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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Culture

Seki

## Once a center of samurai sword-making prowess now making fine blades for everyday use

The master swordsmith known as Kaneshige (or Kinju) moved to the Seki area sometime in the 14th century and, with Kaneuji, founded the Mino sword-making tradition. The blades they crafted were coveted by lords and samurai throughout Japan.

The tradition lives on, although now the blades are put too much more conventional uses and available for purchase.

How to Get There

Seki is accessible by JR lines.

From JR Gifu Station, take the JR Takayama or JR Taita lines to Mino-Ota and change onto the Nagaragawa Railroad. Seki Station is seven stops along the line.

At the cutting edge

Since the Mino sword-making tradition was founded in Seki area, this place has been synonymous with blades. When Japan embraced modernity in the early Meiji era (1868-1912), however, samurai were banned from carrying swords, and the bottom fell out of the market. Artisans diversified into knives, scissors, cutlery, and other tools, for which Seki is still renowned.

Swordsmith museum

You can catch a glimpse of one of Japan's most respected arts at the Seki Swordsmith Museum, just a few minutes' walk from Nagaragawa Railway Hamono-Kaikanmae Station.

In addition to displays of every aspect of sword making, on designated days you can watch the smiths at work, pounding steel and literally making sparks fly. January 2 is the day you most want to be there, when the first forging of the year is accompanied by solemn rituals and festivities.

Cut the price

Between the museum and the station, a well-stocked shop offers every kind of blade you could hope to purchase, from nail clippers to replica swords, kitchen knives, and garden shears. The samurai sword scissors are a particular favorite with visitors. Some staff speak English.

Seki Zenkoji

Seki Zenkoji, located a short walk beyond the museum, is named after the much bigger, more famous Zenkoji Temple in Nagano City. It also features a pitch-black underground passageway, where you walk with your hands touching the walls on either side and try to find the metal door handle purported to lead to the realm of the dead.

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