The hori hori is a gardening tool, a kind of short knife with a double-edged blade serrated on one side, with a semi-sharp point. It originated in Japan, and most commercial hori hori for sale are still made there, for example by the Japanese DIY tool manufacturer Nisaku.
The exact history of the tool is unknown, but it is known to have been in use since at least the 13th century in Japan. At that time, it was the tool of choice for harvesting sansai, or mountain vegetables–that is, wild vegetables that grew and were harvested from the boundaries separating farm and forest. Red Pig Tools’ website has an interesting short article on some of the theories surrounding the invention of the hori hori.
The hori hori is still in use today, mostly as a gardening tool, but also among modern-day foragers. It is listed as a “must-have” tool in John Slattery’s wonderful book Southwest Foraging (published by Timber Press in 2016).
Featured image: A modern hori hori gardening tool knife, made by Nisaku. Photo courtesy of gardentoolcompany.com