The Hori Hori Knife is one of the most popular gardening tools to be imported from Japan. Hori is a form of the verb horu, which means “to dig”. The question often arises, why does it look so much like a weapon? One theory postulates that the Hori Hori Knife evolved because Japanese farmers needed their farming tools to double as weapons.
The Hori Hori Knife has a straight edge and a serrated edge and can cut plant roots, weed and be used for digging and planting. The modern Hori Hori Knife is slightly smaller than the Japanese short sword (shoto – wakizashi). Gardeners interested in having the versatile Hori Hori Knife to use in their own gardens have their choice of dozens of designs, some of carbon steel, and others of stainless steel. Most come with a scabbard.
Excerpted from "A Travelers Guide to Japan"