If you ask any chef out there about Japanese chef knives, they’ll probably tell you that they are some of the best blades you can get your hands on.
Japanese kitchen cutlery is known for being much sharper, thinner, harder, and sleeker than its Western counterparts.
If it’s your first time trying them, it will take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, these can be the most useful blades in your kitchen.
And since they have been growing in popularity over the past couple of years, there are now so many different brands to chose from.
Two of the top brands for Japanese knives are Shun and Miyabi.
They are both known for expert craftsmanship, which is probably best shown in the Miyabi Kaizen and Shun Classic collections.
And in this article, we put these two collections up against each other.
We compare the features, characteristics, and qualities of these two collections so it will be easier for you to pick the right one for your kitchen.
Read on to learn more.
Miyabi Kaizen Overview
Miyabi is known for handcrafting their knives, and the Kaizen collection is no exception.
From the first look, you can tell that someone’s heart and soul was poured into creating one Kaizen knife.
The term, “Kaizen” literally translates to “continuous improvement”.
The name comes from the fact that the collection combines modern breakthroughs in knife crafting techniques along with traditional Japanese techniques.
The collection boasts a Damascus construction, ergonomic handle, and incredibly sharp edge.
The Kaizen is one of the most premium knives that you can have in your collection, making them ideal for the professional chef.
Shun Classic Overview
The Shun Classic line is one of the brand’s most popular collections.
It features a Damascus construction and uses a VG-MAX cutting core, which is an ideal material for kitchen cutlery as it allows for the edge to stay sharp for longer.
These knives are handcrafted, but it should be noted that it’s more an automated handmade process rather than a traditional one.
The Shun Classic collection features a bunch of incredibly sharp and useful blades, and are ideal picks for both home and professional kitchens.
Miyabi Kaizen Vs. Shun Classic – Which Is The Better Pick?
The Shun Classic range offers a more varied collection than the Kaizen.
Not only does it feature traditional Japanese kitchen cutlery like the Santoku and Nakiri, but it also has Western knives like a cook’s knife, cleaver, and boning knife.
While they are Western designs, these blades still use the traditional Japanese techniques that put Shun on the map.
So, if you want to experience the superior sharpness of Japanese kitchen cutlery but still want to use Western knives, then this would be a great collection for you.
The Kaizen collection is more limited and more focused on traditional Japanese blades.
You can find santoku and nakiri knives, along with classic cook’s knives in this collection.
So, if you need something that’s closer to a traditional set of Japanese blades, the Kaizen collection might be the one for you.
Both of these knives feature a Damascus construction.
This technique involves hammering multiple layers of thin steel over a tough core to create the blade.
This results in a very hard and durable knife that also sports a beautiful pattern on its face.
On the Shun Classic knives, you will find a total of 68 layers of steel on the knives.
The Miyabi Kaizen collection, on the other hand, features 64 layers of steel.
At first glance, the pattern on Kaizen blades is more prominent, but that is because the craftsmanship on these blades is a bit better than what you’ll find on Classic ones.
Another addition to the construction process that’s found on the Miyabi blades is an ice-hardening process.
This is something seen on most Miyabi models and involves heating up the blade, quenching it in water, and then freezing and hardening it at a temperature of -190C.
This process results in a very hard blade with an HRC rating of 60.
The Kaizen blades are significantly harder than the Classic blades, so that means they will hold their edge for longer.
Kaizen blades are hand-honed to an angle between 9.5 and 13 degrees, which is way sharper than a lot of other models on the market.
Shun Classic models, on the other hand, aren’t as sharp but still sharpened to a respectable angle of 16 degrees on either side.
When it comes to the materials, these knives are actually pretty similar.
Classic models utilize VG-Max steel, while Kaizen ones use VG-10.
VG-10 is considered the gold standard for a lot of kitchen cutlery, as it is very hard, resistant to corrosion, and can hold its edge for a long time.
And while VG-Max isn’t as hard, it is still a very good choice for kitchen cutlery.
On Kaizen blades, you’ll find a black micarta handle.
This is a sleek material that not only gives a professional aesthetic but is very durable and can last you a long time in the kitchen.
Classic blades use a PakkaWood handle, which is a material made of real wood and resin.
This results in a very rustic look that a lot of chefs and cooks love.
So, Kaizen blades will inherently be harder and more durable than Classic ones because of the steel they use, but not by too much.
When it comes to the handle, either one of these materials would work well in the kitchen.
So, the better pick out of the two handles will largely depend on your own personal preferences.
Since the Kaizen models are generally of higher quality than the Classic ones, they are more expensive.
Generally, a Kaizen knife will cost you between $150-$250.
This is much more expensive than an average kitchen knife, and this is because it is designed for professionals who are looking for a top-quality blade.
Shun Classic knives are more affordable than Kaizen ones but are still going to cost you more than a normal kitchen knife.
Shun Classic knives are available at a price between $100-$200.
If you are looking for high-quality Japanese blades for your kitchen, and you’re willing to invest in them, then we recommend getting a Miyabi Kaizen knife.
These are very high-quality blades that will be very sharp right out of the box.
However, for those shopping on a budget, you can still get your hands on great Japanese kitchen cutlery for a cheaper price by going for the Shun Classic range.
So, while both these knives would be a great addition to your tool kit, the Miyabi Kaizen models are the better option for most.
However, they are fairly expensive which is why they are more recommended for professional chefs and cooks.
If you’re a home cook looking to try out Japanese knives and don’t want to spend too much money on them, then we recommend shopping the Shun Classic line.
And as long as you know what your needs and preferences are when it comes to kitchen tools, figuring out which brand or collection to buy will be very easy for you!
Last Updated on July 21, 2021 by Andy Wang