Katana, or samurai swords as they are often referred to, are not only weapons of the past but also considered the pinnacle of Japanese art and craftsmanship, as well as a symbol of worship and authority.
However, this ancient weapon gradually lost its place in Japanese society once modernization began and the long age of the samurai came to an end. To make matters worse, following the end of World War II, the Allied occupation authorities decided the katana was subject to confiscation and many specimens, be it purely a work of art or not, were lost.
The Society for Preservation of Japanese Art Swords was founded in 1948 to prevent the art of Japanese bladesmithing from going extinct. Initially housed in the Tokyo National Museum, the society’s headquarters was moved to the Yoyogi district in the 1960s. It established a museum to showcase its extensive collection of swords spanning centuries.
In 2018, the Japanese Sword Museum was relocated to Sumida City, on the site of the historic Ryōgoku Village Hall which was demolished a few years prior. Overlooking the tranquil Former Yasuda Garden, the museum contains about 190 items including swords, hilts, sheaths, and armor. Many of them are designated National Treasure and Important Cultural Property.
Know Before You Go
Admission is 1000 yen for adults, free for children under 15 years of age. The museum is open from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, closed on Mondays. Note that photography is not allowed in the main exhibit room on the third floor.