Steve, I have not tried one a shooting board yet (plan to), but for general purpose uses, Japanese planes, and handsaws for that matter, leave one pleasantly surprised. The good ones are not cheap, but I suspect most of the cost goes into the hand-forged blades, rather than cast metal bodies. Some fettling may be needed for initial setup, but thereafter very little.
There are dado models as well, although each plane is limited to a specific blade and width.
Try one before you make a final purchase decision - it may up-end your thinking. Ditto for the handsaws - I got a little six-inch dovetail saw from LV that is jaw-droppingly effective, and their Korean-made. Rosscut saw is also a pleasant bang for the buck.