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 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.
A subtle and rustic appearance with hammer marks left on the blade, 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 cooking hearth. A tool for adventure that would be very much at home in the field, forest, or mountain landscape.
Forged from a reclaimed file, the blade profile of the field style kotanto is based on a kamakura sword and has more pronounced belly with slight drop point. 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 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 handle and scabbard are carved from local magnolia and finished with traditional fukiurushi lacquer to highlight the facets of the wood. A forged brass seppa/guard and cord wrap accent the handle and the removable peg is carved from susudake, a piece of bamboo that served for a century or more as part of the ceiling or roof in a kominka, darkened and hardened by decades of smoke wafting up from the irori hearth.
The blade is just under 3.5″ long, the overall length just under 7.5″, about 8.5″ sheathed. The spine at the munemachi is about 4mm thick.
Nagasa (blade length): 86mm
Motokasane (blade thickness): 4mm
Motohaba (blade width): 20mm
Sori (curve): muzori
Nakago (tang): 79mm
Tsuka (handle): 102mm
Koshirae (overall): 217mm
Katachi (geometry): hira-zukuri, slight iori-mune
Hamon (edge pattern): suguha
Boshi (tip pattern): maru
Nakago (tang): futsu, kuri-jiri, one mekugi-ana
Mei (signature): mumei (unsigned)
Koshirae (mounting): satoyama kominka style aikuchi, issaku
Materials: reclaimed file steel, Magnolia, cotton cord, brass doorplate, natural urushi lacquer, susudake Bamboo
This piece is in a private collection on Pender Island.