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Nihonto?

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#31 David Flynn

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 01:45 AM

As I have said in a previous post.   The Japanese already class some swords differently to rest.    In Japan, Gunto = Showato,  Showato= Gendaito made in the early Showa period.  Gendaito = Shinsakuto.


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#32 Austus

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 02:32 AM

But don't you see how confusing that is?

Gunto = Military sword

Showa = time period

Gendaito = Traditional sword made during Showa period

Showato… all Gendaito??     That's not the way I understood it.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.  And please define Shinsakuto for me. 

 

If the original purpose in those terms was to communicate the physical attributes of those swords, they failed.  Except for the category Gendaito. They're well defined.

 

One thing for sure, they're all Japanese.   Nihonto?


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#33 David Flynn

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 06:30 AM

The Japanese call Shinsakuto, Gendaito.


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#34 IJASWORDS

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 07:33 AM

So David, we can attribute Japanese names to swords made in the period of this thread, Showa, Gendai, Shinsakuto. But there are swords made in this period that are clearly made in Bizen, Soshu, Mino etc traditions. Is this an accident of the forging and quenching process dictated by time constraints of war, or in fact did the sword smiths want to make a classical nihonto of a particular tradition? For example I have a WW2 Yasumasa in 98 mounts that would hold its own (certainly in looks) against an "old" blade, probably in Soshu tradition. It may have been a special order for an officer, but none the less, time and considerable effort was put into it during war time. 

Is this in your opinion a true nihonto in the accepted definition? 


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#35 David Flynn

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 08:31 AM

Gendaito, are essentially similar to Shinshinto, as most of the Teachers of the Gendai smiths were, Shinshinto.   To understand why most Gendaito are forged in style of the Gokuden,  one must do a bit of study,  and research  Suishinshi Mashide and his revivalist movement.

If we take the Gassan family an example,  They made/make swords in all the traditions.  Basically their prices reflect the tradition to which they are forged.  It's my belief.  That Gassan swords,  forged in the Soshu tradition, are more expensive than the rest.


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#36 IJASWORDS

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 12:37 PM

Since the swords of the Shinto period seemed to be more flamboyant than functional, and swords of the Shinshinto period were the precursor of Gendaito, they must have been good functional weapons for WW2 officers. 


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#37 David Flynn

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 01:30 PM

With the end of WW11,  there came an influx of Japanese Military Swords.  As we all know,  many different types of swords may be found in Gunto koshirae.

Also, with the ocupation troops,  many swords in civilian koshirae were brought home to the respective ocupation troops home countries.  We all know about Americas role in this, and to some extent, the British.  However, there were also, Australian , New Zealand and Indian troops.  This is why, the various forms of Japanese sword collecting became popular.   Now comes the split.  Whilst some concentrated on tradionally made swords,  others concentrated on the militaria side of collecting.  Where the problem arises is with Showato.  Whilst technically,"  Nihonto",  The Japanese in their Wisdom, decided that only traditionally made swords, would be classed/called, "Nihonto".  So in conclusion,  Showato are not Nihonto and never will be.

The end.


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#38 PNSSHOGUN

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 02:03 PM

That makes some sense, I have three wartime Gendaito done in three different distinctive styles. All of these smiths had teachers with strong routes to top Shin Shinto smiths

 

1: Hizen (Muto Yukihiro, lineage from 8th Gen Tadayoshi)

2: Huge 28" Bizen Den (Yoshu Ju Yoshihiro, lineage from Takashi Yoshimune > Yokoyama Sukesada)

3: Soshu Den (Komiya Kunimitsu, lineage from Shinano no Kami Muto Hisahiro, tenous link to Suishinshi Masahide)


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#39 16k

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 02:57 PM

Since the swords of the Shinto period seemed to be more flamboyant than functional, and swords of the Shinshinto period were the precursor of Gendaito, they must have been good functional weapons for WW2 officers. 

 

that remains to be seen...

http://www.nihontocr...hi_Nihonto.html

 

not such great performances if we compare them to this:

https://www.youtube....zTb5xTw&index=3

 

and let’s not forget this either:

http://www.nihontocr...ld_weather.html


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#40 Austus

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 07:15 PM

There was a previous thread where Ed defined Shinsakuto as a post-Gendaito category, where the Gendai smith had died. 

