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#166627 What's All This Then?

Posted by Brian on 01 January 2015 - 08:14 PM

Welcome to the newest incarnation of the Nihonto Message Board.

First things first.....Don't Panic!

It all looks confusing, but trust me you will be fine. Most of it is fairly logical and easy to navigate, so don't stress.


I have taken this opportunity to explain a few things though, and to make the transition as simple as possible.

This software has some huge improvements over the last one, and there are a ton of things that we will get the benefit of over the coming months. Already there are  alot of nice features, but this is just scratching the surface.


Posting is fairly easy, as is navigating. You might find it a little slower. Please bear with us, as we are going to have to upgrade hosting to gain some resources.


Here is a list of some of the nice new features:


  • Calendar - There is a nice new community calendar. You can check all the upcoming events there. You can also add events, but they will need to be moderated before showing. This will be of great use, and I encourage everyone to add events or let us know what to add.
  • All your old links are still there, nicely formatted along the top. Research leads to the main ones. FAQ is a work in progress, that we will add to as we publish more articles.
  • Adding attachments is now even easier. When posting, you will see how to do it. There are 2 systems of uploading. See which suits you. As before, upload the attachments, and only then submit the post. We now have nice thumbnails that can be clicked on to size the photos, making for larger size limits.
  • When reading a post, you will now find a quick reply box at the end of the thread. Much easier when replying. While doing that, if you should need to attach something, you need to click the box marked MORE REPLY OPTIONS. This will open a more advanced posting box, where you can upload your attachments.
    Modern forums don't allow for regular cut and paste for security reasons. However if you have cut something and want to paste it, you can find the paste options at the top right of the posting box. Or even easier....just use CTRL V to paste the text. Easy ;-)
  • Go to your profile. You will find a ton of features there, including adding friends, changing ignore settings, viewing your attachments and other settings. You can update your status too.
  • Please note, there are a ton of preferences that are worth setting there. Please click on your name, and go to settings, then notification options.
    You are going to want to go through all of them, and see what notifications you want sent to you every time something happens. Either emailed notifications or inline ones (like when you receive a pm)
  • All posts now have a "like" feature and the number of posts that have been liked appears in your profile.
  • There is a new and strict automated warning system. This is something much needed, and will take away some of the personal feelings involved in penalties. Different offenses have points allocated to them. Mostly one point, for things like spamming, excessive self-promotion, rudeness, abusive behavior and others. These warnings are given by mods and admin, and once you have a few points, there are automatic penalties. 2 Points and you cannot post for an hour. 3 Points and you cannot post for a day. More points lead to suspension of accounts for a week, a month, or permanently.
    Of course points also expire...so better behavior gets you back to zero points again. They usually expire in 30 days.
    This system will be modified as we go along, but it will be enforced.
  • Where is the "preview topic" or "go to last post"?
    Don't worry. They are still there, only in a different format. When you go into a section like General Nihonto Discussion, look just to the left of the number of replies/views. There is a little arrow there. Click on it for a preview of the first and last post. You can also click first or last and go to that post. Fancy!
  • TAGS - these are nifty little tags that you can add when you post, that will allow you to find more topics with the same subject later on. There is a set list of tags you can use. I can add more if needed. So if your post is about restoring a wakizashi...then you can add the tages "wakizashi" and "restoration" and it will immediately give an idea of what the topic is about, and you can search for similar topics.
    I am going to enforce using the eBay tag for posts about eBay.
  • Adding media is now much easier. Just paste a picture or Youtube link or whatever, and it does all the hard work for you!
  • Ok...so all the topics are now showing as unread from the last forum. No problem. Just go to the bottom of the forum, and click on "mark Community Read"and then choose all posts, or everything on the forum.
  • While there, click on "Help" to get better advice than I can remember to type here.
  • Hover over someone's name to get a popup profile for them. You can send them a pm directly from there.
  • On the topic of PM's. The messenger is now far better in that it is "conversation based" and not just a bunch of individual messages. This allows you to follow a conversation. And even better, you can add other people into the pm conversation. Just check the options to the left when in messenger.
    You can store about 150 messages before you need to start clearing some out. Remember to delete old ones if not needed.
  • CHAT. Yes..we now have a live chat, allowing up to 25 people. Only way to explain it is to say try it out. Middle click CHAT to open in a new window full screen. Then chat away. I don't have to warn anyone about behavior there do I? The usual rules apply. You can tell how many people are in the chat from the main forum page. Bit slow for now..we will work on that. Can be a very handy feature.
  • Bottom left of the forum, you can change themes. I find the default to be the best, but will add others for those who want a different style/color theme.
    Also, this forum has a great look when browsed by cellphone. Those using cell more and more should find this far superior.

More to be added as I go along. Enjoy, and use the Test forum for that purpose or to chat about the new look.


Have fun!



  • Thierry BERNARD, Jean, uwe and 22 others like this

#244941 Katchushi: An Amazing Journey

Posted by DaveT on 30 November 2017 - 12:38 PM

I've been working as an armour restorer since the early 1980's and committing to a full-time venture since 2011. During that time I have been professionally trained in the art of urushi by Kitagawa sensei of the Kyoto Prefectural University. However, the art of armour has been a self-taught process where I have deconstructed armours over the years in order to replicate the process. My business is good, I have a number of years of pre-bookings ahead and a proven track record by my client base. But I have never studied being a Katchushi in Japan.

This year I took it upon myself to throw myself into the deep end. I begged and ask favours from my friends to gain an audience with today's leading Katchushi masters. Scheduled around this years DTI I was able to visit each Katchushi on my list. There is a little bit of rivalry between the masters, however, I managed to steer free of any politics. My plan was a simple one, I had prepared a portfolio of my work to present and then take the critic onboard.

My first meeting was with Ogawa Sensei. Ogawa had just overcome a serious health problem that now prevents him from using traditional urushi. Ogawa looks like a true samurai, his hair tied into a bun with a beard and traditional Japanese shokunin clothing. Despite not being able to work with urushi his metal work was the best I'd seen during my entire visit. He crafts complete suits of armour and recently completed a copy of a famous KATO dou for a local museum. Ogawa introduced me to his workshop and showed me his tools and formers for creating armour. Chris Glenn was also in attendance and is the deshi of Ogawa, he has been a student for over 15 years. Ogawa gave me some fantastic tips and showed me a technique that only 3 people know in Japan.


My next meeting was with Toyoda Sensei. Toyoda subject is old armours, I must say that I was totally overwhelmed with this mans knowledge. He studies ancient texts in classical Japanese, he is the go-to guy for any archaeological finds. Toyoda is a very valued and skilled katchushi, I think I would be right in saying that he is one of a kind. I was invited to his workshop where he showed me three O-yoroi that he had been working on for 28 years. He has handcrafted the entire armours as 1:1 replicas of the originals. His commitment to detail and tradition is unparalleled as he even weaves the odoshi on his fingers. I spent many hours with Toyoda Sensei, we talked about the manufacture and reproduction of traditionally printed egawa and how the templates were made together with how rawhide is used in armour construction. The information received was most valued. 

After Toyoda I visited Nishioka Sensei who in the west is certainly the most well known. Nishioka runs the most commercial workshop with four full-time deshi working away on clients armours. I didn't have much time with him as he is extremely busy, however, he did take time out to tell me the secrets to making kirisuke from kokuso, dyeing techniques and he spent one-hour one-on-one correcting a lacing technique that has eluded me for years.

My final visit was to Katchushi Andy Mancabelli. Andy has been the deshi of Miura Sensei, who is a true master of masters. I visited Andys new workshop where we talked shop and examined armour all day. Andy has a splendid workshop and store, it's really impressive. We actually had some differnces a few years ago, but we overcame them and I'm happy to now call him a friend.

Well, the outcome. Being self-taught. I'm happy to say that nothing negative came from this. In some cases I witnessed complete amazement, in others, I was told that my restoration standard is equal to that in Japan. I can confidently say that I will stand my restorations against anyone outside of Japan.

