All About Japan

Gifu Festival Celebrates 700 Years of Swords

| Sword Making , Gifu

Seki City (関市) in Gifu Prefecture has been forging samurai swords for over 700 years. Since the end of World War 2, that tradition has transformed into the production of knives and cutlery.

It's said the renowned swordsmith Motoshige moved from Kyushu to Seki during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). Here he found high-quality clay, pine coal and clean water ideal for sword-making. By the Muromachi Period (1336-1573), some 300 swordsmiths had gathered in the area, and the sharpness of Seki swords was prized by the warlords of the Warring States Period (1467-1590).

The Seki Hamono Matsuri (Seki Cutlery Festival) is held on the second weekend of October every year. During the festival, the town's cutlery manufacturers and wholesalers set up dozens of stalls along a kilometer-long (0.6 mi) stretch of the Honmachi-dori shopping street. Here visitors can find scissors, kitchen knives and other items at discount prices—including gorgeous Damascus steel blades!

The festival also presents sword demonstrations, blade sharpening, and displays of traditional Japanese sword forging. If you're looking for other things in the area, nearby you can find the Oyada Maple Valley, a beautiful spot to visit when the leaves change in autumn, as well as the so-called "Monet's Pond" at Nemichi Shrine.

- seki-hamono.jp (Japanese)