The Santoku is similar to a design called sheepsfoot. The name comes from the fact that the sheepsfoot blade resembles the hoof of sheep. It is a drop-point that falls severly from the knife spine to the cutting edge. This provides a very sturdy blade from tip to handle and makes for great chopping, dicing, and other cutting chores. My son loves his Santoku, while I prefer the 10" chef's knife. He likes to chop. I like to slice.
Generally, the Santoku has less belly than does a chef's knife. The belly gives the user an advantage in slicing as it encourages the proper motion. Both work well when drive straight down through veggies and semi-frozen meats. But try to press straight down through a piece of thawed meat and you will find that it requires much more force than if you use a slicing motion. Also, I like the pointy end fo my chef's knife for piercing the skin of, say, a watermellon, then driving the knive through to the other side. I then just rotate the knife downward along the cutting edge and have very easily sliced this big mellon. The tip of a good chef's knive should be in line with the handle's center, but should not drop below.
Both knives have andvantages over the other. Both are well thought out, and great designs. I like my chef's, my son likes his santoku. Are either of us more right than the other? I don't think so.
And the part where the Japanes reverse-engineer things, I think that's a truly wonderful gift, and a great strategy. But then again, have you ever gone to Toyata's competition, where their engineers are tasked with creating new and useful technology, well come to think of it, it doesn't even need to be useful. I have seen some of the amazing robotic, trasportation, and just generally playful designs that have been presented at these yearly competitions. Many of them were pure genius. From such play comes the building blocks of new and better technology, and true breakthroughs. Don't dis any other cultures. As I look at our world, I can't say that I'm very proud of what America or Europe has done to our planet.
I haven't all of the answers, but this I do know; it is a true compliment on American ingenuity that another culture looks to ours for ideas from which to build, and sometimes enhance products and goods. And just sometimes, they can do it better because of the buisness structure they live under. Too many times have great ideas been wrestled from the creator of that idea, and either squashed, or stolen by those with deep enough pockets to do so, in the good-old USA. Most of the great breakthroughs were made in America before the age of industrial and corporate giants.
When I worked for General Dynamics, I had to sign a paper giving them all rights to any inventions made or created by myself, whether they were made on company time, on company property, or made in my home garage, on my own time. I had no incentive to create jack under those conditions.
You guys did it again, touched on a subject gauranteed to put me up on the soapbox. I think I need to go watch some TV now. I hate it when people cut other people down, and usually because of plain ignorance and false pride. I'll say this yet again. There is no culture on this planet better than any other. We are all just trying to live, and hopefully make a better place for our children than we had. And if we aren't lifting each other, helping each other to grow, then we are cutting each other apart and aren't helping anything at all.
I have seen many sites that I enjoyed become immersed in flame wars, and ultimately discontinued. And it usually started because some person decided that they could insult or degrade someone else, or some other culture or race, or technique. This site has been different. It is a truly great site.
If anyone feels they have to cut others, or air their predjudices, please find some other place to do it. I admire this site for the people on it, for the comraderie, and the genuinely caring and freindly attitude. Let's keep that. And let's not forget that people from all over the globe share this public forum. I hope my conduct here will always be of benefit to others, whether I'm sharing something I know, or learning from others.
Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North