Thanks to the Hollywood movie like ’The Last Samurai’ starring by Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves upcoming movie ’47 Ronin’ , “katana” sword has now become an extremely popular sword in the world. Katana is one of the traditional Japanese swords worn by the samurai. From the medieval period to the modern, the Samurai sword has evoked fascination amongst warriors and laymen alike and was believed by the Samurai to be joined to his soul.
One of the greatest swordsmiths in Japan is Masamune(千子 村正） . Masamune is almost legendary in Japan. Most of his work was done during the 13th and 14th century. He created swords and daggers in the Soshu tradition.
To make the swords requires a great amount of technical skill and craftsmanship making them not only weapons of note, but also works of art in their own right. This did not only apply to the blades, the hilt and scabbard were sometimes carved from ivory and depicted a story from Japanese mythology and along with the hand guard, were often embedded with silver or gold.
Traditional swords are still making in Japan and recently MEXT (The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology), Japan created the making video of Japanese sword by traditional swordsmithing.
The authentic Japanese sword is made from a specialized Japanese steel called “Tamahagane” which consist of combinations of hard, high carbon steel and tough, low carbon steel. High-carbon steel is harder and able to hold a sharper edge than low-carbon steel but it is more brittle and may break in combat. Forgers use these details when making a sword.
When the rough blade is completed, the swordsmith turns the blade over to a polisher called a togishi, whose job it is to refine the shape of a blade and improve its aesthetic value. The entire process takes considerable time, in some cases easily up to several weeks. Early polishers used three types of stone, whereas a modern polisher generally uses seven. The polishing process almost always takes longer than even crafting, and a good polish can greatly improve the beauty of a blade, while a bad one can ruin the best of blades. More importantly, inexperienced polishers can permanently ruin a blade by badly disrupting its geometry or wearing down too much steel, both of which effectively destroy the sword’s monetary, historic, artistic, and functional value.
In addition to folding the steel, high quality Japanese swords are also composed of various distinct sections of different types of steel.
After the blade is finished it is passed on to a mountings-maker, or sayashi (literally “Sheath Maker” l). Sword mountings vary in their exact nature depending on the era, but generally consist of the same general idea, with the variation being in the components used and in the wrapping style. The obvious part of the hilt consists of a metal or wooden grip called a tsuka, which can also be used to refer to the entire hilt. The hand guard, or tsuba, on Japanese swords (except for certain twentieth century sabers which emulate Western navies’) is small and round, made of metal, and often very ornate.
The handguard piece, often intricately designed as an individual work of art — especially in later years of the Edo period — was called the tsuba. Other aspects of the mountings (koshirae), such as the menuki (decorative grip swells), habaki (blade collar and scabbard wedge), fuchi and kashira (handle collar and cap), kozuka (small utility knife handle), kogai (decorative skewer-like implement), saya lacquer, and tsuka-ito (professional handle wrap, also named emaki), received similar levels of artistry.
The obvious part of the hilt consists of a metal or wooden grip called a tsuka, which can also be used to refer to the entire hilt. The hand guard, or tsuba, on Japanese swords is small and round, made of metal, and often very ornate.
Almost all blades are decorated, although not all blades are decorated on the visible part of the blade. Once the blade is cool, and the mud is scraped off, the blade has designs and grooves cut into it. One of the most important markings on the sword is performed here: the file markings. These are cut into the tang, or the hilt-section of the blade, where they will be covered by a hilt later.
Martial artists see that a katana sword is more than just a weapon. It’s a sword with concept, philosophies, and symbol. When a person is starting to learn about the Japanese sword martial art, they will not only learn the techniques, but also the philosophies behind it.