Noko - Classic Hand Tools were amongst the first the bring Japanese pull saws into the UK. We work with the famous Nakaya factory in Japan who have a reputation for higher quality Traditional Japanese pull saws. We have two grades of saw, The Golden Series and the Classic Series. The difference is in their expected longevity is the Golden Series saws will outlast the Classics. If you are a novice or just need a saw for occasional use the Classic Saws will suit you fine.
Japanese Saws work on the pull stroke which is why the blade can be thinner than in conventional western saw. They have a long handle (sometimes covered in rattan) and replaceable blades (we stock these of course).
There are 3 main types of saw
Douzuki - this has a "back" to it to stiffen the blade. Usually with X-cut teeth.
Kataba - no "back" so you are not limited to the depth of cut. Note the special Meiko blade which has X-cut & Rip teeth on one edge.
Ryobi - double edges - one edge is rip cut and the other is x-cut.
Hard or soft wood - well there are soft woods that are harder than some "hard" woods so saying Japanese saws are only for "soft" woods is a little misleading. Generally these saws perform very well on woods with a low silica content so they should be used carefully & sparingly on the "exotics" - bubinga, African hardwoods etc.