The Ancient Art of Forging Japanese Knives (Video)
In the verdant countryside of Kōchi, Japan, the ancient craft of Japanese blacksmithing thrives, carrying a history that stretches back centuries. At the heart of this tradition are the Nata blades, essential tools used by professional woodcutters in the densely forested region. Japanese blacksmithing boasts a rich heritage, with roots tracing back to the medieval period when the country's skilled artisans began perfecting the art of metalworking. Over time, the techniques were honed and passed down through generations, blending with cultural values of precision and craftsmanship.
In the present day, the small blacksmith workshop in Kōchi keeps the age-old method of apprenticeship alive, a reminder of the passing of knowledge from master to apprentice. Matsumura, the seasoned master craftsman, is a custodian of this heritage, having spent a lifetime perfecting his skills and refining the art of forging the Nata blades. The arrival of Kikuchi, the young apprentice, breathes new life into this time-honored practice. Leaving behind his urban lifestyle, he joins the workshop to immerse himself in the age-old secrets of the craft. Beyond the mere acquisition of skills, he seeks to understand the spirit of Japanese blacksmithing, learning not just the "how" but the "why" of the craft.
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Top image: Fire and coal forging Japanese sword in a kiln of a blacksmith in Japan. Source: Karori Production / Adobe Stock.