Hori hori gardening knife

Contents

Hori Hori knife: my favorite landscaping tool

Welcome back to Tool School! This week on Episode 3 I want to focus on my favourite landscaping tool- the Hori Hori knife.

What is a Hori Hori knife?

If you are thinking, what in the world is a Hori Hori knife, you are not alone. Just a few years back, I was in that exact same boat. Then, I am sitting there talking about the Hori Hori knife with my Dad and suddenly he gets up and wanders into his shop. A few minutes later he comes back with one in his hand! Long story short, it turns out that one day he had a large load of mulch delivered, and as my mom and him were wheelbarrowing it to the backyard, he came across this Hori Hori knife in the pile. He pulled out, cleaned it up with some steel wool and the rest is history. Fast forward a few years and it is now my favourite landscaping tool hands down!

So what exactly is a Hori Hori knife. The best way to describe it is as a pocket knife, crossed with a serrated knife, and then crossed again with a humble garden trowel. They come in a few different shapes and sizes, but overall they all look very similar. The have a serrated edge down one side, a sharp knife edge on the other, and a small curve similar to a hand trowel.

How do you use a Hori Hori knife?

I think this is one of the best parts about this particular tool- they can be used in so many different ways!

Planting

I am going to assume that every single gardener out there has used a trowel at some point when they were planting flowers, seeds, or bulbs. You may have even used one with gradations stamped into the steel. But sometimes a trowel moves too much dirt, or digs too big of a hole. This is the first place I swapped in my Hori Hori knife. Mine doesn’t have any gradations on it, but neither did my trowel. I find it makes the perfect hole size for planting annuals. It is also great for creating long trenches when planting your vegetable seeds. I even use mine as a mini shovel when filling small pots for starting seeds indoors.

Weeding

There simply is no better tool for weeding, period. Ever try and dig out a dandelion weed with a trowel, just to wind up creating a giant crater…well not anymore. Because the Hori Hori knife is sharp, you are able to slide it straight down along a tap root, loosening the soil along the way. Then it’s easy to pry with a little pressure and pull the complete weed out, root and all. You may say, well I have a stand up weeder! But who wants a tool that can only do 1 thing…and not really that well.

Dead heading

Job #3 the Hori Hori knife can tackle. Leave the snips in the shed, because the hori hori knife can deadhead too! Whether you need the serrated side or the sharp knife side, both dead head flowers with ease!

Pruning

Again, you can use the serrated or straight side for pruning shrubs or flowers. I think by now you are starting to get my point. The Hori Hori knife is an incredibly versatile tool.

What to look for in a Hori Hori knife?

A Hori Hori knife will range from 11 to 15 inches long including handle, with the average sized blade typically around 7 inches long by 2 inches wide.

2. The blade

The quality of steel used to craft the blade is the difference between mediocre and great Hori Hori knives. Some people will say the best blades are made from high quality stainless steel so it won’t rust over time, which is true. However, my Hori Hori knife is constructed with carbon steel and I am completely happy with it. There is one caveat to using carbon steel- it will lose its edge much faster than a stainless steel blade and therefore require more frequent sharpening. In addition, I take steel wool to mine once a year to clean off any surface rust.

As discussed above, the blade should have a serrated side on one side and a sharp knife edge on the other.

The blade should be concave in shape to allow for digging, planting, weeding, etc.

Lastly, the blade should end in a sharp point. This makes the Hori Hori knife much easier to pierce into hard soil, clay, or even just dry dirt.

3. The handle

Your Hori Hori knife should have a wooden handle that is riveted to the tang of the knife. This means the blade will run all the way up between the two pieces of wood that make up the Hori Hori knife handle. A good wood handle when taken care of will last forever.

Avoid buying cheaper models that have plastic or even resin handles as these will dry out and crack over time.

4. The sheath

Like any good knife, it should come with a sheath. This is just as much a place for you to store your tool, as it is to protect you (and others) from it’s sharp edges.

The best sheaths are made from high quality natural leathers with a slot that allows you to secure it to your tool belt.

What is the best Hori Hori knife?

This is rather subjective and all depends on the fit and comfort in the users hands. Too heavy and you will wind up leaving it on the shelf, weak steel and it will bend or break, and too small a handle won’t fit in your hand. However, I will give you what I consider to be the 3 best purchases at this moment in time.

Since the Hori Hori knife originated in Japan, many still believe the best quality knives are manufactured there. No matter where your tool is manufactured, make sure it uses quality materials. Like anything else, you get what you pay for.

So with that, lets get into what I think are 3 of the best deals on the web!

1. Nisaku Japanese Hori Hori knife

The Nisaku Hori Hori knife is constructed with Japanese stainless steel and measures 7.25″ long. The handle measures 5.25″ long, giving a total length of 12.5″.

It is lightweight, weighing in at 6.4 ounces.

The Nisaku Hori Hori knife boasts both straight and serrated edges making it ideal for dividing plants, planting bulbs, flowers, and herbs, digging out weeds, cutting through roots, and more. The fully wooden handle allows for a good grip and ensures you push into the soil with more control.

This knife also comes with a leather sheath.

2. Hori Hori knife from Truly Garden (with sharpening rod)

The Hori Hori knife from Truly Garden features a 7″ blade made from 420 stainless steel.

It also has a serrated and straight edge leading to a sharp point. The serrated edge on this Hori Hori knife consists of more teeth that are closer together compared to the Nisaku.

Once again it is built with a full tang surrounded by two pieces of solid wood and mounted with 3 rivets for added strength.

The Truly Garden knife also comes with a finger guard to protect your fingers during work.

The bonus of this Hori Hori knife is in the extras- it comes with a diamond sharpening rod.

The downside is it comes in slightly heavier at 9.4 ounces.

3. Cielcera Hori Hori knife

The Cielcera Hori Hori knife is a masterpiece. Similar in design to the Truly Garden, it features a 7″ blade made with 420 stainless steel and a 5″ handle length. It also includes a finger guard to protect yourself when working.

A full tang blade is surrounded by two pieces of Wenge hardwood, with 3 rivets for added strength.

Lastly, the blade has measurements in both millimeters and inches making it easy to measure and track depth when planting vegetable seeds or flower bulbs.

Final thoughts

The Hori Hori knife can be used to accomplish many tasks around the garden or yard. It isn’t always going to be the best tool for the job, but once you own one you will find you don’t head into the garden without it.

If you use your Hori Hori knife for anything else, drop us a comment below!

Or if you have any other garden tools you couldn’t live without, be sure to share them as well!

You might also enjoy:

Tool School Episode 1: Must have tools for DIYers

Tool School Episode 2: 25 Must have tools for homeowners

10 Reasons to Love the Hori Hori

Allow me to introduce you to my favorite gardening tool. There are no moving parts. It’s just a blade and a handle. A decidedly manual tool — this thing doesn’t work unless you work it.

That basic simplicity is the whole point. This thing does it all. Ok… It won’t scare off the deer or water the seedlings, but it does help with weeding and transplanting and stump removal and …

It wouldn’t be exaggerating at all to say I use it nearly every time I work in the garden.

We Americans might call it a soil knife, but its real name — hori hori — comes from the Japanese word “hori,” which means “to dig.” I’m not sure of its exact history, but some accounts claim it was an early tool used by farmers in Japan while others suggest it was used by bonsai enthusiasts to harvest small trees from mountainsides. I’ve even read some claims that the tool’s weapon-like appearance is not accidental, and that it doubled as a self-defense tool for farmers while working their fields. Based on the multi-functionality of this simple tool, I have no trouble believing that all of these accounts are true.

My favorite model is simple and sturdy, with a wood handle and a stainless steel blade: Japanese hori hori. It’s light weight and super tough — I’ve abused mine for several years now, and it’s still going strong.

Other options include a plastic-handled version by Fiskars , and a model with a carbon steel blade.

I’m partial to the wood-handled version, but I’m old school like that. Go with what you think will fit your habits the best.

Once you have your hori hori, it’s time to put it to work!

Ten ways to use your hori hori:

Slicing little weeds. Just slide the flat edge of the blade along or just below the soil’s surface, and it’ll slice right through the tender stems and roots of young weeds. This motion quickly becomes second nature — I do this every time I set out a seedling without even thinking about it.

Chopping big weeds. Like a mini machete, this tool will hack right through the thick-but-tender stems of many taller weeds, including thistles, poke weed, and more.

Digging out tap roots. Got a deep-rooted weed problem? Here’s your answer. I will slide my hori hori into the soil just adjacent to the weed I’m removing. Then, I lean the handle away from the weed — which pushes the blade toward the weed’s deep-reaching root — while giving a gentle tug on the offending weed. Often this will pop out the root. If not, just try again at a few more spots around the plant. Even if you don’t get the entire root, you’ll often remove enough to eliminate that particular weed.

