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Samurai culture can be said to represent the epitome of Japan in its combination of strength and beauty.

Left: Blade with so-shu forging pattern and dragon; Right: sharkskin scabbard with red lacquer
Left: Blade with so-shu forging pattern and dragon; Right: sharkskin scabbard with red lacquer

One of the most well-known symbols of the samurai is the katana sword, a distinct blade whose forging has been refined by skilled artisans for over 1,000 years.

Three factors are seen as especially important to the katana — the curve that makes it easy to handle, the durable jigane steel it is forged from, and the temper line showing the border with the harder steel of the edge.

These beautiful and dignified pieces of craftsmanship play important roles in traditional ceremonies and were bestowed to demonstrate the trust of the imperial family. Many of these swords are now National Treasures and Important Cultural Assets.

Throughout the centuries and across the turbulent ups and downs of history, the katana has endured as a symbol of Japanese culture and the exquisite artistry it is capable of.

Sadatoshi Gassan is one of the finest swordsmiths alive. Trained by his father Sadaichi, who was a certified Living National Treasure before he died in 1995, and part of a long line of eminent swordsmiths, Gassan continues to bring to life ancient traditions in his katana.

Thirty of his latest creations will be on display in an upcoming exhibition at Takashimaya’s Nihonbashi Store in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward. The swords can be viewed from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3 from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.

The heir to the Gassan lineage, Sadatoshi’s son Sadanobu, plans to make some visits to the exhibition to discuss his family’s tradition of sword-making and answer questions about the works on display. All swords will be available for purchase and can be exported to most countries.

For more information, visit http://www.japansword.co.jp or contact Japan Sword Co. at japansword@japansword.co.jp or 03-3434-4321 .

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