The Katchushi were amazing, they have extended a friendship and warmth that has really touched my heart. Introducing me to their workshops, sharing trade secrets, offering continual guidance has frankly exceeded my expectations. I owe these people complete gratitude and remain humbled by their kindness and honesty. 

I have been invited to return and study armour making in more detail spending a few months each year in Japan. My restorations are pretty much at the standard they need to be, but in order to be a real katchushi, I need to be able to make complete suits of armour. That now is where my focus is, I really can't wait to get back there and hammer metal.

Now some oddities:

I managed to have tea with Mr Tokugawa Iehiro
Sit in the favourite chair of the late katchushi Myochin 
Muneyuki at a local Sushi Cafe.
Be included in a Japanese TV programme about my visit with Tokyo TV



Finally, at the DTI I met with a lot of dealers. I learned a new word "
Sugoi" or wow, super! They were very pleased and surprised with my standard and speed.
I have now been appointed the preferred restorer for two of Japans leading armour sellers. 

So a dream come true Ive met the masters and can return and further my study, I had my standard validated by the most qualified katchushi on the planet and bagged a restoration contract with Japanese dealers. 

  • Brian, Henry Wilson, Jean and 19 others like this

#237748 Do Not Respond To Private Offers Of Swords Unless You Know The Person

Posted by Brian on 06 September 2017 - 06:55 PM

New members joining and immediately sending offers of swords to people via pm.
Do NOT fall for it folks.
Please let me know if you get any suspicious offers from unverified members. Ask them to prove their location or give you known Nihonto community members who can vouch for them.
And DON'T trust email addresses that seem to be known. They can have an extra digit or something making them seem like a known email.

Today we have someone new with the above activity.
I am looking into it. IP address seems to go back to Nigeria, so not looking good. But please always be aware.
I'll be taking this all the way to his ISP....South Africans know how to deal with Nigerian 419 scammers ;-)

  • paulb, Stephen, Jean and 18 others like this

#180797 What Is Happening To Nihonto Message Board?

Posted by Brian on 05 September 2015 - 09:36 AM

If I had to censor a word here, it would be "elitist"

Lots of people have left various online forums and activities due to being labelled elitist. No such thing here. Doing things the proper way, having the required respect, and not compromising the way things are supposed to be done is not elitist. It is just what some are prepared to do, to maintain the high levels this subject requires.

I'm not going to go into that further, it has been covered in depth. Many of the long (longest) time members here don't have big collection, major works in their collections, or sometimes barely enough to cover monthly expenses. I could name them, but they know who they are (myself included) but still stick around giving advice and showing the proper way to do things.

I suppose the elitists are the ones who, I have been told, regard forums as beneath them, and online study as a waste of time. They find the effort of educating others to be too taxing and the fact that people don't bow down before them to be disturbing. We don't have them here. Some have made brief appearances and then found it too much effort. Others want things their way or no way.

The fact is that people come and go. Some take 1 month and some take 10 years. Show me an online forum with most of the founding members 10 years later?

Peter, NMB doesn't need to be saved. As long as there are those with some knowledge to pass on, who are prepared to stick around and persevere, it will save itself.

It is frustrating, I know. Beginners pop in, last a few months, and then move on. But a few stick around. Some of them will still be here in 5 years as dedicated collectors.

It is hard...trust me I know. But to ask if this can be saved just requires me to ask one question: "I don't know....are you prepared to help save it?"

  • Guido Schiller, Henry Wilson, paulb and 18 others like this

#238177 Buy High Sell Low; Items For Sale

Posted by seattle1 on 11 September 2017 - 11:05 PM


 Another interesting thread, one where my position since its initial airing in the 1972 Dallas show and NBTHK shinsa, was made fairly clear through my essay published then, with the title "On Investing in Japanese Swords" in The Book of the Sword. The argument was laid out in fairly straight forward Econ. 101 terms that one should never expect to make an "investment" return on such storable tangibles as Japanese swords, which offer neither a monetary dividend or interest, in comparison with financial assets of the same  risk (!).  The argument was general and over a large population, and individual exceptions would be exceptions which might weaken the thesis, but not destroy it. The position was theoretical and not empirical, and the latter still generally awaits in the field of all arts.

 Anyway, since then what has impressed me is how much more "perfect," in the economic sense, the Japanese sword market has become. Many factors have contributed to that and the two biggest forces have probably been the widespread translation of some of the goldmine of Japanese language knowledge into Western languages, by facilitators like Harry Watson and Markus Sesko, but others as well, who can claim a real and lasting impact through their skills. The second dramatic change over time has been the internet. The impact of those events have come close, only close, to wiping out the huge market advantage once held by folks "in the know," a tiny percentage who knew price differentials East and West, sources of supply, who the deep pocket buyers were, etc., etc. These days the price for a narrowly defined representative sword, representing almost any period, school, smith level, etc., is virtually the same anywhere in the world net of taxes and transportation costs including "red tape."

 If a sword is bought today, given all the information out there and a reasonable bargaining skill balance between seller and buyer, it is likely that the price will be closer to a realistic market price than ever before. If the buyer thinks of the acquisition as something to profit from, that likelihood would be quite dependent of the time lag after purchase. To expect to buy for x dollars today and sell, for example x plus 10 % in the very near future would seem unrealistic to me, given the increasingly equal knowledge held by most prospective buyers. With the passage of time, which would allow primarily for changing tastes, that sword bought for x dollars might appreciate or depreciate in the view of prospective buyers and thus generate a gain, but perhaps a loss with equal likelihood. Once a substantial length of time between buying and selling one's "investment" has occurred it should be no surprise that the nominal selling price the owner gets might generally be expected to be higher than what he initially paid ,and that of course would be on account of the destruction of purchasing power of the dollar - we are abstracting from currency valuation issues of course - brought about by inflation. The seller might easily have sold for a higher nominal price with the same purchasing power value of cost of the item five or ten years earlier. Economists call that the money illusion and it is an endless slight of hand that makes us think we are better off when we are not.

 I think that as collectors we get a sort of psychic income from the pleasure of ownership and that is the compensation for a lower expected dollar return on a storable tangible like a Japanese sword in comparison with a higher dollar return demanded by the owner of a financial asset yielding a dividend or interest payment. Midas might differ on that view, but for most of us enjoying the beauty of a wonderful sword just has to trump counting up one's shares held by some brokerage.

 To digress on just one more point, I am not at all sure that the collecting community is shrinking. I think we should be optimistic about an interest in Japanese swords spreading to cultures and countries well beyond the usual site of Western buyers in North America and Europe, and further in our new electronic world physical presence in a person to person group is less pressing than it was decades ago. Finally it seems to me, perhaps Brian can confirm this, that new folks are posting here all the time with questions, seeking information and expressing their own interest in the Japanese sword and things that go with it. I feel strongly that while those folks might not stick around or become collectors, and most have a knowledge deficit position at the moment, they ought to be welcomed and treated with courtesy to the best of our collective ability.

 Arnold F.

  • Stephen, b.hennick, Jussi Ekholm and 16 others like this

#220678 Nanbokucho Sugata

Posted by Darcy on 10 February 2017 - 07:18 AM

Going to be listing this soon. I thought it makes for a good idea of how brutal some of these Nanbokucho swords were in comparison to the period beforehand. This is attributed to Hasebe, and the comparison sword is a Juyo Token Rai Kunitoshi. It's wider at the yokote (3.2cm) than most swords are at the machi. Kissaki is just shy of 8cm.


It looks like lunchtime.



