Today one of the local museums opened its doors to a special gathering of the regional NBTHK. It was not a public event. 50 members signed up for this a couple of months in advance, and it is being described as a one-off.
We were divided into five groups of ten and given 30-minute time slots, with 90 seconds to hold each sword, and then a further round of another 90 seconds each for a second and final look.
The 10 swords were chosen for their near ubu sugata, so we would have a chance to see how a Tachi might have looked and felt way back when. I had had a chance to study the museum catalog(ue) in advance, so to some extent I was prepared for what was to come.
Afterwards I was careful to grab the curator and express how impressive the event was, and how it would be wonderful if we could do something similar again in the future, next year even.
We were requested to remove jewellery and wear face masks. The temperature outside was 33 degrees and many of us were still sweating when we finally got our hands on those by now slippery nakago. I saw the staff going round after each group and wiping the nakago with tissues.
Even having seen the photos of the blades and having read the descriptions, expecting there would be nothing left to discover, there was a huge surprise ahead. We talk about 'Japanese swords' but each one was so very different in weight, length, thickness, style, design and appearance. What the hell had I been expecting? By the second round the pressure was off and I felt I could just enjoy holding each blade.
See next post for list of blades. Some of them have splendid koshirae, but those were not on display today.