The katana is a legendary sword that holds an unrivaled place in Japan’s history. Revered for their tensile strength and effectiveness in close combat, they were more than mere weapons; they were works of art and symbols of the samurai’s honor and discipline. And even though the samurai class has long been abolished, and sword-carrying is now illegal, the ancient swordsmithing techniques are alive and well, and each katana represents a lifetime of devotion.
Shimojima crafts his katana using the traditional Tatara-buki method. He heats and softens the steel, then folds it to remove impurities and balance out the carbon content. Then he shapes the blade, which begins with a straight shape but quickly takes on its signature curve as it is hardened through a process known as differential tempering.
Differential tempering entails heating the blade to high temperatures on both sides, then cooling it at different rates. This creates a layer of harder, brittle iron called kawagane wrapped around a softer, more ductile core of shingane. The differing densities of the layers allows the smith to control the blade’s flexibility and rigidity, and ensure it will hold a sharp edge.
Once the katana is forged and polished, it’s ready to be fitted with its hilt, guard, and sheath. These components, made by other specialized craftsmen, add to the weapon’s aesthetic and cultural value. A smith may spend a month or more on the assembly and polishing of a single sword, but with more elaborate additions like gold inlay, the production time can rise to a year. buy demon slayer katana online