Photo/IllutrationSwords seized by the Allies at the end of World War II are on display at Tadotsu Municipal Museum in Kagawa Prefecture. (Yuichi Yano)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

TADOTSU, Kagawa Prefecture--Swords confiscated by the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers at the end of World War II are being exhibited here.

Many seized swords were discarded or taken overseas, but hundreds of thousands of them were sent to a U.S. military facility in Akabane in Tokyo’s Kita Ward, according to the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

These blades, called Akabane swords, were handed back to Japan in 1947 provided that they would be returned to their owners.

Initially, about 5,500 swords were stored at the Tokyo National Museum. About 1,000 were returned to their original owners, while 3,200 artistically important blades were transferred to public museums and other facilities through local municipalities across Japan by December 1999.

Tadotsu Municipal Museum is displaying four long and short Akabane swords donated to the museum, as well as guards and other fittings, through Nov. 30. Admission is free.

The blades bear the Edo Period (1603-1867) swordsmith names of Raikinmichi, Yoshimichi and Kunitsugu.

Also on display are short and long mountings associated with “The Tale of Genji” and a sword of Terao Naomasa, chief retainer of the Owari Tokugawa family.

“It is regrettable that most swords in the Shikoku region at the time were apparently sent to Tadotsu and then dumped into the Seto Inland Sea,” said Katsuichi Kawabe, 75, a member of the Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords, which helped the museum hold the special exhibition.

“I want visitors to appreciate the appeal of swords that few people, excluding experts, can usually view,” he said.