5 of the Best Hori Hori Knives for Gardeners

The “hori hori” is a Japanese garden knife with a unique blend of digging and cutting features.

Thanks to its shape and size, with it you can dig, transplant, saw, cut, and even measure soil depth for planting bulbs.

A vertical close up picture of a hand wearing a leather gardening glove holding a Japanese hori hori garden knife. The blade has depth measurements in both inches and millimeters. The background is dark soil. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white text.

Wonderfully versatile, it’s easy to use and will quickly become one of those “must have” tools for your kit bag.

Recently, my faithful old garden knife finally gave up the ghost and I reluctantly had to bid it farewell.

So I was in the market for a new one, or two. Here are five of the best hori hori knives I’ve come across.

I have also included a handy buyer’s guide with more information about this garden knife, and what to consider when choosing yours.

The Best Hori Hori Knives for Your Garden Chores

First up is our top pick, with four others to follow that all have slightly different features that you may find more suitable for your needs.

Top Pick Up Front: Nisaku NJP800 Weeding and Digging Knife

Our top pick comes straight from the land of its origin: Japan. Made from top-quality stainless steel, and forged by master craftsmen, this model boasts an ergonomic handle for ease of use. It’s available from Nisaku via Amazon.

Nisaku NJP800 Weeding and Digging Knife

The concave blade makes short work of the toughest garden jobs. Perfect for weeding, transplanting, hacking away at overgrown shrubs, or dividing perennials, this multipurpose knife gets it all done.

The ergonomic handle may be slightly on the small side for those with bigger hands. I appreciate the protective hilt to prevent my hand from slipping down onto the blade when digging in compacted soil.

Nisaku also makes a version of this knife using their top-quality stainless steel infused with vanadium, making it even harder and stronger – at a slightly higher price, you can see this model also on Amazon.

The super-sharp blade features a beveled edge for slicing and a serrated edge for cutting through tough roots. Depth measurements in both millimeters and inches make planting bulbs a breeze.

It’s half-tang, but don’t let that deter you. Using full-width design, the half tang allows for the blade to be constructed from thicker steel without making it heavy and cumbersome.

An attractive vinyl sheath keeps the blade – and your hands – safe from harm when not in use. But I’d have preferred a leather sheath to go with a knife of this quality, and a belt hook wouldn’t have gone amiss either.

See the Nisaku and check prices now on Amazon.

Features

  • 7.25-inch concave stainless steel blade
  • 5.5-inch ergonomic plastic handle with protective hilt
  • 7.7 ounces
  • Depth measuring ruler in inches and millimeters
  • Plastic sheath
  • 2-year standard warranty

Pros

  • Rust-proof heavy duty blade stays sharp and tackles the toughest garden jobs
  • Ergonomic handle gives a good grip and the protective hilt prevents injury

Cons

  • Lack of belt hook, with a plastic sheath
  • Half-tang blade design can upset some purists
  • Ergonomic handgrip can feel a bit small in the hand

If you want a handsome multi-functional garden knife straight out of Japan, you won’t go wrong with this model.

If you’ve got large hands, you may find the handle a bit thin and uncomfortable, in which case I’d recommend you try the wooden handled version below.

And if you don’t fancy a wooden handle but want something that fills the hand a bit more, try the Sensei model described below instead.

Head to Amazon to read customer reviews and check prices now.

 

Nisaku NJP802 Hori Hori Weeding and Digging Knife

It really is a toss-up between this knife and our top-rated one. The difference between the two only comes down to the design of the handle. The Nisaku NJP802 is available via Amazon.

Nisaku NJP802 Hori Hori Weeding and Digging Knife

Made from the same Japanese stainless steel and forged in Japan, this blade is concave, with a serrated edge on one side and a sharp beveled edge on the other. The difference comes down to the choice of handgrip.

The wooden handle will please traditionalists and those who want a more “authentic” looking Japanese knife. But it’s not just looks that count.

The wood makes the knife a bit heavier, and because it’s wider than the plastic version, it has a solid feel in the hand.

But because it has square edges and is not contoured, the handle can become uncomfortable with extended use. This is easily alleviated by wearing gloves.

I appreciate the metal hilt between handle and blade, giving a bit of protection against hand slippage, particularly when tackling tough roots or hard soil.

