Sunagawa (砂川, sand river) was chosen because the texture of the blade and the flowing edge of the hamon are reminiscent of the bank of a calm river. 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. This blade has a flat hammer-finished surface that shows a clear mizukage (water shadow) and lovely suguha hamon. 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 an antique brass fuchi (ferrule) inlaid with pure silver bamboo and carved with wisteria vines. The two-part Edo era katana habaki is hand etched with a jyujika (cross) symbol, may have been carried by a kakure kirishitan (隠れキリシタン, hidden christian of the 1600s), and bears the patina of the ages. The koiguchi (scabbard mouth) is made from buffalo horn and the brass kashira (pommel) forged from reclaimed door plate.
The handle and scabbard were carved from local Magnolia, shaped with hand planed facets, and finished with several very thin layers of natural unfiltered fukiurushi lacquer to darken and deepen the look of the wood but preserve a matte surface. The mekugi (removable peg) and textured koiguchi (scabbard mouth) are carved from buffalo horn.
The blade is just over 4.25″ long with an overall length of 9.25″ and 10.5″ when sheathed. The spine at the munemachi is 5mm thick.
長さ/刃長 Nagasa (blade length): 111mm
重ね/元重 Motokasane (spine thickness): 5mm
元幅 Motohaba (blade width): 29mm
反り Sori (spine curve): uchizori (reverse) with slight drop point
中心/茎 Nakago (tang length): 79mm
柄長 Tsuka (handle length): 109mm
拵全長 Koshirae (overall): 268mm
形 Katachi (geometry): hira-zukuri, mitsu-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 aikuchi, issaku (sole authorship) plus two antique parts
Materials: cultivator tine steel, Magnolia, antique fittings, buffalo horn, reclaimed brass door plate, natural urushi lacquer
This piece is available online.
This blade was forged and yaki-ire performed at the museum forge. It began as a pre-1960s (integral) cultivator tine used to work a farmer’s land a generation or more ago. Parts of the same tine were used for a mountain kotanto and a sunnobi tanto.