Osafune in Okayama: Sword learning centre – Part 2 –
Bizen Osafune Nihon-tou Denshuu-jyo (Bizen Osafune Japanese sword learning centre) 2
Information I got from the swordsmiths
There are two sizes of hammers to beat iron.
The lighter one weighs 5 kg (approx. 11 lb / 176 oz).
The other one 10 kg.
Sometimes visitors want to have a try, and of course they fail.
It takes a year to be able to beat iron properly with those hammers.
To show off my knowledge I got from the research for my katana post, I asked whether the iron that they were forging was used as “shin-gane” (core iron) or “kawa-gane” (skin iron).
I was told that they seldom knew it from the start.
They usually decide how to use iron after they forge it for a while.
To finish forging a sword, it generally takes about one or two weeks.
It depends on its size.
After the demonstration was over, arms of the swordsmith who was in front of fire were very red.
I wondered if they hurt, he said he had already got used to it but sometimes felt pain when he took a bath.
[Price for katana]
When I visited, the master had got an order to forge “dai-shou”, katana and wakizashi (shorter sword than katana).
I asked the price and “Three millions (3,000,000 yen)” was his answer.
Actually, it was cheaper than I’d expected, but he continued that it cost this much because this included “koshirae”, a made-up scabbard which is decorative to be used when you go outside.
According to his website, a katana costs a million and a half with “shiro-saya” (white scabbard, a simple wooden scabbard to be used at home), “habaki” (a piece of metal which covers the base of the blade), polishing, tools to maintain and registration fees.
A wakizashi is 800,000 yen.
He is a swordsmith, so of course he doesn’t make scabbards nor “habaki”, not do polishing either.
He arranges specialists for each part.
To know about what kind of experts there are, see my previous Osafune posts.
[Forge a knife on your own]
They also seem to offer a sort of forging experience lesson.
I don’t know how to apply for it nor how much it costs, because I didn’t ask.
There is no information about the lesson on neither of websites, the centre’s nor the master’s, so maybe this is only through the master’s personal connection or certain agencies.
Basically, the lesson can be taken by solely a man who is going to get married.
He forges a kitchen knife for his bride-to-be, with a helping hand from the master (or another swordsmith in the centre?).
His work will be filmed so that it can be seen in his wedding ceremony.
After the video-show, he will give his handmade kitchen knife to his new wife.
I feel this is a very lovely idea!
However, I was worried what if he failed to finish his work properly.
The master promised “That will never happen”.
The master can speak Japanese only.
To communicate with non-Japanese speakers, he uses a tablet PC.
Okayama promotion video by ANA, a Japanese airline company
In this video, the training centre is introduced (starting from around 14:00).
#Osafune Sword Learning Centre (1)
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