The True Artisans of Japanese Artifact Swords Essay

The True Artisans of Japanese Artifact Swords Essay

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Technology has steadily evolved to develop more innovative and productive techniques in the making of various crafts. In addition to enhancing the quality of products, the ability to create them at a higher rate has been discovered. However, quality and quantity are usually inversely proportional to each other. In more recent times consumers have begun to desire Japanese artifacts. Most producers attempt to sate this desire through mass production. While this alternative may be inexpensive, it lacks the high quality that true artisans can deliver. In these cases, consumers are also at fault as they let their desire for instant gratification outweigh their desire for superior creations. Largely, in the production of crafts, producers sacrifice optimal quality for a high output in order to fill the demand for inexpensive products by the consumer.
Until recently, the craft of the Japanese sword had almost been lost as it was being abandoned for various reasons. One of the earliest catalysts of this trend was the Haitōrei Edict, or the Sword Abolishment Edict. The edict was a proclamation issued by the Meiji government on March 28, 1876 that prohibited the carrying of swords in public. While there were exceptions for Japan’s law enforcement, it was one of the earlier steps taken to abolish the samurai class. When this occurred, the market for swords almost collapsed as many swordsmiths had to find a new trade. Eventually, under the occupation of the United States after World War II, there was a complete prohibition on the manufacture and possession of swords in Japan (Kapp 27). This lasted for seven years until 1953. This was due to a meeting between Dr. Homma Junji and General Douglass MacArthur in which Dr. Homma produ...


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...ment level is low, more people will favor quantity over quality” (Kam). Because of this, the majority of consumers embrace the markets of mass produced sword imitators.
These alterations on both the sides of the producers and consumers are negative for many reasons. The foremost difference between the two styles is the forging process. While machine made blades usually rely on the stock removal process, swordsmiths generally use on a process called folding to forge swords. In this process, the layers of metal in the sword would be “folded in on itself around 10 to 16 times to remove impurities” and make it a more uniform piece of metal (Beginners). These folded metals are far superior to the stainless steel metal that is commonly found in replicas. For instance, the steel found in mass produced blades “lose the ‘bite’ of their edge after some use” (Motoyasu).

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