Like Snap-on and Mac Tools in the US, or KNIPEX in Germany, there are large numbers of Japanese tool brands that attract engineers and DIYers domestically and internationally. Some of them feature a wide selection of products while others have been dedicating themselves to developing a specific product only. Although you may see some of these brands at stores near you, you may not be able to obtain the one that meets your needs without some basic knowledge on what each brand specializes in.
To prevent such a failure, this blog post provides a list of Japanese tool brands: there are 52 in total! We hope this article will help you to identify the brands that are best suited to your operations and achieve better work performance.
Allex (Hayashi Cutlery) – scissors
Located in a town called Seki, a place famous for processing high-quality cutlery, Hayashi Cutlery has been manufacturing a series of technical shears under the brand of Allex: a coined term that combines “all” and “expand” to express further development in everything. These include surgical scissors and general-use scissors called Powerful Cutter.
Anex (Kaneko Mfg) – low profile screwdrivers
Anex stands for “Action, Nice and Excellent”, and is designed by a screwdriver specialist called Kaneko Mfg Corporation. Among their products, a type of screwdriver called low profile screwdriver (also known as offset screwdriver) is popular among workers in the construction and industrial sectors.
ARS Corporation – garden shears
Garden shears from ARS Corporation are positively evaluated by professional horticulturalists. This brand is famous for its catchy alligator logo (it is a boy named Arsuke) in which its opened jaw represents the blades of pruning shears while its serrated back represents saw teeth. ARS also offers saws, hedge shears, lopping shears, and long reach pruners.
Canary (Hasagawa Cutlery) – cardboard cutter
The Canary series produces various kinds of scissors from handcraft to professional purposes. Their main product, the cardboard cutter, has serrations on both edges yet its tip is round, so you can smoothly and safely cut the cardboard with less possibility of damaging the contents inside it.
Dogyu (Imoto Hamono Co.) – pry bars/scrapers
Dogyu is a Japanese tool brand that is known for its hammers, but its pry bars and scrapers also have gained a positive reputation from users all over the world. In addition, there is a utility scraper for cleansing the sirocco fan, range hood, and grooves of the sash. Dogyu even produces a scraper for removing fish scales.
Engineer Inc – pliers
Engineer is a professional tool maker in Osaka, and is famous for its brand called Nejisaurus. The patented serrations on their jaws are designed to remove tricky screws that conventional pliers cannot even grip. Other noteworthy products from Engineer include a liquid-type rust remover, multifunctional scissors, and crimpers with interchangeable dies.
Fujiya – pliers
What you can expect from Fujiya’s pliers, especially their blades, is good cutting ability and durability. Despite most tool manufacturers mechanizing most of their production process, Fujiya continues creating products by hand. Fujiya pliers’ high functionality is the result of their long-established artisanship.
Godhand – model tools
If your hobby is either creating model vehicles, plastic models (also termed as plamodel in Japan), accessories, wire sculptures, or figure model kits, tools from Godhand may be useful for you. One of the most famous products originally made by Godhand is Kamiyasu: a spongy abrasive paper that allows you to sand an area in narrow spaces.
Hakko – soldering tools
What Hakko produces is tools for soldering, and if you usually engage in such tasks, their products are the ones for you. There are various types of soldering instruments from those ideal for lead-free soldering to easy-to-use de-soldering tools. Some of their products are compatible with IoT to minimize human errors.
Hikoki - power tools
Hikoki (it is pronounced as “hai-kou-ki”) has expertise in power tools for DIY, professionals, and horticulture. It is said that Hikoki is the best-in-class Japanese brand in technology related to electronic design, electronic circuits, and motors. Typical products from this brand include electric screwdrivers, blowers, and buzz saws.
Hit (Toho Koki) – bolt cutters
HIT is a brand from Toho Koki, and they have a reputation for excellent forging technique. With their advanced heat treatment, products have an extra hardness without being too heavy. While there is a wide variety of Hit tools, bolt cutters, rod cutters, and pipe wrenches are famous examples.
Hosco – files
Although Hosco’s main business is imports/exports of musical instruments (mainly strings) and their parts, they also provide tools for maintaining instruments. What they sell are files for fret crowning, nut files, and saddles, so if your hobby or occupation involves playing string instruments, Hosco files are the ones you need.
