Japanese knives are increasingly gaining global popularity, coveted for their beautiful and intricate design as well as the crisp, razor-sharp cuts they deliver. But have you ever noticed how fast they could become dull or blunt? These knives are typically thin and delicate; even using the wrong cutting board could be the problem. Here, we'll help you find the best cutting board for Japanese knives so that you can get the most from your game-changing cutlery.
Why Do You Need a Special Cutting Board for Japanese Knives?
Japanese knives are pretty fragile due to their extremely thin profile. Therefore, the blade can easily get damaged when pressed against very hard materials, such as glass, stone, marble or steel. Such surfaces tend to dull blades more quickly, and sometimes the damage can be irreparable; not even the best knife sharpener can bring them back to life.
It only follows that you need a special chopping board that suits your Japanese knives to maintain their sharpness and extend their longevity.
What Makes a Good Japanese Cutting Board?
Generally, you want a chopping with some give in it for the blade to press into easily. That rules out hard material cutting boards, as mentioned earlier. Ideally, you want to go for high-quality end grain wood construction made from cypress, maple, cherry, walnut, cedar or teak. You can also consider rubber or bamboo cutting boards since they're soft enough to give Japanese knives a decent pitch.
Japanese chefs and knife lovers typically recommend two types of wood for a good cutting board: Aomori Hiba (also known as Tree of Life) and Hinoki (Japanese cypress). These woods help preserve your blade's edge and its longevity.
If you can make the investment, Aomori Hiba is preferably the way to go for its antibacterial and anti-mold properties, on top of a really lovely scent. On the other hand, cutting boards made of wood grain, particularly from Japanese cypress, are the best for Japanese knives to maintain their longevity.
What is the best cutting board for japanese knives?
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Here are our 5 best Japanese cutting boards:
1. Royal Craft Wood Organic Bamboo Chopping Board
- Cutting Board with Side Handles & Juice Groove. Our XL, 18” x 12” charcuterie board is made of 100% bamboo. Together with high class ingenuity and quality craftsmanship we’ve revolutionized kitchen meal prep. Our sustainable kitchen cutting board features an inherently nonporous surface, making it versatile for a variety of uses so you can host and serve all in one. Cutting boards are made of bamboo
- Made for your Convenience. Our new and improved bamboo cutting board now features a stunning wood grain design that is sure to wow your guests. Our wood cutting board with juice groove design has become a kitchen classic. Liven up your kitchen decor with our bamboo cutting boards for kitchen use
- Enjoy the Many Benefits of Bambo. This extra large cutting board is constructed of biodegradable bamboo. Its organic makeup provides you with a long-lasting surface for up to years of use. Use our classic cutting board to serve in a unhazardous fashion as it’s renewable material is by far a better and healthier alternative to plastic cutting board
- Scar Resistant for Lasting Quality. This bamboo wood cutting board features a safe for your knives, it's also the right choice for the planet. Most optimal cutting board for kitchen use thanks to its new bamboo cutting board design. Made to take your meals to a new level of aesthetic, these boards are a kitchen must-have for the adventurous chefs in the house
- A Practical Charcuterie Board. Our wood cutting board has been especially redesigned to help you prep and serve like a pro! Its robust surface and drip groove borders make it ideal for everyday usage. They make for fantastic carving board housewarming gift ideas that are sure to bring people together this holiday season
Bamboo cutting boards are generally hard, but this one from Royal Craft is soft enough to preserve your Japanese knives. It's made from hard, non-porous bamboo that doesn't absorb liquids for maximum durability. More so, despite the high quality, it's still fairly affordable, giving you great value for your money.
The extra-large tray is superb for slicing meat with your Japanese knives, as well as butchering meat and preparing large dinners. The non-porous surface prevents water damage, stains, splinters and breakage. It also features a groove to collect liquids and drippings when you're washing off the surface after chopping meat or vegetables.
2. Epicurean Kitchen Series Cutting Board
- 14. 5-Inch x 11. 25-inch cutting board in natural; made in the USA from Richlite paper composite material; makes the cutting board durable, knife friendly, non-porous
- Designed for the everyday use; it’s thin profile is lightweight and can be used on both sides; built in thumb hole allows for easy storing
- Perfect for chopping, slicing, cutting and serving; can be used both in and out of the kitchen
- temperature resistant to 350°F, so it can be used as a trivet
- Durable boards are NSF certified, allowing for use in commercial kitchens; available in 4 sizes and 3 colors; dishwasher safe; limited lifetime
If you want a more locally-sourced Japanese cutting board or aren't big on the Hinoki scent, you can opt for this versatile board is made in the USA. This board from Epicurean Kitchen Series is made from Richlite paper material, making it completely poreless. Additionally, it's an eco-friendly, double-sided board that high sanitized on both sides.
