Miyabi vs. Shun: Which Kitchen Knives Are Better?

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Are you shopping for kitchen knives, but can’t decide between Miyabi and Shun?

Both brands offer stunning Japanese-style kitchen knives that are sharp, durable, and elegant.

So, what’s the difference between Miyabi and Shun kitchen knives?

The key difference between Miyabi and Shun is that Miyabi edges are sharper, boasting a 9 to 12-degree angle per side compared to Shun with 16 degrees per side. Also, most Miyabi blades are harder than Shun, which improves edge retention but makes the blade more brittle.

In this comparison of Miyabi vs. Shun, I dive deeper into the similarities and differences between these iconic knives. You’ll learn how they stack up in terms of options, design, performance, price, and more.

Let’s get started!


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Miyabi vs. Shun: Comparison Chart

If you’re in a hurry and want the 30-second comparison of Miyabi vs. Shun, check out the chart below.

 MiyabiShun
Founded20042002
Where It's MadeSeki City, JapanSeki City, Japan
Blade MaterialSG2, VG10, Special FormulaSG2, VG10, VG-MAX
Handle MaterialKarelian Birch, PakkaWood, Micarta, black ash wood, POMPakkaWood, Tagayasan wood, TPE
DesignJapanese with German influenceTraditional Japanese
Weight of 8-inch chef's knife (average)8 ounces7 ounces
Edge Angle Total (lower = sharper)19 to 24-degree angle32-degree angle
Blade Hardness (higher = harder)55 to 6660 to 62
Knife Collections97
WarrantyLimited LifetimeLimited Lifetime and Lifetime Free Sharpening
Price
$$$$ (View on Amazon)$$$$ (View on Amazon)

Product Offerings

When comparing Miyabi and Shun, you’re not just comparing one option versus the other. Both brands have several knife collections, each with unique

 characteristics. So, to understand the difference between these brands, you need to understand each collection. Let’s dive in, starting with Miyabi. 

Miyabi Collections

Miyabi Birchwood (Amazon): Blade boasts a steel core with an additional 100 layers of steel and hammered into a flower Damascus pattern. The cylindrical-shaped handle is made from Karelian Birch.

Miyabi Kaizen II (Amazon): Features a steel core with 48 layers to create the blade’s unique Damascus-style design. It has a dark, D-shaped, PakkaWood handle with wood grain and a nice sheen. There is no finger guard, which gives you the option of using the entire length of the knife for cutting.

Miyabi Evolution (Amazon): This collection has a mirror-finish steel blade with a jagged design near the cutting edge. This collection is German-inspired with its pronounced bolster and triple-riveted handle made from a durable synthetic material. It features a rounded spine for comfort.

Miyabi Kaizen (Amazon): This collection of knives featured a steel core covered in 64 layers in a flower Damascus pattern. The blade is hand-honed in the tradition of Honbazuke, a sharpening process that uses a whetstone right before a knife’s first use. Handles are D-shaped and made from black linen Micarta, a finely weaved, durable cotton.

Miyabi KOH (Amazon): Similar to the Evolution, this elegantly designed knife features a thin, mirror-finish blade made from fine carbide stainless steel. The dark, PakkaWood handle is stamped with a silver mosaic pin.

Miyabi Black (Amazon): This knife collection has a standout look with a steel core blade draped in 132 layers of steel. The resulting pattern is nothing short of stunning, but when paired with a black ash wood handle, it goes to another level. The graining on the D-shaped handle provides a pleasing contrast with the Damascus pattern on the blade.

Miyabi Artisan (Amazon): The Artisan collection is rightly named due to its hand-hammered blade and katana edge, reminiscent of Samurai sword-making. The D-shaped handle has a prominent, angled look designed for comfort. Handles are made from a fabrication of Cocobolo-Rosewood-Pakkawood, providing a multi-tone aesthetic.

Miyabi Fusion Morimoto (Amazon): Inspired by Iron Chef, Masaharu Morimoto, this collection features a fusion of traditional Japanese and German knife design with a 64-layer steel Damascus blade (Japanese-style) and a triple-riveted black POM (synthetic) handle (German-style). The handle is thicker at the butt and designed for heavy use.

