Japanese Knives Guide logo
Traditional-Style
Western-Style
Glossary of Terms

What is a Gyuto (Chef's) Knife?

The Gyuto is the Japanese version of the classic western-style chef’s knife. Similar to the western chef’s knife, the Gyuto is a versatile, multi-purpose knife that is suitable for cutting the vast majority of meats, fishes, vegetables, fruits and herbs.

Gyutos are long knives that are commonly tall at the heel with a slight curve from the midsection to the pointed tip of the blade. The relatively flat heel of the blade makes it well-suited for a variety of chopping styles including tap-chopping, push-cutting and pull-cutting, while the slight belly towards the tip of the blade allows for easy rock-cutting. The pointed tip of the blade can also be used for precision cuts.

The Gyuto knife’s double bevel blade is typically thinner, lighter and holds a sharper edge than a Western chef’s knife. For most users, the Gyuto is the best all-purpose knife and the most versatile and useful Japanese knife in the kitchen.

What does Gyuto mean?

Literally translated, ‘Gyu’ means cow (as seen in ‘Wagyu’) and ‘To’ means blade, making the Gyuto a ‘cow blade’.

Like the chef’s knife, the Gyuto was originally designed for slicing and disjointing large cuts of beef, leading to its name. Nowadays, the Gyuto is seen as the equivalent of a western chef’s knife and is primarily used as a versatile all-rounder for cutting meat, fish, vegetables, fruits and herbs.

What is a Gyuto knife best for?

The Gyuto knife is best for chopping, slicing, mincing and dicing boneless meat, fish, vegetables, fruit and herbs. It is a true multi-tasker in the kitchen, and is often recommended as the best all-rounder Japanese knife.

When preparing vegetables, the relatively flat heel of the blade is used to tap-chop or thrust-cut. The slight curve from the middle of the blade leading to its pointed edge is used to rock-chop stiffer produce or herbs, and the pointed tip helps to make fine precision cuts. True to its name of ‘cow blade’, the Gyuto is also excellent at slicing all types of meat. It can be used to pull-cut softer meats or to push-cut more muscular cuts of meat.

The blade of the Gyuto is thinner, lighter and sharper than a western chef’s knife, making it easier to handle and the ideal tool for preparing any kind of dish. However, because the Gyuto is thinner and the types of steel used to make a Gyuto are harder than that of a western chef’s knife, the Gyuto is unsuitable for heavy-duty work. Cutting through bones, or using the blade to smash garlic for example could chip, crack or otherwise damage the blade.

Thrust cutting technique - Japanese Knife Imports

Gyuto knife characteristics

Size

Like the western-style chef’s knife, the Gyuto typically features a long blade and is available in several blade lengths between 180mm to 300mm. For the average user, a blade length of 240mm is best recommended because a longer blade gives additional versatility for cutting larger produce while remaining light and nimble enough in the hand to feel comfortable. If you have a smaller workspace, a blade length of 210mm is another popular choice for home cooks.

Shape

Gyutos are long Japanese chef’s knives that are commonly tall and flat at the heel with a slight curve from the midsection to the pointed tip of the blade. The relatively flat heel of the blade makes it well-suited for a variety of chopping styles such as thrust-cutting, while the slight belly towards the tip of the blade allows for easy rock-cutting. The pointed tip of the blade can also be used for precision cuts and is particularly useful when working in tight spaces.

Edge

Gyuto knives are a popular all-rounder knife with a familiar double bevel edge to the blade, but is much sharper than a standard western chef’s knife. The bevels along the cutting edge are usually sharpened at a more acute angle than the western chef’s knife, giving the Gyuto its signature razor-sharp edge. The types of steel used for making Gyutos also tends to be much harder, which helps the Gyuto to retain its ultra sharp edge for a longer period of time.

Handle

The Gyuto is available with either a western-style handle or a Japanese-style handle (wa-handle). A Gyuto with a Japanese-style handle is called a Wa-Gyuto.

The most common wa-handle shapes are the D-shape, oval, or octagonal. While some prefer the ergonomic grip of a D-shaped or octagonal handle, the choice of the handle comes down to personal preference.

How are Gyuto knives made?

To understand how Gyuto knives are made and to decode the common phrases that are found in knife descriptions, it’s best to look at traditional Japanese knife forging methods and the materials used.