Planting seeds. The tip of the blade is excellent for drawing out long straight rows for planting greens, carrots, peas, and more. For bigger seeds, just use the tip to carve out a small planting hole. Plant your seeds and use the blade to pull soil back over them. Done.

Setting out garlic, onions, leeks, and small-potted seedlings. Simplest thing in the world. Just jab your blade straight into the soil, give it a little wiggle to loosen things up, and then pull it toward you (keeping it at the same depth). You will have created a small hole about 4-6 inches deep. Just drop in your garlic clove / onion set / onion / leek / seedling. Then pull your hori hori straight up and the soil will mostly fall right back into its hole. Give it a little help with your hands if necessary.

Transplanting larger seedlings. Most gardeners grab a trowel for this chore, but a hori hori will make quicker work of things. Simply jab your blade into the ground in several places around where you’ll be planting your seedling. Wiggle it around and lean back on it so that the blade is pushed forward and upward. This quickly loosens a volume of dirt. Just pull that out by hand — using your hori hori as a scoop if desired — and you’ve got a nice hole for your larger seedlings, such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. This is the technique I use in the video in this post: How to Plant a Seedling.

Harvesting root crops. Some root crops are best harvested with a digging fork, but that can be overkill if you only want to harvest a couple beets, onions, or heads of garlic. This works much the same way as planting a seedling, but in reverse. Jab your hori hori into the soil near your plant — close, but not so close that you will spear the root. Wiggle it around a bit and lean the handle back so that the blade will lift up and toward the root, all while pulling gently on the plant. If your soil is super-loose, you may only need to do this once. Most of us will need to jab and wiggle in a few places for each root. With a little practice, you can quickly harvest a bunch of root crops with minimal damage using this technique.

Marking rows. Need something to anchor a string so you can mark out a straight row for your seedlings or beds? Just jab your soil knife into the ground at one end of the row, loop a string around it, and walk to the other end. Pull it tight, and you’ve go yourself a straight line.

Loosening soil. If you’re loosening a lot of soil — say a whole garden bed’s worth — you will want to use a good digging fork. But, if you’re working in a smaller area, perhaps even a larger planter, your hori hori is the perfect tool. With a few jabs and wiggles, you will have loosened compact soil, opening up space for air and water and roots.

Removing stumps and roots. There’s nothing fun about digging out the stumps of old shrubs, or dealing with a big root where you want to dig. The hori hori obviously can’t handle this job on its own, but it can help a lot. Through way too much trial and error, I’ve learned the easiest way to remove big roots with hand tools is to use a little finesse. When you hit a root that’s too big to slice with your shovel, that’s when you want to reach for the hori hori. Use the tool’s blade to pull dirt away from the offending root until you’ve created a space around the entire root. Then, grab your limb trimmers or a pruning saw, and attack that root. The soil knife doesn’t remove the root for you, but it helps prep the work space so that you can get at the root with your pruning tools. This can be tedious, but it does work.

* * *

And that’s it. Now you’ve met my favorite gardening tool! Do you also use a hori hori or soil knife in your garden? .

The 5 Toughest & Best Hori Hori Knives Available Online

The Japanese Hori Hori digging tool is known by some as the ‘ultimate gardening tool’.

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WHILE ORIGINALLY DESIGNED to help collect bonsai trees from the mountainsides of Japan, you can use it for everything from digging up weeds in your garden to planting flowers and bulbs. The sharp edge will even cut open bags of fertilizer or lengths of string.

You can cut through small roots or branches, and free plants from pots with ease. With his versatility, the Japanese digging knife can be used to replace a host of standard garden tools, including pruners, trowels, weed extractors, and small saws.

With so many different versions of the Hori Hori on the market, finding the right one can be challenging. Here we take a look at what makes the best Hori Hori knife available.

Before You Buy Your Next Hori Hori Knife

The Basics of a Good Hori Hori Knife Video

Whether you have owned a Hori Hori knife before or this is your first time buying one, there are certain things you should know and what you should be looking for.

Like most things the more you know, the less likely you are to end up wasting your money on a tool that is not going to get the job done.

The 4 Most Important Parts of a Hori Hori Knife

– What to Look For When You’re Shopping Around

Image: Secret Garden

1. Size

The size of the Hori Hori ranges from approximately 11 to 15 inches including the handle. While the actual size of the blade may vary to a certain degree, the average is around just under 7 inches long by 2 inches wide.

You may need to try several different styles and brands to find one that fits your hand comfortably and that is the perfect size to handle the work you have in mind.

Image: Secret Garden

2. The Blade

The quality of the steel used to craft the blade is the difference between good and not so good Hori Hori knives. The best blades are made from high-quality stainless steel that won’t rust over the course of time. Sadly, many of the cheaper models use inferior quality steel that soon rusts and loses its edge.

The blade should have two different edges. On one side should be a smooth razor sharp knife edge. On the other, there should be a razor-sharp serrated edge that looks a little like a saw blade.

Both sides of the blade should be marked with lines that indicate inches and centimeters. These markings are used to help you gauge depth to help you when you are planting.

The blade should also be concave in shape to make digging, planting, and prying much easier. Because of the super-sharp edge, you can also use the Japanese digging tool for a small hand ax. However, you should always be aware that the edge is extremely sharp and when handled carelessly can cause serious injury.

Finally, the blade should end in a sharp point. This sharp point will make it much easier for you to pierce through hard soil or sod. The serrated edge can be used to cut through small roots, and concave shape makes it easy for you to dig out weeds with a flick of your wrist.

3. The Handle

A top-quality Hori Hori knife should come with a wooden handle that is riveted to the haft of the knife. A good hardwood or bamboo handle will not only provide you with a non-slip grip but will last practically forever.

You may also find a number of quality knives that feature a resin handle that may or may not be riveted in place. However, many the cheaper models come with plastic handles that will soon crack, break, or fall apart with steady use.

4. The Sheath

Like any good knife, any Japanese digging tool you buy should come with a sturdy sheath. The idea behind this is not only to provide you with a place to store your knife but also to protect you and others from the sharp edges.

The best sheaths are made from thick natural leather and come with slots that can be used to secure the sheath to your tool belt. Beware of cheap “pleather” or plastic sheaths as they will not last or protect your knife.

Safety with Your Hori Hori Knife

I can’t stress how important it is for you to become familiar with your Japanese digging knife, given the fact it has to very sharp edges. One thing many people worry about with this type of knife is the fact that they don’t have a bolster (finger guard).

This is where buying a knife with a good quality wood handle comes in as wood doesn’t tend to become as slippery when wet as resin or plastic handles do. However, if you are not comfortable with using a sharp knife without a bolster, you may want to consider investing in a top-quality pair of leather gardening gloves.

How Long Should My Hori Hori Last?

Image: Secret Garden

There is no set answer to this question as it all depends on the quality of the materials used in its construction. You can expect the best Hori Hori knife to last for at least 10 years or more.

Care is another important factor in how long you can expect your knife to last. Even the best will succumb to mother nature if you leave them out in the rain or don’t take good care of them.

You should wash your knife off after each time you use it and allow it to dry. If you bought a knife with a natural hardwood handle, you can extend the life of the handle by occasionally rubbing it down with a small amount of linseed oil and wiping it off with a rag.

You should also sharpen the blades at the beginning of each spring/summer. Not only does a sharp edge ensure the Hori Hori will cut through sod and dirt more easily, but at the same time, it will help reduce your risk of getting hurt while using it.

Where Is the Best Hori Hori Knife Made?

Like any other product, this question if very much open to debate. However, since the Hori Hori is originally from Japan, most people still believe the best models are made in Japan.

The finest quality knives are made with high-grade Japanese stainless steel to ensure they will provide you with many years or faithful service.

Most buyers will tell you to avoid those that are made in China as they tend to use inferior low-grade stainless steel or more commonly, carbon steel that will quickly lose its edge and rust.

Again, no matter where your digging tool comes from, you are going to get what you pay for as the more you pay the better the quality of the materials used in its manufacture are likely to be.

Take a Look at How the Hori Hori Can Be Used

A good video at the different uses of a Hori Hori knife, and some of the other tools it can replace:

5 Top Rated Japanese Hori Hori Knives

Now that you know more about the Japanese Hori Hori knife, including what to look for and how to use it, let’s take a quick look at 5 of the top rated Hori Hori knives currently on the market.

