While I was growing up in Azabu and Mita (near Keio University) in Tokyo, and later in Kamakura, my father was heavily involved in Japanese Sword Society called “Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai”. At that time, the head of this organization was Dr. Honma and Dr. Sato. Originally, Dr. Honma and Dr. Sato’s sword department was a part of the National Museum in Ueno. Later they built a sword museum in Yoyogi, Shibuya. Though the address is Yoyogi in Shibuya, it was almost like it was in Shinjuku. To get there, take the train, “Odakyu-sen (line)” from Shinjuku, get off at Sangubashi, the third stop from Shinjuku. To built this museum, my father, Mr. Watanabe (owner of the Wataki, an apparel company), and Mr. Suzuki Katei (owner of the construction company) were heavily involved. Those two friends used to come to our house all the time (literally all the time) and stayed hours talking and gossiping. At present, the Museum was moved to Sumida-Ku, near Ryogoku which is near the Sumo Stadium. Dr. Honma and Dr. Sato used to come to our house in Tokyo. All those people were deceased many years ago, they were in their prime time then. I am talking about the 1960s to 1970s. I was teens then, so they looked old to me. My father was so involved in the swords field, people wondered when does he work in his business.
I was told by many people that Dr. Honma and Dr. Sato visited the headquarter of General MacArthur during the occupation after world war II and those two convinced MacArthur that the Japanese swords are not a weapon, it is an art object. Dr. Honma and Dr. Sato did this because MacArthur ordered all Japanese to turn in the swords and forbid to own one. I was told they changed MacArthur’s mind. Yet by that time, many swords were already turned in at Akabane (the name of the place in Tokyo), though some people hid the valuable ones. Those turned in swords are called Akabane sword.
A huge number of swords were taken to the US by the American soldiers as a souvenir when they went back to the US. Those soldiers didn’t know if they took a valuable one or just a so so kind. Approximately 30 years later after the war, around the late 1960s and 1970s, the Japanese sword dealers came to the US and started to buy back many Japanese swords. I have a few friends who are sword dealer did that. They advertised in the local newspapers that they will buy the Japanese swords. As you can imagine, many swords were in bad shape. Some had the wrong kinds of chemicals put on to try to take the rust off. But a few were in good condition.
Among those, one of the very famous missing National treasure swords was found by Dr. Compton. He was a chairman of the Board of Miles laboratory in Elkhart Indiana. This is a pharmaceutical company that produced many kinds of products. Among those, their well-known product is Alka- Seltzer. He had a good knowledge of Japanese swords. When he saw this sword in an antique store in Atlanta, he realized this is not just an ordinary sword. He contacted Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai for consultation. During this process, my father became a good friend to him. My father and I visited his house several times and they visited my house back and forth. Dr. Compton returned this sword to the Terukuni Shrine in Kagoshima without compensation. A story about Dr. Compton continues to the last part of Chapter 47.
Non Profit organization: Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyoukai ( 日本美術刀剣保存協会 ) 1-12-9 Yokozuna Sumida-Ku Tokyo Japan 130—0015 Tel: 03-6284-1000 https://www.touken.or.jp/