I have to back BDL on those MACs. If you want a cool Japanese single-edge to play with, well, they're fun, a totally different style of cutting, expensive, a totally different maintenance structure, *must* be kept sharp and straight. I don't see them as practical for either most home chefs, or Euro trained working chefs. The MACs (yeah, love the pro) have all the advantages of the Japanese steel, with few of the disadvantages. They are slightly lower Rockwell, but very tough. Good point that high Rockwell doesn't necessarily equal best toughness and longest lasting edge. So, in real life use, they take a beautifully sharp edge like Japanese knives will, but they're comparatively un-finicky about nicking and chipping. MAC is a company that is obsessive about its steel recipes, and I think they do a great job of coming up with something that's great for cutting stuff in the kitchen, and keeps an edge, rather than being flashy. Definitely not as twitchy as Shun can be, though I have 2 Shuns and like them fine...as long as you don't beat them up. The service and support *is* amazing. The knives are Japanese, but the company is based in California. If you call them, as often as not you'll get Harold, the CEO will answer the phone and talk your ear off for half an hour about knife design. Some of those cool Kikuichis and Nenox's are fun to play with, though.