Gathering buyers and enthusiasts of Japanese ”katana” (swords) and daggers from all over the world, the “Daitokenichi” fair （大刀剣市）was taking place in Tokyo about 10 days ago. For an amateur of swords visiting from New York, I left my usual field (gastronomy) for a meeting in the field of martial arts, iaido in particular, i.e. the art (or way) of drawing the sword and hitting an opponent.
I visited a sword sharpener (“togishi”) living in the Asakusabashi area. To my surprise, I did not penetrate into a forge full of tools, but into a studio, a single room where the master craftsman works in bare feet, on a wooden deck. His clients traditionally are collectors unearthing rusted weapons, budo practitioners coming for the maintenance of their swords, or buyers of new blades needing to be sharpened.
I felt kindly welcome despite being a double stranger (a foreigner who knows nothing about this world) and was of course fascinated by the demonstration of his art, essentially manual, using stones belonging to 8 categories, selected amongst what looked like a multitude. I was close to developing a liking for the dangerous blades!