Kai Shun knives are produced in Seki City in Japan, an ancient sword-making city that is now also recognised as the heart of the Japanese culinary world. It is from here that Kai knives first started its journey back in 1908 as a manufacturer of small pocket knives.
The brand has now grown internationally for over 100 years, though every single Kai Shun kitchen knife is still handmade by skilled specialists in Seki City, Japan.
Kai Shun Knives pride themselves on their unique production process which makes them among the most distinctive on the market. Rooted in traditional Japanese sword-making traditions, today Kai knives combine their ancient authenticity with the latest culinary technology.
Shun Knives are all made from high performance stainless steel which is both hard and sharp, yet also still lightweight and thin. There are three different ways that Kai Shun knife blades are made, depending on which range they are part of:
The Kai Shun Classic range is made with layered damascus steel which produces their instantly recognisable blade, where you can see the pattern produced by the layering of the metals.
Each Kai Shun kitchen knife is then fitted onto its pakkawood handle, which is a strong hardwood combined with resin. Like the blades, each handle is completely unique with its own grain, along with being moisture resistant and easy to handle.
Shun knives are regarded as being among the best kitchen knives available. Their beautiful design makes them highly desirable, but that doesn’t mean they don’t perform as well as other chef’s knives.
Unlike many western knives, Japanese knives are much lighter yet still feel sturdy and well balanced. Kai Shun knives also differ from German steel knives as they are sharpened to a thinner edge on a 16 degree angle. This means they cannot be sharpened at home with a standard blade sharpener, but need a specialised Shun honing steel and whetstone.
Some Shun knives have been known to chip with use, leading to some people claiming this means they are not as good as other professional chef’s knives. However, this can be avoided if the correct cutting technique is used and you only use your knife on suitable materials. Moisture can also cause the blade to corrode, but with proper maintenance, Kai Shun Knives should be just as good, if not better, than many chef’s knives.