Higonokami is the most famous Japanese pocket knife. It enjoys the same kind of fame in Japan as the Swiss army knife does in Switzerland and around the globe.
Higonokami is a small, lightweight and durable pocket knife of simple design, suitable for versatile use. The KURO-UCHI silver version is made of high-carbon SK-5 steel, hardened to around 59 HRC. Kuro-uchi is a black, untreated scaly residue left from the forging process on the top part of the blade.
SK-5 steel is a carbon steel alloy which makes Higonokami ⚠️ not stain resistant ⚠️, but easy to resharpen. This knife needs good maintenance and the blade will develop a light patina over time and use. After the use rinse it well and dry it, we recommend oiling the blade regularly in order to prevent the development of rust. Read more about how to take care of high carbon knives and patina in our Knife maintenance blog post.
Higonokami has no locking system, it uses friction to keep the blade securely in place. The blade can be extracted from its brass handle by pushing down on the iconic level, called chikiri. During use, we should keep a thumb on the level to prevent the knife from folding.
The shape of the Higonokami pocket knife is based on the katana, which is not a coincidence since knife manufacturing is deeply embedded in the samurai tradition. The knife first appeared in 1896 in response to reforms in the 19th century, which banned the production of weapons, so blacksmiths began to produce knives, among others also these small pocket Higonokamis. The Higonokami is produced by Kanekoma, a company with over 100 years of experience in forging knives.
When Higonokamis began to be manufactured in Miki, the knife manufacturing metropolis, it spread rapidly throughout Japan and the United States, where it was mostly used for pencil sharpening - just one of the many functions of this versatile small pocket knife.
☝️ Fun fact: The small four Kanji characters on the handle of the Higonokami mean Registered Trademark. The first three big characters translate to Higonokami (the name of the knife), and the last two are the name of the maker (Kanekoma).
The 75mm (3.0") blade length version of the pocket knife is packed in a cute little cardboard box.
Blade shape: Higonokami
Steel type: SK-5
Blade construction: San-mai / V-edge / Scandi / Kuro-uchi
Hardness (HRC scale): 59
Overall length: 170mm (6.7")
Blade length: 75mm (3.0")
Blade height: 12mm (0.5")
Spine thickness: 2.5mm (0.1")
Weight: 40g (1.4 oz)
Handle length: 101mm (4.1")
Handle type / wood: Metal
Kanji on the blade:
Location of the smithy: MIKI / Hyōgo Prefecture / Japan
☝️ Japanese kitchen knives in our store are handmade from natural materials. Slight variations in color, texture, weight and other dimensions are possible. We try to give a good photographic representation of our products, however computer screen resolution and colors do vary, so products might not look exactly as they are seen on screen.
☝️ THIS KNIFE MAY DEVELOP PATINA
Knives made of carbon steels can, due to their low chromium (Cr) content, discolor and develop patina. The knife is the most sensitive when it is still new and a patina had not developed yet, but later, patina will protect the blade. These types of knives require a touch more care:
✔ Wipe it regularly with a clean and dry cloth (you can also do this during use).
✔ After use, rinse it with lukewarm water and wipe it dry.
✔ Coat it regularly with knife maintenance oil or plain refined sunflower oil.
✔ Store the knife by wrapping it in paper which will absorb moisture and protect the blade.
A patina is a thin layer that forms on the surface of oxidized steel and protects it from further oxidation. The patina should not be confused with rust. Patina protects the blade, while rust causes corrosion and deterioration of material, so it should be removed (see Rust erasers).
→ For in-depth information about patina, read our dedicated post on patina.
GENERAL KNIFE CARE TIPS:
Blade wear depends on the quality of steel, usage and maintenance of the blade. Japanese knives are made of high-quality steels. Follow these tips to keep your Japanese knife in top-notch shape:
✔ Use a wooden, plastic or rubber cutting board.
✔ After use, wash the knives and wipe them dry.
✔ Use a magnetic rack, knife blocks, or use protective knife sheath (saya).
✔ A good cutting technique is your best bet to prolong sharpness.
✔ Use sharpening stones to sharpen the knife.
❗️Don’t leave the knife in the sink. Wash it by hand.
❗️Don’t wash the knife in the dishwasher.
❗️Don’t use the knife on glass, ceramics, marble or steel surfaces.
❗️Don’t scrape the food off the cutting board with the edge of the blade. Use the spine of the knife instead.
❗️A knife is a tool intended for specific use: it’s not a can opener, screwdriver, trowel, wire cutter, hammer etc. Kitchen knives are meant for preparing food.
→ For more details, read our guide on Maintenance of Kitchen Knives.
🤙 Contact us if you need some help. We reply within 1 business day.
- €10 - flat worldwide rate with DHL Express (express delivery, 2-5 business days).
- FREE - all orders over €300 (DHL Express).
- United Kingdom - shipping to UK costs €15. All orders are shipped with UPS Express (2-3 business days). Free shipping on orders over €300.
- Russia - shipping to Russia costs €40*. All orders are shipped with EMS postal service.
*or more, depending on the weight
DUTIES AND IMPORT TAXES:
We ship all orders DDP (duties & taxes paid). This means you will not be charged for any import fees and taxes (including VAT). All our prices are final. The price you see at checkout is the final price, no hidden costs.
- Europe: 1-2 business days
- US & Canada: 2-4 business days
- Rest of the World: 3-5 business days
Our return policy lasts 30 days. If more than 30 days have gone by since the day you received your order, unfortunately we can’t offer you a refund or exchange.
Each knife comes with:
✔️ Instructions and knife care leaflet.
✔️ A preventive Band-Aid – the knives are very sharp! 😉
✔️ Original box from the blacksmith, which we wrap in an old Japanese newspaper sheet – so every knife is ready to be passed on as a gift as soon as it hits your doorstep!
✔️ We also offer a special gift wrapping option with the traditional Japanese washi paper.
Still doubting which type of Japanese knife should best fit your needs?
We created a 5-steps quiz to help you find the perfect knife based on your cooking skills and the type of food you prepare.