  • paulb, Jean, Carlo Giuseppe Tacchini and 16 others like this

#254384 Gaijin Katchushi On Japanese Tv

Posted by DaveT on 15 March 2018 - 06:41 PM

I had the pleasure of working with Osaka TV today. The crew has flown to the UK to make a short program about the English Katchushi who makes his own odoshi and works for Japanese dealers. There was a lot to film and we covered the difference between sengoku and edo period armours, also the changes that took place in manufacturing after the teppo was introduced to the battlefield. We spent some time filming the process of making odoshi-ito and then a section on armour making and urushi.
I managed to get the message across that there is an obligation for a katchushi to restorer armour to the best of his/her ability and that such work preserves katchu for future generations. A sense of giri which is extended to the former samurai owners.

I felt this was an eye opener for the Japanese when they saw 30 armours they freaked out. We are certainly letting them know that there is a lot going on in the west. I was naughty and put some katchu "easter eggs" in should you be able to spot them.




  • Ed, Henry Wilson, paulb and 15 others like this

#188937 Acid-Etched Sashikomi?

Posted by kunitaro on 17 December 2015 - 11:56 AM

Using acid for polishing Japanese sword is not good for preservation as we know.

You can not really see it (especially with good polish) but, it will damage the steel in a long term.
But, In fact, it is very popular today. we can find a lot of discussion about modern polishing techniques in Japanese article and forum sites. some are very hard discussion (include some of master polisher's names...). some said the acid and machine polish is the main stream in modern polish. it is not only cheap polish, high ranking (or mukansa) polishers are also doing it. 
We can see some Japanese polisher complains on "Facebook Time line" page or own website about (acid) rust/polish.
Our polishing workshop also often receive such blades as well. 
They looks like normal rust, but the rust (mainly dot shape) by acid is very deep that could not polish off. sometime we had to return without polish.
and our master polisher Mr.Eto said that he sees more stronger acid treated blades in the market today, he doesn't know what....

The history of Acid polish (modern sashikomi?)  was established in WW2 time.
They were doing Kanahada nugui to make Ji dark and use acid to make Ha white. 
that is why we used to call such polish "Gunto-togi". mr.Eto is still calling them "Gunto-togi".
He is saying that many swords will not survive next 100 years.

in middle of 1980', Mr.Eto was requested sending a polisher to France.
He sent one of his student and he lived in Paris for 3-4 years.
When he start to live and polishing swords in France, he told his master Mr.Eto that the most of clients were ordering acid (Gunto) polish. 
Mr.Eto told him not to do it. but, If he doesn't do it, he has no job, so he was doing it.
When people in the west start to see and collect Japanese swords was after WW2 and 60'.
so, those polishing style became kind of standard of Japanese sword polishing said mr.Eto.
When I came to the Netherlands and jointed NL Tokenkai in 1995.
I saw many acid polished blades in their collection.
I understand why it is so popular, because, you can see clearly activities of Hamon and damascus style of Ji-hada that make looks wild and fancy.
but, those are not what we should see. you will miss real actives and beauty of old steel.

Modern Polish with Kanahada-nugui and Hadori polish is called "Kesho-togi" after Hon-ami Ringa established in Meiji period.
the name "Kesho" is meaning of "(cosmetically) make up", so, some people says "I don't like too much make up on lady's face. so are swords. but, we don't want to see acid on lady's face...
I had some NMB member who were asking Modern sashikomi polish,
so, I tried to explain the fact, but, he didn't want to listen or think about it. Every time I try to tell him, he keep changing subject or run away from the conversation.
and he sent me a copy of some book of Japanese sword polishing.
"Because it wont state they use acid in the book"
"I am curious about the polishing process but i have nothing to win or lose regardless of what methods the polishers use.
Just interesting information."
said him.
That was the last word I hear from him.
Mr.Eto told me that it doesn't help if I try to tell people.
If I(we) don't do acid polish, people will go to someone who does it. and the polisher doesn't need to tell their clients how they do polish, they don't need to tell their secrets. the craftsmen does work how their clients wants. They have to earn money to live.... 
Many swords won't survive next 100 years. 
When the level of collector's eyes/demand goes down, the quality of craftsman's work also goes down.
If the owner of the sword wish high quality work and if he has eyes, the craftsman must work with his level, unless he doesn't get a job.
Judging/choosing by own liking without knowledge and understanding or just following market principle are very dangerous.
This kind of mentality will destroy Japanese sword in the future. 
Putting tomato ketchup on Italian dishes or mayonnaise in sushi and say "Because I like it" is fine. but, acid on sword is not okay.
I can not explain too much details on public, because it might harm someone's business, but, I am trying to explain to our clients with private mail.
The sword has long life but it is only with proper care by people.

  • Mark C, pcfarrar, paulb and 15 others like this

#223371 Vale Laurie Allen - Arrowhead Collector

Posted by Bazza on 17 March 2017 - 01:48 PM

Laurie Allen died on Thursday 15th December 2016 at 76 years of age in Sydney, Australia.  Laurie was a devoted student and collector of Japanese Arms and Armour.  He was known to many around the world by correspondence, but not on NMB because he was only, in his old age, just coming into the world of the computer and internet helped by one of his savvy grandsons.  I did my best to keep him up to date with arrowhead happenings on NMB.


Laurie was a widely liked and respected collector in Australia for his great knowledge and friendly and generous manner.  At a gathering he could be relied upon to come up with a pearl of wisdom unknown to others.  He was a great general conversationalist with a great sense of humour as well and our meetings were liberally lubricated with beer, wine and good food.  For all these and more reasons I did not want to see him slip into obscurity, so here I am to shine a light on our dear mate and share his accomplishments with you all.  The photo below left shows his ready smile, the Laurie we all remember, and the other his obvious pride in being a grandparent.


A younger Laurie.jpg    'Pop' Laurie.jpg


The photo below shows Laurie late last year, enjoying himself at an art show with a beer in his hand.


A more recent Laurie.jpg


Laurie started collecting around 1964 and I got in contact with him shortly after, even though we lived some 650 miles apart.  We have been firm friends for just over 50 years, visiting each other through the years and meeting with other collectors in our home bases.  I’ll let him tell his own story as it was in December 1972 - see attachments from the To-ken Society of Great Britain “Programme”.


Over the years Laurie had many good pieces of tosogu and Nihontô, numbers of which were sold as business exigencies arose.  I was fortunate to be able to acquire some of these and in turn pass them on as my own finances became stressed!  The time came when nearly everything was sold and Laurie offered me a karimata yanone by the Shinshintô Satsuma sword smith MOTOYASU, MOTOHIRA’s brother.  I was enjoying this piece when Laurie asked if I would send it back to him as he had decided to collect yanone.  That was the beginning of an odyssey that occupied Laurie for the next 30 years or more.  At its peak his collection comprised around 300 yanone, while at his untimely death he had some 40 yanone.  Sadly, as was always the case, better pieces had been sold to keep his business afloat.


Laurie had a voluminous correspondence with people all over the world.  In the United States Dr Charles E. Grayson, George Vitt, and Paul Goodman, whose collection was sold at Bonhams’ a couple of years or so ago.  He had a correspondent Mr G van Brug in the Netherlands and in Japan a Professor with an interest in archery.  He was a corresponding member of the Society of Archer-Antiquaries in Great Britain from Volume 1, No. 1 of its Journal.  He was also well aware of some of the great early collections – Morton L. Smith, and the James Goodspeed collection, the latter once described as “...the finest private Japanese arrowhead collection in the Western world.”


A great concern of Laurie’s was the poor condition of many of the arrowheads he encountered.  He approached a polisher in Japan who polished an arrowhead Laurie had in the form of a miniature magari yari, but declined to do any more.  From his knowledge and experience Laurie understood there were no shortcuts when it came to polish.  However, to “see” his arrowheads better he devised his own techniques through his understanding of sword polishing.  He was rewarded with success when hada, hamon and yakiba could be clearly seen.  A visiting professional polisher from Japan on seeing Laurie’s work expressed surprise and complimented Laurie on his achievement.  The picture below shows one of his successes among many.


