HOME > Exhibitions > Past


  • Now on View
  • Upcoming
  • Exhibition Schedule


Special Exhibition
Pinnacle of Elegance: Sword Fittings of the Mitsumura Collection
Friday, November 3 – Sunday, December 17, 2017
Closed Mondays
Hours 10 am to 5 pm(Entrance closes 30 min. before closing)
General admission Adult 1300 yen, Student 1000 yen
Gallery 1and 2

The soft-metal fittings affixed to Japanese sword mountings became increasingly more detailed and decorative from the Edo period onwards with flamboyant works that in some cases is hard to believe they are even metal. Mitsumura Toshimo (1877 - 1955), a businessman in the Meiji period, built a large collection of sword fittings and published them in a monumental tome entitled, Tagane no Hana (Flowers of the Chisel). Concerned that sword fittings were becoming deemed unnecessary and that the fittings making techniques could be lost, Mitsumura brought attention to the plight of the craftsmen by paying tribute to the beauty of sword fittings through a wide range of activities. In doing so, he not only imparted a deeper understanding of sword fittings, but also preserved the craft.
Currently, the Nezu Museum has approximately 1200 pieces from the Mitsumura Collection. Centered on the museum's collections, this exhibition introduces the metallic beauty that fascinated Mitsumura Toshimo, with around 130 sword fittings, as well as a selected number of swords and paintings.

Gallery Exhibits

Armor and Equipment
Set of Sword Fittings with Millet Design
By Araki Tōmei
Japan Edo period, 19th century
Private Collection
Sword fittings maker Araki Tōmei (1817-1870) from Kyoto, worked during the end of the Edo period. He is famous for devising a method of carving millet. Among Tomei's numerous millet themed works, this set is a masterpiece with bright golden millets on a jet-black ground.
Armor and EquipmentImportant Cultural Property
Set of Two Sword Fittings with Descending Buddha and Bodhisatvas Design
By Gotō Ichijō
Japan Edo period, 19th century
Private Collection
A representative work of sword fittings maker Gotō Ichijō (1791 - 1876) of Kyoto. These sword guards have a red colored copper ground. In the Meiji era, they were owned by a wealthy family in Omi province (Shiga prefecture). It is said that the magnificent and refined carving captured Mitsumura's heart so much so that he selected these works to be on the first page of Tagane no Hana.
Armor and Equipment
Small Knife Handle with Lu Dongbing Design
By Tsukada Shūkyō
Japan Edo period, 19th century
Nezu Museum
Many of Mitsumura Toshimo's orders were based on art masterpieces. This small knife handle is carved with a recreation of the Muromachi period ink painting by Sesson, titled: Lu Dongbing, a Chinese hermit. The figure from Sesson's painting has been faithfully recreated, but the hermit's blushing face was added by Tsukada Shūkyō (1848-1918).
Armor and Equipment
Katana Sword
By Gassan Sadakazu
Japan Meiji period, dated 1905
Nezu Museum
As Mitsumura Toshimo's activities were based in Osaka and Kobe, he ordered many works from Osaka swordsmith, Gassan Sadakazu (1836-1918). This richly carved, flamboyant sword was probably a favorite of Mitsumura.
  • Exhibition
    • Upcoming
    • Past
  • Concurrent Exhibitions
  • Now on Exhibit
  • Exhibition Schedule

Page top