Osafune in Okayama : The land of Japanese sword – Part 3 –
Bizen Osafune Japanese sword museum (2)
In this post, I’m going to introduce the rest of the craftsmen from the craft centre – “nu-shi”, “tsuka-maki-shi” and “choukin-shi” / “tsuba-shi”, the museum and the official website.
[“Nu-shi” (lit. coating master)]
“Nu-shi” coats a scabbard for “koshirae” (decorative scabbard) with Japanese lacquer.
The only craftsman I saw working on the day I visited the centre.
I was not sure if I could interrupt him because he looked so concentrated.
After all, I couldn’t even take a photo let alone talk to him.
Native resin of Japanese lacquer has waterproof and moisture-proof effect.
“Nu-shi” brushes a scabbard with lacquer, dries it in a “muro” (drying room), polishes it, then repeats this process again and again.
In the end, the layers of lacquer become a thick coating and that makes the scabbard stronger and more beautiful.
To finish the coating, it takes one to three months.
– Makie –
Sometimes “Makie-shi” (lit. gold / silver lacquer master) adds lacquer decoration sprinkled with metal powder on a coated scabbard.
[“Tuka-maki-shi” (lit. hilt-wrapping master)]
“Tuka-maki-shi” processes a base for a hilt which usually “saya-shi” makes.
He / She wraps the hilt with ray skin, and twists strings around it to strengthen it as well as to make it easier to grip firmly.
[“Toushin-choukoku” (lit. blade carving)]
“Souken-kinkou” (lit. a metal worker who make parts for swords) or “Choukin-shi” (lit. a person who engraves metal) carves blades, makes metal parts like “tsuba”.
I’m not sure if they forge metal as well or just do engraving.
Carved blades seemed to be considered as a symbol of power among local ruling families in the old times (around between the 4th and 7th century).
When samurai began to gain power, blade engraving was done to make a sword lighter without decreasing in strength or to show their religious faith (in this case, its design was of course Buddhism-related).
Then, peaceful time had come, it was getting more decorative like Japanese apricot, Chinese poetry, etc.
[About the official website]
Official English website is here.
The English website has got only general information on this institution and Japanese sword, while Japanese one has more details including the schedule of swordsmithing demonstration and the latest news.
So, it would be good to take a look at the home page of the Japanese website even if you can’t read Japanese.
– Guideline to understand the useful information in the Japanese website –
All the information is subject to change.
As of December 2014, there is a link to a PDF file for a discount voucher in the “Information” area of the home page.
Print it out and show it when you buy your ticket.
You will get 100 yen off from the usual fee, but you cannot use it when extra fee is charged for a special exhibition.
I didn’t notice this voucher, so I paid full price.
In the lower part of the home page, there is a calendar for two months.
The institution is closed on the blue-coloured days.
The yellow day means that they offer a paid lesson to make a small sword.
(It’s held on every first and third Saturdays of the month from 10 am to 4 pm.)
The red one means traditional swordsmithing demonstration can be seen at the forge.
(Every second Sunday, from 11 am to noon and 2 pm to 3 pm.)
The green one is the day they offer a lesson how to take care of a Japanese sword.
You need to book in advance for this lesson and I’m not sure whether it’s free or not.
On the left of the calendar, schedules of craftsmen are written.
There seems to be more craftsmen on Sundays.
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