There are two basic categories of Japanese knives - honyaki and kasumi - which are defined by the materials and methods used in their forging.

honyaki (“true-forged”) knives are manually forged by hand following traditional Japanese blacksmithing techniques, and are created entirely out of one single material: high-carbon steel (hagane). The hagane is typically a type of White Steel (Shirogami) or Blue Steel (Aogami), and this style of knife blade is also called a mono steel blade.

The method of creating a honyaki knife is similar to how Katanas (Japanese traditional swords) were made in the past. Forging a Gyuto knife is a lengthy and difficult manual process that begins with a single high-carbon steel blank, and involves multiple rounds of heat treatment, steel hammering, kilning, polishing and sharpening. This is done manually in the hands of skilled blacksmiths in Japanese cities famous for their knife production, such as Sakai (in Osaka), Seki (in Gifu), and Echizen (in Fukui).

Because honyaki knives are forged from high-carbon steel, its blade is extremely hard and can be sharpened to incredibly thin and sharp edges that will remain sharp for a long time. However, they are challenging to resharpen and prone to chipping, cracking, or breaking if used improperly. Due to the small-scale production and the highly-skilled artisan nature of the blacksmiths, honyaki knives are more expensive, and recommended for experienced and professional chefs who can maintain them.

On the other hand, kasumi (“mist”) knives are made by joining together a piece of soft iron (jigane) with a piece of high-carbon steel (hagane) to create a laminated blade. After forging, hammering and shaping, the carbon steel (hagane) forms the core and cutting edge, while the soft iron (jigane) clads the body and spine of the blade. The hazy appearance of the soft iron in contrast with the glossy carbon steel gives kasumi its signature ‘mist’ appearance, as referenced by its name. Thanks to the added soft iron, kasumi blades have reduced brittleness overall, and are cheaper and easier to sharpen than honyaki knives.

In relation to kasumi knives, Hon Kasumi or Hongasumi knives are also commonly found, and refers to a higher grade of kasumi knives. Although Hongasumi knives are made in the same way as kasumi knives, they are often made from higher quality materials and involve extra attention and steps in its forging, tempering, polishing and finishing processes.

For more information on how Japanese knives are made and the types of steels used, check out our blog on how Japanese knives are made. (link coming soon)

What are common variants of Gyuto knives?

There are two common variations of the Gyuto knife: the Wa-Gyuto and the Kiritsuke-Gyuto, or K-tip Gyuto for short.

Wa-Gyuto

The Wa-Gyuto is a Gyuto knife with a traditional Japanese handle (wa-handle). Wa-handles are usually made from wood, and tend to have an overall lighter feel. The balance point of a Wa-Gyuto knife is further towards the tip, which allows the knife to do most of the cutting work for you. The forward balance of the Wa-Gyuto makes the knife easier to wield, especially when directing the sharp tip of the blade to make precision cuts.

Knife Talk: An Intro To The Wa-Gyuto And How It Differs From Your Typical Gyuto:

Kiritsuke Gyuto - Also called K-tip Gyuto

The Kiritsuke Gyuto is a variant of the Gyuto with an angled ‘reverse tanto’ tip, like those seen on a Kiritsuke knife. The K-tip Gyuto is different in its shape to the typical Gyuto as it has a very flat edge rather than the slight curve at the front of the blade as seen on a regular Gyuto. This makes the K-tip Gyuto less ideal for users who use a rock-chopping method, but better suited for those who use a push-cutting or tap-chopping method.

Kiritsuke Gyuto knives are available in blade lengths ranging from 240mm to 330mm, and the 270mm size is a popular alternative to the Gyuto.

What are popular Gyuto knife brands?

The Gyuto knife originates from Japan, and to this day, traditional blacksmiths in Japan still forge Yanagiba knives manually by hand in famous knife-manufacturing cities such as Sakai (in Osaka), Seki (in Gifu), and Echizen (in Fukui).

However, thanks to the rising popularity of the Gyuto as the Japanese equivalent of a western chef’s knife, both Japanese and Western knife manufacturers now also offer their own versions as well. Some popular Gyuto knife brands include:

  • Mac
  • Masamoto
  • Takamura
  • Tanaka
  • Anryu
  • Masakage
  • Gesshin Uraku
  • Suisin
  • Tojiro
  • Yoshihiro
  • Shun

How to choose a Gyuto knife


If you’re in the market for a Gyuto knife, it can seem difficult to figure out which particular one will be perfect for you, especially if you haven’t had the chance to try out a few models in person to get a feel for what size and style of the Gyuto feels the most balanced and stable in your hand.

