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Tojiro Vs Shun Knife – Deciding Which One to Buy

Tojiro uses lower-quality blade and handle materials to make their knives accessible for everyone, whereas Shun knives feature the highest-grade steel and Pakkawood handles for a higher price. Still, the price is worth it due to Shun’s exclusive sharpening service, which Tojiro doesn’t offer. Lastly, Shun knives are slightly larger, as opposed to the smaller Tojiro sets.

If you’re not sure what differentiates Tojiro vs Shun knives, you’ve come to the right place. Here, I’ll walk you through the many differences between both knives to help you pick one out of the two. Let’s start with a quick glimpse of what you can expect to find here.

Tojiro Knives Vs Shun Knives: Side by Side Comparison

SubjectTojiro Kitchen KnifeShun Kitchen Knife
OriginMade in Japan, by Tojiro Japan (founded in 1955)Made in Japan, by Kai Group (founded in 1908)
StyleWestern & JapaneseWestern & Japanese, more inclined to the latter
SizeFrom 88.9mm (3.5, paring knife) to 270mm (10.6 inches, bread knife).Up to 304mm (12″)
Blade Quality and MaterialLower Quality: High-Carbon Stainless Steel Molybdenum-Vanadium Steel Powdered High-Speed SteelHigher Quality: VG-10 VG-Max VG-2 Aus8A Aus10A
PriceAffordableExpensive
HandleEco-Wood (Oak)Pakkawood
Sharpening ServicesNot OfferedFree

Key Differences Between Shun and Tojiro Kitchen Knife

The key differences between Shun and Tojiro knives are seven: origins, style, size, blade quality, price, handle material, and sharpening service. Each of these elements could be the decisive factor to help you pick one. Check this in-depth review of these two knife brands to know which one is better for you.

Origin

Tojiro knives are made in Japan, dating back to 1955. Since then, the company has improved the style of its knives to mix Western and Oriental cultures. The results are Japanese-made blades with classic European handle profiles.

To create the Tojiro blades, the manufacturer uses clad-steel forged similarly to Katana forging. This combination of traditional forging procedures with modern technology creates balanced, reliable, and unique products.

Shun knives come from cutlery-maker Kai Group, a Japan-based company founded in 1908. The company distributes these knives in more than 30 countries around the world, meeting the needs of home and professional cooks alike. All Shun knives come with blades made in Japan. Said blades are lighter, thinner, and sharper than European-style knives.

Style

The Tojiro knife catalog appeals to both Western-Style Japanese knives and traditional Japanese-style knives. These are some knife types you can find in Tojiro.

Western-Style Tojiro Japanese Knives

Classic Japanese-Style Tojiro Knives

  • Deba (for cutting fish)
  • Yanagi-Sashimi (for slicing boneless, raw fish fillets)
  • Ajikiri (for cutting small fish, meat bits & veggies)
  • Usuba (for cutting through vegetables without smashing them)

Shun knives also come in Western styles, but they’re mostly Japanese-inclined cutlery. These are some knife types offered by Shun.

Western-Style Shun Knives

Classic Japanese-Style Shun Knives

  • Fuji Knife (for cutting small fruits & veggies)
  • Hiro (for general purposes)
  • Kanso (for preparing fruits, proteins, vegetables & more)
  • Hikari (for heavy-duty cuts, like slicing many veggies at once)
  • Kaji (for slicing, chopping, dicing, and mincing fruits & veggies)
  • Sora (for cutting more foot in a single slice)

Size

Tojiro knives come in sizes as little as 88.9mm (3.5, paring knife) or as large as 270mm (10.6 inches, bread knife). This company offers a wide variety of kitchen knives to satisfy the needs of every home cook. 

The largest chef’s knife is the Tojiro DP Damascus, which has a 273mm (10.75″) blade length. This chef’s knife is slightly bigger than the Shun 254mm (10″) chef’s knife, but the difference is barely noticeable during use.

Shun knives are available in different sizes, with the largest being the 304mm (12″) Shun slicing knife. The Shun Chef’s knife blade is a bit smaller than the Tojiro, as it measures 254mm (10″). While the size varies between both brands, their purpose is pretty much the same.

In both cases, there are smaller chef’s knives available to suit different needs. Tojiro knives are better for home cooks, while the Shun knives are ideal for amateur and professional cooking.

Blade Quality

Tojiro kitchen knives use lower-quality steel, like high-carbon stainless steel, molybdenum-vanadium steel, and powdered high-speed steel. The quality of these steel materials is not bad, but it isn’t as high as the Shun steel. While there are some Tojiro knives with VG-10, Aus8A, or Aus10A blades available but there are no VG-Max.

Shun knives use higher-quality steel, like VG-10, VG-Max, and VG-2. There are also knives featuring Aus8A or Aus10A variations, as well as white steel, blue steel, and traditional Kasumi steel. Blades made with these materials are sharp, lightweight, and easy to maneuver. They’re also resistant to water, corrosion, and rust.

Here’s what some of these steels have to offer:

  • AUS8A is great for long-lasting sharpness and some flexibility.
  • VG-10 is strong high-carbon steel featuring a mix of chromium, silicon, and manganese, among other elements.
  • VG-MAX is an optimal version of the VG-Steel, as it has an enhanced build with more chromium and vanadium content. This steel offers better edge retention and higher corrosion resistance.

