Posts Tagged ‘Japanese’

Of White Steel and Japanese Bowies…

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Today I’m going to talk about a knife that is both simple, beautiful and yet highly functional… In a traditionally Japanese kind of way. When we talk about bowie knives, a Japanese knife might be the very last thing that might spring to mind, but believe me, as knives go, I would swap a bowie for this beaut any day. The “beaut” to which I refer is the Akatsuki Bowie, made by Kanetsune of Seki, Japan. Here… Have a gander:

Akatsuki Bowie

Akatsuki Bowie

This ostensibly simple looking knife is unique in several different ways. The makers, Kanetsune, are old Japanese knife makers who make traditionally designed knives that are both aesthetically pleasing as well as fully functional. The Akatsuki is just one of many unique and beautiful knife designs they make. I plan to talk about some of their other knives in the future.

Now if anyone is familiar with the old Jim Bowie knife design, you may well be thinking that this design is not actually very Bowie like. At least not in any traditional sense. And you would be right. It is more of a hunting knife design than a bowie, but me personally, I still love it to death. Let’s take a look…

Akatsuki Bowie - Sheath

Akatsuki Bowie - Sheath

As you can see, Kinetsune uses a very traditional wooden scabbard design, with a cool set of buckles attached that support a few different carry positions. A wooden sheath certainly cannot compete with Kydex or similar synthetic sheaths in the durability department, but they certainly have a whole lot more character!

Akatsuki Bowie - Hilt

Akatsuki Bowie - Hilt

The knife itself is an interesting combination of design features, starting with the oak handle, double pinned to what I’d presume to be a half tang blade. Transitioning from grip to blade, we have a combination collar and guard, in black, pressure fit onto the grip, and providing support at the blade grip transition, much reminiscent of the metal collar used by many traditional Frost Mora knives with wooden grips.

Akatsuki Bowie - Grip

Akatsuki Bowie - Grip

Except better, since this collar is much thicker, stronger and has a built in guard. I really like this design.

Akatsuki Bowie - Edge

Akatsuki Bowie - Edge

Last, but certainly not least, we get to the beautiful blade. The Akatsuki sports a traditional hunting knife profile, with a mild belly and severely de-emphasized clip point. This results in a very smooth taper to the point. I really like the blade profile it ends up with.

Akatsuki Bowiel - Spine & Grip

Akatsuki Bowiel - Spine & Grip

But here we have a little bit of a departure from the norm. Unlike most other knife makers, Kanetsune leaves the flat of the blade unfinished. In fact it looks as though they actually pit it intentionally, in order to accentuate the effect.

Kanetsune Akatsuki Bowie High Carbon White Steel

Kanetsune Akatsuki Bowie High Carbon White Steel

Now personally, I have reservations about this particular design feature. Kinetsune uses white steel in their knives, a special kind of high carbon steel, and it’s been my experience that most high carbon steels tend to rust a lot faster than others if not taken care of. I think those pits may be a little harder to clean than a polished blade, and this may cause it  to retain moisture and allow pitting and rust to migrate to the polished area. However with diligent cleaning and oiling this should not be an issue, and I can’t really argue with the beautiful aesthetic it adds to the blade. For all of it’s simplicity, the knife is a work of art.

All in all, a beautiful knife, even if it’s not a true bowie knife, it certainly has all the qualities of a great all around hunting and bushcraft knife, with some character to boot. It gets a fiery thumbs up from yours truly!

Kanetsune Akatsuki Bowie Knife – [Kanetsune.com]

Kanetsune Akatsuki Bowie Knife – [BladeHQ]

Abominable Batarangs…

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

I ran across an interesting set of throwing stars, of a rather counter intuitive design. Yes, I said counter intuitive.  Yes, I know, not exactly the words you’d expect to see in the same sentence as “throwing stars” but that’s just how it is. Let me show you the counter intuitive goods:

Rainbow Batman Batarangs

Rainbow Batman Batarangs

Yeah… Rainbow Batarangs. Two words you never thought you’d see in the same sentence no? “Rainbow” and “Batarang”? Yeah, me neither. But there it is. A far cry from the rather beautiful, jet black batarangs of The Dark Knight. And entirely out of character. The Bats does not do light colors. I can pretty much guarantee you that.

