Monday, September 13, 2010


On Saturday, I took a very quick trip down to Gifu, met a friend, and the two of us went to Seki city (which is very close to Gifu city) to go buy some swords at Noshudo. (I know it's normally romanized as Nosyudo, but that just leads people to mis-pronounce the name.)
We were given a tour around the small on-site factory, and learned some details about how mogito (replica swords) are made.
Now, here's the part where I have to explain that, when I was in Canada, I stupidly and carelessly left my camera slung over the back of a chair at a coffee shop in Toronto. Or, maybe I left it on the floor of a shoe store, I'm not sure. Either way, I am now short one camera. If you have been reading my previous posts, you will know that I have been complaining about my camera and wishing I could get a new one. Please believe me that, as far as I know my own brain, me leaving my camera was plain forgetfulness and not some subconscious ploy to create a need for a new and better camera. As far as I know.
So, anyway, the rest of this post will proceed minus the descriptive photographs that I wish I could have taken during my visit. They start with blades that are cast in sand molds out of a sturdy zinc-aluminum alloy. These rough blades are taken and polished on increasingly fine grinding wheels until they are shiny. (At this stage, I was under the impression that the blades are then plated in a layer of chrome coating, but I didn't see any evidence of that, and they didn't mention it, and I didn't ask, so I'm not sure.) They showed us the various templates that they use to add the hamon to the blade, depending on what the customer requests.
Next, the fittings are added. This is a streamlined version of what a "real sword" gets, but it is basically the same. There were quite a few craftsmen busily working away at the various parts of the swords, mainly grinding and filing pieces to ensure a snug fit. I have seen a lot of Noshudo swords, and they always have a very tight fit between the parts. I have a Noshudo blade myself (a custom 2.7 shaku mogito) and all the fittings were tight for the first 6 years I had it, until I voided the warranty by removing the mekugi and taking off the tsuba (which was VERY tight and hard to get off!). It was never quite that tight again, despite my shimming things up with very thin brass foil. In other words - Don't take your sword apart for no reason!
I ended up buying a number of swords, and the staff were extremely helpful and obliging, because I wanted to check each sword to make sure of the balance. I have seen some pretty terrible swords from other makers in the past - strange weights and weird balance points - but every Noshudo blade I examined was well-balanced considering its size and weight. Apparently the proprietor, Mr. Igarashi, checks every sword personally before it is cleared for sale.
So, it was a very enjoyable trip to a store that is like a miniature Heaven for iaidoka. I wish I could have had a camera on hand to document all the cool stuff I saw. This photo of my friend Paul, on the right, Mr. Miwa of Noshudo in the middle, and some random fat guy on the left, will have to suffice.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jeff, thanks for your post !!

I like to visit Noshudo in a few months ... but not how to get from Tokyo.

Can you describe how to get your store from Tokyo?

Thanks a lot, and sorry for my English.


5:54 PM  
Blogger mr.alobar said...

great blog my friend,very interesting posts.

3:03 AM  

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