The Japanese Sword Museum is exactly what you would expect—a museum dedicated to the art of Japanese swordmaking. Run by the Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords, visit this museum and receive a fascinating insight into Japanese weaponry.
The collection contains many swords that have been awarded special status for their important cultural value
The Occupation Forces tried to confiscate and destroy all swords after World War II
The museum is a short walk from JR Ryogoku Station on the JR Sobu Line or the subway station of the same name on the Toei Oedo Line.
You can walk easily to the Japanese Sword Museum from JR Ryogoku Station in 5 minutes. The easiest way to find it is by walking alongside the Sumida River, passing by the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo stadium. The museum is located inside of a small park, the Kyu-Yasuda Garden.
Unless you are a major sword enthusiast, you shouldn't need more than an hour for the museum's displays. The size of the museum makes it a quick and easy option to combine with a visit to the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo stadium, Sumida Hokusai Museum or the Edo-Tokyo Museum.
Japanese swords were the weapons of samurai for nearly 800 years before firearms were introduced to Japan. They were wielded by aristocratic bushi with well-funded armies and fierce campaigns, peasant-farmers recruited to be warriors, and bureaucrats who were occasionally forced into battle—all are considered samurai.
These samurai all carried katana (the term for a Japanese sword), wore armor and fought hand-to-hand. But their swords differed greatly in design and functionality—something you will notice when observing the swords on display at the museum.
The Japanese Sword Museum aims to preserve important swords and samurai artifacts, documenting the roughly 800 years of Japanese swords and their history. In addition to the swords themselves, the museum has a collection of historical documents and archives about swords and swordmaking.
The Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai (NBTHK-Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords) was created in 1948 to save the Japanese sword, which was being threatened with extinction by the Occupation Forces, who tried to confiscate and destroy all swords after World War II.
Today, the NBTHK aims to preserve swords from a different demise. Few remaining artisans can forge, polish, and repair old katana, their parts, and other items in the samurai armory and many of these craftsmen are getting old. The society works to sustain these crafts and help people to continue to appreciate the art of Japanese swords.