In fact, I think the day that the Batman uses rainbow finished batarangs is the day he trades in his black (or navy blue, depending on what era you are partial to) superhero costume, and dons a multicolored spandex body suit and cape, complete with a big, bright, rainbow colored clown fro, and big red nose. At which point even the Joker would probably throw in the towel, and give up his life of crime forever. I kid you not.

But don’t hold your breath. It ain’t ever gonna happen. The Bats just ain’t that kind of guy.

Either way, you are hopefully beginning to see why I consider these designs are  counter intuitive. But wait! There’s more! Besides the completely off color scheme, I find the batarang design fundamentally flawed. Yes. I do. I really do.

Oh don’t look at me like that, I idolize the Bats just as much as the next guy, In fact, he is actually my favorite superhero, followed closely by Wolvie. But I still think this batarang design just… Sucks. Yeah. That would be the technical term. Batarang Suckage. And you can quote me on that.

You do know I can hear you right? No reason to yell. “Blasphemy!”, “Sacrilege!”, “How dare I!?” Whatever. Put a sock in it. If you’ll stop frothing at the mouth in rage and anger for a moment, I’ll explain why I feel as I do.

First and foremost, the first and original incarnation of the “Batarang”, as it was called, was never intended to be a shuriken. It was intended to be a custom, Batman designed boomerang. Combining a high tech computer controlled propulsion system, with the traditional Australian throwing weapon design, it was designed for double duty as either a traditional boomerang whose trajectory could be modified, or a simple impact thrower.

That implementation made sense. Even though it was much smaller, the boomerang-like curved shape of  the weapon, (even if it did have uncharacteristically sharp inner contours) and even the name, all made sense: Bat+Boomerang=Batarang!

However with the advent of “Batman Begins” (at least in the movies) the batarang concept was corrupted in homage to his Ninjutsu training. The weapon, which actually became quite a distinctive character, (Yes, I said “character”. Weapons are just as much characters in movies as the actors that wield them. But this is a discussion for a nother post.  🙂 ) was recast as a bat styled shuriken.

And that is where they went wrong.

A quick look at any of the many, many traditional Japanese hira shuriken (throwing star) designs, will quickly reveal that they all have one characteristic that the batarang does not. They are generally radially symmetrical in at least 3 axes. And those that aren’t are throwing spikes, or bo-shuriken, which are completely different.

Now this multi axis symmetry has several benefits. It helps make a shuriken’s rotation consistent and predictable in midflight. It also positions the bulk of the mass of the weapon behind each point and as it rotates towards the target, so as to increase the depth of penetration upon impact. And it also increases the chances that a point sticks into the target by giving each point the greatest possible amount ot time pointing to the target for any give number of points, and for any given number of rotations, as it flies to the target.

And therein lies the kicker. The batarang design, violated and heinously pressed into services as a bat shuriken, completely flies in the face of this tried and true conventional wisdom, and is only symmetrical in one axis. Down the center. It’s center of gravity is offset from the line of it’s points, and it is assymety is such that it is only likely to stick at one of two positions.

Now that’s just poor shuriken design if you ask me. I can see the need for the Bats to have some way of marking his work, and a bat shuriken is certainly a cool one, however I don’t really see the point of compromising the design of a weapon in order to do so. He could just as easily have used a symmetrical 4 point shuriken, utilizing a half bat wing for each point. Or even a whole bat.

So long as it was radially symmetrical, it would have worked brilliantly. And it would still have conveyed the whole Bat-thing just as well. But I will admit that the concept of the Bat shuriken is still kinda cool. I Just wish they didn’t have to completely obliterate the effectiveness of the weapon in order to achieve those cool aesthetics…

Rainbow Batman Batarangs – [The Happy Ninja]

A Really Sweet Japanese Rifle Blade…

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

I have yet another rifle blade for you today, and it is just a beauty:

Tanegashima Sword

Tanegashima Sword

I’d like you to meet the tanegashima rifle blade! Much like the other rifle blades I’ve posted in the past, this one is essentially a non firing replica of an classic, beautiful rifle design, modified to house a sword.

