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Sengoku Muso Special Exhibition, Osafune Summer 2014

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Running from tomorrow 12 July till 15 September.

 

Following the success of Evangelion and subsequent events started here, Osafune Sword Museum has set up a new exhibition funded and organized by Koei Technogames and Kadokawa, illustrating the characters and weapons featured in Sengoku Muso 戦国無双, a popular game worldwide, now into Series 3.

 

Downstairs are the figures from history, Date Masamune, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Gracia Hosokawa, Mouri Motonari, Shimazu Toyohisa, Kuroda Kanbei, etc, all handsome anime characters on large back panels. In front of them are objects associated with them, artifacts passed down by descendants for example, or with even more tenuous connections. There is a suit of armour and a Jimbaori worn by Oda Nobunaga passed down by his family lent by the museum in Iwakuni.

A lovely gold Mei Mihara (Aoe?) sword by Masaie from the Date inventories in Sendai, a wonderful kawari-kabuto helmet worn by Mouri Motonari, and a beautiful Tokugawa Sukefusa, etc, etc.

 

Upstairs are other characters, Ninja etc, famous to those playing the games, though not necessarily historical figures. In these cases, the scenes were sent to the smiths in advance who over the course of this past year set about creating some lovely new blades, including the first Jumonji Yari that has been made by this living generation of Japanese swordsmiths, since the last with experience died 10 years ago. (Required the creation of special stones for Togi.) There is the longest modern sword by a living smith, with a blade length of 160.8 cm. Ono Yoshimitsi recreated in beautiful detail the famous Tombogiri O-sasaho Yari. There is a double-ended helicopter blade sword made by Kawasaki Shohei, well two swords actually, held hilt to hilt in the hollow handle. Apparently the smiths enjoyed the challenges involved.

 

In the main hall will be one or more Blu-ray game machines for visitors' family members to play on and experience.

 

I just happened to be round there today helping out with the set-up, and sitting with the guides learning what the various windows have to offer, for when the doors open tomorrow. It has to be said that I was impressed with the professionalism of the project for a number of reasons which would probably bore the members out of their skulls, so 'nuff said.

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Spent the day there today from 10:00 am till 5 pm. They had just over 500 visitors today, Day 1, but it never felt really crowded. They are hoping for 20,000 over the summer.

 

A large Belgian family appeared, touring the country with a Japanese guide from Tokyo who could speak German as they were from the south. They said they can speak French, Flemish and English, but no one language perfectly! What a nice lot. It was not so easy to explain what the exhibition was about, since they knew very little of Japanese history.

 

A cheerful Aussie bloke named Darryl (sp?) turned up full of interest and questions and we must have spent a good hour or two chatting about swords. I saw him later and he was burned red from the sun, wandering around the workshops.

 

Photographs are allowed, so I finished up whipping around getting some representative shots. (I lied about the upstairs yesterday, BTW, as many of the characters there too were based on historical figues, such as Takeda Shingen, Honda Tadakatsu, Kato Kiyomasa, Sanada Yukimura, etc.) Any particular request?

 

They are sending me the display cards to be translated into English.

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Another exhibition coming up; tomorrow I have been asked (at this ripe old age) to be a general dog's body helping to lug the stuff there and set up that display. For this reason my attention will be switching away from this present thread, unless someone genuinely would like to see a photo of any of the "interesting" stuff. (Flash photography was not allowed)

 

A Muramasa, anyone? A Kawari Kabuto helmet? :lipssealed:

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Piers, I would certainly enjoy seeing a few pics. But don't let me keep you from any work you may need to do otherwise.

 

Regards,

 

—G.

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Gabriel, especially for you! A sword perhaps? :lol:

 

Sanada Yukimura/Nobuyuki display shows a Jumonji Yari, both blade and furnishings created especially for this exhibit. Blade by four Osafune smith collaboration. Many smiths and artisans cooperated to create something to mark the 400th anniversary of Sanada Yukimura's death.

 

He is also associated with a Muramasa sword, here in a black ("Sen dan kizami") 1,000 step-cut uchigatana lacquer saya. Late Muromachi. Blade length 68.6 cm, Sori curvature, 1.7 cm. Said to have been among articles belonging to Sanada Yukimura. Private owner.

 

See following post for:

Black odoshi 蝶形 Chonari (Butterfly shape) Kabuto helmet. Edo Period. Passed down in Sanada family, on temporary loan from Iwakuni Museum.

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Chonari butterfly helmet, Sanada.

 

Jumonji closer shot. (Needed special hammers and special togi stones. No-one had attempted making a Jumonji yari in Japan since the last smith with such experience died 10 years ago.) I was told that to polish a Jumonji means doing the work equivalent of six Tanto.

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I feel so special! :lol: Thanks for the pics Piers, as I won't be able to make this exhibit it is nice to see a couple of the pieces in photo form. Love the Muramasa, classic hamon for him. And the yari has quite an even more complex blade shape than normal jūmonji, very impressive.

 

I don't know much about katchū, but it is certainly a striking design.

 

Cheers,

 

—G.

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Really enjoyed seeing the pics. Any more pics of that Muramasa?

