Furusato (故郷, pronounced “foo-roo-sah-toe”) means home place or hometown and contains the ideas of being rooted or grounded wherever one may sojourn, and a confidence and longing for return. This tanto has a simple and elegant form with a natural and humble mounting that reflects the rustic satoyama lifestyle and suits the aesthetics of the way of tea.
This tanto was forged from a reclaimed plowshare found on a homestead. The amount of wear was far beyond most plowshares from the previous century and it appeared to have a makeshift adaptation to continue using it long after most are replaced.
The wood was a discarded scrap that was just barely large enough for this project and comes from the Congo/Zaire. The block of wood sat for several years waiting for the right blade to make the best and most use of it. This precious dark chocolate coloured hardwood is locally called Tshikalakala or Dikela, meaning turn around or circle back, and this particular piece has a slightly curving grain that follows the line of the saya. In some ways this tanto also represents a return to the roots of my current journey of bladesmithing, sharing several general design elements with the original kotanto, but incorporating many nuances of refinement and skills learned through the years that separate them.
The blade began as a reclaimed plowshare and was hand forged in a charcoal fire, smoothed with files and a sen scraper, differentially hardened using traditional water quench yaki-ire, and polished by hand with natural Japanese water stones in a process requiring about fourteen different stones.
One of the most technical challenges of this project was creating the ireko saya (入れ子鞘, nesting scabbard) lining within the tight constraints offered by the original block of wood. A refined detail that is normally hidden from view, the ireko saya protects the blade from the hardwood. A focal point for the koshirae is the unique antler crown kurikata which is reminiscent of a mushroom contrasting against the dark wood of a tree.
When difficulties come, I remember my home place…Someday I shall fulfill my task. And, then, return to my home place. To the green mountains and clear rivers of my home. Furusato, Takano Tatsuyuki
Materials for the wabisabi aikuchi style koshirae mounting include Tshikalakala (Wenge) wood for the kataki tsuka and saya, Hounoki (Japanese Magnolia) wood and cow horn for the ireko saya, copper bus bar for the habaki, buffalo horn for the mekugi, and pieces of shed antler for the kurikata and tsunakuchi. The tsuka and saya are finished in a thin layer of kijiro fukiurushi (wiped lacquer) made from natural source urushi lacquer.
Blade has a hira-zukuri profile, slight indication of hada or surface artifacts, suguha hamon, and an iori mune. The blade is 9″ long, overall length is just over 13″, and the overall length of the koshirae is just under 15.5″. Accompanied by a handsewn reclaimed silk obi storage bag. Pairs excellently with Yakisugi Antler Tanto Kake display stand.
長さ/刃長 Nagasa: 7 sun 3 bu 5 rin (227mm)
元幅 Motohaba: 7 bu (21.25mm)
重ね/元重 Motokasane: 2 bu (6mm)
反り Sori: uchizori
中心/茎 Nakago: 3 sun 2 bu 3 rin (98mm)
柄長 Tsuka: 3 sun 7 rin (93mm)
拵全長 Koshirae: 12 sun 9 bu 5 rin (392mm)
形 Katachi: hira-zukuri, iori-mune
刃文 Hamon: suguha
帽子/鋩子 Boshi: ko-maru
中心/茎 Nakago: futsu, kuri-jiri, one mekugi-ana, signed near the tip
銘 Mei: hot stamped katabami-ken kamon
拵 Koshirae: aikuchi, issaku
Material: Reclaimed plowshare steel, copper bus bar, shed antler, buffalo horn, cow horn, Hounoki wood, Tshikalakala wood, natural urushi