Watanabe Nakiri 120mm(4.7")
Japanese Kitchen Knife Review

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Watanabe 120mm(6") Nakiri

Because my very first 150mm Watanabe Nakiri worked so well I've decided to experiment little bit more with them. In short, Nakiri is yet another highly specialized knife in Japanese kitchen, designed to work on vegetables. The word nakiri itself literally translates into something like thin vegetable leaves knife. Thin or thick, it works perfectly well not only on vegetable leaves, but for the other components in them. My next stop was Kobayashi Suminagashi Nakiri, which is a stainless steel blade, with beautiful damascus(specifically ink) pattern. Kobayashi nakiri was thinner than Watanabe by few tenth of millimeter and I liked the thinner blade. But I also wanted non stainless steel nakiri and by that time I've already figured out that smaller vegetable knives can be very useful, at least to me.
    I've contacted Shichichi Watanabe for another one. This time it was a custom piece, because I wanted modified Kuro-Uchi nakiri which would be 1.5mm thick or less. For that he'd have to grind the excess metal from the surface. Eventually things worked out pretty well and I got nicely satin finished knife. Although I got 1.7 mm thick knife in the end, not < 1.5mm as I've hoped for, but like I said in other reviews working with Japanese knife makers is kindda different experience compared to US makers :) In the end they decide smaller details and apparently Shinichi felt that was the lower limit for the thickness.

Initial inspection

- This is the smallest(120mm) nakiri you can get from Watanabe. It came in traditional box with Watanabe logo on it. Just like all quality Japanese knives I've ever received, which is still a nice touch :) As it's bigger brother, it is a hidden tang knife, really small. After opening the box and visually inspecting the knife I found no damage to the blade or handle, no scratches either. No visible defects or imperfections. Overall fit and finish are very good. Because it was thinned down on the grinding wheel the blade is kuro-uchi no more, but a very nice satin finish. Once I am done rehandling it, I'll polish it up to full mirror finish though.
    NIB edge was really sharp convex edge. Shaving in both directions effortlessly, hair whittling was easily achievable. Only closer to the tip the edge was slightly duller. It took approx. 10 minutes of work on 0.5mic Chromium Oxide(CrO) powder loaded strop and then 0.3mic Al2O3 abrasive film to get uniformly sharp, hair whittling edge on it.


- I can't say much of the news here regarding the blade of this knife. It's standard nakiri blade, very similar to 150mm Watanabe Nakiri. Blade is 120mm long, and even if it's just 3cm difference, it looks much smaller compared to 150mm nakiri. The steel used in this knife is also the same. Aogami Steel is a Japanese steel, specifically developed for cutlery needs. Watanabe uses it a lot, in his high end knives. For more info on Japanese cutlery steels go to Kitchen Knife Steel FAQ. Aside from the shorter length, major difference is the blade finish itself. Like I said it's satin finished, closer to mirror finish now. Once I get it back from Dave at Japanese Knife Sharpening I'll polish the blade to get full mirror finish, all the way down to 0.25mic. It'll make the surface easier to clean and obviously look nicer :) I am not sure if the blade surface will become stickier because of the very high polish, but chances are, it will have less drag and glide through the material easier. I'll update this section once I'm finished polishing the blade.


- Because it is a special knife, it does deserve a special handle. Either way, I really like custom handles from Stefan Keller, you already know that if you're read other reviews. So, this nakiri definitely deserved a custom handle. Currently it has standard Watanabe burnt chestnut handle and black horn ferule, which is a default configuration and there is nothing wrong with that handle, unless you want one that is fancier and more tailored to your taste/size/style. Basic handle from Watanabe worked just fine. No complaints there from me. Fitted perfectly, with no gaps between the handle, the blade tang and ferule.
    New handle is black, with red spacers and it's thinner. Plus it's octagonal(my favorite) vs. D shaped. Well, once the re-handled nakiri arrives back to me I'll post new photos and update this section accordingly.