Motonao yanone closeup.jpg


Unable to buy traditional racks to display his arrowheads, Laurie designed one and had a retired cabinet maker turn them out.  Thus in his last years Laurie could sit in his lounge room watching television and seeing three racks of arrowheads on his entertainment unit.  Here are photos of those.


LH rack.jpg


Centre rack.jpg


RH rack.jpg


He also had the retired cabinet maker turn out custom boxes in Japanese oak for his better arrowheads - there were a lot of boxes!!!


Laurie had other strings to his bow...  He developed an interest in kabura-ya, Whistling Arrowheads.  From research and drawings he made a few of these and fitted them to shafts.  He also had a strong interest in Sôhei, the Warrior Monks of Old Japan, and undertook research into their history.  His remaining passion that I can recall was the Mongol invasions of Japan.  On one trip to Japan he made a point of visiting Hakata Bay just to behold the wall the Samurai built to forestall the Second Invasion of 1281.  A favourite possession was a diptych of one of the invasions with Samurai fighting the Mongol warriors.


Our good mate Laurie is sadly missed by all.  A bright note is that his entire collection was bought from his family by a good and worthy friend in collecting.


Barry Thomas

aka BaZZa.


Laurie's TSGB letter page 1 of 2.jpg


Laurie's TSGB letter page 2 of 2.jpg

  • paulb, Stephen, Jean and 14 others like this

#247772 In Memoriam

Posted by Jean on 02 January 2018 - 02:16 PM

At the beginning of this new year, I’d like to initiate this post in Memory of members who are still vivid in our mind though they passed away, this is a credit to what they brought to us by freely sharing their knowledge:

Thierry Bernard
  • paulb, Stephen, Carlo Giuseppe Tacchini and 13 others like this

#240617 Its About Time

Posted by Stephen on 11 October 2017 - 12:31 AM

something works out.


After buying each item piecemeal (except sword in saya n seppa)  they came together quite well i think. Not going with black same* now but staying with the dark green ito. Nice to eyeball items and have them fit as planned.


20171010_120512.jpg 20731506_10210817228882656_1534601209_n.png


to be added to saya




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  • Guido Schiller, paulb, Jean and 13 others like this

#193015 Thanks For Making The Effort And Sharing

Posted by b.hennick on 07 February 2016 - 07:26 PM

I was reading the thread

"A Very Strange Tsuba!"


and did not want to hijack that thread. It occurred to me that we are indeed lucky to be in a community that shares so much. 

Many times members here take the time to go through their resources to find an answer to a question. The breadth of people who help is wonderful. Take the opportunity to offer thanks to those who contribute so much in a positive way to further learning. I am going to suggest the you take an opportunity to make the Year of the Monkey a year of thanks. So I will start and hope that you add a personal thank you to someone(s) who helped you.

Thank you Brian, John and Jean for keeping this place on track and offering so much of your time and effort to make this a happy place of learning.

Thank you Darcy and Ford for the thoughtful, often inspiring posts that bring your wealth of knowledge to us.

Thank you Guido, Pete Klein and Curran who all contribute in positive ways to move things along. Each of you brighten my day frequently with just the right comment at the right time. 

Thank you to Stephen (Oyabun) and Steve who both help so often that I think that this place may be the S and S help line.

Thank you to Morita san and Moriyama san who read things that just seem impossible for the rest of us. Your patience and efforts are so so appreciated. 

Thank you to those who take the time to welcome new members and answer their questions even when you have answered the same question numerous times before. 


I expect the forum to be a little more mischievous in the New Year (Monkeys do that) but I'm sure that the admins will keep this the happy place that I enjoy visiting daily. Please add to my list of thank yous. 



#257135 Rjt Showato?

Posted by george trotter on 20 April 2018 - 10:38 AM

Interesting discussion. I have little to add but maybe it will be of value to just recount my knowledge of RJT smiths and stamps and showato etc. I am not the guru, but have had 40 odd years of interest in RJT and even abandoned koto-shinto-shinshinto for them alone.


1.  About RJT rules. I suggest everyone read the translation of the rules and regulations that RJT smiths had to obey (Brian has it listed in the "interesting PDF's" section at the top of the index). In this you will see how strict the RJT scheme was on the smiths. You will see that everything was covered with a rule and that ANY left-over, rejected or broken/condemned tamahagane MUST be returned to the authorities. It does not specify anything about showato or using "some" tamahagane for other production. Because there is no mention of any showato process it is hard to imagine where the theory comes from.


2. About showato, I think it safe to say some competent gendai tosho made them...but I would say pretty definitely not as part of the RJT scheme. I personally have not seen a showato with a known RJT smith's mei on it.

The only written evidence I have of this happening is from a list of 44 tosho who were members of the Northern Japan Swordforging Union. This was run by Kasama Shigetsugu and member smiths (including RJT smiths) in the northern prefectures above Tokyo sent their swords to his warehouse in Tokyo and he mounted and marketed them to military officers...I can't say if they put any in-house stamp on them during this preparation process.  A note in the margin of this list states that 2 or 3 members also made showato. From my own research in Japanese books I would say that these 2 or 3 "dual" tosho were BABA Tsugukiyo (RJT), YAMAMURA Sukeyuki (RJT?), and YANAGAWA Shoshin (Ushoshin) (RJT?) (Special Ranks - Betseki), but I would be surprised if any used any portion of the government supplied tamahagane or pine charcoal allotments to do this as the rules are so strict. For any given portion of tamahagane/charcoal supplied, the smith had to produce a required number of swords and return any left over material....another point is that if they did use RJT material would the sword be gendaito or showato? .  


3. About stamps. This list includes the 2 Yamagami brothers, Akihisa and Munetoshi, of Niigata. Both were RJT and both also made private order gendaito. They (a) used tang "production?" numbers from 1941; the (B) star stamp with numbers from c.1942 and © also the "matsu in a circle" stamp with numbers from 1942 and (d) the combination of matsu/numbers/star is also found together.

It is my opinion that the matsu stamp and number system was strictly that of the Yamagami brothers and as they worked together, these numbers "overlap" each other's tangs. I think the number system changed by 1944 when the more common RJT system of a katakana prefixed number appears. I think this may have been imposed by the RJT authorities and this style appears on many RJT produced tangs. I must say I can't remember seeing this numbering on any Seki Nakata Kanehide RJT tang however, so maybe not all RJT smiths had to use them. Kanehide does have katakana prefixed and also alphabet prefixed numbers (prob. assy. numbers) on his tangs but always painted. Whether bunches of numbers were allotted to only certain RJT smiths or they were a local "code" system I don't know.


4. About the "other than star stamps" seen on RJT tangs, I think it is, as mentioned by members above, simply an inspection/acceptance mark, but seems limited to the major arsenal sites. Other than the Yamagami brothers' matsu stamp, other "rural" RJT smiths seem to have nothing more than a star and tang number and sometimes not even the number...I suppose this shows they were mounted/distributed through facilities other than the major Army facilities, probably private distributors. I have seen Seki Nakata Kanehide blades with star stamp only, star stamp with 1 or 2 tiny "Seki"  stamps and also one tang with tiny "na" stamps (sometimes on the mune and also on the date side). I think this simply denotes which "arsenal facility" the blades were dealt with / mounted through.  It has also been seen that other RJT smiths have been seen with stamps such as "ko" (Muto Hidehiro - Kokura), 


So, although we never say never with nihonto, I think the stamps are perfectly legitimate and should not disturb collectors. The idea that they denote "part showato" is IMO incorrect and the idea that "part-showato" RJT blades are around is also 99.9999% (IMO) unlikely.

I will say however that I have seen a very good quality looking choji hamon blade by Kanehide in his usual metal scabbard Type Contingency Standard mounts that while correctly signed and dated by him had no star stamp or tiny stamps on the tang. A careful inspection showed that this magnificent sword has a very fine ha-giri in the choji. It is this that explains the lack of acceptance of this blade to the RJT scheme and thus...no stamps. The blade was permitted however to be sold into the military. This blade alone kind of confirms how strict the RJT inspection standards were and so it is unlikely that "part-showato" swords would get through the system and get a star stamp or any other stamp.


