Japan is a country known for its beauty, as well as its deadliness. Ninjas, Samurai, Karate, these things are always what I think of, when someone mentions Japan. So, while I am here in this amazing country, I decided to get in on some of the action and become a Blacksmith for the day!
This was, arguably, one of the coolest days of my life. We travelled out into the sticks in Gifu and met our Blacksmith sensei who would be helping us make our knives. First, we got to draw out a general design of our knives so we could visualise what were making throughout the process. I decided I wanted something a little fancy, and designed mine with a delicate curved handle; but of course, with a deadly sharp blade attached.
Then, before we started work on our actual weapons, we had the opportunity to practice with some softer ingots. After a bit of time hammering away, we finally began to craft our masterpieces. The first stage was forging and involved lots of fire and lots of hammering. I was actually pretty bad at this part as you need some considerable strength to work the metal, and make it thinner. So, I had a sneaky bit of help from the master blacksmith so I could get it going a bit.
We then had to work on our fancy handles. This was the part I was most scared about, as you can royally f*** it up if you’re not careful! We had to work with the fire again, then work the metal around into a curl before dipping it in water to cool it off. I was super proud that mine actually turned out really well.
Then we had to cut off our ingots to make them into knife shapes. Again, I had a little bit of help here as this was another very tricky move. Then, while our knives cooled, we had lunch! The blacksmith’s wife used to be a chef, so we were treated to a real feast! We watched her slicing up sashimi and cooking some squid while we sipped on their homemade beer.
The meal was delicious, and felt like a well earned break. My arms were definitely tired from all the hammering, I don’t think I’m cut out to be a full time blacksmith! While we were eating, the blacksmith told us that his regular work is to forge actual katana, or samurai swords! How cool is that?
Break over, and it was now time to sharpen our blades. We were giving whetstones and left to sharpen, sharpen, sharpen. This part was actually quite relaxing, as it’s a very repetitive movement and doesn’t require too much effort. After sharpening, we had our names inscribed onto the handles, and we were done!
There is my beautiful knife! I still can’t believe that this is something you can do over here. I would never have imagined that I would ever have the chance to forge my own weapons, but now I have! I can officially say that I have gained +10 to Blacksmithing!
If you’re in Japan and fancy having a go, check out their govoyagin page right here: