An important samurai accouterment is the sword. Here in residential Yoyogi is an often-overlooked collection of swords and ... More
Japan Sword Museum
An important samurai accouterment is the sword. Here in residential Yoyogi is an often-overlooked collection of swords and sword-parts representative of the feudal era. Daimyo paraphernalia accompany the items on exhibit. Do not be put off by the small numbers of items or swords with missing handles, because some of these pieces have been designated national treasures.
Just to set things straight, this Japanese Sword museum tucked into a corner of a residential neighborhood in Shibuya is actually the official museum of the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kai (Japanese sword preservation society) office. The place is about 1000 sq ft, and had about 50 or so blades on display when I visited.
The target audience for this museum would be traditionally made Japanese sword collectors. Thus, the exhibits are very high end swords from various schools and swordsmiths. They have limited exhibits on sword mounts, but there is still a great selection of tsubas and menuki. This is the best place to see a large choice of Tokubetsu-Juyo and above swords, in mint condition, with excellent lightning to enjoy the hamon and jitetsu. Since it's usually pretty empty, you can take all day to admire the blades. Sadly no photography is allowed.
I would agree that the Japanese-only text on the exhibits does inhibit non-sword collectors from better appreciating the blades.
I would say that for ~US$6 admission, you get the most bang for the buck in Japan. The place is also hard to find, and I walked from Shibuya station, it took about 20 minutes, and I had a heck of a time finding the non-descript building. I had to ask a lady who was out walking her dogs, and she was most helpful even with my limited conversational Japanese.
For sword collectors, don't forget that the Aoi Art store is literally 2 doors down from the museum, so it's a great chance to see more blades, and maybe even buy some of them! I still have the great pamphlets from the swords on exhibit when I visited, and I love seeing the jaws on my fellow sword drop when they see what was on display.
The Tokyo National Museum in Ueno also had about 8 to 10 blades on display, from some very famous smiths like Masamune, Sanjo Munechika, etc., and you photography is TOLERATED there, but officially not allowed.
A very nice and compact display. A wide variety of swords and some fittings, sowing most styles and periods of sword making. Please remember this is a Japanese sword museum and there are very limited translations. What can you get for £2 these days? Very good value. Also these swords are a highly important Japanese cultural asset, do you expect to be able to handle and put on the crown jewels of any country? Unless you show the proper degree of knowledge and respect you will not be allowed to handle the swords in a shop either. A Japanese sword is easily damaged and needs to be handled with great care. A great place and I will certainly be going back on my next visit.
If you're interested in quality swords and learning how they are made, this museum will do the trick. If you are looking for a larger museum accounting the history of the Samurai, then look elsewhere. This little museum is tucked into a residential area and if you walk there, you will encounter local people out and about who will be happy to point the way. We enjoyed searching for the museum as much as the museum itself.
The entrance is informal and the swords are located on the second floor. There is a 500 yen entrance fee which seems reasonable for a museum experience of any size.
I don't know what these ppl are complaining about- this is a very nice museum complete with sleeping security guard. They are probably Americans who go for size not quality. These are true Shogun hakus, and there is a step by step photo display on how they are made. I enjoyed it and would recommend to those interested.
the museum was a huge disapointment i expected to learn about the swords and the history behind them. there was little english. the room seemed small and dark not very good even i could read japanese... all in all this was a big disapointment
This museam was more like a store. It was badly lit, most writings regarding the swords were in japanese and the place was very small and murky. I would recommend coming here if your a sword fan, but other than that, there are plenty of sword stores around where you can actually see them in good lighting and pick them up (if the store owner doesnt mind).
This museum was a little disappointing. It was a small room full of swords with hardly any English explaing what the swords were and why they were important. Guidebooks promised Samurai suits of armor, but there were none to be found. It cost 500 yen to get in and I didn't think it was worth it. If you are really interested in swords, then this may be a fun place to visit, but we saw more swords and armor at the Tokyo National Museum.
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