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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!

 

Brian


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#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.

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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. 
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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

 
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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


#265963 In The Defense Of Shinsa & Papers

Posted by Jussi Ekholm on 17 August 2018 - 09:43 AM

Well I've been planning to let some steam out regarding this for a while now. I have seen a notion on recent years where collectors are starting to "go against" shinsa results (regardless of the organisation) and it often happens when the attribution is not favorable or what one thought it would be. I've actually thought of making a small ranting topic on defending the shinsa for a while but never got around to it until now. You often hear the common phrase shinsa panels are just human and people make mistakes but they are still experts whose opinion at least I hold at high value. Those experts have the ability to see minor details in the blade (or fittings) that regular collectors miss. I was reading Kantei explanation by Hinohara Dai of May issue of Token Bijutsu where he went bit off from kantei sword to ramble a bit how some experienced collector noticed the very minor detail in curvature of near identical swords from Kamakura and early Muromachi on display and that raised many questions from other collectors there at present.

 

This comes down to what he explains that professional appraisers and sword dealers handle many blades on a daily basis. I could personally add to this group even active collectors in Japan as there are so many opportunities for that in Japan. I think all that he wrote applies to tsuba and other stuff as well. The experts see and handle so great number of items that average collector do not come even close to that. Yes we have some great opportunities even in Europe and US but we cannot compete with Japan.

 

But then there are those cases where it is not clear at first glance if it is a Kamakura or an early Muromachi tachi. In such a case, one sometimes hears comments like “how can an expert not recognize at least the period immediately?” That is, an expert should at least know right away if he is handling a Kamakura or a Muromachi blade. Well, from my own experience and handling somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 blades, I can confirm that these cases exist and that they are not rare at all. But here it is recommended to bo back from examining the jiba to the sugata, the first traditional kantei point, and after studying the shape again more closely, eventually return to the jigane and the hamon. Often, the initial gut feel was right but that feel should either be substantiated or dismissed to arrive at a well-founded opinion.

 

That above is a direct quote from that write up by Hinohara Dai. Even though he writes about kantei of swords I think we can apply it to tsuba and other stuff too. When someone has handled and studied like 100,000+ items I wouldn't easily challenge his/hers opinion about this stuff. The shinsa teams are professional experts for a reason and they have so much experience to back it up.

 

I've just heard lately people from many medias stating that NBTHK made wrong call or NTHK do not know what they see etc. Perhaps it is the collector who might not see everything? I remember a bit funny thing from some years back when I took my tachi to NBTHK Scandinavian meeting, after seeing the sword Jan-Erik Svanberg told me few details of a sword I had had for multiple years that I had missed before. That was the first time I personally experienced how quickly experienced collectors can notice minor details and I was bit mindblown. Another great experience was at Utrecht 1 minute kantei session this summer. While I was at the right tracks I was amazed how much details experienced people picked up in just one minute.

 

So to sum it up if you think experts have got it wrong be sure to have lots and lots of research to back your own opinion and try to understand the expert opinion too. And if you think you can outsmart Japanese dealers it's a good idea to think twice as their knowledge level is very high and they handle and study very large amount of swords.


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#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 ;-)


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#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?"


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#263372 Excellent News!

Posted by SwordGuyJoe on 07 July 2018 - 10:38 PM

All,
A while back, I purchased a tanto with horimono by Kasama Ikkansai Shigetsugu. The tanto came with Tokubetsu Hozon koshirae. It didn’t have papers, so I figured while it was there, I’d send it through shinsa. And since I was submitting, I may as well do dual TH and Hozon submission (a practice for Gendaito that I’ve been told is a foolish waste of money, as TH is VERY seldom awarded to gendaito). Well, news came back that the sword passed TH! Here is some info on the sword and a pic of the blade and koshirae.

Habaki :Gold wrapped single habaki.

Blade length : 25.0 cm or 9.84 inches.

Mekugi : 1

Width at the hamachi : 2.66cm or 1.04 inches.

Kasane : 0.54cm or 0.21 inches.

Era : Showa 12 year (1937).