Hope this helps,



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#229179 Kanemoto "daisho"

Posted by FletchSan on 25 May 2017 - 02:22 PM

Ok, not technically a Daisho I know - though they do look good together ;)

The katana may be 3rd gen and signed & dated 1557 and the wakizashi also signed and is probably 4th gen. Both are papered and new additions to my collection.





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#214541 Nihonto Market Trends

Posted by Darcy on 20 November 2016 - 05:23 PM

Note...typos. On the iPad and fly in a few hours and can't fix them all....


I don't see high end as $10k ... and top end is not $50k.

There are guys who only collect Tokuju and are always in a $100k plus mode. There are guys who only collect ubu koto blades. In Japan some are pursuing jubi and jubun and if you want to sell to them they want your blade to sit well with these or kokuho. Even some people when I was selling the mitsutada were saying well I want one that is signed and flamboyant -- if this existed it would need to be in a new level above kokuho.

Part of the problem is that collectors live on islands and on these islands is a echo chamber where they get their thoughts reflected back to them like 10k is a high end sword. I have had in my hands a Masamune worth $800k now in the Mori museum, a Hisakuni worth $1M, three others worth well more than $1M. Some others that may be priceless. This is the pinnacle of collecting. High end is below that but not at 10 percent of that.

When you get into swords where the sword is less than the value of the restoration and papers etc you are in the low end of the market and that by definition includes $10k swords. Low end of the market is not "what is expensive to me" but is the bottom part of the overall economy. So the top two tiers, the guys regularly buying six figure blades and those handful of gods getting the best and the true Meito need to fit in. There are more islands out past the horizon.

I have said before that in these fields the safe places are with elite things as rare and special never go out of style and in the bottom as there is no downside and always will there be guys who's love reaches deep and their pockets are shallow. Danger is when people think they are guys rare high grade items at 10k and they are firmly in the commodity band with untold amounts of supply out there. Supply being poured into the market as fast as possible by certain agents will destroy the value of what you have. Especially when people focus on value (bang for the buck) instead of focusing on how important or unique something is (collectibility). Value focus is what gets you burned because the firehose does not stop and every day there are 10 more for your "but it was a good deal" purchase to compete with in the market. Your good deal melts away.

Those that set criteria and stick to them like say ubu koto elevate themselves out of the spray of the firehose. Better to raise your criteria out of the commercial grade band or not care or stay at the very bottom. The problem as mentioned is perception.

A blade gets posted here and people who do not truly know jump up and say it's a sure Juyo when it has no chance and is deep in the commodity range but the perception is that it is rare treasure... that is where the damage is done. So when confused look to the old ways I think.

If I were to partition the market it would be:

- blades not worth a polish at all - junk
- blades worth polish but will not gain in value by the price of the polish
- blades worth less than all of the other expenses combined

Those three are low end.

Then the mid grade market is set by the price of mid grade smiths.

High end market you I want have access to famous smiths work of high quality.

Top end market contains the best works of the top smiths.

Assigning prices is hard in our world where currencies rise and fall 20 percent in a year. But if you look at the work as described and then check the prices. You will see the work defines the markets rather than the dollars define the markets.

Guys in the real high end market do not get a low end blade any more often than a guy who wears a Patek will be buying Timex. The prices then track supply and deman of the tastes of these people.

This community saw the end of a one time event which was the repatriation of a massive haul of war loot that was not priced with full knowledge of what it was. The community is still suffering adjustments from this. Then it had the return of those same blades that went out got restored and papered and returned and sold on the back of the papers. There is still not adequate understanding of attribution coming first in valuing things and why. So people labour under the equivalence of papers being equivalent value. Those that know better don't offer up education... just me here banging the drum. But what they did for decades both ways over the Pacific Ocean was arbitrage. What defeats arbitrage is universal acceptance of ideals which comes from education and exposure.

Prices have been adjusting on people as they have found out that no, that chi-jo Saku wakizashi they were told to spend $5k on as a starter is not worth that because the world is drowning in them. That same problem plays itself out over and over again.

The safe areas are at the extremes. Rare and special or common and cheap, when you have common and expensive now you are going to end up on the wrong side of the pricing adjustments. With rare you can buy so high that you go above anyone else who would ever buy and it's another problem. But a $20 tsuba will not ever hurt you. The trick is to try to balance it all. That in itself is an art.

But education is the key that unlocks it all.
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#209939 Disputed Attribution: Unjuy Korekazu/takei Naotane

Posted by Darcy on 15 September 2016 - 09:00 PM

It's very pretty work.


This is a great example to show the breakdown in understanding between how you should be understanding opinions and how we tend to understand opinions. 


I do not see any disagreement in the two attributions. 


(Paraphrasing from memory), Sato Kanzan wrote, "Yukimitsu, Norishige, Masamune, they are three ways of saying the same thing."


Nobuo Ogasawara in Selected Fine Japanese Swords from European Collections writes some very practical advice. He says in there (at some point, again paraphrasing), "there is no disagreement in the judgment of appraisers who may appraise a sword to Bungo, Ko-Mihara, Uda, etc." ... that is really badly paraphrased but he was making the point that the third and fourth tier koto schools are somewhat fungible and if two appraisers give you different answers within this set, they are not in disagreement. 


To the western brain we are looking at an appraisal as the answer to a question that requires a time machine to accurately answer. We want to know who made this thing. What Ogasawara san is trying to say is that the further you fall away from the peak of the mountain, the less clear the view is and the more fungible the answers are. Truly great work will distinguish itself to a very narrow band, or in some cases, to an individual. As you fall to the third and fourth tier not only does it become impossible to differentiate reliably, he's saying that the differentiation doesn't mean so much. I try to bang home the statement that attribution is the first form of quality assessment, above the level of the paper. If you have a mumei sword attributed to Awataguchi, this is a Tokuju form of thing in and of its own, because the school carries forward the highest reputation possible for quality. The sword has to be in keeping with that reputation to get that assessment. If you have a mumei sword attributed to Bingo something or other, this means that the sword did not elevate itself when it was examined. If the fourth tier schools made blades in general that were competitive with the first tier schools, then they would be first tier schools. And weaker work would not be attributed to them.


In this case with this blade, they are two top tier Shinshinto smiths and Shinshinto is not exactly a time with highly distinguishable work. Two appraisers may disagree on the fine details but it doesn't matter, what they are coming back with is saying that this is in line with the reputation of the finest smiths alive at the time. 


Consider the game when we were kids where you could guess the amount of candy in a jar. If I am the only one who really knows how much candy is in there and I never tell, all you can really do is try to make a reasonable guess. If it is a full jar and someone says "5" then maybe it's because they are blind and can't see. This is what we have when people think their rust bucket from ebay is the Honjo Masamune. Good candy eyeballers are going to say "647" or "721". If I never actually reveal the number, those answers are equivalent if from all angles and ability to subjectively and objectively measure that jar's contents without ever breaking it open and counting, says that they are within some range of error. 


This is what you have with your sword. 


If you paper it again you will get another top ranked Shinshinto smith maybe if not a repeat of one of the two existing answers. Most likely, they will look at the green paper and say well that is a reasonable stab at it, and for consistency sake just verify the attribution there. You won't find out anything new. Send it to the NTHK and you may be able to add a third smith to your list.


Put this piece in the koto period and the likely candidates narrow for the skill level and regional styles and steels make for greater differentiation, and so easier to nail a maker. Give me a beautiful sword in thick rolling nie deki with chikei, jewel like steel, suriage mumei and 70cm, proud Kamakura sugata and ichimai boshi on a chu kissaki.... I will say Go Yoshihiro, you will say Go Yoshihiro, Honami Koson will say Go Yoshihiro, the NBTHK will say Go Yoshihiro and the NTHK will say Go Yoshihiro. Even though we have no signed Go Yoshihiro to compare against, this is the definition of Go Yoshihiro and the picture is crystal clear to anyone. 