I thought it was what we call today's traditionally forged Japanese swords. (Shin Gendaito, in one book?)  So what do we call them, and are they Nihonto?  Is it just the time period or purely the forging techniques? As for them, I think they are the truest Art Swords. More art than weapon. 

 

Can we get more on the designation of "Nihonto" by the Japanese?  That doesn't sound like something that can be argued with, unless it was part of the attempt to save swords from destruction after the war. In that context, they may not have expected swords to be made anymore; or just wanted to put distance between war weapons and heirlooms. 

 

I'm fascinated with how and why we draw these lines.  Bet I'm not the only one that wants to see it be logical and fair.


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#41 paulb

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 07:32 PM

I am not sure this is as complicated as we appear to be making it.

during the early occupation all swords were designated as weapons and illegal to own. Subesequently it was understood and accepted that pre-war swords were of historical and cultural importance.

Such swords were defined as Nihon-To. They had to have been made using traditional techniques and materials. This excluded the vast majority of WWII blades which were regarded as weapons and of "no artistic value". Exceptions to this were blades made by qualified and registered smiths using tamahagane. These were described as Gendaito as opposed to gunto (army swords) which were made in factories using some of the many defined techniques.

When sword manufacture was legalised in the 1950s it could only be practiced by smiths who had undergone a formal apprenticeship and registered. These were also called Gendaito. 

As far as I am aware the term shinsaku-To only came to the surface when Yoshindo Yoshihara first started to appear in the USA. Not sure where the term originated but the first references I ever saw related to his work.

Bottom line is that for any sword  to qualify as a Nihon-To (using the legal definition) it has to be made using traditional methods and material by a fully trained smith. All other terms koto, shinto etc related to periods of manufacture rather than methodology.

Sorry if I am repeating myself and others but I think we are getting a bit tied up and confused between terms that relate to period of manufacture and those that refer to technique.


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#42 Austus

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 08:04 PM

Thanks, Paul.  Sorry to make you repeat that; but you do it so well!

 

Still got two questions:  What do they call today's Traditional swords; and are they Nihonto?


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#43 paulb

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 08:33 PM

If they are made using traditional methods and materials then yes. If not they would be illegal, regarded as a weapon and not called much else than that I would guess.

BTW what I am saying is what I understand to be the case based on what I have been told over the years but that doesn't necessarily make it right. It is opinion and interpretation rather than a statement of fact: :)


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#44 David Flynn

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Posted 02 February 2020 - 01:26 AM

Because some of the Modern Smiths are already being counterfeited, particularly, Ono Yoshimitsu,  the Japanese, will soon be issuing certificates for Newly Made Swords.  As for Austus' question on whether newly made swords are Nihonto, the answer is yes.  We are still in the Gendai period,  so technically all newly made swords are Gendaito.  Where Shinsakuto come in is,  the delination between swords made before they were banned and swords produced post ban.


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#45 IJASWORDS

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Posted 02 February 2020 - 08:12 AM

Paul, I saw a Koa Isshin for sale at the DTI last year in Japan in shin gunto koshirae. Clearly not made from traditional materials, and some doubt exists about its method of manufacture. It was obviously a WW2 weapon. So why would not this be classed as a weapon and banned, confiscated or destroyed? 


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Neil

#46 David Flynn

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Posted 02 February 2020 - 09:39 AM

My only thought on this is, the lack of a stamp.


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#47 paulb

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Posted 02 February 2020 - 09:55 AM

Honest answer Neil is I dont know. There have been several examples of blades that under normal circumstances would be regarded as illegal suddenly appearing for sale on various dealers websites. However these odd exceptions do not make the basic hypothesis invalid.

I do think there needs to be some revision and clarity but I doubt the Government would see it as a priority. Also I think there should be an authentication system for WWII swords, a different one to that used for traditionally made swords. Again I am not sure there is the political will to do it.


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#48 IJASWORDS

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Posted 02 February 2020 - 11:27 AM

Paul, I think your answer probably answers all my questions. It's probably all we can do now is hypothesize and watch the Japanese into the future on what stance they adopt. 

But in an era of fake swords increasing, even WW2 stuff, collectors, and students of Japanese swords need some system of authentication. Unless of course the Japanese authorities want to restrict the number of swords in public hands by maintaining the category "weapons". 


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#49 16k

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Posted 02 February 2020 - 11:32 AM

In a way, I don’t think a stamp was needed for Mantetsu, the name and Koa Isshin being so particulier to the company and their method that Mantetsu was a stamp in itself.

