Shigefusa Kitaeji Gyuto 270mm(10.6")
Japanese Kitchen Knife Review

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Shigefusa Kitaeji Gyuto 270mm(10.6")

Usage - 10°-12° Per Side Edge

- By now(February, 2012) I've been using Shigefusa Kitaeji gyuto for more than 2 years. In short, I love that knife and as the time goes by, I like it more and more. Can't say its performance improves, just stays very high as it was in the beginning, but I myself get better and better, plus using the same knife over and over again, I get more comfortable with it. That part is important and does explain why people stick to 20 year old knives, even when they look like complete junk to outside observer ;) The usual cutting session with Shigefusa gyuto has been fairly stable for last years, and in is about 2 hours long, no stop cutting of about 15-17lbs vegetables, once a week. Well, when it's Shigefusa gyutos turn, because I have quite a few very good gyutos to choose from, plus two chukabochos as well. Assortment of the food I cut with it was pretty much identical and includes: broccoli, carrots, red radish, cucumbers, basil, and bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, eggplants, asparagus, collard greens, and few other things. It's the same set of ingredients used in the Nenohi Nenox S1 Honyaki Gyuto review cutting tests. Pretty much the same order as well. The order in this case doesn't matter, because Shigefusa gyuto doesn't loose the ability to slice cherry tomatoes using just its own weight during one session, not even after 3rd or 4th. Yes, it has that much more edge holding compared to Nenox so called honyaki. Cutting ability compared to Nenox is also considerably higher. The edge is thinner and overall blade geometry is more cutting optimized, at least that's the way I see it, and practical experience with both knives just confirms that. Simply put, it's real life cutting performance, not just theory about thin edges cutting better.

Most of the leaves are julienned, and the rest is cut into batonnet, or minced. Makes a pretty good salad :) Avocados were also in the mix, however I don't feel like cutting them with 270mm blade gyuto, so I use Watanabe Small Knife or Tojiro Flash Paring knife. Due to very high sharpness cutting efficiency is simply outstanding. This was the second knife that went biting into the mahogany wood cutting board, even though I was extra careful, since the edge was thin and as it was the new knife I was unsure how it would behave. It was real easy to cut translucent slices off of the carrots and broccoli stems. Definitely on par or above Tadatsuna White Steel Kamagata Usuba, which is a superb cutter on its own. For all the vegetables I work with, using the Shigefusa gyuto is really enjoyable experience, very easy knife to work with, cutting performance is very high and as I feel, it's very user friendly knife. Obviously, one needs to be careful around the knives, especially when they're this sharp. Although, for most of the people with enough common sense, 270mm long blade does command enough respect.

Primarily I use the knife in a pinch grip, which is obvious, given the job(veggies). The new handle from Stefan is truly a match for this knife, as far as my perception goes, I feel the knife feels better with the new, Ebony handle. I said in many other reviews, on Japanese kitchen knives I strongly prefer WA, octagonal handles over D or any other shapes. For one or two cuts handle may not be very important, but when you are mincing veggies for 2 hours straight, or all day long, those small things do make difference. I can tell for myself, when mincing few lbs of Brussels sprouts. Not a very pleasant task, rather boring thing to do, and unless you have a good knife to work with, it can very quickly turn into torture. Shigefusa gyuto does handle sprouts easily. Wide blade really helps with guiding hand finger knuckle support and I said few times, cutting ability is very high, and as a result I manage to finish the work with sprouts noticeably faster with Shigefusa compared to Nenox or any western kitchen knife. I have to add, less fatigued too. Cutting chiffonade is for smaller knives in general, may be Nakiris or Usubas, I have a few of each, but if the gyuto is really sharp, as it should be, then I don't really see a reason why not use gyuto, other than the need or will to use bunch of fancy knives in the collection :) Of course, a gyuto is not really a substitute for usuba, and it definitely overlaps nakiri in terms of functionality, but those knives still have their use, and I'm happy they do.