Miyabi Red Morimoto (Amazon): This Chef Morimoto-inspired design features a brushed stainless finish on a high-carbon blade. The black, triple-riveted POM handle boasts a comfort grip. Red glass beads are melded into the perimeter of the handle, creating a striking contrast.

Shun Collections

Shun Classic (Amazon): This collection features a Damascus-style blade with a steel core and 34 cladded layers on each side. The curve of the blade makes it ideal for a rocking chop. The dark D-shaped PakkaWood handle features an exposed tang for exceptional balance and grip for right and left-handed chefs.

Shun Classic Blonde (Amazon): This is a different take on the Classic collection in terms of the handle. If you prefer a light-colored PakkaWood handle with the Damascus-style blade, this is your go-to.

Shun Dual Core (Amazon): Constructed using the traditions of the Samurai sword, this collection offers stainless clad blades with 71 alternating layers of steel. The octagonal-shaped handles are made from ebony PakkaWood.

Shun Premier (Amazon): This collection boasts a 68-layer steel blade with a hand-hammered finish that transitions into a Damascus pattern closer to the edge. The knives in this collection are stunning; especially the contoured Pakkawood handle with a walnut finish.

Shun Kanso (Amazon): This collection relies on simplicity, but it’s far from basic. The high-carbon steel blade is infused with vanadium, offering a reinforced sharpness. The handle is made from contoured Tagayasan wood, known for its density, durability, and style.

Shun Sora (Amazon): The blades in this collection feature a San Mai cutting edge, known for its strategic construction of steel with varying degrees of hardness to protect the core and offer an extremely sharp edge. The black, textured synthetic (PP/TPE) handle is designed for a comfortable grip and is adorned with a stainless steel pin featuring the Shun logo.

Shun Seki Magoroku (Shun.Kaiusa.com): Featuring high-carbon blades with subtle lines, this collection offers San Mai edges (like Sora) and a flat profile. This design is perfect for push cuts, and the blonde PakkaWood handle gives it a rustic appeal.

Shun Seki Magoroku
Shun Seki Magoroku. Photo: Shun.Kaiusa.com

Design

When it comes to design, you’ll find many similarities between Shun and Miyabi.

For example, both brands feature wood and synthetic handles, and hand-hammered and Damascus-style blades.

They both have thin blades (compared to German knives) without bolsters, making them lightweight and allowing you to sharpen the entire edge.

Both display their logos prominently on the top half of the blade near the handle.

Despite the similarities, there are standout design features that set the brands apart. Let’s take a look.

The Miyabi Evolution (pictured below) and Morimoto collections are Japanese-German hybrids. They feature a traditional Japanese profile, but a wider blade and triple-riveted handle, common among German knives.

Shun Dual Core has an octagonal-shaped handle and a layered steel blade with a unique, fluid-like repeated chevron pattern.

The Miyabi Kaizen and Red Morimoto both have unique handles.

The Kaizen is made of a Micarta, a tightly woven cotton that looks like wood but provides exceptional grip, the only one of its kind across both collections.

The Red Morimoto is made of glass-bead-enhanced POM, an ultra-dense, moisture and fade-resistant synthetic material.

Shun collections have two offerings featuring a San Mai edge: Sora (pictured below) and Seki Magoroku. Sai Mai is a technique in which knife makers use hard steel that can hold a sharp edge for the cutting core with soft, corrosion-resistant steel cladded on both sides.

Miyabi doesn’t offer San Mai edges, but they do offer hand-honed collections in the tradition of Honbazuke, a complex, manual process that results in scalpel-level sharpness.

The Shun Kanso (pictured below) frosted blade is unique to the brand; Miyabi doesn’t offer anything like it.

Except for the Evolution collection, all Miyabi knives have an exposed tang. Only about half of the Shun collection features an exposed tang.

As you can see, there are subtle design differences across Shun and Miyabi. But it’s fair to say that if you are looking for a Japanese knife collection, you can get similar options from each brand.

Blade Hardness

When choosing a knife collection, the Rockwell Score matters because it gives you a good idea of the blade’s sharpness and durability over time.

The higher the score, the better the edge retention. But a higher score also means the blade is more brittle and likely to chip if not cared for properly. The lower the score, the more durable the knife, but you’ll have to sharpen it more frequently.

