Komin Osawa was born in 1941, in the district of Takaoka, famous for its copper-utensil industry. In 2005, his 'chukin' work was designated as an important intangible cultural heritage.
Chukin is a goldsmith technique that encompasses metal-fusing, mold-injection and casting. The craft dates back to the Yayoi period. It includes various casting methods such as, 'sogata, 'rogata, 'sunagata' and 'yakigata'. With the yakigata method, large work such as statues could be manufactured. Yet experience and mastery of the technique are necessary in all processes of the work.
Through the yakigata method, Osawa discovered his original 'igurumi' method to achieve his own aesthetic effects. Moreover, he also experiments with the beauty of geometry.
It is common for Osawa to work until midnight, yet he asserts with a fresh smile, 'Something just comes out of my brain when I'm working really hard.'
Akitsugu Amata was born in 1927 as the son of Amata Sadayoshi, the swordsmith in the village of Honda (present-day Shin-hatta) in Niigata Prefecture.
In 1997, Akitsugu Amata was designated as a Living National Treasure for his work as a master swordmaker. Akitsugu recalls his father as an 'innate master swordmaker'. Sadayoshi passed away when he was only 38. Akitsugu was just 10. Akitsugu wanted to carry on his father's work so, after graduating from primary school, he entered a training school in Tokyo.
Since then, he has committed his whole life to swordmaking. When Akitsugu was 33, he was taken ill and took 8 years to recover. But his spirit for swordmaking helped him.
After all these struggles, at the age of 41, he won the 'Masamune' prize in the 'New Katana Sword Exhibition', a contest which is considered to be a stepping-stone for master swordmakers. It was the first occasion that people recognized his talent and effort.
Today, he is still searching for iron sand around Japan and also pursuing his intense study of katana swords.
Toshihira Osumi was born in 1932, in Ota, Gunma Prefecture. His real name is Sadao Osumi. He was designated a Living National Treasure for his 'to-kaji' technique.
In 1952, Osumi became apprenticed to Akihira Miyairi (another Living National Treasure) and studied the craft of katana swordmaking. When he was 28, Osumi became independent.
He energetically entered competitions held by the Japanese Fine-Art Sword Preservation Association. In the first two competitions, he won a prize for effort. But from the 3rd to 8th competitions, he won a special prize. Finally, on the 10th, 12th and 14th times, he won the Manamune prize, which is the highest prize of all. Despite winning many prizes, Osumi is not proud. He believes that the implications of craftsmen are deliberated through their pieces.
In 2001, Osumi presented an amulet sword to Princess Aiko, the Princess Toshi. Moreover, he has dedicated many other pieces to places like Ise Shrine and Ota District.
Kyoto knives and the sophisticated art of making them date back to the Heian period. The entire process is done manually and the blade quality is unparalleled elsewhere.
It is claimed in 'Records of Ancient Matters' and 'The Chronicles of Japan' that knives were first introduced to Japan in the 4th century. However, the implements were more like swords. In the Heian period, proficient sword-smiths, such as Sanjyo Munechika, began to spread knife-making techniques around Japan. As time passed, these knives were treated more as a commodity. As a result, the craftsmen subdivided their work into swords, farming implements and other bladed implements.
As a result, techniques of metalwork and forging became more skilful and there was demand for the manufacture of implements used in fan-making, cuisine and dyeing. Nowadays, items ranging from knives to specialized swords are manufactured and are acknowledged for their quality.