So, I just tried out the santoku, the biggest of the three Japanese knives I received from my former colleagues. I was chopping a carrot–normally a task that requires me to push slightly in order to counter the basic springiness of the carrot.
The santoku moved through the carrot as though it were soft butter.
The Japanese: proudly supplying kitchens with high-grade weaponry since 1945.
 I could be wrong about this because I’m not Japanese, but I was given to understand the santoku was actually a “modern” knife, born in the crucible between the West and post-war Japan–when traditional food was scarce, and the influence of the West in the diet started to loom large.