By MIYUKI KANNO/ Staff Writer
December 11, 2019 at 07:00 JST
SETOUCHI, Okayama Prefecture--Dozens of precious swords on loan from a museum here are now on display in Poland in hopes of raising local people’s awareness of Japanese blades and the importance of their proper maintenance and preservation.
The 31 Bizen swords kept at the Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum are on exhibit at the national Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Krakow in southern Poland.
“We will increase people’s interest in Japanese blades further through the exhibition,” said Shuichi Shirahige, director of the sword museum.
Titled “Nihonto: Swords from Japan from the Collection of the Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum,” the exhibit was organized to mark the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Poland. It will be held for 100 days through March 1.
As Japanese blades are popular in the European country, a total of 14,000 people are expected to visit the site.
Works on show include an 80-centimeter sword forged by swordsmith Toshitsune in the early Kamakura Period (1185-1333); a 78.8-cm work made in 1342 by Kanemitsu, the noted fourth-generation head of the Osafune school; and a 66.6-cm blade created by sword engraver and swordsmith Gessen during the Showa Era (1926-1989).
Swordsmiths will also be sent to the venue to demonstrate their skills to make and preserve swords, while they will provide a lecture on the history of Bizen swords as well.
The show comes as many of the 2,000 Japanese blades said to be kept in Poland are not handled properly.
When Shirahige visited Poland in 2011 before becoming the museum director, he was surprised that appropriate maintenance techniques of Japanese swords were not introduced there.
Shirahige also discovered in 2013 that swords at the National Museum in Warsaw and elsewhere were not sharpened for prolonged periods, and that some corrective measures were essential.
“We will show how to maintain blades at the same time as the exhibition so that swords (in Poland) can be preserved well,” said Shirahige, adding that his museum will continue exchange programs with Poland through blades.
The Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology was established in 1994 to display 6,500 artworks, such as ukiyo-e, amassed by the late Japanese art collector Feliks Jasienski in Poland.
It was named after Jasienski’s pen name based on Hokusai Manga, a collection of sketches at the hands of artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).
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