Many forums and discussions can be found regarding the pro’s and con’s of these two white steel variants. For those new to the discussion, as a level set, Shirogami is also known as White Steel, thus Shirogami 1 would be interchangeable with White Steel 1. The number is indicative of the chemical composition, with #1 having the highest percentage of carbon. While I am not a master chef, after many discussions with the master blacksmiths we would like to share the information we have gleaned.
The higher the carbon content the sharper the edge as the metal is harder. The downside is that the harder the metal and higher the carbon, the more brittle the metal becomes. Shirogami is one of the hardest metals to forge due to the extremely high carbon content, the higher the carbon content (and a few other variables we will get into shortly), the more likely the blade is to crack or break during the forging process. When forging high carbon blades, the cost isn’t necessarily in the one blade, but in the fact that in order to get one quality blade it may take two or three tries.
Shirogami 1 and 2 are the preferred metals for the highest quality traditional Japanese knives, somewhat due to the heritage of knife making. Practically speaking, many sushi chef’s prefer Shirogami 2 due to the more useable, slightly less brittle, characteristics. Though master sushi chef’s, having honed their knife skills over decades, will prefer the Shirogami 1 due to the razor sharp edge that can be created on the Honyaki.
Check out our article on Shirogami vs Aogami to find out the pro’s and con’s of white steel vs blue steel. For more information about the actual chemical compositions of the different metals here’s a link to Hitachi’s website, the manufacture of the different steels:
You will need to go to the YSS drop down and then scroll all the way to the bottom to find the Shirogami and Aogami. This is a great way to compare Shirogami vs Aogami.