One of Japan’s best katana-collection museums recreates its swords in miniature form for you to cut up your desserts with.

Just about everyone in the world knows that chopsticks are required equipment for eating meals in Japan, but not as many people are familiar with kashigiri. An equally essential utensil, kashigiri are sort of like a combined knife and toothpick, and are used to cut, skewer, and eat traditional Japanese sweets that are too big and/or messy to eat with your hands.

Most kashigiri have a simple design, with either a wood grain or lacquered surface. However, if you’re looking for a more dynamic way to eat your desserts, there’s also a set of special kashigiri modeled after some of Japan’s most famous historical katana.

These unique weapons for wagashi confectioneries are the creation of Aichi Prefecture’s Tokugawa Art Museum. Present-day Aichi is the home of the Tokugawa samurai clan, which went on to establish the Tokugawa shogunate that ruled Japan for nearly 300 years as its last feudal dynasty. As you might expect, the museum’s collection includes a number of extremely valuable and significant swords, and five of its most famous served as the inspiration for the kashigiri provided for diners in the museum’s attached cafe.

Due to popular demand, though, the museum’s shop is about to begin selling the katana kashigiri, and we stopped by for a sneak peek at them. Each recreates the original blade in painstaking detail, and looking at them lined up next to each other allows you to appreciate how much variation there is among Japan’s single-edge arced blades, as each has a different curvature, length, and thickness. The craftsmen have also made sure to replicate the katana’s respective hamon, literally meaning “wave crest” and referring to the undulating temper patterns on the surface of the blade…

…as well as the holes in the nakago/tang, the portion of the sword that would extend into the hilt and through which the wrapping of the grip would be woven.

▼ Each hole is in the exact same position as where it is on the actual, full-size sword.

In addition to the katana kashigiri, the Tokugawa Art Museum has also created a number of confectioneries named after its famous swords, and so we decided to try three, slicing them up, of course, with the kashigiri thay share their names with.

We started with the Namazu Otoshiro, the personal sword of the very first Tokugawa shogunate which has been turned into a morsel of pink anko sweet bean paste coated in agar gelatin.

Our slice was clean and true, keeping our fingers free of any stickiness while we enjoyed the moist treat that ends with a tart note.

The next blade we took up was the Goto Toshiro. The original was made hundreds of years before the Namazu Otoshiro by famed 13th century swordsmith Awataguchi Yoshimitsu, who played his trade in Kyoto during the Kamakura period of Japanese history.

Once again, a bisecting blow split the sweet, in this case a milky raspberry creation, into easily manageable bites.

And last, we took a swing with the Monoyoshi Sadamune. As the name implies, the original sword was struck by Sadamune, a Kamakura-period swordsmith who passed away at the young age of 30, and was either the biological or adopted soon of legendary katana maker Masamune.

The corresponding confectionery looks incredibly sweet at first glance, but the nut topping and caramel center give it a mature, ever-so-slightly bitter finish.

The katana kashigiri go on sale January 4, with the Namazu Otoshiro bundled in a set with a dessert knife-version of the historical katana Honsaku Nagayoshi for 1,100 yen (US$10.20), while the Monoyoshi Sadamune and Nansen Ihimonji are priced at 1,320 yen each. Meanwhile, the Goto Toshiro remains exclusive to the museum’s cafe for the time being.

Related: Tokugawa Art Museum
Photo ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]