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Are Kamikoto Knives Any Good? An In-Depth Review

Are Kamikoto knives any good? Are they worth the high price?

In this review, I break down the pros and cons of Kamikoto knives.

You’ll learn how the knives look, feel, and perform (with lots of pictures). I also reveal the truth about where the knives are made.

So, if you’re thinking about buying Kamikoto knives but need an unbiased review to help you decide, keep reading.


Use the links below to navigate the review:


Company Background

While it’s not clear when the company launched, the trademark for Kamikoto was filed in 2016.

According to Kamikoto, it’s headquartered in Nakano City, a ward in Tokyo, Japan. However, the brand is owned by Galton Voysey, a Hong Kong-based developer of direct-to-consumer brands.

Kamikoto doesn’t share much about its company history. Its LinkedIn page only lists two employees. There is no mention of the founders or CEO. If you Google the company’s address on its Linkedin page, it takes you to a hotel in Nakano City.

As you’ll learn in this review, minimal information and lack of transparency is a recurring theme with Kamikoto.

Where Kamikoto Knives Are Made

Kamikoto does everything in its power to make you believe its knives are made in Japan. From the name Kamikoto to the frequent references to Japanese Honshu steel throughout its website, everything about the brand screams made in Japan.

In fact, Kamikoto’s About Page mentions the word Japan 17 times.

Kamikoto About Page Mentions of Japan
Kamikoto About Page Mentions of Japan

Also, on the About Page it states:

“Kamikoto’s blades are handmade by a select group of experienced craftsmen in Niigata, Japan, where blacksmithing can be traced back to before the Edo period, as well as in Yanjiang, China.”

Interestingly, buried five paragraphs into this page on Kamikoto.com, it says, “Kamikoto’s blades are handmade by a select group of experienced craftsmen in Yanjiang, China.” That page leaves out any mention of the knives being made in Niigata, Japan.

I reached out to Kamikoto’s customer service team to clear up the confusion. I asked the simple question, “Where are Kamikoto knives made?”. They said:

“Kamikoto’s blades are handmade by a select group of experienced craftsmen in Niigata, Japan, where blacksmithing can be traced back to before the Edo period, as well as in Yanjiang, China.”

Sound familiar? The customer service representative copied and pasted the exact language from the About Page.

I followed up and asked, “Which Kamikoto knives are made in Japan, and which ones are made in China?”

He responded, saying, “Our 7-Inch Santoku Ganjo is exclusively forged and handcrafted in Niigata, Japan in small batches; however, it is currently out of stock. We do not know the exact date when it will be back in stock.”

That means only one of the dozen or so Kamikoto knives is actually made in Japan — and that one knife is out of stock indefinitely. That knife is not even listed on Kamikoto.com, which makes me wonder, do they make any knives in Japan, or is this just another ruse?

Authentic Japanese knife makers like Shun, Miyabi, or Global have proven long-time roots in Seki City or Niigata, Japan. Such brands are very clear about how and where they make knives, having perfected the craft over generations.

These brands clearly state where each product is made. I had to email Kamikoto several times before they admitted that most of their knives are made in China. The fact that they’re not forthcoming about where its knives are made is a major red flag.

Related: Check out my in-depth comparison of Kamikoto vs. Shun.

Knife Offerings

Kamikoto offers three knife series: Ganjo, Kuro, and Genten. The Ganjo Series features only the 7-Inch Santoku Ganjo, and the Kuro Series is only the Kuro Series Knife Set. All other Kamikoto knives are in the Genten Series.

Here is an overview of the brand’s most popular knives and knife sets.

Swipe to view the entire chart on mobile.

