The Essence of Life

The Essence of Life

Friday, November 22, 2013

An Unexpected Encounter

The Mitsubishi "Hobo" Knife

To say that as a child I had a rather fertile imagination and unconstrained curiosity would possibly be an understatement. My grandfather, Vô Tô, was a great contributor to that and fed me uncountable Tarzan and likely heroes stories, and the house that I grew up housed many "secrets". And while my father could have been considered a realist, he did not create barriers to my many exploits, even when they took me to his office desk, fishing box and other private and personal assets.

From a very early age I understood that every adventurer needed to have some special gear, a knife being first and foremost the most essential and valuable item. And do it happened that during one of my many visits to my father's "things" I found an extraordinary object.

This was a "survival knife" even if I never heard the term until Rambo First Blood movie came in a decade and a half later. It was a big folder with eleven "blades" that include almost everything from a clip point main blade, to saw, scissors, can and bottle openers, cork screw and even a spoon and a fork. The contraption was housed on a leather sheet decorated with multiple tackles. While really interesting, the heavy folder was not really practical. Since none of the "blades" detached one could not use the knife and fork simultaneously.

Sometime after the discover my father gave me that "survival knife", and that was probably my very first knife. It came even before my Beyer Tarzan knife!

I carried the thing around my waist to a lot of places and social functions, which is just a name to extended family barbecues, and I took good care of it. And then some time during my teenager years the knife mysteriously disappeared and I never saw it again.

And then last week while I was exploring the internet, on e-Bay I came across a Vintage WWII JAPAN Camping/Survival Knife Fork Spoon (hobo) Mitsubishi *RARE*, and surprise, surprise it was exactly the same knife that my father had given me almost forty years ago!

I really doubt that this knife even existed during WWII. The complexity and amount of material required to make it, plus the fact that Japanese people use chopsticks and not knife and fork, would put it completely out of place in Guadalcanal or the Kwai River bridges.

Of course I could not avoid buying the rare Mitsubishi hobo knife immediately and then the terrible waiting for its arrival began. I arrived home yesterday night from a business trip and inside my mail box was a small USPS box with the seller's Florida address on it.

My new old knife is in good, but not great, shape. In my opinion there a bit more rust than patina, but my original knife was in even rougher condition. The smaller sheep's foot blade does not open all the way, and some of the smaller "blades" have some play. But irrespective of the condition this knife brings memory from a very distant past.

I probably will never take the Mitsubishi Hobo Knife to the great outdoors, be it in northern Michigan or anywhere else, but every time that I will handle it I will have found memories of my father presenting me with an unique piece of cutlery.

1 comment:

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