If you like to sharpen and want a great carbon steel that will take a scary sharp edge I'll shamelessly plug the knives I bought myself.
Yamashin white #1 120mm Ko Bocho: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/yawh1kobo12.html
Yamashin white #1 165mm santoku: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/yawh1sa16.html
Both together would be about $110, both come sharp enough to use, but they get a lot sharper after a little time on the stones and strops. The white #1 steel means that they can take probably one of the finest edges of just about any steel, and for home use they should keep and edge very well. Mine has for sure. For a professional banging away on a plastic board, probably not so much. lol
They are carbon steel and will patina (and of course rust if not cared for), but they do not seem to be super reactive like some of the other carbons. Something I have read about Tojiro's ITK line is that they rust VERY easily while using (I think it isn't necessarily rust, just discoloration due to reactivity) but I have not seen that in these knives unless I don't wipe it off after cutting an onion and set it down for a couple of mins. I have thinned my santoku so it has less of the protective varnish on the blade and it still has no issues. Just treat it like you would your carbon pocket knives.
These knives are also VERY light compared to western knives. Almost comically light... it's a bit ridiculous really. The handles aren't large but they are a nice oval shape so there are no hard lines if she holds the knife by the handle. A pinch grip (which is what I use) is also comfortable. You might want to treat the handles with oil, butcher block conditioner, beeswax, etc. as they are pretty much just sanded wood.
I love mine and would buy them again, especially for the price.