Miyabi blades are ice-hardened by a process known as FRIODUR and have a range of hardnesses on the Rockwell Scale, depending on the collection. Miyabi blades score between 57,  as with the Red Morimoto Edition, and up to 66 as with the Black.

Shun blades range between 60 and 62 on the Rockwell scale, depending on the type of steel used in production. For example, VG10 and VG-Max blades, such as the Dual Core and Classic, score between 60 and 61, while the SG2 core blade scores between 61 or 62.

Sharpness

Due to the hand honing and higher Rockwell scores, Miyabi knives are sharper out of the box than Shun. If you’re leaning toward Shun, don’t get discouraged because both knife brands boast incredibly sharp edges. This is mainly due to the edge angles of Japanese knives.

Miyabi knives feature an edge angle range between 9.5 to 12 degrees per side for a total edge angle range of 19 to 24 degrees across collections. All Shun knives are sharpened to a 16-degree angle on both sides for a total edge angle of 32 degrees.

Thinner, fine-edge blades have a total edge angle of 20 to 34 degrees, common for Japanese knives. The takeaway here is that these knives are generally used for slicing and cutting; rough chopping can damage the blade over time.

Japanese knives are perfect for precision slicing. This does not mean they can’t handle dense foods with the proper technique, but slicing through frozen food or bones is not recommended.

Where It’s Made

Miyabi and Shun both manufacture their cutlery in Seki City, Japan, the respected birthplace of Japanese cutlery.

Miyabi knives require more than 100 steps and 42 days to create each knife. They’re crafted using a mix of new technologies and traditional hands-on craftsmanship. You can watch the Miyabi production process in this quick video.

Shun knives also require at least 100 steps. Like Miyabi, Shun also relies on ancient traditions fused with today’s technology to create premium knives. Learn more about Shun’s manufacturing process in this quick video.

Warranty

Miyabi is a brand under the Zwilling J.A. Henckels umbrella. Zwilling offers a limited lifetime warranty covering defects for as long as you own it and will replace it free of charge.

Shun also offers a limited lifetime warranty and lifetime sharpening for free. The service provides chip repair, sharpening for single and double-bevel knives, honing of serrated blades and kitchen shears, and rust removal.

Price

While both brands are considered high-end and thus command top-dollar, you’ll appreciate that Miyabi and Shun offer a range of prices across their collections.

Miyabi’s value collection is the Red Morimoto Edition, while Black and Birchwood are the most expensive.

Shun Sora is the most affordable brand across the Shun collections, while the most expensive are Premier and Dual Core.

Check out this comparison chart for a detailed look at the current prices for the top collections:

(Click the prices to view more details on Amazon)

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Bottom Line: Should You Buy Miyabi or Shun?

Now that you know the key facts about Miyabi and Shun, which brand is right for you? Before I offer my recommendations, let’s recap the key differences:

  • Miyabi has more collections than Shun, offering nine to Shun’s seven.
  • Only Miyabi has some German influence in its design offerings, so if you are looking for a Japanese-German fusion, Miyabi is the brand you want.
  • In many collections, Miyabi knives are harder than Shun, which means they can retain the sharpness of their edges longer but are also more likely to chip.
  • Miyabi knives are sharper with an edge angle of 19 to 24 degrees. Shun knives have a 32-degree edge angle.

So, which brand should you buy?

You first need to decide if you want a top-tier collection like Shun Premier and Dual Core or the Miyabi Black and Birchwood, or a lower-priced collection such as Shun Sora and Classic or Miyabi Morimoto or Evolution.

If cost is the deciding factor, know your price range before you shop. Then, compare the designs and features of the Miyabi and Shun collections that fit your budget.

You can’t go wrong with either brand in terms of design, functionality, sharpness, and warranty.

If you are looking for a more durable offering, go with Shun. Shun’s lifetime sharpening and repair is a nice bonus.

If you want sharper knives that are hand-made using traditional Japanese techniques with a German influence touch, go with Miyabi.

Your final choice will be based on personal preference and comfort.

You can read dozens of reviews and check the current prices of both brands on Amazon at the links below:

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