOx stands for, iv never heard of that.

I have a 400 chosera, 2000 shapton pro, and 3000 ouka, do you think this would be appropriate? Iv recently bought 3 new SG2 knives for the first time.
 

Steampunk

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Some great advice here. Wanted to ask what SiC/AIOx stands for, iv never heard of that.

I have a 400 chosera, 2000 shapton pro, and 3000 ouka, do you think this would be appropriate? Iv recently bought 3 new SG2 knives for the first time.
SiC = Silicon Carbide, and AlOx = Aluminum Oxide. These are abrasive types used in man-made, bonded sharpening stones. The three you mention all use AlOx type abrasives.

AlOx is slightly softer on the Mohs hardness scale of minerals than SiC. The shapes of the particles are also different. Typically, SiC, Diamond, or CBN (Cubic Boron Nitride) are preferable for sharpening steel alloys that have any major quantity of very hard carbides like tungsten or vanadium.

I'd say that the 400 Chosera is fine, but for me I struggle to maintain good bite with the Shapton and Suehiro stones above maybe the 1000 grit level on SG2/R2, since AlOx isn't really able to shape this volume of hard carbides too effectively.

I'd say that an 800-1K grit stone (The JNS Matukusuyama 800 is my favorites for SG2/R2, but the Chosera 800 and Suehiro Cerax 1K are also alright. Some people also like the King Neo 800.), followed by a hard balsa strop pasted with 1-micron diamond paste would be very good additions to your kit for the knives you've just purchased.

Hope this helps.
 
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ModRQC

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Cerax 1K is positively good with PM and surprisingly fast - I sharpened 3 different iterations of SG2 in the past weeks, and one HAP-40 (66-68RC no less) couple months back using it. It's become part of the PM routine for me. Discovered also that Morihei 4K makes more sense for some final stropping with these steels than the Ouka. Ouka is not bad though but the Morihei works way better there.

Coarser work I like SG320 or Cerax 320 on these. Nanohone 200 for thinning also works.

Except the two extremes, none of these are particularly expensive stones.
 

Chanl43

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Takamura was… nicely boring. It’s a nice knife that cuts super nicely. Sorts of lacking a proper character though. Which I guess is no con for a first J-knife: here you are expecting a goal to be achieved with the highest marks you can hope for, and here it delivers aplenty. Epitomy of a J-knife to the western audience and it’s great.

From there you’ll probably buy a bit « wiser to your own » personal clickbait, and if it’s genuinely something more in house it will completely throw you off the hook to a thousand new hooks.

And such is KKF’s flesh and soul - that we’re all still hunting down more and more specific personal clickbaits throughout various personal « stories » highly colored by exactly the choices we made in precisely the order and wows we personally experienced, with common goalposts we all eventually go through where our thinking can widely and easily be compared with that of others, helping anchoring that personal experience in various patterns of speech and limbo that are both fortifying us into, and diverting us astray the path we initially set upon very intimately.

Ok ok… just buy any of them clickbait only based on how best it feels thinking of yourself holding it, and join us down the freefall to all these popular terraces we might find happenstance to share a metaphorical brotherhoodly toast - or cannonballing past it with a shy wave, to that new knife that might only make sense the way it makes sense to YOU.

I get that impression from Takamura knives as well (Takamura pro on the other hand are a whole different story).

The rational side of me says that I should just settle for the Takamura since it's such a good knife at that price point; the safe option. But the irrational side of me screams that since I'm dropping the equivalent of a week's worth of rent & bills, I should get a knife with character, something that I can display and admire even when I'm not cooking.

Oh well, I think the only way I can make a final decision between the two is by holding them in hand...
 

Chanl43

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kei kobayashi is really thin, laser, but not really fragile. i use the gyuto a lot. a also use a takamura sg2 large petty frequently and find it quite fragile tbh. regarding fit, finish, grind and feel, the kobayashi is in a league above the takamura.

.
Have you noticed if the Takamura or Kobayashi is particularly susceptible to chipping? I'm surprised to hear the Takamura is more fragile in your experience, since iirc they've been using R2/SG2 for the longest time out of all the makers.
 

Infrared

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Takamuras and Kobayashis (and most SG2 knives) easily chip. Most western handles will feel handle heavy.

I'd suggest a Katayama.


In my experience they cut better than a Takamura and are much more durable. Very light with a Japanese handle too.

They are a bit flashy though.

You can also try contacting CuttingEdgeKnives directly. They have a lot of experience with stainless knives.
 

Chanl43

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A couple of thoughts...

Whilst one can have handle preferences, I find it's generally something one can adapt to if you like how the knife cuts. What I've at least struggled to adapt to, is the actual grind and shape of the blade. If it doesn't line up with what you're cutting, and how you need to cut it, it's very unpleasant. All of those knives have different grinds, and will cut quite differently as a result. They're also all santoku, with subtly different profiles, which is another story...

The Takamura has a thin tip and grind overall. A little fragile even, perhaps, but it makes the experience of doing crosscuts on onions/shallots/garlic quite exquisite. Very little resistance going through most foods, generally.

That Nigara in comparison is more in the Takefu style; a thicker wide-bevel, with no distal taper, and a slightly concave grind. They make doing those crosscuts on onions/shallots/garlic feel like you're using an axe, but have good separation on things that tend to stick, like potatoes, etc.

