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. The hamidashi mounting is in the rustic kura (蔵, storehouse) style and includes antique fittings from swords carried long 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 appearance of hammer marks on the blade, the rustic carved and lacquered wooden mountings, paired with antique sword fittings—treasures from the kura storehouse. A hand crafted tool for adventure that would be very much at home in the field, forest, or mountain landscape.
Forged from an old-style cultivator tine, the blade profile of the mountain style kotanto is inspired by a kamakura sword and is wider with a more pronounced belly and a slight drop point. The temper of this high carbon steel blade has been left relatively hard, a particular combination of steel and heat treatment that 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 centerpiece of this mounting is a unique Edo era katana habaki, carved with a traditional stone texture and bearing the patina of the ages. The two brass seppa (blade washers) are showa era sword fittings, the copper guard was forged from a large electrical washer, and the ferrule and koiguchi (scabbard mouth) are made from matching reclaimed bits of copper pipe.
The kataki hardwood handle and kurikata (cord loop) are carved from Teak reclaimed from a boat restoration and finished with traditional fukiurushi lacquer to darken and deepen the look of the wood and highlight the grain. The scabbard is carved from local magnolia, shaped with hand planed facets, and finished with unfiltered traditional fukiurushi lacquer built up in multiple layers to darken and deepen the look of the wood. 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 6.5″ long with an overall length of just under 11.5″ and 12.5″ when sheathed. The spine at the munemachi is 8mm thick.
長さ/刃長 Nagasa (blade length): 163mm
重ね/元重 Motokasane (spine thickness): 8mm
元幅 Motohaba (blade width): 30mm
反り Sori (spine curve): muzori (straight)
中心/茎 Nakago (tang length): 104mm
柄長 Tsuka (handle length): 109mm
拵全長 Koshirae (overall): 319mm
形 Katachi (geometry): hira-zukuri, iori-mune, with slight ubuha
刃文 Hamon (edge pattern): suguha
帽子/鋩子 Boshi (tip pattern): ko-maru
中心/茎 Nakago (tang): futsu, kuri-jiri, one mekugi-ana
銘 Mei (signature): mumei (unsigned)
拵 Koshirae (mounting): satoyama kura style hamidashi, issaku (sole authorship) plus 3 antique parts
Materials: cultivator tine steel, Teak, Magnolia, antique fittings, reclaimed copper, susudake bamboo, natural urushi lacquer
This piece is in a private collection in Florida.
This blade was forged and yaki-ire performed at the museum forge. It began as a pre-1960s (integral) cultivator tine used by a farmer a generation or more ago.