Shape : The blade is rather wide and thick with Horimono.
On the front, the god of the Daikokusama
and Kenmakiryu on the reverse side.

Jigane :Koitame hada well grained with jinie attach
and visible to see the texture well.

Hamon :Niedeki rather deep nioikuchi Choji midare.
Boshi is midarekomi and turns back.

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#238177 Buy High Sell Low; Items For Sale

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

Hello:

 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.


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#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.

 

size-comparison-2x.jpg


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#261686 Gunto Stamps Document

Posted by Bruce Pennington on 16 June 2018 - 05:02 PM

I've just completed a document compiling all the info I could glean from various sources about sword and koshirae stamps.  I got tired of jumping from books to various websites when I needed to look up a stamp.  It's in .pdf format, so I'm going to try uploading.  I've also converted it into .jpg (for facebook) but it's in a Zip file which also will not upload, I believe, or 37 individual photos!)

 

Otherwise, PM me and I'll send it to interested collectors via email.

 

Enjoy!

Attached Files


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#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.

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#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"
and
"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.

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#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


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#263221 Saga Complete For Now

Posted by Stephen on 05 July 2018 - 08:41 PM

Over four years in design (often changed)

Back in forth to USA, Hawaii, Japan, split up n sent to the winds (PA. MT.) to finally reaching its completion today!

Sorry for lack of pix and the wash of window light its time to rest.


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Wher it will reside

20180705_123837.jpg


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#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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#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
Docliss
Veli
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#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_120503.jpg

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to be added to saya

wakikurikata.jpg  

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

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#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. 

 

 




#271264 Kantei Section For The Raffle "who Wants To Win A Nihonto"

Posted by b.hennick on 14 October 2018 - 10:40 PM

I am happy to announce:

 

23 Barry Thomas

Congratulations to the winner and a big thank you to Rayhan for his generosity. Thank you to all who entered and made a contribution to NMB.


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#266361 Oi No Nezame

Posted by Malcolm on 22 August 2018 - 01:28 PM

OI NO NEZAME
 
This is the first translation of the journal entitled Oi no nezame ( Wakeful nights of the Aged) written by the Bakumatsu period Swordsmith Yamaura Saneo (Masao) (1804 - 1871), brother to the enigmatic Kiyomaro.
 
The Journal documents the heartfelt emotions of a old man looking back on the events of his life.
 
It is signed  Yū-un-sai Toshinaga, the Art name which he used last.
 
I am indebted to the patience and skill of Mrs Mieko Gray, who tirelessly translated from Edo period Japanese into Modern Japanese and then into English.
 
The project has been five years in total, I hope you will find it of use.
 
 
Oi No Nezame in Edo Period Japanese
 
山浦真雄 「老いの寝覚め」(全文)
 
老の身能寝さめ可ち那るをい可にせん 独ともし火にむ可ひてつ久づ久おもひ侍るに我が好刀工の道多るや其うつわの利害得失盤さら那り 刃味の源趣位の高下に至る迄も同じ手して作里出ける多に お那じさまに盤出来ぬものなるを人の手して造り多らんはいふも可ひなき事になん有ける
 
 さて其同じ可良ぬが那かに都きて もろもろ能名工多ちの短なる所を知りてこれを捨て其長なる処をとりて帰せしめ 志可してのち能衆妙の門に悟入し多らまし可ばげに天の下の良工名作とも仰がれぬべしとぞおもふ ここにいにしへよ里有とし有ける世の名剣どもの上につきて考るに 剣てふもののよし安しをあげつろはんに盤 安那可知利鈍のうへのみにあら須 おのつ可ら其徳其威備は里ぬれは ぬ可ねとも鬼神おそ礼 ふるは祢とも強敵も伏しぬべからしめるを社た可らともいふ也けれ さ礼盤かしこ可れと 大御剣を奉始わ可日のもとにして盤 国の守世の守ともなりぬべきもの此剣の外やはある 可具もとふとき剣なれば そを作らん人は常に先我が志を高く
 
