Nearly ten years in Japan…
If I would’ve known, I probably wouldn’t have done it in the first place! I wouldn’t do it twice, but I’m better off with the cultural heritage I now bear with an equal amount of pain and pride.
A book will be required to go through exactly what happened and how it affected me. There’s no way the story can be told simply through one or two articles. So bear with me.
At the end of spring of this year, my wife and I packed and shipped out two tons of equipment, clothes, dishes and other artifacts of the “civilized people”. Steel’s heavy, and the anvils and power hammers took most of the space and weight.
In 2000 my good friend and blacksmith Mathieu Collette founded Les Forges de Montréal, an NPO devoted to preserving and promoting the great classical blacksmithing traditions of this world. This is where I had taken Kiyota in 2006 to give a Japanese swordsmithing demonstration.
Last year Mathieu invited me to take over the organization in partnership with him in order to fully develop it into what it was intended to be, and at the same time have the right context for me to pursue my work and research with Japanese swordsmithing. I gladly accepted and found myself in a vortex of preparation and reorganization.
Now back in Montréal, Mat and I are working on the construction of our first tatara high-furnace based on Manabe’s model, while I plan the construction of my forge.
As practice time and skills (and money!) allow, I’m hoping to go to Japan in 2012 or 2013 to take the test and officially complete my apprenticeship according to Japanese law. Let’s see where life will lead us…
I will be trying to update the construction of my forge on the site.
A view of the french set-up at the Forges.