The half-tang construction is definitely a bone of contention for some people. It’s easy to see why it is not possible to craft a full-tang blade with the ergonomic plastic handle of the previous model – but with a full-width wooden version, it’s somewhat baffling.

That said, unless you are prying heavy rocks out of the ground or using it for something other than garden duties, this choice mostly comes down to personal preference.

As an added bonus, this model ships with a leather sheath that can be clipped to your belt.

See more customer reviews and check prices on Amazon now.

Features

  • 7.25-inch concave stainless steel blade
  • 5.5-inch ergonomic plastic handle with protective hilt
  • 8.5 ounces
  • Depth measuring ruler in inches and millimeters
  • Leather sheath
  • 2-year standard warranty

Pros

  • Robust, rust-proof stainless steel blade tackles the toughest jobs with ease
  • Protective metal hilt between blade and handle prevents hand slippage
  • Handsomely crafted wooden handle is easy to grip and feels solid in the hand

Cons

  • Half-tang design
  • Handle can be uncomfortable for extended use

Nisaku has created a tough, multipurpose tool with this model. The minor compromise of the half-tang design makes it a lightweight, well-balanced implement that tackles the toughest garden chores, thanks to the top-quality stainless steel blade.

Get more information and check prices on Amazon now.

 

Sensei Tools Hori Hori Digging Knife

With the Sensei garden knife, you’ll be master of your garden in no time. And if the slender handle of the Nisaku feels a bit dainty to you, then this one from Sensei Tools via Amazon is worth a look.

Sensei Tools Hori Hori Digging Knife

Who doesn’t love a knife called “Sensei?” With its sleek black handle, contrasting with the glistening metal blade, this feels less “gardening tool” and more “field knife.”

Except, on closer inspection, it combines its good looks with the same concave digging blade – with serrated and beveled edges – of the previous models.

It’s got the same convenient depth measurements for planting your crocus bulbs, and a similarly hard-wearing rust-proof stainless steel blade.

The handle is made from non-slip plastic, and the way it’s designed fits firmly in the hand. The contour where it joins the blade serves as an “almost-hilt,” preventing your hand from slipping onto the blade.

It’s slightly heavier than the previous two models, but not noticeably so.

To make things even better, it ships with a leather sheath that fits onto your belt.

I wouldn’t walk around town with it on your belt though, as when the rugged, black handle sticks out of the sheath, it looks a bit like a dagger.

Check prices of the Sensei on Amazon now.

Features

  • 7.5-inch concave stainless steel blade
  • 5.5-inch black contoured non-slip plastic handle
  • 10.1 ounces
  • Depth measuring ruler in inches
  • Robust leather sheath with belt clip
  • 90-day 100% money back guarantee

Pros

  • Non-slip handgrip is ergonomic and comfortable in the hand
  • Concave rust-proof stainless steel blade and cuts through tough roots and compacted soil with ease
  • Ships with a genuine leather sheath

Cons

  • Handle may be too big if you have small hands
  • Half-tang design

With its very rugged looks, this garden tool tackles all those tough jobs with ease. I like the handle on this one because it feels solid and is more comfortable to use than the wooden models, so you don’t need to wear gloves if you don’t want to.

The half-tang design needn’t put you off as Neil, the manufacturer, stated in an email to me, “We have yet to have a complaint about the knife breaking or the blade becoming detached, so I’m sure that yours will stand up to any kind of heavy work you put it to!”

He goes on to say that Sensei offers a “full, no-quibbles warranty, so in the unlikely event that you did have any problems, we’d be happy to replace it or refund you.”

Sounds good to me!

See more customer reviews and check current prices on Amazon.

 

Truly Garden Hori Hori

The Truly Garden hori hori, available on Amazon, ships with a genuine leather sheath and a sharpening tool.

Truly Garden Hori Hori

Crafted to top-notch standards, this model features a high-grade 420 stainless steel blade that extends into a full tang for superb strength.

And a handsome, sustainable beechwood handle is securely attached with three rust-proof rivets. It’s a little bit heavier than some of the other models, but it makes up for this with its super-sharp edges.