Knife / SetSeriesKey FeatureBlade Steel / ConstructionHandle MaterialBevel
Kamikoto Kanpeki Knife SetGentenDesigned for small cutting jobs420J2 steel / ForgedG10 fiberglassSingle
Kamikoto 7-inch Santoku KnifeGentenCorrosion-resistant blade420J2 steel / ForgedG10 fiberglassSingle
Kamikoto 13-inch YanagibaGentenExtra-long blade420J2 steel / ForgedG10 fiberglassSingle
Kamikoto Kuro Series Knife SetKuroSuperior sharpness and edge retentionZirconium dioxide / ForgedG10 fiberglassDouble
Kamikoto Nokogiriha Bread KnifeGentenSerrated edge420J2 steel / ForgedG10 fiberglassDouble
Kamikoto Chuka Bocho CleaverGentenLightweight for a cleaver420J2 steel / ForgedG10 fiberglassSingle
Kamikoto Steak Knife SetGentenRyoba blade (allows for cross-cuts)420J2 steel / ForgedG10 fiberglassDouble
Kamikoto Kensei Knife SetGentenReverse tanto tip (strong, triangular point)420J2 steel / ForgedG10 fiberglassSingle
Kamikoto Ryoshi Knife SetGentenDesigned for fish, sushi, and sashimi420J2 steel / ForgedG10 fiberglassSingle
Kamikoto Senshi Knife SetGentenComes with wooden display stand420J2 steel / ForgedG10 fiberglassSingle
Kamikoto 5-inch Utility KnifeGentenSmall blade for peeling, shucking, and pitting420J2 steel / ForgedG10 fiberglassSingle
Kamikoto 8.5-inch Slicing KnifeGentenHand sharpened single bevel420J2 steel / ForgedG10 fiberglassSingle

Design

Most Kamikoto knives arrive in a beautiful ash wood box.

Kamikoto Ash Wood Knife Box

When you open the box, you’re greeted with a Certificate of Authenticity boasting the brand’s Honshu steel and 19-step manufacturing process.

Kamikoto Knives Certificate of Authenticity
Kamikoto Knives Certificate of Authenticity

It’s a bit unnecessary, in my opinion, but it goes along with Kamikoto’s need to prove its quality and perhaps a ploy to distract from the fact that most of its knives are made in China.

Once you get past the packaging, you see that Kamikoto knives have a signature look.

Kamikoto Santoku Knife
Kamikoto Santoku Knife

Handles are rounded and polished to a satin finish. They’re made from G10 fiberglass, a highly durable resin-based material.

Kamikoto Knife Handle
Kamikoto Knife Handle

The blades feature either a subtle steel luster or a jet-black matte finish. The Kamikoto logo is prominently featured on the face of all blades.

Kamikoto Logo on Blade

The first thing you’ll notice if you spend any time examining Japanese knives is that these are pretty plain-looking compared to brands like Shun or Miyabi. You won’t see a layered steel Damascus pattern or the traditional Japanese octagonal handles.

Damascus pattern on Shun kitchen knife blade
Damascus pattern on Shun kitchen knife blade

As I noted in this chart, most blades are single-beveled, but some are double-beveled. Most single-bevel blades are designed for right-handed chefs, but Kamikoto offers one left-handed set.

The bevel is the part of the blade that is ground to form a knife’s edge. A single-beveled blade has a sharpened angle on one side. A double-beveled blade is sharpened on both sides.

Single Bevel Kamikoto Knife
Sharpened side (left), unsharpened side (right)

If you look closely, you’ll see that the grind on the sharp side of the blade is uneven. Although a crooked grind won’t impact cutting performance, it’s a sign of poor craftsmanship.

Kamikoto Uneven Edge Grind
Kamikoto Uneven Edge Grind

A silver-toned end cap completes the design.

Kamikoto Handle Silver End Cap

Performance

Kamikoto knives receive mixed reviews on performance. Some think it’s a durable, high-performing brand. Others think they are overpriced and deliver subpar results.

To get to the bottom of it, I purchased the 7-inch santoku knife and put it to the test.

The first thing I noticed was its weight. It’s heavier than most Japanese-style knives. The blade is relatively thick, and the comfortable handle felt sturdy and solid in my hand. The knife felt well-balanced, similar to many other high-end knives I’ve reviewed (such as Shun and Zwilling).

The single-bevel edge was incredibly sharp right out of the box. It sliced through tomatoes, carrots, onions, and celery with ease. As you can see below, the edge was so sharp that it made paper-thin (almost translucent) slices of a grape.

