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First, to Kamigori まず、上郡へ行く

August 23, 2009

As usual, I had a great trip to Japan.  Managed to see some places I hadn’t before and saw those who I planned to.  Photographed my friend Kazu in his workshop this time around as well and managed to catch something new there too.  On the day I arrived he was putting the final touches on a katana he would be submitting to a contest the next day.  The last thing to do with a sword is called “meikiri” (mei = name, kiri = cut).  Essentially, he was carving his name and possibly other information about the blade into the tang of the blade.  It has become a tradition for his wife Chiharu to help steady the blade during this process as every blade she has done so has won a prize of some sort.  This time turned out no differently as the judging was completed over the weekend and he did win in one of the categories.  She’s a good luck charm.

相変わらず、僕の日本旅行は楽しかったです。今回も僕の刀匠友達カズを撮影しました。新しことを撮影しました。カズが名きりをしました。刃のなかごに名をきります。いつも、カズの奥さんは刃を安定しています。始めときからカズの刃が特賞をもらいました。今回も。千晴はお守りでしょうね。

The second process is called yaki-ire.  This is the process by which the pattern or “hamon” is put on the edge of the blade.  Kazu first decides on what the pattern is going to be, often by consulting photos of historical blades and then he applies a coat of clay to each side of the blade before “baking” it.

二つ目の手続きは焼き入れと言います。この時に刃のはもんを作っています。最初に参考書をチェックします。どんなはもんがいいですか。本の内にたくさん古い刃があります。

We all took a bit of a day trip east to the city of Kurashiki in Okayama prefecture.  Specifically, we went to the Bikan area of Kurashiki which is the “old quarter” that has been retained.  It has examples of Edo, Meiji and Taisho eras (1603 – 1926) in its buildings.  Nice to wander around but we seemed to choose one of the hottest days in which to do it.

僕達は日帰りをしました。岡山県の倉敷に行って来ました。美観地域に行きました。面白かった。美術館と江戸、明治、大正時代の建物があります。よかったですけどその日はとても暑かったです。

The trip ended on somewhat of a sad note.  On the day that I was to head into Osaka, Kazu, Chiharu and Hana drove me into Kobe where they had some errands to do and I would then take the train the rest of the way into Osaka.  Being the rainy season, we had rain during the entire drive into Kobe but didn’t think too much of it.  It wasn’t until they got back home that they discovered that Kazu’s workshop had been flooded by about a metre of water.  The whole area was flooded and several people did lose their lives during the flooding.  The irony?  The government was just putting the finishing touches on improvements to the river due to the last flood 5 years ago.  Kazu has a new blog so you can go see the results of the flood here.

残念ことがしまいました。八月九日に大阪に行きました。カズ、千晴と華ちゃん一緒に神戸へ運転しました。一日中、雨が降りました。神戸と大阪に少しだけですけどカズの仕事場の所に大雨が降りました。80ー100cmぐらい洪水がしまいました。カズの家族は安全ですけどまだ大変ですね。カズは新しブログがあります。ここに結果を見ます。

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