Kurouchi or not.. what do people prefer?

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HappyamateurDK

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Hi all.

In more or less a coincidence, most of my Japanese knives so far are with a kurouchi finish. I enjoy using most of them. But can’t help thinking that a monosteel or stainless clad looks better. On the other hand, I have bin a bit disappointed by smooth finish knives earlier, mostly lack of food release.

I’m curious, what do the good people on this forum prefer?

have a nice weekend 🙂
 

Bico Doce

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I prefer an iron clad kurouchi finish in terms of aesthetics. I like the rustic character it brings and I feel it ages well (even if it wears off). Sure it is more likely to rust but if you take care of it that doesn’t seem to be an issue, I’d rather take the benefit of improved food release.
 
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A really good KU/nashiji finish is my favorite. The finish on my Mazaki hasn’t faded or worn whatsoever in a year and a half of use. That much less of the blade to worry about keeping nice and I like the character it adds to the blade. Maintenance of the wide bevel grind is also stress free as the KU character hides an imperfect shinogi, which essentially all wide bevel knives have.

That said, I’ve had a few more fragile KU finishes - the kind that are clearly chemically applied rather than forge scale - and those wear quickly and seem less than ideal.
 

Pisau

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I had also thought that kurouchi is low effort finish but for one reason or another I ended up with many ku knives anyway. Then I found this statement by sakai kikumori:

【菊月-KIKUZUKI-】
The oxidized coating created during the quenching process remains after these KIKUZUKI Kuro knives are finished.
The sharpener does not sharpen this black surface.
Therefore, the blacksmith is required to have high techniques to make the good shape.
Steel : White2:
 

tostadas

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I like the KU on the Hinoura tsuchime, and also on my CCK because both were relatively smooth. For all other KU I've tried, it felt like too rough.
 

timebard

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Not a big fan of KU finishes--nothing wrong with it on a reasonably priced knife but all of my favorites have been migaki/kasumi type finishes. The only one I've had problems with degradation is my Munetoshi petty, which lost some of the finish after a forced patina (also thinning it and easing the spine probably didn't help). Mazaki and Watanabe KU feels pretty bulletproof.
 

spaceconvoy

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I like kitchen knives. I have no preference for a certain finish (or in other words my preferences change quickly and often). It’s like having a „type“ of women you really like, let’s say dark haired, and then this gorgeous blonde walks by and you‘re breathless… 😇
That seems like the wrong analogy since you actually have the ability to obtain different knives.
 

Dhoff

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Not. The kurouchi is the lowest end, lowest effort finish. It's fine, but I prefer a smoother migaki or at least nashiji finish. My opinion.
Im curious, why would it matter it is lowest effort? If mirror finish took lowest effort would you then hate it per default?
 

henkle

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I've got a Kamo Seilan nakiri. Cuts like a dream, but the kurouchi finish seems to actually absorb water when I wipe it down. None of the other kurouchi knives I have do this (Akira-Sakyu and a Kiya). Anyone know what's up with that?
 

chefwp

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I've got a Kamo Seilan nakiri. Cuts like a dream, but the kurouchi finish seems to actually absorb water when I wipe it down. None of the other kurouchi knives I have do this (Akira-Sakyu and a Kiya). Anyone know what's up with that?
I had that same knife for about a year, my first nakiri, and I really loved it. The ku finish though would be my one complaint and probably the thing that most drove me to upgrade to the Takada I now have. It did seem a bit rougher than my other two ku knives, both petty knives. I wonder if that could be fixed by going over it with some fine grit sandpaper.
At the end of the day though I'm glad I had that knife, it was the perfect starter for stepping into the world of rectangles, the ku finish probably has a lot to do with its totally reasonable price tag. I heartily recommend it to folks wanting to buy their first nakiri still to this day. It was also my first blade in AS and with that my first knife that had the most badass edge retention.
 
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A well executed Kurouchi with stone finished bevel like Milan or Raquin looks much better than the fake-looking sandblasted kasumi IMO. If it’s Kurouchi plus bevel with grinder mark, it’s still better than some really cheap grinder mark migaki (like Munetoshi Kurouchi vs Munetoshi migaki). Even if both are well executed, I’d probably still prefer Kurouchi/najishi like Wakui najishi vs Wakui migaki, or Mazaki najishi vs Mazaki migaki. If it’s a superbly executed migaki or kasumi (sandblasted or not) like Hitohira or Kagekiyo, it’s a different story of course.
 
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Unstoppabo

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I've got a Kamo Seilan nakiri. Cuts like a dream, but the kurouchi finish seems to actually absorb water when I wipe it down. None of the other kurouchi knives I have do this (Akira-Sakyu and a Kiya). Anyone know what's up with that?
If you're only cutting vegetables, there's no fat working its way into the KU to sorta seal it. Maybe try a light coat of oil/board wax/animal fat. Should help even after normal rinsing.
 

tcmx3

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A well executed Kurouchi with stone finished bevel like Milan or Raquin looks much better than the fake-looking sandblasted kasumi IMO. If it’s Kurouchi plus bevel with grinder mark, it’s still better than some really cheap grinder mark migaki (like Munetoshi Kurouchi vs Munetoshi migaki). Even if both are well executed, I’d probably still prefer Kurouchi/najishi like Wakui najishi vs Wakui migaki, or Mazaki najishi vs Mazaki migaki. If it’s a superbly executed migaki or kasumi (sandblasted or not) like Hitohira or Kagekiyo, it’s a different story of course.
exactly, it depends on the implementation, not the style.

there are some ugly honyaki hamons and some genuinely gorgeous kurouchi finishes.
 

Jovidah

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Hi all.

