What is the Chikiri Part in a Japanese Knife and How to Use It?

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The chikiri part is a small metal part attached to a Japanese knife. It allows you to open the knife quickly and easily. It’s a part of the Higonokami knife, which is a traditional Japanese folding pocket knife.

So let’s look at what it is and how it works.

What is the chikiri on a Japanese knife

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Unraveling the Chikiri: The Heart of the Higonokami Knife

As I held the Higonokami knife (I actually have the ones with the best blades I’ve tested in this article) in my hand, I couldn’t help but notice the chikiri, a small yet important part of the design. This little lever, attached to the blade, is responsible for opening the knife with ease. The chikiri is a true testament to Japanese craftsmanship, as it plays a crucial role in providing a simple and effective opening mechanism without the need for a locking system.

Lightweight and Sharp: The Perfect Combination

One of the reasons I love Higonokami knives is their lightweight design, making them ideal for various uses. The chikiri is no exception, as it is made from the same high-quality steel as the blade. This ensures that the knife remains sharp and easy to handle, even during delicate cutting tasks. Some of the common uses for these knives include:

  • Carving wood
  • Sharpening pencils
  • Slicing fruit
  • Opening boxes and cutting tape

Blue and White Steel: A Tale of Two Metals

The Higonokami knife boasts a unique lamination process, where the blade’s core is sandwiched between layers of softer steel. This creates a strong and durable cutting edge, perfect for making clean and precise cuts. The chikiri is typically made from either blue or white steel, each with its own set of benefits:

  • Blue steel: Known for its excellent edge retention and ability to be sharpened to a razor’s edge
  • White steel: Easier to sharpen and considered the purest form of carbon steel

Chikiri: A Handy Tool for Students and Professionals Alike

I remember my days as a student, when a Higonokami knife with its chikiri feature was an essential tool in my pencil case. The ease of opening the knife with the chikiri made it perfect for quick sharpening sessions between classes. Even now, as a professional, I find myself reaching for my trusty Higonokami when I need a reliable and easy-to-use cutting tool.

Integral to the Higonokami Experience

The chikiri is an integral part of the Higonokami knife, as it protrudes from the butt of the handle and allows for easy opening. When the knife is closed, the chikiri sits flush with the handle, ensuring a sleek and compact design. As I’ve come to learn, the chikiri is not just a design element, but a vital part of the Higonokami experience, making it a must-have for knife enthusiasts and casual users alike.

Unlocking the Secrets of Chikiri: More Than Just a Pretty Design

I remember the first time I laid eyes on a chikiri, a traditional Japanese butterfly joint used in woodworking. It was during my trip to Japan, where I had the opportunity to visit a small workshop in the city of Seki. The artisans there were hard at work, creating intricate designs and structures using this unique technique. Chikiri is an important aspect of Japanese woodworking, holding two pieces of wood together in a clean and elegant manner. It’s not just about making a strong joint; it’s about creating a piece of art.

Chikiri in Knives: A Delicate Balance of Form and Function

As a knife enthusiast, I was thrilled to discover that chikiri plays a significant role in the design and function of certain Japanese knives, particularly the Higonokami. The chikiri part of a Higonokami knife is a small, flat metal piece attached to the handle, providing a locking mechanism for the blade. This simple yet effective design allows for quick and easy opening and closing of the knife, making it an ideal tool for a variety of cutting tasks.

Some of the key features of chikiri in knives include:

  • Lightweight design: The chikiri is made from a thin sheet of metal, usually brass, which keeps the overall weight of the knife low.
  • Easy to use: The chikiri can be easily manipulated with one hand, allowing for quick and efficient cuts.
  • Improved safety: The chikiri locks the blade in place, reducing the risk of accidental injuries while using the knife.

Chikiri: A Symbol of Japanese Craftsmanship

The use of chikiri in knives is a testament to the skill and dedication of Japanese artisans. The city of Seki, where I first encountered chikiri, has a long history of producing high-quality knives and swords. In fact, many of the top knife brands in the country, such as Fuji and Mujun, are based in this region.

The incorporation of chikiri in knife design is just one example of how traditional Japanese techniques are being adapted for modern use. While the popularity of chikiri in woodworking may have declined over the years, its presence in knives is a reminder of the rich history and craftsmanship associated with this unique technique.

Discovering Chikiri for Yourself

If you’re interested in experiencing the beauty and functionality of chikiri firsthand, I recommend checking out some of the following products:

  • Higonokami knives: As mentioned earlier, these traditional Japanese knives feature a chikiri as part of their design. They come in various sizes and materials, including carbon steel, blue steel, and white steel.
  • Custom knives: Some knife manufacturers offer custom designs that incorporate chikiri elements. These unique pieces are a great way to add a touch of Japanese craftsmanship to your collection.
  • Woodworking tools: If you’re more interested in the woodworking aspect of chikiri, consider investing in some high-quality Japanese woodworking tools. These tools often feature chikiri joints, allowing you to create your own intricate designs and structures.

So, whether you’re a knife enthusiast, a woodworking aficionado, or simply someone who appreciates fine craftsmanship, chikiri is a fascinating aspect of Japanese culture that’s worth exploring.


The Japanese chikiri is a small part that helps open a knife. It’s a butterfly joint that makes the knife easier to open with just a little lever. 

It’s a great way to add some Japanese craftsmanship to your woodworking projects. So don’t be afraid to give it a try!

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.