Best Japanese Katanas and Swordsmiths

Discussion in 'General Weapons & Armour' started by Jeongf, Sep 1, 2004.

  1. Jeongf

    Jeongf New Member

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    i
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2006
  2. slash

    slash Guest

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    your right about hatori hanzo sword crap, i was on the internet last night and saw that hatori hanzo was a ninja that retired as a monk. i have 2 LAST LEGEND SWORDS mk1 , mk11



    i think the mk1 feels better and handles better
     
  3. R. Laine

    R. Laine New Member

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    Admittedly, my knowledge of Oriental weaponry isn't really up to snuff, but...



    How, exactly, does buying a cheaper replica "dishonor" the kat's history?

    Hardly. He is a rather famous smith today, yes, but saying that he was the "best" is a bit of a leap. His swords may be pretty, but he wasn't the only one to make nice-looking things...

    I would (as propably would just about every single metallurgist in the world...) really like to see proof of this. Steel -any steel- *will* rust when subjected to certain conditions.

    Exactly how was his steel more "pure" than that of others? Most Japanese steel was quite poor, so unless he had access to a source of steel outside of Japan, it is quite unlikely that he worked with better materials than other Japanese smiths.

    If someone wants a sword to hang on his wall, why should they not get one? Cheap paintings don't seem to offend anyone either...

    Rabbe
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2004
  4. Jessehk

    Jessehk The introverted

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    I agree entirely with you Rabbe, especially on his last point.

    If somebody wants a lesser quality, wall hanger katana for the purpose of display, who are you to tell them otherwise? My motto has always been ( since I've read a few sources on the internet ) that as long as one knows the difference between wall hangers, cheaper production blades, and custom made swords and all their individual uses, then one can make an educated descion based on their preference and fully enjoy them in ways that their individual functionality allows.
     
  5. Gregorius0202

    Gregorius0202 The Bronze Warrior

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    Lol, I couldn't care if Jeongf up there is half-Japanese, or a Japanese God... He really needs to get some reading done before he says that there is steel that doesn't rust and swords that are proven to be the VERY best ever...

    Very silly and immature to say. Also, there is no way you can dishonor a piece of metal simply because it's cheap... Masamune made his swords to kill. We don't do that these days with swords, so we don't need the quality that he projected in every damn Katana made.

    That's enough for now... I hate talking to silly people when I can't keep me cool with them.

    -Gregory-
     
  6. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

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    I agree with others and Ihave this to add.
    steel is an alloy of iron and iron carbide ei iron and crbon. By being such it is an impoure of iron. Just saying that a steel is more pure doesnt really say much because while it may have less impuirities that arent crbon it could have more carbon or less carbon than is needed to makea good sword.
    And you short history of japanese swordsmithing is kinda useles and pointless and insulting. If you want I could go for a bit longer and use mor details on teh istory of the smithing of a weapon I happen to not study.
    You sir sound as though you are all of 13 years old.
     
  7. Cheesy Goodness

    Cheesy Goodness The Fighters Guide House Member

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    R. Laine: I don't think he was talking about Masamune 24th, I think he was talking about Masamune I. He actually was one of the best sword smiths in history. His swords are still around today.
    Not meant to be used, but I was watching something on the discovery channel and they were showing some of his swords on display some where in Japan. The handles were rotted away (whatever they were made of...I would guess maybe some cloth and possible some wood (the tang was still there though)), and the blades were spotless..no rust at all.
    Then I woke up and watched the same program and it was covered with rust :)D)

    Seriously, theres no way that any piece of metal could go that long without rust, unless it was treated. Last I checked, Ancient Japan didn't have high-tech machines to do that kind of stuff.
     
  8. elrond243

    elrond243 The Fighters Guide House Member

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    hey this maybe unrelated and i'm sorry if it is but can someone give me the reall preformance differences between the handle and blade and tip designes i belive in my small amount of knowladge masamune made a specific style katana thats why "his" swords are still around. and with the not rusting i beg to differ the japanese had very little good sword steel so the attempted to make the steel they had as functional as they could and make it last as long as they could. there was a tanto blade without a handle and it was centurys old and in perfect comdition from being cleaned and kept clean my sushi knives are high carbon (i think thats what the kat's were made of?) and i need to clean it with olive oil every time i use it to keep it from rusting.
    \
     
  9. Justice

    Justice New Member

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    Rust forms when a blade is not taken care of. often times it still rusts even if taken care of, there are many factors that will hurt steel. There are many swords that are centuries old that have no rust. Any steel blade that lacks chromium (adding chromium to steel makes a stainless steel alloy) will rust if unkept. Charlesmagne's supposed sword is over 1100 years old and still inexcellent condition.

