“This is Japan” is a weekly blog post where I talk a little about my life here.
It’s a place where I can share some of the strange, funny, or thought-provoking stories from my week.
You can learn a little about what it is like to live in Japan and some of the weird and wonderful things here.
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On Sunday, I found something online that I thought looked interesting. Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya was having a sword forging demonstration!
How exciting to watch blacksmiths heat steel and shape it into a world famous Japanese sword.
So I packed my camera into my backpack, and my husband and I headed to the station. We walked through the grounds of the shrine, escaping some of the heat, but not escaping the humidity. My ears smiled at the sounds of cicadas vibrating in the trees.
Soon there was rhythmic clink clink clink of metal on metal in the distance. The sounds of sword forging.
There was a small tent set up and a group of people crowded around. We went over to get a close look.
Now, I’m sorry, and I hate to disappoint, but the sword forging wasn’t all that exciting to watch.
The steel was not even shaped like a sword. It was a square on the end of a pole. It would need a lot of word to turn it into a long sword.
Now this wasn’t just a demonstration where people watched and “ooh-ed” and “aah-ed” either. It was the kind of demonstration where you take part. So there was a short line of people waiting their turn.
When it was their turn, they put on a white jacket. Because one needs to look the part when partaking in a sword forging demonstration.
The man who I will call the Sword Master heated up the steel square until it was red hot. Then, in pairs, the “apprentices” would hit the red square with their steel hammer.
This was the clink clink clink.
They did this for a few times until the steel started to lost some of it’s glow. Then they posed for a photo with the Sword Master and were finished.
The Sword Master then put the steel square back into the fire to get it ready for the next couple of sword forging apprentices.
At this rate, the “sword” would never be finished.
But alas, I suppose that’s why it was just a demonstration. No real sword should be expected. Just the opportunity to see what it would be like. So I guess it’s kind of cool anyway.
It looks like the chance to witness the real thing takes place at night. And you’re probably only allowed to watch.
We watched for a minute before I couldn’t stand the humidity anymore. It probably didn’t help that there was a pile of burning embers two meters away.
So my husband and I left the sword forging demonstration to walk around the rest of the shrine.
Let me walk you through the sword forging demonstration with a few photos:
What kind of fun cultural/historical demonstrations have you had the chance to see?
Read: Shuzenji: mini guide to an old hot spring town