Nisaku Japanese Hori Hori Garden Landscaping Digging Tool

Japanese Stainless Steel at its Best

This Hori Hori knife comes straight from Japan and is the perfect gardening, metal detecting, fishing, and hunting tool. It comes with a black vinyl sheath complete with belt loop. I can hear you saying ‘vinyl wont last’. But over at goodoak.com they say that

“if (the NISAKU knife is) stored with the curved side of the blade in, they’ve lasted us for years. Its typically the belt loop snap that rusts off before anything else.”

The blade is made from high quality Japanese stainless steel and measures 6 1/2-inches long. The entire length, including handle, is 11 3/4-inches. This lightweight tool (5.6 ounces) is ideal for digging weeds or planting bulbs, flower, shrubs. It features a razor-sharp knife edge on both sides of the blade, one side being serrated.

Pros Cons
High-quality stainless steel blade No crossguard to protect your hand
Thick blade does not bend when digging Sheath is vinyl instead of leather

Sun Joe Hori-Hori Garden Tool

Offers Both a Standard Knife-Edge and a Serrated Edge

This Hori Hori knife is literally the virtual “Swiss Army” knife of the gardening world. You will find it has thousands of uses all around your house and garden.

It can handle everything from weeding and digging to sawing, cutting, and chopping. You can use it to plan bulbs, sculpt bonsai trees, cut small branches and roots, and many other tasks.

It features a wood handle and heavy-duty steel blade that is concave in shape. The blade has a convenient ruler etched into it that will help ensure you are planting at the right depths.

Pros Cons
Thick strong blade won’t bend or break Carbon steel may rust over time
Concave shape makes digging easy Blade is not super sharp
Durable solid wood handle Sheath is poor quality

Hori Hori Garden Knife with Free Diamond Sharpening Rod

This Knife Comes in a Gift Box and Makes a Great Surprise for Any Avid Gardener

If you are looking for the ultimate all-in-one gardening tool, this great knife from Truly Garden may be just what you are looking for. It features a 7-inch blade manufactured from 420 stainless steel that ensures it will never rust.

The blade itself is extremely sharp and comes with both standard and metric markings. The wood handle is strongly secured in place with three rivets and covers a full-length tang for extra strength.

Unlike many others in this price range, this knife comes with a heavy-duty leather sheath that will protect it for many years to come. You can use the included diamond rod to keep the blade sharp and make using it even easier.

Pros Cons
Top quality 420 stainless steel blade Metal tang protrudes from handle
Heavy-duty leather sheath Rivets not set flush in handle
Extremely sharp blade Sharp edges of tang can cut handle

Cielcera Hori Hori Garden Knife

Stainless Steel Blade, Leather Sheath, Everything You Need

One of the most endearing parts of this Hori Hori knife is that it features a crossguard that will keep your hand from slipping down onto the blade and cutting yourself. The 7-inch blade features a full tang and is made from top-quality highly polished 420 stainless steel.

It features one very sharp cutting edge and one serrated edge for cutting small branches and roots. It comes with a leather sheath that can be hung from your belts.

The whole set comes in a convenient gift box so you can keep one for yourself and give one to your gardening friend.

Pros Cons
420 polished stainless steel won’t rust Does not come with a sharpening stone
Holds its edge well Handle is smaller than tang on some models
Full blade tang helps give the knife good balance Strap for attaching to belt is thin

Fiskars Big Grip Garden Knife

Made as Only Fiskars Can Make a Knife

Fiskars has a very good reputation for making knives, scissors, and garden knives. This is their version of the Hori Hori and may be one of the better ones on the market.

It is perfect for a wide range of gardening tasks and comes with an oversized padded handle that provides you with a comfortable non-slip grip.

Having one sharp knife edge and one serrated edge makes digging into the ground easily and the twin points at the tip make transplanting a breeze. The handle has a built-in hanging hole for easy storage.

Pros Cons
Oversized handle for extra grip and comfort Blade is only coated and may rust
Notched tip helps remove weeds more easily Blade is thin and tends to break
Hang hole for easy storage Blade is welded to the handle and breaks off

Other Options

In truth, there really isn’t any other tool on the market that can come close to the Japanese Hori Hori. But there are of course other types of garden knives that might fit your needs if you don’t need a heavy-duty digging knife. Here is one that I found you might be interested in:

Fiskars Softouch Weeder

Perfect for Removing Annoying Weeds

If all you need is something to help you keep the weeds cut down, this simple tool might just be what you are looking for. It features an oversized Softgrip® handle that helps to improve control and reduce wrist and hand fatigue.

The curved head features forked tines that make removing weeds a cinch. The cast aluminum head will not rust or corrode. It is perfect for removing weeds, thistles, dandelions, and many other intrusive plants.

Pros Cons
Oversized comfortable grip Does not have a sharp knife edge
Aluminum head won’t rust Does not have a serrated edge
Curved head makes removing weeds easy Aluminum head not as strong as steel

Final Thoughts

So now we have looked at what the Japanese Hori Hori garden knife is all about, what it is used for, and how it is used. We have also looked at five of the toughest models on the market.

For myself, I have the Nisaku version as I really like the Japanese steel. Although it does not have a crossguard, I have never found this to be a problem.

This is one tool you will simply fall in love with and never want to part with, so be sure you buy the best quality one you can find.

If you have enjoyed reading about the different Japanese Hori Hori knives, please let me know.

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Thank you for reading this.

A Hori-Hori knife is an essential multipurpose gardening tool. Whatever type of gardening tasks you need to do like digging, weeding, potting, or landscaping tasks, the Hori-Hori knife is the tool of choice for any gardening enthusiast.

Our Top Pick for The Best Hori-Hori Knife

Our top pick for the best Hori-Hori knife is the Truly Garden Hori-Hori Garden Knife. If gardening is your passion, the Truly Garden Hori-Hori Garden Knife is the only tool you will ever need to keep your gardening looking fabulous. Featuring a superb design, a razor sharp blade and an exquisitely carved Beechwood handle, the premium professional style Hori-Hori knife is destined to take pride of place among your gardening tools. The Truly Garden Hori-Hori knife comes with a genuine leather sheath so it will make an excellent gift for family and friends who also love their gardens.

Check the price on Amazon

The Hori-Hori Knife: The Ultimate Gardening Tool

If you love to garden or your patio is adorned with all sorts of flowers and herbs in pots, a Hori-Hori knife is one of those gardening tools that you just cannot do without. This fantastic tool was first designed in Japan to transplant and trim Bonsai trees and create spectacular Japanese gardens and was even used by Japanese farmers as a weapon for self-defense, but this ultimate gardening tool can also be used for hunting, camping, hiking, fishing-related tasks and so much more:

  • Digging and loosening soil
  • Removing stones and rocks
  • Weeding
  • Pruning
  • Cutting and removing roots
  • Cutting through slim tree branches
  • Transplanting seedlings and bulbs
  • Removing Bonsai plants from pots
  • Marking rows
  • Cutting open fertilizer bags
  • Cutting firewood
  • Cutting twine
  • Opening cans
  • Gutting fish or animals
  • Metal detecting and prospecting for gold.
  • Working on an archaeological dig

How to Choose the Best Hori-Hori Garden Knife

To be able to choose the right Hori-Hori gardening knife, here are things to look for:

Blade

The secret to the Hori-Hori knife’s success lies in its specially designed blade.

The blade features a concave (slightly rounded) design that allows it to function like a trowel to scoop out soil from a flower bed or a pot and the extra sharp spear point or tip is ideal for digging into hard, compacted soil. Like bread knives or Swiss Army knives, the blade should be solid and strong and made from durable thick metal like stainless steel, which is highly resistant to rust and corrosion, which makes it a very good material for outdoor use.

Size

The overall size of a Hori-Hori knife is usually about 12-inches long and the length of the blade ranges between 6.5-inches and 7.5-inches. The longer the blade, the deeper it can penetrate down into the soil.

Sharp Blade

A Hori-Hori blade should also be razor sharp so that it can be used for a wide range of heavy-duty gardening tasks like cutting and turning over and removing sharp stones and rocks. Some manufacturers like the Truly Garden Hori-Hori knife put their knives through a special pre-sharpening process and they also include a diamond rod to maintain the blades sharpness over the long term.

The Secret Garden Japanese Hori-Hori Knife comes with a whetstone, a solid stone that is specially designed for knife sharpening.

Serrated Edge

The blade has a straight edge and a serrated edge. The serrated edge is the most important part of the Hori-Hori knife as these individual serrations act as a saw to help you to cut through hard roots, slim tree branches, rope, fertilizer and feed bags.

Full Tang

The blade should also have full tang which means the blade and handle is one solid piece, with the blade extending through the knife’s handle. This will increase the overall strength and reliability of the knife and make sure that the blade will not snap off when you are digging into the hard soil or cutting through tough root systems.

