A Devotion of a Swordsmith

  Watanabe Korehira is a 62 year old Swordsmith living in Date City, Hokkaido, Japan. He set up a sword-making dojo 30 years ago. His goal is to achieve the same quality as that of Japanese swords made in the Kamakura period (A.D 12 C-14C). Japanese swords have been made since the Heian period (AD 8c-12c).  Among them, generally speaking, swords made in the Kamakura period are thought to have the highest quality. The sword color tells you its status. A new one is going to be

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Building and operating a traditional tatara

In the summer of 2010, Achim Wirtz (check some of his work here)  & Pavel Rihacek did build and operate a low-furnace tatara (kera-oshi tatara) with the help of their wifes Katerina & Alexandra and the folks from Lohmann Stahl. They started to build the tatara on Saturday the 12th and finished it by Wednesday the 16th (so you thought you could build that in a single afternoon ;) ). The original tatara, as you can find them in Japan are 3m long and 1m wide but since they only had 1

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The Tip and Body of the Katana’s blade

We're mainly going to talk about the tip of a katana (1) and a few mainparts of the body of the blade (2) . Just keep in mind that these are the most frequently parts people in the sword circle will talk about, there are some more but i don't think we need to do all of them in order to get a descent knowledge of the parts of a katana. If you know all of these you will probably know more than your friends :)   I also need to thank Pierre for revising  all of the images (and correcting me along

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What would you like to ask to Pierre ?

Through a couple of friends, I was able to get in touch with Pierre and was very , very excited about that. To keep things very short, Pierre is a “Western guy” who traveled for the first time to Japan in 2002 and was amazed by the fact that there were still real traditional swordsmiths living and working in Japan. The very idea of working alone, at peace, retired in a workshop set in the countryside, nearby a fire, with steel only for raw material, doing a work that never ceases to bring renewal

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The Japanese Katana, historical background info

The Japanese Katana (aka Samurai swords) has been in existence for thousands of years and is a heavy part of the Japanese culture. It's existence has been known to display honor, and its service has continued with reverence and respect for this weapon. Coupled with the use of martial arts has branded the sword to be the ultimate fighting weapon. War played a major part in Japan's history and the people were always developing new types of effectively weapons, and protection armor. Their early weapons

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Miyamoto Musashi – His Life And Legacy

If you’ve had anything to do with the world of Japanese sword arts, for any length of time, then it is very likely you have heard the name Miyamoto Musashi or the sword named after him , the Miyamoto Musashi Katana. Although some may argue this fact, it is very likely that he the most famous swordsmen that ever lived. He is famed for his battles, his distinct styles of swordsmanship, and he created a legacy that has out lived him by close to 400 years! THE LIFE OF MIYAMOTO MUSASHI Miyamoto Musashi

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Tamahagane, the original steel used by the Japanese swordsmiths

Steel is iron that contains carbon, so the more carbon a steel has , the harder it is. Most of the Japanese sword smiths are working with the traditional steel that is better known as tamahagane. In Japan there’s only 1 official smelter left. This Japanese style smelter is called a tatara. The tatara relies on the propensity of very hot iron to combine with carbon in its vicinity to produce steel. In the tatara, it is the burning charcoal that supplies the carbon. These typical Japanese smelter

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The Japanese sword (Nihonto) – part 2

Since fighting and wars continued throughout Japan, there was a big demand for swords. The intensity of warfare also led to the development of the Uchigatana. These kind of swords could be worn with the edge up so to combine drawing and slashing actions in a single stroke. Uchigatana were about 61cm (24 inches) long and could easily be used with 1 hand and were practical for indoor fighting where tachi were not. Later on, in the beginning of the Momoyama period (1568-1603), there was the evolution

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The Japanese sword (Nihonto) – Introduction

Lately I read a couple of good books on the histroy & making of the Japanese Sword and tought it would be a good idea to shear that with our readers so I decided to write a few posts about it. If you found something incorrect or you like to add something, don't hesitate to leave a comment ! The technology that led to the development of the Japanese sword originated in China and was brought to Japan in the 4e-5e century A.D. At that time these swords were known as chokuto and did have a straight

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Hardening process of a japanese sword – part 2

When the clay coating process is done, the blade is heated again until it reach it’s critical temperature, which depends on the kind of steel that is used but will have an average of 750 - 800°C. Once the blade reached the 750-800°C, the structure of steel changes to austenite. Now, when the blade is quickly cooled by quenching (in water), austenite changes to martensite, the hardest type of steel. However, because of the clay application, the blade will cool more slowly where the clay is thick

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