 清らかにして心に可可る事那く澄て 仁義信勇自然と備を肝要と心可くべき事曾可し 扨剣作らんとおもふ時は 先平素錬磨し置多る精神をも者ら槌に凝らし 我が身玉の如く大空も快く晴 わ可神静にして鬼神頭の上に在が如く 左右に現るる可如久なる時を得て 殺人刀より活人刀を作得て 国の守代の守ともなれ可しと打立るとき盤い可那る鬼神強敵といふとも などかおそ礼ざらんや さるを近頃の人々はかかる筋の心得多らんもの甚稀也けり 曾盤わ可道の本意那らぬのみにあら須 さる人の作り多らんもの帯びな須人さへに花な可る遍し
 
 おのれわかか里し時撃剣の技をたしなみて 年の十三斗の頃より志き里に太刀を得まほしくおもひ 是曾能きと見る器得毎に利鈍を試み 用法を考ひ 佩て軽重をは可り 長短得失に至る迄も座臥進退につけ都都ためしもて二百余刀に及べり されど一ふりだにも心に叶ものあらざりれり ここに水心子正秀といへる人は其頃の名誉也ければ その許にたづ年行て造刀の事を頼みけるに 快よくうけ引侍りて 寒き程の霜乃刃をば作り出してたびけり おのれう礼し久おもひて例の如く試みるに 心ゆ可祢ば 今一手際と望ける程に
 
 正秀大に腹たてていふよふ わ礼積年鍛する所千余刀に及びぬれと三都可らためして出しつる器再びなといはれし事おぼへ那し 曾もけし可らぬ人哉などと散々にののしられ里
おのれいひけるはいやとよ わ可望ところは人と異先肝要とする所は姿也 身に帯する時はたとふに可のけものらや角のおのづ可らなる如く 剣と身と相わすれ 嶮岨をわたり遠路をゆ久とも腰都可れ須勇気たゆまぬを社よしと盤すれ 又反り浅きは佩ひ心よから寿
 
 祓に不便也 切味に婦うして堅物にかかりてはのるぞかし 戦争にはともすれば平打の難あり かかる得失利害を含給へて先生の業して打立る時は 金気充実してと可ぬ程より身潤を生じ 試み寿して疑なき刀の出来るものならんと曾おもふ
 
 されば新刀鍛冶数百家有といへとも たくら婦べき物なき名刀也とおもふ可故に望なりといふ 正秀此事を聞て忽色気を直し御身壮年に似合ぬおしろき事いふ人那りさら者打進らせん寿るものを手伝して給へとて 相鎚せさ勢て三七日程にまたなき程に曾作里出しける 其時此正秀をしも師とも頼み 此道の技折してほしうはおもひつれとやみぬ 今其折の事のもひ出るに都け 近頃我が自得しつる古伝の鍛法も 可の正秀におひてものいへし程よりぞ 淵原しつるもおほ可んめり
 
 曾れよりあまたの年月を経て後 おのれ二十六という年 刀剣の高下勝劣を倩考るに 刀工世々に衰へて 鎮護の要器たる事を旨として鍛する刀工甚稀也けり 文政の今に及んでいよいよ衰へ 皆世渡りの業と成行人目を惑す業而己長じ 自然と真実を失ひ 精神なき物おふ久 是ぞ世の守と信す遍きつるぎ見へざれば 是も天気のなす事とはおもひな可らも 頼みなき事とおもひ おのれ古伝の鍛法をさ久り 自可ら造りて佩刀となさん事をおもひ立て 河村三郎寿隆といへる人に逢て 始て此道に入立侍りたりける 此人盤諸国修行しぬれば 慶長この可たの事は 衆工の妙所を自得し
 
