Are your kitchen knives as sharp as they should be? Do you want your Japanese knives to cut as sharp as they once did? Do you need a knife sharpener that can sharpen your hagane steel knife? If your answer is "Maybe?" then you probably need to invest in a Japanese knife sharpener! Japanese knife sharpeners come in different shapes and types, including manual and electric. However, with so many brands, like Kai Corporation, Yoshida Metal Industries, and Daiso, all offering different types of sharpeners it can be difficult to decide on a Japanese knife sharpener that truly makes your knives sharp.
To figure out the best Japanese knife sharpener, we gathered the 32 best-selling Japanese knife sharpeners on e-commerce sites popular in Japan, such as Amazon, Rakuten, and Yahoo! Shopping, and tested them all.
We tested each product for the following:
We then ranked the 10 best Japanese knife sharpeners in 2022 based on our tests. We also put together a buying guide to help you choose the best Japanese knife sharpeners for you.
mybest US' editing team consists of experienced members who have backgrounds in writing, editing, translation, and more. We are dedicated to researching what makes a product or service the best to users in the US in order to create top-quality articles. From skincare, to kitchen appliances, and to DIY supplies, our mission is to find the best ones for you.
Table of Contents
If you are pretty particular about your knives, you might own a few Japanese knives. Japanese knives offer fantastic sharpness and precision, with some chefs even claiming that food prepared using Japanese knives taste better. However, no matter how sharp your knife may be, all knives eventually become dull and don't cut as neatly as they used to. So to solve this, you need to sharpen them.
Whetstones requires skill and practice, since they grind the entire knife. Using poor technique can actually ruin your precious blades. However, knife sharpeners are best for both beginners as well as for people who simply don't have time to use a whetstone. They require little to no skill to use properly and can make your knives cut as good as new.
Moreover, many Japanese knife sharpeners are designed to be used with Japanese knives, so you might be able to get a knife sharpener from the same brand as your knife, ensuring they'll work harmoniously.
Here are four major points to consider when choosing a Japanese knife sharpener.
There are four main types of sharpeners.
Let's look at the pros and cons of each type.
Roller sharpeners, or sharpeners with guides, are probably the most commonly sold nowadays. They consist of a V-shaped groove with spinning whetstones and you slide the knife through to sharpen. These sharpeners can sharpen your knives as if you used a whetstone since they sharpen the blade edge vertically in the same way.
Their main drawback is that when viewed under a microscope, the blade edge is very jagged, similar to a saw blade, damaging your knives. While they can make your knives feel sharp for a bit, the sharpness won't last for long. It's best to use these knife sharpeners only once or twice a month.
Cross sharpeners refer to knife sharpeners that feature two whetstones aligned in a V shape. They have an incredibly simple design and are relatively affordable when compared to other types of knife sharpeners.
Their main drawback is that since the cutting stone only hits the very edge of the knife blade, creating a shallow V shape, this can result in a dull blade. Additionally, while regular whetstones sharpen knives in a vertical direction, these whetstones sharpen knives horizontally, which can result in a jagged edge.
Avoid using these knife sharpeners with knives that are already sharp, since they can actually damage your knife. Only use these sharpeners with knives that have an obtuse cutting edge.
Although they're more expensive and louder, electric sharpeners can give you a good edge with little effort. They basically work the same as manual V-shaped types, but the motor means you can sharpen quickly, without having to move the knife so many times. They take up a little more space, and of course, you need to be careful about not getting them wet.
Electric knife sharpeners use a spinning whetstone to sharpen knives. Many electric sharpeners make use of the natural weight of the knife itself, meaning you don't need to control the pressure of your knife. This makes electric knife sharpeners great for those who want to quickly sharpen their knives with as little fuss as possible.
However, electric knife sharpeners can be pretty loud. Additionally, most electric knife sharpeners are designed for right-hand use, so southpaws should check beforehand if they can use a particular product or not.
Sharpening rods are used by grazing the edge of your knife against the rod and can be used to sharpen knives, scissors, peelers, and other blades. They're fairly compact and thin, so they can fit in a drawer. Don't get one that's too short, though, or it will be even more difficult to use.
