Higonokami Review: A Good First Knife

As far as traditional knives go, the Higonokami is one of the most interesting ones I’ve ever seen ,and considering some of the knives I’ve seen in the last few years that’s saying a lot!

This knife has an interesting history, and it’s regained a level of popularity as both collector’s knife and as an EDC knife; but is it a good EDC option? Well, let’s find out.

Open Higonokami with box on Story pape

The History of the Higonokami

Each higonokami comes with a piece of paper that gives a brief of its history.

The Higonokami dates to the Meiji Era of Japan. As the Samurai fell out of favor, and the carrying of swords in public was outlawed; demand for swords declined.

Since they weren’t allowed to carry swords, people had to find another way to carry a blade. Blacksmiths turned their skills from large weapons to smaller tools; focusing on the small knives carried by farmers and craftsmen. Enter the Higonokami.

leaflet with the history of the Higonokami knife

According to the story of the Higonokami, a trader approached a blacksmith named Sadaharu Murakami with a request to mass produce a sample knife. The resulting knives were so popular that they spurred the formation of a specialized guild of knife makers who trademarked the design.

The popularity of the higonokami boomed until a ban was placed on carrying them in public in 1961 following the murder of a high-profile politician in Japan. The popularity of these beautiful blades subsequently declined.

Higonokami knife in box

Specs

Now that we’ve got some of the history behind the Higonokami, let’s look at some of the specs.

  • Overall Length: 8.2 inches / 21 cm
  • Blade Length: 3.5 inches / 9 cm
  • Blade Steel: SK-High Carbon
  • Blade Style: Reverse Tanto
  • Locking Mechanism: none, friction folder
  • Weight: 70g

A Good Fidget Knife

Thumb resting on the tang of the Higonokami knife
This is fun to fidget with

My Higonokami was a Christmas gift from my sister, and I hadn’t really carried it much before doing this review. I don’t abuse my knives, but I can be a little harsh and this was a special piece that I didn’t want to damage – even by accident.

With that in mind, I took it for a spin for a bit to see how it carried and found that it makes a good fidget knife. The extended tang/flipper tab took a bit of practice, but I was able to work with the knife one-handed.

higonokami knife partially opened

Pros

  • ✅ It’s lightweight.
  • ✅ Easy one-handed open and close.
  • ✅ Easy to sharpen and maintain.
  • ✅ Comfortable in-hand.
  • ✅ It’s cool to look at.
higonokami knife partially opened 2

Cons

  • ❌ It’s a little awkward to handle, and requires a certain level of dexterity in your fingers – sadly not a good knife to carry in cold temperatures.
  • ❌ The blade’s not good for slicing; the thicker bevels tend to make slicing a bit tricky.
  • ❌ The blade can rust if not cared for properly.

The only other problem that I have, and it’s more of a nitpick than anything else, is that unless you’ve got a sheath/slip to store it in; it tends to sit at the bottom of your pocket. This isn’t a problem, but it can be a little difficult to get the knife out of your pocket.

Why Should you Carry a Higonokami?

higonokami knife in hand
Comfortable and easy to hold, perfect for light cutting tasks

There are a few reasons that I can think of to carry one of these. First off, as a friction folder; the blade doesn’t lock which makes it legal to carry in specific countries (i.e. the UK) – depending on the length of the blade.

It’s also a conversation-starter; an ambassador of sorts that catches the interest of people who may not be too keen on knives.

Additionally, these are relatively non-threatening and so they won’t often scare someone. The high carbon steel blade is harder than some stainless-steel blades. It’s easy to sharpen and holds an edge very well. Edge-retention aside, these are also easy to maintain; just dip the blade into a bit of clean cooking oil.

Each one is handmade so there are slight differences between each one and they are super handy. They don’t open in your pocket – which tends to happen with certain folders – and the blade shape is very utilitarian in nature. You can use it for practically anything and the price isn’t bad; it’s a good, affordable blade to EDC.

Now, it’s not built for heavy duty cutting tasks but it’s a reliable, and classy knife to add to your EDC.

Closing Thoughts

I don’t normally carry a traditional folding knife but carrying a higonokami was an interesting experience. I enjoyed it, but I think this is one of those special occasion knives that you carry when you want to show off.

If you’re looking for a good fidget knife or even a good first knife, then this is definitely a good one and I highly recommend picking one up for yourself.

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