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Yanagiba Knives

Create Impeccable Cuts of Sashimi With the Yanagiba

If you’ve ever dined in a traditional Japanese restaurant and had the opportunity to observe the Itamae, or the head sushi chef, first-hand, you will have noticed them gracefully wielding a long, narrow blade. If so, chances are you’ve just seen the Yanagiba in action.

The Yanagiba is a prized Japanese sushi knife that lets you effortlessly slice through cuts of fish and meat, including fish filets, squid, octopus, and other seafood.

You can draw it through the fish in one long, graceful motion and watch it smoothly glide through the meat to give you the perfect cut of sushi or sashimi. It has a single-beveled, ultra-sharp blade that allows for gentle precise cuts which preserve both the texture and flavor of your ingredients.

Create Impeccable Cuts of Sashimi With the Yanagiba

If you’ve ever dined in a traditional Japanese restaurant and had the opportunity to observe the Itamae, or the head sushi chef, first-hand, you will have noticed them gracefully wielding a long, narrow blade. If so, chances are you’ve just seen the. . . Show More >

History of the Yanagiba Knife

The Yanagiba originated in the Kansai region during the Edo period (1603-1868). Its name roughly translates to ‚Äúwillow leaf blade,‚ÄĚ which accurately describes the blade‚Äôs long and slender leaf-like shape.

In the west of the country, in the Osaka and Kyoto regions, the knife is often referred to as the Shobu (‚Äúiris leaf‚ÄĚ). It is said to be a natural evolution of the Katana, the Japanese sword, owing both to its shape and its role as an excellent slicer.

Today, the Yanagiba knife is a staple of any Japanese kitchen, and is much revered by sushi chefs worldwide for its unrivaled ease in preparing fish and other meats.

Explore Exquisite Japanese Craftsmanship at Hasu-Seizo

Japanese kitchen knives are rightly considered as some of the best in the world. They use high-quality materials and crafting them is a labor of love for traditional Japanese artisans across the country.

If you should ever venture through a knifemaking village in Japan, perhaps in Echizen in the Fukui Prefecture or near our own family establishment in Sakai, Osaka, you will sometimes hear or even see master bladesmiths at work ‚Äď forging and hammering steel blades, creating one of the knives you see here at Hasu-Seizo.

While a fleeting pass by the scene may not make this obvious, what you’re observing is the product of centuries worth of tradition passed down from generation to generation being performed in front of you.

Browse the results of storied Japanese craftsmanship at Hasu-Seizo. Our catalog contains a wide range of traditional Japanese kitchen knives, including Yanagiba, Sujihiki, Gyuto, Petty, Deba, Nakiri, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Yanagiba is a Japanese sushi and sashimi knife, mainly used to slice through boneless fish filets, as well as skinning seafood and fileting small-to-medium sized fish. It can also be used to slice through other boneless cuts of meat, including poultry, roast beef, and the like.  However, with its single-bevel edge it is right or left handed and was designed primarily for slicing sashimi.

Yes, provided it is boneless. You can use it to slice through a variety of meat and produce, including chicken, steak, cheese, bread, fruits, and more. It is recommended to avoid letting it come into contact with bone to prevent chipping or breaking the knife.

The Yanagiba offers a more precise slicing performance than the Sujihiki. Traditionally, Yanagiba is considered to be a specialized Japanese sushi knife. The Sujihiki, on the other hand, is a more versatile implement that you can use to cut through meat, prepare vegetables, and carve roasts. Additionally, while the Yanagiba is typically single-bevel, the Sujihiki is normally a double-bevel edge more similar to many Western style slicers.

Yanagiba is specifically designed for slicing sashimi, with its long and single-bevel edge it can cut one piece in one nice long pull.  Also, high-carbon steel is the material of choice for traditional Japanese sashimi knives. This gives you a harder blade with a sharper edge that is easier to keep sharp so that it gives you those perfect delicate cuts of fish. Browse a range of high-carbon knives on our store, including those made from Shironiko, Aogami, Ginsan, Coreless, and more.

Shobu literally means Iris Leaf. The name "Shobu" is popular in Western Japan, primarily around the Osaka and Kyoto areas but denotes the same knife also known as "Yanagiba" in Eastern Japan. The shape is a slim blade which looks like a Katana (sword), suitable for slicing tasks.  The style of knife is well known as a great sushi knife, with a single bevel edge good for cutting and fileting fish.

Takohiki is another sushi knife unique to the Tokyo region of Japan. The tips are blunt and square in shape, which helps the chef carefully scoop the slices of sashimi onto a plate. Tako means octopus, hiki means pull. As with Shobu, this sushi knife is pulled in order to cut using the blade length. By pulling the knife, allowing the edge to slice the tissue of sushi will not collapse.  This allows for the cut to be clean and consistent.

According to the legend, Takohiki was a square-shaped tipped sushi maker in the Edo period, who was reprimanded for pointing the tip of a knife towards the customer. Interestingly, the tradition of not directing sharp cutting knives to customers still remains, and Takohiki is still favored in Tokyo.

Nothing. These names are regional names, with the Yanagiba knife being popular in the Tokyo region and Shobu being popular in the Okaka region. Similarly, the Takohiki is a square tipped variant of the slicer specific to the Tokyo region.

Good maintenance is essential to preserving a blade’s performance for a long time. Minimize your high-carbon knife’s contact with moisture and regularly apply Tsubaki Camellia Oil to help prevent rust and corrosion. Wipe it down immediately after use and hand-wash it instead of placing it in a dishwasher.

As with all single-bevel knives, the Yanagiba needs to be sharpened with a whetstone to preserve a fine cutting edge.