A Nakiri is a Japanese-style double bevel vegetable knife with a relatively straight cutting edge on its blade profile. This makes it very suitable for cutting straight down towards the cutting board without the need for any kind of horizontal pulling or push motion.
Even though the Nakiri is often mistaken for being a small Chinese Cleaver, the Nakiri is much more agile, thinner, and lighter than a cleaver. The Usuba is the single bevel edged alternative to the Nakiri, and it was similarly explicitly developed for cutting vegetables.
The Nakiri also features a slightly taller blade, which provides more clearance for the knuckles on your knife hand when cutting directly above a cutting board. It also offers a good blade surface for the knuckles of your free hand to guide the blade when “tap chopping.”
One great advantage of the rectangular blade profile on the Nakiri is that it does not become significantly shorter in length as the blade is repeatedly sharpened, as opposed to the Santoku or Gyuto. However, despite being labelled as a “vegetable knife,” the Nakiri is still a very versatile companion to have in any kitchen. It's incredibly efficient at chopping vegetables, but also processing bulk cuts of meat, and even breaking down and organizing larger deboned cuts of fish too.