Pros: Has taught me to use a 'handed' knife
Cons: Had to learn how to use a "handed" knife
Shun Pro "Usuba bocho" to (light-heartedly) start learning to to Tusuma (vegetable sheeting) and KatsuraMuki (noodle) cutting. It was a lot cheaper than the other alternatives:
Chiba Peel S Turning Slicer for $235.00 from Korin, ($259.00 from J.B. Prince and they 'neglect' to call out the name ... instead, they call it a 2 IN 1" VEGETABLE SLICER
Chiba Tsuma Taro Slicer to the tune of $435.00 or from J.B. Prince? $499.00
It's a 'handed' knife (right handed in my case) it has only an angle on one side and that is a 15 degree angle as compared to a 20 degree European knife, and the other side is flat with a slight (ura oshi) scallop in it (honyaki steel, and handmade). The shape is "higashigata" style (the square tip) It is not for cutting hard winter squash and the like but every other vegetable? It's astounding! Japanese knives are made in either "Awase " or "Honyaki". Awase is basically a clad knife: A very hard carbon steel is clad with a soft iron or steel. Kasumi actually means “mist/fog” and it is used to refer the hazy pattern on an awase knife, so often people just call an awase knife as a kasumi knife. See the hazy pattern?
Japanese knives are made much harder than German knives. While your Wusthof knives have a 56HRC hardness, most Japanese carbon steel knives are >61HRC. However, a very hard knife is prone to chipping. This softer clad metal serves to absorb shock, protecting the hard carbon steel from cracking. When the carbon steel does crack, the clad metal stops it from cracking too deep. Finally, the cladding also makes it easier to sharpen because you are only sharpening a partially hard surface.
Honyaki knives are made from single hard carbon steel and are considered superior. These knives are forged by hands and cannot be mass produced. They are much more expensive than awase (kasumi) knives. They hold their edges much longer and are considered professional knives. Unlike an awase knife, a honyaki knife has no softer metal to protect it from cracking and is more difficult to sharpen.
Ura-oshi is partially removing the the flat side of a single bevel knife. In other word, the flat side is made to be slightly concave. There are at least two reasons for that. One is to make the knife cut better. Two is to make it much easier to sharpen. When the flat side is 100% flat, you will need to grind a lot of metal to sharpen the flat side. However, when the flat side is really slightly concave, you will only need to remove the outer metal.
The reason I made a point about uraoshi is that, although most Japanese knives sold in Japan have this done, many Japanese knives sold in the USA do not. When you do get a knife without uraoshi, it can be very difficult to find someone to do an uraoshi for you because most American knife sharpeners are not custom to these services and probably have no idea what you are asking for. So you basically get stuck with an unfinished knife for awhile. Of course, you will eventually get it done, but it will cost you extra. In Japan, it won't cause you much because every Japanese knife sharpers know how to do it. But the scallop in the back of the knive actually makes it difficult to do the "sheeting".