TRADITIONAL JAPANESE SWORDSMITHING: Quench-hardening of a Japanese sword
Held in Toronto (Oct.28) and Montréal (Nov.4th) 2006
227, Riverside St., where the event was held in Montréal.
The event in review…
Our intention was to come Toronto and Montréal in order to give interested people a chance to observe a Japanese swordsmith at work, and to obtain first-hand information…
The schedule, for Toronto as well as Montréal, was to start the event with a presentation by the swordsmith and a short film on the making of a Japanese sword.
Participants would then be invited to attend the demonstration of the quench-hardening of a sword. This would include the application of clay on the blade (tsuchi-oki), the heating in the forge and quenching in water (yaki-ire), and a base polish (kaji-togi) in order to let the hardening mark appear.
The demonstration would be completed with a session of mei-kiri, i.e. the method used to sign sword tangs.
With the help of the Toronto JCCC friends (see page bottom) et after many nights spent organizing details all the way from Japan, we arrived to Toronto on October 25th from Osaka, Japan.
After a modest day of tourism, the forge was built the day preceding the event. It was cold and rainy, but our mood and our tent held tight!
That same evening, there was a party in the gym right next door where 200 teen fans of Anime (Japanese animation) met. Unfortunately, a handful of them had fun vandalizing the forge by setting fire to it and leaving with several tools. Rain was on their side: the forge was flooded (and burnt?!) when we got there the next morning, the day of the event.
Between interviews, a presentation, and the last preparations of the day, we managed to make the forge functional and thus start our main presentation on time. Over 70 people will have demonstrated their patience and enthusiasm by standing the cold, wind, and light rain of November to observe the hardening of a Japanese sword.
The next day we were driven to Montréal in order to get ready for the next Saturday.
Dinners, meetings, visits… too busy to appreciate Québec’s pace of life. Our blacksmith friend Mathieu Collette and his apprentice Sean worked like dogs to make a nice little hole in a foot-thick concrete slab. It would be used for the forge.
The week is spent lightning-fast as we try to arrange the site as best we can. On November 4th, a Saturday, over 130 people show up in this former Montréal city sewage pumping facility renovated into a blacksmithing promotion center.
After an hour of talking and the presentation of a brief film on the making of a japanese sword in the ambiant cold, a tea served by Camellia Sinensis will have warmed up at least the tip of fingers and the stomach…
The demonstration, scheduled to start just before sunset in order to allow for everyone to appreciate the red-hot heated blade in the dark, started around 15h00. The application of clay (tsuchi-oki) require a certain period of time during which some attendees were seriously annoyed by the cold.
However, the entire crowd shown a deep interest, enthusiasm, and respect, along with a sharp attention for the whole event: something never seen in a classroom!
As expected, the sun said goodbye for the day and made room for darkness, allowing the smith to judge well the blade temperature, and the people to appreciate the show.
WE WISH TO THANK…
The Toronto JCCC
Without which the event would
not have been made possible
JCCC Token Kai
Ken Noma, president
Japanese sword study group
Tutored by the JCCC
JCCC Iaido Club
JCCC Heritage Committee
…and to over 130 people, many standing in the cold for several hours…