Brazil's Last Samurai still Cultivates Sword Art

Edson Suemitsu considers himself the last descendant in Brazil to maintain the philosophy and tradition of the katana forge

Katna Baran
Curitiba

In the small backyard of a simple house in Curitiba, Edson Suemitsu fulfills what he describes as a life mission: the preservation of samurai culture. He considers himself the last descendant in Brazil to maintain the millennial philosophy and tradition of forging the katanas, swords of the soldiers of the Japanese feudal era.

Edson, 61, is the seventh generation of samurai on his mother and father's side, and he has devoted his entire life to improving the artform.

Edson Suemitsu, the Brazil's last samurai. ( Foto: Karime Xavier / Folhapress) - Folhapress

Making the object requires not only craft skills but also a spiritual connection with the ancestors. By tradition, the samurai is part of a noble lineage, which places honor above all but must cultivate it.

So, before entering the workshop, Edson performs a prayer ritual, asking his ancestors for permission in a small Japanese-style temple he built at the front door.

Edson has as admiring clients of Japanese culture in search of exclusive pieces and the protective energy of katana.

Among them are current ministers, such as Science and Technology, Marcos Pontes, and Health, Luiz Henrique Mandetta.

The craft risks disappearing from the country since Edson does not intend to pass on the tradition. "It's not selfishness; it's just my mission. You have to have a knack for it," he says. He has a son who, he says, has no tact for the job. "Today's generation is different, born with mobile in hand."

Edson has never been to Japan, a country he hopes to visit. Already the heart, in war or the World Cups, is Brazilian. "I'm Brazilian, but my blood is Japanese."

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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