Slicing a grape with a Kamikoto knife
Slicing a grape with a Kamikoto knife

That said, Kamikoto doesn’t disclose its edge angles, so it’s difficult to compare the sharpness to other brands.

If you’re used to double-bevel knives, you’ll notice that the knife steers a bit to the left, especially as you make long cuts. After a few minutes, I was able to control the steering easily, but it’s something you have to get used to with Kamikoto or any other single-bevel knives.

Despite the initial sharpness, Kamikoto knives need frequent sharpening due to the softness of 420J2 steel. After about a month of daily use, I noticed the edge started to dull.

This is a major downside of Kamikoto knives because single-bevel knives are more difficult to sharpen. You need a whetstone to get the best results, and you can easily ruin the blade if you don’t use the proper technique.

Based on my experience using the Santoku and the experiences of other verified purchasers, the overall performance of Kamikoto knives is average. However, given the price, average performance is underwhelming.

Materials and Construction

Kamikoto uses inexpensive materials and intricate construction practices to produce its knives. Here’s what you need to know.

Kamikoto blades employ two types of steel. Genten Series blades are made from 420J2 steel, but Ganjo Series blades are made from SLD steel.

If you’re not familiar, 420J2 is a low-end, affordable stainless steel. It’s a soft steel, which makes it less prone to chipping, but also means it loses its sharp edge quickly.

The Kamikoto customer service representative I connected with admitted, “the Genten series offers the benefits of a practical, highly corrosion-resistant blade, but it does require more tending to and sharpening.”

The Rockwell scale rates the hardness of materials. Most kitchen knives have a Rockwell Hardness rating between 57 and 62. All Kamikoto 420J2 blades have a Rockwell Hardness (HRC) score of 53 +/-2. In other words, Kamikoto blades are significantly softer than most.

By contrast, SLD blades, used to make the Santoku Ganjo knife, have an HRC of  62 +/- 2, which is much harder steel.

The softness of the 420J2 blades means they will require frequent sharpening. This is why the brand recommends purchasing a whetstone (for an additional ~$200).

The SLD blades are made from harder steel that retains sharp edges longer. However, they are prone to chipping and rusting over time.

Blades in the Kuro Series are made from zirconium dioxide. The black material is extremely hard and susceptible to chipping or snapping. Kamikoto claims it offers superior edge retention and razor-sharp performance.

Handles in the Ganjo and Genten Series are made from G10 fiberglass, a non-slip material that’s easy to clean. According to Kamikoto, “the embedded glass fibers make G-10 exquisitely tough and impervious to water.” Brands like Dalstrong and Cangshan use this material for their handles, too.

At first glance, Kamikoto knives appear to be forged and feature a half bolster. Some knives like the Kuro series look more like stamped knives, as they do not feature a seamless bolster between the handle and blade.

While Kamikoto does not provide clarity on its knife construction on its product pages, it does highlight a 19-step process that provides some clues about how the knives are made.

This process entails:

  • Sourcing raw materials from Japan
  • A high-heat process to melt steel
  • Pouring molten steel into molds
  • Welding bolsters onto steel plates
  • Bonding handles and bolsters together
  • Grinding and sharpening the steel plates
  • Finishing and polishing the blades

Three master knife makers inspect the finished blades. If acceptable, they are boxed and sold.

Price

Kamikoto knives are expensive. Yet, they use the same steel as some budget knife brands. There is nothing wrong with making an economical choice for materials, but pricing should align with the cost of the materials.

These knives are priced similarly to high-end, established knife brands like Shun and Miyabi. But those brands use a variety of quality, high-carbon steels like dual-core VG10, VG2, VG-MAX, AUS10A, and AUS8A. Plus, they offer stunning layered and hammered steels to justify the price points.

Kamikoto prices fluctuate. They often have sales on knife sets at up to 80% off. For example, this set is marked over $1000 off. Obviously, this is a marketing tactic but a discount that large is so outrageous that it contributes to Kamikoto’s misleading reputation.

Prices vary between Kamikoto.com and Amazon, so do your research before buying.

The chart below shows the current prices on Amazon of Kamikoto’s most popular knives.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Downsides

Here are some of the major downsides of Kamikoto knives.