As our official representative there, I expect more pics as you get time :lol:

Thanks for sharing Piers. We are all attending the exhibition vicariously through you. ;)

 

Brian

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Hello Brian, I will make a point of getting some more shots of the Nakago and two or three along the blade, although not so easy through glass at that distance with the camera I am using. I have been setting it on macro, and using the zoom, but the lens is not happy when I put it against the glass to steady it. :freak:

 

After waiting till all the visitors had left on Saturday I was able to get the place pretty much to myself. Should be back there as a guide on Wednesday. (Thinks, take a tripod...)

 

This O-dachi for Mori Ranmaru (色小姓 Irokosho bumboy? to Oda Nobunaga, and died with him at Hon-no-Ji) is the longest sword that has been created in Japan by a living swordsmith, Fujiyasu Shohei, at 160.8 cm, sori 8.2 cm.

 

This is a jingasa of the Moh-ri family of Yamaguchi, handed down within the family, now on loan from the Iwakuni Museum. See the Omodaka (arrowhead, water plantain) and Ichi Monji Mittsu-boshi (Figure One and three stars) Kamon.

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Spent a good half hour with the Director of the museum standing in front of the Muramasa and discussing it, while trying to look professional with the camera. Some of the little comments he dropped were fascinating.

 

After I had tried in vain to find any evidence of a boshi to shoot, he stepped back and said, "Well, this Muramasa was not designed for sword appreciation. It is a practical sword, for doing a job." (Jitsuyou-teki, 実用的).

 

When I mentioned Masamune in contrast, he said that in his opinion Masamune swords were designed to be appreciated as art.

 

Brian, I got about 20 extra shots for you, but not wanting to overload the forum I've chosen a few samples. Say if you want more of anything.

 

The Tsuka is bound in a sort of light pink/orange saffron colour; I wish I knew the correct word.

 

The Fuchi/kashira/kozuka/kogai feature a common theme of tigers and dragons.

 

They have not yet sent me the cards for translation, but this one is in Japanese, so I have included a shot of it. *Translation added some posts below.

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Request for caption translation, which I will have to do anyway, so here goes. Slightly short form. If anyone has a better translation, please do not hesitate to offer suggestions! :thanks:

 

19 Private Ownership

____________________

 

Katana Mei: Muramasa

Said to have been owned by Sanada Yukimura

Blade length: 68.8 cm. Sori (curve depth) 1.7 cm. Late Muromachi (16th C)

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Popularly known as "Yo-to Muramasa" (The Siren Blade Muramasa). Famous for causing grief to the Tokugawa. Likes blood, causes the owner to become hot tempered (Tanryo), or it brings evil/a curse upon its owners, and the stories grow in the telling. From the start they had a good reputation for the sharpness of their cut. The Koshirae and Kodogu (tsuba, menuki, fuchi, kashira, kozuka) all dragons and tigers. The Saya is Sendan Kizami (1,000 cuts/notches)

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Since then I have donned the "STAFF" T-shirt and taken various groups around the exhibition.

 

Last Thursday we had a busload of people from South Korea. There were roughly 20 children and 20 adults, like oil and water. Their badges said they were members of a local Japan-Korea Cross-cultural Communication Society. They looked like tourists, in a big rush to see the swords, and then get on to squeeze up some Bizen pottery. Their two Korean guides spoke Japanese but no English, and I was asked to take them round speaking Japanese, the guides translating into Korean. (One of our Japanese elderly guides followed me round and kindly filled me in, or put me right, on some of the details.)

 

You can imagine the questions that bubbled up in my mind, (why me? etc.) but I decided to keep to the beaten path wherever possible. It was interesting, as always but more so, to see what they were interested in, if anything. Apparently some of them had commented that since swords started in Korea, what was the point of looking at these?

 

The old illustration on the screen of the marketplace in 'Fukuoka' had some of them fascinated. The clothing of the early middle ages in Japan was so reminiscent of Korean clothing. I commented that Korean ships used to trade around these parts, coming up the Seto Inland Sea, and up the Yoshii river, to barter their goods under the walls of Fukuoka Castle here in Osafune, Bizen.

 

One other thing that struck me was that they did not seem to be interested in the swords at all. It was as if they could not look at them. Only one, the Muramasa, held them still. "Tell us about this one", they said. It seemed to fascinate them.

 

Twice I was warned, but it was only the second time that I realized they were saying not that I was going too quickly and please slow down, but that time was up and could I please speed it up. :lol:

 

Anyway we all filed out into the blazing sun to stand in the car park and wave as the big tourist coach pulled out and headed off to their pottery class up the road.

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Piers,

 

Impressive - especially that they chose you, as non-Japanese, to take groups around. It is the best testament one can receive about one's ability, knowledge, recognition, etc.

 

And thank you for the detailed account and the pictures of the Muramasa blade.

 

Hopefully we can get together when you are next in the UK.

 

Best,

Michael

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I can understand why the swords were of less import, it is rather specialised, but, the pottery has a wider appeal. Bizenyaki is a favourite with me. Earthy tones, robust and unpretentious. John

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