Swordsmith who’s certified cultural asset of Japan forges anime ronin’s iconic weapon.

Part of what makes the Rurouni Kenshin manga/anime franchise so popular is how it blends real-world history from Japan’s Meiji period with exciting dramatic fiction. Representing the latter half of that combo are protagonist Himura Kenshin and his reverse-bladed sword, the sakabato.

But while Kenshin remains a purely made-up swordsman, his sword has graduated to real-life status, and is now on display in Tokyo.

The sword is being shown as part of the Rurouni Kenshin 25th Anniversary Exhibition, which opened last week at Gallery AaMo, itself located in the Tokyo Dome City entertainment complex in downtown Tokyo. As part of the event’s health safety procedures, tickets must be purchased in advance for a specific date and time, with overall attendance capped to prevent overcrowding. Guests must also have their temperature checked before entering, apply hand sanitizer, and wear a mask.

Having cleared those requirements, we made our way inside, where the walls are decorated with artwork and informative displays about the series and the historical events that served as inspiration for its situations and setting.

But what we’d come to see was at the center of the exhibition space: the Sakabato Shinuchi.

“Shinuchi” means “Truly Forged,” since up until now, this type of sword existed only within the pages/episodes of Rurouni Kenshin. But Kanekuni Ogawa, a swordsmith and officially certified important non-tangible cultural artifact of Japan, put his amazing talents to work on creating the blade. Ordinarily, it’s kept at a museum in the town of Inuyama, in Aichi Prefecture, but as part of the Rurouni Kenshin 25th Anniversary Exhibition it’s made the trip to Tokyo so that fans of the series, or swords in general, can see it for themselves.

The clear case and stands made it look like the sword was floating in air, adding to its already commanding presence. Between its bright shine and the hamon, the undulating patterns formed on the flat of the blade during the tempering process, the metal almost had a liquid quality to its appearance.

Like all fine works of katana art, the Sakabato Shinuchi is displayed with its hilt unwrapped. Along with the date of forging, it bears the death poem of Arai Shakku, the Rurouni Kenshin swordsmith character who created it within the narrative of the series.

The Sakabato Shinuchi will be on display in Tokyo until March 7, after which the event moves to Kyoto.

Related: Rurouni Kenshin 25th Anniversary Exhibition website
Photos © SoraNews24
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