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Shopper’s Diary: Garden Tool Bag Essentials from Niwaki

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Shopper’s Diary: Garden Tool Bag Essentials from Niwaki

March 16, 2016

UK-based gardener Jake Hobson founded Niwaki a decade ago to bring  high-quality Japanese tools to gardeners around the world. The company has grown from offering home-printed brochure with a grande total of three products to its current collection of must-have hand tools that we consider tool bag essentials.

These days,  Hobson visits Japan every year to source new tools from artisans and makers who have small workshops with a cult following. “My wife, Keiko, is Japanese, so it helps,” says Hobson, who visits blacksmiths and craftsmen in search of the best hand-forged pruners.

Niwaki, which delivers by Fedex to the US, is offering Gardenista readers a special offer this month: click here for Free Worldwide Shipping.

Here are our favorite Japan-made essentials for a gardener’s tool bag:

Pruners

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Above: Made in Mimi City, Onoyoshi Secateurs have forged steel blades and come with a spare spring; £49.17 (£59 including VAT).

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Above: For shipping in the US, Niwaki’s Onoyoshi Secateurs have “beautiful weight, with a smooth, powerful action,” says Hobson.

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Above: Okatsune Secateurs are “the No. 1 choice for professional gardeners in Japan,” says Hobson. “Unlike western brands, which rely on cushioning and gearing for a smooth feel, these have a more direct action, resulting in a very clean, efficient cut.” A pair is £36.

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Above: “The big chunky catch at the bottom has a crisp action that’s easy to use, even with cold wet hands or muddy gloves, and the spring is well secured and never accidentally pops out,” says Hobson.

Topiary Clippers

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Above: A pair of Wakasaya Clippers is £32.50 (£39 including VAT).

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Above: Wakasaya Topiary Clippers have 5-inch blades and a spring action.

Snips

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Above: Master blacksmith Tsuneichi Okano founded Hiroshima-based Okatsune 70 years ago to forge high-quality hand tools. The company’s collection of snips and shears has distinctive red and white handles. A pair of  small Okatsune Snips (£10) “are absolutely brilliant for flowers, fruit and veg,” says Hobson. “They’ll even handle light woody growth, but aren’t as tough as secateurs, obviously.’

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Above: “Pointy ends are great for getting right in for careful snipping, red and white handles show up when you (almost inevitably) leave them lying around somewhere,” says Hobson.

Sharpening Stones


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Above: A sharpening stone sized and shaped specially for the blades of pruners and snips, the Goukon #1000 has a fine grit for regular maintenance.  Two other grits are available as well: Goukon #220 (coarse) and Goukon #3000 (superfine); £10 apiece or £25 for all three.

Sickle

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Above: With a serrated blade, a Herbaceous Sickle works well on grasses; £12.08 (£14.50 including VAT).

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Above: To trim grasses, “grab a handful, cut with a single, strong sawing action,” says Hobson.

For more of our favorite Garden Tools, see Tools of the Trade: Copper Hand Tools from Grafa and 10 Favorite Garden Forks.

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