The core of this project is a charcoal-forged blade, water quenched with clay and sharpened with waterstones, an outdoor style knife that has the foundation of the Japanese sword. The hamidashi mounting is in the rustic kura style and includes antique fittings from swords carried generations 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 scabbard finished with natural urushi lacquer made from tree sap and coloured with fine crimson lake pigment. A hand crafted tool for adventure that would be very much at home in the field, forest, or mountain landscape.
Forged from an antique rail coupler, the blade profile of the forest style kotanto is based on the tip of a classical yoroidoshi (armour piercing) tanto and has a takenoko shape with slight drop point, a very thick spine, and plenty of haniku. The temper of this high carbon steel blade has been left relatively hard.
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, or major resharpening work.
The handle and scabbard are carved from local nootka cypress and finished with natural unfiltered tree-source lacquer combined with ground crimson lake and built up in multiple layers to darken and deepen the surface. A brass antique Edo period sword guard with carved silver inlay is incorporated into the mounting of this knife. The repurposed polished lacquered samegawa (rayskin) handle and copper habaki (blade collar) are paired with a vintage showa seppa (blade washer) and a forged steel ferrule and koiguchi (scabbard mouth). The removable peg is carved from wenge wood, as is the kashira (pommel).
The blade is 5.25″ long with an overall length of just under 8.25″ and 11.25″ when sheathed. The spine at the munemachi is about 7.5mm thick.
長さ/刃長 Nagasa (blade length): 134mm
重ね/元重 Motokasane (spine thickness): 7.5mm
元幅 Motohaba (blade width): 24mm
反り Sori (curve): uchizori (slight reverse)
中心/茎 Nakago (tang length): 75mm
柄長 Tsuka (handle length): 100mm
拵全長 Koshirae (overall): 287mm
形 Katachi (geometry): hira-zukuri, iori-mune
刃文 Hamon (edge pattern): suguha
帽子/鋩子 Boshi (tip pattern): maru
中心/茎 Nakago (tang): futsu, as-forged jiri, one mekugi-ana
銘 Mei (signature): mumei (unsigned)
拵 Koshirae (mounting): satoyama kura style hamidashi, issaku (sole authorship) plus 2 antique/vintage parts
Materials: 1912 rail steel, copper habaki, nootka cypress, vintage fittings, reclaimed steel, samegawa, wenge, natural urushi lacquer, crimson lake stone
This piece is in a private collection in California.
This blade was forged and underwent yaki-ire at the museum forge.
more about the satoyama project:
**Please note that in order to preserve the patina and texture of the antique/repurposed components involved in this mounting there may be minor damage, scuffs, variations in colour, and other indications of their stories over the centuries.