I like to take knives home to use/abuse and to really get an idea of how they feel and hold up. For the last 6 months, I've been using the Sakai Takayuki Aogami #2 Kurouchi santoku.
This series from Takayuki are free forged blades, and fairly rustic in terms of fit and finish, the spine, choil, and heel areas are not burnished. The blades have a kurouchi finish, where the faces of the blades are left ground and polished, leaving the black finish that is left from the final heat treatments. I used the santoku in this series, but they also are available in Nakiri and 210mm Gyuto styles
The blades are constructed of three layers, with soft, tough iron as the cladding and hard Aogami 2 steel as the core. These are reactive blades, and will develop a patina with use, and should be dried right away to avoid rust.
First off, I found that this knife held up really well in the home kitchen environment. I did hone it once or twice on a ceramic steel, but it 6 months, it really didn't seem to dull that much. I found it to be pretty comfortable in general, the walnut octagon is easy to grip and a nice size for various hand sizes, although it does feel a bit bigger in hand to a Western handled santoku. I used on tougher foods like sweet potatoes, as well as fine work like thin slicing tomatoes and herbs. One outstanding attribute is its food-release. Because of the free forged and hand ground nature of these knives, the sides of the knife have lot of variance and food hardly sticks to the sides of the knife.
Overall, I would recommend these knives to anyone looking for hand forged knife on a budget. The only real downside to this blade is the fact that it is not stainless, and for lots of folks, that should be pretty easy to work around.