Posts Tagged Under: unique experience

    2018/2/21
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お守り刀展覧会

A blade of a mamori-gatana for wedding is usually straight with no wave blade patterns, which symbolized her family’s wish that the bride would fit into the new family smoothly.

The purpose to carry a mamori-gatana can be various. A common one is self-defense in case of being attacked, but it can be suicide in case of being involved in an embarrassing incident, and sometimes assassination if getting married to a samurai in a hostile relationship.

On the other hand, a mamori-gatana has been believed to have a power not only as a practical weapon to protect its holder from other human beings but also as an amulet to expel evil spirits and bad luck. From the ancient Read More

    2018/2/17
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お守り刀展覧会

Some might think that Japanese swords were used only by male samurais. However, some short-length swords were also important for female, especially ladies in samurai families.

Typical ‘katanas’ or Japanese swords are usually 60-70 cm (23-28 inch) long and basically fighting tools used mainly outdoors, whereas ‘mamori-gatanas,’ ‘kaiken’ or Japanese daggers are shorter, usually 20-25 cm (8-10 inch) long, often carried by ladies in samurai class for mainly self-defense purpose used indoors.

It is said that a daughter of a samurai would carry a mamori-gatana in the belt of her wedding kimono when she gets married and that she continued to carry it for the rest of her life. A mamori-gatana was usually slim without a tsuka (hand protector) and usually put in Read More

    2018/2/14
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What can you do if you want to have a sword in your hand and see it closely? Visit antique shops! Some of antique shops in Tokyo are dedicated to Japanese swords, armors, and other related parts. If you behave politely and ask the shop, they might let you take swords out from the show case. And most of antique shops also have scabbard and other related parts, which will be very interesting to see.

Pros of visiting antique shops is that it is easy and free. You can just go and drop in. Cons of antique shops are, however, that not all the swords in the shops are good quality. Today most of precious or important antique swords has owners. And Read More

    2018/2/12
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If you are a big fan of samurai movies, or learning martial arts, AND have a chance of traveling in Japan, you may be eager to see Japanese swords, katana. But where can you see them? First option is museums. Tokyo National Museum in Ueno.

On the first floor of the main building, you can enjoy collections of precious swords, some of them are registered as national treasure. And the second option is The Japanese Sword Museum in Ryogoku, which locates at just beside the National Sumo Stadium. This is the only museum in Japan that exhibits only Japanese sword all year round.

The pros of enjoying swords in museums is that you Read More

    2018/2/9
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koi travel, sword smith visit

koi travel, sword smith visit

Japanese swords generally consist of many parts, such as tsuka (handle), tsuba (hand protector), saya (blade cover), menuki (ornaments on the tsuka) and so on. Because Japan is very humid and the blades can be easily damaged if they get rusty or dusty, Japanese swords must be cleaned up regularly and thoroughly. That is why the swords are made to be disassembled easily piece by piece. This characteristic has also made it easy to change the design of the mountings of swords.

Therefore, it was natural that decorative mountings of Japanese swords were developed very much during the Edo period. The same sword can look very different depending on the occasions, such as when a samurai goes to Read More

    2018/2/7
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When we talk about Japanese swords or ‘katanas,’ we tend to talk only about mysterious beautiful blades. However, do you know that their covers and other parts had also important roles for samurais?

From 17th century to early 19th century, only samurais were allowed to carry swords in Japan, and therefore, swords were important items for their identities. However, using swords were actually prohibited during the same period. In the early 17th century, Ieyasu Tokugawa became the final winner in the battles against other feudal lords, and he started his government in Tokyo (Edo). He and his sons wanted his government to last long and did not want the other samurais to start battles against them.

This was a big environmental change for Japanese swords. All the swords in Japan, which used Read More

    2018/2/2
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koi travel, sword smith visit

Iron ore needs higher temperature to be smelted, which made iron making in Europe a sort of industrialized mass production using blast furnaces. On the other hand, iron sand needs relatively lower temperature, which made iron making in Japan craftsmen’s work in smaller scale, and sword making as well.

However, the lower melting temperature of iron sand gives Japanese steel an unique feature. According to a sword making master Kawasaki, the steel made of iron sand can be much purer compared to the ones made of iron ore. The high purity of steel allows separated blocks of steel to unite one piece easily by only hammering. And the high purity makes the blade Read More

    2018/1/31
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koi travel, sword smith visit

 

tatara in the 6C

Tatara in the 6th century (今佐屋山遺跡 再現模型, 和鋼博物館 蔵)

If you are interested in Japanese swords or ‘katana,’ you might have also heard of ‘tatara.’ Tatara is the traditional Japanese clay tub furnace used for smelting iron and steel. The word ‘tatara’ originally meant a pair of bellows, a device usually with two boards to send strong air, and the whole furnace came to be called as tatara later.

In traditional Japanese iron making, steel comes from iron sand. Smelting process of iron usually needs heat and materials including iron, such as iron ore, iron sand and so on. In Japan, 70% of the land has been forest from ancient times, which means that wood has been Read More

    2015/11/22
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john with clay

His visit proved fruitful. A chance exchange with the owner of Tokyo ware shop led to the owner asking Kaneshige to take an apprentice. Expressing his heartfelt desire to learn the art of Bizen yaki (Bizen ware), John was accepted as a disciple of the illustrious master. Two years had passed since he first wrote to the master.

The apprenticeship was not easy. For the first year, he was not allowed to make any wares but to carry out miscellaneous tasks. His master was not there to teach him so he had to ‘steal’ his master’s techniques and try making is own wares at night after work. In the middle of winter, he would have Read More

    2015/11/21
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Inside the factory of John

Inside the factory of John

John was born in the US and lived there until settling in Japan 30 years ago. He is a Bizen yaki (Bizen ware) expert who apprenticed to Japanese Bizen master Michiaki Kaneshige, a Living Prefectural Treasure and first son of Living National Treasure Toyo Kaneshige. John currently lives in Bizen City, Japan, where he operates his own kiln.

Bizen City, the mecca of Bizen yaki, is a small town surrounded by mountains and rice fields approximately 2.5 hours away from Kyoto by train. It is surprising to find a foreigner living in such a place. What is more surprising, he is a pottery master who speaks perfect Japanese and has a Read More