The Origin of "Tama-Hagane" in Japan

The Origin of "Tama-Hagane" in Japan

Jun 09 2022

You may know that "Tama-Hagane" used for Katana in Japan is a rare steel that is made through many processes.

So, why did it take such a complicated process?
Because iron ore is scarce in Japan, so it was necessary to make steel from iron sand, which contains many impurities.
A large amount of water was used to collect a large amount of iron sand, which was then smelted with a large amount of charcoal to finally produce a small amount of steel. Only a handful of high quality steels are produced.
Because steel is so precious, the Japanese began to make knives using the forge-welding process.
If there were as much high-purity iron ore as Swedish steel, such a hardship would not have been necessary.

And as a result of being too complicated, the smelting method was transmitted only to a limited number of people. In fact, the smelting process was kept secret in order to gain political and war advantages at the time, making it even more difficult to pass on.
Even if one manages to overcome these problems, the final result depends on experience, intuition, and luck.
Katana was forged in such a precarious state of tightrope walking.

The photo shows some of the "not-so-good" Tama-Hagane made in this way.