Last week I had a chance to visit an extraordinary place in the heart of Ginza that, although filled with silence, can tell you a thousand stories of victory, fortune, defeat, and abandonment. Welcome to Ginza Seiyudo (銀座誠友堂)―a quaint antique shop with a long tradition, specializing in Japanese katana (日本刀).
After arriving at the second floor of the Ginza Five Building (銀座ファイブ), right above Ginza Station (銀座駅) on the Marunouchi Line (丸ノ内線), I was quite surprised to find myself enveloped in the calmness of the myriad antique shops that set up shop there. It was a pleasant change from the bustling atmosphere of the busiest shopping venues of Tokyo. But it wasn’t until I entered Seiyudo that I really felt that the place was special.
The store greeted me with a purification basin (手水舎; temizuya)―the Japanese believe that a katana holds the soul of its owner, and with the concept of purification by water rooted deeply in the Japanese culture, it is only natural that it would be there in a place where so many swords are gathered.