SETSUO TAKAIWA started his career as a sword polisher at the age of sixteen by apprenticing to Matsuo Fujishiro, who later became a Living National Treasure. He has won the Special Prize from the Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords, one of the highest honors in the field, more than ten times. In 1980, Takaiwa received the title of Superior Craftsman and was designated a Living Treasure of Katsushika Ward in 2000. He has polished swords in the collections of major museums around the world, including the British Museum, the Boston Museum, and the Tokyo National Museum. Ise Shrine, one of the oldest shrines in Japan, calls on him regularly to help maintain their huge collections of historic swords.