I am sure we are all well-aware of the differences in blade hardness and bevel angle, but those can be contributed to difference in preference. However, I am arguing there is a difference in emphasis too.
The knife handle vs knife blade
After looking over many Japnese and European knives, I cannot but notice that the focus on knives are quiet different. The European knife manufacturers place a much greater focus on the shape of the knife handles, while the Japanese makers place a much greater emphasis on steels. Case in point, Henckels’s Four Star, Professional S, Four Star II, Cuisine lines have the same steel, but different handles. Wusthof’s Grand Prix II, Classic, Culinar, Le Cordon Bleu, Classic Ikon, Blackwood Ikon also use similar steel (slightly different tempering). The difference is mostly in the bolster and handle.
Meanwhile, Japanese brand Hiromoto offer knives lines made from different steel (G3, VG-10, Aogami Super) while the handles are the same:
Misono here offers 6 lines of knives which are made of very similar handles, but very different steels:
In addition, I have an inexpensive Tanaka nakiri. It has an average handle, mediocre fits and finish, but great steel. It holds an edge better than most knives I have. Meanwhile, I have experienced a few Henckels International and KitchenAid knives. The steels are rather poor, but the handles are very well made.
There are probably exception here and there, but I think this is true on average.
What do you think?