This isn't a Top Ten List (or Top Three), and it's certainly not exhaustive. However, it will help you understand the shun japanese knives and give some suggestions. Each knife is produced by a different Japanese knifemaker. Prices range from $120 - $170. They'll last for at least 30+ years, so please don't be alarmed.
Global 7" Santoku (G-50)
Global revolutionized the kitchen knife market in the 1980s. In creating high-performance knives that were both fashionable and affordable, they set the standard for kitchen knives. They're very lightweight with a razor-sharp, thin edge. In blade design, however, they owe more of Western tradition to Japanese than Japanese. In that they merge two cultures of knifemaking into one, I refer to them as Japanese hybrids.
No other major knife brand can be compared to Global's stunningly modern knives. They are made of pure steel, from tip to bottom, and include the iconic pebbled-steel hand. Global inserts the perfect amount sand into its hollow handle in order to maintain the knife's balance. Global knives are not forged, but are made of high quality steel that has been heat-treated and tempered to new heights of sophistication.
This model, the G-48, is great for someone who values performance, but needs to remain agile. The santoku style, which is short but broad, allows you to grab chopped celery and has all the convenience of a large blade without having to worry about its length. Global also has a wide selection of Western-styled chef blades, as we mentioned. Consider a G-2 and G-61.
I own this santoku. It is a treasure that I cherish so much that it can't bear to do any chopping with. But I keep it for slicing. This it does, amazingly!
MTH-80 Professional Series 8" Chef Knife w/ Dimples
MAC knives seem like one of the most secretive products in the kitchen knife market. These knives are highly recommended by chefs like Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller, and Charlie Trotter who claim they are the best for cutting. They are unlikely to have ever heard of them, however.
Global knives were designed and manufactured in Japan. They're a new type of knife that combines the tougher, thinner Japanese steel with a Western-shaped handle. They are not as attractive as Global, but may be even more sharp. They are not forged, but heavily machined, just like Global.
The MTH-80 Professional MAC's flagship product is the MTH-80 Professional. This knife is popular as it offers the best price for sharpness. Additionally, the welded-on support creates a unique combination: a thin blade combined with extra weight keeps it more balanced in your hand like a German knife. GourmetMagazin claims that a MAC-knife is "the distinction between a minivan or a race car." Are you interested in taking one for a spin,
( Notice: It's important not to confuse MTH-80 Professional and TH-80 – Chef Series 8” Chef's Knife w/ Dimples. These are lower-end models that sell for $40 or less.
Shun Classic 8 inch Chef Knife
Global is also a well-known Japanese brand, and Shun is one of the most loved in America. Shun Classic, their flagship brand, is extremely attractive and sharp. They're made in Seki City (alongside Solingen, Germany), which is one the largest knife-making centres of the world.
You shouldn't be fooled by the beautiful wavy design on the blade. It's far more than a pretty sight. The edge is formed by the thin core of hardened steel. Rockwell61 is a hard steel. This allows it to keep a 16° edge for very long periods.