Make it rolling even notare, extended kissaki, add utsuri, straighten it out a bit and make it wide from top to bottom, with precise forging and a flame like boshi and small sunagashi throughout. Every one of us will say Kanemitsu. 


Give us your blade and there is no reliable answer to fall onto. As long as the answers are not directly opposed, they are in agreement. If someone says Muramasa, another says Ko-Bizen Yoshikane, and another says Naotane, now you have conflicting assessments that require some explaining or having one or two thrown out.

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#194995 Need For Sayagaki?

Posted by Darcy on 02 March 2016 - 10:36 AM



1. There is a nice utilitarian aspect of the fact that it lets you know what's inside if you have a good number of blades.


2. I think the calligraphy is beautiful and it looks very nice on display. If you're lucky enough to have koshirae and can put them on a stand side by side it's very complimentary. 


3. It's nice to have the thoughts and comments of Tanobe sensei on the blade as an independent observation and confirmation of what's inside over and above the papers. 


4. People do lose the papers. It's hard to lose a sayagaki. So it's kind of a backup plan for the sword if you're in it for the long haul, get hit by a bus, and your heirs end up with your swords and no descriptions of anything were left for them. 


5. It's another judgment and some people can and do disagree with a paper from time to time,  so if you have multiple judgments it does help to slam dunk the answer.


About his commentary... 


"Chin-chin cho-cho" is an ongoing topic.


The history on this is that some people started noticing a correspondence between this phrase and Juyo blades and started thinking it was a code. People always want to think there are short cuts. It started going around that this meant that it was somehow above Juyo. Bob Benson talked to him about this and I talked to him in person about it some years ago.


The "if your house is on fire, this is the thing you should grab before you leave" is indeed something he has said about chin-chin cho-cho. 


But he will say this is what Juyo means as well. 


He also says he likes to mix things up so if he doesn't say chin-chin cho-cho, it doesn't necessarily mean that the blade is inferior to one that does have it (though it could be). He will use various phrases or indicate through the commentary that the blade is special without referring to a stock phrase. I think that chin-chin cho-cho mostly comes into play when he thinks that the blade is a good Juyo, he's not sure what else to say other than to just state that it's very special,  and it also helps him balance out the two columns of commentary with just the right amount of space used.


He also has a particular taste in blades... he likes very much very dignified koto blades. So his tastes will run to Heian and Kamakura Yamashiro, Aoe, Ko-Bizen and Bizen Nagamitsu, Sanenaga, Kagemitsu... blades that are very noble. More flamboyant works I feel are not to his taste, he will prefer I think Yukimitsu working in Shintogo style to Yukimitsu in Masamune style. This is not so much from what he has said to me as what he has shown me that he is working on that are discoveries and how he has responded to blades that I've had in for sayagaki and shown him.


He also likes Shinto Satsuma.


But anyway back to chin-chin cho-cho, it needs to be understood as a rule of inclusion. If it's not there it doesn't mean anything necessarily but if it is there it means he is praising the blade. Chin-cho may be there and from what I can understand it's not necessarily different from chin-chin cho-cho though it's not doubled up. 


What I settled on after all the years was trying to understand the context of his comments. When I had a strong feeling that the blade was outstanding at Tokubetsu Hozon or Juyo and felt like it could go to Tokubetsu Juyo, and have brought him the blade it has come back with very long commentary and detail. In a couple of rare instances, he has run out of room on a full length blade and has gone to the other side of the saya. This has no chin-chin cho-cho or anything like that in it. But the effort and detail show his state of mind when viewing the blade.


On one of these he took pains to compare the blade to a specific Tokubetsu Juyo blade. If he is doing that, the effort and detail of thoughts I felt was a lot stronger than tossing in a chin-chin cho-cho at the end.  


In comparison, a "commercial" level Shinto work that was a decent blade but nothing special, just won't have the detail because he really doesn't have anything to say on it other than that it's authentic. If you send in a standard blade you're going to get back a standard statement that the blade is authentic, signed and comes from a certain period, and nothing more. 


Here are examples of his commentary and I think that it's good for understanding the subtext.




