KAI FACT magazine
Tradition in SekiForging for one’s soul.
FACT  No.03

Tradition in Seki
Forging for one’s soul.

In the words of Kanefusa Fujiwara XXV, a swordsmith living in Seki, Gifu: ‘Forging is the heart and soul of the Japanese. When one reaches a state of nothingness, one can create beautiful swords.’ ‘Tanren’ (forging), refers to the traditional techniques used to remove impurities by hitting slabs of heated steel to create strong, sharp swords. What is the secret of forging? Fujiwara doesn’t hesitate: ‘The flames tell me everything. The sounds and colors of the fire tell me everything that I need to know - not just the condition of the steel. Fire is my teacher.
Living within the flames I sense the presence of my ancestors and the souls of swordsmiths long since deceased. The techniques they created that have been passed down through the generations appear to me in the flames. The source of my inspiration is the nature that surrounds me: the beautiful mountains that surround Seki and the clear water of the Nagara River.’
What makes a good sword? Fujiwara opined: ‘A Sword made with one’s whole heart. But I don’t know how long it would take to craft such a blade. I’ve only been a swordsmith for 40 years.’ One can create good swords only when one is able to respect nature and one’s ancestors.
A sword made by Kanefusa Fujiwara XXV.
When sunlight falls upon the blade, a beautiful pattern emerges.
‘I forged this sword in such a way that one can see the image of Gifu’s magnificent mountains.’
More than 30 forging tools are neatly laid out.
The sound of a hammer hitting steel echoes rhythmically. The air is full of tension.
Kanefusa Fujiwara XXV’s workshop in Seki.
The swordsmith keeps time by hitting a table with a small mallet.
The apprentice, matching the swordsmith’s rhythm, hits the burning blade with a large hammer.
Sparks leap up. Forging and teamwork go hand in hand.
Kanefusa Fujiwara XXV was born in Seki in 1957.
In 1975 he apprenticed under Sadakazu Gassan, a living national treasure.
Fujiwara introduces Seki swordsmiths to the world.

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