 花やかなる事はおさおさ いにしへ人も及ぬ程な可ら いにしへの法則には心得薄き可たなれば 其の妙趣におゐては い可可有とおもふも多可りける
 
 おのれ此人のもとに通へつる事二とせ斗にして 其後は家に安里てあまね久古今の鍛法をさ久りて打試みける事とはなしぬ
 
 昼は諸用の多ければ 夜毎に弟也ける清麿と二人して精を砕きて数多の都るぎ作立て侍るほどに またの夜さり更多けての知 い可に吹くとも可年乃わかざる事有けり
 
 その程は父の諱信風いまそ可里つる時なれば 傍よ里見給ひて 各よ気の疲たらんと給ひけるを 可げにて母聞給ひもとより常ならぬ事には気がかり有る性なれば 酒持出てたび給ひれり 兄弟ほっする寿じなれば 清麿是は有難し有難しとこおどりしてよろこび 父母にも進らせ おのれらものみて時うつりとりかかり吹立侍りれり可年のわ久事始には似ず いかにも快く鑠きぬるを面白久おもへ 夜のあくるも知ら寿鍛侍りけり 此事を考るに始めわ可ざりしは 夜半極陰の時なればなり の知の鑠きよろしき盤明近き頃にして鈍陽の故なんめ里 かくいろいろにおもひを凝らしぬ
 
 そも我家居所といふは信濃なる小県郡赤岩といふ処にて 先祖山浦常陸介信宗が城地をその儘住所にし侍りつる事なれば 功岸高して千曲川の激流を眼下に見下し 左に鶴が城 糠塚城 横根山といふ高山を見さけ 辰の方に袴腰城 己の方に布引山嶺岩寺が城 峩々として風景あり 可の葛尾の麓なる岩鼻を右に望みて 前後六七里斗が間 眼中に歴々たる風景也 一とせ夏の夜乃事にし有けるに 螢の光をきらきらとして千曲の河都ら一面に飛かふを見て 天地の気乃はたらきてふ事を風とおもひより侍りて おのが息と脈とをとりて考つるに よろ津の事すべてあめつ知のわざならぬは安らじとおぼひぬ礼ば 此天地に則をとりて わ可天性の理気を本として我精神よ里ねりいで多らんには 天人妙合の場に悟入せざらん事やはある登おもひとりては中々に夢にもわするる事な久 四十余の年月を此道に親灸しつれば 今盤か都か都世にも志られ 我が作の贋物を造る者処々にある程の身とはなりぬれど おもふ心の半にもわ可業のいたり可たきをい可にせん 安者れ安者れ斯老ぬる迄 とし頃赤き心もていか伝国の為 人の為とのみおもひ入てし誠を者 天津神国都神の志ろしめ給ひて
 
 我玉の緒の世々都々き多らん程 多々の一婦り也とも天人妙合互行互具 稀代のわざもの作り得せしめ 此道の幸知にあ津可らしめたび給ひ祢なと
 
 おもふも老の久里事那可ら 久里可へし久里可へし祢きおもひまつるになん有ける
 
 安那やさし 年盤明治四といふ秋の夜乃長きを可こ知わび
 
六十とせ八の翁
遊雲斎寿長 しる須
 除紙に一章を記
 
 
 
Modern Japanese:
 
Wakeful Nights of the Aged.
山浦真雄 「老いの寝覚め」(全文)
YAMAURA SANEO (MASAO)
Oi no nezame
 
老の身の寝覚め勝ちなるを如何せん 独り、灯火に向かいてつくづく思い侍るに我が好む刀工の道たるや其の器の利害得失は更なり 刃味の源 趣位の高下に至る迄も同じ手して作り出しけるだに 同じ様には出来ぬものなるを人の手して造りたらんは言うも甲斐なき事になんありける
 
 さてその同じからぬがなかにつきて 諸々の名工達の短なる所を知りてこれを捨て その長なる所をとりて帰せしめ しかして後 よく衆妙の門に悟入したらましかば げに天の下の良工名作とも仰がれぬべしとぞ思う ここに古よりありとし有ける世の名剣どもの上につきて考るに 剣という物の良し悪しを 論はんには あながち利鈍の上のみにあらず おのずからその徳其の威備はりぬれば 抜かねども鬼神恐れ 振わねども強敵も伏しぬべからしめるをこそ宝ともいうなりけれ されば賢かれと 大御剣を奉始 我が日のもと(日の本:日本)にしては 国の守世の守ともなりぬべきものこの剣の外やはある かくも尊き剣なれば そを作らん人は常に先ず我が志を高く
 
