Even if you purchase the Japanese sword of your dreams, you may not be able to fully showcase the beauty of your Japanese sword unless you display it properly. In this article, we would like to explain the proper way to display and store your Japanese sword. If you find a Japanese sword in a museum or art gallery, you will probably notice that either only the blade or the koshirae of the sword is on display. So, what if you want to display a Japanese sword in your home?
When you display a koshirae-equipped Japanese sword in your home, you usually display only the koshirae on a sword rack, and not the koshirae with the blade or the koshirae with the blade equipped. Many of you may have naturally assumed that the sword blade would be displayed as well. However, Japanese sword blades are very sensitive, especially to humidity, and are usually kept in a wooden shirasaya. In other words, if you want to appreciate the sword blade, it is best to keep it only for maintenance or special occasions.
On the other hand, transparent display cases have recently become available at low prices. If you are able to keep the humidity under control by placing desiccants and moisture-proofing materials in such cases, you can display your swords in a museum-like manner in your own home.
When displaying tachi in your home, it is important to remember the proper way to display them. Tachi may be displayed horizontally or vertically. When displaying the tachi horizontally, the handle should be on the left side and the kissaki on the right side, with the cutting edge facing down. If there is a signature on the nakago, it can be seen by turning the blade down. Japanese swords have a front and back. When displaying a Japanese sword, the rule is to display it with the front side facing forward.
When displaying uchigatana, as in the case of tachi, the handle should be on the left and the kissaki on the right, with the cutting edge facing up, horizontally. Unlike tachi, uchigatana are not displayed vertically. By doing so, the signature will face the front. When wearing uchigatana, the word "sasu" is used, so this side is called "sashi omote" and is also used for decoration.
When the Japanese sword is not displayed, it is correct to keep it in shirasaya. The material used for the shirasaya, magnolia wood, is sensitive to humidity and absorbs moisture from the blade, so a Japanese sword in the shirasaya is less likely to rust. It is even better to store it in a wooden chest. However, never store it in a closet where moisture is likely to accumulate. It is also said that insect repellents using camphor can cause rust, so avoid using those as well. Koshirae is, so to speak, a fashionable kimono for going out, while shirasaya is like a nightgown for relaxing at home.
Finally, in terms of etiquette for handling a sword, if you wish to show your sword to a family member or friend face to face, the general etiquette is to keep your sword on your right side. This is because of the historical background that placing the sword on your left side is considered hostile, as you are in a position to draw your sword immediately. Therefore, to avoid being disrespectful to the other person, keep the sword on your right side.