Blade length:120 mm
laminated Blue 2 steel
full carbon steel construction
A summary of the history about this remarkable knife:
In the world of knives, the higonokami is a living fossil. This small Japanese folder is one of the oldest knife trademark still in production, is almost unchanged since its creation.
The higonokami knife was born in 1896 in Meiji era Japan when a man named Tasaburo Shigematsu brought back a knife from the Kyushu province and asked a knife maker named Teji Murakami from Hirata in the Miki region to manufacture it.
This original knife had a misconception at the start, as it didn’t feature any device to lock the blade. The story says that it is this maker named Murakami who first had the idea to add a lever to the blade, thus giving the knife the look it still has today and ensuring its commercial success. Some sources mention a second blacksmith to have been influential in this birth, Shigeji Nagao.
In 1899 a knife maker’s guild was created in Miki and in 1907, the name “Higonokami” was trademarked. Only the members of the corporation could manufacture the knife.
The tale of the Higonakami changed into a success story. He became the most popular Japanese knife, the one all the kids had in their school bags, the utilitarian pocketknife of everyday. Pencils sharpening mass contests were even organized, with rewards for the fastest.
Mind its simple and basic design, the knife had some outstanding qualities, it was very sharp with a quality sanmai carbon blade, was easy to sharpen, inexpensive and over 50 makers were manufacturing it at the time.
So if “higonokami” is a trademark and if only the makers belonging to the corporation in Miki can use this name, which are the real higonokamis among all the different models on the market?
In fact, sadly there is only one maker left in the guild, all others have stopped making them.
The only « real » and « historical » higonokamis are easy to spot. They are the ones that are sold in the little blue and gold paperboard boxes.
They are made by Motosuke Nagao, established in Miki, descending from four generations of blacksmiths.
Today, Motosuke Nagao is quite old, his succession is not ensured and the trademark might disappear with him.
His basic and better-known model is called “Sada Koma” and exists in three shapes: small, medium and large.
It is the archetype of the higonokami knife:
– A handle made out of a folded sheath of brass stamped with kanjis detailing the name of the maker and the steel of the blade: a sanmai with an aogami edge (blue paper steel).
– The presence of a chikiri (the lever) on the blade, to open the knife.
– The lack of a locking system.
– The fact that the blade entirely disappears in the handle when the knife is closed.
see how they are made