• Akiko

Samurai Swords maker "Kikuichi" with 750 years of history


http://www.kikuichi.com/about.php#En

Since I have started my tour guide job, many times I was surprised by a very fact that Samurai Sword is popular among the foreign tourists. Bushido (武士道), Harakiri(切腹), Katana(刀), Samurai(侍), Ninja (忍者), etc...those words are more or less related to a fine sword and its image.

A few guests wished to buy one as their souvenir, but, unfortunately, it is not easy to find a shop that makes and sells "real" swords.

This is due to a law made after the World War II called "Sword and Firearms Control Law" that banns purchasing nor owning ones. Even to keep one as a family treasure requires an official register with complicated process.

Accordingly, sword making tradition and business had severely declined over the years.

Because of this law, unfortunately, for younger generations, image of samurai swords got very law--as, only unrealistic tools used in historical dramas, or even lower as troublesome weapons.

Of course, It was not the case before in our history.., it was not regarded as a mere weapon, rather highly respected as a simbol of Bushido spirit representing his 7 virtues :

Justice (righteousness)

Bravery

Benevolence (compassion)

Honesty

Politeness (respect)

Honor

Loyalty

However, for us, it is very very rare to see or much less to have a real taste of an actual samurai sword today. (well, at least in Nara)

Therefor, I was happy to find a place where actually own ones privately.

That is Kikuichi Monjyu Shiro, a traditional sword manufacture in Nara.

They have 750 years of history of producing fine products.

Today, instead of swords, they produce traditional Japanese knives and scissors that are produced by a similar process to that used in the fashioning of samurai swords.

They praise "Our company is the only cutlery manufacturer in Japan who progressed from sword business."

I brought some group of people here, and they all liked their products. I think a fine kitchen knife make a great souvenir.

When I visited with 13 guests from 6 different nationalities, (international antique dealers and ceramics collectors ) , luckily, the owner was there and he himself gave us a rare experience to hold his sword that is usually displayed in the background showcase.

Oh, it was very very heavy!

In Shintoism, the fine swords are not a tool to kill, but they have always respected as a holy objects, treasures or something that can inshrine a sacred power or energy.

That is why even today, a few blacksmiths have permissions and honor to make swords for members of the Imperial family or highest ranking sumo wrestlers called "yokozuna (横綱)" by special orders.

Well, to my surprise, one of such is living in Sakurai, Nara.

KANOKO , cute sweets made and sold inside the Kikuichi shop.

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