 清らかにして心に懸かる事無く澄みて 仁義信勇自然と備わるを肝要と心かくべきことぞかし さて剣作らんと思う時は 先ず平素錬磨しおきたる精神をもっぱら槌に凝らし 我が身玉の如く大空も快く晴れ 我が心静にして鬼神頭の上にあるが如く 左右に現るるが如くなる時を得て 殺人刀より活人刀を作り得て 国の守世の守ともなれかしと打立るときは 如何なる鬼神強敵というとも などか恐れざらんや さるを近頃の人々はかかる筋の心得たらんもの 甚だ稀なりけり そは我が道の本意ならぬのみにあらず さる人の作りたらんもの帯びなす人さへに花なかるべし
 
 おのれ若かりし時撃剣の技を嗜みて 年の十三ばかりの頃より しきりに太刀を得ま欲しく思い これぞ能き(良き)と見る器を得ん毎に利鈍を試み 用法を考え 佩て(はきて)軽重を量り 長短得失に至る迄も座臥進退につけつつ試しもて二百余刀に及べり されど一振りだ(一本の刀)にも心に叶うものあらざりけり ここに水心子正秀といえる人はその頃の名誉なりければ その許に尋ね行きて造刀の事を頼みけるに 快よく受け引き侍りて 寒き程の霜の刃をば作り出して給いけり おのれ嬉しく思いて例の如く試みるに 心ゆかねば 今一手際と望ける程に
 
 正秀おおいに腹たてて云う様  我、積年鍛する所千余刀に及びぬれと 自ら試して出しつる器再びなと言われし事覚えなし そもけしからぬ人かな等と散々に罵られり おのれ言いけるは、 嫌とよ 我が望むところは人と異り 先ず肝要とする所は姿なり 身に帯する時は例うに かの獣らや角の自ずからなる如く 剣と身と相和すれ 嶮岨を渉り遠路を行くとも腰疲れず勇気弛まぬをこそ良しとはすれ 又反り浅きは佩き心よからず
 
 祓う(払う)に不便なり 切味鈍うして堅物にかかりては伸る(のる:曲がる)ぞかし 戦争にはともすれば平打ちの難あり かかる得失利害を含み給えて先生の業して打立る時は 金気充実して研がぬ程より身は潤を生じ 試みずして疑なき刀の出来るものならんとぞ思う 
 
 されば新刀鍛冶数百家有といえども 他比ぶべき物なき名刀なりと思うが故に望なりという 正秀此の事を聞てたちまち色気を直し御身壮年に似合ぬおもしろき事いう人なりさらば打進らせんずるものを手伝して給えとて 相鎚せさて三七日程にまたなき程にぞ作り出しける その時この正秀をしも師とも頼み 此の道の技折して欲しいは思いつれとやみぬ 今其の折の事の思い出るにつけ 近頃我が自得しつる古伝の鍛法も かの正秀において物言えし程よりぞ 淵源しつるも多かんめり
 
 それより数多の年月を経て後 おのれ二十六という年 刀剣の高下勝劣を倩(つらつら、よくよく)考るに 刀工世々に衰えて 鎮護の要器たる事を旨として鍛する刀工はなはだ稀なりけり 文政の今に及んでいよいよ衰え 皆世渡りの業と成り行き 人目を惑す業のみ長じ 自然(自ずと)と真実を失い 精神なき物多く 是ぞ世の守と信ずべき剣見えざれば 是も天気のなす事とは思いながらも 頼みなき事と思い おのれ古伝の鍛法を探り 自ら造りて佩刀となさん事を思い立て 河村三郎寿隆(上田藩工)といえる人に逢いて 始て此道に入立侍りたりける 此の人は諸国修行しぬれば 慶長このかたの事は 衆工の妙所を自得し
 
