Category: Japan

  • Photo Essay: Antique Koto Tanto in Edo Mountings

    Photo Essay: Antique Koto Tanto in Edo Mountings

    This tanto appears to be koto and may be around 450-550 years old (Warring States Era). Though this blade has some battle damage and is somewhat worn (“tired”) due to many polishes over the centuries, it can still be enjoyed as an interesting and very old sword. The tang is signed Kane_ (兼_) in an…

  • NikkeiTV Interview

    NikkeiTV Interview

    Vancouver-based Japanese NikkeiTV stopped in at the museum forge on their central Vancouver Island tour. Thank you to Kaeko~san and Tag~san for your visit and interest in traditional swordsmithing! Original airing date was June 5, 2022. See more photos of the finished knives here. Watch more forge visits and interviews here.

  • Photo Essay: Polishing an Antique Tanto

    Photo Essay: Polishing an Antique Tanto

    Some views into the steel of an antique yoroidoshi during restoration polishing, on a day and stage when the light and the surface were showing interesting details of the hamon and hada. Thank you to its caretaker for allowing me to contribute to its care and preservation. In a private collection in Vancouver.

  • The End of an Era

    The End of an Era

    It is with some hesitation and a great degree of uncertainty that I interrupt the usual flow of news to bring you this official announcement of the end of an era. While we were blessed to have a workspace on the same property for several years, the recent kajiba project came to a close much…

  • Photo Essay: Antique Wakizashi Restored

    Photo Essay: Antique Wakizashi Restored

    Some views of an Edo period wakizashi that had a tsuka repair with tsuba and fuchi replacement, fitment tune-up, and scabbard repair and lacquering. Thank you to its caretakers for allowing me to contribute to its care and preservation. Unpapered as it came out of Japan before WWII and had been in a family continuously…

  • Making a Bamboo Scoop for Water Forging

    Making a Bamboo Scoop for Water Forging

    Simple technology for pouring water on the anvil, takeno mizusashi (竹の水差し) made from a piece of bamboo. Forging with a thin film of water on the anvil and hammer prevents forge scale or oxide from being hammered into the surface of the steel. The hot steel instantly vaporizes the water and the resulting steam explosion…

  • Japan Photo Essay: Hinoki Forest Management

    Japan Photo Essay: Hinoki Forest Management

    A photo essay depicting some elements of selective management of a Hinoki Cypress forest on a mountainside in rural Japan. The main idea is to reduce the density of the trees to promote healthy growth but there are several additional benefits as well. Secondary goals of management include using some of the cut or standing…

  • Japan Photo Essay: Chashitsu-goya

    Japan Photo Essay: Chashitsu-goya

    Building a small farm shed in an inaka area of Japan. The materials were mostly reclaimed and from what was on-hand on the farm. Incorporating elements of local architecture, the design allows farming tools and materials to stay on site at the field and provides workspace at a convenient height for grandpa. Affectionately named chashitsu-goya…

  • Japan Photo Essay: Inaka Architecture

    Japan Photo Essay: Inaka Architecture

    Photographic inspiration from traditional Japanese countryside construction. Additional views here. View from the mountain across the valley of roof tops and rice fields. Backing right onto the steep mountain slope, water and soil control is very important. These buildings have stood here more than a century. Hundred year old traditional timberframe, exterior finish materials replaced…

  • Japan Photo Essay: Orchard Garden

    Japan Photo Essay: Orchard Garden

    Photographic inspiration from the edges of satoyama in a Japanese countryside orchard garden. The crops include yuzu (citrus), nashi (asian pear), kaki (persimmon), sudachi (citrus), ringo (apple), sumomo (plum), momo (peach), kuwa (mulberry), muscat (grape), satsuma imo (sweet potato), yama imo (mountain potato), tamanegi (onion), saya endou (peas), soramame (bean), gobou (burdock), ichigo (strawberry), ichijiku…

  • Photo Essay: Antique Wakizashi

    Photo Essay: Antique Wakizashi

    Some views of an Edo period wakizashi that is in the shop for a fitment tune-up and mekugi replacement, along with a new sword bag brought from Japan. Thank you to its caretakers for allowing me to contribute to its care and preservation. At almost 400 years old, this sword is unique in that it…

  • Japan Photo Essay: Antique Nata

    Japan Photo Essay: Antique Nata

    This antique nata is in the permanent collection at Soulsmithing and is a lovely example of original handcraft from Japan. This photo essay will reveal some of the beautiful details of this tool for study and appreciation. Nata (屶, “mountain sword”, or 鉈) come in many sizes and shapes, but most fit the description of…

  • Tools for Satoyama

    Tools for Satoyama

    Satoyama are the managed forest areas that border the cultivated fields and the mountain wilds in Japan. Historically they provided fertilizer, firewood, edible plants, mushrooms, fish, and game, and supported local industries such as farming, construction, and charcoal making. Balancing the interaction of wetlands, streams, forests, and fields is an important component of the satoyama…

  • Japanese TV Profile

    Japanese TV Profile

    turn on CC for english subtitles… Thanks very much to the guys who came all the way to the workshop to film for TV Tokyo. Here is most of my segment which includes footage from the visit as well as some of our own footage shot of charcoal making. Editing 5 hours of footage down…

  • A Japanese Media Visit to the Forge

    A Japanese Media Visit to the Forge

    We had a visit from a crew filming for TV Tokyo today. They were interested in some footage of the workshop and a brief interview. A great group of guys to meet and work with, we covered a lot of ground in a few hours and they probably learned more about steel than they bargained…