The Best Japanese Pocket Knives

If you are looking for an excellent everyday carry (EDC) pocket knife from Japan, the following are some of the best folders you can buy there.

Many people seem to believe the hype that there are American knife firms that produce in Japan, Chinese knife companies that use Japanese steel, and even Japanese knife companies that manufacture in the United States. There does not seem to be a great deal of excitement around folding knives that are conceived in Japan and manufactured thereby Japanese firms.

I thought it would be fun to browse around and see what my alternatives were in that area, and I ended up discovering a whole new category of interesting gentlemen carries as a result of my exploration. The majority of these businesses are ones that I had never heard of before, but they have been producing some pretty amazing items for quite some time (although, to be honest, I had generally just been familiar with the businesses that manufacture kitchen knives).

The majority of it is on the more compact side, presumably as a result of Japan’s very stringent knife legislation; yet, they still feature well-tuned steel on some unique designs that vary from hard-use EDC knives to collectible gentlemen folders.


Friction Folders from Japan

  • Ohta FK5
  • Higonokami Friction Folder

Modern Style Japanese Folders

  • Katsu Bamboo
  • Katsu Camping Pocket Folder
  • Mcusta 146 Bamboo
  • Mcusta Katana
  • Moki Kronos Lockback
  • Moki 107AP Pendant


The design of each of them is derived on a single kind of friction folder that became popular in Japan in the late 1800s. They were usually relatively tiny, and the majority of their applications were for routine home chores. Over the past few years, there have been some significant changes to the overall design.



Ohta Knives FK5

Folder Cocobolo OFK5CO

4″ closed. D2 tool steel blade. Cocobolo wood handle. Extended tang. Lanyard hole. Black leather sleeve.

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  • Length Across the Board: 5.5 Inches
  • Length of the Blade: 5.1 cm
  • Style of the Knife: Reverse Tanto
  • Steel: D2
  • Grind: Flat
  • Cocobolo wood is used for the handle’s construction.
  • Tang is an open system.
  • Carry Method: Pocket (Carry System)
  • Price Ranging from $50 to $75

The design of the Japanese friction folder has been given a rather significant makeover with this upgrade. The production process is somewhat more sophisticated, and it makes use of steel that is more durable and a handle material that is somewhat better. Ohta has even gone to the extent of developing a model that includes a carbon fiber grip as an additional option. If you’re like me and have trouble getting items out of your pocket, the leather sheath that comes with the knife is a welcome addition since a knife of this size has the potential to go lost in your pocket very quickly.

Due to the fact that it is rather difficult to reconcile the size with the price, the FK5 may fall more into the category of “cool collectible” for a lot of people rather than being a convenient EDC tool. However, it might prove to be a useful collectible.



Higo no Kami

10 Pocket Knife by Nagao Seisakusho, Brass Finish

The Higo no Kami folding knife has a long history in Japan dating back to the late 19th century. A blacksmith is said to have added a simple lever to a minimally designed pocket knife to aid in opening and closing the blade and to set it apart from other knives.

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  • Length Across the Whole: 6.25 Inches
  • 2.6 inches in blade length
  • Style of the Knife: Reverse Tanto
  • Steel, specifically blue paper steel
  • Grind: Flat
  • The material of the handle is brass
  • Tang is an open system.
  • Carry Method: Pocket (Carry System)
  • Price Ranging from $15 to $30

This is the first folder that was created for Higonokami. Or, at the very least, it’s a folder made by the company that invented the design well over a century ago and has been in business ever since. The legacy of creating them was passed down via family apprenticeship inside the Nagao Kanekoma Knife business over the course of many years; yet, the design, particularly in the grind of the blade, has evolved significantly over the course of several generations.

Under the Nagao Kanekoma Knife brand name, Mitsuo Nagao continues to handcraft these knives and variants of them at the present day. Because that particular business has the trademark for the “Higonokami” brand, the only knives that may legitimately be called “Higonokami” are the ones that are produced by Mitsuo. It is imperative that you keep this in mind since there are many forgeries being circulated in today’s world.

If you only searched for “Higonokami knife,” you would see a large range of designs ranging from different kinds of steel to different handle materials and different lengths (and price). However, the brass is undoubtedly the element that most immediately calls to mind the “classic” design. As a nice letter opener for your desk, it is definitely worth having for the amount you pay for it.

This was not designed to be an EDC for heavy-duty usage, and some users have noted that the blade is often not centered, but it is still capable of making clean cuts, and it weighs very little. When they were originally put into use in Japan at the end of the 19th century, the majority of their functions consisted of things like sharpening pencils and other writing implements.

This is primarily just a nice letter opener now since pencil sharpeners and pencils themselves have become useless thanks to contemporary technology. But despite that, it’s quite cool.


Having retraced our steps, we are once more on familiar ground. It turns out that Japanese knife businesses aren’t all about manufacturing traditional Japanese goods, but some of them do still use a “Japanese” aesthetic that results in something that is a little bit different from the EDCs that we swing over here all the time.



