#2948

Bizen Osafune Sword Museum

See sword-making and metal-crafting in practice

I studied ancient Greek when I was in college and although fascinating, it was hard to use phrases like, "the donkey pulls my cart" in everyday conversation. Sword making is an ancient tradition in Japan and as with ancient Greek, I was curious as to whether it held some utility in today's society. I got myself over to the sword village to find out.

Located in Osafune near the border with Bizen City, you'll hardly miss the plethora of blue and white signs depicting an abstract figure doing something related to sword making. After being greeted by a more than knowledgeable guide, I soon understood why it is called a village and not a museum.

There are actually master craftspeople on site practicing the art of sword making, representing every stage of production. There is someone who makes the blade, someone who makes the sheath, someone who makes the handle and someone who makes the piece of metal that keeps the blade from going too far into the sheath. There is someone who polishes the blade, someone who paints the sheath and someone who engraves the blade. For all the samurai movie fans out there you'll love it!

The first thing you have to know about Japanese swords is that they can be disassembled much in the way modern assault rifles can. Yet, what they have over the modern assault rifle is the ability to be personalized. It was explained to me that samurai would change the handle and sheath of their swords depending on the occasion. There were accessories for a battle or a night on the town. In the case of the latter, the sword would be adorned for maximum beauty.

Manta ray skin was used for maximum grip on the handle and not simply a fashion statement. The Tombo or dragonfly was a common motif used to decorate the swords because when they died their bodies remained intact. For the samurai this was a powerful symbol used to represent the longevity of their families and the fortunes they built.

When I arrived home after my visit, I noticed dozens of dragonflies whirling around the parking lot and felt the sense of hope that the samurai must have felt when they looked at their swords. I learned that although we don't need to use a samurai sword today, we can still use its spirit. It is intact at the sword village.

Kenji image

Kenji

Japan

Kenji's other advice

Ushimado Olive Garden images

Ushimado Olive Garden

When you think of Japan olives might not be the first thing that comes to mind but in fact they are widely produced in the south western part of the country. The Olive Garden in Ushimado, Setouchi Ci…

Bizen Osafune Sword Museum images

Bizen Osafune Sword Museum

Japan is synonymous with master sword-making. This status has been cultivated through popular culture with the myriad of samurai and ninja movies that have been made over the years. While Hollywood o…

The Birthplace of Yumeji images

The Birthplace of Yumeji

Do you know Yumeji Takehisa? Even if you don’t know the name you are probably familiar with the work of this artist from the early 20th century. Sometimes referred to as Japan’s Toulouse Lautrec, Yum…

A Car License the Old-fashioned Way images

A Car License the Old-fashioned Way

After being in Japan a while you might feel the need to drive, especially if you live outside a big city. Getting a car license if you are from abroad can be a daunting task for some people but there…

Getting your Motorcycle License images

Getting your Motorcycle License

There are a few ways to get a motorcycle license in Japan. If you have a license from your home country you can go through the process of having it transferred to a Japanese one. This process differs…

The Saga of the 50cc license (2007) images

The Saga of the 50cc license (2007)

I've been struggling to get a 50cc motorbike license since May. You would think it would be easy but the thing is that I was determined to take the test in Japanese like all the other Japanese people…

You might also like

Ukiyo-e (woodblock print) in Asakusa images

Ukiyo-e (woodblock print) in Asakusa

Sakai Kokodo is one of the oldest stores specialized in UKIYOE established in 1870. You can buy a replica of Katushika Hokusai or Utagawa Hiroshige. Located on the Nakamise Street.Mokuhankan is a n…

Keiko, OTT image

Keiko, OTT

Kamakurabori Museum Encounter the world of Kamakurabori carving, a traditional handcraft images

Kamakurabori Museum Encounter the world of Kamakurabori carving, a traditional handcraft

Even if you have never heard the name “Kamakurabori”, I am sure that many people would say “oh, I have seen this before!” when they see the real thing. Some might incorporate Kamakurabori carvings in…

Kanagawa P.G.T.D. image

Kanagawa P.G.T.D.

Today I am in Sakuragicho, Yokohama images

Today I am in Sakuragicho, Yokohama

I often write about Yokohama. It's difficult for me not to. I live here. I work here. And during my time as Creative Director for the Yokohama Seasider Magazine, it was my job (and passion) to learn …

Former Deep Japan Writer image

Former Deep Japan Writer

Best place to see Bonsai in Tokyo! images

Best place to see Bonsai in Tokyo!

Although bonsai is well known in the world, I did not know where we can see bonsai trees in public.My grandfather takes care of Bonsai in his garden but as you guess, it is more country side. It is…

yukorose image

yukorose

Koyo in Inokashira Koen images

Koyo in Inokashira Koen

Inokashira Koen, a brief walk away from Kichijouji station on the Inokashira line, is mainly famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms, which reflect on the lake, and for the 'cursed' swan boats. Supp…

Chiara image

Chiara

Coming soon!: Bizen Pottery Festival in Okayama images

Coming soon!: Bizen Pottery Festival in Okayama

Many fans and afficionados of Japanese culture enjoy the traditional arts, pottery being one of them. Many people are aware of beautiful Kyo-yaki from Kyoto or Kutani-yaki from Ishigawa Prefecture, b…

Andrea Miyata image

Andrea Miyata