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 Considered by some to be a living fossil, it has remained almost completely unchanged since originally made in 1896.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.
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
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
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.
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.