Photo/IllutrationA swordsmith strikes raw steel with a hammer during a ceremony marking the beginning of the new year in Seki, Gifu Prefecture, on Jan. 2. (Minako Yoshimoto)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

SEKI, Gifu Prefecture--Sparks flew, but in a good way, as the hammer fell on 2016.

Swordsmiths struck heated raw steel in front of a crowd at a ceremony on Jan. 2 marking the start of the new year in this city renowned as a producer of blades.

The ceremony was meant to wish for the thriving business of the industry and safety of workers. It was held at a museum dedicated to pass down to posterity the city’s centuries-old industry that has produced samurai swords, knives and scissors.

Cheers erupted in the crowd when the hammering caused sparks to fly from the red raw steel made by smelting sand iron.