Swordsmith / Tatara Master at Hirata Blacksmith in Ome-city, Tokyo
He uses original Tamahagane to make swords
Since Mr. Sukehira practiced Kendo (a Japanese sword martial art) in his school days, he got interested in the origin of Kendo, which is the Katana (a samurai sword.).
He then decided to do something related to a samurai sword in his future carrier.
After graduating from high school, he became a disciple of Sukesada Ueda Master Swordsmith, a master of homemade steel in Bizen Osafune, Okayama prefecture, and learned homemade steel and forging techniques for 13 years. After that, he became independent in Ome City, Tokyo, and now produces Tamahagane, the raw material of Japanese swords, using Tatara-iron making, which is few even across the country.
Still keep practicing the performance at the fire
Generally, it takes about 5 years to become an entry- level blacksmith.
Even though it has been almost 15 years of work experience, he always considers there are still many points to improve work performance.
"I am not sure how others would rate my work, but for me, I always find points for potential improvements, so
I need to keep practicing forever."
Even when his work goes well, he feels it's not perfect.
He thinks he should be at the fire every day to keep his skills and improve his sense of making a blade.
His wife makes Tatara-Iron at His Studio as the only female Tatara master in Japan
Tatara iron-making is a Japanese ancient and traditional ironmaking method.
Raw materials iron sand and charcoal are burned in a furnace for about 8 hours to produce Tamahagane. Throw in iron sand and charcoal every 5 minutes in the process.
Mr.Sukehira's wife Mr. Nodoka learned the tatara iron-making method from him and now produces the "Tamahagane" steel in high-yielding, tenacious, and easy quality for him to process.
They say "About 300 swordsmiths currently use the same steel distributed in Japan, but only about 3 swordsmiths are producing the Tamanagane steel to make swords and knives including us."
"Nowadays, hundreds of tons of steel can be made at factories at very low cost, so the traditional way of making steel is inefficient. However, Tamahagane contains fewer impurities besides iron and it'll easily stick together. On the other hand, steel made by the modern method such as iron plates. They don't stick together with each other. So only Tamahagane allows us to do such things."
It is very rare to see them making original Japanese swords, kitchen knives, and knives using the Tamahagane on the spot.
They are known as one of top Swordsmiths in Japan
Japanese sword smithing is a pretty old craft so women were traditionally not allowed in the workshop because it was told that it would make the Gods angry. However, they don't care about such old-fashioned beliefs. They even think that working together as a family has only good points.
"It is really nice to be able to work together freely."
Mr & Ms Hirata work together keeping such a wonderful traditional sword-making process alive.
They are now known as one of top swordsmiths in Japan.