The two knives in the photo are Hattori's KD series. The one on top is a 210mm gyotu. The style is what is commonly referred to as a chef's knife or French knife. The lower knife is also a Hattori. A 180mm santoku. The bottom knife once looked like the top knife. The dramatic Damascus pattern clearly visible. The KD series of Hattori's are special and of course expensive. They are hand made using multiple layers of steel, hammered together after leaving the forge. It's not a pretty job nor are the conditions comfortable. The process of forging the knife is one of the reasons these knives should be used and not hidden away in the knife kit. It's a working man's tool. I like the contrast of the two knives. The top one is new and the other is five years old. It's obvious that knife gets used. Alot. Maybe not every day but on the busy nights, the special dinners, first night of a new menu etc. It was with me went I went out to CIA Greystone, it was with me when I drove across the country this summer,(You never know when you might need a job.) I took it to New York. When I need to be at the top of my game the Hattori santoku is there. The fact that it has lost it's luster has not affected it's performance. The weight and balance are perfect, the handle lies gracefully in my hand and it stays sharp forever. The knife becomes a part of me. Just like the guy said in Zen and the Art of War, you shouldn't have to think about your movements, skills, or tactics, they are so natural the process is removed from your mind to allow it concentrate on other more important matters. Just like the swords of the samurai, a chef's knife should act in the same manner. As a matter of fact the process of forging a Japanese knife is much the same as for a samurai sword. The knife needs to fulfill it's purpose.
I'm also practical about the usage of expensive knives. The gyotu hasn't had the pleasure of much use. The knives obviously start looking tired after a while. Why dull the two beauties at the same time. It will see use when I send the santoku in for a makeover. It will be brought back to it's original luster and in the mean time it will be exciting breaking in the gyotu. I've used it a few times, I really like the shape and has a extremely sharp and hard edge. No cutting up lamb racks for this knife. And after being stroked by a soft towel a few hundred thousand times it will also loose it's luster but it will be a much better knife for it.