Japanese swords are much more than tools of war: they are works of art. Born of a time when quality steel was more precious than gold, Japanese swordsmiths created complex and exacting methods of forging swords in order to create masterpieces that belied the poor quality of the ore from from which they were created. These methods have been passed down through traditions while remaining essentially unchanged for centuries. One man Yoshihara Yoshindo is considered the greatest swordsmith alive today.
Yoshindo was born in 1943 and began studying the process of sword-making at 12 years of age under his father. He received his license at age 22 and later became the youngest person to achieve the rank of Mukansa, doing so in his 30s. The word Mukansa translates as “exempt from examination”, and those who carry the title are allowed to submit previously unseen works for display.
His smithy is located in Tokyo, and, while there are over 300 swordsmiths in Japan, only 30 of those manage to make it a full-time job. Yoshindo, of course, is one of them. He has several apprentices that work with him and help him craft the swords, a herculean task as each sword can take up to 3 months to make. With every new sword he challenges himself to make it better than the last sword, and after 63 years of practice his swords are considered virtually priceless: they are masterworks in their own right.
Besides crafting swords, Yoshindo does what he can to further the appreciation of swords as art, and to that end he has written books on the subject. One passion of his is correcting people’s misconceptions of Samurai history. While the Samurai did indeed carry swords, they rarely used them in combat, often preferring other weapons. For them, their swords were worn as good luck charms or for personal appearance. Wanting to keep this tradition alive, he reminds people that one does not need a permit to possess one.*
One of the most distinctive marks of a well-crafted sword is the Hamon line created at the border between the edge and core of the blade. The Hamon on Yoshindo’s swords are so unique that his swords can be easily discerned from those of another sword crafter.
While our swords may not be priceless, they are much more affordable.
*Not all countries allow possession of swords. However, the US and all the countries we ship to do.