The Japanese Nakiri knife is a double-bevel kitchen knife specifically designed for slicing, mincing, or chopping your produce.
Its rectangular design and thin blade make it ideal for use with all kinds of vegetables, including harder ones that would normally crack when being cut. They’re useful for vegans, vegetarians, or any cooks for that matter, who would like to hone their vegetable chopping skills to bring about more subtle textures and flavors.
Nakiri chef knives make short work of what can be a time-consuming task. They have been revered in kitchens throughout Japan for their ability to effortlessly cut and prepare produce for cooking.
At first glance, Nakiri knives may seem identical to a cleaver. This is far from the case in practice; a Nakiri is the quintessential Japanese vegetable knife. Designed for use in kitchens, both residential and commercial, throughout Japan, it features a body and design that comes from countless years of human craftsmanship, carefully cultivated from one master artisan to the next.
Similar in shape and design to a cleaver, the Nakiri is less than ideal for heavy-duty cutting and chopping, as with beef or meat with bones still in it. However, its physical characteristics are effective for working with all kinds of veggies, greens, and herbs. Here’s a look at some of those characteristics:
Nakiri knives feature a double-beveled blade with a sharpened edge that can be manipulated with either hand. This design, coupled with the thin blade, allows you to easily slice through denser vegetables such as carrots or daikon radishes. Additionally, a double-beveled blade makes working with a whetstone to maintain your blade even easier.
The Nakiri knife was created to help chefs work with greens and vegetables. Its flat, long, and broad design offers stability as you’re working with produce. With the wide blade, you can prep whole cabbages with ease and the handle clearance allows plenty of room for your hand as you’re cutting.
Certain Nakiri knife manufacturers like Sakai Takayuki utilize high-carbon steel such as Aogami #2, also known as Blue Steel #2, as well as the more standard option of stainless steel. The high-carbon steel offers supreme sharpness, excellent for holding an edge, as well as long-term durability. Blue Steel #2 features an ideal grain structure for cutting with minimal impurities throughout. These high-carbon knives can be sharpened to a very fine edge to make slicing and dicing a breeze.
The Nakiri is a remarkable blade with a deceptively simple design. Long, flat, and exceptionally durable, these knives were developed by artisans with a fervent desire to tackle the most repetitive tasks in vegetable preparation:
Always make sure to rinse and completely dry your Nakiri knife after use to prevent rust and potential damage to it.
Nakiri knives are traditionally referred to as Nakiri hocho or 'cutting greens'. Although they can be found in professional kitchens the world over, they were originally introduced by craftsmen for use in the household.
Knives and blades have always been venerable items in Japanese society dating back to the 8th century. However, understanding that traditional blades like samurai swords were not ideal kitchen implements, bladesmiths handcrafted the first cooking knives. Many of these were sourced out of the Osaka prefecture, home to Sakai city and the Hasu-Seizo family brand Sakai Takayuki.
Come the 17th century, Japan opened its doors to imported knives and other Western goods. This inspired knifemakers and artisan steelworkers to craft the Nakiri chef knife as we know it today. Widely used and still remarkably close to its original design, the Nakiri knife offers timeless utility for professional and home chefs alike.
Discover a new way to prep your produce with the Nakiri in your kitchen. Elevate your cooking skills and bring forth unexpected textures in your dishes with a purpose-built knife crafted by artisans renowned for their skill.
Hasu-Seizo specializes in handcrafted Japanese knives sourced from our family-owned manufacturing facility Sakai, Osaka. Upgrade your collection today with a quality Nakiri chef knife.
The Nakiri is a Japanese vegetable knife designed with a thin, deep blade that is ideal for chopping and slicing vegetables. Its tip is flat and square, similar to a cleaver.
Japanese vegetable knives are excellent for dicing, chopping, shredding, or mincing small and large vegetables. Japanese chefs find them particularly useful for julienning vegetables like carrots or daikon in a method called “katsura-muki”. A typical Nakiri vegetable knife is between 160-180mm (6.3” – 7.1”) in length.
The Nakiri was specifically created for working with vegetables. The blade offers precision when preparing vegetables of all sizes and in particular, larger ones like cabbage and daikon. The handle is set some distance from the edge, allowing adequate clearance for your knuckles when chopping or mincing items.
Both the Nakiri and the Usuba are designed to work with vegetables. While the Nakiri’s blade is double-beveled, the Usuba is a single-bevel design.
The Usuba does take some getting used to, but it can be very useful when trying to be exact in your cut. A Nakiri, on the other hand, is better for slicing through the middle of denser vegetables. An Usuba tends to have a thicker blade which may break the vegetable rather than cut it.
Explore our collection of Usuba single-bevel knives for high-precision vegetable prep. For a Japanese vegetable knife with a more pointed tip check out the Mukimono, a single-bevel variant that you can use to make precision designs out of fruits and vegetables.
While the Nakiri is designed specifically for working with vegetables, the Santoku is more of a multipurpose knife, useful for vegetables and meats. One of the nice things about having a Japanese vegetable knife such as the Nakiri is that typically the first thing to get damaged on a knife is the tip as they are more prone to breaking. Not having a tip, the Nakiri avoids this issue.
Both knives are useful to have in the kitchen and you’ll quickly discover both of their respective strengths. Browse through our collection of Santoku chef knives if you want a slightly more versatile kitchen knife than the Nakiri.
It’s important to care for your knife to improve its longevity. We recommend hand-washing your blade with warm water and then drying it with a soft towel. Avoid placing it in a dishwasher and store it in a dry environment. Periodically apply Tsubaki Camellia Oil will to help prevent rust and corrosion.
If your knife is made of high-carbon steel, remember to wipe off excess moisture immediately after using it to prevent corrosion. You may often notice high-carbon knives forming a patina; this is normal and can actually help protect the blade from rust.
Periodically sharpen your blade with a whetstone; this will provide a better quality edge that lasts longer than one created with an electric sharpener or honing rod.
Looking for an opportunity to add a Nakiri to your collection? We have an extensive range of Nakiri designs crafted in the traditional Japanese style by skilled artisans. You’ll also find a large variety of other vegetable and multipurpose knives such as the Petty, Santoku, and Usuba on our store.