Samurai Bling

Fine Japanese Swords, Metalwork & Fittings

Samurai Bling: Fine Japanese Swords, Metalwork, and Fittings
February 5, 2018 Robyn Buntin of Honolulu

Sword Polishing Demonstrations

For the duration of the show, Woodrow Hall will be using the Gallery just like his workshop, and will be polishing blades.  He will be working throughout the show on a blade by 2nd generation Kunisuke (2dai Kunisuke), a sword from Tusha’s collection.  Kunisuke was an Osaka artist, where the merchant class was strong.  Since the blade was made for a merchant, it is smaller in size than a katana length (only Samurai were allowed to wear katana)

MondayWednesday and Friday  11am-3pm

Saturdays  2pm-3pm

Talks & Workshops

All events are free and open to the public!  Reservations are not required but RSVPs are appreciated.

 Saturday Feb. 24th


12:30pm-1pm Welcome & Introduction

1pm-2pm Discussion and showing of the basics of a Japanese sword and its parts, by Robert Benson.  Followed by a talk of Gassan School with examples of Gassan Sadakatsu the Meiji genius swordsmith.

Saturday March 3rd


1pm-2pm  Talk on samurai culture, tools and accoutrements.  How samurai regarded these special accessories; how they were used as well as how they expressed the samurai’s ideas and ideals, by Tusha Buntin.
2pm-3pm  Sword polishing demonstration by Woodrow Hall.

Saturday March 10th


1pm-2pm Viewing and discussion on metal fittings and types – Machibori (town craftsmen), Kachushi (armor makers) and the metal craftsmen and artists, by Robert Benson.
2pm-3pm  Sword polishing demonstration by Woodrow Hall

Saturday March 17th


1pm-1:30pm  Discussion and showing of other Samurai paraphernalia and how they reflected samurai ideas and ideals.
Modern adaptations and uses of samurai metalworks, by Tusha Buntin.
1:30-2pm  Discussion of sword polishing, maintenance of the sword and metal fittings, and their proper display and handling by Robert Benson
2pm-3pm  Sword polishing demonstration by Woodrow Hall

February 22nd to March 22, 2018

A samurai’s most prized possession was his sword, imbued with its own spirit from the gods. The warrior class of Japan evolved to become a highly refined culture and formed a unique style of adornment for their katana.  Iron, gold, silver and shakudo were used to create a form of jewelry just for samurai. Tsuba (swordguard), fuchi kashira (pommel end), and menuki (sword handle ornaments) were some of the elements that allowed samurai to show their sophistication and their bling!

Join us for the exhibition and don’t miss the many demonstrations, talks, and workshops!

Print out the details of the Samurai Bling exhibition and its events.

Honolulu’s Own Experts of Japanese Swords

We’re proud to work with our friends and world-renowned experts on Japanese swords, Bushido Antiques.  One of only a handful of sword polishers and scholars outside of Japan with formal training and decades of experience, Mr. Robert Benson and his apprentice Woodrow Hall will be holding several workshops and demonstrations during the exhibition.  Since Mr. Benson no longer has a retail gallery, this is a rare chance to see him at his craft and to have hands-on learning and appreciation of these rare swords and their adornments.

Beginner’s Guide to Swords

  • How to Handle & Clean Japanese Swords
    This free overview of how to handle Japanese swords with the appropriate safety precautions and correct etiquette will give you the fundamentals to sword appreciation and sharing the experience with other sword enthusiasts.
  • The Samurai Sword: A Handbook by John Yumoto
    This book will  give you a perfect start to learning sword terminology and the basics of what to look for when collecting swords.

Robert Benson is one of a small number of American experts on Japanese sword polishing. He studied sword polishing and appraisal under three top teachers, including Koke Ono, a “living treasure” in Japan and at that time was head sword polisher for the National Museum in Tokyo.

In 1967, Mr. Benson polished a naginata and entered the annual polishing competition sponsored by Nippon Bijitsu Token Hozon Kyokai ( The Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords). His sword took the Dorokusho, (Diligent Endeavor Award), an honor never before granted to a foreigner. The Japanese recognized him as being the first non-Japanese to have studied sword polishing and first non-Japanese to have been honored by the National Museum with a certificate recognizing him as a polisher of distinction. Since then, he has been restoring swords for both Japanese and American collectors. Since retiring from the Air Force in 1977, he has continued his studies of the Nihonto full time.
Member:  Japanese Sword Society of the United States (JSSUS), Nippon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai (NBTHK) since 1967, founding member & advisor to the American Branch of the NBTHK

Woodrow Hall spent years as a clerk to Robert Benson before becoming an official apprentice.  Years of hands-on experience and kodogu as well as daily study of polishing and repairs allowed him to easily handle the task of kanji removal and repair of yasurime.  In the 57th NBTHK Japanese Sword Polishing Contest  (2004) Woody was awarded the Dorokusho (Diligent Endeavor Award) and has been perfecting his skills as a polisher ever since.

Kendo: The Principles of the Sword

featuring Tusha Buntin, produced by Hawaiian Airlines 2017