In this case the rifle is based on an old Japanese design, the Tanegashima, a smoothbore muzzle loading matchlock rifle used in Japan in the early 1500s. But even the rifle on it’s own, while quite simple,  I still find to be quite elegant. A study in  simplicity  and practicality of design.

Tanegashima

Tanegashima

The smooth, beautifully curving stock, a deceptively simple combination of flat surfaces and mild curves runs gracefully from the butt stock up the almost the tip of the barrel, and just looks beautiful.

But where, back in the old days, lead ball used to travel at high speeds towards unfortunate targets, we now have a shiny blade. A straight blade. A Japanese Ninjato. A rather fitting combination if you ask me.

Tanegashima Ninjato

Tanegashima Ninjato

In fact, I’m willing to bet that if you were to give this to a ninja, they’s figure out  a way to make it shoot stuff. Perhaps bo shuriken. Possibly highly trained ninja rats. Maybe better yet, they could fire small ninjas. Genetically engineered mini-shinobi specially bred for the purpose.

Yeah… That’s it… A mini-ninja firing sword Tanegashima. Awesome!

I think I’m going to have to patent that idea before someone steals it.

Tanegashima Ninjato Sword – [Knives Deal]

Far East Meets Middle East Meets Left Field…

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Today I have a set of yet more crossover blades. Like most of the others, these knives feature qualities from different cultures, melded together to form beautiful harmoniously wicked looking blades. I refer to the work of Wally Hayes, of Hayes Knives. I suppose I ought to stop flappin’ mah trap, and show you a few pics:

Damascus Dagger - Broad Spear Point

Damascus Dagger - Broad Spear Point

Now this is what I am talking about. The astute among you may have noticed that this little dagger bears traits from three separate cultures. OK, so let’s play a little sleuthing game. Who wants to take a stab at guessing which ones?… Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

*whistling*…

*taps hooves*…

*facepalm*

OOOOK, that’s about enough of the waiting thing.

I’m sure many of you guessed Asia, as the first culture, and you would be correct. The tsuka, guard and habaki  are all Asian in origin. However the other two flavors are a little harder… Actually that’s not entirely true. This here dagger has a damascus blade. That one should be easy… Yeah. really…. Oh, come on… Ok, ok. The damascus betrays the  Middle Eastern genes in this blade. Right? From Damascus…? Got it?  Good. 🙂

Now, last but not least, the shape of the blade itself is neither traditionally Japanese, nor Middle Eastern. Both far and middle eastern blades generally feature curved blades. This blade, carries European lines. And there is our trilogy of genes. And a beautiful child it is too…

If you got all three, you may proceed to pat yourself on the back. Yes, you may sprain your arm in order to do so if necessary. I’ll allow it. Just this once. Feel the burn? Good. Here’s another example:

Damascus Dagger - Fine Spear Point

Damascus Dagger - Fine Spear Point

How about we up the ante. Eh? Try and be a little more specific? What do you think…? This one should be easy, it’s pretty much almost the same as the other… Ok, well here’s my take…

The Tsuka and Guard are almost definitely Asian. Japanese, to be precise. No habaki, like the other one, but these are all hybrid knives, so I’m gonna let that slide. The blade is, again, Damascus, can’t really be precise about it’s origin without a metallurgical analysis, so i’ll leave it at that. The blade shape on the other hand, almost definitely European. I’d guess late British, if I were a betting creature… 🙂

Now here’s another interesting piece:

The Predater

The Predater

Talk about mixed messages! This knife looks like a cross between a Ka-bar, and a tanto. A hybrid westernized tanto at that. The grip features a simple tsuka-maki, running up to a simple stubby upturned guard, and on into a polished, rather beefy looking straight blade, with what looks like it could be a false back edge all running into a hybrid clip tanto point.

Hard to tell from the pic. But it certainly looks like it means “bidness”.

Finally, here’s another quite interesting short sword, for obvious reasons called the “Waki”:

The Waki

The Waki

For those of you wondering why the name is obvious, it may help to know that the japanese have a short sword called the Wakizashi, that is traditionally worn as a pair with a full size Katana. This sword is just the right size, so I presume that is why it was given a contracted form of the name.

