While in Seki-City, Ernest was invited to attend and observe the skills of swordsmithing, sword polishing and saya making (sheath making). As a result, Ernest met Mr. Hiromune Takaba and was invited to return to learn the art of Japanese swordsmithing. Takaba Hiromune is a nationally registered swordsmith. His art has been passed to him in the traditional manner, as it has been for many years, generating from father to son. In the national sword making competition last year, one of his swords was judged to be the best in Japan and is to be exhibited in the National Museum in Tokyo.
Upon meeting, Takaba and I developed a spontaneous friendship. I was floored when I received an invitation from him to come into his shop and actually participate in the building of Japanese swords. Being a lifelong student of the Japanese sword myself, this was something beyond my wildest dreams. I was told that sword smiths are largely a secret and reclusive group, and as a result, very few students are ever selected (this applies to native Japanese). To have this opportunity presented to a Gaijin (foreigner) is completely unheard of." The Japanese culture regards these craftsmen as living treasures and their heritage and art are zealously guarded.
During our first meeting, we produced a billet of Damascus steel using the traditional forge and hammer process. This steel has since become a hand forged Damascus commander that I will treasure forever.
On another day, Takaba showed Ernest the traditional clay tempering process, allowing him to learn and participate in the traditional tempering process. This process is the produces the beautiful and mysterious hamon, the signature and soul of the true Samurai sword.
This is the end product. The first and only Emerson Forged Damascus, produced by the traditional Japanese method. This chisel ground Commander is truly one of a kind.