You can see our best recommendations here, but here are some factors to first consider that will help you to choose your Gyuto knife:

  • Types of steel
  • Handle styles
  • Ideal size
  • Your budget

Which steel should I choose for my Gyuto knife?

Generally speaking, you have a choice between carbon steel and stainless steel when buying a Gyuto knife. The type of steel you choose will determine the knife’s edge retention, how easy it is to sharpen, level of resistance to corrosion and rusting, and its overall durability. You can first evaluate which of these factors is the most important to you, and narrow it down from there.

Carbon-steel blades are easier to sharpen and maintain their sharp edges for longer, but require more maintenance as it is prone to rust and corrosion. Over time, a dark patina will form on a carbon-steel knife. Popular high-carbon steel options include White Steel (Shirogami) and Blue Steel (Aogami).

stainless steel blades are generally less expensive, tougher, less likely to chip and more corrosion-resistant, however are harder to sharpen and tend to dull quicker. Popular stainless steel options include VG-10, SG-2, AUS-10, Gingami #3 and Swedish stainless steel.

What size Gyuto should I buy?

We recommend the most popular sizes of 210mm or 240mm as the best size for a Gyuto. To help you decide, here are some questions to think about when selecting the size of your Gyuto knife.

  • How big is your workspace? Is your chopping board or your prep area big enough for the knife?
  • What is the size of the ingredients you commonly use? If you routinely cut large produce such as cabbage, the larger 240mm size will be very helpful. If you’re mostly cutting vegetables, chicken breasts and other similar sized items, a 210mm size will work well.
  • What is your cutting technique? If you use a rock-cut, a larger knife will help you to minimize extreme up-and-down motions with the handle when dealing with larger produce. If you tap-cut, a larger knife will provide a longer cutting edge, helping you to get through the ingredients quicker.

What is the best handle for a Gyuto knife?

The handle of your Gyuto knife will determine where the balance point is in your knife, and how comfortable it feels to use in your hand.

Consider your usual grip on a knife. If you mostly hold the knife by the handle, a shaped or tapered Western-style handle will feel most comfortable and familiar to you. The balance point of a Gyuto with a western handle tends to be near the center or back of the blade.

If you hold the knife using a pinch grip, a Wa-Gyuto with a traditional Japanese-style handle (‘wa-handle’) will feel great in your hand. The most common wa-handle shapes are the D-shape, oval, or octagonal, and while some prefer the ergonomic grip of a D-shaped or octagonal handle, it all comes down to personal preference. The balance point of a Wa-Gyuto knife is further forward, towards the tip.

sE8ClS4

How do I take care of a Gyuto knife?

When purchasing a Gyuto knife, it’s important to think about how you will care for and maintain your Gyuto knife. Gyuto knives should be sharpened with water whetstones, and always hand washed and dried after use to prevent rusting and corrosion.

There are lots of detailed videos on YouTube that show you step-by-step how to sharpen your Gyuto knife. Otherwise, some Gyuto knife sellers offer a paid sharpening service by trained Japanese knife sharpeners, which can be an easier option.

How much should I spend on a Gyuto knife?

There are countless options for a Gyuto knife, starting with budget-friendly Gyuto knives to traditionally hand-forged honyaki Gyuto knives for over $500. Setting your own spending limit will help narrow down your hunt for the best value Gyuto knife.

If you’re looking for some tried and tested Gyuto knife recommendations, this Tojiro DP Gyutou - 8.2" (21cm) is the best entry-level choice to test out the sharpness of a Gyuto knife. Tojiro are a highly-regarded Japanese knife manufacturer, and the performance of their knives are known to stand the test of time.

If you’re looking to invest a little more, our favorites include the Yoshihiro VG10 16 Layer Hammered Damascus Gyuto Japanese Chefs Knife (8.25'' (210mm)) and the Suisin Inox Western-Style Knife Series, Genuine Sakai-Manufactured, Inox Steel 9.4" (240mm) Gyuto Knife because both knives are handcrafted by skilled Japanese blacksmiths, and offer easier maintenance and usage with rust-resistant steel and western handles. Yoshihiro and Suisin are consistently recommended for their knives that offer great bang for your buck.

How to choose a Gyuto knife - Japanese Chef's knife - Wa-gyuto

Frequently asked questions

Should I buy a Gyuto knife?

