Sodateru taiyō no katana or “Sword of the Nurturing Sun”
Sodateru taiyō no katana
“Sword of the Nurturing Sun”
I just finished customizing a much sought after little gem in the world of production katana, a Musashi Gold series Masurao or mokko gata katana.
These swords stood well above the usual offerings by the Musashi brand and were made by Chinese blade smith Alex Zheng in a run that has since been discontinued and is becoming increasingly hard to find in this condition in the secondary market. I was able to get my hands on an unused one in terrific shape with a blade in very good condition as well. I initially picked it up to keep for myself and it feels like every few minutes or so handling it, I may still do that.
It’s a powerful yet fast sword with agile handling and is also a well tested and proven performer, used for years by many known practitioners in the sword community. The stock sword is simple and strong with a very nicely shaped tsuka, basic but appealing fittings and furniture and a very attractive folded steel blade featuring an expertly created gunome hamon. It also has a geometric yokote at the base of it’s beautiful kissaki. Simple, elegant, powerful.
The basic stats are essentially the same as listed for the original model, minus the original fittings, storage box and cleaning kit. The katana comes with a simple sword bag.
OAL: 41 1/2″
Nagasa: 27 7/8″
Steel: folded T10 + 65MN, 408 layers
Hamon: clay hardened gunome
Tsuka length: 11″
Weight with saya: 2.80 lbs
Weight w/out saya: 2.33 lbs
POB: approx 6 1/2″ from tsuba
From the Musashi website, regarding Alex Zheng:
“We are proud to present, from the Musashi (Gold) Collection, a hand forged samurai sword by master sword smith Alex Zheng.
Alex Zheng is one of the top master sword smiths in China and has been bestowed the title of “Master of Art” from his peers. With over 30 years of sword forging experience and numerous awards Zheng’s swords have been sought after by affluent collectors, high ranking state and military officials as well as museums. A frequent contributor to the China Military weekly magazine, his thesis and techniques has helped improve and enchance other sword smiths’ abilities. The respect Alex Zheng has among his peers is unrivaled.”
Here is what I did to it:
I started by adding new, wider and much higher quality samegawa panels, featuring an emperor’s node surrounded by several other large nodes. I lacquered this in a two-tone black finish with a matte base highlighted with glossy accents randomly placed throughout.
The Kawa tsumami-maki is done with the most supple and comfortable tan colored, nubuck leather ito. I could try to describe the feeling of gripping it but I’d probably fall short so you’d really have to feel it yourself to fully appreciate just how awesome this ito is. Underneath is a set of peony flower menuki with a nice aged look, tucked neatly in place and a handmade thick horn kashira caps off the end.
I stripped the original brass fuchi and applied a traditional patina that resulted in an almost olive color that I felt complemented the ito color well. I also did this with the brass habaki. There are many other subdued colors that play along the surface in the right light.
The seppa are hand-cut from brass and were also given a patina that gives them a well worn and warm appearance. The omote seppa has a subtle but special touch of interest featuring a lightly detailed flower design etched into the surface. This feature comes into play later on
The tsuba is a piece I also made myself, out of 1/8″ thick steel and features a “washed” finish in an almost sepia tone and a set of etched flowers soaking up the rays of the sun on both sides. The shape is an oblong, rounded square with a raised rim.
Moving onto the saya, I replaced the original wooden kurikata with a handmade version made of black horn, rounded and polished to go with the existing horn koiguchi and kojiri. I reshaped and polished the koiguchi and then gave the whole thing a simple black ishime style lacquer finish. I added a little touch near the end using the same type of flower found on the seppa, in a speckled gold color which carries the theme all the way to the end. The saya is tied with a thick and super lush, black nubuck sageo. The sageo unfortunately has a bit of a cosmetic flaw in the middle of the underside but it is not damaged in a way that will affect it’s function at all.
I really love how this sword came out and if I were to have a katana of my own someday, it would probably be very similar to this one, as it’s one of my favorite styles. It looks great, feels great and is a tried and true great performer as well. The total package, in my humble opinion.