Newly forged young swordsmiths open up their own forge in Kyotango.

In Japan there’s a system called furusato nozei, or “hometown tax.” Originally created to help out small businesses in less-developed parts of the country, furusato nozei lets you make a donation to a town and deduct the amount on your taxes. You also usually receive a gift of some sort of locally produced agricultural product or handicraft.

Despite the “hometown tax” name, you’re free to make donations to any town you choose, so naturally each of them wants to offer the most attractive and enticing rewards. For example, if you’re willing to send a furusato nozei donation to the town of Kyotango, in Kyoto Prefecture, they might send you back some locally grown tea or crab caught off their coastline in the Sea of Japan.

But what if your kitchen cupboard and fridge are already full, but it’s your samurai armory that’s looking a little bare these days? No problem, because as of this month Kyotango is offering custom-made katana, smithed to your specifications, in exchange for a tax-deductible furusato nozei donation.

A total of four types of blade are on offer, starting with the 76-centimeter (29.9-inch) katana (sample pictured above). If you’d prefer a tachi, with a more pronounced curve, that’s also an option, once again with a length of 76 centimeters.

More compact is the 50-centimeter wakizashi (short sword)…

…and rounding out the curved-blade lineup is the 24-centimeter tanto (dagger).

Surprisingly, these old-school furusato nozei rewards are being smithed by a very new company. Tomoki Kuromoto, Kosuke Yamazoe, and Tomoyuki Miyagi are a trio of swordsmiths in their 30s who all apprenticed under renowned katana maker Yoshindo Yoshihara. Initially, they’d planned to set up shop together in the Tokyo area, but were unable to find a location suitable for the work they plan to do. It was then that Kuromoto recalled his boyhood trips to visit his grandmother in Kyotango, and the three partners decided that that’s where they would found their forge, named Nihon Genshosha, which began operating at the start of this year.

▼ Kuromoto, Yamazoe, and Miyagi

Kuromoto says his hope is to create swords that reflect Kyotango’s natural beauty, such as the crashing waves and rocky mountains. However, the furusato nozei swords will be custom-made to suit the donor’s taste, with Nihon Genshosha’s smiths starting work after discussing and deciding on not only the specific dimensions of the blade, but also the hamon (tempering marks) and inscription the donor desires.

Custom-smithed swords don’t come cheap, however, and so the donations required are 2.934 million yen (US$23,700) for the tanto, 4.217 million yen for the wakazashi, and 5.5 million for the katana or tachi (unless you just want to keep your fingers crossed that they’ll send you one for free by mistake). Donations can be placed here through the official Kyotango furusato nozei page, with design and smithing projected to take six to 12 months.

Source: Kyotango City via Asashi Shimbun Digital via Livedoor News via Jin, Yomiuri Shimbun
Top image: Kyotango Furusato Nozei
Insert images: Kyotango Furusato Nozei (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
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