However, unlike other knife sharpeners, they require you to carefully adjust the pressure and angle at which you sharpen your blades, making them less suited for beginners.
While knife sharpeners are convenient tools, the type of knife you can sharpen with them can vary. It's important to consider the type of knives you have, the materials of your knives, and the blade type of your knives.
Most of these Japanese knife sharpeners are for stainless steel double-beveled knives. If you have a specialty knife, be careful and get a sharpener that's compatible with it.
Traditional Japanese santoku knives often have a single bevel, and these will require a special sharpener. However, many santoku sold recently for home use are double-edged. There are a limited number of sharpeners that can handle single edges, sashimi knives, or serrated edges, as well as ceramic knives, but if the sharpener doesn't specify, don't try it.
If you have a lot of knives, consider a knife sharpener that can handle both single and double-bevel knives.
Whetstones can broadly be divided into three groups, depending on their roughness: rough grind, medium grind, and finishing grind. The roughness is determined by the grit, usually indicated with a # and a number.
While there's no clear-cut definition, they usually fall under the following.
Depending on the sharpener, it can vary from having a single type of whetstone up to all three types. For daily use, it's best to look for a knife sharpener with both a medium and finishing grind. However, if you plan on sharpening a knife with a chipped edge, it'll be more efficient to use a knife sharpener with a rough grind.
When using a knife sharpener, the last thing we want to do is get hurt. Generally speaking, knife sharpeners that you place down on a flat surface are safer than sharpening rods, since the blade is pointed downward toward the sharpening surface.
Choosing products that have a rubberized non-slip grip on the bottom or products that have a decent amount of weight to them can prevent them from slipping while you sharpen your knife.
Some sharpeners that you place down on a flat surface might have suction cups that claim to allow you to use them with one hand. However, if the suction cups don't have a lot of grip, they can become undone, meaning it's best to still hold these down with your free hand. When using a sharpening rod, always be sure that nobody is around you before you sharpen your knives.
Click to purchase
Yoshida Metal Industries
Global Speed Sharpener GSS-01
Sharpener that Keeps the Blade Razor Sharp
A Stable Sharpener that Sharpens Well
Compact Electric Sharpener AP0543
An Easy-to-Use, Stable Sharpener
Pressure Needs to be Adjusted Accordingly, but Sharpens Knives Well
Takeuchi Kaisoku Noko
Eiji Takeuchi's Super Sharpener
A Compact Sharpener for Limited Space
Best for Superior Sharpness
Diamond Knife Sharpener re-009 sharpener
Sharpens Well but Not Intuitive
Yoshida Metal Industries
Global Sharpener GSS-02
Requires Extra Force to Slide in the Blade, but Makes Knives Super Sharp
Seki Magoroku Diamond and Ceramic Sharpener
Easy to Use but Mediocre Sharpness
Kai House The Sharpener
Simple and Straightforward but Not Quite as Sharp Compared to Other Products
The Global Speed Sharpener GSS-01 from Yoshida Metal Industry is designed for double-bevel stainless steel knives and uses a ceramic grindstone.
When we cut tomatoes with our sharpened knife, the blade sliced through effortlessly. We were impressed with how easy it was to slice the tomatoes at a consistent 1 to 2mm thickness. The blade became so sharp that we felt it was even sharper than a brand new knife!
The simple design with having only one slot for sharpening knives ensures that beginners will have no trouble handling this product. It is so compact that it fits in the palm of your hand, making it perfectly portable.
Azuma’s Klever Sharp is a portable sharpener you can attach to surfaces like tables or walls by lowering the lever at the top. However, note that it doesn't stick on wood.
The sharpened blade could cut tomatoes so smoothly that we felt like we weren't even cutting anything. The sharpener restored the knife to a level where we could use it without any problems at all.
The power grip at the bottom offers impressive stability. When the lever was down, the sharpener didn't budge at all, even when we tried to move it with both hands.
At a size of only 2.3×2.3×2.3 inches, it's super easy to store. We recommend attaching this knife sharpener to your refrigerator so that you can use it whenever your knives need sharpening.
