Located in the southern part of Japan, Kochi Prefecture is one of the nation’s few regions with a humid subtropical climate. As a result, it has always been blessed with quality wood, allowing the prefecture’s forest industry to thrive through the export of its rich lumber resources. Supporting this industry along the way were locally produced Tosa-uchi blades.
All of Kochi Prefecture was formerly known as Tosa Province. Though the origins of Tosa-uchi are not clearly known, the arrival of a sword-smithing style known as the Gorozaemon Yoshimitsu school during the late Kamakura Period (1185-1333) was an important event in the craft’s development. Later, during the Warring States Period (1467-1590), the craft expanded in response to increased demand for blades for armor and weaponry. Then, in the Edo Period (1603-1868), the region’s ruling Tosa clan implemented a program of land development and forest resource procurement, leading to a golden age of Tosa-uchi as production rapidly increased to meet demand. Through the centuries-long application and adaptation of sword-smithing techniques, the blades achieved an unparalleled quality, and the result is the Tosa-uchi blades you see today.
Tosa-uchi blades are characterized by a manufacturing method known as jiyu tanzo, or free forging, and do not follow any particular convention. The technique combines a variety of fundamental sword-smithing processes, including ana-ake (perforating) and ana-hiroge (hole expansion) according to each product’s intended general purpose or function. Thus, it can meet various needs for sickles, swords and other bladed edges.
On the other hand, shaping the finished product depends entirely on the sword-smith’s experience, and the process of becoming an established craftsman takes years. While modern technology and information-sharing have led to great changes in recent years, as parts of the process have become mechanized and inter-sword-smith exchange occurs more regularly, it still takes at least four to five years to be entrusted with manufacturing.
Tosa-uchi blades have a longstanding reputation for functionality and durability, and requests for order-made items are received from all over Japan. Why not try having one made for yourself?
Tosa Cutlery Distribution Center
109 Tosayamadacho Kamikaida Kami City Kochi Prefecture
58 Hisaeda Nankoku City Kochi Prefecture