A katana is a sword that features an exceptionally sharp edge and a graceful hilt. It was designed as a weapon for close-range combat, combining a sharp, deadly blade with a level of adaptability and flexibility.
Traditionally, smiths use the Tatara-buki method of forging, which combines iron sand from Japan’s beaches with carbon to produce Japanese steel known as Tamahagane. This unique metal-making technique allows for a quick reduction of temperature without impurities that are typical of modern steels, creating a high-quality blade.
Once the smith has refined his tamahagane, the blade undergoes a critical heat treatment process called yaki-ire. This involves covering the blade partially with a clay slurry, using a thicker layer on the body and spine of the sword, and a thinner one on its edge. The differential cooling of these different layers produces a wavy line on the blade known as hamon, which provides the sword with its characteristic appearance and superior hardness.
When the blade is complete, it will be attached to its tang by two wooden pegs known as Mekugi. The tang is also attached to the handle, or tsuka, with a layer of ito made of the samegawa ray skin that makes up the tsuba. This helps keep the tsuka from slipping while providing a comfortable, dry grip. Modern tsuka-ito is typically cotton or leather and may feature traditional ornaments, called menuki.
The tsuka is secured to the tang by another string known as Sageo. This string allows the sword to be tied to a practitioner’s belt for easy access when in combat or training. buy a katana here