WHAT IS A HIGONOKAMI?
Higonokami is a type of Japanese folding pocket knife, developed in the 1890s during the Meiji period. “Higo no Kami” in Japanese means “Lord of Higo”. Higo is the old name of Kyushu province, where the original knife came from, but “Higo no Kami” is also an aristocratic title historically given to powerful samurai. This knife has no locking mechanism, but is a friction folder using the friction of the swivel or pressure of the user’s thumb on the protruding tang called chikiri (thumb peg) to prevent the knife from folding during use. In the early 1900s, the higonokami became the farmer’s and tradesman’s pocket knife. After that it gained popularity among children as a pencil sharpener. Pencils sharpening mass contests were even organized, with rewards for the fastest. It’s the utilitarian pocket knife of everyday.
ABOUT OUR HIGONOKAMI
Our Higonokami are imported directly from the Nagao Kanekoma Factory in Miki-shi, Hyogo, Japan. In 1899 a knife maker’s guild was created in Miki and in 1907, the name “Higonokami” was trademarked. There are replicas and smiths who still make these sort of knives, but not the classic Higonokami. Only the members of the guild could manufacture the knife or use the name Higonokami. The replicas are called “Higonaifu”. Sadly, only one smith remains of the guild who can make the Higonokami, all others have stopped making them. The one remaining is Motosuke Nagao, established in Miki, descending from four generations of blacksmiths. His ancestor was Shigeji Nagao, one of the original founders of the design. Today, Motosuke Nagao is quite old, his succession is not ensured and the trademark might disappear with him. The blade of this Higonokami is made with Aogami Super YSS (Super Blue Steel), and the blade is sanmai laminated with real hamon.
The 2 kanji stamped horizontally on the handle is 登録 = Toroku which means “Register”, but here it’s short for Registered Trademark. While the 3 kanji stamped vertically is 肥後守 which reads “Higonokami”.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to the nature of the production of this knife, there will be some slight imperfections on the blade. As Motosuke Nagao is alone to produce all these knives, he is struggling to keep up with quality standards. It is almost impossible to find one that is perfect and there seems to always be a detail that is wrong: scratches and imperfections on the blade, lever that doesn’t adjust well on the handle, grinds that aren’t symmetrical, file marks, scratched brass and so on.
WHAT IS AOGAMI SUPER YSS?
Aogami Super YSS, also known as Super Blue Steel, is manufactured by Hitachi Metals Ltd., which is one of the top manufactures of high grade metal products and materials, electronics devices, high grade functional components and equipment. The company is well known for its “Yasugi Hagane” YSS (Yasugi Specialty Steel) for cutlery industries. Yasugi Hagane steel has been produced in their plant in Shimane prefecture in Japan, where the high quality iron sand has been produced for making traditional Japanese swords since ancient times. There are three main premium grade high carbon steels (Shirogami, Aogami and Aogami Super) that have been used for making Japanese made field & kitchen knives.
Aogami Super with very rich chemical composition (much more % of Carbon, Chromium, Tungsten than regular Aogami), is one of the most popular alloy steel amongst Japanese knife makers. It makes very high hardness, great cutting performance and edge retention, yet durable. Wear resistance is medium so it’s easy to sharpen. It is very reactive, so wiping down, drying, oiling should be done after every use.
Chemical Composition (%)
Carbon (C): 1.40 – 1.50
Silicon (Si): 0.10 – 0.20
Manganese (Mn): 0.20 – 0.30
Chromium (Cr): 0.30 – 0.50
Tungsten (W): 2.00 – 2.50
Vanadium (V): 0.30 – 0.50
Phosphorus (P): 0.025
Sulfur (S): 0.004
Source: Hitachi Metals
The blade is sanmai laminated, very sharp and has a real suguha (straight) hamon.