Among swords, the Katana is arguably Japan’s most iconic blade. A sharp double-edged iron sword, its unique forging process gave it three highly sought-after traits: not to break, not to bend, and to have a razor-sharp cutting edge. The result was a powerful weapon that could slice through flesh and bamboo with ease, but also crush bone and freeze the faces of enemies who stood in its path, making them unable to respond.
To achieve these qualities, a blacksmith used the ‘Tatara-buki method’, which was an original Japanese steel making technique. It relied on black iron sand found on beaches in Japan to reduce metal quickly, rather than using the traditional charcoal. This helped the sword keep its slender shape, as well as its high level of flexibility.
After the initial forging, the blade was shaved with a plane (Sen) and the rough shape of the Mune and Hirachi were hammered into their final shapes using a Kozuchi. It was then heated again at a lower temperature to create its famous Hamon, a difference in the hardness of its different parts which gives it its characteristic beauty and artistic value.
The hilt was then shaped with a Naginata, and the Kissaki (piercing tip) was added, as were the other fittings such as the Kamon and Menuki, all of which can vary in design to match the owner’s preferences. The Tsuka and Saya were then completed, adding the finishing touches to what was a highly specialized and sacred craft. Manga Katana collection