The core of this project is a charcoal-forged blade, water quenched with clay and sharpened with waterstones, an outdoor knife that has the foundation of the Japanese sword but is finished in the simple and humble style of farming and foresting tools of centuries ago.
Satoyama are the managed forest areas that border the cultivated fields and the mountain wilds in Japan. Historically they provided soil nutrients, firewood, edible plants, mushrooms, fish, and game, and supported many local industries and crafts such as farming, timber construction, and charcoal making. The interaction of forest, arable land, wetlands, and streams are an important component of the satoyama landscape.
The subtle and rustic appearance of hammer marks on the blade and hand-carved wooden handles finished with natural urushi lacquer made from tree sap—reminiscent of hand-hewn beams in a kominka farm house that are darkened by years of smoke drifting up from the irori hearth. A hand crafted tool for adventure that would be very much at home in the field, forest, or mountain landscape.
Forged from a reclaimed file, the blade profile of the stream style kotanto is based on the tip of a classical yoroidoshi tanto with a takenoko shape and slight drop point. The temper of this high carbon steel blade has been left relatively hard in order to hold a keen edge for tasks such as wood carving and hand work. This particular combination of steel and heat treatment is well suited to users who require a good edge and are willing to take care of it.
The tang is constructed in a similar manner to a Japanese sword requiring only a single bamboo peg to hold the knife assembly together. In addition to the sense of beautiful simplicity, this design allows the knife to be taken apart for cleaning, polishing, detailed cutting tasks, or major resharpening work.
The handle and scabbard are carved from local magnolia and finished with traditional fukiurushi lacquer to highlight the facets of the wood. A cord wrap accents the handle and the removable peg is carved from susudake, a piece of bamboo that served for a century or more as part of the ceiling or roof in a kominka, darkened and hardened by decades of smoke wafting up from the irori hearth.
The blade is just under 2.75″ long with an overall length of about 6″, 6.75″ sheathed. The spine at the munemachi is about 4mm thick.
Nagasa (blade length): 67mm
Motohaba (blade width): 17mm
Motokasane (blade thickness): 4mm
Sori (curvature): uchizori
Nakago (tang): 71mm
Tsuka (handle): 85mm
Koshirae (mounting): 172mm
Katachi (geometry): hira-zukuri, kaku-mune
Hamon (edge pattern): suguha
Boshi (tip pattern): maru
Nakago (tang): futsu, kuri-jiri, one mekugi-ana
Mei (signature): mumei (unsigned)
Koshirae (mounting): satoyama kaiken style, issaku
Materials: reclaimed file steel, Magnolia, cotton cord, natural urushi lacquer, susudake Bamboo
This piece is in a private collection in Pennsylvania.