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Japanese kataha knives for left-handers


So you’re a lefty and you're considering the purchase of a single-bevel left-handed Japanese knife. Not surprising - traditional Japanese kataha knives are known for their cutting feel and the positives they bring to the table regarding presentation and flavour. 

As a left-hander you'll pay a premium for your kataha choice. Why the discrimination? And why are some left-handed Japanese knives significantly more expensive than their right-handed counterparts, and some much closer in price?

The knife makers and professional sharpeners we’ve asked about this have pointed out that producing a left-handed knife at any time is simply a slower process and prices reflect that. Some say it can take three times as long to produce a left-handed knife.

For the knife maker working on a hidari-kiki blade every step in the production process must be done more deliberately. In a busy workshop where more than one craftsman is involved this can slow things down considerably and affect production schedules for other knives. Interestingly it can also mean a highly skilled craftsman working alone may charge a more modest premium for a left-handed knife. Though not always.

Producing only one left-handed knife as a custom order is not always a practical proposition and the fact that it may take much longer for a company to see a return on a batch of slower-selling left-handed stock may also be factored into the price. Producing a left-handed knife on spec may see it languish on the shelf. Same story.

In the end the pricing of left-handed Japanese single-bevel knives comes down to a few variables: the additional time involved in producing the knife, company sales volumes, in some cases the skill and flexibility of the craftsman, in some cases the flexibility of the workshop. Japanese knifemakers are always happy to sell a left-handed knife, but for many craftsmen producing them isn’t part of the normal routine.

The upshot is that a supplier may charge anything from an additional twenty per cent to more to double the price for a left-handed kataha knife. Ouch. 

It’s also worth noting that retail pricing policies can amplify the price discrepancy. Percentage margins applied equally to all knives in a reseller’s range can result in the left-handed buyer supporting a profit margin on a hefty lefty loading. A reseller who purchases and holds stock of slow-moving items is entitled to do that but nevertheless, it adds up.

So what’s a lefty to do. You can always choose a double-bevel ryoba knife - many if not most Japanese left-handed users do - and you won't be short-changing yourself. But a ryoba knife is a different animal.

How about shopping around? That can prove tiresome. Unfortunately there aren't many resellers who carry a wide range of Japanese knives for you. We do.

We’re a lefty family and it’s in our DNA to keep things as even-handed as possible for our left-handed customers. We don't charge for the privilege of ordering a left-handed knife, and if it is made at all then we offer the left-handed version of every single-bevel knife available in our store.

You may have to wait, you will pay more (although you won't be paying us more) but the selection is here. So dive in and look around.

On delivery times. They vary considerably from maker to maker and knife to knife. Some knife makers produce left-handed knives just twice a year, some are able to deliver custom orders within a short time frame. Of course, some hold stock of left-handed knives and can deliver immediately. This is less likely with more specialised knives and longer blades.

Note that while we don’t always have a full selection of photographs for our left-handed products you’ll usually find a link on each product page to additional images of the right-handed equivalent.

You'll find our landing page for left-handed kataha knives here. Or just select from our menu bar (up and to your left) to go straight to the knife you're looking for.