Graduation or Measurement Marks

The extra special feature of a Hori-Hori knife is the graduation or measurement marks that are engraved onto the blade. These very handy marks allow you to accurately measure out soil or fertilizer and ensure that seedlings or bulbs are planted to the right depth so that they can take root and thrive in the soil. The graduation or measurements marks should be easy to read, and depending on the manufacturer, they will be displayed either in Imperial (inches) and Metric (millimeters) or have both measurement systems.

Handle

As well as the blade, the Hori-Hori knife’s handle is extremely important. It protects you from cutting your hand while you work in the garden and it should allow you to maintain a good secure grip in challenging soil and garden conditions. The handle needs to be strong and securely riveted to the knife so that it does not snap off in the middle of your chores.

Most handles are made out of wood, like the Garden Guru Lawn and Garden Tools Ultimate Hori-Hori Gardening Knife which has a beautiful Rosewood handle, or the Truly Garden Hori-Hori Knife that has a solid Beechwood handle which is securely riveted onto the blade with 3 rivets. The ideal handle should also be comfortable to hold and the rivets should be flush or set smoothly on the handle’s material.

Although wooden handles are strong, plastic handles are a good choice too. Plastic is durable and easier to keep clean, which means this type of material is just right for working in the outdoors.

Plastic handles are textured and have a non-slip finish handle, like Sensei Tools Hori-Hori Digging Knife, which features a more ergonomic design and is very comfortable to hold. Choosing wood or plastic comes down to a personal choice and both are well suited for gardening.

Sheath

A sheath or carrying case protects the knife when it is not being used, and if you need to store it in your backpack or camping gear, it protects you from being injured by the sharp blade. Sheaths come in different materials like premium genuine bonded leather, vinyl or nylon. Vinyl or nylon is the lighter choice especially if the sheath has a belt loop to keep the knife close for quick and easy access, but a leather sheath is highly durable and it looks attractive as well. Hori-Hori knives that come with a genuine leather sheath, like the Truly Garden Hori-Hori Garden Knife, will make an excellent gift for the other gardening enthusiasts in your life.

Best Hori-Hori Knife Reviews

1. Truly Garden Hori-Hori 7-inch Garden Knife

If you are a gardening enthusiast, the Truly Garden Hori-Hori Knife is a multi-purpose knife that can be used for almost any type of gardening task: from digging, weeding, pruning, transplanting, harvesting, planting bulbs, cutting, grafting and even measuring out soil and other plant-related materials

The knife features a curved 7-inch blade which has undergone a special pre-sharpened process and it has razor sharp serrations on one side and a flat edge on the other side, which makes this knife just right for digging into all types of soil and cutting through tough material. Built to last, the high-quality strong and durable rust and corrosion resistant 420-grade stainless steel blade have a full-length tang that extends through the handle, which adds to the knife’s overall strength.

The blade has large easy to read markings and graduations in both inches and millimeters, which helps you to effectively measure out soil when replanting your favorite seedlings or cuttings at the correct depth.

To give you a good solid grip and to give the knife added strength for the toughest gardening and landscaping tasks, the beautiful polished smooth Beech hardwood handle, which is made from wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as being sustainably harvested, is riveted securely with 3 rivets onto the blade. For extra safety, while you are trimming your garden into perfection, the metal safety guard will protect your hand from any injuries.

To help protect the quality of the knife and its steel blade for long-term use, the Hori-Hori knife comes with a thick heavy-duty attractive looking premium quality genuine bonded leather sheath, complete with brass snaps.

The Truly Garden Hori-Hori knife also comes with a diamond rod that is either green or blue, which help keep both flat and serrated edges constantly sharp and always ready for use, and can also be used to sharpen your kitchen knives.

As well as getting the Truly Garden Hori-Hori knife for yourself, why not give one to family or friends as a birthday or Christmas gift?

The Truly Garden Hori-Hori knife is covered by a 5-year warranty, and to register for warranty protection, you need to fill out the form on the Truly Garden website.

Pros

  • Excellent quality
  • Versatile professional style Hori-Hori knife
  • Ideal for digging, weeding, pruning, transplanting, harvesting, cutting and measuring
  • Can be used for camping and hiking
  • Made of high-quality stainless steel
  • Rust and corrosion resistant
  • Strong and sturdy 7-inch blade
  • Pre-sharpened serrated and flat edges
  • Blade has large easy to read Imperial and Metric measurements
  • Full tang for extra strength
  • Beautiful polished smooth beech hardwood handle
  • Durable quality premium genuine bonded leather sheath
  • Free green or blue diamond sharpening rod
  • Great gift idea
  • 5-year warranty

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Rivets are not very flush or smooth in handle

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2. Nisaku NJP650 7.25-inch Hori-Hori Tomita Weeding Knife

Whether you are a professional landscaper or a home-based gardening enthusiast, you need to have professional quality hand tools for the job. The Nisaku Hori-Hori Tomita Weeding knife is a solid, well-made knife that is perfect for all sorts of gardening tasks from digging, cutting, weeding, transplanting and any other tasks you need to do. It is also the ideal tool for camping when you need to dig a hole for a fire or setting up a tent.

The Nisaku Hori-Hori knife is forged by master blade craftsmen from the finest Japanese stainless steel that is famous for durability, precision, and control, and it has high rust and corrosion resistant abilities, so it can withstand intense use and harsh conditions.

The extra long super sharp 7.25-inch blade has a good depth for digging and its serrated edge and straight edge gives you a lot of versatility for different gardening tasks. If you need to dig through hard soil, cut through thick plant stems, or scoop up soil for replanting, the blade also features a concave blade design with a good sized width.

For extra control for all day digging, the knife has a comfortable well-balanced 5.25-inch wooden handle that allows you to maintain a good, solid grip and helps you to push and dig the knife into the compacted soil. To accurately measure out soil and to ensure your plants and bulbs are planted at just the right depth, there are easy to read Imperial and Metric markings on the blade.

The knife also comes with a leather sheath for easy storage. To keep the knife ready for quick access, there is a hole in the end of the handle so you can hang it up in your gardening shed.

Pros

  • Multi-purpose garden knife
  • Perfect for gardening, landscaping, and camping
  • Made from Japanese hand-forged stainless steel
  • Strong and durable blade
  • Super sharp extra long 7.25-inch knife
  • Serrated and straight edge
  • Large easy to read Imperial and Metric measurements on the blade
  • Wide concave blade is ideal for scooping up soil
  • Strong, well-balanced wooden handle gives good control
  • Quality leather sheath
  • Stainless and resistant to rusting
  • Hole in the handle for easy storage

Cons

  • Not very durable wooden handle
  • Small serrations

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3. Secret Garden Japanese 6.5-Inch Hori-Hori Knife

If your garden resembles a jungle with lots of weeds that are obstructing your beautiful foliage, the Secret Garden Japanese Hori-Hori knife is the tool for you. The Secret Garden Hori-Hori knife features a sleek and modern design and with a strong 6.5-inch blade, it is an excellent gardening tool for all sorts of outdoor tasks. Its extra sharp point is just right for removing stubborn weeds from the cracks in the pavement or between pavers, and the ergonomic wooden handle allows you to get a good, comfortable grip.

The knife does not compromise on quality and its durable stainless steel blade is thick and can withstand a lot of pressure for digging and planting in tough soil, and as it is rust and corrosion resistant, its serrated edge can also be used for cutting and slicing through hard materials like branches or wood. It is also ideal for transplanting seedlings, removing bonsai plants from pots and transplanting seedlings and bulbs to the correct soil depth as the blade has easy to read measurement graduations in both millimeters and inches.

One of the highlights of this very affordable Hori-Hori knife is that it can be used in place of a Swiss army knife, which makes it an excellent tool for camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, to cut small tree limbs for firewood at the campsite or opening cans, gutting fish, or even prospecting for gold.

To keep your Hori-Hori knife super sharp, Secret Garden includes a whetstone and the heavy duty smart looking black vinyl plastic sheath will keep your knife in great condition and it has a belt loop to keep the knife close for easy access. The Secret Garden also offers a lifetime guarantee on their amazing Hori-Hori knife.

Pros

  • High-quality
  • Multi-purpose knife
  • Very affordable price
  • Ideal for gardening, camping, hunting, fishing and gold prospecting
  • Strong stainless steel with an extra sharp point
  • Durable construction
  • Rust and corrosion resistant blade
  • Full Tang
  • Ergonomic wooden handle
  • Rust resistant
  • Thick and durable blade
  • Good width
  • Easy to read measurement graduations in Imperial and Metric
  • Bonus whetstone for sharpening
  • Heavy-duty smart looking black vinyl carrying case
  • Belt loop
  • Lifetime guarantee

Cons

  • Not overly sharp
  • Rivets are not flush in the handle
  • Shorter blade

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4. Sensei Tools Hori-Hori 7.5-Inch Digging Knife

Harness the power of your inner Japanese garden warrior with the Sensei Tools Classic Hori-Hori Digging Knife. Whatever type of gardening tasks you need to complete, the Sensei Hori-Hori knife is up to the challenge.