    I wouldn't use olive oil or any vegetable oil. Organic oils will turn stagnant and that will be very unpleasent. Try finding some choji oil.
     
  10. elrond243

    elrond243 The Fighters Guide House Member

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    thanks justice i'll try that
     
  11. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

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    or baby oil or gun oil
     
  12. Thorin

    Thorin Avatar of Darkness

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    Don't forget the Renaissance wax! It works miracles on your blades!
     
  13. elrond243

    elrond243 The Fighters Guide House Member

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    do remember i'm cooking with the blades i'm cleaning
     
  14. Tachyon

    Tachyon New Member

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    What a load. Speaking of needing to get some reading done...

    First, "Masamune made his swords to kill" is an incorrect, and ignorant statement.
    Masamune (the 1st) made most of his swords after the second mongul invasion. They weren't made to kill at all. They were made to hang on the wall. They were 'lucky swords' meant to ward off evil and bring good fortune. In this case many were comissioned to ward off another mongul attack. Traditionally, the majority of swords are comissioned for non battle purposes. Swords are to comemmorate important events in someone's life, to bring luck to a household, etc. And these swords are hung on a wall or otherwise put on display.
    As for this requiring a lesser quality sword since it won't see battle, this too is nonsense.
    In the Japanese tradition, these swords needed at least as much quality, possibly even more. The purity of such a sword, AND it's creator determine it's ability to bring blessing and protection from the Gods. Much the way the Jewish high-priests had to go through elaborate rituals before they could enter the holy of holies in the temple, Japanese swordsmiths had to purify themselves before making a sword or the sword would be impure. A story is told of a master swordsmith who spent 100 days meditating behind a waterfall, purifying himself before even starting on an important "lucky sword".
    So while 'wall swords' may not be important to you, they are very important to the Japanese. And if they say it dishonours them to hang cheap replicas, then who are you to disagree. It's like if they used a crucifix to play shuffleboard. Or decorated their outhouse with your flag.

    As for rusting. The construction and effort put into the forging of the sword will determine it's chemical and atomic structure, and therefore it's strength, flexibility and even corrosion resistance.
    The care with which the steel is streched, folded, and hammered will determine the degree to which the steel molecules are aligned and layered in a lattice. This not only affects the strength and flexibility of the sword, but even it's corrosion resistance. The more aligned the steel molecules are with each other, the less room remains for oxygen molecules to bond with them. Also during the folding of the steel, boric acid is introduced between the folds of steel to remove any free oxygen molecules. It's this free oxygen that enables corrosion and rust. Certain smiths develop methods and techniques that accomplish this better than others. Most of the best techniques are labour intensive and difficult. They require great care and dedication to accomplish. Because of this not just anyone has the dedication to make really great swords. But the point is that technique will have an effect on quality, strength, flexibility, and yes, even corrosion resistance.

    On the other hand, there is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy in regards to sword quality and durability. A sword built by a swordsmith with a good reputation will be taken better care of, and therefore will last longer.

    Anyway, the point is that you've shown a disregard for Japanese culture and beliefs rooted in ignorance of them.

    Tachyon
     
  15. Justice

    Justice New Member

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    Actually so much of you information is very incorrect.

    Unless you have concluded that Masamune figured out stainless steel hundreds of years before anyone else, his swords will rust just like any other sword. His were not "corrosion resistent" at all. Just leave his sword outside overnight and you will have ruined a national treasure.

    Second, I doubt the Japanese had any idea on molecular realignment. Folding steel was just a way to create a homogenous blade, not a super steel more powerful than anything createed through the ages as you contend. Our modern tool steels are far stronger than anything any japanese smith would have ever hoped to achieve, and all of this without folding the steel.

    As to the lessening of the oxygen content due to folding, carbon in the form of a powderous bicarbonate or in charcoal was added to keep the layers inbetween the steel from rusting while being laminated. As of such it sounds to me like their blades were prone to rusting instead of being rust resistent. Fact is unless they added another element to the mix, like chromium, steel still rusts.

    Goro Nyudo, the name he was born with, was known for his spectacular nioi in his blades, said to look like shimmering stars. This was incredibly difficult due to the fact that steel of the time was so brittle and impure. I have never read anything about him meditating for 100 days before forging a sword.

    As to Masamune's blade being only symbols of luck, how do you explain that most of his surviving blades were O-Dachi that were cut down to dai-to length blades? Sounds to me like he created blades specifically for the battlefield and that were were used and appreciated by the Samurai at the time, and were not so important or lucky that they couldn't be cut down to a managable size.



