3 Best Japanese Knives Under $100 (Made in Japan)

This article tells the truth. All these knives are manufactured in Japan, using Japanese steel. That’s a rare thing for knives costing under $100, as a result these knives are what I would consider extremely good value for money.

Beware of other articles you might read claiming to show ‘Japanese’ knives for anything like $100, dig a little into the brands and knife materials and you’ll usually find they are made in China/ Taiwan or some other cheap manufacturing location.

You won’t find that here, these knives are the real deal.

My personal recommendation for a Japanese knife under $100 would be the Shun Sora 8-Inch Chef’s Knife. Shun is a very well respected Japanese knife manufacturer, and to get a true Japanese knife of this quality for under $100 is rare.

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Best Japanese Knives Under $100

Here is my summary table for the best Japanese knives under $100. I’ve put them in price order, all these knives use great materials so which one you choose is really down to your budget and design preference.

NamePriceCheck current price
JCK 8.2 Inch Kagayaki Gyuto$100 – $110Link to Amazon
Shun Sora 8 Inch Chef’s Knife$80 – $100Link to Amazon
Shun 7 Inch hollow Santoku$70 – $90 Link to Amazon

For a more detailed description of each knife, check out my reviews below.

JCK 8.2 Inch Kagayaki Gyuto

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JCK 8.2 Inch Kagayaki Gyuto Review Table

Country of manufactureJapan
Carbon content1.05%
Rockwell hardnessHRC 59-61
Factory edge70:30 double bevel
Handle materialPakka Wood
ProsHard steel, great edge retention and a low price

JCK are located in the Japanese knife city of Seki, so you know you’re getting the real deal.

This 8.2 Inch Gyuto uses quality materials, but due to the JCK name not being as well known as the other knives on this list, I think this Gyuto is available at a brilliant price.

It uses VG-1 steel. It’s a quality Japanese steel with a great balance of strength and durability.

The Carbon content is between 0.95 – 1.05% with a Chromium content between 13 – 15%. That means the blade can handle a very fine edge but is also stainless steel and very resistant to rust.

Like the Masamoto knife listed above, this JCK knife has a double beveled edge with each at a different angle, with a ratio of 70:30.

That means one edge needs to be sharpened at around 21 degrees whilst the other is a very fine 9 degrees.

That makes for extremely precise cutting, but it does mean that if you intend to sharpen this knife yourself, then the best way is to do it by hand using a whetstone. That way you can ensure each side of the knife is sharpened to the correct angle.

The blade is full tang into the handle and double riveted with a half bolster. The handle is Pakkawood, a wood composite resin that is very popular in Japanese knife design.

It’s very strong stuff and is durable too, being resistant to flex and heat.

Franky, the price point for this knife is fantastic given the quality you get. This is a high-carbon, stainless steel Japanese knife with a Pakkawood handle for around $100.

If this was produced by one of the bigger brands in the world I think it would cost at least 50% more.

Shun Sora 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

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Shun Sora 8-Inch Chef’s Knife Review Table

Country of manufactureJapan
Steel typeVG-10 (High quality Japanese steel)
Rockwell hardness60-61
Factory edge16 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialPP/TPE (thermoplastic blend)
ProsGenuine Japanese knife with amazing edge retention

Shun are a fantastic Japanese producer of high-quality knives.

What makes Shun particularly special is that they combine their Japanese heritage with western influences to create knives that suit the western market but still use great Japanese materials, designed in a clearly Japanese style.

This 8-inch knife gets made with a VG-10 San Mai core with a 420J Japanese blade upper. The traditional style handle gets made from textured TPE for balance and grip.

The Carbon content is 1%, making this a truly high-carbon knife. That means the steel is stronger than most western knives and can be sharpened to a finer edge. The factory edge is 16 degrees but this steel could probably handle a 12 degree edge if you wanted to further sharpen it yourself.

Whilst the Carbon content is high, durability is not compromised and the Chromium content is a good 15%, qualifying this as a high-performing stainless steel. That means it’s very rust-resistant.

The design is slimmer than a classic western-style chef’s knife. One benefit is that it makes the knife very lightweight, but it may not suit those who prefer the bulky feel of a large chef’s knife.

Shun are one of my favorite knife brands, and whilst this isn’t a classic western style chef’s knife it simply had to go on this list.

To get a genuine Japanese knife using VG-10 steel for under $150 is a bargain. For anyone looking for a Japanese-style chef’s knife without breaking the bank, this is a brilliant choice.

Shun 7 Inch Hollow Santoku

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Shun Sora 8-Inch Chef’s Knife Review Table

Country of manufactureJapan
Steel typeVG-10 (High quality Japanese steel)
Carbon content1%
Rockwell hardness60-61
Factory edge16 degrees (double bevel)
Handle materialPP/TPE (thermoplastic blend)
ProsGenuine Japanese knife with amazing edge retention

Whilst the incredible steel of the Yoshihiro santoku I’ve mentioned above contains the highest amount of carbon you’ll likely find in any knife, I also wanted to offer a choice for those who want a high carbon knife at a very reasonable price, but are also looking for a good level of durability.

Shun are masters of combining the two elements of strength and durability. They are a Japanese company that manufactures their knives in the Japanese city of Seki.

What makes them particularly popular is that they use their own Japanese steel to strike a balance between strength, flexibility and rust resistance.

This 7-inch santoku is made using their own VG10 steel, it’s not quite as good as the VG-MAX steel used in the chef’s knife I’ve mentioned above but that’s all reflected in the price.

What it does offer is a good carbon content of 1%, significantly higher than you would find in a standard western knife.

Shun combines that with a chromium content of 15% which makes this a high-quality stainless steel, very resistant to rust.

This is by far the lowest priced knife on my list, and that’s reflected in the carbon content, but this is still a high carbon Japanese knife and it has the added bonus of being very durable.

Shun are a highly respected Japanese knife producer, so to pick up a high carbon santoku from them at this price range is, quite frankly, a bargain.