Hozan – bicycle and mechanics tools
If you are a person who spends your energy and ambition on cycling, you may like tools from Hozan. In terms of work related to bicycle maintenance, you can rely on Hozan as they have a great selection of bicycle tools. They also sell crimping tools and other electrician tools suitable for passing electrician exams.
IPS – pliers
Although IPS, also known as Igarashi Pliers, is an expert in combination pliers and water-pump pliers for professionals, this company also markets pliers for hobbies, kitchen, and gardening. IPS even launches a dedicated brand for camping activities; for instance, there are versatile slip joint pliers that are suitable for holding cookware, removing tent pegs, maintaining camp gear, and more.
Iwasaki – files
Experience what is meant by high-quality files by using those manufactured by Iwasaki. Made by a dedicated file maker, you can expect a fine sharpness, clogging-free function, and toughness from their artisan files. The files also offer a clean and smooth finish with less strokes and pressure. As a result, their files are ideal for wood carving.
King (Matsunaga Stone) – sharpening stones
The King series from Matsunaga Stone is a brand of sharpening stones for kitchen knives. However, these stones are actually a versatile sharpener and some of them are compatible with chisels, planes, sickles, and precision blades. If you use cutting/shaving tools very often, the King sharpening stones will be your staple tool.
Ko-ken – mechanics tools
Ko-ken is a long-running tool manufacturer supported by the automobile sector. Their products are simple in terms of design and are highly durable. Our favorite brand is the Z-EAL series because of its compact and highly-functional ratchet handles and sockets. These products are perfect for operations in confined areas as the engine room of the automobile is getting more and more narrow.
Lightool (Asahi Metal Industries) – wrenches
One of their product brands, termed Lightool, features wrenches that are lighter than ordinary counterparts, so it is suitable for heavy-duty operations and high-place workings. You do not need to be anxious about hardness because Lightool wrenches are plated with extra-tough nickel chrome and are processed with Asahi’s sophisticated hot forging.
Lobster Tools (Lobtex) – wrenches
The Lobster Tools from Lobtex are also a great choice for DIYers and mechanics regardless of their types of task. Although they market almost all kinds of industrial tools and supplies, wrenches are considered to be well-known among engineers globally. What also makes this brand famous is its iconic lobster logo.
Makita - power tools
Makita is Japan’s leading company for electric tools. Since they started distributing their products to 50 nations from 1970, you may be able to find them at mechanical tool stores. Their flagship products are electric screwdrivers, impact wrenches, hammer drills, circular saws, and disc grinders (angle grinders).
MCC – threaded rod tools
MCC, founded in 1916, has been producing tools critical for tasks related to construction, plumbery, and electrical service. It is said that the reputation of this company is largely based on its threaded rod tools. Some professionals also give their patronage to bolt cutters, strap cutters, rod cutters, and pipe cutters.
Merry Tools (Muromoto Tekko) – pliers
Merry Tools is owned by a Japanese tool maker called Muromoto Tekko, and users outside of Japan have evaluated this brand affirmatively. The Merry Tools brand is famous for its pliers, especially their cutting ability and hardness as their skillful artisans perform sophisticated quenching, edging, and polishing.
Mitoloy (Mito-Koki) – hex wrenches
Mitoloy’s wide assortment of sockets and wrenches is a great choice for the car industry. However, their special hex wrench called hollow wrench is noteworthy because it can reach bolts and screws in almost any area: use its stubby arm to drive objects in narrow spaces while using its elongated arm to fasten screws in deep places with greater torque.
Mitutoyo – precision measuring instruments
Mitutoyo is considered the top-class Japanese company regarding instruments for accurate measurement. This company is said to be the first domestic producer of micrometers: until then, only imported micrometers were available in Japan. If you belong to industries related to metrology, you can rely on products from Mitutoyo.
Mugen Seiki – model tools
If your hobby or occupation is related to RC engine cars (regardless of on-road and off-road), you may have heard of Mugen Seiki. They sell nearly all kinds of mini-z buggy tools from chassis kits to optional parts including tires, engines, mufflers, and more. Their own brand engine parts, “NINJA” series, are distributed overseas.
