Many professionals and connoisseurs will tell you that a high-quality knife is an investment: this is because, without a doubt, this sharp piece is one of the most important tools in the kitchen.
When you are ready to invest, go for something that is not just worthwhile but also long-lasting.
And there is nothing better than spending a whole lot of money on a Japanese blade.
There are numerous cutlery companies in Japan nowadays, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since this country has a very long and incredible history of metal crafting.
But right now, let’s focus on two that are always on the top ten lists of the best – not just in Japan but all around the globe: Tojiro and Mac.
A Short Backgrounder on Mac
As a young man, T.Kobayashi worked in a restaurant as an assistant cook where he saw firsthand how heavy, bulky, and dangerous traditional German knives can be.
At one point, the tip of a chef’s knife that he was using broke and he had to round off with a whetstone.
In 1958, he returned to Japan and started to design a better knife than what he was using abroad. This would be lighter, sharper, and safer.
This became such a hit among professionals and home cooks that he thought it best to start his own company.
Today, Mac has sold over 30 million knives all over the world.
And while they offer numerous variants, they still kept the first-ever design that Kobayashi made.
Formulating the Steel, Crafting the Knife
There are only 15 steps in the Mac manufacturing process.
All their blades are pressed to give their basic contour – blade, bolster, and tang. These are then heat-treated, hammered, cooled down, grounded, and polished.
Most steps involve a skilled craftsman doing the work and ensuring the high quality of their final product.
Mac only uses one specific steel blend.
Like other Japanese knives, this has a high carbon content but is fortified with various metal alloys.
For corrosion resistance and flexibility, they added Chrome, Molybdenum, and Vanadium. For enhanced sharpness and durability, they added Tungsten.
The Most Highly Acclaimed Series in the Mac Line
Since we mentioned the very first design that Kobayashi came up with, that is what we will use as a sample to describe the knife’s features.
Here are the specs of the Original 7.5 Utility knife:
• Again, they use High-Carbon steel mixed with Molybdenum and Tungsten (just to name a few) for their blades. The tip is rounded off in a small hole is punched through that area, possibly used for hanging the knife.
• The flexible blade is 2.0 mm thick from the spine, tapering down to an extremely sharp edge.
• It doesn’t have a bolster but the heel is cut in a concave to prevent accidental nicking.
• It has a full, completely sheathed tang.
• The ‘Yo’ handle is made of treated dark wood material and is triple-riveted to the tang.
Mac at a Glance
• Japanese-made, specifically from Seki
• Uses high-Carbon steel, fortified with other elements
• Extremely thin blade, making it one of the lightest knives ever made
• No bolster but has a concaved heel
• Has a full tang
• Wooden ‘Yo’ handle, triple-riveted to the tang
• Not that pricey at less than $100 apiece
A Short Backgrounder on Tojiro
Compared to MAC, there is no one person credited for establishing the company.
They merely focus on the timeline – the most important events in their history which made them what they are today:
• 1953 – The Fujitora Farm Equipment was founded. The originators first made blades, gears, and other machine parts for farm machinery.
• 1955 – Seeing that they are pretty skilled with creating blades, the founders decided to make kitchen knives.
• Early 1960s to Late 1970s – They focused on expansion to be able to serve more people in the country. In the span of two decades, they built three new factories which helped them refine their products and create new designs.
• 1980 – The company started winning awards for its knives.
• 2000s – Tojiro thought it was time to introduce their brand to the west, starting with an exhibit in Frankfurt Messe. Soon after, their products started garnering international acclaim.
Formulating the Steel, Crafting the Knife
Many cutlery companies these days still do forging because it yields better products.
However, many of them rely heavily on automation. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but this is what makes Tojiro distinguishable and, consequently, one of the best in the industry.
They have machinery in their factory which makes the steps in the process more efficient, such as a mechanical hammer and rolling grinders. But the craftsman is there laboring on the piece.
Tojiro employs 100 people and you can be sure every single one of them has held and worked on the final product from forging to boxing the knives.
Here are the different steel blends that they use, depending on the variant offered:
• Nickel Damascus
• Molybdenum Vanadium
• Powdered High Speed
• High Carbon Stainless
• Aogami (Blue Steel)
• Shirogami (White Steel)
The Most Highly Acclaimed Series in the Tojiro Line
The most recognizable variant under this brand is the Shippu Black. As the name implies, these knives have black handles and blades – a striking addition to anyone’s collection.
To give a clear description of this particular style, let’s use the 7-inch Chef’s knife as an example:
• This is made of VG10 steel that underwent a chemical conversion coating to give it the oxide black color and the Damascus ripple pattern on the blade’s face.
• It has a straight edge and is double beveled. There are no specifics about the edge’s angle.
• This does not have a bolster but is given a polypropylene resin collar.
• It is full-tanged but the specifics about this are not provided.
• The ‘Wa’ handle is made of fire-treated black chestnut wood.
Tojiro at a Glance
• Japanese-made, specifically from Tsubame
• Uses VG10 steel with coating, hence the Damask appearance
• Straight-edged and double-beveled
• No bolster but has a resin collar.
• It also has a straight heel and a full tang
• Black wooden ‘Wa’ handle
• Costs over $200 per piece
Most high-quality Japanese knives share the same characteristics: lightweight-ness, incredibly long edge retention, and sheer beauty – whether a piece is simply mirror-polished or is given Damask patterns.
All these make it quite hard to choose which to go for.
You could base your decision on the price. There is nothing wrong with going for the cheaper option and that’s something a lot of people do.
But when given these two excellent choices that are almost priced the same way, the best thing for you to do is hold the knife. Get the feel of it and see which is more comfortable.
That’s how you choose.
That’s how you figure out which is right for you.
Last Updated on July 21, 2021 by Andy Wang