Over 1300 years ago, on one of the tiny islands of Japan, the first samurai sword appeared. Japanese myth suggests that after losing a long and hard fought battle, an emperor returned home with his warriors horrified to find most of their swords broken or badly damaged. After thorough inspection of the blades, the men realized that their failure in battle resulted from faulty sword forging and promised to craft the perfect weapon. The men prayed for inspiration, and on the seventh night, the idea came to them in a dream: a single edged, slightly curved blade. The samurai sword was born. This great warrior symbol captures the essence of ancient Japanese culture from the forging of its blade, to the responsibility of the warrior carrying the weapon, to the class status the sword evoked. The exceptional craftsmanship of the many different types of swords in ancient Japan has made them prized and admired for centuries. Intricate detail, and the exotic and impressive quality of the swords have made them cherished works of art, as well as dependable weapons of war. The forging of the samurai sword was a long, detailed process. Priests would bless the process as the swords were exclusively meant to embody the characteristics of a samurai. The steel blade was intended to compliment the steel discipline of a samurai warrior. An essential part of the process included constructing a blade with a sharp piercing edge that could kill in a single swing, but still embodied a soft core and spine. This step required the craftsmen to create the soft core and fold outer layers of steel around it. They concealed the steel with clay and left only a thin layer over what was to become the deadly blade. The bottom, thinner part dried faster and became hard, while the top, denser half, cooled slower and softened. Throughout the forging process the swordsmith completely understood the sword’s role in life and death and therefore designed and casted a weapon worthy of...
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