Most standard Japanese saws are made of strip steel. After the computer-controlled cutter shapes the blade, the teeth are hardened with a laser treatment. The blade stays relatively soft and flexible. As Japanese-style saws cut on the pull stroke, even experienced woodworkers, used to Western saws that cut on the push, can easily damage one of these saws before they become accustomed to using it. If the saw binds in the wood, for example, the blade can be bent or cracked, although it will rarely break. It is far better then, to learn on a cheaper saw where replacement blades are relatively cheap.
With the more expensive Japanese saws, the entire blade is hardened. They are manufactured in Japan for professional Japanese woodworkers for whom the saws have become a natural extension of their hand and arm. These saws are not "beginner tolerant." It is very easy to break the hardened steel blade, and this has happened often when people use these saws without having first taken the time to become accustomed to their use.
Our warranty and returns policy does not apply to broken Mitsukawa saw blades. So we kindly ask you not to use the higher-quality saws until you have gained experience and confidence on a cheaper model. We always try to steer our customers toward the best tools for the job. Happy customers help to make our business a pleasure. Someone who breaks a $100plus saw five minutes after taking it out of the box is not going to be happy. Please take our advice on this point.
That being said, the hardened-blade professional-level saws are wonderful to use. The speed, accuracy and cleanliness of the cut must be seen to be believed. It is an experience not to be missed once you gain some expertise in the use of these saws.