Price for Quality

Tojiro is an affordable brand that offers lower-quality knives, but the cutlery remains among the best within its price range. Lower prices also mean that anyone can have one of these knives, which is ideal for beginners. You can buy one for less than a hundred dollars and use it to master your cutting techniques and sharpening skills like an expert.

Shun is a high-end brand that offers some of the highest-quality chef knives, which naturally means the cutlery is more expensive. The price is more than justified, though. Besides producing knives with beautiful Pakkawood handles and top-tier quality steel like VG-10 and VG-Max, the manufacturer also offers a lifetime warranty and a sharpening service. 

Basically, you pay for a knife that could last a lifetime if you use it properly and have it shipped regularly for maintenance.

Here’s what a professional chef has to say about Shun knives.

This knife is a crowd-pleaser for a home cook or a professional cook. It’s the best value for money.

Nir Sarig, owner and chef of New York restaurant “Eti”, when speaking about the Shun Classic 8-Inch Knife.

Knife Handles

Tojiro knife handles have eco-wood materials, featuring a combination of oak with eye-catching buffalo-horn bolsters. This build is water-resistant and guarantees a comfy grip. The finish of the handle is simple, unlike the more elaborate patterns found in the Shun knives.

Shun kitchen knives mostly use Pakkawood. This material is more resistant to water than traditional wood, and it can also put up with wear and tear resulting from regular kitchen use. 

Other than the material, the handle has a D-Shaped design, providing users with a good grip. Finally, the striking wood patterns featured in Shun knives are good-looking. Overall, Shun handles are far better in aesthetics and comfort while providing a natural feel.

Sharpening Service

Tojiro doesn’t offer a sharpening service to customers. If your Tojiro knife gets dull, you have to sharpen it yourself. This is a disadvantage if you don’t like doing maintenance work on your knives, which may require sharpening every couple of months. On the bright side, you could use this as an advantage to practice with your knives.

Shun has a sharpening service free of charge for its customers. If you need your shun knives sharpened, all you have to do is ship them to the company, and the staff will do it for you. This company also offers a lifetime warranty if your Shun knife receives damage.

Here’s how the Shun sharpening service works:

  1. Kai USA offers the sharpening service for cutlery bought in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
  2. To request the sharpening service, you must fill up a form here.
  3. The service is free as long as you own it. It applies to customers that bought Shuns via authorized dealers. Check here to find the closest to you.
  4. Shipping and processing fees are on you. The first knife is $5, while every additional knife is $2.
  5. If you live in the area, you can bring the Shun knives to the company.
  6. When you go in person, the company can sharpen two knives while you wait. If it’s a sharpening service for more than two knives, you have to pick them up the next day.
  7. For serrated knives, the company offers to hone but not sharpening because it’s not possible.

Do Shun Knives Chip?

Shun knives can chip if you use them for cutting in a forceful “chopping” movement. Instead, use a smooth, slicing motion. The blade will last longer this way. Learn here how to repair your chipped shun knife

Who Owns Shun?

Shun knives belong to Kai USA Ltd, a company based in the United States. This manufacturer is a branch of Kai Group, a Japanese-run company.

Why Are Shun Knives So Expensive?

Shun knives are expensive because of their superior construction using the highest-quality materials. Take the Shun Premier 8-Inch, for example. Hand-crafted in Japan, this knife has a core of VG-Max super steel, covered by 68 layers of quality Damascus cladding. On top of it all, the core has hammered finish protection to release food with ease. There’s also the contoured Pakkawood handle with a beautiful walnut finish.

Lastly, this knife is for everyday use. It can slice, dice, and chop almost any fruit, vegetables, fish, or meat. With a Shun knife, you get your money’s worth.

Is Tojiro a Good Brand?

Tojiro is a good brand that offers more affordable kitchen knife alternatives to Shun. If you have a tight budget but still want quality Japanese knives, Tojiro is the way to go.

Shun or Tojiro Knife – Which One Should You Choose?

Choose a Tojiro knife if you want to save a few bucks while buying a quality kitchen knife. These knives can be just as versatile as some of the Shun knives, despite not having the same quality. Plus, beginners can start their way into the cooking world with an affordable knife to improve their skills. Use a Tojiro knife to become a better cook and efficient in knife sharpening.

If you want only the best, the Shun knife is what you need. While expensive, these knives have high-end steel for more durability, a gorgeous handle, and a variety of knife models for every use. Also, shun knives come with a lifetime warranty and a free sharpening service to have someone else take care of your damaged or dull knives. What else can you ask?

That’s it for this Tojiro vs Shun difference review. As always, try both knives and see which one feels the most natural to you. When it comes to knives, feeling comfortable is all that matters.

About Brian M. Casey

As a food lover, Brian M. Casey developed a fascination for cooking at an early age. He soon realized that not only the ingredients matter but also the knives and the accessories used to turn those ingredients into a delicious dish. This way, Brian began his journey on the magnificent world of kitchen knives, outdoor knives, knife accessories, and much more. After years of experience with many ups and downs, Brian now wants to share everything he’s learned during his journey as an avid knife collector, a well-seasoned knife maker, and an all-around knives enthusiast.

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