Named for the white colored paper put on billets of steel at the Hitachi factory. Shirogami (white) steels are graded as #1, #2 and #3. #1 has the highest carbon content and #3 the lowest. Generally speaking, #1 will hold its edge longest but will be the most brittle, #3 is the toughest (chip resistant) with shortest edge life. #2 is the most commonly used Shirogami steel.
Shirogami steel is a very fine grained carbon steel made from a very low contaminate iron, and loved for its ease of sharpening and ability to take a very fine razor sharp edge quickly. Shirogami steel is a favorite of sushi chefs for knives in which a very fine finish is essential.
Not the easiest steel to forge and temper properly, Shirogami steel done well is a testimony to a smith’s skill. Shirogami steel is fairly reactive and requires care to avoid rust as it has virtually no rust resistance.