Shinshu Forged Blades
The origins of forged blades in this area go back to the second half of the 16th century, to the time of the Kawanakajima battles. It was at this time that swordsmiths and others making and repairing weapons moved into the area and the local people learned forging skills.
During the first half of the 19th century, a skilled maker of sickles developed two new forms of this useful tool. At about the same time another smith improved the two edged sickle and made it into a singled bladed and lighter tool. The tools developed by these two men became the prototypes of tools with Shinshu Uchihamono that are still being made today.
The strength of these bladed tools stems from the fact that each one is beaten into shape after being forged. One of the particular features of the sickles is the width of the blade and the way that cut grass falls conveniently to hand, even when the handle is level, because of the way that the face of the blade is angled. A wide range of sickles, knives and straight-blades hatches are still being made to meet a nationwide demand.
Shinshu hand scythes and knives derive their incredible strength from the fact that each one is hammered into shape one by one after the metal is forged. The blade of the hand scythe is wide, and thanks to the particular angle of the blade and handle, even if grass is cut while the blade is held level, the grass falls conveniently into the hand, which a unique characteristic of the Shinshu hand scythe.
How to make
The steel used for the blade is heated in a forge, and then hammered out to create the shape of the blade. During the hammering process a scythe blade is given a single edge, and the unique angle and curve which allows convenient cutting, and a hatchet blade is given a single edge and a long narrow groove. In the tempering step, the blade is coated in a special clay and then rapidly cooled. Finally, the edge is ground and the blade polished by hand to finish the process.