Late Actor Ken Takakura's Treasured Swords Donated To Town

Late actor Ken Takakura's treasured swords donated to townEight Japanese swords and other blades once cherished by legendary actor Ken Takakura, who died in November last year, have been donated to this town in central Japan by his adopted daughter.
Taka Oda, 51, handed the swords, daggers and related documents over to the town office during a recent visit, and they will be displayed at a museum in Sakaki through Sept. 27.

"It is such an honor," Mayor Hiroshi Yamamura said. "We'd like to keep them at the Museum of Tetsu with great care, and we hope to put them on permanent display in the future."

The donation was made possible via the help of Kozaemon-Yukihira Miyairi, 57, a swordsmith who lives in the town who had been personally acquainted with the actor for 20 years. The items were handed over to the mayor at the swordsmith's home.

The blades include a "wakizashi" short sword forged by master swordsmith Horikawa Kunihiro, who was active between the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1568-1600) and the early Edo Period (1603-1867), and another wakizashi created by Yokoyama Sukenaga in the late Edo Period, as well as a dagger from the end of the Edo Period.

"Horikawa Kunihiro was one of the best and the brightest swordsmiths hailed as the pioneer of a new style of swordsmithing, and the wakizashi is one of the finest swords in history," Miyairi said.

A dagger forged by Miyairi as a "mamori gatana" (symbolic talismanic sword) when Takakura was awarded with the Medal with Purple Ribbon is also included.

Takakura used to refer to Miyairi as Kei-chan, referring to his real name, and is said to have visited the swordsmith's workplace.

Oda described the relationship between the two as "like brothers."

Oda asked Miyairi for advice on what she should do with the swords left by Takakura and decided to donate them to the town office, which operates the museum.

"I was relieved to have donated (the swords). I think (Takakura also) thinks that the Japanese swords have gone into good hands through Miyairi," Oda said.