The Iconic Japanese Higonokami Knife Gets Its First Major Update in 130 Years

Photos: alphakogyo.,Ltd | PeakJapan

After Japan’s Samurai age came to an end at the tail-end the late 19th century, many of the island’s swordsmiths pivoted their operations and applied their skill and expertise to begin producing knives. One such artisan was Komataro Nagao, who in 1894 in Japan’s Miki, Hyogo prefecture started crafting the Nagao Kanekoma Higonokami  — a minimalistic friction folder that arguably represents Japan’s most iconic pocket knife design of all time. And after nearly 130 years of remaining in production largely unchanged, the legendary Higonokami is being treated to its first major update.

Photo: alphakogyo.,Ltd | PeakJapan

Born out of two years of research and development — and nearly 130 years of tradition — this updated iteration of the Higonokami is comprised of two new knives that maintain the same design language and manufacturing techniques as the original late 1800s era friction folder. Known as the Higonokami Slim Type Silver Sheathed and Wide Type Silver Sheathed Knives, these blades are made by the family-run business’ fifth-generation owner, Mitsuo Nagao. These blades both feature similar handle designs to the original that are made from chrome-plated stainless steel that’s finished via a silver-plating process before being given stainless steel hardware and washers. Unlike the original folder that used a set hinge, the new knives boast a hinge that can be tightened on the fly using a flathead driver or a coin, allowing it to be easily broken down and disassembled for cleaning or maintenance. 

Photo: alphakogyo.,Ltd | PeakJapan

Spanning 7.87” overall, the Higonokami Slim Type Silver Sheathed Knife features a 3.14” Sujihiki-style blade while the Wide Type Silver Sheathed Knife measures 8.66” overall and packs a 3.54” Bunka blade. Both knives feature handcrafted layered blade steels that utilize Japanese VG10 steel as their base. What’s more, the two new models are also being released alongside a new replica version of the original Higonokami that’s been forged and handcrafted using the same techniques that have been passed down since the Meiji Era.

Photo: alphakogyo.,Ltd | PeakJapan

The Higonokami Slim Type Silver Sheathed Knife and the Higonokam Wide Type Silver Sheathed Knife are both currently available for backing and preorder on Kickstarter, with prices starting at around $79 and deliveries scheduled to begin in August of 2023.