These Japanese knives are mainly used to slice boneless fish fillets for sashimi and sushi dishes. The Yanagiba's narrow blade and relatively sharp angle are features that greatly reduce the effort required to cut the ingredients. As with Sujihiki, the long blade allows you to cut the fish in one movement from heel to tip.
The combination of the cutting technique, the acute angle of the blade and the cutting edge reduces cellular damage to the cutting surface. This is especially important for dishes where the fish is eaten raw, as it helps preserve the original flavor and texture of the fish.
Yanagiba roughly translates into English as "willow-leaf blade", a comparison which perfectly describes the long and thin blade of the leaf-shaped knife. Likewise, the knife is sometimes also called Shobu, because the blade resembles the lance-shaped leaves of the iris.
There are a variety of regional and task-specific variations of the Yanagiba, including Fuguhiki, Kiritsuke Yanagiba, Takohiki, and Sakimaru Takohiki. However, the leaf-shaped Yanagiba, native to the Kansai (Ōsaka) region of Japan, is the most commonly used.