This blade was once a signed naginata of this smith which was shortened in the Muromachi period by Osafune Sukesada who added this information via a kiritsuke-mei. Kunimune worked in a flamboyant choji-based hamon, and in a gentle suguha-based hamon mixed with some Aoe characteristics. This blade belongs to the latter category and matches very well a tachi of Kunimune which passed Tokubetsu Juyo at the tenth shinsa. The deki is excellent and the work is very tasteful.
It is shortened and unsigned. The period is Nanbokucho.
The blade has an o-suriage nakago but which bears a kinpun-mei attribution to this smith by Hon’ami Tenrai. Tenrai was an expert from the Mito branch of the Hon’ami family who was active from the Meiji to the Showa era. The blade shows a suguha-cho that is mixed with saka-choji and saka-ashi and layers of linear utsuri can be seen as well as a jifu-utsuri. In combination with the sugata, we do not only recognize the characterstic features of the Aoe school from the end of the Kamakura period but can agree that the attribution of this masterwork to Yoshitsugu is spot on.
The blade is o-suriage and unsigned but the jiba shows the characteristic features of Rai Kunimitsu and the deki is highly dignified. Chin-chin cho-cho.
Although shortened and unsigned, this is judged an excellent work of Norishige. The jihada and hamon clearly show his characteristics. Chin-chin cho-cho. 
The last two are typical chin-chin cho-cho examples. He has not gone on at length but the smiths and the work are excellent and Juyo and he has rounded them out with chin-chin cho-cho for highest praise and left it at that.
But the examples in 1. and 3. though lacking chin-chin cho-cho are clearly not inferior when read. The detail and effort made are consistent with the blades being very important. Example number 3 is only Tokubetsu Hozon but I think it will easily pass Juyo and potentially go higher. Example number two is something that if you get one of these you know that you don't have to submit it to Juyo. 
Another example might be where he will say something like: The nakago is ubu and bears a seven character signature. The period is later Edo and this is the work of the second generation. 
I think in these cases when he veers more into subjectivity of any sort, whether that is a lot of effort or by putting in the standard praise words, it's because he likes the blade a lot. When he chooses not to offer the subjectivity then by omission you can classify where the blade stands.
This is why I say chin-chin cho-cho is a rule of inclusion: there are multiple ways of getting to that point, so if it's not there, it doesn't mean that the blade is at a lower level than one he's said it on. When you're completely lacking anything with subjectivity and it's just a short recitation of the facts, then this is something that is equivalent to Tokubetsu Hozon with no chance of going any higher. It's a worthy blade or else he wouldn't do sayagaki at all.
So the fact that he has put a sayagaki on it means that the blade is above Hozon qualifications. It used to be that you needed to have Tokubetsu Hozon to come to him and ask (not sure how that got established but that's what I was told, when he was an employee of the NBTHK he didn't want to be a separate independent judge). Now that he's retired he will make his own judgment without it being papered.
If he's gone off the beaten path somehow with his comments, then my impression is that the blade is equivalent to Juyo. If he has gone excessively off the beaten path then you have got something very special.
Whenever he has gone into long detail, I've found that the blade is one of these strong dignified works -or- the blade is unusually and particularly precious. The canonical example is the sayagaki that he put on Ralph Bell's Hiromitsu tachi which is the only signed tachi left by the smith. This is as follows:
The blade is dated Bunna two and signed and is thus the only signed authentic tachi of Hiromitsu I know, although there are many signed tanto and ko-wakizashi extant. Thus it is a extremely precious reference piece and also very precious because it shows us that Hiromitsu bore the honorary title Saemon no Jo. The blade has a very dignified sugata and a perfectly healthy jiba and must so be regarded as one of the greatest masterworks of this smith. It was once a heirloom of the Echizen-Matsudaira family, is published in the Imamura-oshigata, and was once designated as Juyo Bijutsuhin.
So, we know the level of this blade is clearly one of the most important blades in the world. There is no chin-chin cho-cho or anything like that, but the pattern is the same as the first and third examples above. He has gone into detailed commentary and for me, I think that this then is the template for the kind of thing that has affected him on a personal level as someone who loves swords and not just as a judge authenticating a piece. 
It's my opinion then that if anything is to be taken as a short-hand "code", it's to simply example the work that he's done and make a call about how much effort has gone into it. Chin-chin cho-cho is just a way for him to say that the work is really outstanding but he hasn't been triggered to go into one of these long commentaries. Maybe it is just really typical and so typical that there is nothing other to say than "it's really really great!". Intellectually I think it is probably equivalent but my gut feeling though is that the examples of long commentary shows his emotions better than the praise words because the praise words, though they mean something very significant, are standard and the full context is inspired. 
Additional thoughts are that he will sometimes have a data nugget to throw in that you cannot find anywhere else. I found out that the Nidai Hasebe Kunishige's personal name is Rokurozaemon and I cannot find that piece of information anywhere else. Or, if the NBTHK could only settle on something like "Ichimonji" then he may clarify and do his sayagaki to Fukuoka Ichimonji. There is an ebb and flow with the NBTHK judgments that change as the judges change over the almost 60 years of Juyo... where some they may be happy to be very specific and in other times you can see they took a turn for the conservative and it changes like the tides. Some commentaries, like recently, they go into a fair amount of depth but half of it is cut and paste boilerplate for the background of the smith and school... it's still a lot better than a lot of the late 60s early 70s stuff where they in some cases put just one or two sentences into the commentary. Just depending then on the year something went through, you could get radically different approaches to what is an effective commentary and judgment from the NBTHK. They will not be varying in terms of the ultimate goal, which is to give a judgment that they stand by, but they will be of different utility as a learning tool because when they go terse and conservative they don't really throw you much of a piece of meat to sink your teeth into.
So this is another nice thing to get for sayagaki because ultimately he is a scholar and a teacher and you are receiving his opinion.
If the NBTHK could only settle on a vague statement: Awataguchi or Ko-Kyo or Ichimonji or Hasebe, and he has clarified that to Kuniyoshi or Gojo Kuninaga, or Fukuoka Ichimonji or Hasebe Kunishige, this is useful for us as a learning tool. It's a judgment, his judgment and it is worth whatever you respect him for. 
And you never know what you're going to get out of the process, you just ask if he will do it, he will inspect the blade and then let you know if it's possible. And if it's possible you thank him and wait to see what he's going to write. If you're lucky he will confirm what your feelings are on the blade somehow. If you're not, he won't and then probably you will have some head scratching and study to understand why (or maybe you will never understand). Or maybe you will find out that he liked it a lot more than you thought he would. 
So in conclusion you just want to remember that you should really get these things translated and so to understand his thoughts and how he arrived at the sayagaki. It isn't reasonable to expect him to do a Hiromitsu style sayagaki like on Bell's on your every day Tokubetsu Hozon shinto piece. If he offers anything subjective at all on a shinto piece then that is really good for a shinto piece. You need to put that in context that he has seen 10 quintillion equivalent polished Jo-saku shinto swords in his life and he is not going to leap out of his chair for the next one. That's what makes these long sayagaki something special then or even chin-chin cho-cho, because he's singled it out after seeing so many and it should give some context to the blade. Because in some of these cases the blade is really unique.

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#193856 A Sword I Am Looking At Right Now... (Take 2 - Sword In Hand)...

Posted by Darcy on 18 February 2016 - 03:31 AM

I don't think Sukehiro would fool anyone into thinking his work was koto Yamashiro. He made suguba and it is very good. I had one by the first generation. Osaka shinto usually makes itself stand out very much in the bright and tight jihada and hamon, and thick nioiguchi. It's hard to state it all in text but the effect is very sparkly and beautiful but it's not something that you would confuse with Rai. It gives an impression of newness throughout.


The Umetada argument... honestly I have no idea where you guys are trying to come from like this. If this is shodai or nidai Tadahiro it is coming with a huge gap between the time that shodai Tadayoshi learned under Umetada. If his signature was going to follow or be influenced by the signing habits of Umetada then that would come from his time immediately under Umetada. Not suddenly out of nowhere at the end of his life.


This is the classic case of putting the cart before the horse. You're starting with the conclusion that this thing is legitimate and then arguing for ways that it could possibly end up being legitimate. This is not how the game works. We start from a conservative or at best neutral position and then allow the sword to speak, and then follow Occam's razor where it leads us.


Every time the sword does something awkward or unusual in its conversation with you, you are presented with a fork in the path. Each time you have to take the path with the marker that says "unusual" the greater the chance you end up at the destination "gimei" and this increases exponentially. One is a pass it's probably ok, two is uh oh and three is: bzzzzt. You have to let the work lead you, and if you insist on leading the work you will almost always end up in the wrong place because you can make up arguments for almost anything. 


I have a Norishige for sale on my site which is a good learning experience because it too has an unusual signature. However, this one is dead on knockout for Norishige work. The NBTHK makes a point of hammering that one home. The signature passed their examination for being the correct period. What is left is just one unusual thing and that is that the style of signature is somewhat unusual for Norishige. Now, if the work were not correct and looked like Yukimitsu and the tanto were 32cm and not correct for Norishige and then the mei was the wrong style, now you have a problem. You've quickly moved into very shaky territory. But since everything else is bang on what it does is argue to expand the definition of what the signature styles of the smith are. It helps that there is another just like it in the Juyo so it's not standing alone. 


If you had to bet money on the Tadahiro (and honestly you are betting money on these when you buy them) then over the long haul your money is best played with the odds not against them. If every time a sword comes up that is not right, that has a big name on it, and you consistently side up with the "buts" and "maybes" 3-5 times in the conversation with the sword then you're going to end up being burned 19 times out of 20. 


It's not an opinion it's just math. 


I don't see any reason for cautious optimism even. All I can say is that none of us have a record of being uniformly correct and I am not above the NBTHK or NTHK and so maybe they would disagree. That is just butt covering boilerplate and stating the obvious, that I'm not a top scholar or a perfect judge. But I don't see why anyone would find there to be a reasonable hope that this one is correct. 


All there is is a real outside shot because the mei has some serious mistakes in it and the quality is not up there with what it should be for Shodai or Nidai Tadahiro. It's not a bad sword but what is going on here is exactly why they made these things. It's just enough to confuse someone into believing it when they want to believe (in my opinion). 


Hope is just not a good way of doing analysis. If this were a dead ringer for Shodai work and the mei were closer and stronger and more ducks lined up then there would be more hope.


If this was a smith that we had 20 good signatures of then there would be more hope for edge cases.


But Hizen swords have thousands of available works to call on. So when one doesn't match the book, you have a serious problem and arguing but and maybe is not as strong a stance as when you have a really old koto blade. Starting to overlap and I think I stated the case, what I had to say is to absorb or discard at this point for what it's worth.


