A field guide to the incredible scissors of Japan

Yasukuni Notomi ("a writer who has covered the world of stationery for many years") provides an introduction to the creative explosion in Japanese scissor-design, beginning with the "Pencut," a scissor that fits in a normal pencil-case, with retractable elastic loops for your fingers and full-length blades so you don't sacrifice power for portability.

A successor design, the Stickyle Scissors, dispenses with the loops by springloading the scissors so they open after every squeeze, like tinsnips.

In contrast to these ultra-portables, there are the innovations in blade and handle-designs that allow scissors to slice through wire and other tough materials, starting with the Fitcut Curve and evolving into the Hikigiri, which use long cutting edges to produce a "pull-cut" that are billed as reducing the amount of needed force by 75%.

More radical are the Swingcuts, whose off-center pivot produces a similar long, high-leverage cut that is compounded by grip position.

In the higher-performance realm are scissors like the Midori Portable Multi Scissors (a "multiscissors" that were designed to slice through credit-cards, while the Hakoake is optimized for shipping-receivers, designed to break down and slice through cardboard, tough elastic, wire, twine and packing tape. Another receiving scissor is the Kokuyo Aerofit Saxa, whose blade-edges are designed to minimize the amount of tape that adheres to them.

Notomi gives top marks to Carl Manufacturing's Xscissors with "muscular blades" that are hand-sharpened by artisans, which Notomi thinks might kick off a new arms-race in Japanese scissor manufacturing.

Many of these models are available in the USA for under $15 (not the Xscissors, alas -- but we've got a family holiday coming up in Japan and I plan on finding a pair when I go shopping for one of Seamus's amazing notebooks).

Kokuyo's Airofit Saxa and Saxa, an upgraded version of the former, have blades that both curve away from each other so that the angle they form at the cutting point is wider than if they were straight. This strategy improves performance, especially near the tip. Multiple other features also enhance performance. The blades, for example, are shaped in a way that makes them less prone to attract sticky stuff when slicing through duct tape. The gripping ends, meanwhile, extend deep into the plastic handle, ensuring maximum clamping force.

The cutting-edge of cutting: How Japanese scissors have evolved [Yasukuni Notomi/Nikkei Asian Review]

(via Beyond the Beyond)