‘Between the samurai and his blade was fashioned a binding non secular union of man and metal.’
Within the 1969 quick documentary The Japanese Sword because the Soul of the Samurai, the US filmmaker Kenneth Wolfgang (1931-2011) is allowed uncommon entry to the Tokyo workshop of a grasp samurai swordsmith to discover the craft and historical past behind the long-lasting Japanese weapon. Immediately recognisable for its elegant form and sharp leading edge, the samurai sword was lengthy one of the fearsome weapons on the earth, in addition to an object of nice symbolic significance in premodern Japan. Right here, its creation is documented in wealthy element as a swordsmith and his apprentices hammer, fold and weld to create a near-perfect metal blade in a course of that melds skilled craftsmanship with Shinto spiritual ritual. Alongside the workshop footage, Wolfgang makes use of conventional Japanese woodblock work, dolls and the narration of the US actor George Takei (Lt Sulu in Star Trek) to take the viewers via the sword’s historical past – from its mythological origins and into the twentieth century, properly previous the samurai period. In doing so, Wolfgang demystifies the article for Western audiences whereas additionally conveying its deep significance to Japanese historical past and fantasy.