     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2006
  16. G-Mania

    G-Mania New Member

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    I would just like to mention that both of you were both rather incorrect and correct Tachyon first off i saw the history channel program that you choose to get your information on and i just want to say don't believe everything you wathc on t.v. they miss alot of facts. now it is true at a point Masamune did design swords as spiritual items and good luck charms at a point in his life but he also made weapons of war and both of which he but much effort and skill into and also Justice don't underestimate the intelligents of these swordsmiths they made them not only all their lifes but their family's lives and in that time you do pick up a thing or two and learn aobut that which you work with and so they did learn skills and technices that resist rust and strengthen steel with some natual elements and the right amount of carbon. The story about a man under the waterfall was not Masamune but anoughter sword crafter of the era and is not a fact but a story pasted down as a symbol of the importence of the swords if its true is unknown. The importence of the Japanese swords were like a symbol for a family or it terms to understand the Katana's were importent to the family like the Decleration of Independance is to the people of The United States of America to lose the swords was a greater loss the losing ones life because you lost your family's history. So all swords were importent to the Japanese people and the higher quality showed a greater family importence. now back on the subject of Masamune he was know as a great sword crafter and any sword with his name on it was and is greatly charished not because they were the best but because his swords brought what was believed to be a devine luck to those who owned them in battle or just to sit on a wall or stand. dont get me wrong he made great swords.Quality was always important even for a sword not used for combat thats the way the people were but greatness in swords quality did not make the most famous swordsmiths its was the spiritual powers behind the swords but the power was believes to be drawn from the quatily of the sword and the spirit of the crafter making a great sword. I don't mean to be rude in anyway to you i just wish to clear up some facts and fiction and alot of the stories behind Masamude were not facts just Japanese lore.
     
  17. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    Masamune :)

    Masamune is now indeed the most revered master swordsmith in the history of Japanes swordmaking. The reason is partly legend, partly pure mastership. His swords are beyond price and can't be sold, as far as Japan is concerned. It would be impossibly to have a certified Masamune blade outside Japanese borders, because they are considered Japanese cultural treasure and can't be taken abroad. Of course, the certifying committee is firmly housed in Japan. Furthermore, Masamune's work should not be compared that of Smith & Wesson - but rather that of Rembrandt or Da Vinci. Or, indeed, Stradivarius.

    Traditionally, the best master swordsmiths bloomed in times of peace - and that stands to reason. In times of war, quantity was much more important then quality. His swords, then, were probably made not essentially for "the kill". Indeed, a lot of these swords (not particularly Masamune, who's swords are really rare) were treated as heirlooms - and never saw battle. Nowadays, most Masamune blades are held in museums and in private collections, and are hardly ever removed from their climate controled closets.

    All katanas do rust, by the way. If you would take the trouble of dismembering a Katana, you will find the tang is rusty - and it's supposed to be such. It is good Katana practice never to polish the tang; it is kept this way as proof of its age. Besides, the tang usually carries the "signature" - or name of the master swordsmith. This will rust with the tang. If the characters of the swordsmith's name is rusted in a different way from the rest of the tang, then you know it's been tempered with. Removing the rust pretty much deprives it from its history.

    A lot of stories are told about Masamune - and as such, he is as much part of Japanese culture, as for instance Myamoto Musashi is. One of the stories told about Masamune concerns a comparison between his - and the swords of Muramasa, his chief competitor as the best master swordsmith of his day - and, indeed, ever. When, it is said, a blade of Muramasa is laid in a creek, with the cutting side up and the nose into the stream, any passing leaf would cut clean in two over the edge of the blade. When one would do the same thing with a Masamune blade, the leafs would not cut across the blade - but rather avoid it. This is explained by saying Muramasa's blades attracted combat, whereas Masamune's blade were of such balance, that they rather avoided it.

    I am not a specialist in metallurgy - but layering steel - or anything of any kind, will increase it surface area. And the more the blade is folded, the more surface area it creates. And this can be seen by the nie of the blade. And anyone who knows how a catalyst works can tell you this will in fact promote corrosion.

    Besides, the introduction of new elements in the forging of the blade is extremely dangerous, as it is not distributed on a molecular level. This creates mirco-electric tension between different parts of the metal, and that, too, promotes corrosion.

    Admitedly, the relatively high carbon grade in some parts of the blade offers some resistance against rusting. But still, they rust. Trust me.

    Here is a link with some pictures of tantos and a katana accredited to Masamune. Please note that not all blades are signed; Masamune didn't sign all his swords, for some reason. You can imagine that everyone hodling a katana of that era without a signature will experience some palpitations ;)

    Do note the rust, though.
     
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