Mito Metalworking from the Late Edo and Meiji Periods
Mito metalworking, the single dominant school in the Edo period for crafting sword fittings such as sword hilts and accessory knives. With the Tamagawa, founded by Gunji Yogoro (also known as Koami), the Shinozaki, and the Hitotsuyanagi lines, as well as that centered on Sekijoken, the Mito School produced numerous master craftsmen from late Edo through the early Meiji period.
Characterized by the use of finely detailed takaniku inlay, Mito metalworking gained popularity for its vibrant, lifelike depictions of both animals, like dragons and tigers, and personages, as well as the traditional flowers and birds. Though this school suffered briefly in Meiji after the outlawing of the wearing of swords, Hagiya Katsuhira, Unno Moritoshi, Unno Shomin and others managed to increase the school’s fame by producing sword fittings and other implements for export. In addition, Unno Shomin and Unno Bisei II were named professors at Tokyo University of the Arts, where they passed on their knowledge to later generations and thereby continued to develop the tradition.
The present exhibition puts on display the gems of the Museum’s collection of sword fittings, inro, smoking utensils, and vases produced from the late Edo and Meiji periods. Behold the splendor and magnificence of these many Mito metalworking artworks.