 花やかなる事はおさおさ 古人も及ばぬ程ながら 古の法則には心得薄きかたなれば 其の妙趣においては いかがありと思うも多かりける
 
 おのれ此の人のもとに通いつる事二年ばかりにして 其の後は家にありて遍く古今の鍛法を探りて打試みける事とはなしぬ
 
 昼は諸用の多ければ 夜毎に弟なりける清麿と二人して精を砕きて数多の剣作立て侍るほどに またの夜さり更に長けてのち 如何に吹くとも鉄(かね)の沸かざる事有けり
 
 その程は父の諱(いなみ)信風今ぞ借りつる(いまそかりつる=存命)時なれば 傍より見給いて 各よ気の疲れたらんと給いけるを 影にて母聞き給い もとより常ならぬ事には気がかり有る性なれば 酒持出てたび給いれり 兄弟欲する筋なれば 清麿 「是は有難し有難し」と小踊りして喜び 父母にも進らせ おのれらも飲みて時移りとりかかり吹立侍りれり 鉄(かね)の涌くこと始めには似ず いかにも快く鑠きぬる(溶きぬる)を面白く思え夜の明くるも知らず鍛え侍りけり 此の事を考るに始め涌かざりしは 夜半極陰の時なればなり 後の鑠きよろしきは明近き頃にして鈍陽の故なんめり かく色々に思いを凝らしぬ
 
 そも我家居所というは信濃なる小県郡赤岩という処にて 先祖山浦常陸介信宗が城地をそのまま住所にし侍りつる事なれば 向岸高して千曲川の激流を眼下に見下し 左に鶴が城 糠塚城 横根山という高山を見下げ 辰の方に袴腰城 巳の方に布引山嶺岩寺が城 峩々として風景あり かの葛尾の麓なる岩鼻を右に望みて 前後六七里ばかりが間 眼中に歴々たる風景なり 一とせ夏の夜の事にしありけるに 螢の光をきらきらとして千曲の河面(づら)一面に飛交うを見て 天地の気の働きという事を風と思いより侍りて おのが息と脈とをとりて考つるに 万の事すべて天地の業ならぬはあらじと思いぬれば 此の天地に則をとりて 我が天性の理気を本として我精神より練り出でたらんには 天人妙合の場に悟入せざらん事やはあると思いとりては中々に夢にも忘るる事なく 四十余の年月を此の道に親灸しつれば 今はかつかつ世にも知られ 我が作の贋物を造る者処々にある程の身とはなりぬれど 思う心の半にも我が業のいたり難きをいかにせん 哀れ憐れ斯く(かく)老ぬる迄 年頃赤き心もて(以て)いかで国の為 人の為とのみ思い入て至誠をば 天津神国都神(天つ神、国つ神)の知ろしめ給いて
 
 我玉の緒の世々継きたらん程 ただの一振りなりとも天人妙合互行互具 稀代の業もの作り得せしめ 此の道の幸に預からしめたび給いねなと
 
 思うも老の繰り言ながら 繰り返し繰り返し寝き思い奉るになんありける
 
 あな恥し 年は明治四という秋の夜の長きを囲ち侘び
 
六十とせ(歳)八の翁 
遊雲斎寿長 記す 
除紙に一章を記す
 
 
 
First English Translation
 
Oi no nezame
Wakeful Nights of the Aged (Complete).
山浦真雄 「老いの寝覚め」(全文)
YAMAURA SANEO (MASAO)
 
As one gets older one tends to have wakeful nights. Alas, what shall we do! I, alone, facing the candlelight, am deep in thought over my devotion to the Way of a sword-smith. I ponder the cutting ability of a sword, then its very essence and finesse, which are inevitably different even when created by the same hand and much more if crafted by different hands.
 
Not a single sword is the same. By learning from the merits and demerits of fine sword-smiths, I try to emulate and strive to attain the universal virtue worthy of a master sword-smith. To examine renowned works by past masters, one should not only judge a sword for its sharpness (cutting ability) but also for its virtuosity and dignity. The gods and demons would fear you and quell your enemy even without the sword being drawn out of the sheath! This is what we call the (weapon of) treasure. With due reverence and awe, since the time when the great sword Omi-tsurugi was created for the peace of the country (Hinomoto: Japan) and for the peace of society, swords are considered to be sacred indeed. So, first of all, if you are a sword-smith, you must keep your spirit lofty all the time.  
 
