Kubikiri, Tanto, and Aisin Tanto Knives

If you’ve been looking into collecting kitchenware then you’ve probably heard of the Tanto knives. But what are they? And how do they come into the picture?

tanto knives


Tanto blades are typically a traditional tanto blade style originally developed in feudal Japan. To this day, Tanto blades are used as an everyday alternative to more popularly used pocket knives. In Japan, the tanto was used for various applications including defending oneself in times of conflict. The name “tanto” actually derived from the type of hand guard used. Essentially, it was a two handed sword designed to deflect an opponent’s strike or attack. Tanto is also Japanese for wooden sword and in fact, they were actually used by the famed samurai class as a primary weapon of offense and defense.

Tanto Knife

The traditional Tanto knife was primarily used for cutting and slicing due to its length and balance. The short length of the blade made it extremely difficult to use as an offensive weapon due to the difficulty in hitting an opponent at the point of contact. As such many knife makers began to replace the short handle with a much shorter and flexible wharncliffe which has much like the handle of a traditional wakizashi (wavy knife).

Due to the difficulty of using the tanto knives as an offensive weapon, they eventually became more widely used as a means of self defense. As such, they saw much use as a form of weaponry. In modern times, the tanto is still seen as a weapon for bodily self defense due to its flat, razor sharp edges and compact size. It is one of the most efficient weapons when it comes to delivering a sudden and effective blow to the opponent or a person being attacked from behind. Most attacks performed with the tanto are delivered through the abdomen, the face, the groin, and the back.


Kubikiri is one of the three main styles of pants knives. These are Aisin, Chokkan, and Gyokushinkai. All three share common characteristics which include having solid open spots on the blades for gripping and holding food, being short and narrow blades for easy cleaning, and having distinct sharp points on the blades for cutting and slicing tasks. Some Kubikiri knives also incorporate a pegs along the side of the blade for added protection against blows.

The third style of tanto knives is the Aisin type. These are said to be the sharpest of all three types, being nearly twice as sharp as the Shodokan. They are also among the oldest known knives and date back to the 19th century. These are larger in size than their counterparts and have a tapered blade shape with secondary edges that are diamond shaped. These blade shapes help in improving the blade’s cutting speed and performance for chopping and other tasks.

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