(Also please note that the hope card on these unpapered "edge case" blades is what creates a market for them. Some of the "sensei" have put stuff like this on ebay and their websites and littered the ground with sparkly glimmers of hope, but careful parsing of their descriptions reveals all kinds of legal back doors that they have carefully engineered to say, "well I never explicitly said it was good" ... but they have created an environment which was crafted to give hope that it was good and in these cases, especially when or if they have easy access to papering services, it leaves it an open question about why they would sell such a thing with no papers when papering it removes all doubt and would let them sell it for much more... perhaps they just like the cut of your jib or the look of your face or feel like donating a few thousand dollars or more of value to you today because it's sunny out... then again maybe they know it's no good and carefully craft an environment where you can believe and they can have a back door to escape down... however they do it it's actually a misunderstanding of how fraud laws work because you don't have to explicitly make a fraudulent claim to be guilty of fraud... purposefully withholding information or letting someone lead themselves to the wrong conclusion based on partially sharing information or putting such an item within the glow of authenticity is fraud. Some of these guys have histories of quietly distributing bad stuff that would surprise you. This one not Nanbokucho as stated. This one not sho-shin gendaito as stated. And so on. But each time someone played the hope card on themselves and fell into the trap.


We have all been there, and when I got started I bought a sword with a sayagaki by Kanzan to Sadamune... sold to me by someone in my city who I thought to be a friend. I thought Sadamune would be too much to hope for especially at the price of $10k as offered, but I could hope for someone Soshu and in the Nanbokucho period and the doors were open for something good. Well after I bought it an expert in Japan (and a real expert) said the sayagaki was a forgery. It eventually came out that the guy who sold it to me submitted it for papers. When I had come back to him with it being a forgery he defended it by saying look, this is a good blade because it received Tokubetsu Hozon papers when I sent it in.


To Kaifu school.


Which the guy deliberately held back to create the impression that it might be something better than Kaifu.


Though he made no lies, he presented this in the air that it was something that it was reasonable to have an open question about, and he figured he could sit on the mental fine print of me not asking if he actually had papers for it or not, and that he could hold them back and let the sword sell as the potential for something more. He knew something that I didn't and let me speculate that it could paper to something better. A lot of sword guys think this is OK and it's not. They think it's paying your dues. But its fraud and victimizing someone.


If you have a gold coin and find out that it's copper, and then turn around and sell it to someone as this coin you found and it sure does look like gold, you're defrauding him by letting him believe that it might be gold when you know it's not. And this is how a bad signature sword goes around and around and around. Because every time someone finds out it's actually no good they are the one that's burned and instead of eating it and removing the signature they will feed it back into the market and try to recover their money. There is an Ichimonji that I keep encountering (though not for a while) that has been to the NBTHK god knows how many times and a Rai Kunitoshi with no boshi that people keep submitting to Juyo.


Condell was tired of people asking him about this Rai Kunitoshi by the time I saw it first well over a decade ago. I got tired of seeing it jump from table to table and people asking me about it. I told one friend who asked me about it who wanted to buy it that it had no boshi and Condell knew about it long ago and the blade had been tried a million times at Juyo and kept failing because it has no boshi. But it wasn't enough to squash the hope and he bought it anyway. Pretty sure he sold it again some time after when it failed to pass Juyo, because it has no boshi.


What people fail to understand is that an otherwise fatal flaw is dealt with in stages depending on how important the smith is. If you have something that is like Ko-Hoki Yasutsuna it could possibly pass Juyo with no boshi provided it is ubu and zaimei because it is an incredibly important thing and the age gives it a pass on no boshi. This same thing won't work if the blade is end of Kamakura and mumei. But that blade could get Hozon or Tokubetsu Hozon considering. Move to the Shinto period and no boshi is now a horrific situation that will stop all papers. Go back to the Koto period and but a no boshi on a Kozori work and it's not going to fly at Hozon either. This is what is out there and what they have arrived at based on the relative importance of the work though I can't say for sure they would do the same thing today. 


The point I am hammering here is that hope is somewhat close to greed in that the combination of the two makes people take chances they otherwise wouldn't take. Hope is not an investment strategy (so people usually find out) nor is it a gambling strategy or a marriage strategy or a kantei strategy. Sometimes it turns out OK just because it was the 1 time in 20 that the stars aligned. And often that's enough for people to take the chance again later on. Hope is not your friend though, it's your enemy. That's why we don't listen to it and start from the position that such and such a blade is sho-shin and then argue for ways for it to be sho-shin. Because there will always be a way. 


Maybe this week Masahide broke his hand and Naotane was sick and so Masahide had to get his grandmother to come in and finish the sword for him and this is why the quality is not so good and the hamon is unusual and the mei is not right, but I'll sell it to you for cheap and if it papers then you really come out on top. Hook line and sinker someone will take the gamble because they want to believe and they want to win and it's more exciting than actually going out and spending the money on a legit one.


I cannot for the life of me understand why people would go out and buy fake Omori work for 30% to 50% of the price of legitimate Omori work. Everyone wants to say, well, the signature is not legit but it's really Omori school work. And probably it isn't. It's probably just someone later on down the road faking it and cloning the style, and if you had real Omori in your hand beside it then it would look like a laughable POS. Absent the real thing it's just close enough to get by and someone will buy it thinking 30% is a good price for Omori school... but if you look at a fake Ferrari vs. a real Ferrari the price is not 30%. A fake Rolex vs. a Real rolex and the price is not 30%. A fake Micheal Jordan rookie card vs. a real one and the price is not 30%. So why are people going out and spending 30% for the fake Omori and presumably making this decision over and over again and building these collections based on hope while they let a real one sit there unbought? Because it's too expensive relative to the fake one?


All other examples in the world indicate that the fake one at 30% of the price of the real one is the one that is REALLY expensive because it needs to be compared not against the real thing but against what it is: anonymous mediocre work by someone who couldn't get by making his own stuff so he made a cheap knockoff. 


It's the same as buying SONNY from Shenzen instead of SONY from Japan. That's what it needs to be compared against. 


Tell me what you see. 

This was a pretty random stumble to find, in this case they are both reflections of the same thing but they're done at different skill levels. The top one should not be argued as work of the hand of the bottom one though in any way shape or form. Though they look the same and are the same design, it's not right to say that well, maybe but then possibly in this case blah blah. It's just not the same guy no matter how you cut it and getting confused between top and bottom examples means that you'd need to learn more and see more. 

Trying to put a spike through the heart of the hope argument here. Maybe and but and hope are enough to submit something for papers to make sure that you're not wrong. That's about as far as they take you. And this sword in question, if the belief is so strong that it's masterwork, then there should be no question about spending the money to send it in for papers. 

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#249285 Building A Swordroom

Posted by vajo on 18 January 2018 - 09:09 PM

I hope you understand my really bad english.


As i spoke with some members here in the board, my wish was to build up a swordroom, for displaying the collection and enjoying it. I have a little guest room for this project. After collecting ideas and making plans i started this week with the first work on it. Highlight should be a 2,50 m high and 1,70 m wide sword cabinet.




The upper showcase is 1,50 m high and has the capacity for displaying 6 or 8 swords and Tosogu. 

The Tansu is big enough for 8 long swords, 8 Waki and Tanto and 100 Tsuba. The drawers could be locked. And there must be a drawer for a little safe to store the better ones. I know it would be not prevent for thiefs but for them i had another concept  :laughing:

The tansu must be safe enough to stay away the kids and guests from the sharp things.

A two parted wooden abstract for working on the swords makes the tansu complete.


Speaking with my carpenter we choose maple wood for all furniture in the room. It is smooth and has a warm and elegance touch. A blacksmith makes all the furniture hardware from rough iron.


We bought on Monday two complete maple tree trunk. 2 years old and dry. 


Ok - lets start building.


cabinet_1.jpeg cabinet_2.jpeg cabinet_3.jpeg


After the plan was drawn we start cutting the wood. The are no screews. All is made with wooden pins.


Part 2 follow..


After making the parts we brush the wooden parts with a mixture from wax and color to a light yellow/ golden touch.


coloring.jpg cabinet_4.jpg


The body of the tansu is finished, the blacksmith need some days to make the hardware.


cabinet_5.jpg cabinet_6.jpg cabinet_7.jpg


The next will be the glas for the showcase. Hope you like this little report.

#244741 Mike Y On Pawn Stars

Posted by Gordon Sanders on 28 November 2017 - 07:36 AM

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