Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sword Show Comes to Oki

One thing I haven't learned much about since living in Japan is their craft of making exquisite samurai swords - ever heard of a Katana?  These aren't just weapons, but also incredible pieces of art.  A true Japanese sword is made from two different types of Japanese steel: a harder outer jacket of steel wrapped around a softer inner core of steel.  This method creates a blade which has a uniquely hard and highly razor sharp edge to it.  During the process of creating these samurai swords the raw steel is heated and hammered, split and folded back on itself many times and re-welded to create thousands of tiny layers.  The particular way that the steel is folded, hammered, and re-welded determines the distinctive grain pattern of the blade, and this feature indicates the period, place, and actual maker of each blade.   

I learned all of this just last weekend when we had a samurai sword show come to Okinawa.  I would have loved for us to buy one, but what I didn't realize about these swords (more like pieces of artwork) is that they weren't made recently - they were actually super old antiques - which apparently drives the price quite high.  Most of the swords we saw were made back in the 1300's or 1400's - some were older than the USA!  I was shocked at how old they were.  Because of this, the prices started at $5,000 and went up and up from there.  Even though we didn't end up buying anything, it was still really fun to look and learn.   

This little ball on a stick was used to apply powder to the swords to clean them

I know the actual blades are cool, but I really appreciated the detail & craftsmanship put into these beautiful handles as well. 

More posts soon to come!

- C

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