The Japanese Sword: Forging the Soul of the Samurai

I will be researching the role of the Japanese sword and swordsmith from the Edo period through the Meiji era, focusing especially on the effects of political, societal, and other factors on the making and perceptions of swords. In the first page, I discuss how the two and a half centuries of peace under the Tokugawa shogunate led to a stagnation of innovation. In the second, I analyze the text of Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s katanagari edict in order to illuminate the purpose and effects of the Haitōrei edict of 1876. Finally, in the third page, I examine the decline of swordsmithing and the evolving image of the sword and those who forged it in light of modernization, increasing Western influence, and imperialistic military campaigns.


Jessica Yamada