The blade has a concave trowel shape with depth measurements for easy digging and transplanting. And both the straight and serrated edges have been pre-sharpened for clean, efficient cutting.

This Japanese garden knife arrives handsomely packaged in an attractive box, and comes with a robust leather sheath plus diamond sharpening rod – all of which makes this a great gift for any gardener.

Check prices for the Truly Garden Hori Hori at Amazon now.

Features

  • 7-inch pre-sharpened, curved stainless steel blade
  • 5-inch hardwood handle with 3 rivets
  • 18 ounces
  • Depth measuring ruler in inches and millimeters
  • Metal safety guard at the base of the handle
  • Genuine leather sheath
  • Diamond sharpening rod
  • 5-year warranty

Pros

  • Robust, full tang, rust-proof blade cuts easily through roots and compacted soil
  • Leather sheath is heavy-duty to prevent accidents when not in use
  • Diamond sharpening rod keeps both the straight and serrated edges sharp

Cons

  • Wooden handgrip is not ergonomically designed and may tire your hand
  • Metal tang and rivets stick out slightly from the handle, which can be uncomfortable without gloves

Truly Garden offers a 30-day money back guarantee and a solid 5-year warranty, delivering top quality and value for the price.

A tough workhorse of a knife, this model looks the part. And we appreciate the metal safety guard, which helps to prevent your hand from slipping off the handle and onto the blade.

See more customer reviews and check current price on Amazon now.

 

Budget Pick: Fiskars Big Grip Garden Knife

Now, for something a little bit different. Based on the basic design of the Japanese knife, Fiskars has come up with something slightly creative. It’s available at Home Depot, and via Amazon.

A close up of a gardening knife with a concave blade, a serrated edge and a sharp edge, with a two-pronged tip at the end, on a white background.

Fiskars Big Grip Garden Knife

It still has the concave blade with a serrated edge on one side and a beveled edge on the other, but it tapers down with two points at the end instead of a single tip.

The two-pronged tip works extremely well for weeding in soft soil.

A close up of a hand from the top of the frame using a Japanese multipurpose gardening knife to dig out a weed from a garden bed covered in woodchip mulch.

I would use this tool mostly for light-duty container or indoor gardening, as the cast aluminum blade is not especially sharp, and it suffers from “no tang.”

The blade is welded onto the large, soft-molded grip, which gives it a weak point if you’re doing heavy duty work.

The blade is 7 inches long with a 5 1/2-inch comfortable handle with an orange end, which makes it easy to locate. It doesn’t come with a sheath and I’ve not managed to find one that fits, so you’ll need to keep this in your gardening bag.

See more information and check prices at Home Depot or via Amazon now.

Features

  • 5.5-inch padded handle with a hole for hanging
  • 7-inch tapered, concave blade with serrated and straight edge
  • 9.6 ounces
  • Two-pronged weeding tip at the end
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Pros

  • Lightweight, easy to use
  • Coated blade is rust-resistant
  • Ideal for container or indoor gardening
  • Comfortable grip won’t tire your hands
  • Good value for the price

Cons

  • The blade is welded to the handle, so can break off in heavy compacted soil
  • Blades not especially sharp
  • No sheath available

If you’re looking for something budget-friendly, lightweight, and comfortable for all those transplanting, weeding, and light digging duties, this option from Fiskars fits the bill. Just don’t expect it to be as robust or sharp as the other products we’ve discussed.

Ideal for patio gardening, it hangs on the wall for storage and does a solid job of maintaining your pots and hanging baskets.

Head over to Home Depot to check prices and customer reviews. The Fiskars Big Grip is also available via Amazon.

The Multifaceted Hori Hori

The multi-purpose Japanese hori hori knife features a large, concave blade with one straight, sharp edge and one serrated edge, and it usually has a ruler etched on the blade.

The two cutting edges are superb for sod cutting, edging, dividing perennials, slashing, pruning, harvesting, and sawing. This tool is even useful as a small hand axe.

The blade is usually 7-8 inches long, small enough to carry around for a number of garden chores.

What’s In a Name?

Originally designed as a bonsai gardening tool, the name “hori hori” comes from the Japanese verb 掘る (horu) which means “dig,” and 掘り(hori) which is a derivative.