This lightweight board has a built-in thumb hole that makes it easy to carry. It's also heat resistant up to 350-degrees Fahrenheit, so you can also carry hot food or cut it right off the stove. In addition, it's dishwasher friendly. And just as important, it comes in three different elegant colors; natural, slate and nutmeg.
3. Teakhaus Wooden Cutting Board
- Stunning Rectangle Edge Grain Chopping Block
- Knife-friendly teak wood won’t dull knives
- Ideal Wood For Culinary Applications
- Sourced From Sustainable, Managed Plantations
- Dimensions: 24 x 18 x 1.5 in, 14 lbs - FSC Certified
If you're looking to make your last chopping board purchase, the Teakhaus Wooden Cutting Board might easily be it. As the name suggests, it's made from teak, a sturdy yet soft wood that's excellent for knife edges. This lightweight board is also FSC certified, meaning it's made through an environmentally-conscious process.
You never have to bother about stains or twists since it's an edge-grain wood board. It also comes with grooves surrounding it so that liquids and juices from your cuts don't spill onto the kitchen slab. On top of that, it has an integrated handgrip to make it easier to carry food around.
4. Shun Hinoki Large Cutting Board
- LARGE CUTTING BOARD: The Shun Large Hinoki Cutting Board is the perfect cutting surface for all your Shun knives. The medium-soft wood "gives" as you cut, helping to preserve your knife edges.
- PERFECT SIZE: At 17.75 by 11.75 inches, this wooden cutting board is perfect for all general-purpose food preparation tasks.
- HIGH-QUALITY CONSTRUCTION: Made from hinoki, a type of Japanese cypress renowned for its beauty as well as its delicate, natural fragrance. Forest Stewardship Council Certified for sustainable forest management practices.
- CARE INSTRUCTIONS: Wet before each use to resist staining. Wash with mild detergent, towel dry, then air dry away from direct sunlight. Clean stains by rubbing a cut lemon across the stain.
- TRADITIONAL, ARTISAN CUTLERY: Inspired by the traditions of ancient Japan, Shun knives are handcrafted by highly skilled artisans to produce blades of unparalleled quality and beauty.
Like other Shun Hinoki cutting boards, this one is manufactured through sustainable, renewable methods that are helpful to the environment. The top-quality chopping board is made from the actual Japanese cypress. The wood is soft and gentle, giving you a perfect surface to use your Japanese cutting knives.
In addition, Hinoki wood adds a fresh, piney fragrance to your kitchen. You can clean this end-grain board with just warm soapy water after use. In addition, its slim rectangular profile makes it easy to whip out, use and store.
5. Asahigomu Synthetic Rubber Cutting Board
Synthetic rubber gives you practically everything you need in a cutting board. This one from Asahigomu is tough, scratch-resistant and works well with all types of Japanese knives. It's also heat-resistant, allowing you to cut and slice hot ingredients without fretting about causing any damage.
Unfortunately, synthetic rubber is not particularly environmentally friendly. If you want a board made from organic materials, you might want to consider a bamboo or Hinoki board. That said, it's still a great addition to any kitchen.
What to Look for in the Best Cutting Board for Japanese Knives
As we've highlighted before, choosing the right cutting board for Japanese knives is all about the material. Harder materials dull blades more quickly, while softer ones help preserve the edge, so you can keep happily chopping away for a long time.
These materials make the best cutting boards for Japanese knives:
a). End-Grain Wooden Cutting Boards
Also known as self-healing wood, end-grain wood is highly praised for its ability to repair itself. You only need to wipe the surface with a damp cloth to "heal" scratch marks. The wood swells to get rid of the appearance of scratch marks, thus extending the board's lifespan.