One must keep one’s mind pure and clear, with no clouding thoughts. One should strive to behold Benevolence, Righteousness, Sincerity and Courage. When you are about to create a sword, you should focus your well-trained spirit and mind to the hammer single-mindedly. Pray that the sky be pleasantly clear, that one will be well and healthy like a precious jade, and one’s mind be divinely calm. It is only when gods and demons manifest themselves above your head and right and left that you should create a sword—a sword that empowers a person, rather than a weapon for killing people. You must not fear powerful gods and demons or strong opponents/enemies when you begin hammering a sword to safeguard the country and society. However, it is regrettable that recently people are rarely mindful of this principle. This is the true divine way of sword making. Therefore, if you are not aware of this, even a person wearing a reputable sword will not look refined. 
In my youth I tried to learn the art of swordsmanship. From the age of about 13 (12 years old in modern times), I was so keen to acquire a sword. Each time I thought I came across a very nice sword, I tested its sharpness (cutting capability), and then thought about the technique whereby it was made, and wore it and weighed it. I tried and tested about 200 odd swords, wearing each of them whilst seated and walking, for its merits and demerits. However, there was not a single sword that satisfied me. There was a renowned master sword-smith of the time named Suishinshi Masahide (Notes: his dates 1750-1825), and I went to meet him in order to request him to make a sword for me. He gladly accepted my request and made a sword with the most superior cutting capacity (shimo-no-ha). I was pleased with it and tested it as usual, but it did not meet my expectation. So, I requested him to make another one for me.
Masahide became furious and said to me with tremendous wrath, “I have made over 1000 swords over the years, I was never told to re-make a sword after testing it. You are such an insolent person!” “No, no. Master!” Then I told him that what I wanted differed from other people. I expounded my theory of ideal swords as follows: First of all, the shape of a sword must be perfect, because when you wear it you should feel as if your body and sword become “one”, like an animal having its horns attached. When you walk up steep hills or on long journey over mountains, your hips should not get tired or your spirit weighed down. If the curvature of a sword is too shallow, it does not wear well.
 
 If a sword’s curvature is too shallow, it will be inconvenient to draw out of the sheath. Also it will not cut well, and bend when cutting something hard. In a battle scene, a sword tends to cut things in hira-uchi. With these pros and cons in mind, I told my master (Suishinshi Masahide) that by his skill with its metal perfectly beaten, and its blade glistening even before polishing, he should be able to make a perfect sword even without testing it.
 
There are said to be several hundred sword-smiths who are known as makers of Shinto sword (Notes: Shinto: “New Swords”. Blades made between 1596 and 1781), but I said to him that he (Masahide) is one of the very best master sword-smiths (I dared to say these words to him). Upon hearing this Masahide regained his composure, and told me that I said quite fascinating things for someone of my young age. Then, I was asked to help him forge a sword. We worked together by forging the metal as a pair and we created a sword after 3 weeks of work. Thenceforth, I could not help but truly want to study under him as my master, who could guide me in the way of sword making. Looking back now, this was my point of departure and how I began emulating the ancient methods of forging swords by meeting Masahide.
 
Several years later, when I was 26 years old, carefully having thought about the superior and inferior qualities of swords, I recognized that the sword-smiths gradually became less able over the years, and that there are hardly any of them who make and consider swords as the chief treasure-weapons to pacify and protect the state. By then, in the Bunsei era (1818-1829), sword making was on the decline and had just become a kind of profession. Sword-making techniques place too much emphasis on outward appearance and many swords have lost their intrinsic virtue, and become spiritless. As I did not come across a sword that could be considered to be suitable to protect the peace of the society, and thinking that depending on other masters is useless, I made up my mind to analyse ancient traditions of sword making and to forge one for myself and wear it. I went to see Kawamura Saburo Toshitaka (Notes: he was one of the Ueda domain sword-smiths, Hamabe school) to study sword making under him. He (Kawamura Saburo Toshitaka) has travelled widely to study sword making, mastering fine craftsmanship from many master sword-smiths going back as far as the Keichō era (1596-1615).
His swords might be splendid in appearance, even looking finer than past masters’ work, but he did not know much about ancient methods of sword making. Therefore, I wondered whether his swords might lack in refinement.
I studied under him for about two years, and after that I decided to work at my place trying and testing ancient and modern methods of sword making.
During the daytime, I was often occupied with various matters, so my young brother Kiyomaro and I laboriously heated the metal (mixtures of iron known as “sei” in sword-making terminology) every night and crafted many swords together. One night, however hard we tried, even working well into the small hours, the metal did not melt enough (to “waku” or “tsumi-wakashi” in Japanese sword-making terminology). The metal did not reach the temperature that is required for forging.
 