One more very interesting aspect of kitaeji gyuto was the fact that when cutting translucent slices of the red radish, which tends to stick to pretty much every type of knife and steel I have, radish didn't stick much to the kitaeji gyuto. Very nice! I have no idea what exactly is the reason for that. Apparently the surface smoothness. Steel type doesn't seem to affect stickiness for any given material that much, as the same red radish sticks to Tadatsuna 270mm White Steel(Shirogami) Gyuto real bad, and at the same time kamagata usuba resists sticking quite successfully, which I attribute to its Urasuki, concaved back surface and single bevel edge grind (a.k.a. chisel grind).

What I wasn't very pleased with and was a surprise to me was the fact that the blade took significant patina after just second use, which I didn't notice after the first cutting session with it. Closer to the blade, but strangely on the cladding portion of the blade I found couple spots that looked more like rust than patina. Also, during the second session I could clearly feel the distinct smell of the oxidized wet metal. I thought it was very strange, as I was sure the cladding would be stainless as usual. Well, I was wrong, cladding is wrought iron, not stainless steel and it is highly reactive. Especially in the beginning. It could really affect the taste before the patina settled in. I've cleaned the blade with the Flitz polishing compound, which removed all the patina and suspected rust spots. Either there was something on the blade that I didn't wash off completely after first use, even though I did wash it in hot soapy water, or I somehow managed to leave the blade wet. Though, this should still serve as a good reminder that non stainless knives require more care and attention that their stain resistant cousins. As I found out later, few intense cleaning sessions with flitz and hot water baths did help with the odor, and that severe yellow discoloration doesn't seem to be an issue anymore.

Edge holding ability of the knife is very high, I already mentioned comparative results with Nenox gyuto. Maintaining the edge has been very easy so far. The usual maintenance includes steeling on the borosilicate rod, few strokes on each side before each use, takes 30 seconds or so, but goes long way preserving the edge. Then once in a while, 0.25µm or 0.50µm diamond loaded leather strops, depends how does the edge feel at the moment, plus stropping on the plain leather strop. 3 or may be 4 times in those 2 years I have the knife I had to use Naniwa Chosera 10000 grit Super Finish synthetic whetstone. Although, you should consider what I said about the use of the knife, in that I use quite a few other knives, taking turns or however I feel that day. Plus, the board I use is very nice, end grain wood board, which is very edge friendly. In other words, I can guarantee, if you use the knife daily in the pro kitchen, or won't care for it at home as I do, you will need more frequent sharpening compared to my experience. To summarize, I keep about 100K mirror polished edge on the Shigefusa kitaeji gyuto, and doing that is not a problem or a bother in any way. Just a testament to the superb quality of the knife.


- Even though I liked the knife a lot from the beginning, I refrained from posting this section until I've accumulated enough experience with the knife. Well, I did have few unknowns about the knife, then that oxidation problem in the beginning, etc. After 2+ years of use, I think it's fair to say I know this knife really well and while Shigefusa knives do not need recommendations and promotions from me, they're super popular on their own, I do have my opinion of kitaeji gyuto. Well, if you read the review, you already know I rate this knife very high. Clearly one of the best I have ever had and I've had a lot of knives of all sorts. Very well made knife, with very high cutting performance to boot. Interesting question you have to answer for yourself, is if 640$, or even higher price tag is worth paying for you. Can't help you there. As far as its knify qualities go, there is nothing to complain about this knife, even the relatively simple, magnolia wood handle was very finely finished. Yes, I did replace it with custom handle, because the custom was better and I wanted the handle mane to my specifications, but even out of thebox, with the stock handle it was a superb knife. It's just a matter of price, whether it is worth for you or not, well and some luck, as those Shigefusa knives are really to come by. In fact, as the time goes by they become more and more rare, sadly. Last one I got - Shigefusa Kitaeji Azumagata usuba took about 2 years of waiting. Can't say things improved since then. Good luck if you are on the quest to find one.


  • Blade - 270.00mm(10.63")
  • Thickness - 3.68mm
  • Width - 56.00mm
  • OAL - 410.00mm(16.14")
  • Steel - Iizuka proprietary Swedish(Spicy) steel 63-64HRC
  • Handle - Magnolia Wood
  • Weight - 258.00g(8.72oz)
  • Acquired - 05/2009 Price - 640.00$

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Last updated - 05/19/19