Copyright Robert Cole 2014 - No copying or distributing - Note: Missing graphics

Temper Lines

The "Way" of manufacturing technique brought a precise manifestation of YAKIBA and HAMON. The way NIE and NIOI interplay in a common theme of temper line, as produced in a given smith's work, was not happenstance but a matter of pursuit. Individual YAKIBA styles have long been cataloged and are one of the main definers of origin.

Sword schools and their individual masters, therefore, have signature YAKIBA styles that are initially identified by HAMON.

A long straight HAMON line is called SUGU-HA (straight HA). If there are slightly irregular undulations, the description is expanded to SUGU KO-MIDARE (straight small-uneven).

If the HAMON is composed of irregular patterns it is called MIDARE. Irregular patterns are KO-MIDARE if they are small.

The following are descriptive elements used and expanded upon in the above manner to denote particular HAMON patterns or style.

  SUGU   -  A straight pattern     CHOJI - Clove blossom pattern
  MIDARE -  Uneven patterns         JUKA - CHOJI laid over CHOJI
  GUNOME -  Round-shaped           OBUSA - High CHOJI rises
  SUDARE -  Bamboo blinds         KAWAZU - "Tadpole" CHOJI
  SAKA   -  Slanted              KOBUSHI - "Fist" CHOJI     
  TORAN  -  High waves          YA-no-NE - Arrowhead
  HAKO   -  Box pattern         MIMIGATA - Ear-shaped
  NOKO   -  Sawtooth           HITATSURA - Full-temper
  UMA    -  Horse teeth       SANBONSUGI - "Three-cedars"
  NOTARE -  Waves           ASAKI-NOTARE - Shallow waves 

The terms are used in combination and with such prefixes as HIRO "wide", CHU "medium", HOSO "thin", O "large" or KO "small." When applicable they can be followed with MIDARE "uneven", KUZURE crushed, and others. Hence "O-CHOJI MIDARE" indicates "uneven large clove-blossom" forms.

There are, additionally, terms such as HAKIKAKE "sweepings of a broom," KAEN "flame" and TOGARI "pointed" which are used for HAMON but are also used in describing BOSHI (hardening in the KISSAKI).

Note: Line or "ground" terms
It is not commonly understood, but important to remember that the terms SUGU, MIDARE and NOTARE, while used loosely for their particular types of YAKIBA and HAMON patterns, are also constantly used a little differently in Japanese texts. A misinterpritation has been copied repeatedly into English and left the English-speaking community with rather poorly defined descriptive vocabulary.

When SUGU is used, as in SUGU KO-CHOJI, it means that KO-CHOJI HAMON patterns flow on a fairly straight line along the sword edge.

Likewise, when NOTARE is used, it means the HAMON pattern, which ever that pattern happens to be, is undulating on a wave like line down the sword edge.

So HAMON terms may be specific patterns or also they may be denoting the shape of the line on which the HAMON pattern sits.

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Line or "ground" terms

SUGU                Fairly even flowing line
KO-MIDARE           A pattern that flows a slightly uneven course
MIDARE              Unevenly flowing pattern
NOTARE              The pattern undulates down the blade
ASAKI-NOTARE        The pattern rises and falls on gentle swells
KO-NOTARE           Same, slight rise and fall 
Sho-shin
Glossary