Of possible interest for those in the Southern California area, the Bowers Museum is holding a special exhibit featuring nihonto from the Tokyo National Museum. Although viewing online photos of Japanese swords can certainly be enjoyable, it can in no way compare to actually viewing the blade in person. During our 2006 trip to Japan, we visited the Tokyo National Museum and the wonderful opportunity to see the famous blades, the dōjigiri and the kanze masamune. Until then we had only been able to see these blades as photographs in Kanzan Sato’s book The Japanese Sword. The difference was black and white. The Tokyo National Museum had the blades very well lighted and they all had excellent polishes. If the Bowers Museum’s exhibit is of the same quality of the Tokyo National Museum, then it is well worth the visit for those passionate about Japanese swords.
“Art of the Samurai: Selections from the Tokyo National Museum features 81 objects from the Tokyo National Museum representing a wealth of artworks related to the everyday, traditional, and official role of the Samurai class of Japan. Focusing on the art and aesthetics of Samurai culture, the exhibition features a wealth of objects that are a testament to the accomplished level of society, education, and mastery of skills the Samurai developed between the 10th and 20th centuries. Included are beautifully crafted swords, armor, tea-ceremony utensils, screen and scroll paintings, Noh theatre costumes, and other fine works. This outstanding collection dates primarily to the Edo period (1603–1868) with many pieces classified as Important Cultural Property and National Treasures of Japan.”