YoshiHara yoshindo - master japanese swordsmith
Yoshindo Yoshihara is considered the foremost present-day swordsmith in terms of both popularity and skill - a true genius.
We interviewed Yoshihara, said to be the best swordsmith in Japan, who, even today, continues to protect the traditions and cultures of sword making.
Currently, only around 300 swordsmiths in Japan remain active in sword making. However, only 30 are able to make swordsmithing their sole job.
The Yoshihara workshop, the only place in Tokyo that continues the tradition of sword crafting, has 6 apprentices. To become an expert swordsmith, one must first go through 10 or more years of training.
Qualifications are required for smithing, and without being able to work on every aspect of the sword making process (from handling iron, to making the crest, and the scabbard), one cannot be called a swordsmith.
“This is why becoming a swordsmith is so time costly. But the number of people who can make swordsmithing their career is rare. Because a swordsmith creates products that people spend millions to purchase, hard work is of course important, but talent is also required.”
Even the smithing tools used are made in the workshop.
“Ancient tools like these are sold nowhere. And besides, we were originally a blacksmith workshop, so we end up making everything.”
Because the tools used are made along with each project, innumerable tools are scattered around the workshop.
Even disregarding the amount of time required to make the tools, each sword requires roughly 3 months to be completed.
Since the apprentices all quietly do their own work, aside from the sounds of hammering swords and the echoes of fire burning wood, the workshop is very quiet. Sometimes, Yoshihara Yoshindo watches over his apprentices during work, but he doesn't give them advice.
“We don't need an apprentice who cannot learn on his own by watching,” he says.
Yoshindo Yoshihara has also contributed to the spread of sword making as a work of art. He has written books on Japanese swords, and displayed his works at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. As a result, recently a majority of his orders come from foreign countries. And on the day that we received a tour of his workshop, he was in the middle of working on a commissioned piece for the vice president of a world-famous IT company.
Yoshihara himself frequently visits other countries.
“Whenever I go to Italy, I end up buying new hats,” he said while he showed us his collection of fashionable hats.
Lastly, we asked him what was the most important thing about making swords.
“To never compromise. It is easy to make a compromise. But we hold our prides and devote our lives into creating swords.”