This knife combines the precision of a sturdy straight-edged single bevel forest nata with the lightweight agility of a stream nata. This piece has been finished simply and humbly in the age-old style of a farming and foresting tool traditionally used in the satoyama.
Satoyama are the managed forest areas that border the cultivated fields and the mountain wilds. Historically they provided fertilizer, firewood, edible plants, mushrooms, fish, and game, and supported local industries such as farming, construction, and charcoal making. The interaction of wetlands and streams are an important component of the satoyama landscape.
Nata come in various 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 work well for medium duty camp tasks, carving hatchet work, roughing and shaping, green wood work, and bamboo splitting. Similar to boat builder’s or timber framer’s slicks, they can make controlled straight slices due to their mass and chisel-like bevel. Another common variation has double sided bevels, cord wrapped integral handles, and curved or hooked blades for working in the rice fields.
This nata has a straight blade and dropped tip and was made from a very old German hedge shear blade (originally engraved “Made in Western Germany”). The blade was hand forged in a charcoal fire, shaped with files, differentially hardened using traditional swordsmith style water quench yaki-ire, and polished by hand with water stones. The ura has a slight forged concave to facilitate flat sharpening of the edge. An additional companion knife was forged from a portion of the same piece of steel.
The handle was forged integrally from the same steel as the blade and is wrapped with cotton cord and sealed with several layers of natural urushi lacquer. Other than the polished edge bevel, all surfaces have been left as-forged and finished with a coat of natural tung tree oil. The wooden scabbard was hand carved and lacquered with a natural and black negoro style to simulate natural wear along the edges. A double cotton cord acts as a sageo for securing the scabbard as it passes through a belt or sash. Other than the steel, all of the materials used in this knife are plant based.
Blade construction is muku/hon-yaki with a kiriha-zukuri profile and hira/kaku mune. The blade is 6.25″ long and 1.25″ deep with a 5/32″ spine, overall length is around 10.5″. Overall Length when sheathed is 11.5″.
長さ/刃長 Nagasa: 160mm (blade length)
元幅 Motohaba: 34mm (blade depth)
重ね/元重 Motokasane: 4.5mm (spine thickness)
中心/茎 Nakago: 105mm (tang length)
柄長 Tsuka: 105mm (handle length)
Materials: hedge shear blade steel, cotton cord, Nootka Cypress, rice paste glue, natural urushi lacquer
This piece is in a private collection in Virginia.
Shown with the smaller hybrid tosu that was forged from the same piece of steel:
Read more about the process of making this knife here: From the Garden to the Forest
Design your own custom handmade bespoke knife here: Tools for Satoyama