The legendary Higo no Kami knife is one of the best knives in the world that you’ve never heard of.
In a nutshell, it’s a small knife, 10 inches or less opened, that is hand made in the tried and true method of celebrated Japanese sword maker, Motosuke Nagao.
Motosuke Nagao is the last remaining decedent of a long and distinguished line of sword makers that equipped the Samurai with their quintessential weapon, the Katana. He is the last and only person that still holds a permit from the Japanese government to craft these Higo no Kami blades in the traditional fashion that made the Samurai’s Katana world famous.
The Higo no Kami is made from laminated high-carbon steel called “blue steel”. The metal is softer than most US and European made knives, but lends itself better to a razor sharp edge than the western counterparts. The handles are typically made of brass, with friction lock or help prevent an accidental blade closure during use.
Since the passage of draconian knife laws in 2009, carrying any type of knife with a blade that is longer than 6 cm (2.3 inches) is a outlawed in Japan. Only the tiniest Higo no Kami knives, that have 6mm or smaller blade length can be carried in Japan today (shown in these photos).
One reason you need a Higo no Kami knife is simply that you own a piece of history. You have in your possession, a blade that is rich with history. It’s maker, the last officially recognized shokunin, or blade craftsman. When he passes, the art of making blades in the traditional Japanese craft will die with him.
Another other reason is that it’s just a darn good blade.
Finally, if you’re anything like me, you just want the best of the best to open all those boxes of goodies coming in from Amazon. Total overkill, but who the heck cares?
If you need to make a cut, this knife will take care of business. The blade is damn sharp to begin with, but if you have a 1000 or 1500 grit whetstone, a little time and patience, this blade can rival any X-acto knife or razor blade in sharpness.
The Higo no Kami costs less than you think!
One might expect the Higo no Kami to cost hundreds or even thousands considering the rich history and craftsmanship, but what will amaze you is that these knives cost less than $50. A genuine Higo no Kami knife made by Motosuke Nagao will cost $25 – $50 online. When you’re hunting around, you’ll find a lot of knock-offs that cost $8-$15 on Amazon and other places.
A real Higo no Kami knife will be roughly 7-10 inches, and come in a yellow box with Japanese writing. There is also a smaller version that has a 4cm blade. These generally don’t come in a box, and as such, are much harder to tell if it’s a genuine Higo no Kami knife.
The knife itself isn’t anything that most people would stop to look at. It’s appearance is rough, to many that don’t know the story, it looks cheap, and it’s operation isn’t what westerners would expect from a fine blade.
The Higo no Kami is for all intent and purpose, the “commoner’s knife”. It’s is designed for everyday use, and wasn’t designed for decoration or elegance.
The Higo no Kami knife is perfect for a true knife collector, affectionado or one that immerses themselves in Japanese culture and art.
My Thoughts On The Higo No Kami Knife
I really wanted to own one of these legendary knives, and when it arrived, it met all the expectations I had. It’s finish is a bit rough, but that’s what should be expected as the knife blade is 100% hand made. It is sharp, damn sharp. The kind of sharpness that you’d expect from a genuine samurai’s Katana sword. It fits in the pocket well and lives up to it’s legend for being one of the best handmade “commoner’s” blades out there.
$35 for genuine Motosuke Nagao Higo no Kame knife – Check current prices