 At the time my father, Nobukaze (also known as Masatomo), was still alive, and watched us working and asked if we were not too tired. My mother, a very caring person who never failed to give us a moral support, hearing what father was saying hidden from our view, then took some sake drink out for us. For my brother and I were consummate drinkers, Kiyomaro was glad to receive sake and said “Oh this is good, this is good, many thanks”, lightly dancing with joy. Then we offered some sake to our parents too, whilst keeping the fire at the hearth going for hours. Then the metal did melt easily. Finding that finally the metal melted properly, we started hammering the blade, without realising that dawn was breaking. We wondered why the metal does not melt so easily at first. It may be that the metal not melting late at midnight was due to the extreme ying, and the metal melting properly at the dawn was due to the mild yang.
 
My house is located at a place called Akaiwa, Chiisagata-gun, of Shinano (Notes: now it is in Tōmi City, Nagano prefecture). It is located where a castle once stood, where the land was owned by my ancestor Yamaura Hitachinosuke Nobumune. The house stands facing a high cliff with the Chikuma River running fast beneath us. On the left in the distance, there are Tsuruga-jo castle, Nukazuka castle and Mt. Yokone standing below. In the direction of the dragon (East-south-east) there is Hakamagoshi-jo castle; and there are Mt. Nunohiki and Ryōganji castle in the direction of the snake (South-south-east). The house is surrounded by all kinds of scenic lofty places. To the right, there is a place called Iwahana, at the foot of Kuzuo. My house commands clear views stretching 6-7 ri (24-28 km: 15-17 miles: one “ri” is 3.93 km) to the front and the back. One summer evening, I was looking at fireflies (glow-worms) with their shiny fluorescent lights fluttering about above the surface of the Chikuma River. Then suddenly I came to understand that everything without exception is the working of Heaven and Earth.
 
Henceforth, I created swords out of my true spirit. That is to say, I assimilated the Laws of Heaven and Man, and grounded myself in my natural inborn Li (principle) and Qi (vital force). (Notes: Zhu Xi/ Chu Hsi (1130-1200) was the most influential Confucian scholar of the Song Dynasty who expounded the theory of Li and Qi) In this way, may I enter into the realm of Enlightenment, a Wondrous Union of Heaven and Man! I have been longing to do this, even in my dreams. For the last 40-odd years I have dedicated myself to the Way of the Sword-smith. I have become well- known to people, and there are even some forgers who make fake swords pretending to be my work. Alas and alack! How will my work fare! I have now reached old age, without reaching even half of what I wished. I have always sworn my sincere devotion to my country and my people. May the Heavenly Deity Amatsukami (Kami of Heaven) and the Earthly Deity Kunitsukami (Kami of Earth) know and grant my wish.
 
May the gods ensure my sword-smith lineage for generations to come, and let me create a sword that embodies Heaven and Man in wondrous union, and create rare fine swords and be blessed with happiness in the Way of sword making.
 
Looking back, this is nothing but murmurs of the aged, which I have been thinking to myself over and over again, during the wakeful nights.
 
 Alas! I feel bereft (“wabi” in original Japanese text) in the long autumnal night, in the 4th year of Meiji period.
 
At the age of 68, as an old man.
Inscribed by Yū-un-sai Toshinaga.
Inscribed this passage on a sheet of paper.

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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.

 

cheers,

 

Ben

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