End-grain cutting boards are ideal for Japanese knives since they're soft enough to absorb the impact of the knife blade but still hard enough to stand up to routine use. However, end-grain boards tend to be more expensive than other board materials.
b). Edge-Grain Wooden Cutting Boards
Edge-grain wood boards are quite similar to end-grain boards. The major difference is that edge-grain boards are made by aligning various hardwoods and gluing them with fibers, which makes them cheaper to manufacture. Unfortunately, that means you don't get the same level of quality as you would from end-grain wood boards.
These boards also don't "heal" as easily, hence a shorter lifespan. They're decent for beginners and everyday chefs but not really the best long-term investment.
c). Bamboo Cutting Boards
Bamboo wood is a great option for people who want a high-quality and lightweight cutting board without breaking the bank. However, a bamboo cutting board isn't the best option for standard cutting knives, just like edge-grain boards. It's also worth noting that the bamboo surface is hard and stiff, so it can significantly dull the blade at times.
d). Synthetic Rubber Cutting Boards
Synthetic rubber is arguably one of the best cutting board materials. Rubber is hard enough to withstand rough chopping but equally soft enough not to dull the blade. As such, a rubber board hardly shows any scratch marks despite the relative softness. Furthermore, unlike wood, a rubber cutting board is water-resistant and withstands stains and spills.
So what should you avoid when looking for a high-quality cutting board for your Japanese knives?
a). Silicone and Plastic Cutting Boards
Silicone and plastic boards are definitely cheap options to explore. However, they tend to have a significantly shorter lifespan. Moreover, they get scratch marks easily, where bacteria and food particles can collect, hence compromising their hygiene.
b). Stone/Glass Cutting Boards
As much as stone, marble or glass cutting boards look good, they are not as practical. The hard surface means they give absolute resistance to a knife's edge, dulling the blade more quickly.
2. Hygiene Properties
It's common for chopping boards to encourage the growth of bacteria when cutting food materials. Luckily, the best cutting boards have antimicrobial properties that allow them to absorb odors and minerals. Ensure you get a board that can prevent harmful microorganisms from collecting on it.
You also have to consider the ease of cleaning. Most cutting boards can be cleaned with detergent and sink water. A few options are also dishwasher-friendly, saving you the extra hassle of getting soap on your hands, but this also takes away their lifespan.
It's also important to ensure that the surface of the board is resistant to stains, which then rules out a plastic cutting board. Stains are a major factor in determining whether your knives stay sharp or require frequent sharpening. Therefore, we recommend going for a rubber or wooden cutting board.
4. Heat Resistance
If you cut meals coming out of the stove often, it only makes sense to get a cutting board that can withstand heat to a certain point. Otherwise, you'll end up with visible dents or stains on your board.
You also want a non-abrasive to avoid scratch marks but soft enough not to break easily. That allows you to use a rigid cutting board for non-cutting tasks, like making a cheese sandwich.
How to Take Good Care of Your Chopping Board
1. Let The Knife Do The Work
Chopping too hard means the knife-edge scores the cutting board too deeply. This prevents it from expanding back as much and causes permanent indents in the long run. So, when cutting, just maintain a firm grip and use moderate force on the knife.
2. No Dishwashing
We highly recommend not using a dishwasher to clean your cutting board. The water and chemicals cause it to wear more quickly, and you'll be left with a frilled board in no time. Preferably, use warm soapy water to clean and dry it thoroughly to maintain performance and longevity.
3. Proper Storage
Leaving your chopping board under the elements, sunlight or damp conditions causes it to wear out more quickly. Ensure that you store yours in a dry place out of direct sunlight.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Cutting Boards for Japanese Knives
1. What type of cutting board is ideal for knives?
The general rule of thumb is the softer, the better. Whenever a knife comes in contact with the board, it causes dullness to the blade and even chips it when using a hard cutting board. Conversely, wood or synthetic rubber, like on a Hi-Soft cutting board, offer more give to the blade, reducing damage and extending the knife's longevity.
2. Which cutting board is the most hygienic?
Plastic cutting boards, in general. Their make-up gives them an inbuilt capability to prevent bacterial growth. That being said, they're not as efficient as wooden cutting boards for Japanese knives.
The best wood cutting boards come with antibacterial and antimold properties for maximum hygiene. To keep your wooden board as hygienic as possible, you can treat it with 4 to 5 rounds of oil now and then to keep bacteria and other microorganisms at bay.
3. Are rubber cutting boards safe?
Yes, but that also depends on how thoroughly you clean them after every use. Nevertheless, rubber cutting boards aren't usually recommended for carving or slicing meat.