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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 often focuses on the fanciful side of the Japanese sword, within Japanese popular culture it tends to play the role of protector, companion and sometimes necessary evil. The sword has life and mastering the techniques of swordsmanship brings otherworldly power.
What separates the Japanese sword from those found around the world is its strength. This comes from the painstaking craft of sword-making and the quality of the materials used by those who that practice the art.

In Osafune Town, Setouchi City, Okayama Prefecture the Bizen Osafune Sword Museum and Educational Center continues the pursuit of excellence in the sword-making arts by employing master craftspeople whom are skilled in each stage of production. The blade is only one component of a sword. You also need someone to make its sheath and the handle needed to wield it. You need to make the piece of metal that keeps the blade from going too far into the sheath as well. A polisher is also required, as well as a sheath painter. Don’t forget that the blade has to be engraved.

After a visit to the museum, you will come to appreciate the unique qualities of each sword on display. The sword carries the spirit of its owner with every detail conveying a message meant to be passed from generation to generation.
The Bizen Osafune Sword Museum is in tune with not only history, but with popular culture and the surrounding community. There are frequent festivals held with food, festivities and sword-making demonstrations. The resident artisans display their magnificent skills to the public, reminding us all that the preservation of culture is something in which we all can participate.

by Kenji

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