KATSU Handmade D2 Steel Blade

Folding Knife with Pocket Clip

Total Length: 7.5 inches /Closed Length: 4.5 inches /Width: 1.1 inches /Blade Length: 3 inches /Blade thickness: 3.5 mm /Blade: D2 Tool Steel /Handel: G10 /Item weight: 95 g

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  • Length Throughout: 7 5/8 Inches
  • 3.0 inches of blade length
  • Style of the Blade: Reverse Tanto
  • Steel: D2
  • Grind: Hollow
  • G-10 is used for the handle material.
  • Tang is an open system.
  • Tip-up clip is the carrying system used.
  • Lock of the Liner Variety
  • $50 is the price range.

Katsu is a relatively young firm, but they have sprung onto the market with the unmistakable goal of bringing the Higonokami aesthetic all the way into the 21st century. They not only gave it a pocket clip and G10 scales, but they also made it 7.5 inches long, which is the standard length for knives in the United States.

I have no idea what traditionalists think of their wares, but I can declare without the embarrassment that I take pleasure in being patronized in this manner despite my penchant for pocket clips and my propensity to misplace even the smallest of knives nearly soon after purchasing them.

This specific model does not live up to the expectations you may have had for what it would be like in actuality. It has the appearance of a sophisticated and up-to-date Higinokami, and it is a pleasant gentleman’s carry that can be used for transporting items about town. There are just a few odd components, and they don’t quite fit together well enough to make it the fantastic bargain knife that it might have been.

Although it has an amazing blade, it is somewhat let down by an uncomfortable grip; yet, it is still an alternative road to pursue with your $50 and may be considered an option.



KATSU Camping Pocket Folding Japanese Knife

Stonewashed Cleaver Razor Blade, Leather Sheath

Overall Length: 9 inch Closed Length: 5 inch Blade Length: 3.9 inch Blade thickness: 4.0mm Blade: VG-10 Steel Handle: Titanium & Carbon Fiber Handle Item weight: 145g

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  • Length Over All: 9.0 Inches
  • 3.9 inches of blade length
  • Style of the Blade: Reverse Tanto
  • Steel: VG-10
  • Grind: Flat
  • Titanium with carbon fiber inlays is the material used for the handle
  • Tang is an open system
  • A tip-up clip is the carrying system used
  • Lock of the Frame Variety
  • The price range is from $115 to 120

Katsu continues to use the Higonokami design and is bludgeoning their way into the Millenium with this knife that has an unusual name and maybe overbuilt. They took the original concept for a friction folder, keeping the blade-style (kind of) and the front flip opening, and then redesigned it such that weights can be lifted with it.

There are no words to describe how awesome this thing is. We’re basically building on a friction folder design that has practically no concept of what that design is designed for, and I’m in love with it. It has a titanium handle, and it has a frame lock. Both of those features make it a monster.

They accomplish many things with this model that they ought to have done with the more affordable Bamboo model in G10, but they do those things with this model instead. I am aware that the two seem to be the same person’s identical relatives, but the titanium one has all of the minute features that I longed for while I was touching the Katsu Bamboo incorporated into it. Therefore, the price of this knife is readily justified for those who like bigger pocket knives.

However, the fact that they refer to it as a “camping pocket folder” makes me a little bit hesitant. It’s not like you couldn’t use it as a decent camping knife. There is really nothing about the knife that gives the impression that this should be emphasized.

On the other hand, it has nothing to do with me personally, so I wonder if perhaps its name was mistranslated for some reason, which I presumed to be something along the lines of “Bear Killer.” Yet, it has nothing to do with me.



Mcusta Bamboo

Bamboo Linerlock

Type: Liner lock; Closed: 3. 875″; Blade: 2. 75″ l VG-10 Cobalt Stainless. l Standard Edge; Handle: Brown; Other Info: Thumb Stud(s) l Pocket Clip. Bamboo shaped African ebony wood handles with brushed satin Damascus steel bolster. Tsuchime (hammered) reversible pocket clip. Black nylon and brown leather belt sheath. Boxed.

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  • Length Across the Board: 6.5 Inches
  • 2.75 inches of blade length
  • Drop point is the kind of blade.
  • Steel: VG-10
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Ebonywood with a steel bolster makes up the handle’s material.
  • Thumb stud constitutes an open system
  • Carry System consists of a reversible tip-up clip as well as a nylon or leather bag
  • Lock of the Liner Variety
  • The price range is from $220 to 230

The 146 Bamboo is a great representation of Mcusta’s overall design philosophy and philosophy of design in general. They have an innovative method for manufacturing knives that, despite their contemporary appearance, retain some aspect of the classic appearance of Japanese cutlery. Although it may not necessarily go well with all of their knives, in this particular instance, they have developed a fairly interesting handle and made use of some top-notch materials.

Even while the blade itself is a touch dull, they do produce a good Damascus steel version of it, which makes it much more intriguing. I admit that I would never describe it as stylish, but I do know a few people who, if I were to take it out of my pocket, would exclaim, “That’s some fancy shit.” While I would never stoop so low as to call it “stylish,” I know a few people who would exclaim, “That’s some fancy shit.”.”




Folder Knife, 4.25in. Closed

Features a 3.25 in. San Mai steel blade and a 4.25 in. black/blue aluminum handle. Comes complete with a pocket clip.