This highly multi-functional knife features a traditional Japanese design and not only serves as a powerful cutting too, but you can also use it as a trowel for digging and dividing and transplanting seedlings and bulbs. It is an excellent tool that is perfect for other outdoor activities like hunting, fishing and even working on an archaeological site.

The Sensei blade has an attractive mirror polished sheen and as it is a little longer than other digging knives at 7.5-inches, it gives you that extra depth and purchase when digging, and its special concave (slightly rounded) shape makes it perfect for scooping soil and plants, and the blade is slightly offset to give extra leverage in difficult garden conditions.

As well as being an exceptional gardening tool, the Sensei is the ideal knife to take with you when you go hiking or camping as it has a strong carbon steel blade that is chrome plated, while the serrated and straight edge is extra sharp and will easily cut and saw through tough plant roots and small tree limbs.

To make sure that soil depth measurements are correct, the blade has a depth scale in Imperial measurements, which is especially useful when planting bulbs or seedlings.

The Sensei is of the easiest knives to use, for both men and women, as the handle is specially contoured and has an improved texture grip design that improves the comfort and grip of the knife.

The knife comes with a black mock-leather sheath (with belt loop) for the Hori-Hori knife for added protection and also comes with a 100% 90-day money back guarantee.

Pros

  • Solid, reliable gardening Hori-Hori knife
  • Great quality
  • All-purpose heavy-duty knife
  • Can be used as a cutting tool and as a trowel
  • Ideal for gardening, hiking, and camping
  • Improved textured grip design
  • Extra long 7.5-inch blade
  • Strong carbon steel chrome plated blade
  • Attractive mirror polished blade
  • Extra sharp straight and serrated edge
  • Blade is slightly offset to give extra leverage
  • Special concave (slightly rounded) shape
  • Easy to read measurements on the blade
  • Sturdy and comfortable plastic handle
  • Black mock-leather sheath (with belt loop)
  • 100% 90-day money back guarantee

Cons

  • Plastic handle has a rubbery feel
  • Sheath is not genuine leather
  • Measurements are only displayed in inches

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5. Garden Guru Lawn and Garden Tools, 7-Inch Hori-Hori Knife

Ultimate by name and ultimate by nature, the Ultimate Gardening Hori-Hori Knife is the only tool you will need to maintain your garden. For weeding, digging, transplanting and pruning, this superb knife will help you to accomplish garden tasks quickly and efficiently.

If you are not a gardening guru, you soon will be with the Garden Guru Hori-Hori knife. The beautiful Japanese Style garden knife is the perfect addition to your gardening tool kit. It is a sturdy, solid and reliable gardening tool and its rust-resistant stainless steel full tang 7-inch blade are less likely to break under pressure and it is very easy to maintain and sharpen.

The concave blade is just right for digging and scooping up dirt and the sharp flat edge is perfect for cutting while the serrated edge can saw through tough roots and slim branches and fertilizer bags. The razor-sharp spear point can be used to turn over stones and uproot weeds. To make sure that your seedlings and bulbs are planted to the correct depth, the knife has millimeters and inches marks for accurate measuring results.

The tropical decay-resistant Rosewood handle is not only beautiful but comfortable as well and it allows you to maintain a strong grip. There is also a strong woven black nylon sheath that you can store your knife in and the sheath can be attached to a 2-inch wide belt.

The Garden Guru Hori-Hori knife will make an excellent all-purpose tool for camping, hiking, fish, hunting, gold prospecting or metal detecting and it is an essential item for your survival kit.

Garden Guru offers a lifetime warranty on their beautifully crafted Hori-Hori knife and a 100% money back guarantee.

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • High-quality
  • Rugged design
  • Ideal for gardening, camping, hiking, fish, hunting, gold prospecting or metal detecting
  • Strong stainless steel blade
  • Thick and durable blade
  • Razor sharp spear point
  • Rust resistant
  • Full Tang
  • Wide concave blade
  • Sharp serrated and flat edge
  • Extra large Imperial and Metric measurements
  • Beautiful decay-resistant Rosewood handle
  • Comfortable handle
  • Well balanced
  • Good quality black nylon sheath
  • 100% money back guarantee
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • No protection on the handle in case of any slippage

Check the price on Amazon

Our top pick for the best Hori-Hori knife is the Truly Garden Hori-Hori Garden Knife. If gardening is your passion, the Truly Garden Hori-Hori Garden Knife is the only tool you will ever need to keep your gardening looking fabulous. Featuring a superb design, a razor sharp blade and an exquisitely carved Beechwood handle, the premium professional style Hori-Hori knife is destined to take pride of place among your gardening tools. The Truly Garden Hori-Hori knife comes with a genuine leather sheath so it will make an excellent gift for family and friends who also love their gardens.

Check the price on Amazon

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Sometimes the simplest tools are the best. My favorite gardening tool of all time is the Hori-Hori Japanese gardening knife, or as I like to call it, the “MacGyver” of the garden. The Japanese named it “Hori” because “Hori” means “to dig” in Japanese. Some call it the mountain vegetable knife, which hearkens back to its early uses as a way to cultivate and care for veggies grown in their steep geography.

It’s safe to say that I use it almost every single time I go out in the garden. Which is why I needed to get one that was high-quality and would last a lifetime.

If you want a quick look at the best Japanese garden knives, here they are (in order). Read below for more information on each.

The Best Hori Hori Knife

In a hurry? Check out our top pick: Nisaku NJP650 Hori-Hori The #1 japanese gardening knife in the eyes of many gardeners, the Nisaku hori-hori is a quality knife that gets the job done without getting overly fancy.

Other Good Picks

Sale Hori Hori Garden Knife with Diamond Sharpening Rod, Thickest Leather Sheath and Extra Sharp Blade -… Packaged in an eco friendly compostable kraft paper box.; Not just a great Gardening Gift. Perfect for metal detecting, hunting, camping, and more. Attican Hori Hori Garden Knife, Ideal Gardening Digging Landscaping Weeding Tool, Stainless Steel… Stainless steel hori hori for gardening; Sharp and concave for cutting and digging; Multi-purpose Japanese garden knife

*We go in-depth on each of these tools below. But you can click the links above to check out pricing or read reviews from other customers on Amazon.

The Best Japanese Gardening Knives

1. Nisaku Japanese Hori-Hori Knife

Nisaku NJP650 Hori-Hori Weeding & Digging Knife, Authentic Tomita (Est. 1960) Japanese Stainless…

The Nisaku knife is the ‘standard’ hori hori knife design. Instead of three rivets on the handle, it only has two, which means that it’s more prone to pulling apart after months of use.

It does come with a sheath and loop, but the sheath is made of vinyl. It’s lightweight and a bit shorter than average. If you’re looking for a simple hori-hori knife that won’t break the bank, the Nisaku could be a good choice, but I’d pick one of the other options if given the chance.

The knife blade extends through the entire handle, meaning it is a “full tang” knife. In fact, every knife but the Nisaku is full tang.

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2. Truly Garden Hori-Hori Knife

Sale Hori Hori Garden Knife with Diamond Sharpening Rod, Thickest Leather Sheath and Extra Sharp Blade -…

  • Tool features extra sharp flat and serrated edges…
  • Comes with the thickest leather sheath to on the…
  • Packaged in an eco friendly compostable kraft…

If you want a knife with a lot of extras, go with the Truly Garden hori hori. It comes with a whetstone for sharpening and a leather sheath, making it the only knife in the list to provide a sharpening tool.

This is a fantastic choice if you want an all-in-one knife that will last a while and has everything you need to care for it properly as you use it.

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3. Black Iron Hori-Hori Knife

Attican Hori Hori Garden Knife, Ideal Gardening Digging Landscaping Weeding Tool, Stainless Steel…

  • Stainless steel hori hori for gardening
  • Sharp and concave for cutting and digging
  • Multi-purpose Japanese garden knife

The Black Iron hori hori is a solid choice for almost every gardener. It’s built with the classic wood handle and the blade is not offset. At 13.4″ long, it’s one of the longer ones out there which makes it great if you need extra leverage when transplanting or digging out some stubborn roots or debris.

Comes with a high-quality leather sheath, but no belt clip, so you will need to pick one of those up if you want this knife at your side in the garden. However, you can use the small button fastener if you need to attach it in a pinch.

