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 blade with antique components is ready to be mounted as an outdoor knife in kura takedown style.
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.
Forged from an antique rail coupler, the blade profile of the field style kotanto is based on a kamakura sword and has more pronounced belly and wider blade. The temper of this high carbon steel blade has been left relatively hard in order to hold a keen edge. 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 antique fittings came from the collection of a sword restorer and are likely Edo period (~1600-1800) but may be older. The large copper habaki was originally from a katana and is of double construction with a separate jacket, a style generally reserved for valuable and older works. Because of the size of the habaki no seppa (blade washer) is required.
The delicately crafted antique fuchi (ferrule) is carved from shakudo (copper/gold alloy) and has a motif of chiseled/inlaid/overlaid gold hyotan (gourd) vines and leaves against a backdrop of carved pine needle texture. (H38mm x W22mm x D12mm)
The well-crafted kashira (pommel) in shakudo (copper/gold alloy) has the motif of gold roofed pavilion (probably the pagoda in gion, kyoto), rooftops, and treetops under clouds and inlaid shibuichi (copper/silver alloy) moon, accented with delicate katakiribori chisel carving on the sides. (H34mm x W17mm x D9mm)
The blade is just under 4.5″ long with an overall length of 7.75″. The sturdy spine is about 7mm thick at the munemachi. The edge has been taken down to between 1/2 and 1/4 mm but still has plenty of ha-niku (“edge meat”) and needs final bevel and sharpening work. The unhardened tang is not yet drilled, the general location can be marked if requested.
長さ/刃長 Nagasa (blade length): 112mm
重ね/元重 Motokasane (spine thickness): 7mm
元幅 Motohaba (blade width): 29.5mm
反り Sori (curve): muzori (straight)
中心/茎 Nakago (tang length): 85mm
柄長 Tsuka (handle length): none
拵全長 Koshirae (overall): none
形 Katachi (geometry): hira-zukuri, iori-mune
刃文 Hamon (edge pattern): suguha
帽子/鋩子 Boshi (tip pattern): ko-maru
中心/茎 Nakago (tang): futsu, kuri-jiri, no mekugi-ana
銘 Mei (signature): mumei (unsigned)
拵 Koshirae (mounting): none (parts included for kura style aikuchi mount)
Materials: 1912 rail steel, antique copper habaki, shakudo fuchi and kashira
Suggested finishing materials: hardwood handle (zelkova, sapele, walnut, elm, magnolia), bamboo peg, magnolia (hounoki, tulip tree, tulip poplar) scabbard
This piece is in a private collection in California.
This blade was forged and underwent yaki-ire at the museum forge.
**Please note that in order to preserve the patina and texture of the antique components involved in this mounting there may be minor damage, scuffs, variations in colour, and other indications of their stories over the centuries.