Japan has a rich 800-year-old history of sword making.
It has not stopped even when samurai were banned and their katanas were banned.
Instead of forging weapons, artisans began making household kitchen knives.
Now this cultural hub is known to be the cutlery capital of Asia.
And Seki, a small town in Gifu Prefecture, is where the most famous brands come from.
Two of these are Shun and Kasumi.
If you’re wondering which of these two companies makes the better magazine, read on to find out …
Shun: To reach the pinnacle of perfection
Led by Saijiro Endo, Shun started as a small shop selling razors and pocket knives in 1908.
A few years later, he started forging kitchen knives in the same way that katanas were forged.
Since then, this brand is considered one of the finest from Seki.
It is not a surprise to see these in many homes and even professional kitchens across the country.
When his grandson took the chair, Shun entered the competitive cutlery industry in the West.
This turned out to be a good gamble as they are now world famous beautiful and functional knives.
Creating the knife
The Japanese use carbon steel, resulting in hard knives that hold the edge for a long time.
The disadvantage of high carbon content is that the blade tends to chip.
This is what Shun tried to correct by using VG Max – special steel that was used exclusively by the company.
Shun’s knife manufacturing process follows no less than 100 steps.
And most things, especially forging and polishing, are done manually.
This proves their commitment to the centuries of Japanese blade-forging tradition.
Shuns are considered heavier than most Asian knives, but still lighter than their Western counterparts.
The spine and the belly of the knife are linear, great for chopping up and down in motion.
But their thin knives can still cut almost transparent tomatoes.
Most of their variants have a full pliers, thick half bolster and a more columnar handle.
Depending on the series, the handle materials used are high quality TPE, the wood resin PakkaWood and Tagayasan, which are famously used for katanas.
Aside from their entry-level series, Shun are known for the stunning Damascus patterns on their knives caused by forging multiple layers of steel.
- Lightweight knives
- Narrow, lighter handles
- Beautiful design in Damascus style on the magazine
- Most have a lifetime warranty
- Free sanding service
- Slightly heavier than other Japanese knives
- Many say that shuns are too expensive
Best-selling variant: Kanso 8-inch chef’s knife
Forged with AUS10A steel from pliers to tip, this is razor sharp and wonderfully balanced.
The dark Tagayasan wooden handle matches the weathered leaf, hides imperfections and gives it a beautiful vintage look over time.
The simplest, most rugged Shun is a huge favorite.
Kasumi: A hundred years of honing excellence
Sumikama, the company that makes Kasumi knives, has been in the cutlery industry since 1916.
Like most knife manufacturers of Seki, they acquired and refined the knowledge of former blacksmiths and are committed to keeping this tradition alive.
Today, they have only a few series that include Damascus, HM Hammered, Kuro and Titanium, just to name a few.
Some of these variants received various awards abroad, including Design Plus in Germany (2002 and 2006) and at the Bocuse d’Or in France (2013).
Creating the knife
Interestingly, most Kasumi knives are made with only one type of stainless steel – VG10 (HRC 59-60).
High in iron and carbon, but having good levels of chromium, molybdenum, manganese, silicon and vanadium, this intricate blend is hard, sharp and flexible.
Only the Titanium variant is different as it uses titanium steel as the name suggests.
What makes each Kasumi variant different is how it was forged.
For example, Damascus is made with 32 layers of VG10, giving it the wavy pattern, while HM Hammered has the small craters on top of the sharp sloping edge.
Kasumi knives are light and razor sharp with an angle of 15 degrees on each side.
However, they do not have the traditional Japanese look.
Their Nakiris and Santokus, usually with a parallel back and edge, are more curved at the bottom.
All their variants have a full pliers and thick half bolts that give the knife a good balance.
The riveted handles, narrow but curved at the rear, are made of high quality plastic resin.
The most interesting series in the Kasumi line is Titanium.
The knives get a cool blue and warm gold color, while the handle has a flexible contour for easy grip.
- Light and razor sharp
- Slightly curved knives are lighter on the wrist
- Interesting silhouette on the handle
- Quite expensive,
- Their smallest knives start at $ 100 or so
Best selling variant: VG10 Pro 18 cm Santoku
This blade is made of VG10 and is hard and holds its edge for a long time.
However, it does not have the vertical depressions on the slope as the most authentic Santokus.
But it is one of the most well-balanced, as the whole knife – from pliers to the tip of the blade – is forged from a single piece of steel.
The easy to grip cylindrical handle is made of a special resin with a dark marble appearance.
It’s a no-nonsense knife. And sometimes that’s what you need.
There is no doubt that when you get a knife from Seki, you will get a remarkable piece.
But if you’re looking for a whole lot of options when it comes to steel types, forging methods and overall design, Shun can deliver better.
Compared to Kasumi, which has only four varieties, they have almost a dozen.
And in that regard, if you are looking for a decent knife at a lower price, Shun has several choices.
Their Kai and Sora are considered by many to be great entry-level products for $ 50 or less.
Kasumi’s cheapest is almost a hundred dollars per. Pop.
And with the free grinding service, Shun is hard to say no to.
Last updated on February 19, 2021 by Andy Wang