Kai Corporation's Compact Electric Sharpener is compact, relatively quiet, and easy to use. Note that it cannot be used for single bevel, thick bladed knives, and special knives, and can only be used with double-beveled knives made from either stainless steel or hagane steel.
This knife sharpener can sharpen knives with minimal force, simply by lightly placing your knife on the rotating grindstone. After sharpening, our knife smoothly sliced through tomatoes, and the cutting surface of the fruit was smooth and clean.
In addition to the weight of the sharpener itself, it has a non-slip bottom that provides stability and prevents it from moving around during use. Moreover, we liked its simple and stylish design.
However, while we do think it's quieter than other electric knife sharpeners, it is loud enough that it'll be difficult to have a conversation with this sharpener running.
Daiso's Quick Sharpener is a roller-type sharpener where you sharpen knives by gliding them on a rotating grindstone. While you can use this knife sharpener dry, Daiso claims that wetting the grindstone can help make your knife sharper.
With only one slot for sharpening your knife, you simply need to slide your knife through the slot a couple of times to sharpen your knife. However, the grindstone doesn't spin easily, so you'll have to add a bit of pressure and make sure your knife is properly touching the grindstone.
After sharpening our knife, we were able to slice right through a tomato without our knife getting caught on the tomato skin. We also liked how the compact size didn't take up so much space in our kitchen drawers. This would make for a perfect choice for those buying knife sharpeners for the first time!
Eiji Takeuchi's Super Sharpener can sharpen thick bladed knives such as deba knives by adjusting the screw on the body. Additionally, you can open the cover on the back to remove metal particles accumulated after sharpening your knives.
Our sharpened knife felt smooth and there was no roughness felt from the blade while cutting. However, when cutting the edge of a tomato, it was slightly difficult to pierce the tomato skin, resulting in it coming just a hair short in comparison to higher-ranking knife sharpeners.
This knife sharpener is compact and easy to store. We especially recommend it for those who want to sharpen various types of knives such as single and double-bevel knives as well as thicker knives.
Kataoka Manufacturing's Water Sharp III is designed for double bevel blades made of stainless steel and hagane steel. This sharpener has a water reservoir, which when filled, reduces the heat generated from friction, making both your knives and the whetstones last longer.
This product can make your knives incredibly sharp. Once we sharpened our knives, we were able to thinly slice through tomatoes without them losing their shape.
This product has rough, medium, and finishing-grit grindstones, numbered 1, 2, and 3, making it easy to use. The only drawback is that the top cover, which can be opened for cleaning, was pretty hard to open.
Laundly’s Diamond Knife Sharpener re-009 sharpener works by sliding knives into three different sharpening slots in order. This knife sharpener cannot sharpen serrated knives or single-bevel knives.
Once sharpened with this product, our knife could slice tomatoes perfectly straight and even. The non-slip grip is attached to the handle as well as the back of the body, so it won’t slip during use. The entire knife-sharpening section can be removed and easily cleaned with water, so it is easy to keep clean.
Unfortunately, this product is not very intuitive to use, since the knife sharpening slots lack any indication as to what grit the grindstone is.
Yoshida Metal Industries' Global Sharpener GSS-02 was developed in collaboration with Suehiro, a manufacturer specializing in grindstones. Featuring a spring in the grindstone's bearing, this sharpener is designed to be beginner-friendly, allowing anyone to sharpen their knives evenly.
After sharpening our knife, we found that our knife sliced through our tomatoes smoothly like butter. Since the shape of the sharpener itself is slim and long, it was easy to hold it down with our free hand while sharpening.
With four non-slip pads at the bottom, this knife sharpener feels incredibly stable. However, the aforementioned spring in the grindstone was a little firm, requiring you to push down as you slide your knife to sharpen it.
Kai Corporation's Seki Magoroku Diamond & Ceramic Sharpener comes with three different grindstones. There is a cover so you don’t have to worry about dust and metal bits spilling out.
Since the sharpening slots are numbered in order, it was easy to use this sharpener. Additionally, the smoothly spinning grindstones eliminated the need to add extra force when sharpening.
