Japanese vegetable knives are small, thin-bladed knives used to thinly slice vegetables and fruits. They come in a variety of shapes and styles. Most are in the style of the nakiri knife, with a medium-length blade that is ground on both sides. The blade edge is straight along its length so that no rocking or back-and-forth motion is required when cutting. The nakiri-style blades are usually ground on both sides to produce a thinner knife.
Generally, a Japanese vegetable knife has a style that takes after a certain region of Japan. Ensure that you are choosing the right knife for your cuisine, for example, most vegetable knives found in Tokyo and the eastern regions of Japan have a rectangular shaped blade, while knives from Osaka or western regions of Japan generally feature a curved corner. The difference in handling is somewhat noticeable. For a kitchen knife that will cut through that mountain of daikon radish in a snap, choose a knife with a curved blade, this will allow you to rock the knife back and forth across the cutting surface. For slicing sticky vegetables like cucumber it is best to choose a knife with a granton edge, the texture near the edge of this type of blade is designed to introduce air into your cut so that the food falls away from the knife instead of sticking.
When choosing your Japanese vegetable knife, keep in mind that forged knives last longer and have a stronger blade and more reliable construction. When choosing between knives with plastic handles and those with wood handles, remember that while plastic-handled knives are more likely to become damaged over time, they are easier to clean than wood knives and can usually be put through a dishwasher.