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Updated: 28 Feb 2021

Episode 7: HAMON(刃紋) & JIHADA(地肌)

Episode 7: HAMON (Blade-Waves)

When you look into a Katana, you will notice the glistening, elegant waves on the blade in a very second.

It is called HAMON(刃紋; Blade-Waves). It ranges from the layered, helix, wavy ones that could look like tidal waves, to the straight, thin ones. 

You can not help but realize how much of Hamon’s breath-taking beauty there are to be seen in the world of Katana…. Today we are going to introduce the basics of HAMON to you.


INDEX:

HAMON

     1.How did they make Hamon?

     2.Shape of Hamon

For Advanced Tips:

JIGANE, NIE, and NIOI

     1.What is Jigane (Kitae-Hada)?

     2. Types of Jigane

     3.Nie-Deki, Nioi-Deki


1. How did they make Hamon?

Before you sharpen up the blade to form the Katana shape, the blade goes through the process called “TSUCHI-OKI(土置き; Mud-Put) and YAKI-IRE (焼き入れ; Burn-In).” They put clay on top of the Katana blade, temper it again at 800℃, and rapidly bring down the heat by putting it back in cold water. Depending on how you put clay on it, they could make many different Hamon shapes because each part of the blade is tempered differently in the pot. The Hamon will show much clearer after the polishing process.

2.Shape of Hamon

If you have already seen one or two Katana, you may have noticed that there are generally two types of Hamon; straight Hamon, SUGU-HA (直刃), and wavy Hamon, MIDARE-BA (乱刃). In the Japanese sword terminology, there are many specific terms to describe those Hamon patterns. However, we would just like to touch on these two types today. 

I: SUGU-HA

Sugu-Ha

 

Sugu-Ha never goes out of style. They were a more common, sharper, and martially more sturdy type of Katana throughout history.  

Although most Sugu-Ha blades look very similar, there are loads of sub-genres among them as well.

We will show you those in the future episode of this series.

 

 

 

 

II: MIDARE-BA

MIDAREBA
Midare-Ba

 

Midare-Ba acquired its popularity in the peaceful periods during the Samurai times.

Since they were more aesthetically outstanding, people would often prefer to have the Midare-Ba Katana on display.

However, The Japanese swords with Midare-Ba Hamon were also made in the conflicted eras such as the Sengoku period. (The Warring States period)

 

 

 

Midare-Ba should also be divided into several types. Below shows the four popular Midare-Ba waves.  


Now you have probably grasped the difference between each HAMON. However, the blade of the Katana still has a lot more to be seen. We would also like to introduce the basics of Katana’s skin patterns, JIGANE, NIE and NIOI.  

1.What is Jigane (Kitae-Hada)?

Jigane, or Kitae-Hada is the sheer pattern of wrinkles seen on Katana that stream through the blade on the surface. They are made in Katana’s layering process of its forging, and they range from straight ones to wavy ones as well as Hamon.

2.Types of Jigane

The figure below shows the four famous instances of Jigane. Since the blacksmiths had smashed the blade so hard to layer the blade’s steel, they were named after this process as ‘Forged-Skin,’ which is Kitae-Hada in Japanese. These Jigane types are generally unique to specific sword artistries, yet were sometimes inherited to individuals who moved to other regions.  

1.Ayasugi-Hada

Wavy patterns that look like tidal waves.

2.Mokume-Hada

Patterns that look like tree rings. 

3.Itame-Hada

Straight designs that look like lumber. 

4.Masame-Hada

Straight patterns that look like trees cut vertically.

 

 

2.NIE and NIOI

  As you may know, having read the previous episode about TAMA-HAGANE, Katana were usually made out of carbon steel. You can see that there are small crystallized round dots on Katana’s surface.  

If the dots are visible in naked eye, we call them NIE.

If not, we refer to those smaller dots as NIOI.

Nie-Deki(沸出来;Boiled-Made) were made when the blade was tempered at higher temperatures as the chemical reaction of carbon and steel gets fast and rough in higher intensity of heat. On the other hand, Nioi-Deki(匂出来;Subtle-Made) were made in the slower burning of carbon steel so that the dots would crystalize more densely. It can also help determine the historical backgrounds about the swordsmiths’ artistry, based on the portion of Nie and Nioi. 

Can you now tell the difference of your Katana from the other ones? If you cannot clarify the difference, you are welcome to ask us too. We would be happy to help you make the most of your Katana collection experience, and we appreciate all your aspiration and love for Samurai culture. We will see you in the next episode.

 

Samurai Museum

Address:2-25-6 Kabukicho Shinjuku-ku Tokyo Japan 160-0021

Email: order@samuraimuseum.jp

TEL:+81 3 6457 6411

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