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(O)Mamori-gatana Exhibition, Hayashibara

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Yesterday I popped round to the Hayashibara Museum of Art’s exhibition on (O)Mamori-gatana, which runs until 7 November 2021.


Their concept was interesting. Half of the exhibition, Room One, was devoted to modern Tantō from famous smiths around Japan, many with recently created Koshiraé.

Room Two displayed swords that had once belonged to various famous people, Japanese Prime Ministers, or writers, or actors such as Takakura Ken, or had featured in some way for a company’s products or in a book or film or an animé.


The superb entrance gatehouse which escaped allied bombing in WWII is part of the original old fortifications of Okayama Castle, the latter undergoing renovations in the background.


Photos will be added as my energy levels rise.






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  • Bugyotsuji changed the title to (O)Mamori-gatana Exhibition, Hayashibara

Personally speaking, every single piece in this section was a work of sublime art. There was a questionnaire asking you to choose one and give your reasons but after thinking about that I handed it back to the receptionist, saying it was impossible for me to choose among them.

Here is one Reiwa 1 piece that struck me, although I did not know the smith.





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And the last one from the *first section is by Manzoku San, a local smith who has a forge up in the hills behind Osafuné and whose experiments seem to be a magnet for enthusiasts.

*33 works were displayed in Room One.









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Piers, did you happen to browse through the 50 year anniversary catalogue (開館五十周年記念 林原美術館名刀図譜) in the shop? Just wondering if it's worth getting the A3 format or not... Quality of pictures seems good as far as I can see (it's been on my list since long) - but it comes at quite a price ;-)

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Yes, Dirk, I did. There was only one, well-thumbed, with a sticker saying ‘sample’. I looked, but could not see a price tag on it. Perhaps I should have asked the good lady if she had any more. I think there is a smaller softback version for sale there too.


Here I have a pristine not-for-sale copy of your large version, #16/20. Slim, sleeved, with a silk covered binding, of perhaps 100 pages. Japanese only. The photographs are huge, overwhelming even, but the quality and detail of blade steel activity is not up to what we look for nowadays, imho. (The original price indicated inside is ¥32,000.)



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Thanks for the feedback - I was indeed looking for the quality of the A3 pictures - the softback is only A4 (I think at around 3000yen) - indeed the larger book comes in at around 32000 yen - but given your feedback, I won't be buying it.

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Part Two


Just some random examples. First is this Norishigé which was once owned by Takakura Ken, the quiet rugged actor in so many movies. Dōran 1980, Mr Baseball 1992, Yakuza movies and many, many more.





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This was a complete coincidence but the evening before I had just watched the astonishing heart-wrenching “Mibugishiden”, and here in front of me was a sword (re)created as the one in the story. Utsushi of Yamato no Kami Yasusada. (When the Last Sword is Drawn, 2002)









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Finally a Tantō once owned by former Prime Minister Hashimoto Ryutaro who was from this area and had strong ties with Hayashibara. (His family still do.)

I guess all of these blades had the function of ‘Omamori’ for their various owners.


*There was not a single visitor there apart from me. I felt privileged. With gratitude for putting on this splendid exhibition just for me!


**PS Several of these photographs, like the last one here, will expand enormously with some clever double and triple clicks. A little 'plus' magnifier should appear at some point which you should chase for new window and full screen! :laughing:



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In for a penny, in for a pound… this is the last one, I promise. (Gotta draw the line somewhere!)


Posted part of this in the Small Blades thread, with a note to look here too. So here is the other part.
The popular Manga artist Akiko Hatsu had this Kozuka-like blade and Koshiraé made especially for her. It looks like jewellery/jewelry to me.


‘Tosu’ indicates 刀子 (tōsu) an old Japanese word for small bladed handy knife. Sometimes pronounced Tōshi.





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As Tom said, Nicely Done.

21st Century style display that many people can find what interests them, engage them in relations to celebrities or people they might know about.


And you had me at Gassan Ichiro.

I have been a few times now surprised by 21st century works from the Gassan students.


Thank you for posting this. It is a great read after work today.




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