Many Foreign Tourists Enjoy Swordsmith ExperienceAt Kyoto Prefecture's Only Forge
The short sword-making experience at Masahiro Tantoujou Sword Forge, Honme-cho, Kameoka City, Kyoto Prefecture, is gaining popularity among foreign tourists. The forge is run by Yuya Nakanishi, the only swordsmith producing Japanese swords in Kyoto Prefecture. The forge is visited by approximately 30 people a month, who can experience the same process for producing Japanese swords of hammering red-hot steel. Participants say with shining eyes, "It's interesting because we can touch Japanese culture."
Since the forge appeared on an overseas travel website in January last year, it has been receiving reservations one after another and is now one of the most popular tourist spots. One group's experience takes more than three hours, so to maintain balance with his primary business, the swordsmith accepts a maximum of 30 visitors per month.
A 22-year-old Australian university student and her 15-year-old brother participated in the sword-making experience. They repeated the process of heating a steel bar in the "Hodo," or a forge kept at a temperature roughly in the thousands of degrees Celsius, striking it with a metal hammer, then heating it again. They shaped their swords while following Nakanishi's advice, such as "Use more power," and "Make the surfaces parallel." Then after "Tsuchitori," a process unique to Japanese sword-making that creates the "Hamon" or blade pattern, and quenching to increase the swords' strength, they completed short swords with 8 to 10-centimater blades, on which they inscribed their names.
Looking satisfied, the university student said, "I learned fencing, so I am interested in swords. It was hard because it required power." Nakanishi expressed his hopes, saying, "I hope this experience will motivate people to deepen their understanding of Japanese culture."(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)