Sword-makers ceremony sparks public interest in Gifu

SEKI, Gifu -- Hundreds of people gathered to watch sword makers in Seki, a town famous for producing Japanese swords, as the craftsmen showed off their skills in an annual New Year's ceremony expressing hope for safety in the sword-making industry.

A total of 19 sword makers dressed in white gowns and formal headwear took part in the traditional ceremony on Tuesday, working with steel heated to over 1,000 degrees Celsius.

In the ceremony a type of Japanese steel called "tamahagane," which is mainly used to make samurai swords, was heated to 1,200 degrees, and the sword makers took turns beating it with sledgehammers.

While the sword makers worked together in rhythm, spectators cheered as they listened to the sound of the hammers hitting the steel and watched sparks flying from the metal.

During the ceremony the flattened steel was repeatedly folded and layered, a process that is said to remove impurities in the metal and create a strong sword that looks good.

(Report from Mainichi Daily News)

Source: Mainichi Daily News