A Chef is nothing without his or her knife and this is especially true when it comes to Japanese cuisine. Hocho (ほうちょう) (包丁) are Japanese cooking knives and besides their pragmatic value when preparing food, these knives are much different from those in Western culture. Similar to swords, hocho are forged and sharpened using only one side of the blade. This makes for precise and accurate slicing.
Four different characteristics of hocho include the handle, the blade, the steel, and the construction. The handles of these knives are usually made of wood and are extremely light. The blades are traditionally forged into layers of steel for strength and sharpness. Depending on what type of steel the blade is made from, the maintenance of the knife changes. The blades can be created by forging or stamping steel.
Japanese chef knives must be sharpened using different whetstones and contrary to Western kitchen knives, they cannot use a honing steel. The three main types of hocho are sashimi bōchō, deba bōchō (for fish not prepared as sashimi), and usuba bōchō (for vegetables). It is not uncommon for Japanese knife shops to sell over fifty different kinds of knives -different knives for different tasks.