All About Japan

Cut Through Paper with Katana Scissors

Samurai Stationery

The town of Seki, in central Japan’s Gifu Prefecture, is one of Japan’s most prestigious swordsmithing centers. They also make scissors. And one company, Seki’s Nikken Cutlery, wants to combine its modern products with some of the town’s cultural heritage, which leads us to its line of Great Katana Scissors.

Three pairs of scissors are modeled after the personal katana of prominent daimyo warlords.

Starting with Oda Nobunaga’s Heshikiri Haseba, who is said to have used it to kill a servant who displeased him with a strike so heavy and violent that it was as much a crushing blow as a cutting slice.

Next is Date Masamune’s Shokudaikiri Mitsutada, said to have sliced through a bronze candle holder. The target of the northern warlord’s attack no doubt hoped the candle holder would have been more effective at stopping what turned out to be a killing strike.

Mitsunokami Yoshiyuki, the sword of 19th-century samurai scholar and political reformer Sakamoto Ryoma, is an outlier in the group, seeing as how Ryoma lived some 200 years after the end of the Sengoku Period (1467-1590) when Nobunaga and Masamune were swinging their swords around. Nevertheless, Ryoma remains one of the most widely respected and admired figures in Japanese history, and the scissors based on his sword carry the same quiet but firm dignity that Ryoma projects in his portraits.

The three above pairs of scissors are all identically priced at ¥3,800 (US$35), which includes their scabbards and display stands. For those desiring something even more stately, Nikken is also producing a limited batch of 100 paris of scissors based on Namazu Otoshiro, named for its resemblance to the curved, sinuous tail of a catfish.

The owner of Namazu Otoshiro was Tokugawa Ieyasu, whose eventual dominance over the other Sengoku Period began the Tokugawa shogunate, which would go on to rule Japan for roughly three centuries during what came to be called the Edo Period (1603-1868). The Namazu Otoshiro scissors’ handle and scabbard come treated in Echizen lacquer, applied by skilled artisans in Fukui Prefecture, and are priced at ¥15,000, in accordance with their higher quality materials and exalted status.

Nikken is not selling the scissors through regular shops or online retailers, but instead as part of a crowdfunding campaign here on website Mirai Shopping. However, since the project has already exceeded its goal well before the October 10 end date, pledging funds is now essentially the same as just buying them outright.

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