Samurai Sword - Katana

Samurai Sword (Katana )

A Famous Karate Saying;-

"The iron ore considers itself senselessly tortured in the blast furnace.

The tempered steel blade looks back and knows why,

acknowledging the skill of the forge master"

q.v. Enoeda Keinosuke Sensei 9th Dan

1935 - 2003

* The use of the masculine “he or his” terms in this document equally applies to the feminine “she or hers” and is used simply to make the text easier to read.

Historical notes

It can take 15 men as long as 6 months to create a katana from start to finish.


Shimane is the last small remote village called the “Home of the Gods” where the traditional methods of making the Tamahagney are still practiced to this day in Japan.


Tamahagney is forged from the rich and pure iron sand who source is found in the beds of local streams there. They are rich in iron and free from contaminants.


One of the last great forge master of the Tatara (clay forge) from a long line stretching back many centuries, is Kihara Akira. He works at the Nittoho Tatara, Yakota, Shimane, Japan.


It takes approximately eleven tons of iron sand and twelve charcoal to make a three ton block of Tamahagney. Then it takes three full days and nights and half a dozen men to carry out this hot dirty and back breaking but very skilful process.


The second stage in the making of the katana is when it is sent to another forge master like Master Gassan Sadatoshi in Sakurai near Kyoto for forging again, this time into the basic template of a sword. This may take three men up to three months to accomplish. It is then given it’s initial rough polishing.


The final polishing and engraving is carried out by the likes of master polishers such as Master Honami which can take to ten days or more.


The Wakizashi is the shorter of the two swords that that samurai carries.


Web Reference:


Click here for the code that the Samurai lived by

Click here for some recommended book titles

Watch the making of a Samurai Sword on the National Geographic Channel

Secrets of the Samurai Sword by NOVA (REGION 1) (NTSC) Samurai Fighting Arts: The Spirit and the Practice by Fumon Tanaka

The National Geographic video clip above may be purchased from;-

Secrets of the Samurai Sword


Samurai Fighting Arts:

The Spirit and the Practice

by Fumon Tanaka

(as featured in the film above & to the left)

The Craft of the Japanese Sword

The Samurai Sword: Handbook

The Craft of the Japanese Sword

by Leon Kapp

The Samurai Sword:

A Handbook

by J.M. Yumoto

Copyright Terry Tozer 2008 ©


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page last updated on Thursday 14 October 2010