Over the course of history, objects initially created for a particular use occasionally become appreciated more for their design and form, and in turn become more ornamental than functional. Since the Muromachi Period (1338-1573), the virtue of Japanese swords has been recognized by samurai and collectors alike, and particular swords became so famous and valuable that they symbolize a high level of power and status.
In the Edo Period (1603-1867) the government created a register of masterpiece-swords owned by daimyo (feudal lords) throughout Japan. Swords renowned for both their beauty and tales of their provenance were called meibutsu (treasures).
This exhibition at the Nezu Museum includes meibutsu swords that have been registered as national treasures, and explores how the Japanese sword shifted from being a practical weapon to an artistic masterpiece.
Nezu Museum; (03) 3400-2536; 6-5-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku; 8-min walk from Exit A5 of Omotesando Station, Ginza, Hanzomon and Chiyoda lines. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Fri., till 8 p.m.). ¥1,200. Closed Mon. www.nezu-muse.or.jp.