The nightime viewing of cherry blossoms by moonlight is cherished for the unique perspective and focus it brings to the experience. The dark tones of the sky and the gentle light of the moon provide subtle variations in colour, texture, and detail that cannot be fully appreciated by day.
This piece is reserved in its combination of materials and colours, evoking the feeling of a familiar and treasured object. A single stylized sakura petal graces the copper fuchi, a reminder that even a single petal falling to the ground does not go unnoticed and is not without significance.
One of the elements of traditional Japanese aesthetics includes the appreciation for the natural process of wear, decay, and patina. Historically, this was expressed in the use of materials that bear the marks of longevity and even the creation of new objects that appeared to be aged, rugged, or bearing certain types of imperfection.
This kotanto is made from reclaimed carbon spring steel from a horse-drawn carriage leaf spring and housed in a subdued aikuchi koshirae. The blade was hand forged in a charcoal fire, shaped with files, differentially hardened using traditional water quench yaki-ire, and polished by hand with water stones to reveal a sweeping suguha hamon with a sharp tsukiage turn back.
Hounoki (Japanese Magnolia) forms the core of the handle, local Nootka Cypress for the scabbard, and carved horn for the mekugi (peg). The handle is lacquered with multiple layers, first a bark-textured crimson and then overlaid with thin layers of natural and black in the kurodamenuri (tamenuri) style which reveals the interior only in strong sunlight. The shape of the kashira (pommel) is in the style of keito kashira (圭頭).
A stone textured surface created with natural urushi lacquer and crushed iron oxide reclaimed from discarded kairo (hand warmer packs) gives a deep crimson-rust appearance to the scabbard. The habaki, fuchi, and koiguchi were forged from copper scrap and simmered in a niage bath to give them a rich rose-plum copper oxide patina.
Blade construction is muku with a hira-zukuri profile and iori mune. The blade is approximately 5.25″ long, overall length is around 9.25″, and the overall length when sheathed is about 11″. Accompanied by a hand stitched reclaimed silk obi storage bag.
長さ/刃長 Nagasa: 4 sun 4 bu 6 rin (132mm)
元幅 Motohaba: 7 bu 8 rin (23.5mm)
重ね/元重 Motokasane: 2 bu 4 rin (7mm)
反り Sori: uchizori
中心/茎 Nakago: 3 sun 1 bu (93.5mm)
柄長 Tsuka: 3 sun 1 bu 5 rin (95mm)
拵全長 Koshirae: 9 sun 2 bu 4 rin (279mm)
形 Katachi: hira-zukuri, iori-mune
刃文 Hamon: suguha
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: keito kashira aikuchi, issaku
Materials: Century-and-a-half-old horse carriage spring steel, copper electrical bus bar, copper lightning rod cable, Hounoki, Nootka Cypress, iron oxide from reacted kairo, natural urushi lacquer, crimson lake, leather, reclaimed buffalo horn
This piece is in a private collection in North Carolina.