This knife takes its inspiration from the tosu, an elegant form of pen knife carried by scholarly nobility a thousand years ago. This piece, however, 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.
This knife has a slightly dropped tip and was made from a very old German hedge shear blade (originally engraved “Made in Western Germany”). One of the benefits of accurate forging is that small amounts of seemingly unusable reclaimed material can go a long ways. 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. A larger companion knife was forged from a portion of the same piece of steel.
The handle is made from the same steel as the blade and is partly 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-found or as-forged and the blade finished with a coat of natural tung tree oil. The makiri-inspired wooden scabbard was hand carved and lacquered with a natural and black negoro style to simulate natural wear along the carved striations. A double cotton cord acts as a sageo for hanging or 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 shinogi-zukuri profile and hira/kaku mune. The blade is 3.25″ long and 5/8″ deep with a 5/32″ spine, overall length is around 6.75″. Overall Length when sheathed is 7.5″.
長さ/刃長 Nagasa: 83mm (blade length)
元幅 Motohaba: 17mm (blade depth)
重ね/元重 Motokasane: 4.5mm (spine thickness)
中心/茎 Nakago: 82mm (tang length)
柄長 Tsuka: 82mm (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 larger hybrid nata 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