The core of this project is a high carbon blade, charcoal-forged from reclaimed steel, water quenched with clay and sharpened with waterstones, an outdoor knife that has the foundation of the Japanese sword but is finished in the simple and humble style of farming and foresting tools of centuries 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 and rustic appearance of hammer marks on the blade and hand-carved wooden handles finished with natural urushi lacquer made from tree sap—reminiscent of hand-hewn beams in a kominka farm house that are darkened by years of smoke drifting up from the irori hearth. A hand crafted tool for adventure that would be very much at home in the field, forest, or mountain landscape.
Forged from a reclaimed file, the wider blade profile of the mountain style kotanto is based on a kamakura sword and has more pronounced belly with drop point shape. This blade has a forged fuller on the ura side and the very wide blade profile of a larger katana. The temper of this high carbon steel blade has been left relatively hard in order to hold a keen edge for tasks such as wood carving and hand work. This particular combination of steel and heat treatment 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 hardwood 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 sharpening work.
The generously sized handle (katana diameter) and scabbard are carved from local magnolia and finished with traditional fukiurushi lacquer with polished undertones of black to highlight the facets of the wood. Reclaimed brass and (ww2) aluminum sword fittings meet the blade and the handle is capped with a kashira (pommel) forged from reclaimed brass door plate. The removable peg is carved from a reclaimed hardwood chopstick, possibly Ebony or Rosewood. The ura of the saya features a bit of live edge and a buffalo horn koiguchi reclaimed from an antique katana reinforces the scabbard mouth.
The blade is just under 4.75″ long, the overall length is about 9.75″, and 10.75″ when sheathed. The spine at the munemachi is about 6mm thick.
Nagasa (blade length): 118mm
Motokasane (blade thickness): 6mm
Motohaba (blade width): 33mm
Sori (curve): uchizori (reverse) with drop point
Nakago (tang): 94mm
Tsuka (handle): 116mm
Koshirae (overall): 274mm
Katachi (geometry): hira-zukuri with forged bo-hi (fuller) on ura, iori-mune
Hamon (edge pattern): suguha
Boshi (tip pattern): maru
Nakago (tang): fusion, kuri-jiri, one mekugi-ana
Mei (signature): mumei (unsigned)
Koshirae (mounting): satoyama aikuchi style, issaku (except for four vintage/antique fittings)
Materials: reclaimed file steel, antique buffalo horn fitting, reclaimed brass and aluminum fittings, reclaimed brass door plate, Magnolia, natural urushi lacquer, reclaimed hardwood chopstick
This piece is in a private collection in Maine.
**Please note that in order to preserve the patina and texture of the reclaimed/antique components involved in this mounting there may be minor damage, scuffs, variations in colour, and other indications of their stories over the years.