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Japanese Swordsmithing at Atsuta Jingu

Sugisaka 番号付き熱田 刀剣奉納 

Atsuta Jingu is the shrine in Nagoya which holds the sacred sword, the Kusanagi. The Kusanagi belonged to hero Yamatotakeru, son of Emperor Keiko, who died in the year 113 CE. A sword-making event was held at the Atsuta Jingu on 2017 July 8-10. The master swordsmith is Fujiyasu Masahira of Fukushima.

Sugisaka Kazuo attended this event and took a number of photos of the process. A composite photo was made from photos taken on July 8 and 9. The sword was inscribed on July 10. Please refer to the sword-making process in the book*. There are 24 numbered photos in the composite. The 24 steps are described here, followed by a glossary.

1.    Make horizontal incisions for folding.

2.    Fold back.

3.    Stretch into a flat layer.

4.      After reaching high temperature, warabai is attached.

5.      Make the folded face smaller by hammering. At this time, impurities become sparks and fly off.

6.      The same.

7.   Make vertical incisions for folding.

8.       Fold back.

9.       Same as Step 4. Repeat Steps 1 – 9 many times.

10.Detach the kawagane (sheath).

11.Bend into U shape.

12.Bend again.

13.Wrap the shingane (core) in the kawagane. (Shingane was made in a similar fashion.)

14.The same as above.

15.Hammer to make shingane and kawagane smaller.

16.Bit by bit lengthen into shape of katana.

17.Morning of next day. Adjust the shape.

18.Holding the nakago (tang), check the result.

19.Adjust with yasuri tool.

20.Adjust shape with sen, iron shaving tool.

21.Shape is complete. However, the blade is not yet an acute angle.

22.In order to put in  hamon (a wavy pattern), yakibatuti is applied.

23.Yakubatuti is minutely applied to the spine of the sword near the tip.

24.Tempering immediately follows. (Tempering takes place in darkness, when the electric light is extinguished. As soon as the katana is inserted in the water, the light is turned on again.)

July 9 20:00. After this, in order to check the blade pattern, it was sharpened with a grinding stone.

July 10. The nakago (tang) is inscribed. The swordsmith’s work is now complete.


 心鉄 shingane, core

皮鉄 kawagane, sheath

藁灰 warabai, straw ash made by burning straw

焼刃 yakiba, hardened zone

焼刃土 yakibati, a mixture of clay, charcoal, whetstone powder which has been kneaded together.

棟 mune, spine

刃 ha, blade, cutting edge of sword

刃紋 or 刃文 hamon, blade tempering pattern, ripples due to tempering

茎 nakago, tang (prong) of sword

* Book information



Sword book 基礎知識表紙

Introduction to Japanese Swords through Pictures




発行所(Place of Publication)