Lacking a guard and habaki, this blade might be troublesome to wield in combat, however from an aesthetic standpoint… Whoa… I think it just got a little hot in here… 🙂

I have but one concern though. I don’t rightly know if the “Waki” was really the most dignified name to give this particular blade. But to be fair, a curvy blade of dark swirling damascus would, by any other name, would still look just as beautiful…

What more can I say… It’s a thing of beauty… 😀

The Waki and friends – [Hayes Knives]

A Beautiful Blade of Mixed Heritage…

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Today is a good day. Sinza, a buddy of mine, who started the Exotic Automatic forums we run, (http://exoticautomatic.com Go check it out!!) ran into a very interesting blade, and was kind enough to give me a heads up! And I gotta tell ya, this is an exotic beauty of a blade. Born of classic knife blood. My kind of heritage… Yeah… 😀

Allow me to introduce you to a unique stiletto from Burn Knives. A stiletto of mixed blood. African, Asian, and European. They call it an 11″ Italian picklock stiletto in random patterned damascus with a hollow ground tanto blade. *I* call her Aidemona. For reasons which may not be obvious right now. But I assure you, I will explain. And here she is:

Aidemona - 11" Italian Picklock Stilletto, Damascus steel, Tanto Blade

Aidemona - 11" Italian Picklock Stilletto, Damascus steel, Tanto Blade

Isn’t she beautiful? I have always been a fan of stilettos. Beautiful, narrow, usually single edged blades, automatics with will of their own, an a undeniable presence. And this one, while a major departure from traditional stiletto design, is all the more attractive to me for it’s differences. Such sweet differences… OK… I guess I ought to stop marveling at her beauty and introduce her properly. Meet Aidemona.

Aidemona - Left Side

Aidemona - Left Side

Aidemona - Bolster, Guard

Aidemona - Bolster, Guard

I call this knife Aidemona in homage to several characters from Shakespearian literature. Specifically the tragic work, Othello. In it, we have the Venetian beauty Desdemona, who falls in love, and elopes with Othello, a moor, a man of color. In my mind I imagine that if they had a daughter, she would have been called Demona. A child of mixed Italian and African blood. A stiletto in dark damascus steel.

Aidemona - Right Side

Aidemona - Right Side

Aidemona - Liner filework

Aidemona - Liner filework

But Aidemona is yet so much more than that. What if Demona had traveled to Asia, and hooked up with a Japanese man? A Samurai of noble blood? What would their daughter look like? Well, this is who I imagine Aidemona to be. An strong, exotic beauty with a proud Italian stiletto heritage, a Japanese blade, and beautiful dark damascus skin… A melding of cultures so far apart, into something… breathtaking.

Aidemona - Blade

Aidemona - Blade

Aidemona - Blade, Right Side, Point

Aidemona - Blade, Right Side, Point

Perhaps I am biased. I have always loved tanto blades. Their strong, utilitarian lines, and the pure strength of that point design. I have also always loved automatics. And what type of blade is more deserving to be the proud ambassador of automatic knives than the Italian Stiletto? I can’t think of any better. And of course, I love dark knives. Dark blued steel, patterned damascus, they look better to me than the million other shiny flashy blades out there. So you can probably imagine how knives like Aidemona make me feel.

Aidemona - Spine filework

Aidemona - Spine filework

Aidemona - Pommel filework

Aidemona - Pommel filework

And just look at the fit and finish on this blade. Sweet, jet black onyx stone scales, the intricate file work along the spine, liners and pommel of the grip, the skull safety, and the mother of pearl button… A functional, beautiful but, oh, so evil looking work work of art. I love it. I would propose to her, except I have so many girlfriends now, I think it would surely mean my demise…

Aidemona - Mother of Pearl Button, Skull Safety

Aidemona - Mother of Pearl Button, Skull Safety

Aidemona - Closed - Right Side

Aidemona - Closed - Right Side

I think I’m going to just go back and spend the rest of the day just drooling over her from afar…

11″ Italian Picklock Stiletto, Tanto Blade, Black Damascus – [Burn Knives]

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