February 23, 2024

The Katana was the sword of choice for samurai, the military nobility of feudal Japan (1185-1600). It was usually carried thrust through a belt-like sash (obi) with the cutting edge up. The katana was designed for close-combat warfare and to allow samurai to draw the blade and cut an enemy in one swift motion.

The katana was made from Tamahagane, a high-quality steel forged using the Tatara-buki method. This strove to achieve three highly sought qualities, the ability not to break or bend, a sharply-curved blade, and a razor sharp cutting edge.

To make the Katana, a red-hot block of steel was struck and elongated with a hammer. The resulting metal was then folded back into itself along its length. This was repeated several times. The shingane, which was made from a softer metal to support the harder blade, was then added. The new blade was then welded together to form the finished katana.

Once the katana was finished, it would be quenched in water. This reduced the risk of a failure in duels but is not recommended for modern swords that are to be art pieces because it does not allow for a fine Hamon, or blade pattern. After the katana had cooled, the sword craftsman modified the curvature and checked Hirachi (blade thickness) and Jiba (blade surface). Unevenness is shaved off with a plane and the Mekugi hole for fastening the Tsuka (handle grip) are drilled.

The Katana was often paired with a smaller sword called a Wakazashi, which was worn at home and used for ritual suicide (seppuku) or emergencies. The samurai would sleep with the Wakazashi under their pillow as they slept, and it could be drawn quickly for use in self-defense or to perform the infamous 47 Ronin legend of honorable warriors committing seppuku to avenge their fallen leader. find out more information

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