In more or less a coincidence, most of my Japanese knives so far are with a kurouchi finish. I enjoy using most of them. But can’t help thinking that a monosteel or stainless clad looks better. On the other hand, I have bin a bit disappointed by smooth finish knives earlier, mostly lack of food release.

I’m curious, what do the good people on this forum prefer?

have a nice weekend 🙂
Just to latch onto a small part of this: I vastly prefer the cutting feedback of monosteel over san-mai. It gives this 'sharper' more direct feedback where you feel absolutely everything that's going on on the cutting edge. All the sanmai blades I've tried all have at least to some extend a somewhat 'dampened' feel to them. Worst offender was the Takamura R2 Migaki; that felt rather mushy to me.
Very much a personal preference thing though; I could totally understand if someone else would prefer that 'softer experience'.

Not a very strong opinion on blade finishes though I'm actually somewhat in the same boat as coffeelover. It's very hypocritical and I know it's total psychological bs, but for some reason I also have this association of kurouchi with 'cheaper, half-finished blades'. Probably because that's the same 'finish' all the 10 euro ultra-cheap Vietnamese garbage blades have at the local asian store... Even when I know it's unreasonable it's still a hard prejudice to shake.
 

Pie

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Haven’t met a KU I don’t like. That being said I have no specific preference toward them, I just like the rustic look. And not worrying about scratching or refinishing a nice polish. The only thing I don’t like is stainless cladding. No fun patina and not as much fun to polish.

I do like iron clad migaki/kasumi tho, those turn all sorts of nice colors.
 

MowgFace

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I prefer the "Nashiji" KU over most any of the other types, like Kochi or Wakui.

For those who dislike KU, what do you think of Hinoura KU Dammy? or Yoshikane SLD Black Dammy?

I totally understand people not liking the look of them, but most of my non-knife fanatic friends comment more positively on KU knives than any others.
 

timebard

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I prefer the "Nashiji" KU over most any of the other types, like Kochi or Wakui.

For those who dislike KU, what do you think of Hinoura KU Dammy? or Yoshikane SLD Black Dammy?

I totally understand people not liking the look of them, but most of my non-knife fanatic friends comment more positively on KU knives than any others.
I had thought that the black Damascus/river jump knives are blackened with some kind of strong etchant, is that not the case?

Either way, yes, I think they're gorgeous! I would worry about scratching one up and needing to do a lot of maintaince to keep it looking good though, and I'm not one to buy knives I won't use regularly.
 

MowgFace

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I had thought that the black Damascus/river jump knives are blackened with some kind of strong etchant, is that not the case?

Either way, yes, I think they're gorgeous! I would worry about scratching one up and needing to do a lot of maintaince to keep it looking good though, and I'm not one to buy knives I won't use regularly.
My guess would be the Yoshikane Black dammy is an etchant, or something. I am no expert for sure, but from the Riverjumps/Unryus i have seen/held they look about as true Ku as you can get (Most definitely could be crazy wrong here, though. I know there have been conversations with makers on gun-blueing etc.).

Anyhow, was just curious as to how people felt of these top tier KUs. Its obvious that the two previously mentioned are in a class of their own.
 

spaceconvoy

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Its obvious that the two previously mentioned are in a class of their own.
Why is it "obvious" the Yoshikane is top tier, just because it's KU'ed damascus? You really mean this knife:

7FEC8B57-AC01-4394-8DE1-B61A92A7A0B0.jpeg

It does look etched, hard to imagine how they'd be able to do it otherwise. Looks like hot garbage to me, and seems like something Shun might offer a few years from now.

3D81DA7F-B63C-4E7B-A00C-51C6985FBB96.jpeg

The Hinoura river jump is a truly gorgeous knife, maybe the only KU I'd be happy to see on my rack. Is there some other Yoshikane I'm missing? Because these seem like two very different classes of knife to me - true master craftsmanship vs cheap factory bling.
 

MowgFace

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Why is it "obvious" the Yoshikane is top tier, just because it's KU'ed damascus? You really mean this knife:

View attachment 154309
It does look etched, hard to imagine how they'd be able to do it otherwise. Looks like hot garbage to me, and seems like something Shun might offer a few years from now.

View attachment 154310
The Hinoura river jump is a truly gorgeous knife, maybe the only KU I'd be happy to see on my rack. Is there some other Yoshikane I'm missing? Because these seem like two very different classes of knife to me - true master craftsmanship vs cheap factory bling.
I agree, the river jump is a far superior knife. You don’t have to enjoy the aesthetics of the Yoshikane, but it’s been a highly regarded knife for years. You aren’t missing anything. Just a piece of hot garbage that cuts like a dream.
 

spaceconvoy

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Oh yeah, I was just talking about aesthetics. I own a different Yoshikane, so I get the appeal. I'm sure I'd be happy to use this knife with my eyes closed.

Honestly all the Yoshikane series are plagued by this tendency toward unnecessary ornamentation. Wish they would make a plain kasumi version, but I guess that's not what sells.
 

Bico Doce

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Here’s an example of what I consider a classy kurouchi that doesn’t cost $2k or whatever a River Jump goes for. The yoshikane aesthetic doesn’t appeal to me but something like this just has a simplicity to it that elevates the piece. In the hands of a master, kurouchi can be beautiful

CC0E1768-95E7-4247-AC5E-2E251F34B760.jpeg
 

M1k3

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Oh yeah, I was just talking about aesthetics. I own a different Yoshikane, so I get the appeal. I'm sure I'd be happy to use this knife with my eyes closed.

Honestly all the Yoshikane series are plagued by this tendency toward unnecessary ornamentation. Wish they would make a plain kasumi version, but I guess that's not what sells.
Something like the Gengetsu?
 
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