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4. Sensei Hori-Hori Knife

Sale Sensei Tools Hori Digging Knife – 7.5 Inches, with Leather Sheath

The Sensei japanese garden knife is one of the few that has a polymer handle. This means it will last a lot longer and withstand the elements well, but you do pay extra for it (it’s about $10 more than most other knives on the market).

It’s slightly shorter than most other knives, at 12″ instead of the standard 13″. Like most knives, it also comes with a sheath, although it’s not leather. If you want a more modern take on the hori-hori knife, this one made by Sensei is a great choice.

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What Can Japanese Gardening Knifes Do?

The short answer is…almost everything. But let’s get into some of the special qualities that these hori hori knives possess that make them such a favorite in the garden:

Chop and Slice Weeds

Whether you have large or small weeds plaguing your garden, this knife can help you get rid of them. If you’re battling smaller, thinner weeds, then just slice straight through them by putting the flat side of the blade against the soil and sliding along the surface. It’s a simple and effective way to eradicate weeds before they grow into bigger problems.

If you have bigger weeds, you can use your hori hori knife as a small chopping tool. Because the stems of most decent-sized weeds are still soft, this hand tool can get the job done.

Make Row Markings

I’m a stickler for order, so I like to have the straightest rows possible. Sometimes I’ll stab my Japanese garden knife into the ground, tie a string around the handle, then pull it taut and mark my row. I like to use my longer, 13″ knife for this job to get it deep into the soil.

Seeding and Planting

To seed with your Japanese garden knife, just use the very tip of the blade to either draw a line along your rows or to make small indentations in the soil for larger seeds like radish or cilantro.

You can also use it to plant bulbs like garlic, onions, or even flowers. Stab the soil with the tip of your knife and shake it around to loosen up your soil. Hollow out a hole to the depth you need for your crop and plop in your bulb or seed. Keep the hori hori in the hole when you do this because as soon as you pull it out the soil will fall back into place.

Transplanting

While a trowel or your hands might be the more common tool to use for transplanting, there’s no reason a hori hori can’t do the job. Press your knife into the soil and give it a shake to loosen, then pull back on the handle and lift out the loosened soil. Add your transplants in and cover it back up. Voila!

Harvesting

If I’m clearing out a bed of radishes, onions, or any other root crops, I’ll often turn to my hori hori instead of a digging fork. All I do is press my knife into the soil at an angle, jiggle it around a bit and gently pull on my plant. In most cases, it will pop right now, but sometimes I need to hit it from another angle.

Removing Stubborn Roots

When clearing out a patch of soil that was once weed-infested or had shrubs or deep roots in it, I turn to the hori hori for a little finesse. If I can’t chop clean through the root with my shovel, then I will become a “root archaeologist” and dig out all of the soil around the root. Then I use my other gardening tools to destroy it!

What to Look For in a Japanese Gardening Knife

There are a lot of hori hori knives on the market from all different suppliers, so it can get a little confusing figuring out what to purchase. Here are the most important things to look for in your knife:

Handle

Most hori hori knives will have a wood handle, but you can get some with a polymer or plastic handle as well. I prefer wood because it feels better in my hand and is a natural material, but it can degrade quicker than the more durable plastics or polymers.

Length

The standard length for Japanese gardening knives is 13″ and I have found this to be the most useful length for me, though I do own a shorter one as well. You can always just use less of a long knife, but you can’t use more of a shorter one!

Blade

There are a few things to look out for here. The first is the design of the teeth on the serrated edge. you can get ones with a very mild serrated edge that will slide through light weeds, but not much else, or you can get ones with a quality serrated design that slice through weeds and roots like they’re nothing.

Second, be sure to purchase a knife that has a blade with a ruler. There’s nothing worse than not knowing exactly how deep in the soil you are, especially when transplanting or seeding.

Lastly, some blades are offset from the handle, which offers more leverage but can be slightly more awkward to use day to day.

Extras

Some knives are sold with leather sheaths, belt clips, whetstones, or other goodies. All other qualities being equal, I prefer to purchase a hori hori with a high-quality leather sheath and belt clip so I’m ready to get out in the garden the instant it’s delivered.

In a hurry? Check out our top pick: Nisaku NJP650 Hori-Hori The #1 japanese gardening knife in the eyes of many gardeners, the Nisaku hori-hori is a quality knife that gets the job done without getting overly fancy. The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:
Kevin Espiritu
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The Japanese Hori Hori Knife

Last Updated on July 23, 2019

In Summary: In this article, I took a look at the ten best Japanese Hori Hori Gardening knives and decided that the Truly Garden Hori Hori was the best out there. I chose this knife because:

  • The blade extends all the way into the handle, offering a full tang.
  • A guard protects the hands from contacting the blade.
  • The knife has all of the standard features, without many of the drawbacks.

If you are looking for something a bit closer to the classic Japanese design, however, the Nisaku Japanese Hori Hori offers you a great option. Although this lacks both a guard and a full tang, this offers a high-quality alternative for the history-loving gardener.

Also, if you think that the Truly Garden’s handle is a bit too Spartan in design, the Greentisory and Lausihay Hori Hori knives are also great options.

The History of the Hori Hori

The Hori Hori originates in feudal Japan, emerging sometime in the 16th century. As you may have noticed, this gardening tool looks an awful lot like a weapon. A common theory of the weapon’s origin has to do with a feudal lord or daimyō by the name of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi established a law that forbade peasants from becoming warriors or bearing arms, restricting the possession of weaponry to the samurai class, a policy that ensured the reign of Japan’s rigid class structure until the 19th century.

Many speculate that the Hori Hori, rather than being a sword turned into a plowshare, was, in fact, the opposite. The Hori Hori disguised a weapon as a farming instrument, making it possible for peasants to hide their weaponry in plain sight from their samurai overseers. The Hori Hori is slightly smaller than a Japanese short sword or wakizashi, making it ideal for both gardening or staging insurrections.

The Hori Hori and its uses

If you are reading this article, however, I take it you are looking to use your knife for overturning weeds, rather than feudal warlords, so let’s focus on some more contemporary ways you can use a Hori Hori.

The main draw of the Hori Hori is for gardeners. In essence, the tool combines the components of a knife and a small shovel, giving you a knife you can use for digging. This means that it can also serve a number of other functions. Besides gardening, many people use the Hori Hori for metal detecting, using the sharp blade to quickly dig into the sand. Others use it for fishing or hunting. It also is useful for scientists or naturalists looking to collect dirt, mineral, or herb samples from the field, making it an essential part of the botanist’s toolkit.

The “Swiss Army Knife” of Gardening

The best thing about this Japanese knife is the combination of features and functions. You can use the Hori Hori for digging holes. The inside of the blade has measurements to help you precisely measure how deep to plant your seeds. The sharp edge can be used to cut weeds or roots, but also to hack at something like a machete or hatchet. Moreover, the sharp point and curved blade is ideal for uprooting plants precisely. The Hori Hori does all of the functions of your other gardening tools, and more.

Here’s a great video demonstrating the versatility of this Japanese all-purpose tool:

The Features You Should Look for in a Hori Hori

Now that we have learned about some of the functions and uses of a Hori Hori, let’s look at some of the essential features you should consider when weighing the various options out there.

The Length and Size of Your Knife

The standard size for a Japanese Hori Hori knife is twelve inches. Anything past twelve inches, as far as the samurai lords were concerned, is a short sword. Although the sizes of different Hori Hori models vary, most Hori Hori Gardening Knives remain twelve inches, or at least very close to twelve inches. Likewise, most Hori Hori blades have a length of seven inches, although several run on the shorter side.

The Blade of Your Hori Hori

When you are shopping for this classic Japanese farmer’s “tool,” I would highly recommend buying a Hori Hori with a stainless steel blade. You will be working in the garden, digging in wet soil, and you don’t want your blade to rust.

Make sure that your Hori Hori has two different edges: a sharp edge for slicing and a serrated edge for sawing. You will need the sharp edge for getting smoothly into the dirt, for slicing weeds, or even for hacking at weeds or roots. That’s right, this Japanese multipurpose tool can also function in a pinch as a hatchet!

The blade should have both a sharp edge and a sharp point for puncturing the dirt. You will also want to make sure that the blade curves into a concave shape, as this will help you when digging into the soil.

Finding the Right Handle for Your Hori Hori

Most of the Hori Hori knifes we will be looking at in this article have a fairly standard blade design, only offering slight variations here and there when it comes to size or serration. The handles, on the other hand, are where most of these blades differ.

