2017 Private Summer Tour of Japan | Japanese Sword Smith

Aug 04 | Evan | No Comments |

This Summer I had a great opportunity to create a custom and private tour of Japan for a local family here in North Carolina. Last Summer I lead a tour of Japan for a mother and daughter and this tour of Japan was for a father and son.  I love creating private tours for Japan because I can really focus on the specific interests and reasons for visiting and traveling to Japan.  

Each tour of Japan goes at a different pace.  Private tours of Japan tend to move at a much faster pace and this custom tour of Japan was certainly off to a fast start as the first morning we took an early train from Tokyo up to Tochigi Prefecture to visit with a Japanese sword smith. The Japanese sword smith I’ve visited with and photographed in the past was unavailable, so I was excited to visit with a different Japanese sword smith for the first time.   


The three of us, along with a Japanese guide, spent a few hours watching and photographing him perform his craft.  I really enjoy arranging these special experiences to mix photography with Japanese culture and Japanese craftsmanship. Spending time with the sword smith in Japan was a special way to start our private tour of Japan! Next up for our tour of Japan would be to visit Nikko to see Toshogu Shrine and Kanmangafuchi Abyss! 

Private and Custom Tour of Japan | Flowers and Swords in Kyoto

Aug 19 | Evan | No Comments |

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The Japanese Summer was getting hotter and hotter but our custom tour of Japan would continue!  After spending a few days in Kanazawa and Shirakawago, we headed to Kyoto, my favorite city in Japan.  Part of the reason why I love Kyoto so much is all the wonderful experiences that can be had in the area!

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First we visited a Japanese sword smith that I had arranged for some private experiences in previous years.  It’s always fun to visit with and watch this master demonstrate his art.  Not to mention, we can create some really interesting photos with the sparks from his hard hitting efforts!

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Though even better than that, is the experience talking with such a master sword smith about his art.  It’s easy to see his passion through his kind and welcoming personality.  Guests traveling with me in Japan that are come here always tell me that visiting with the sword smith was one of the highlights.

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Having spent time learning about the sword making process, it was time for another great experience in Kyoto, Ikebana experience and course.  Ikebana is Japanese flower arrangement and is the form of art creating, yes you guessed it, arrangements of flowers!

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We first got a short introduction about different types of flower arrangements and the history of Ikebana and then had a hands lesson to create our own flower arrangement with fresh flowers from Kyoto.  The class is in an old style Japanese home, machiya, which really adds to the atmosphere of the ikebana experience and makes for great photos as well!

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Tour of Japan | Japanese Sword Smith Demonstration

Apr 17 | Evan | No Comments |

The family I was guiding around Japan during cherry blossom season was interested in participating in quite a few experiences. One of which I was really excited about was visiting with a real Japanese sword smith and getting a demonstration while we were able to take photos. When I was first asked about this, I immediately told them that I would certainly look into finding a Japanese sword smith but also told them I was not overly optimistic about finding one open to allowing us to visit and take photos. I had attempted to contact quite a few and received no response before coming across Tamahagane.com.

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I did receive a response back very quickly and after describing what we were looking for, they thought that they could help me arrange something. I was also informed, like with many things in Japanese culture, there is a certain procedure to be followed when attending a demonstration and after agreeing to their terms to respect the artist, his creations and culture, we were able to arrange a private demonstration!

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The good folks at Tamahagane Arts introduced us to Fusataro san and arranged for us to visit his workplace. Much like the art of photography, a master sword smith needs to be able to control the available light to create the best swords to judge temperatures among other factors. So inside was always dark but sometimes he opened the window a little so that there was a little more light, but as you can see from the photos, the lighting conditions were always challenging. That being said, we came away with some great photos and also had a wonderful time. I love spending time with anyone that puts as much passion into their work, whether it is a coffee barista or sword smith. It was certainly an unforgettable experience that I hope to be able to introduce others to as well. Fusataro san has a warm and welcoming personality and speaks English well so that he could explain most aspects of his work to us but if you can’t speak Japanese or have a good understanding of Japanese culture, you would need to go with an interpreter or guide like myself.

You can see the full gallery after the break: More