View Full Version : Iwasaki and Tamahagane

05-15-2011, 12:00 PM
I asked Iwasaki san about "Tamahagane".
He came back with 2 chunks of raw "Tamahagane".

Ancient and New Tamahagane

He said:"The bigger one is Tamahagane made now by The Society for Preservation of Japanese Art Swords ." "It is made every year by Hitachi Metals by old methods."
"The small one is an ancient Tamahagane made by a Tatara master. Not all ancient Tamahagane are top class. Before modern steel came to Japan in Meiji period (1868-1912) there have been many ancient Tatara places. These Tatara places has been named by the masters who made the Tamahagane. I have a stock of excellent and famous masters and I use these for my razors."

I had a chance to make photos of his very special ancient Tamahagane:
Ancient Tamahagene Stock
Near to this stock I saw some other steel:
Hocho Tetsu

I asked what it is.
The answer was it is Hocho Tetsu and it is the mild or soft steel made by the Tatara method. It has been used to make latticework in a window of an old storehouse. The name of these storehouse is "Kura" and you can see it at google picture. Storehouses which have been build before the Meiji period have these Hocho Tetsu.
These can be used as Jigane (clad) or you can enrich it with carbon to make carbon steel and it will be the same as Tamahagane.

I found also a box with the letters The Society for Preservation of Japanese Art Swords Tatara Tamahagane:

The Society for Preservation of Japanese Art Swords Tatara Tamahagane Box
The Tamahagane made now comes in this box to the blacksmith.

When I made the tour of his workshop I found a bigger charcoal furnace; far to big for razors.
It was a furnace to make a Tamahagane bar from the chunk of raw Tamahagane by hammering and folding to get rid of the non melting impurities.

Charcoal Furnace to Purify Tamahagane I asked Iwasaki san and Mizouchi san if they are making Tamahagane razors now.
The answer was yes!
I asked if they are for sale?
The answer was no!
I did not ask further.
I do not know where the new made Tamahagane razors go.
Maybe to museum or to inner circle.

I got a look at old Tamahagane western razors too:

Old Tmahagane Western Razors with Defects These are all Tamahagane razors with defects which did not leave the workshop but too good to go to trash. The steel of these razors can be recycled said Iwasaki san.

I hope my readers have enjoyed to see Tamahagane.

Pictures and links are at my blog:

Eamon Burke
05-15-2011, 12:05 PM
oooOoo mystery....I wonder where those razors go?

05-15-2011, 12:32 PM
I bet he has a special exclusive with some retailer in Japan that handles these. Too bad I can't afford $1500 for a razor! I still would like an Iwasaki kamisori one day. maybe i can get my wife to buy me one for my birthday....

05-16-2011, 06:43 AM
I have only seen Iwasaki Tamahagane western razors as old stock for sale.
I have never seen the new Tamahagane Japanese razors (kamisori) for sale.

BTW I got some pictures today from Sanjo.

Shigefusa and Yoshikane have finished heat treatment of kitchen knives I ordered for my customers: