- Top >
- The History of Blades
What is the Cutlery Festival?
Seki City in Gifu prefecture is a town famous for its cutleries and blade manufacturing with a history spanning over 700 years, and the “Cutlery Festival”is an important event held here in the fall. The festival honors the skills of the great swordsmith Motoshige and prays for the everlasting prosperity of this town of blades.
During the festival, cutlery manufacturers and wholesalers of the town line up their stalls along the 1km long shopping street in the main venue of Honmachi-dori. This is the “Cutlery Market” where scissors, kitchen knives, and other knives are sold at discount prices only available during the festival period.
There are also outlet items only sold here, and so you may be able to purchase valuable cutleries of Seki for reasonable prices if you negotiate.
Apart from these attractions there is the Seki Outdoor Knife Show (Apise Seki) where custom-made knives are on display and sold. In addition there are other special events specially held in this “town of blades” such as impressive live demonstrations of traditional Japanese sword forging full of sparks and heat (admission fee of the Seki Sword Tradition Museum exhibition is charged for watching), display of Iaido (sword art) sword testing / Battojutsu (art of sword drawing) skills, the sword examination “Hamoken” event, and knife sharpening. There are also plenty of other ways to enjoy the festival such as by eating local specialties at the “Public Community Booth”, “ Tabemono Yokocho (gourmet street) ”, and “Seki Local Delicacy Festival (Seki City Hall)” where local famous restaurants serve specialties such as sweetfish and eels, while friendship towns / villages also open booths.
How did Seki City come to be the town of blades? (Why did is Seki City considered to be the town of blades?)
The first swordsmith of Seki emerged in the Kamakura period. It is said this was when the great swordsmith, “Motoshige”, moved to Seki and began the art of sword forging.
High quality blade clay, pine coal for the furnace, and the clean water of the Nagara River and Tsubo River… thanks to the ideal natural conditions of this land, many swordsmiths began to gather. In the Muromachi period there were over 300 swordsmiths, and the swords of Seki became known throughout the nation as swords that were “strong, rigid, and sharp”.
The swords of Seki were favored among warlords during the Warring States period for their outstanding sharpness. The person who made the “Sekiden (swords forged in Seki)” famous was “Nidaime Kanemoto (Kanemoto the second)”, known as “Magoroku of Seki”.
Kanemoto (Magoroku) developed an original sword forging technique called “Shihozume”(combining irons with different characteristics in four sections of the sword) in order to create amazingly strong swords. After this period Seki City prospered as the leading region of sword forging in Japan, and its excellent traditional skills are passed down to modern day swordsmiths as well as the blade manufacturing industry. Today Seki is also known to be one of the world’ s most famous regions for blade manufacturing.