  • Dull Blades: The most common complaint about Kamikoto is that the blades dull quickly. This isn’t surprising since Kamikoto blades are made of soft, low-grade steel. You’ll need to sharpen Kamikoto knives frequently, and it’s challenging to restore the original sharpness since that requires using a whetstone (which requires some skill and practice).
  • Uneven Grind: If you look closely at the blade, you’ll notice a crooked grind. The edge is ground higher on the blade in some areas and lower in others.
  • Limited Designs: Except for the Kuro set, all Kamikoto knives look the same and are made of the same materials. Most high-end knife brands offer many collections with unique materials and designs. For example, Shun offers nine unique knife collections.
  • Conflicting Information: Kamikoto offers different information throughout its website, leading to confusion about where the knives are made. As noted in the Where Kamikoto Knives Are Made section, the company implies they’re made in Japan when most are made in China.
  • Lack of Product Details: Product pages lack basic information such as the type of construction, edge angle, blade and handle material, and Rockwell hardness score.
  • Misleading Marketing Tactics: Kamikoto promotes sales for up to 80% off. While discounts are great, inflating prices just so the current price appears like a great deal is a deceitful tactic, and shoppers have caught on.

What Others Are Saying

Publications like Good Housekeeping, The New York Times, Food & Wine Magazine, Food Network, and America’s Test Kitchen often rank the best kitchen knives. Kamikoto is noticeably absent from the rankings.

However, Global Brands Magazine named Kamikoto the Best Japanese Steel Knives, and Michelin-star chefs around the globe use them (according to Kamikoto).

Consumers have a lot to say about the brand. And it’s not all good.

Knife and product forums (like Reddit and Blade Forums) are ablaze with questions like:

  • Are Kamikoto knives legit?
  • Are Kamikoto knives high quality?
  • Are Kamikoto knives fake?

The most common complaints are about where the knives are made, pricing, and the quality of the steel.

Consumer sentiment is one of deception through clever marketing. Overall, a lack of straightforward detailed information leaves too many questions about the brand, causing skepticism and breaking down trustworthiness.

Bottom Line: Are Kamikoto Knives Any Good?

Now that you know the facts, should you buy Kamikoto knives?

Before I give you my recommendation, let’s recap the pros and cons.

Pros of Kamikoto knives:

  • The knives are well-balanced.
  • The handle is comfortable and sturdy.
  • They look like authentic Japanese knives.
  • They undergo a 19-step process and are repeatedly inspected.
  • Michelin-star chefs use them.
  • You have a choice of single- or double-bevel edges.
  • They offer a 60-day return policy and a limited lifetime guarantee.

Cons of Kamikoto knives:

  • They are too expensive for the materials and performance.
  • They are a new, unproven brand in terms of longevity.
  • Product descriptions lack detail, causing confusion.
  • All knives except one are made in China.
  • The steep discounts and sales are deceptive.
  • Most of the knives require frequent sharpening.
  • It’s difficult to restore original sharpness.
  • Most knives look the same; there are only two design options.
  • They aren’t highly rated by any major publications.
  • Many consumers believe the company is a scam.

Bottom line — Kamikoto is a new knife brand with clever, perhaps deceptive, marketing tactics. They present the image of an authentic Japanese knifemaker, but the truth is, most Kamikoto knives are made in China. Plus, the Japanese Honshu steel they use is soft, cheap, and dulls quickly.

The lack of transparency and misleading information on Kamikoto.com is reason enough to avoid this brand. And this isn’t just my opinion, browse these threads on Reddit, and you’ll find dozens of home cooks with the same view. The brand’s reputation is, frankly, not good.

If you think the criticism is overblown and you’re willing to give Kamikoto a try, the knives are available on Amazon.

If you’re looking for authentic Japanese knives, invest in a proven, trusted brand that is transparent about its manufacturing and product descriptions. My top recommendations are Shun, Miyabi, and Global. You can check out these brands at the links below:

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He’s studied consumer buying behavior for 10+ years and has managed marketing campaigns for over a dozen Fortune 500 brands. When he’s not testing the latest home products, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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