In the present time, there are many serious swordsmiths in Japan. I am a good friend of two of them. One is Mr. Yoshihara Yoshindo(吉原義人), and the other is Mr. Yamamura Tsunahiro (山村綱廣). I met them when we were in our 20s, still single.
I met Mr. Yoshihara at one of the sword meetings I attended with my father. That was in the early 1970s. Since then, we have encountered each other at different sword gatherings here and there. His son, Yoshihara Yoshikazu (吉原義一), is also a well-known swordsmith. His grandson also decided to be a swordsmith. Naturally, my friend Yoshihara was very excited to train him. He often told me fascinating stories. Here are some of them.
Mr. Yoshihara once had an apprentice from a Middle Eastern country who was sent by his king. The apprentice lived in Yoshihara’s house with other Japanese apprentices. He was a very quiet good apprentice and had no problem with food, and he ate Japanese food with other Japanese apprentices.
Mr. Yoshihara also told me that a king from a European country once visited his studio. The king gave Yoshihara his photo with his autograph as a gift. Another story was that a famous Hollywood movie director ordered some swords and visited his house. It seems to me that it was almost the same time I ordered a sword for myself with him. Is it just my imagination that my sword took longer to be completed than usual? The photo below is my sword made by him at that time.
Yamamura-kun (we put “kun” at the end for male friends and “san” for female friends) and I were students at Mori Sensei‘s sword class together. He was the top student; I was almost the last. He is the direct line of Goro Nyudo Masamune (五郎入道正宗), the 24th generation. He now has a studio near Kamakura Station. But back then, he had a store almost in front of the Hachiman-gu Shrine (八幡宮) in Kamakura.
We had one more person, Mr. Kurokawa (黒川), in our group. He is the owner of a big sword store in Tokyo, “Soken-do (霜剣堂).” We were all Kamakura residents then. We used to get together at Yamamura-kun’s store in front of the Hachiman-gu Shrine, having a good time and joking around in the store. One time, we got so involved in a fun conversation that Yamamura-kun closed the store, saying that it would be OK because those customers wouldn’t buy anything anyway and locked the door. And we continued having a fun party. I still remember those customers’ puzzled faces looking at us through the glass windows. A customer tried to come into the store, but Yamamura-kun would not let him in. He ignored the customers.
Below is the information about their stores.
To order a sword, you can contact: Yoshihara Yoahindo (吉原義人) 8-17-11 Takasago, Katsushika-Ku, Tokyo 125-0054 Japan Tel (03) 3607 – 5255
Masamune Kougei (正宗工芸) 13-29 Onari-cho, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa, 248-0012 Japan Tel (0467) 22- 3962
Soken-Do (霜剣堂) 28-1, 6-Chome, Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001 Japan Tel (03) 3499 – 8080
My sword made by Mr. Yoshihara
吉原新刀 (Yoshihara sword description)
- Shape: Koshizori Chu-gissaki (smaller Chu-gissaki) Bo-hi (one groove)
- Boshi: Midare-komi and Komaru-kaeshi (round turnback)
- Hamon: Komidare Nioi
- Hada : very fine Komokume almost Muji
- Mei: Kaji Yoshindo Heisei 二十三 nen 二月Kichijitu
- It means: Sword smith Yoshindo Heisei year 23(2011) February good day