The “tang” of a knife refers to how far the steel portion of the blade goes into the handle. Some Hori Horis offer “full tangs,” which means that the blade goes into the entire handle, while others lack this feature, meaning the blade stops at a certain point in the handle. A full tang means that the knife can withstand more pressure, while with a half tang a certain amount of pressure may cause the knife to bend against the weight of the handle and snap. You should decide between a full and a half tang based upon your particular needs. Consider, for example, the type of soil you will be working in. Is the soil rocky and filled with clay, or smooth as butter?

Another thing to consider is whether you want a guard or not. Guards rest between the blade and the handle, protecting your hand from contacting the blade. Typically, longer guards were used for swords carried without a shield, giving soldiers something to keep their enemy’s blade from contacting their hand. The Greeks and Romans, by contrast, did not use guards, since they fought with shields, but made the handle of their swords significantly smaller to prevent their hands from contacting the blade. As for Japanese swords, these designs largely varied.

For gardening purposes, however, this just depends on whether the tasks you will be doing will make you lose your grip on your Hori Hori. You should also factor the sharpness of your Hori Hori blade, as a duller Hori Hori focused on digging will be less of a threat to your fingers.

You should also consider how you want to store your Hori Hori. Will you be keeping it in your gardening box, or hanging it up on your pegboard. If the latter, you might want to make sure that the handle has a hole drilled into it.

My Top Ten Picks for Japanese Hori Hori Knives

Now that we have looked at some of the most important features, I would like to share with you my top ten picks for Japanese Hori Hori knives.

1. The Truly Garden

The Truly Garden Hori Hori offers you an elegant blade, equipped with a guard to protect your hands and packaged alongside a leather-like sheath for carrying your Hori Hori with style. As a bonus, Truly Garden has included a diamond sharpening rod with the knife, a rod that will not only keep your Hori Hori sharp, but can be used in the kitchen to sharpen your other knives as well. The leather case for this Hori Hori is especially appealing for gardeners who might need to carry their Hori Hori on the go. The blade also extends all the way to the end of the handle, giving you the security and cutting power you need. If you are a landscaper, backpacker, or camper and need to be carrying a Hori Hori with you, Truly Garden lets you carry your Hori Hori in style.

The knife is well-designed, offering a concave blade perfect for digging, measurements marking the sides, and has both a sharp and serrated blade. The blade boasts seven inches of stainless steel, attaching to the wooden handle by three rivets. The blade extends all the way into the handle, giving you a full tang to prevent the knife from breaking. The handle includes a guard, which may help protect your hand against the blade. The handle also has a hole, perfect for hanging this blade up in your garage. The package includes an insert explaining the origin of the Hori Hori, its proper care and usage, and the five-year warranty. Now let’s turn to some of the pros and cons:

What I Liked:

  • The blade extends to end of handle, providing a full tang for extra durability.
  • The handle includes a guard to protect the holder’s hands from contacting the blade.
  • The handle has a hole, which is helpful for hanging the knife up on a nail in the garage.
  • The Hori Hori comes with a knife sharpener that’s easy to carry and can serve multiple functions.
  • The sheath is more aesthetically pleasing.
  • The Hori Hori includes a four-year warranty.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The sheath is actually made of leather-like material, not genuine leather.

2. Nisaku Japanese Hori Hori

The Nisaku, like the original Hori Hori, comes straight from Japan. If you are looking for the quintessential model of this classic Japanese knife, you might consider purchasing your Hori Hori straight from the source. While I imagine you won’t be using this knife to stage a peasant’s revolt against your Samurai lords, this Hori Hori’s sharp blade will definitely give the weeds, roots, and buried rocks in your garden reason to worry.

The Nisaku Hori Hori has a durable stainless steel blade. This blade is sharp on one side and serrated on the other, helping you slice or saw, depending on the size of the roots. The blade is adorned with inch and millimeter measurements, helping you plant your seeds, bulbs, or plants at the right depth. The knife has a length of thirteen inches, about an inch longer than standard. The blade is concave, making it an ideal digging tool. Two heavy bolts keep the blade in place. The blade doesn’t go all the way into the handle but ends below the screws. At first, I worried that this would make the blade too flimsy, but I have heard no reports of anyone having their blade break or become detached. The blade comes with a sheath, which is ideal for carrying your Hori Hori while backpacking, hiking, or landscaping. The knife also has a hole drilled into the handle, letting you hang it up on your pegboard in your garage.

Now that I have given you an overview of this knife, let’s look at some of the pros and cons.

  • This Hori Hori has an extra inch for extra gardening power, giving me the leverage I need to pull out weeds.
  • The knife is made in Japan, just like the original Hori Hori.
  • The handle includes a hole, making it easy to hang up on the pegboard.
  • Nisaku includes a sheath with the Hori Hori, making it easy for me to carry the knife on the go.

What I Disliked

  • The blade doesn’t extend to end of the handle, making it potentially weak.
  • The sheath is made of vinyl, not leather, making it less durable.
  • The handle lacks a guard to protect your hand from the blade.
  • The blade isn’t as sharp as other models, making it less of a knife and more of a handle shovel.
  • Some models lack a serrated edge.

3. Greentisory Hori Hori Knife with Leather Sheath

The Greentisory Hori Hori is a great all-around option for your gardening needs, as well as a great option to take with you on a hike, a botanical expedition, or to carry while landscaping. This 13″ knife boasts a thick blade, meaning it will be durable enough to resist any rocks or hard roots you might encounter without breaking. The seven-inch blade is ideal for weeding, digging, and even for cutting or pruning plants. The blade has a full tang, giving you the extra durability you need for digging. It also is marked with measurements to let you know how far your blade is going. Three durable rivets fasten this blade into the knife’s handle. This model lacks a handguard, meaning that your hand won’t be protected from contacting the blade, but this blade is also significantly duller than other models, letting you focus on digging holes without getting hurt. If you need a sharper blade, however, you might consider another option. The blade is sharp on one side and serrated on the other, although the serrations are somewhat thinner than other models. This gardening knife comes with a leather-like sheath, letting you carry your Hori Hori with style.

Here are some of my thoughts on the Greentisory Hori Hori Gardening Knife:

  • This knife has the classic Hori Hori look with a beautifully finished handle.
  • The leather-like sheath is great for carrying around the yard, and is especially useful for landscaping or exploring.
  • The thick blade boasts strong durability and guarantees that the knife will last a long time.
  • The full tang adds extra strength and durability, and the three rivets keep it securely fashioned in place.
  • Personally, I found the serrated edge of this knife to be a bit too flimsy for the job. For the “Swiss Army Knife” of gardening tools, I want to make sure that my knife can perform all of its basic functions, including sawing through thick roots and branches.
  • Like many of these knives, the sheath is leather in appearance only.
  • This knife may be too dull for some purposes.

4. Lausihay 12″ Hori Hori Garden Knife

If you are a frequent camper, backpacker, or landscaper, you might prefer to carry your Hori Hori with a bit more style. If that’s the case, you might like to carry your Hori Hori at your side in a genuine leather sheath. The Lausihay Hori Hori offers you a 12 inch Hori Hori, featuring a seven-inch blade equipped with both a serrated edge and a sharp side for cutting. The design is aesthetically pleasing and it performs the basic functions of a Hori Hori knife well. Three fasteners attach the knife blade to the handle, and the full tang gives you the extra durability you need. A metal protective handguard protects your fingers from contacting the blade. The blade, however, is flatter than most models, making it less than ideal for digging or scooping.

Now that we have looked over Lausihay’s answer to this classic Japanese gardening instrument, here are some of my thoughts on the product:

  • The rosewood handle is especially beautiful, making this knife a great aesthetic choice.
  • This model, unlike many others, actually has a genuine leather case.
  • The Hori Hori includes a guard to prevent your hand from contacting the blade, especially useful if you keep your Hori Hori sharp.
  • The biggest problem with this Hori Hori, in my view, is that it lacks the curvature of most Hori Hori blades. This can make it less ideal for digging and gardening, specifically because the blade isn’t as effective at scooping up dirt.
  • Some users report quality control problems with the production of the handles. Unfortunately, many manufacturers outsource production to several manufacturers, meaning you will sometimes receive a defective product.

5. LifeWell Hori-Hori Garden Knife

The LifeWell Hori Hori gives you the classic Hori Hori look with a beautiful rosewood handle. It boasts a strong stainless steel blade, which has both a serrated and sharp edge. The blade, like most Hori Horis, includes depth markings in inches and meters. This blade is slightly shorter than other knives at six and three-quarters inches long. For me, the best thing about this knife is its durability. The blade is thick, unlike many other models, which means it will give you more leverage when digging, and it attaches into the handle with a full tang, fastened into place by three rivets.

