Osafune in Okayama : The land of Japanese sword – Part 2 –
Bizen Osafune Japanese sword museum (1)
About 30 minute walk from the Kagato station.
It’s an institution with a sword museum, a shop, a forge and a sword craft centre.
It cost me 500 yen (in November 2014) to enter the museum, but others were free.
There were no swordsmiths nor craftsmen except one when I visited in Saturday afternoon.
In the official website, during opening hours there seems to be two swordsmiths and three craftsmen :
“Shiro-gane-shi” (lit. silver master) to make “habaki”, “nu-shi” (lit. coating master) to coat a scabbard, and “toushin-choukoku” (lit. blade curving).
However, they might go for lunch, visit customers or somewhere, so they are not always there.
If you want to see them working, the best way is perhaps to ask the schedule in advance to the museum.
Actually, this post is a quick explanation of Japanese sword craftsmen rather than an introduction of the museum.
It’s going to be a two (or three) parts article.
Every following video is Bizen-style sword-making, filmed by MEXT (Ministry of education, culture, sports, science and technology – Japan).
It seems to be taken in this craft centre.
Japanese language only.
[“Togi-shi” (lit. sharpening master)]
“Togi-shi” is the craftsman to sharpen a sword with grind stone.
A forged sword must be finished by “togi-shi”.
“Togi-shi” also handle the old swords to maintain them.
If there’s something wrong with sword (ex. rust), “togi-shi” will mend it.
A staff in the museum told me that the cost for sharpening would vary according to the skill of “togi-shi”.
Some “togi-shi” say five thousand yen, some say ten thousand and some say hundred thousand.
The price is not per blade but per “sun” (the old Japanese unit of length. Approx. 3 cm or 1.2 inch) of the blade.
[“Shiro-gane-shi” or “Habaki-shi”]
“Shiro-gane-shi” makes “habaki”, a piece of metal which covers the base of the blade so that the base becomes little bit wider.
So, when the blade is placed in the scabbard, there will be a small gap between the blade and the scabbard.
“Habaki” prevents the blade coming off from the scabbard or touching inside of the scabbard.
[“Saya-shi” (lit. scabbard master)]
“Saya-shi” makes a scabbard for a sword.
There are two kinds of the Japanese sword scabbard.
The one is “shiro-saya” (lit. white scabbard), the other is “koshirae” (lit. made-up).
Using Japanese bigleaf magnolia wood which had been air-dried for more than 10 years.
The magnolia wood is not too hard, blocks magnetism, doesn’t contain oil and has no harshness, so the blade won’t rust easily.
“Shiro-saya” is a cover to protect the blade.
It’s not coated so that the blade can breathe.
Air coming in and out prevents the blade from tarnishing in a short time.
The sword is kept in this scabbard at home.
“Koshirae” is much more decorative, coated with Japanese lacquer.
The blade cannot breathe inside of this scabbard, so if you keep your sword in this, it will rust much more quickly than in “shiro-saya”.
This is the one to be used when you go out.
“Saya-shi” makes the base only.
Coating will be done by another craftsman called “nu-shi”.
The base for “koshirae” is thinner than “shiro-saya” because it will be thicker with Japanese lacquer.
In the next post, I’m going to write about the rest of craftsmen and the museum.
Latest posts by kara (see all)
- Basic Japanese : “Sumimasen” – “Thank you” in Japanese - June 24, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Arigatou” – “Thank you” in Japanese - May 29, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Go-chisou sama” – Phrase after meal - May 27, 2015
In our previous posts, we learned about the history and equipment used in kendo. In this post, we will learned about kendo practices. It’s estimated that somewhere around 14 million people world-wide are Kendokas, or active practitioners and students of Kendo. Unlike almost every other martial art, Kendo has one global federation, and every country […]
As what we know from our previous posts about holidays in Japan, almost every month in Japan has a national holiday. November is not an exception of that. There are two holidays for the month of November and those are the Culture Day or 文化の日 (Bunka no Hi) on November 3 and Labor Thanksgiving Day […]
Last Saturday, November 15, was Shichi-Go-San in Japan. It is a traditional festival celebrating the growth and well-being of young children particularly girls of seven years old, five-year-old boys, and children of three years old, hence the name of the day, Shichi-go-san (七五三 literally means 7-5-3). Because it is not a national holiday, it is […]
First of all, Kagawa is a name of a prefecture in Japan and has nothing to do with a Japanese footballer Kagawa. Konpira in Kagawa Konpira-guu or Kotohira-guu is one of the well-known shrines in Japan. Often people affectionately call it as “Konpira-san”. The word “Konpira” came from the Sanskrit, “Kumbhira”. I couldn’t find any […]
Have you seen the movie titled 47 Ronin? Would you believe me if I tell you that they were real? Who are they and why are they so famous among Japanese people? What is a Ronin? A ronin refers to a lordless or masterless samurai. A samurai becomes a ronin when they loss in battle […]
It was early autumn when I first had the chance to travel to the city of Kyoto with my Japanese teacher and a colleague from work. Visiting a number of tourist attractions, one place stood apart from all of them – the Golden Pavilion or Kinkaku-ji. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts sakura […]
When I was a child, “ninja” was not known worldwide like today. Of course it was very popular in Japan, but famous ninja anime / manga (“Sasuke” and “Kamui” by Sanpei Shirato were probably the best-known at that time) were for rather adults than kids to compare with the present “Nintama Rantarou” or “Naruto”, although […]
The Japanese fox (Vulpes vulpes), as mentioned in the first part of this feature, is a common topic in Japanese myths and legends. Continuing our discussion about the kitsune, we will feature one of its known ability: human possession. Kitsune’s Human Possession Kitsune is able to possess humans. The word, 狐憑き (kitsunetsuki), literally means the […]
I’ve been posting Momotarou-related articles so far, and to be honest, I’m getting a bit tired of recalling, researching and translating old stories. This time, I write about the Fukiya village in Okayama as an interval. Actually, I didn’t even know the name of the village until several years ago. I don’t remember how I […]
For some other parts of the world, Christmas is the time for sending holiday greetings through postcards and mail. It is not much like that in Japan though. The Japanese receive holiday greeting cards in New Year’s Day (January 1), thus called Nengajou or the New Year’s Card. The New Year’s Card or Nengajou The […]