Naniwa Abrasive Mfg. – sharpening stones
Naniwa Abrasive is a general manufacturer of abrasives, sharpening stones, and cutting disks. They sell a wide variation of whetstones for both professionals and beginners. You may have the chance to use Naniwa’s sharpening tools if you belong to the food, hairdressing, woodworking, or outdoor hobbies industries .
Nepros (KTC) – maintenance tools
Technicians who are engaged in automobile maintenance may like products from Nepros: a flagship tool brand for professionals that combines high functionality and elegant design. Based on a thorough analysis of products of rival brands, Nepros aims to provide superior tools to refine your task performance.
Nisaku (Tomita Cutlery) – oddball scrapers
Tomita Cutlery is an expert in cutting tools, and this company is famous for an unusual peeling tool called R scraper: its blade and handle are flexible, so you can bend the scraper with your fingers to create a curved blade and facilitate the removal of adhesives and sticky objects on a round surface like a pipe, utility pole, and car body.
NT Cutter – cutters and files
If you are looking for a high-quality cutter knife from Japan, it is a great idea to check what the NT Cutter supplies. Expect a good selection of cutting tools that can cater to any type of task from casual light work at the office to technical applications like leathercraft and paint removal. Their unique handheld sander called NT Dresser has also been rated by technicians.
Olfa – knives and scissors
Olfa is a pioneer in handheld cutting tools because its founder is said to be the first person in the world who invented a snap-off blade cutter and a rotary cutter. Today, this company also develops unique technical tools including art knives, craft knives, and hook cutters. Most Olfa products are characterized by a yellowish body: this allows users to easily distinguish the blade from its cartridge for safety.
Senshin – surveyors rods
The Senshin Industry specializes in supplying insulated tools for measuring objects in areas with high voltage, namely rods for measuring, surveying, and leveling. Made with tough, lightweight, and flexible glass fiber, you can safely perform measurements. Other available products are measuring wheels, ladders, and magic hands (also known as magic reachers).
Shapton – glass sharpening stones
Overseas consumers may recognize Shapton because of their whetstones for kitchen knives called “Yaiba no Kuromaku (literally translated as the mastermind of blades)”. However, Shapton’s innovative glass whetstones further attract overseas consumers thanks to their elegant design and functional beauty.
Shimano – bicycle tools
Headquartered in Sakai, a city of manufacturing, Shimano combines the tradition of local metalworking, the latest technology, and the science of speed to develop high-quality bicycle components. Customize your race bike and/or MTB with their practical and user-friendly products to experience a more comfortable ride and greater levels of speed.
Shinto – planing rasp
What makes this brand famous is its unique rasp planer called Nokoyasuri (also termed Sawrasp in English). It has a grid-shaped blade that can smoothen both woods and metals without clogging while its special elastomer handle offers you a comfortable grip touch that prevents slippage. There is also a sander-type variation with an interchangeable blade.
Shinwa Rules – measuring tools
Shinwa Rules is the leading manufacturer of measuring instruments in Japan, and has the largest share in Japan in the field of metallic rulers. Typical products from this company are carpenter’s square, pH meter, and salinity meter. Its adorable penguin logo is also famous among users.
Silky (UM Kogyo) – excellent pruning saws
When pruning logs, are you looking to create a smooth cutting surface by using a pull saw? If so, the Silky saw will fulfill this desire. The secret of its clean-cutting lies in its non-set teeth: it allows the saw to cut the wood with less friction, resulting in less damage to the wood cells in the surface. You may also like its elegant design.
Sunflag – screwdrivers
Following a large amount of critical feedback from on-site professionals, Sunflag has been developing its products with a pro-friendly approach, and is a reliable made-in-Japan brand. Its specialization is screwdrivers, so if you are looking for fine-quality driving tools, you should consider Sunflag products.
Supertool – wrenches
Supertool is a general manufacturing company of instruments that produces virtually the full range of hand tools for DIY and carpentry. It is said that this brand has an advantage in wrenches, so if you are interested in ratchet wrenches, monkey wrenches, socket wrenches, or hex wrenches, consider adding Supertool to your options.
Shark Saw (Tagaki Tools) – saws
This Japanese tool brand is actually an expert in pull saws and also supplies them overseas. The Shark Saw series features a wide selection of saws for carpentry and gardening. What you may not know about this brand is that saws sold in the Japanese market have an eye-catching shark logo. Takagi also has a product series exclusively designed for preparing campfire woods.