When written in Japanese, ホリホリ is translated as “dig-dig” – the products themselves are called ホリホリナイフ (Hori Hori Naifu), using the English word “knife.”

For readers in New Zealand, these knives are sold at Mitre 10 and Bunnings as “Japanese DigiDigi,” for obvious reasons.

Buying Considerations

When shopping around for your Japanese hori hori knife, there are a few things to keep in mind when comparing different models:

Tang

The tang is the part of the knife that extends from the heel of the blade into the handle, and is referred to as either full or partial.

A full tang is formed in one continuous piece with the blade, and extends all the way to the butt of the handle. A partial tang extends only partway into the handle.

For heavy-duty use, a full tang provides maximum strength for prying and leveraging duties.

A simple way to determine if a knife has a full tang is to look for metal sandwiched between the handle sections all the way to the handle butt.

Ergonomic Comfort

One of the most important aspects of a tool is comfortable usability.

You may use a gardening knife frequently, for everything from light to heavy duties. So, you need to be sure it can provide long-lasting, comfortable, fatigue-free use.

For easy maneuverability, you need a well-balanced blade and handle construction to minimize stress on the palm, wrist, and forearm.

Whether it’s made from wood or plastic, the handle design should provide a solid, secure grip.

Many prefer wood for its natural feel and easy grasp.

Others prefer a more ergonomic handle for an especially secure grip, with less likelihood of palm and finger stress.

Stain and Corrosion Resistance

As with any tool, resistance to stains and corrosion are important factors for a garden knife.

Stainless steel offers the best stain and corrosion protection.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Clean your knife after every use to keep it in top condition.

Remove sticky sap and resin with a drop of mineral spirits. Before storing, wipe blades with an oiled rag.

Remove dirt from handles as needed. Two or three times a year, give wooden ones a rub with linseed oil, to keep them supple and prevent them from cracking.

Gardening can be tough on blades, so sharpen the beveled edge regularly with a whetstone, or in the case of the Truly Garden model, with the sharpening tool provided.

To sharpen the serrated edge, you might want to consider a sharpening tool such as this one, available from Speedy Sharp via Amazon. It sharpens any and all blades, and makes a compact, durable addition to your garden shed.

A Double-Edged Sword

Choosing the right garden knife is easy when you know what to look for, and now you’re ready to choose one that’s comfortable, durable, and ideal for your purposes.

A close up of a Japanese gardening knife with a concave blade and a depth measurement in millimeters and inches. To the left of the frame is a hand wearing a leather gardening glove and in the background is soil.
Photo by Arthur Violy, Wikimedia Commons, via CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Japanese hori hori knife is so versatile, you might decide that it’s the only gardening tool you need, especially if you have a small garden or grow mostly in containers.

Will it be the sleek design of the Nisaku with the ergonomic handle that tempts you? Or do you prefer the dagger-esque contours of the Sensei?

Just remember to keep it clean and well-sharpened for years of reliable service in the garden.

Do you have any garden knife pointers to share? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

And if you are looking to expand your garden tool collection, check out these guides next:

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on February 8, 2020. Last updated: May 21, 2020 at 16:29 pm. Significantly revised and edited from an original article by Lorna Kring, with additional editing by Allison Sidhu. Product Photos via Fiskars, Home Depot, Nisaku, Sensei Tools, and Truly Garden. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

About Clare Groom

Clare Groom’s gardening experience ranges from tropical East Africa – where common crop pests included elephants as well as aphids – to growing a cottage garden in the Cotswolds, England. A writer from London, Clare retired from the high-octane world of professional financial futures trading to live a peaceful life in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand – and to pursue her love of words. When she's not writing and editing, she's chasing possums off her zucchini and renovating an old house in a small town – slowly, and not very surely.

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Jean W
Jean W (@guest_7959)
4 months ago

Complete and clear instructions. Thank you for including links to products you’ve used!

Charlie N
Charlie N (@guest_8534)
3 months ago

I bought a stainless-steel Nisaku NJP800 to replace my old carbon-steel hori-hori (which I sadly managed to throw out with my heavyweight garden rubbish). But I find I MUCH prefer (and it’s cheaper!) carbon-steel to stainless: so I’ve just bought 2 Niwaki hori-horis …. BLISS!