The Bunka and the Santoku are both top-rated general-purpose Japanese knives. So which blade should you go for and why? This in-depth analysis compares the strengths and weaknesses of each knife. But before we delve into that, let us briefly summarize each blade. 

Bunka Knife 

The Bunka knife originated 400 years ago during the Japanese Muromachi period. Bunka adopted its name in the Edo period when it became a popular kitchen utensil. In Japanese, the name Bunka means culture or civilization.

Thus, the Bunka is a culture knife. Bunka also translates to the blade that was in use during civilization. The Bunka blade has a wide and flat profile. Thus, you can scoop and transfer the prepared ingredients with ease.

NIGARA AS/S TSUCHIME Bunka knife
Bunka Knife (source knifewear.com)

Compared to the western-styled knives, Bunka is shorter, lighter, and sharper. It also, features a straight cutting edge, a wide blade, and a straight spine. The blade has a length of between 4 to 7inches, the perfect size for average knife users. The flat spine keeps the knife balanced and stable. 

Bunka features a sharp reverse “tanto angled” tip at the end of the blade. This point is quite helpful in tip work, where you have to pierce an item before cutting it. It also comes in handy when creating pockets in meat during preparation. 

Bunka knife is a double beveled blade thus both right-and left-handed users can handle the knife without straining. Moreover, the knife’s edge angle is between 10 to 15 degrees. The razor-sharp edges stay long without dulling the knife.

You can choose between the western style handle and the Japanese ” Wa-handles”. Most Wa-handles have oval, D, and octagonal shapes. The D and octagonal shapes will give you an ergonomic grip, but it depends on your preference. 

Wa Handle
Wa Handle

Santoku knife 

Santoku is a famous Japanese knife that has found its way to most western homes. The name Santoku translates to three virtues or the knife’s three tasks for which the knife is adept. 

The tasks are chopping, dicing, and slicing. Santoku is a multi-purpose knife that you can use to prepare meat and vegetables. Compared to the classic western style blade, the Santoku blade is shorter.

Japanese Santoku Kinfe
Santoku Knife (source knifewear.com)

The knife is 6 to 7 inches, almost the same size as an adult’s hand. The sharp, thin, and light knife is easy to use. Thus, it is suitable for people with all levels of handling skills. Due to its small size and lightweight, you do not tire easily when using the knife. 

Santoku has a flat cutting edge almost straight from the heel to the blade’s tip. The spine has a gentle inclination that leads to Santoku’s signature rounded tip. This tip is otherwise referred to as the sheep’s foot.

In some Japanese Santoku knives, you will find dimples or a Granton edge on the blade. The dimples reduce friction and detach food from the knife while cutting increasing the efficiency of the knife.

The flat profile blade is ideal for downward cuts. But you may be unable to use the rock chopping motion style. For this style, you need a knife that has a curved belly instead of a straight one. 

The traditional Santoku blade features a single bevel blade. But some modern Santoku knives give you a choice between single and double bevel blades. You can choose between the D, oval and octagonal shapes for your Wa-handles. 

Bunka vs Santoku Knife 

When comparing the two knives, we will discuss their similarities and differences. We will also look at the versatility and best application of each blade. 

Similarities 

The Santoku and the Bunka knife have a lot of similarities. Both blades are shorter than the classic chef’s knives. Thus, they are ideal for use even in limited working spaces. They also have a flat profile, with the Santoku having a slight spine inclination. 

Differences 

The significant difference between the Bunka and Santoku knives is the tips. The Bunka boasts the signature K-tip point, the tanto angled tip while the Santoku features a rounded tip from the sheepsfoot blade profile.

Additionally, the Santoku has dimples on the blade which helps to prevent food from attaching to the blade while the Bunka features no dimples or Granton edge on the profile of the blade.

Functionality

Precision cuts (tip work)

The tanto tip gives the Bunka a superior hand in making precision cuts. You can use the tip to score vegetables and prepare delicate ingredients. The sharp point also comes in handy when getting under the fat and slicing pockets in meat.

Santoku features a rounded tip, also known as the sheep’s foot. This kind of tip cannot penetrate through the ingredients. Thus, the Santoku is not an ideal knife if you prepare lots of delicate food ingredients.

Slicing

When it comes to the straight cuts, both the Santoku and Bunka perform well. The linear profile blades cut through the ingredients fast and provide clean results. For slicing the Santoku performs better due to the dimples on the blade.

The Santoku’s dimples give it an upper hand when releasing the food from the blade. The Bunka has a flat profile with no dimples. Thus, sticky foods are prone to stick to the blade during preparation.

Rock chopping motion

Both the Santoku and the Bunka blades are not ideal for the rocking motion style. Thus, whichever knife that you buy, you might need to add in a knife that has a belly curve for chopping vegetables. 

Versatility

As we have seen, both Santoku and Bunka are light and easy-to-use blades. But the traditional Santoku is single-beveled. Thus, it limits the user to either left or right-hand use. The Bunka is double beveled, which makes it ideal for all users and thus more preferable.

Bunka vs Santoku

Conclusion

The Bunka and Santoku knives are great Japanese knives with impressive performance. These two knives perform almost the same tasks with ease. But the Bunka has an edge when it comes to tip work due to its angled tip.

So, if you have a lot of tip work and mincing to do, the Santoku may not be ideal for you. It is good to note that both knives are complementary to the chef’s knife since they are not ideal for chopping. 

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