However, our sharpened knife didn't feel as sharp as we'd hoped when sliding the blade into a tomato, getting caught on the skin. Another drawback is that the body tends to wobble due to the non-slip pads on the bottom, which stick out a bit.
Kai Corporation's Kai House The Sharpener is designed in a way that the grindstone is set at an optimal angle for the best sharpening performance. To prevent injury, it also features a safety device that prevents the grindstone from rotating while the cover is open.
When it comes to performance, although our knife was able to slice into our tomatoes without getting stuck on the skin, it didn't feel as smooth as higher-ranking products.
We tested each product for the following:
First, we tested how sharp each knife sharpener could make our knives.
We purchased santoku knives from Daiso, a popular 100-yen store, and scraped them onto plastic cutting boards exactly 3,000 times. We then followed the manufacturer's instructions to sharpen our knives. After our knives were sharpened, we cut a tomato with our newly sharpened knife to check how much sharpness our knives had regained.
For products that didn't come with instructions, as well as for those that didn't specify how many times we should run our knives through them, we ran our knives through them seven times.
Next, we checked how easy each product was to use.
We sharpened our knives by checking for the following:
Finally, we tested to see how compact each product was.
We checked and evaluated each product to see how compact they were and whether or not they had useful features that made them easy to store.
Using a knife sharpener once or twice a week can help you retain the sharpness of your knives, allowing you to cook with less stress. Moreover, sharper knives are actually safer, since your food won't slip out from under your knife.
However, using knife sharpeners alone can potentially damage your knives, so if possible, it's best to sharpen your knives with a whetstone at least once or twice a month.
If you use a knife sharpener and a whetstone but still can't get your knife sharp enough, it's most likely time to consider a new knife. Check out our articles on knives from the links below.
Lucky for you, our team of editors and experts has tested out a lot of other kitchen tools you can use to slice and dice anything you want.
Writing: Kano Ichiyama/Translation: Susan Lucier-Ogawa, Mitsuki Nagasawa, Izumi Taneda/Photos: Koichi Miura, Yuki Inagaki
No. 1: Yoshida Metal Industries | Global Speed Sharpener GSS-01
No. 2: Azuma | Kleva Sharp
No. 3: Kai Corporation | Compact Electric Sharpener AP0543
No. 4: Daiso | Quick Sharpener
No. 5: Takeuchi Kaisoku Noko | Eiji Takeuchi's Super Sharpener
View Full Ranking
When you purchase products mentioned in the article, part of the sales may be returned to mybest.
The descriptions of each product is referenced from the content available from the manufacturer, e-commerce sites etc.
AppsBusiness apps, Cooking apps, Dating apps
Home goodsBath supplies, Ceremonial occasion supplies, Cleaning supplies
Home electronicsAir conditioners and coolers, AV accessories, Blenders and food processors
PCComputer supplies, Desktop computers, Tablets
CameraCamera bags and backpacks, Camera supplies, Digital single lens cameras
BeautyBlushes, Bronzers, Cleansers
HealthBody care products, Health accessories, Health foods and supplements
Food and drinksAlcohol, Breads and jams, Cocktails and ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages
KitchenCoffee and tea products, Cooking utensils, Cups
FashionFootwear products, Men's shoes, Sandals
AccessoriesWristwatches, Accessories and jewelry, Umbrellas and parasols
Kids and babyBaby carriers, Baby food, Baby formula
InteriorBeds, Beds and bedding, Chairs
HobbiesAromatherapy products, Art supplies, Arts and collectibles
OutdoorBarbecue grills and fire pits, Camping beds and cots, Camping gear
Home, garden, and toolsAgricultural materials and gardening supplies, Exterior and garden furniture, Materials and repairing agents
Sports and fitnessSports shoes, Surfing supplies, Badminton supplies
PetsBird and small animal supplies, Cat supplies, Dog supplies
MediaBooks and magazines, CD, Children's books, picture books and illustrated encyclopedias
GamesGaming accessories, Nintendo Switch games, PC games
AutomotiveCar accessories, Car navigation systems
GiftsChristmas gifts, Father's Day gifts, Gifts for children
Mobile devicesMobile phone and smartphone accessories, Wearable devices and smart watches