Monday, June 19, 2017

Samurai Snippers

Gifu cutlery firm’s samurai-sword scissors prove popular with tourists



The Japan Times  Kyodo

Samurai-sword scissors developed by a manufacturer in Gifu Prefecture are proving to be popular souvenirs for foreign tourists as well as schoolchildren.

Shaped like katana, these scissors by Nikken Cutlery Co. in Seki are decorated with details found on traditional swords used by such feudal-era figures as Oda Nobunaga, a 16th-century warlord, and Sakamoto Ryoma, who tried to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate in the 19th century.

The product idea was hatched in 2014 during an after-hours conversation at a coffee shop between Yuji Kumada, a 33-year-old senior official of Nikken Cutlery, and his two younger colleagues.

They were trying to come up with new, original product lines besides the company’s existing, mainstay cutlery products, such as office-use scissors and paper knives. “Wouldn’t it be cool if a scissors’ blades had a blade pattern like a Japanese sword?” one of them suggested.

The idea was well-suited with the company’s existing product designs because its scissors already have curved blades to increase their sharpness — a feature that resembles miniature swords.

The designers added a decorative handle like a sword hilt, a cutting blade like a sword blade and a case like a scabbard.

To date, 15 models have been sold, each just under 20 cm long and selling for about ¥2,000 to ¥3,000 ($18 to $27). A premium model with a lacquer-coated hilt fetches more than ¥10,000.

Since the product was launched in 2015, Nikken Cutlery has received an avalanche of orders from souvenir shops in Tokyo’s Asakusa and Akihabara districts, Kyoto and other locations on the back of an increasing number of foreign tourists to Japan.

Teens browsing the shop for souvenirs during school excursions are also picking them up, according to the company.

About 52,000 pairs have sold since the novelty scissors’ roll out two years ago. Sales have increased 10 percent since their release.

In February, Nikken Cutlery took to the internet and sought crowdfunding for developing a paper knife modeled after a sword used by Hijikata Toshizo, a 19th-century swordsman. The company managed to hit its ¥1 million target in just one day. “I would be happy if young people took an interest in us through cool stuff or fun undertakings,” Kumada said.
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Amazon.com has these for about $21.00. (Unless you want the fancy-schmancy Oda Nobunaga ones in a kiri-wood box for $93.00)

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