Japanese swords epitomize the distinctive culture and customs of Japan. Anciently been utilized as a weapon, these swords also enlighten the historical perspective of the Japanese tradition of artwork as well as status symbol and spirituality perception associated with them. Modern times have revived the Japanese sword-making with the advent of contemporary production that has attained the attraction of the modern world and now it represents one of the hottest productions. Contemporary sword-making has been engaging a vast variety of the swords, ranging from the blade shapes and sizes to their application, practical requirements, and manufacturing techniques. Typically known and used Japanese swords includes Tachi, Tsurugi, Katana, Wakizashi, Odachi, and many more. Contemporary Japanese swords, owing to its iconic features, has ruled the sword market in terms of local consumption as well as their export to other Asian countries and beyond.
Significant Revival of Japanese Sword’s History
Japanese sword’s history has been traced back to the Kofun period or even Heian period, during the time when the curved blades can be referred to the Japanese swords. Ancient Japanese swords characterize several types on the basis of an era and respective manufacturing attributes. Owing to lack of historic archives and nonexistence of the ancient records, there exist a massive lack of information regarding raw materials and manufacturing attributes of Japanese swords-making, specifically during the era of 12th - 16th century, typically known as the Kamakura period to the Muromachi period.During the 17th - 19th century, the Japanese history holds significant historical evidence regarding the customary sword-making and artistry related to it. However, the Japanese feudal era rendered this iconic artistry neglected but ancient swords-making art got revived and has become a quintessential element of Japanese tradition.
In 1900, Token Kai was founded for the revival of the Japanese swords-making industry and to protect the rights of swordsmiths and their craftsmanship.Established by the Japanese government, Token Kai has been crowned and holds all the due credits for preserving and reviving the historical aspect of the traditional Japanese swords and artistry of sword-making. Japanese Swordsmiths are fetching the world with their intricately crafted swords to showcase their creative and artistic skills. Japanese swordsmiths remained supremely creative and artistic and showcased their skills in making distinctive blade patterns to outshine from others.
The idealistically intricated blade patterns have known to be the hallmark of the Japanese swordsmiths throughout history. The custom is still practicing in the modern world as swordsmiths maintain their uniqueness by possessing exclusive blade patterns, the characteristic features of their artistry, usually referred to as Hamon. Many renowned cities of Japan are contributing to the growth of Japanese swords-making artistry through festivals and exhibitions. Hamono Matsuri is such a festival, held every autumn in the city of Seki encouraging local swordsmith industry to flourish by participating in the festival to present their artwork to the visitors. Such festivals not only contribute to celebrating and highlighting their tradition but also attract exporters as well as international tourists for the exemplary portrayal of their norms and culture. Japanese sword-making industry has attained profound attention at the government level, as the Japanese government is in full support for preserving and enlightening the Japanese culture and tradition.
Rules and regulations have been set to firmly regulates the artistry to maintain the high standards and top-notch quality of the swords. The interesting facts to know are the nonpayment rule for the sword craftsmanship to avoid professional compromises to the quality of the swords and permission of crafting merely two or three swords per month. Apart from the highly regulated industry and high standards set for the swordsmiths by the Japanese government, there implies some sort of unfortunate implications as well. These rules and regulations have rendered many willing people away from pursuing the sword-making as a career. Traditional Japanese swordsmith has governed exemplary importance and respect in the Japanese society.
Japanese swords possess inordinate importance in the field of science and technology. Raw materials used in the Japanese sword-making and the technologies applied in crafting these swords are the timeless trends in the modern science research area. The crafting techniques of the Japanese swords and their application as a weapon implies the consistency of the craftsmanship with the science. Countless researches have been conducted to elucidate the metallographic or metallurgical profile of the Japanese swords. For instances, a comprehensive comparative analysis was conducted concerning the non-breakable feature of mekugi despite violent sword-fighting in several battles using Japanese swords like Katana and Tachi.
The study concluded that the mekugiana, typically a hole for mekugi, is situated at such a position in the tang that even a strong force cannot break the mekugi. The observations of modern research enlightened the scientific and engineering aspects of these swords that have been crafted by implementing the codes of traditional Japanese swordsmiths. The toughness and strength of the Japanese swords are the distinctive attributes that make them superior from the other swords. Contemporary Japanese swords are manufactured by using Tamahagane, superior steel smelted from iron sand and charcoal that make them extremely sharp and tough.
Consecutive heating, melting, forging, and tempering of Tamahagane in addition to special hardening treatment renders the sword blades supremely sharp and shock-resistant. Others may contain Tatara as a raw material that differs it from other swords. Japanese swords are epitomes of non-breakable, non-bendable, and perfect cutting swords. Elegant shapes and curves, variations in the blade surfaces, and the distinctive blade patterns all are well crafted that satisfy all the scientific and engineering aspects.
The scientifically proven crafting of the swords makes them valuable for their best utility as a weapon as well as iconic art pieces. Japanese Swords; A Spiritual Perspective Japanese Swords holds significant spiritual beliefs for quite a massive group of people. Japanese people believed in keeping the swords to dissipate the evil forces. These are believed to be a symbol of purity. These are worn or keep for fending off the bad or evil spirits. A massive group of people assumes them a symbol of fortune or luck and is considers as a talisman for commemorating intimate gatherings and to wish luck to the loved ones, especially to the newborn and newlyweds.
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