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Hori Hori | EarthCare Tool Profile

Updated: Mar 4, 2020

Our favorite garden hand tool is the hori hori; each LadyBug owns one and has it on her person at all times. Sometimes referred to as a Japanese Garden Knife, the hori hori was originally used to carefully extract sansai plants from the Japanese mountainside*.

The blade itself is about 7 inches long (marked accordingly to make it the perfect tool for planting bulbs) and concave, to aid in cutting into and digging through tough soil. One side of the knife is smooth, and the other is deeply serrated, allowing it to be used for thicker stems and roots –depending on the sharpness, the former could substitute as an ax, the latter for a handsaw.

The hori hori was born of necessity not in the garden, but class warfare. Japanese peasants working in rice fields for feudal lords were not permitted to bear arms in an attempt to discourage rebellion. Hidden in plain sight, the 7-inch hori hori was just a few inches shy of a samurai’s shortsword, and therefore not considered a threat by those who ruled over both groups*.

It is unclear as to whether or not the hori hori is responsible for the collapse of feudal Japan, but we LadyBugs like the idea of this tool empowering earthworkers around the world, for centuries.

Written by Olivia M


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