I have to disagree with your take on Shun a bit. I see the thinner, sharper knife as a plus, and the higher carbon steel is how you get the strength to hold that edge. Yes, you have to be more careful (don't go chopping through bones on a regular basis), and only hand wash (but that is true of just about any good knife). I have only ever experienced 1 tiny chip which was easily sharpened out, and they sharpen so easily compared to many other knives out there.
I agree that for me $400 is too much for a knife, but the Shun Classic line runs 1/3 of that on average. You could make a similar knife without the damascus and wood handle, but they perform a function beyond just looking pretty in terms of how they feel in the hand and protect the VG10 core.
Sorry, I really like my Shun knives. :) They cut better than anything else that I have held. If I were a professional chef, My knife roll would probably have something else in it that I would not worry about damaging on a daily basis, but I only get to cook a few times a week. So they work very well for me. You could do better, but you could also do a whole lot worse.