Japan Photo Essay: Antique Nata

This antique nata is in the permanent collection at Soulsmithing and is a lovely example of original handcraft from Japan. This photo essay will reveal some of the beautiful details of this tool for study and appreciation.

Nata (屶, “mountain sword”) come in many sizes and shapes, but most fit the description of a light brush hatchet or heavy camp knife. Common characteristics include thick spines and heavy blades, often with single beveled edges similar to Japanese wood chisels. This type are used for medium duty camp tasks, carving hatchet work, roughing and shaping, green wood work, forestry, gardening, and bamboo splitting.

The blade is about 180mm long, 45-58mm wide, 7mm thick at the ferrule, 5.5mm thick at the tip, with a 90mm tang. The handle is 220mm long, 30mm round at the ferrule and 22mm by 57mm at the pommel, overall length 395mm.

Island Blacksmith: Traditionally crafted knives from reclaimed steel.
Omote side shown above a typical takewari (bamboo splitter) for comparison, the handle of the nata is quite long and is shaped to remain securely in the hand.
Island Blacksmith: Traditionally crafted knives from reclaimed steel.
The single bevel blade curves downward for strong chopping strokes and there is a tip protector for working close to the ground.
Island Blacksmith: Traditionally crafted knives from reclaimed steel.
A view of the tip protector which was likely split from the upper part of the tip and forged downwards. The forge weld line between the iron body and steel edge can be seen about a fourth of the way up the bevel.
Island Blacksmith: Traditionally crafted knives from reclaimed steel.
The ura with interestingly shaped forged fuller and the forge weld line visible about a third of the way up from the edge.
Island Blacksmith: Traditionally crafted knives from reclaimed steel.
The signature and a glimpse of the shoulder meeting the handle and hand forged ferrule.
Island Blacksmith: Traditionally crafted knives from reclaimed steel.
Top view showing the slight taper of the spine, the strong taper of the tang, double pins, and the hand carved shoulder for the ferrule. Note that the ferrule was “sprung” into place before the tang insertion.
Island Blacksmith: Traditionally crafted knives from reclaimed steel.
Another unusual detail is the deep hook and teardrop shaped cross section the pommel rather than the standard flared handle.

Comments are closed.