Swordsmiths pray for safety in New Year ritual

Swordsmiths have prayed for safety amid the coronavirus pandemic in Japan's northern prefecture of Hokkaido.

They performed the traditional ritual on Monday at the Japan Steel Works M&E's plant. The workshop has been producing swords for more than 100 years.

Two swordsmiths forged a metal plate by hammering steel heated to around 1,000 degrees Celsius. Then, they put the plate on a Shinto altar and prayed for safety. The plate will be melted down and used to make swords during the year.

Swordsmith Sasaki Taneshige said he will produce swords this year, hoping that they are able to cut through hard times as the coronavirus pandemic continues.