Japanese Sword Exhibit Report – The Beauty of Swords and their Ornate Mountings

Entereance to Nakanoshima Kosetsu Museum of Art

On display from January 6 to March 17, 2024, the The Beauty of Swords and their Ornate Mountings exhibit at Nakanoshima Kosetsu Museum of Art in Osaka features a wide range of Japanese swords and koshirae/mountings.

About the Exhibit

This exhibit features a selection of pieces from the 50 sword collection of the Kosetsu Museum of Art.

The man who created the foundation for this collection was Asahi Shimbun founder Murayama Ryohei. Because his father was a member of the samurai class, he has an interest in Japanese swords from a young age. His collection included over 800 swords at its largest.

You can clearly see his taste for koto, old swords, from the Kamakura and Muromachi period, especially for swords with suguha hamon.

The Experience

The design of the exhibition falls in line with most modern sword exhibitions: dark backgrounds with dramatic lighting. I think the lighting on the swords could’ve been a bit better, but they do allow the use of pen lights. They had monoculars available for rent at the entrance. My coworker lent me her museum binoculars and they made it extremely to appreciate the intricate art in the koshirae on display. My husband, who has almost zero interest in Japanese swords, asked to borrow them a few times.

The exhibition is split into three sections: I The Beauty of Swords, II The Elegance of the Koshirae, and III The Beauty of Swords and their Ornate Mountings.

The first section featured a wide range of tachi, uchigatana, wakizashi, and tanto from the Heian to the Taisho era with various examples of the gokaden, 5 schools of swordsmithing.

Many fabulous examples of koshirae were on display in the second section. Full sets of mostly tachi koshirae lined one wall and extremely intricate tsuba, meniki, kozukai, etc lines the other. The detail on some of the pieces were absolutely breathtaking. So much so that I stared at the pieces and forgot to take a photo of a lot of them.

The final section featured a lovely Muromachi tachi by Yukihide and two examples of stunning tachi koshirae, one on a lovely katanakake.

Basic English information was available, but detailed information was only available in Japanese.

Final comments

If you like Japanese swords and you’re in Osaka while this is still on display, it’s definitely worth checking out. The Nakanoshima area the museum is in is also lovely place to walk around.

In addition to the museum, there’re many old buildings like the Old Bank of Japan Osaka Branch (built in 1903, designed by Kingo Tatsuno) and many lovely sculptures and public art lining the Tosabori River.

They also have a nice little gift shop with the pamphlet, postcards, jewelry, and more. I got my usual pamphlet and post card. Dude bought me some earrings with tamahagane in little oil-filled glass spheres.

Dude’s final comment is that the tiny details on the koshirae were great. Even someone who knows nothing about swords can get something out of this.

Getting There

The Nakanoshima Line’s Watanabebashi Station is the closest station

The Hidobashi Station on the Yotsubashi line is also reasonably close.

Location: Nakanoshima Kosetsu Museum of Art, Conrad building 4F.

Entrance fee: 1200円 (adult), 700円 (high school), 500円 (elementary, middle school)

Hours: 10:00AM-5:30PM (Last entry at 5:00PM)

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