As for getting your first Japanese knife, if you want to get a workhorse type knife, you might want to shy away from getting a Kiritsuke. While the thin tip is nimble and great for veggie prep, it can be a bit of a "sticker"... as in, it likes to stick into the board like a needle, or into your ingredients, making handling it a little more dangerous, in a way. There's a very small learning curve to using a Kiritsuke all the time, so I'd personally go for a gyuto.
You're looking for a workhorse as I understand, so I'll give you a few good choices in different price ranges.
Workhorse under $100 - Yamashin White #1 gyuto 210mm http://www.chefknivestogo.com/yawh1gy21.html
if you want to spend slightly more you can get the 240 in that same knife.
Also the Fujiwara FKH series will give you a taste of a slightly thinner workhorse that takes and holds a good edge. Just a little reactive at first, but that goes away. http://www.chefknivestogo.com/fujiwara2.html
Between 100 and 200 - Masamoto VG series, a serious piece of knife, great workhorse, often underrated IMO. http://www.chefknivestogo.com/masamoto-chef-knife.html
And a more nimble knife, slightly less of a workhorse, but I expect to stand up to most anything you throw at it, the Tanaka Damascus. http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tanakagyuto1.html
And a lot of the knives from the Richmond line will fit the bill too. http://www.chefknivestogo.com/richmondknives.html
Between 200 +, for hand-hammered finishes check out the new Tetsuhiro http://www.chefknivestogo.com/newknives.html
and Konosuke http://www.chefknivestogo.com/koskdts.html
and like ya'll pointed out before, Takeda makes a great workhorse knife too.
and other workhorses in the category start to taper off as generally the more expensive the knife, the thinner the grind... not to say that some people don't use a Laser for everything, it's all based on just how much punishment you expect to put it through. There are more workhorses out there, but we'll narrow that down after you get a better idea of what you are looking for.