In this article we will explain the differences between Shirogami (also called #1 steel) and Aogami (also called #2 steel).

  • The words Ao and Shiro mean blue and white.
  • Gami means metal.
  • The numbers 1 and 2 are grade differences. It all has to do with the carbon content and the alloy content.

Shirogami Steel

The white paper steel is super pure. It has very low alloy content and high carbon. It is super for hamon blades.

Aogami Steel

The blue paper has some alloying added, and is high carbon. It makes really sharp and tough working knives for chefs. These two steels are considered the cream of the crop in fine blades.

#2 steels often have karouchi finish, like this Yu Kurosaki Blue Super Cladd Kurouchi Japanese Chef’s Knife Gyuto 240mm:
yu kurosaki japanese knife

Suminagashi is a laminated billet with a white paper core and layered sides. It is a low-layer damascus with a medium thick solid core. The wavy upper sides add a good look to medium and large blades.
The laminated steel has a thin white paper core and soft iron ( like wrought iron) sides. It makes great slicers with a dark spine and a bright edge. When grinding it, you have to make sure you orient the core at the final edge. This makes a really good looking and tough small to medium size knife. It is also perfect for a tanto blade or small wakizashi.

Note: The main advantage of the low alloy is using a water or brine quench without warp and cracking.

Now, as far as equivalent in function and performance, many steels will be similar, but they won’t have the name recognition that Hitachi steel will give the knife.

Do you need help with choosing your perfect knife? Email us or just drop us a line on the livechat – are are pretty quick with responding 🙂

In choosing the best kitchen Japanese knife you should pay particular attention to the type of steel used in the blade.  Steel is really the essence of the blade and primarily responsible for how the knife performs.  Steel is essentially an alloy (i.e. a mix) of carbon and iron that is often enriched with other elements such as nickel to improve certain characteristics depending on the desired application.

In the knife industry different types of steel are created by varying the types of additive elements as well as how the blade is rolled and heated (i.e. the finishing process). Refer to our Knife Steel Composition Chart for more details on these elements.
To understand the process of making traditional Japanese knifes, read this article.

Ultimately, the different types of steel used in knife blades each exhibit varying degrees of these five key properties:

As an deeper analysis of our Guide to the Best Knife Steel, we’ve compiled the reference table below showing the most popular types of knife steel and their composition of the various chemical elements and compositions. You can click on the column to sort the data according to its feature. Below the table you can find a summary of the most commonly used elements in steel production and their impact on proportions towards properties and overall quality of the steel.