Yoshindo and Yoshikazu Yoshihara at their forge in 2006
Yoshihara is a tenth generation swordsmith living in Takasago, Katsushika-ku. His son, Yoshikazu, is currently working with him and will become the eleventh generation of swordsmiths to carry the Yoshihara name.
Over a thousand years old, traditional Japanese swordmaking is one of the most highly regarded metal crafts in the world. Yoshihara began to learn swordsmithing at age 12, taught by his grandfather Kuni-ie, renowned swordsmith from the early part of the 20th century. Yoshinodo's father, was part of the "lost generation" of swordsmiths, and gave up the craft to concentrate on the management of an ironworks.
For many years, Yoshindo worked side by side with his brother Shoji. Both are Mukansa (beyond any judgement) level swordsmiths. Through experimentation and persistence, Yoshindo has not only “rediscovered” many lost secrets of the kamakura period of sword making, but has contributed his own improvements. All manufacturing of swords was prohibited in Japan for seven years after World War II. This meant the age-old techniques were in real danger of being forever lost. Today, in the hands of a new generation of practitioners, led by such men as Yoshihara, the craft is making a startling comeback. Connoisseurs say that the swords being produced now are the equal of anything made in Japan in the past few hundred years.
Yoshihara's blades have a unique spirit to them that is immediately recognizable. The steel he uses is from the Tatara Forge in Shimane Prefecture. This steel, called tamahagane (jewel steel) is extracted from iron sand using techniques developed over 1500 years ago. By selecting the perfect mix of steels, Yoshihara is able to take advantage of slight imperfections in the steel: "The combination of 'bad' and 'good' steel and superb forging technique is what gives it blade its personality and beauty, just like a human being. A perfect blade has no personality," says Yoshihara.
It is no surprise that Yoshihara's swords are revered and treasured.
I was greatly honored when renowned Japanese swordsmith Yoshindo Yoshihara requested to join the makers that are part of BladeGallery.com