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Titanium Higonokami Japanese Pocket Knife

The Higonokami Japanese pocket knife has been around for over a century. Considered by some to be a living fossil, it has remained almost completely unchanged since originally made in 1896. The Higonokami has no locking mechanism, instead it relies upon the friction of the swivel and the pressure of the user’s hand to prevent it from folding during use.

Higonokami Traditional Japanese Pocket Knife

Anatomy of a Higonokami

There are many different blade shapes of Higonokami, by far the most popular is the one shown here sometimes referred to as an “inverted tanto”. Regardless of the blade shape, these four facts hold true of all Higonokami:

  • They have a handle made out of folded metal (usually brass) stamped with kanjis detailing the name of the maker and the steel of the blade
  • They have a small flipper or lever (chikiri) on the blade, used to open the knife
  • They do not have any locking mechanism
  • The blade entirely disappears in the handle when the knife is closed

Higonokami Traditional Japanese Pocket Knife

I have long been fascinated with Japanese knives and blades and have been wanting to snag a Higonokami folder for a long time. The only reason I hadn’t was because I have so many other “better” knives. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that I dropped $35 to buy this one on eBay – yes, that’s all.


A typical Higonokami is made using a folder brass handle. I’ve never been keen on that look, it’s a personal preference. When I saw this one for sale with a titanium handle I simply couldn’t resist. Not only does it look better in my opinion, at just 36g it is 27% lighter that the brass equivalent. The triple laminated blade is made up of a high carbon steel core sandwiched between two layers of softer steel. This knife is wickely sharp and I expect it to hold an edge well.

  • Titanium folded handle
  • Triple laminated high carbon steel blade
  • Inverted tanto blade shape
  • Total weight 36g
  • 4 1/4 inches (105 mm) in length (closed), including chikiri
  • 3 inches (75 mm) blade (cutting surface)
  • 5/8 inch (18 mm) wide
  • 1/8 inch (4mm) blade thickness

Higonokami Traditional Japanese Pocket Knife

A New Lightweight Backpacking Knife?

After playing with the Higonokami for a little while now and carrying it around in my pocket I’ve begun to wonder if this might be a great little knife to take with my when hiking or backpacking. It’s strong, incredibly sharp, light weight, and durable. It has a small hole at the end that could be sused to attach a small length of high-vis cord or lanyard of some fashion. I hardly notice that it’s even in my pocket.

Higonokami Traditional Japanese Pocket Knife

After looking at these photos what do you think of this cheap little blade from Japan. Would you take something like this with you when backpacking? I’m going to give it  atry and report back on how well it functions. I suspect  this little knife will never leave my pocket ever again.

Here is a great video by CutleryLover on YouTube: Higonokami Traditional Japanese Pocket Knife

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  • Walter Davis

    Just snagged the Ti version myself… looking fwd to it’s arrival. Thanks for the heads-up!

    • Wow Walter, that was fast! I’m not on any sort of commission, just sharing a great find with my peeps. Be very interested to know what you think when it arrives. It’s not going to be pristine like a newly wrapped Benchmade, but for the price it’s an extremely functional (and good looking) blade.

  • Marty S Conn

    maybe you should do a video review, this is a very good looking knife and am very interested.

    • Marty, there are so many good reviews of Higonokami knives on YouTube that I’d be offering nothing new.

      My Instagram friend made this one:

      Besides I simple don’t have the time these days. I really would love to pick up on video again, maybe…

  • Joe

    Where did you get it? Do you have a link?

    • Click on the “ebay” link in the post above. That’s where I got mine.

  • Snctool

    Very interesting knife Brian. Very simple and the forge welding of the hard inner steel to the softer two outer steels…brilliant…making the blade tough and assuring no blade breakage. I am impressed.

  • Robert

    I have three of the brass-handled models (different sizes), bought on a trip to Japan last fall. They are indeed wicked sharp — and they are beautiful “old style” folk-knives.

    However. I have to say I’d hesitate a long time before taking one on a backpacking trip, and that goes double if I didn’t have another knife along with me. A great blade — but that’s all it is.

    I’d be much more likely to take a Wenger Standard Issue (or Vic Soldier) than one of these.

    Second is the safety issue. If you used only a higonokami for every knife need, and became thoroughly familiar with handling it, then accidents are unlikely. But that free-to-swing blade, without even the modest security of the spring in a slipjoint knife, is just too risky for my taste.

    Take it hiking if you like — but you might want to pack along some Quikclot just in case.

  • Dan Trommater

    Great info. Thanks! After working with it for a while, what are your thoughts?

  • I love this knife. :-)