Three Peaks Giken – Vice-grips pliers
Based in Tsubame, a small Japanese city known for its highly-skilled metalworking, Three Peaks specializes in pliers, especially Vice-grip pliers. Their jaws have multiple diamond-shaped pipe grips for tighter holding while their non-angled head minimizes swing width so that you can effortlessly rotate them even in narrow spaces.
Tone Tool (Maeda Metal) – mechanics tools
It is said that the manufacturer of Tone Tool develops products with a design thinking approach. As a result, you can expect both practicality and user-friendliness from this brand. Among all products of Tone Tool, electric power tools, especially the shear wrench, are highly rated by users. Its mechanical tool cabinets have also gained a favorable reputation.
Tonichi – torque wrench
Tonichi is adept in torque products; in other words, Tonichi tools can be your staple instruments if you involve yourself in operations related to torque control on a regular basis. Signature items of this brand include torque wrenches, torque screwdrivers, powered torque products, and torque measuring equipment.
Top (Top Kogyo Co.) – screwdrivers and wrenches
While Top Kogyo manufactures a wide variety of tools, there are two types of items that are famous in the Japanese market. One is wrenches: it is said that adjustable wrenches (also known as monkey wrenches) are especially popular. Another one is screwdrivers: these have very wide tips that are ideal for screwing/unscrewing slotted screws with ease.
Topman – pry bars
Although Topman was originally a wholesaler of metalware, currently it is a general trading company selling articles related to construction, carpentry, DIY activity, and horticulture. Their wide variation of cutting tools including saws, chisels, auger bits, and circular saw blades can be a potential choice for overseas consumers.
Toyo – glass cutters
Toyo is one of the few Japanese firms producing cutting tools, exclusively for glass. Typical products are handheld glass cutters with three different styles available: pencil grip, custom grip, and pistol grip. Toyo also supplies the parts for these cutters, from their extra-sharp cutting wheels to exchangeable heads.
Tsubosan – files
If you are looking for files, you should check Tsubosan. This company is top of its class for file assortment in Japan. Our recommendation is a unique file that can sand curved objects or those in confined areas in a horizontal motion. This feature allows you to deburr or grind objects with a smaller chance of destroying their original shape.
Tsunoda – pliers
Tsunoda is a devoted specialist in pliers, so you can expect the availability of most varieties of pliers. If you are looking for a tool to make your handcraft more efficient, consider Tsunoda’s needle nose pliers or diagonal pliers. For more technical tasks, their slip joint pliers can be a great assistance tool.
Vessel - screwdrivers
Vessel holds the largest domestic market share in screwdrivers (it is said that they have more than half of this share in Japan). The product termed Dendora is worth mentioning: it is a rechargeable, electric ball-grip screwdriver that allows you to change manual and electric modes at an arbitrary timing. It also has an LED light that will allow you to perform your tasks even in dark places.
Wave – files
Most conventional files are designed for relatively large objects such as wooden boards and metal plates, rather than small, special-shaped objects (e.g. plastic model parts). If you wish to sand such things with precision, try special files from Wave Corporation. Their tip looks like a dental excavator and can smooth the surface even on difficult-to-reach areas. For this reason, their files are must-have tools for model hobbyists.
Wise – ball wrenches & hex wrenches
This company mainly manufactures ball wrenches (ball-point wrenches) and hex wrenches. Unlike ordinary ball wrenches, those from Wise have an excellent hardness due to the manufacturer’s quenching process, so you can perform a final tightening by using its ball tip (normally, it is not recommended that you use ball tips in the final tightening process because it is vulnerable to strong torque force).
WoodOwl (Star-M) – boring bits
This manufacturer markets drill bits in Japan and the US with their brand name being registered as STAR-M and WoodOwl, respectively. Their selections of bits are worth noting: you can try a diversity of adjustable circle cutters and bits for non-wood materials. There are even drill bits to create holes for embedding inoculum to create a mushroom bed.
Zoukei-Mura (Volks Inc.) – craft knives
Although Volks is originally a producer of hobby models, this company also sells tools to facilitate precise cutting. One of its product brands, Zoukei-Mura, which specializes in model kits of fighter aircraft, offers extra-compact craft knives that remove parting lines to help achieve detailed model making.