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Yanagiba knives are primarily used to slice boneless fish fillets for Sashimi and Sushi dishes, but they can also be used to fillet small to medium-sized fish and are often used for skinning fish. The narrow blade and relatively acute edge angle of the Yanagiba are features which greatly reduce the effort required to cut through ingredients. As with the Sujihiki, the long blade allows the fish to be cut in one single drawing motion, from heel to tip.

The combination of cutting technique, acute blade angle, and sharp edge result in very little cellular damage in the cut surface. This is particularly important for dishes where the fish is eaten raw, because it helps to preserve the original flavor and texture of the fish.

Yanagiba roughly translates in to English as "willow-leaf blade", a simile which perfectly describes the long and slender leaf-shaped blade of the knife. Similarly, the knife is also sometimes called Shobu, because the blade resembles the spear-shaped leaves of the iris plant.

A variety of regional and task-specific variations of the Yanagiba exist, including the Fuguhiki, Kiritsuke Yanagiba, Takohiki, and Sakimaru Takohiki. However, the leaf-shaped Yanagiba, which originated in the Kansai (Ōsaka) region of Japan, is the most commonly used. For customers seeking their own Dream Yanagi, we offer a Special Order Service where you can specify your desired blade measurements and also choose from a variety of steels, construction methods, and handles.

Yanagiba are available in variety of blade lengths, typically ranging from 210mm up to 360mm, with the 270mm, 300mm, and 330mm sizes being particularly popular.