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  • Length Throughout: 7 5/8 Inches
  • 3.25 inches of blade length
  • Tanto is the kind of blade
  • Steel: VG-10
  • Grind: Hollow
  • The material of the handle is aluminum
  • Thumb stud constitutes an open system
  • The tip-down clip is the carrying system
  • Lock of the Liner Variety
  • The cost ranges from 120 to 150 dollars

This is more along the lines of the aesthetic that the majority of people anticipate when they hear the term “Japanese folder.” It has a sleek handle and seems to have some hints of a minimalist design ethos to it, yet it seems like a mean-looking tanto blade.

It would be an excellent present for a kid of thirteen years old who has just recently become interested in anime, or even for a lad of thirty years old who has only recently developed the self-assurance to say in public that he enjoys watching anime. In any scenario, it’s a thoughtful and useful present.

The Katana made by Mcusta features a slicey shape and a smooth motion. But this one looks great, and I’m half confident that the indents make a substantial difference in grip, and are part of the reason prices are generally $100 rather than $200. Aluminum handles are always a bit on the shaky side for me, but I like this one, and the indentations should increase grip.



Moki MK533ANZ

Moki MK533ANZ Lockback

3 3/4″ closed. Mirror polished VG-10 stainless blade. Amber bone stag handles with brushed stainless bolster. Lanyard hole. Genuine leather sheath. “Moki Knife” pays careful attention to the material of the handles and produces attractive knives one at a time. “Moki Kife” uses various well-selected natural materials for knife handle inlays, such as the shell from white and black M. O. P. abalone harvested by divers from the bottom of the South pacific, and Lignum-vitae known as the “tree of life” for some limited models.

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  • Length Across the Board: 6.5 Inches
  • 2.75 inches of blade length
  • The drop point is the kind of blade.
  • Steel: VG-10
  • Grind: Flat
  • The material of the handle is stag bone with a steel bolster.
  • Nail nick is an open system.
  • Canvas sheath serves as the carrier system.
  • Lockback is the kind of lock.
  • The price range is from 140 to 150

It seems that the vast majority of Moki’s folding knives are fashioned after this traditional Lockback style. They produce a number of lock backs that have a type of American vintage swing and a good appearance overall. It also has a canvas sheath, which is not something you see very frequently and is one of the things that sets it apart from other similar products.

The reason I don’t take it with me too long is that I have a feeling someone wearing a tweed jacket with a curly mustache will ask me where I got it, and I am not ready to deal with such a situation gracefully. Despite how much I like the way it looks, though, it makes me worry that someone will ask me where I got it.

This knife’s price does not fully reflect its vintage status. Walmart is likely to sell something that is very identical to this one at a price that is one-tenth as low as the one being asked here. But before you pass judgment based just on the cost, you should consider the vendor you are purchasing it from.

Moki is not a low-priced brand that is of low quality. In point of fact, it’s quite probable that you’ve previously used a knife created by Moki without even realizing it. They are a manufacturer with their headquarters in Seki, and in the past, they have made products for a variety of bigger firms, including Spyderco, Kershaw, and Al Mar. (unless my loose research is mistaken).

All of this goes to show that they are experts at using premium knives, and it is only right that the price reflects that level of expertise.



Moki Knives 107AP Mini Pendant Small Folder Pocket Knife

White Mother of Pearl Insert Inlaid with Apple Coral

Polished stainless handles with mother of pearl insert inlaid with apple coral. Keyring with lanyard. Leather slip pouch. “Moki Knife” pays careful attention to the material of the handles and produces attractive knives one at time. “Moki Kife” uses various well-selected natural materials for knife handle inlays, such as the shell from white and black M. O. P. abalone harvested by divers from the bottom of the South pacific, and Lignum-vitae known as the “tree of life” for some limited models.

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  • Length Across the Whole: 2.75 Inches
  • 1.13 inches of blade length
  • The drop point is the kind of blade.
  • Steel: VG-10
  • Grind: Flat
  • The material for the Handle is Mother of Pearl
  • Nail nick is an open system.
  • A keychain or a leather pouch may be used as a carrying system.
  • Locking Mechanism: Slip joint
  • Price Ranging from $60 to $65

This knife has my resounding and unqualified objections.

Even though it’s made by Moki, or that it’s inlaid with mother-of-pearl, or that it’s made of VG-10 steel, or that it comes with a pouch that’s nice to carry around your neck and with a cord to attach to your keyring, none of that matters to me because I will still go for it regardless. A quality piece of equipment can be used for a long period of time, but it must be of good quality.

Because it is so handy to have a little knife on your keys or hanging around your neck, I am certain that if I summoned up the will to take this outdoors, I would end up using it quite a bit. It is really useful to have a knife of this size on your person at all times.

That is a terrific notion, and who knows what facets of my life would alter irrevocably if I could simply square my shoulders and carry it out the door with any degree of pride. That being said, who can tell what aspects of my life may change forever?

I’m not going to deny that this is a knife that quite a few individuals may benefit from having in their possession. I will admit that, once all is said and done, my muscles are not strong enough to be able to carry it.

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