Thursday, July 19, 2012

Never Take Your Hori Hori to Jury Duty

More on that later, first, the Hori Hori is one of the best and most useful tools in my Gardener's 'belt'.  Hori Hori is a Japanese name (meaning dig dig), one might commonly call it a digging knife, and if you are in the Marines you would call it your best friend for hand to hand combat.  The good ones are made of stainless steel or carbon steel, are very heavy, with a serrated edge on one side and a mostly sharp edge on the other.  They are also concave on one side that helps in scooping.

Carbon Steel
This is a serious tool that can do so many wonderful things.  It is great for digging and planting annuals, perennials and bulbs.  It will easily loosen soil, cut roots, open bags, help in cultivating soil and threaten speeders going down your street too fast.  All parts of the knife are used when digging, dividing and transplanting plants.  With a little care for the handle and blade it will last a long time.

Stainless Steel
There are many other types of digging knives on the market, but they lack the gravitas of the Hori Hori.  You may have bent a trowel or other tool in the past, but that won't be the problem here as it is thick and unbreakable.  You may want to have a lighter trowel for easy work in soft soil, but this tool will work through any soil.  I have pretty big hands and strong arms and wrists and don't have a problem with this blade, but some of you might prefer the lighter stainless steel version.  It is a little longer and thinner and a few ounces lighter.

About ten years ago when I was running a garden design and maintenance business, we used these tools in our client's gardens.  One day I had Jury Duty in the Republic of Cambridge and had forgotten that I had a new Hori Hori in my work bag (probably the exact same one pictured on top from Hida Tool).   I unwittingly took it with me to Jury Duty as I was planning to catch up on paperwork.  Upon entering the courthouse and passing through security, I noticed that several people had started to move in my direction and a rather large Police Officer confronted me.  He asked if I had any weapons in my bag ( which was a messenger-type briefcase), and I said I was a horticulturist and it was just a bunch of papers, having forgotten said new tool in the bag.

He reached into my bag and pulled out, what in this context, looked like a 15" knife that would be used to cause mayhem.  I laughed and said that it was my Hori Hori, a gardening tool used to dig in the ground.  As you might expect, he and his fellow armed officers were not amused by my light-hearted answer to the question. I was pulled aside as they tried to determine if I was dangerous or just the idiot gardener I professed to be.

The officer said that he would not allow me to take the knife in, and, in fact, he would not give it back to me as he classified it as an illegal weapon.  Since they bought my story that I was a gardener, they let me in to perform my civil duty and was released by the end of the day about one pound lighter without my Hori Hori.

Whether it is legal or not it is a terror in the garden and one of my favorite tools along with the other tools mentioned in my Weeding Post.  


  1. A friend of mine who is a college president has a similar story about going through airport security; she didn't realize that the bag she was carrying still held the butcher knife she had been using to carve pumpkins with her children!

    Another good reason not to take your hori-hori to jury duty would be that good gardening tools are precious and have to be safeguarded against loss -- or confiscation by the authorities. -Jean

  2. A well regulated garden, being necessary to the happiness of a free citizenry, the right of the people to keep and bear hori-horis shall not be infringed.

  3. I would have been upset that they didn't return my hori-hori! Nowadays you probably would have been detained for some serious questioning ...forget about jury duty! I have seen these advertised. I think it would be a good thing for my heavy clay soil.

  4. Not a mistake to take lightly. Lucky you did not end up in the pokey!