This is the first post of a series, titled Chronicles of Japan, dedicated to the fascinating Japanese culture and some of the intriguing traditions that, during my recent trip to the country, I had the pleasure to photograph.
One of the traditions that remains alive and is profoundly respected, awakening the interest of many westerners, is the art of Japanese swordsmithing. This is possible thanks to the work of young talented people like Muneyasu – portrayed in the photos that illustrate the post and, if Im not wrong, celebrating his birthday today -, who is part of the new generation of this labour-intensive bladesmithing process, developed in Japan for forging traditionally made bladed weapons.
It all begins with Tamahagane, the raw material used in the process, that is crushed into a thin plate and suffers a complicated and precise process. The creative sequence, that includes hammering, folding, shaping and polishing, at temperatures as high as 1300ºC, requires a deep understanding of the materials involved and an exact treatment of heat, in order to end up giving life to the precious nihonto (Japanese Sword).
I had the honour and pleasure of meeting Muneyasu and watching him in action, at his workshop in Saitama, with the valuable help and company of Paul Martin, a Japanese sword specialist and, above all, a very kind and polite human being. If you are interested in learning more about this tradition, I sincerely recommend that you visit Paul´s website or follow his Facebook page.
Learn More about the Japanese Sword
Facts and Fundamentals of Japanese Swords: A Collector’s Guide
The Art of the Japanese Sword: The Craft of Swordmaking and its Appreciation
Japanese Swords: Cultural Icons of a Nation; The History, Metallurgy and Iconography of the Samurai Sword
The Connoisseurs Book of Japanese Swords
The Art of Japanese Sword Polishing
The Japanese Sword (Japanese Arts Library)
Chronicles of Japan: Muneyasu, Katana Swordsmith
(Read Chronicles of Japan: Sumo Keiko)
Any unauthorized use of this images is prohibited.
If you are an editor interested in publishing a story or viewing
more images of this reportage, please email me.
© Nano Calvo