Katana is a Japanese sword that was developed with the primary purpose of cutting. Its semi-curved shape adjusts to the warrior’s movements when attacking and allows the blade to glide through the target, cutting more efficiently than straight swords.
First, the smith starts with tamahagane, an iron that has multiple layers of steel containing differing amounts of carbon. He heats, softens and folds the steel multiple times to create a homogenous structure and work out the differences in carbon content. The result is a beautiful pattern called hamon and the strength to resist breakage under stress, making the blade both deadly and durable.
Once the smith has forged his blade, he polishes it. This is done by a specialist known as a togishi, who uses a series of progressively finer stones to bring out the beauty of the hamon and create a smooth, razor sharp edge. This process can take weeks to complete and is the final step in creating a true works of art.
The hilt and guard (Koshirae) are made by specialized craftsmen who add gold inlays, intricate carvings and other embellishments. This further enhances the katana’s status and beauty. The tsuka is wrapped in samegawa, which is traditionally made of ray skin – a tough, course and grippy material that wraps the core of the handle. Other tsuka components include a fuchi, a metal piece that contributes to the integrity of the handle and a kashira, which is used to secure the tang. Manga Katana collection