 

As for the method, the very first ones, before production, were made using traditional methods but without tamahagane. When production started, they used a method they adapted for the swords but which was derived from the construction of train wheels and axles. So, not traditional in any way.


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#50 Austus

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Posted 06 February 2020 - 11:06 PM

On one hand you have Nihonto collectors, and on the other hand you have the Japanese authorities.  They both agree to the meaning of the term "Nihonto." 

While this thread has made clear the historical and manufacturing applications of the word; it has also shined the light on why the discussion keeps coming up. When a word translates as one thing; but later becomes applied to only a portion of that thing; it gets confusing. Then when you add "elitist" and monetary considerations; it gets contentious.

 

Setting aside the word wars, you're left with a problem for the future: The Japanese authorities have completely rejected their association with WW2 weapons, and maybe any weapons at all. Until you see them let smiths make more than 2 swords a month; you can assume that nothing has changed in that department. So don't hold your breath that they are worried about counterfeits of a blade that they are trying to ignore. And get rid of that gunto koshirae.

 

Another thing that this thread has done is to spotlight the political implications of the swords produced during the post Meiji times.  For one thing, they were produced by a Nation, for fighting other nations. And now they're illegal in that Nation. On either side of that time period, everything else is "traditional."  We just need to be okay with that. The guntos belong to us, now; they don't want them. They consider "Gunto" to be a dirty word. We shouldn't. We faced them. We can love them as much as we want. Their value will continue to rise, papers or not.

 

And one more thing. I'm not too sure that the Traditionalists will be all that happy to have to include today's traditionally made swords as Nihonto.  Their purpose and function is so removed from the original that we really do need a different name for them than Gendaito.  I vote Shin-Gendaito; and the postwar period needs a new name, too. 


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Austus M.


#51 robinalexander

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 12:26 AM

Austus,

 

In my view you have provided a good well reasoned summary. 

 

Tks Rob


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#52 Gakusee

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 12:40 AM

Austus, no need for a new term. The swords you are describing in your last paragraph are shinsakuto. 


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#53 Austus

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 01:33 AM

Thanks, Michael.  Does that mean the same as what David said; that there's a cutoff at war's end; but they're still Gendaito?   My problem with that is, the post-war swords were traditional in every way of the definition; but were fully Art Swords and not primarily weapons. Matter of fact, I'm surprised they weren't legally required to be dulled, considering the political environment.  So they may be Nihonto; but they are very different from pre-1950 swords; and they deserve a different Era name than Gendaito. 


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#54 David Flynn

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 03:34 AM

Tell that to the Japanese.


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#55 Greg F

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 04:38 AM

To me post war/ shinsakuto are nihonto as much as pre war. Just not antique or held by samurai but pure nihonto.

Greg
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#56 David Flynn

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 09:35 AM

Standard critirea of Nihonto is, it must be functional.  Even the modern Art Swords, must be functional.


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#57 paulb

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 09:59 AM

Legally post war swords have to be made by a qualified smith and using traditional material and technique and are therefore Nihon-To.

The debate/argument/ disagreements tends to be about those made just before and during WWII.


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#58 Gakusee

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 10:38 AM

Paul has described the rules and the concepts very well. I wonder why we keep asking the same questions. Traditionally made, with a large proportion of tamahagane (I think it needs to be at least 75 per cent but this needs double checking in Japanese language in the Japanese sources - for instance the NBTHK webpage touken.or.jp), functional etc.
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#59 Austus

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 02:36 PM

"...large proportion of tamahagane... at least 75 per cent..."   I've not heard that before. We got some wiggle room, here?

 

I have felt the pain of Nihonto rejection!  When I look at my elegant Kanezane blade, which he proudly signed as being made with Yasuki steel; I can't believe anyone would want to exclude this prizewinning smith's work as a non-Nihonto. But I have come to terms with that, even though it doesn't feel right. This question keeps coming up because there are too many exceptions and inconsistences in the rules as applied through history. 

 

If I could tell the Japanese authorities anything, it would probably be:  "The war is long over. We're Friends, now. Let's take all those non-Nihonto swords and call them Nippon-To, and give them back their rightful place in history; and let your people register and own them proudly."   If the Japanese could own Gunto; I bet the prices would go crazy.


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Austus M.


#60 David Flynn

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Posted 07 February 2020 - 03:03 PM

????????????? :flog:


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