The Hori Hori Knife is one of the most popular gardening tools to be imported from Japan. Hori is a form of the verb horu, which means “to dig”. Although most people describe the Hori Hori Knife as a tool used in Japan by bonsai collectors I always wondered why it looked so much like a weapon.My theory is that the Hori Hori Knife evolved because Japanese farmers needed their farming tools to double as weapons.
During the middle ages (1536-1598) there were farmer-warriors who earned this title because in addition to being farmers they were also part time warriors. The feudal Lords perceived this as a threat in the form of armed rebellion. During Toyotom Hideyoshi’s rule of Japan a clear distinction was made between four castes warrior (Samurai), farmer, artisan and merchant. He implemented what was called Katanagari (sword hunt) to confiscate arms from all non-warrior castes – especially the warrior-farmers. So it seems plausible that in response the farmers who were stripped of conventional weaponry would fashion their farming tools to double as “legal” weapons.
The Hori Hori Knife has a straight edge and a serrated edge and can cut plant roots, weed and be used for digging and planting. The modern Hori Hori Knife is slightly smaller than the Japanese short sword (shoto – wakizashi). Gardeners interested in having the versatile Hori Hori Knife to use in their own gardens have their choice of the black high carbon steel Hori Hori Knife or the Stainless Steel Hori Hori Knife.