Japanese Swords: ‘Tatara,’ the Traditional Iron and Steel Culture of the San’in

  The traditional dance performance of Iwami Kagura tells the story of the discovery of steelmaking in Izumo, Japan, through the metaphor of the deity Susano-o quelling the eight-headed, eight-tailed serpent dragon Yamata no Orochi.   I was treated to a beguiling performance of this story when I visited the spiritual and mythical origins of […]

As Sign of Goodwill, President Putin Returns Swords to Japan

The sword presented by Russian President Putin to Prime Minister Abe was displayed at the Dai Token Ichi on November 2017.   During a summit meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, in September 2016, Russian President Vladamir Putin presented Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with a Japanese sword. Abe also presented Putin with an antique samurai helmet. […]

Sword Fittings of the Mitsumura Collection on Exhibit November 3 to December 17

Matching pair of sword guards Design by Kongosai (Matsuo) Gassan (1815-1875). 19th C. Nezu Museum, formerly Mitsumura Collection.   From November 3rd until December 10th, 2017, Nezu Museum is holding an exhibition of some of the most exquisite swords and sword fittings in Japan. It features the collection of Toshimo Mitsumura, a Meiji period businessman and […]

Seikado Bunko Art Museum Exhibition: Perfect Guide to the Japanese Sword

The Seikado Bunko Art Museum is holding a special exhibition aimed at introducing Japanese swords to beginners by utilizing 30 wonderful blades from their collection of 120 swords that originally belonged to Baron Yanosuke Iwasaki and his son Koyata (the founder of the museum). Yanosuke was the younger brother of the Tosa samurai and founder […]

Introducing the New Column: The Secrets of the Japanese Sword

Pictured: This blade is an utsushi-mono by the master swordsmith Ono Yoshimitsu of an 800-year-old blade called Yamatorige. It is an illustration of the continuity of the traditions of Japanese sword making that continue to this day. Photo: Tom Kishida   Like many other Westerners, my introduction to Japanese swords (and Japanese culture) was through […]