“Silversmith Kiminori Okumura” Modern expression of the texture of metal

“Silversmith Kiminori Okumura”
Modern expression of the texture of metal

The Beauty of the Sword Guard ”tsuba”

When we visited Kiminori Okumura, he showed us the sword guard or ”tsuba”.
“Look at this. It’s simply fancy. The sword guard is designed to catch the eye when you thrust the sword forward. Where and how the designs are placed is all calculated. The design itself is just fabulous. Imagine if the surface is uniform, it would just be quite dull. It is designed so you can enjoy the feel, the texture and color of the metal.”
Okumura is a silversmith artisan. He graduated from the Musashino University of Art in 1975 and became an artist. He has won many awards, such as the Minister of Education Award for Japan Traditional Arts Crafts Exhibition in 1995.

Expressions that can only be achieved with metal

In 2012, Okumura exhibited his work ”Tetsujizou Gankobako” named “Hanare” at the East Japan Traditional Arts Crafts Exhibition. It surprised Nakata because “It doesn’t look at like metal!” and looks more like a lacquered wooden box. The texture of metal is apparent when you touch it. Many of Okumura’s pieces have delicate designs but the texture remains. The rust is left on the material in order to achieve this delicate texture.
“There aren’t many types of metal to begin with, but you can expand the realm of expression by combining different techniques, and that makes it truly intriguing.” Okumura nodded in agreement to Nakata’s comment.
When restoring cultural assets, you can sense how people in the past related to metal. There is a lot to be learned from the past, and Okumura tries to integrate what he finds interesting or useful in his work.

Playing with the handle of the sword

“I’d like to have you make a pendant.”
“I’m not very good at designing,” Nakata commented. But after giving it some thought, he wrote the letter “travel”. “I’ll go with this, since I’m traveling all the time these days.”
He starts shaping the silver metal for the pendant. A fret saw is used but it turns out to be quite difficult to handle. Nakata managed to cut out a round shape. The next step was to engrave the letter. With instruction from Okumura, a chisel is used.
“The lines are crooked. It’s really difficult.”
“That’s fine. You’re still on the road, and it will convey how you’ve been traveling.” Okumura encouraged Nakata.
“I’ve never been good at making things.” Nakata says. Mr Okumura shared a story with us.
“When I was in middle school, I used to make sword handles with my best friend. We would mold it from a real sword, and used to wrap lead around it to make a design around the handle. I remember one time we were stopped by a policeman when we were carrying it across our backs,” He laughs as he recalls the day.
The pendant top was ready. Okumura helped us finish it up and a one and only “Traveling” pendant top was accomplished.


Kiminori Okumura Silversmith Artisan
Kodaira-shi Tokyo