At Fusahiro Shimojima’s workshop, in the industrial city of Saitama, fires rage in small pits and an earthen floor absorbs the din of hammering. The 44-year-old Japanese swordsmith pounds the nascent blade of his newest creation, sending molten sparks flying majestically into air.
Yet, for all the heat, dust and sweat of metalworking, this studio is a sacred space.
Shimojima and his assistants are dressed all in white, a symbol of purity designed to keep negative forces at bay. A special rope known as a shimenawa — used in the ancient rituals of Shintoism — forms a perimeter around the space, serving to further protect the artisans from harmful energy.
“We worship god in our workshop,” says Shimojima, who has been crafting samurai swords for the past 24 years. “Only then are we able to produce a sword … not to be used as a weapon, but to be something of mental and spiritual significance.” READ MORE
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