This knife lacks a guard on the handle, which means you might be at risk for losing your grip and contacting the blade with your hand. On top of this, the blade of this Hori Hori is quite sharp, which means that contacting the blade could pose a greater risk. Of course, if you have a secure grip or wear gloves, this should be a non-issue, so you should decide for yourself whether you would feel more comfortable with or without a guard. The knife includes a cheap nylon strap, so if you are looking for a fancy leather case, you might consider other options.

Now that we have looked the LifeWell Hori Hori over, here are my final thoughts on this model:

  • The full tang and thick stainless steel make this knife a durable option because your blade won’t break if you hit a rock or hard root while digging.
  • I love the beautiful design of the rosewood handle; I just wish they would add a leather case to match!
  • The combination of a sharp blade without a guard on the handle may pose a danger in some situations.
  • I dislike the nylon case and wish the company would have included a leather or leather-like case to match the rosewood design.

6. Attican Black Iron Hori Hori Japanese Gardening Knife

The Attican Black Iron comes with a solid, sharp, and sturdy stainless steel blade that’s ideal for digging in your garden, cutting roots, or pruning plants. Like other models, it includes the measurements on the inside of the blade, telling you how far you are digging. The blade is about seven inches while the knife itself is just over twelve, giving you the standard size for a Hori Hori knife.

Like some of the other models we have looked at, this Hori Hori knife lacks the guard on the handle, so your hand is somewhat less protected. Moreover, the blade of this knife is actually quite sharp, so if you aren’t confident that you won’t be cutting your fingers, you might want a knife that offers a bit more hand protection. All and all, this offers a perfectly reasonable option for a Hori Hori knife, giving you the classic design, essential features, and a beautiful leather case to carry it in.

  • This knife is sharp, which makes it useful for cutting roots while weeding or preparing a flowerbed.
  • The leather case is higher quality than the nylon alternatives.
  • The knife has the classic look and feel of a Japanese Hori Hori.
  • The blade lacks a full tang, which makes it less strong and durable.
  • The knife is sharp, but lacks a guard. If users aren’t careful, this can be a recipe for disaster.

7. Ceilcera Hori Hori Gardening Knife

The Ceilcera has a seven-inch stainless steel blade. The entire knife measures at twelve inches: the standard size for a Japanese Hori Hori blade. This blade has both a sharp and serrated edge, is curved, and is marked on the interior to let you know how deep you are digging. The handle has a full tang, which means that the blade continues until the end of the handle, and is secured to the handle with three rivets. The handle also has a hole in the top, making it easy to hang this knife on your pegboard in the garage or workshop. This Hori Hori also includes one of the better leather cases, beautifully designed so that you can wear your knife with style. However, these leather cases tend to run on the short side, and can sometimes be too small for your knife.

Although on the surface the Ceilcera seems to have a sturdy design, the blade seems thinner than other models, and although I have not experienced this problem myself, I have heard some people complain about their Ceilcera blade snapping under pressure. If you need a heavy duty knife for landscaping or gardening in rather rough terrain (especially places with large deposits of clay), you might consider investing in a stronger Hori Hori.

Here are my final thoughts on the Ceilcera:

  • It’s beautifully designed, offering all of the features you would expect of a Hori Hori.
  • The Ceilcera includes a guard, preventing your hand from slipping and contacting the blade.
  • The full tang prevents the blade from bending, giving you the kind of leverage you need to lift anything.
  • The blade may be too thin, or the steel too structurally weak, to support a great deal of weight without snapping.

8. ML Tools Hori-Hori Garden Digging Knife

The ML Tools Hori Hori differs from most of the models we have seen. For one thing, it looks much less like a knife and much more like a garden tool. If you are worried about looking like you are carrying a large hunting knife in your suburban neighborhood, the innocent appearance of the ML Tools Hori-Hori Garden Digging Knife might be an ideal choice for you. If you have children especially, the standard design might look too much like a hunting knife for them to resist temptation, and you wouldn’t want them trying to throw your Hori Hori into a tree. The ML Tools is twelve and a half inches long, only slightly longer than the standard size. The stainless steel blade is the standard seven inches and includes a measuring scale for assessing how many inches you are digging. The design of this measuring scale differs significantly from the previous design. For one thing, it excludes millimeter measurements, so if you are gardening in Europe, this might not be the best option for you. The handle is made of plastic, textured to give you a good grip. The knife does include a guard, and has a hole in the handle so you can hang it on your rack. The blade lacks a full tang. Instead, the plastic is molded around the blade.

Now that we have seen an overview of the knife’s features, here are my thoughts on the ML Tools Hori Hori:

  • This looks less like a knife, and more like a gardening instrument, making your neighbors feel safer and your kids less likely to play with it.
  • Unlike most “cheaper” Hori Hori designs, this knife retains all of its features. The blade seems firmly attached to the plastic handle and is made of high-quality stainless steel.
  • Honestly, the only thing I dislike about this Hori Hori is that a plastic handle just isn’t as nice as a beautiful wooden handle. This, in my view, puts it in a different class of equipment.

9. Sun Joe Hori-Hori Gardening Tool

The Sun Joe Hori-Hori offers a very different design from the Hori Horis we have looked at so far. Instead of a stainless steel blade, the Sun Joe offers a carbon steel blade. This also includes a protective sheath (made of cheap vinyl), designed to let you carry your knife at your side. The blade is relatively dull, if you are looking for something safer, and your hand is protected by a guard that’s part of the blade. However, since the blade is made of carbon steel, this Hori Hori has some significant downsides. It may damage easily, and the tool isn’t protected from rust. This tool, while different from the traditional Japanese Hori Hori design, just simply isn’t as well-designed as the other models. It feels like a cheap gardening tool, not an elegantly designed multipurpose instrument.

Here are my thoughts on the Sun Joe:

  • The size of the blade is much larger than the handle, giving it more of a shovel feel.
  • The company says that “normal wear on the blade is expected.” This includes rust, the knife becoming dull, and the serrated edges fraying. If you are against using a stainless steel knife, you might try using this carbon steel alternative, but otherwise it might not be worth the cost.

10. Barebones Living Ultimate Tool Hori-Hori Gardening Tool

The Barebones Living Hori-Hori represents an attempt to innovate and improve upon the traditional design of the Hori Hori, so I have decided to devote the last portion of my article to this attempt to infuse this classic Japanese gardening knife with an innovative new design. Barebones Living offers a treated stainless steel blade with sharp and serrated edges. The side of the blade includes depth markings in inches, although they neither note the measurements nor provide measurements in millimeters. The knife includes a sturdy-looking case that clips on your belt. What features do Barebones add to the Hori Hori? At the end of the sharp side of the knife, they have placed a can opener. If you like to have a cold beverage while you are working in the garden, or just like the idea of opening a beer with a large knife, this knife combines kitchen tool with gardening instrument. The back of the handle, likewise, has a pommel based, so you can use the butt of your knife as a mallet, if need be. The handle is made from sustainable bamboo wood. I might add that the handles of the original Japanese Hori Horis were, in fact, made from wood, which means that this Hori Hori isn’t completely divorced from all authenticity.

I am mentioning this Hori Hori because of its innovative design. However, this knife also has a large number of critical design flaws. The blade merely fits into the handle, which means that it will likely become dislodged and fall off. Many people complain that this tool fails at even the most basic tasks, snapping in half under the slightest amount of pressure. Hopefully, Barebones Living will improve these critical design flaws, thus adding a slightly different take on this classic design.

  • The design is innovative and differs from the more or less standard Hori Hori design we have seen in the other models.
  • I like that the Hori Hori includes a can opener and a mallet-edge for hammering things. Generally speaking, I like the fact that Barebones Living has attempted to add more features to this multipurpose knife.
  • The design of this knife is critically flawed, causing it to break easily. If you garden more than once a year, this Hori Hori is simply not worth it.
  • The handle has neither a tang nor rivets, making it likely that the blade will become dislodged upon use.

Conclusion

Of all of the options I have looked at, the Truly Garden Hori Hori remains my favorite. This isn’t simply because Truly Garden decided to include the nice bonus of the diamond sharpening rod. Rather, it simply has the most of the important features in a Hori Hori knife with a high-quality design. Although I leaned heavily towards the Nisaku Hori Hori at first, I am too worried that the lack of full tang will cause my blade to snap under pressure. The Truly Garden Hori Hori also shields the users hand with a reliable guard, protecting my hands against slippage, a feature lacking in the Nisaku model. With the Truly Garden Hori Hori, you can afford to keep your blade diamond sharp without worrying about cutting your hand while digging. This model takes the best elements of all the other models without any of the drawbacks, which is why it remains my number one pick for this classic Japanese knife.

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