The other two appear to be something in between.

The biggest concern I would have, is your lack of sharpening experience. Takamura's in particular come with maybe the best factory edges/grinds I've ever tried, which is a positive, as it will at least give you a great user experience right out of the box (Many J-Knives ship with somewhat disappointing edges.). However, the SG-2/R2 steel on all of them, isn't just a steel that demands some skill, it also - in my experience - demands some of the more expensive stones (Ideally resinoid or vitrified diamond, or a hybrid edge starting with a 600-1K SiC or AlOx stone, followed by diamond/CBN stropping.) to maintain the sort of edge quality that Takamura delivers. It's got a good bit of vanadium carbide, and puts up a good fight against the abrasives, if you're aiming to maintain good edge bite. The sort of grind on that Nigara also gets thick pretty quickly with routine sharpening, which will then lead to a somewhat intensive thinning job, since it takes some more serious sharpening to 'retrain' that concave grind into a convex one that can be maintained on stones. You can't just sharpen these things from a severely dulled state on a 1K/6K King, and expect the best results, or an experience that isn't quite frustrating.

SG-2/R2 is a good steel for edge retention in the kitchen when heat treated well, but steels with that kind of carbide content, also are more expensive/challenging to sharpen. I've worked with worse, but if you're working with simple stones/basic skills, it's still not going to flatter too much.

Takamura's a good choice when you're starting out, because it's basically flawless out of the box, with no real tuning needed... I can't think of too many knives at any price point that are like this. However, I'd probably err towards the VG-10 or Chromax series if you can find them. They don't have the same edge retention, but the grinds (Whilst still 'Laser'.) aren't quite as delicate, and the steels require less expensive stones to sharpen.

Philosophically, I understand your logic in choosing these knives, in this steel. It's also how I leaned, early on... However, if I could do it over again, I'm kind of split between two philosophies... Starting with something largely defect-free, like Takamura's, but in the more forgiving steels I mentioned. Or, alternatively, starting with something that isn't ready, but is cheap enough that you can treat it like the 'village bike', but has good 'bones', and you learn to tune it into something really special yourself without any fear. Something like a Tojiro, or a Tosa/Zakuri, etc.

If you'd truly like a knife in a sort-of-super-steel, with excellent edge retention, that's pretty easy to sharpen, I'd go for Akifusa (Or one of the re-labeled versions.) in SRS-15 over SG-2 / R2 almost any day. It's much more forgiving in terms of what sorts of stones you use. I don't like the grinds, profiles, or out-of-the-box edge quality as much as Takamura, but it's much easier to work with. SRS-15 is a steel that really wants to get sharp, even with pretty basic means, but holds its edge. The grinds can also be tuned up a bit, though the more curvy profiles suit some techniques/cutting-surface-heights better than others.

There's a balance in real-world usage, between time spent sharpening, and actual edge retention. How this pays off for different people varies. Some favor knives that take awhile, and more expensive stones to sharpen, but hold it for a REALLY long time afterwards. Others, favor steels that can be sharpened with much more primitive tools in a much shorter time, but need work much more frequently. Both are viable approaches, and can be equally efficient depending upon your own budget/workflow/personality.

Hope this helps...
Definitely helps a lot, thanks a bunch @Steampunk !

I'm upgrading from a family-shared Zwilling Santoku and Chinese Cleaver that's been regularly used and abused. So I'd imagine any good Japanese Santoku would be a massive upgrade for me, regardless of their individual traits & quirks.

I cut delicate softer foods like onions, shallot, garlic, tomato etc. much more than I do hard tougher veggies or sticky starchy stuff (which I most likely will save for my workhorse cleaver). So The Takamura and Kobayashi knives are highly attractive to me based on what others have said about their laser-like qualities, and mainly looking at those two now. Based on what you've said Nigara isn't what I'm looking for it seems. Good food release is ideal, but not an important factor when considering overall cutting performance with delicate foods.

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Re: Sharpening

Ease of sharpening is not as big a factor for me currently as I plan to have mines shipped off to someone who actually knows what they're doing. Instead of me haphazardly hacking away and ruining what once was a perfectly fine knife 😅.
e.g. Sharpening Services

My current goal like you've said, is to find a laser that can hold it's edge for a long long time (assuming proper knife skills ofc). Takamura and Kobayashi's R2/SG2 lines from what I've read can achieve precisely that.

But I definitely will start practicing my sharpening skills on some cheaper knives in the meantime. I'm honestly tempted to see if there are any sharpening classes around me (Bristol, UK), would love to spend time sharpening my own knives in the future. I draw a lot so I'm well used to doing a single monotonous task for hours at a time; it's quite therapeutic to be honest, so I'd imagine knife sharpening to be somewhat similar.

I have your comment saved for future referencing, so thanks again for all the information! Definitely some good advice and wisdom there.
 

Chanl43

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i would say takamura is the best knife regard to the performance and price.

And here is my Nigara (not santo but a K tip guyto)
View attachment 199519

How do you find the cutting ability of the Nigara? I'm looking for a laser for softer veggies, and some members have said that Nigaras are more a mid-point between a proper laser and a workhorse.
 
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