Nagatsuki (長月, pronounced “nah-gah-tsoo-key”) translates literally as “long moon”. In the ancient calendar it is a poetic name for the time around late September, possibly abbreviated from yonagatsuki meaning “night of the long moon”, or “month of the long night” depending on the reading. The idea is associated with the time of Autumn, seasonal change after the hot summer begins to cool down, and the activity of moon watching at that time of year. There is an additional play on words as this knife is long in measure, was long in coming, and may be a milestone marker of a coming change of seasons.
This tanto was forged from an antique horse-drawn carriage spring in 2017, is mounted in a tasteful old style koshirae inspired by a visit to Japan in 2018, and incorporates an antique sword tsuba and matching fuchigashira fittings.
The blade began as a reclaimed carriage spring and was hand forged in a charcoal fire, smoothed with files and a sen scraper, differentially hardened using traditional water quench yaki-ire, and polished by hand with natural Japanese water stones.
This tanto consists of nine separate components that began as twenty individual pieces, crafted and finished with hand tools and traditional techniques.
Materials for the chisagatana style koshirae mounting include Magnolia wood for the handle and scabbard, copper bus bar for the habaki, reclaimed brass doorplate for the seppa, lacquered samegawa for the handle wrap, and carved buffalo horn for the koiguchi, kurikata, and mekugi. The centerpiece of the mounting is an antique Edo fuchi and kashira pair made from iron, inlaid with copper, and accented with gold. The iron tsuba is also antique, Edo or earlier, from Japan. The saya is finished in rustic textured red and black negoro crafted from natural source urushi lacquer and sawdust made by carpenter ants.
Blade has a hira-zukuri profile, suguha hamon with artifact on the omote, an iori mune, and an ubuha (unsharpened portion near the hamachi). The blade is about 11.25″ long, overall length is around 16.5″, and the overall length of the koshirae is just over 18.25″. Accompanied by a vintage Japanese storage bag.
長さ/刃長 Nagasa: 9 sun 4 bu 5 rin (287mm)
元幅 Motohaba: 7 bu 5 rin (22mm)
重ね/元重 Motokasane: 2 bu (6mm)
反り Sori: uchizori
中心/茎 Nakago: 3 sun 2 bu 7 rin (100mm)
柄長 Tsuka: 3 sun 7 bu 7 rin (114mm)
拵全長 Koshirae: 15 sun 3 bu 5 rin (465mm)
形 Katachi: hira-zukuri, iori-mune
刃文 Hamon: suguha, with ubuha
帽子/鋩子 Boshi: ko-maru
中心/茎 Nakago: futsu, kuri-jiri, one mekugi-ana, signed near the tip
銘 Mei: hot stamped katabami-ken kamon
拵 Koshirae: chisagatana, issaku (with the addition of three antique parts)
Material: Reclaimed carriage spring steel, Edo-period iron fuchigashira with copper inlay and gold accents, Edo-period iron tsuba, copper bus bar, brass doorplate, buffalo horn, Magnolia, samegawa, natural urushi, and carpenter ant sawdust
This piece is in a private collection on Vancouver Island.