If you’re interested in the world of Japanese knives, there’s no better place to start than the Gyuto. As the Japanese equivalent of a western chef’s knife, it’s a true all-rounder in the kitchen that will easily glide through your meats, fish, vegetables, fruits and even herbs. It’s a knife that you will use daily, rather than a specialized knife which will sit unused and neglected.

The Gyuto is suitable for various types of cuts, including thrust-cutting push-cutting, pull-cutting, tap-chopping and even rock-chopping, thanks to its mostly flat edge profile and the slight curve towards the pointed tip. This makes it suitable for almost every type of cook, and is the perfect gateway into the world of Japanese knives.

What’s the difference between a Gyuto and a Chef’s knife?

Simply put, the main difference of the Gyuto from a western chef’s knife is that the Gyuto has a thinner, lighter, and sharper blade. The Gyuto is also typically made from much harder steel and holds an edge better than the thicker and heavier western chef’s knife.

How do you sharpen a Gyuto knife?

As a rule, the Gyuto knife should only be sharpened using a whetstone when necessary, and never placed in the dishwasher. Here’s an easy to follow guide on how to sharpen a Gyuto knife:

For more tips, insights and tricks, visit our page on how to sharpen Japanese knives. (link coming soon)

Who makes the best Gyuto knife?

At Japanese Knives Guide, we believe that the best Gyuto knife is one that fits your budget, grip style, expected steel type and your chosen size of the blade. Of course, everybody will have different resources and requirements, so our ‘best’ recommendations are always those which present great value for money.

If you’re new to the world of Japanese knives, our foolproof recommendation is this: before jumping at the first chance to own an expensive, high-end Gyuto knife, why not try your hand at a budget-friendly Gyuto knife to see if it’s the right fit for you?

Traditionally hand-forged and high-carbon steel Gyuto knives can easily cost a fortune, and although beautiful, they require some training to get used to the high-maintenance care routine that’s required to keep them in their pristine original condition. It’s always better to first get a feel for the specific qualities of a specialized knife before committing to invest more. That way, you can spend some time mastering different chopping and handling techniques without the fear of damaging your expensive investment piece.

Amazon is an accessible and reputable retailer with plenty of Gyuto knife options, a transparent customer review section and an incredibly generous returns policy, which makes it the perfect hassle-free and worry-free option for your first Gyuto purchase. There are many specialized smaller retailers out there, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that can provide as much peace of mind with the same level of service and returns policy as Amazon.

With that in mind, this Tojiro DP Gyutou - 8.2" (21cm) is our favorite entry-level choice to test out the sharpness of a Gyuto knife. Tojiro are a highly-regarded Japanese knife manufacturer, and the performance of their knives are known to stand the test of time.

If you’re looking to invest a little more, some great options include the Yoshihiro VG10 16 Layer Hammered Damascus Gyuto Japanese Chefs Knife (8.25'' (210mm)) and the Suisin Inox Western-Style Knife Series, Genuine Sakai-Manufactured, Inox Steel 9.4" (240mm) Gyuto Knife because both knives are handcrafted by skilled Japanese blacksmiths, and offer easier maintenance and usage with rust-resistant steel and western handles. Yoshihiro and Suisin are consistently recommended for their knives that offer great bang for your buck.

Where to buy a Gyuto (Chef's) knife

Amazon is an accessible and reputable retailer with many Gyuto knives on offer, plus a very generous returns policy for extra peace of mind.

If you’re looking for some tried and tested Gyuto knife recommendations, this Tojiro DP Gyutou - 8.2" (21cm) is the best entry-level choice to test out the sharpness of a Gyuto knife. Tojiro are a highly-regarded Japanese knife manufacturer, and the performance of their knives are known to stand the test of time.

For beginner Japanese knife enthusiasts with a little more budget, we highly recommend the hand-crafted Yoshihiro VG10 16 Layer Hammered Damascus Gyuto Japanese Chefs Knife (8.25'' (210mm)) and the Suisin Inox Western-Style Knife Series, Genuine Sakai-Manufactured, Inox Steel 9.4" (240mm) Gyuto Knife. Both knives are handcrafted by skilled Japanese blacksmiths, and offer easier maintenance and usage with rust-resistant steel and western handles. Yoshihiro and Suisin are famous for their attention to detail, extremely sharp edges and durable, high-quality knives.

Gyuto (Chef's) Knife

Name: 
牛刀包丁 (ぎゅうとう)
Rōmaji:
Gyūtō Bōchō
Sizing:
180-300mm
© 2021 Japanese Knives Guide