Ashinoho (ashi-no-ho, 葦の穂 pronounced “ah-shi-no-ho”) refers to the water reed, specifically the top of the plant curving over as it is loaded with seeds. The idea is associated with the fullness of season nearing and the realization of potential in the right time, but also carries with it the concept of humility and restraint in the bringing forth.
There is an additional play on words with the idea of steps along a path (葦 ashi sounds like 足 foot, 穂 ho like 歩 steps), the unfolding of a journey. This reflects the concept of the project being to incorporate materials that have a direct relation to the history and background of the client.
This tanto and mounting consists of eight separate components that began as thirty individual pieces, crafted and finished entirely with hand tools and traditional techniques.
This tanto was forged from an antique horse-drawn carriage spring in early 2014, and the chisagatana style mounting was completed in late 2022. It is mounted in a tasteful gentleman’s style koshirae inspired by the wabisabi tea taste and warmth of natural wood grain, fire patina, and hammer texture. The antique engraved silver paired with the hardwood gives it a bit of vintage western feel as well. Every component and raw material incorporated in the construction of this piece began as an item connected to the client’s background, family, past, and journey, from the wood and steel right down to some of the silver solder.
The blade began as a reclaimed carriage spring and was hand forged in a pine charcoal fire, smoothed with files and a sen scraper, differentially hardened using traditional water quench yaki-ire with clay, and polished by hand with natural Japanese water stones. The blade was crafted in summer 2014 and, when the time was right, the mountings were made in summer of 2022.
The tang is constructed after the manner of a Japanese sword, requiring only a single bamboo peg to hold the mounting assembly together. In addition to the sense of beautiful simplicity, this design allows the sword to be taken apart for cleaning, polishing, or major repair work.
Materials for the chisagatana style koshirae mounting include omako ironwood for the handle and mukula for the scabbard, antique copper soldering iron for the habaki and fuchi/kashira cores, reclaimed copper pipe for the koiguchi core and seppa, engraved antique napkin ring sterling silver for the exterior of the fittings, alloyed copper and gold for the kurikata and tsuba, and bamboo for the mekugi. The handle and scabbard are finished in natural source urushi lacquer using the fukiurushi technique to accentuate and deepen the colour and grain.
Blade has a hira-zukuri profile, suguha hamon with elegant turnback, an iori mune, and an ubuha (unsharpened portion near the hamachi). The blade is just about 11.5″ long, overall length is 17″, and the overall length of the koshirae is around 18.5″. The spine is 8mm thick at the machi. Accompanied by a storage bag sewn from a reclaimed silk kimono belt and lined with reclaimed cottom summer kimono fabric.
長さ/刃長 Nagasa: 9 sun 5 bu 5 rin (289mm)
元幅 Motohaba: 8 bu 2 rin (25mm)
重ね/元重 Motokasane: 2 bu 5 rin (8mm)
反り Sori: muzori (no curvature)
中心/茎 Nakago: 3 sun 5 bu 5 rin (107mm)
柄長 Tsuka: 3 sun 7 bu 7 rin (114mm)
拵全長 Koshirae: 15 sun 7 bu (475mm)
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
Material: Reclaimed carriage spring steel, antique soldering iron copper, antique sterling silver napkin rings, copper lightning rod cable and pipe, gold, omako ironwood, mukula, bamboo, natural urushi