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Japanese saws fall into three broad categories. Dozuki (back saws) have very fine blades and are primarily for precision work. Ryoba (double edged saws) have different tooth patterns on either side of the blade, usually one for ripping and the other for crosscutting. Kataba (backless saws) are for deeper cuts, beams, panels etc.
Japanese saws cut on the pull stroke, so that the sawing action holds the blade in tension as you cut. This means the saw blade can be thinner, so less material needs to be removed and you make faster progress with a smaller effort.