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Everything posted by Gakusee

  1. Thanks for the interesting recollections and reflections of how it went. It allows us to almost feel the atmosphere and vicariously be present there through you
  2. Well done Piers and thank you! I would be grateful if you could share some images and lessons learnt from these NBTHK meetings. i am a Life member but alas have never been to an NBTHK meeting or conference in Japan (or anywhere in the world for that matter)! thank you again!
  3. Georg, thank you for sharing your journey with us. Similarly to you, we are enjoying the ride and look forward to the end destination. Please do not get discouraged by a few detractions and distractions on the way there.
  4. Well, Michael This background is very helpful: you seem to like old, historic items with proved or provable history / provenance. I am with you personally on Kamakura, even though I venture either side too (Heian and Nanbokucho). Bear in mind that with Kamakura and older, you often have to compromise on condition issues (eg here there are some lamination seam ware on one side of the hamon, which I personally can live with, but some members who prefer younger swords, eg Shinto etc, would not accept). If you are not focused on a certain school or schools and not fixated on how a blade looks like, as long as it is in a good condition, then you could go for any blade that ticks the boxes mentioned above. Personally, I like this Ko-Bizen Tochika a lot, but that is because I like Bizen. What the bonus features here are: the preserved mei, the highly rated provenance and Honami certificate. I shall leave aside the tachi koshirae as it is nice but not super nice. The Honami who appraised it is the highly rated Kojo (big bonus) and the family is an offshoot of the very famous Matsudaira clan (bonus). The sword description in the Juyo paper talks of fabulous choji and excellent deki, so the judges did think rather highly of the sword. As mentioned before, they compare it to Hatakeda (the founder, Moriie, had such glamorous kawazuko choji) and Saburo Kunimune (another Bizen great with expressive hamon). Such comparisons are also a subtle nod to the reader that the blade is from the early 1200s perhaps (they do mention that the blade does not date later than mid Kamakura). The smith himself is not very famous but this blade seems to be one of his tour de force creations. He does not have many blades left to us but those that remain (fewer than ten) have JuBI and JuBu grade items among them and are split between suguha and flamboyant and active hamon. Honma sensei, in his book Kanto Hibisho, speaks favourably of this very sword and compares it to the JuBi and JuBu examples. Fujishiro has also included it in his book. So, clearly this is a famous, well researched and well documented blade that has been reviewed by Honami Kojo, Fujishiro sensei, Honma sensei, the NBTHK shinsa panel, Tanobe sensei (if I were you, I would get his sayagaki of this sword professionally translated by Markus Sesko) etc. Well, it does not get any better than that documentation wise. At this level, you need to trust the dealer as you are not seeing the blade in hand. The photos are all right but sometimes obscure certain details. The oshigata Tsuruta draws for sale are not usually too precise and tend to exaggerate some activities but of course oshigata are works of art and interpretation. So, do allow for some condition issue that might pop up when you get the blade but again I suspect for the age of the blade it will be acceptable. Ask for a video of the sword, ask for daylight photos of the sword, ask for someone you trust to review it in hand if possible. But anyway, with this sword, you get a lot of research done by others in your behalf. Personally, I am surprised that such a caliber sword ended with Tsuruta. But anyhow, do your own research with some of the pointers above and sleep on it.
  5. Namesake / Michael My opinion is already in the other thread. I have looked at many Ko-Bizen, own one, etc. This blade is very good BUT you must know what you are buying before venturing into something like that. If you are asking for [moral] support and views on the blade and others justifying to you whether you should buy it, it seems to me you are not ready yet to swim in these [deep] waters… if you truly have such funds, then pause, look around, compare and decide what type of Ko-Bizen (or whether it is Ko-Bizen you desire in the first place) you are after and then by which smith. And then perhaps decide whether you want it with provenance and koshirae or not. Someone buying at such level would need to evaluate the smith, condition, provenance, length, other bells & whistles etc etc. You would need to know what you want / expect of the blade and whether it is meeting your requirements (eg do you like the hamon and want flamboyant choji, or does it need to be an “old blade”, do you want a blade with a mei etc).
  6. One needs to be very careful with Aoi and its listings. Usually there are some inadvertent mistakes but also there is the usual dealer spin to reality. Firstly, as Kirill is saying, Ko-Bizen spans from Heian / roughly 1100 to approximately 1240. Plus or minus a decade or two. So, you have occasionally Ko-Bizen which are well into Kamakura and have different dimensions (increasing sori in monouchi) and hamon (more flamboyant) to the ‘usual’, old Ko-Bizen, which on the whole tended to be more uncontrived than here. So, this type of nioiguchi and hamon speak of later Ko-Bizen as a rule. Next, onto the smith. Well, this smith is believed to be a descendant of Masatsune, who did have a more flamboyant hamon. Interestingly, the setsumei here references flamboyance similar to Hatakeda Moriie and Saburo Kunimune, who would have overlapped with Tochika, at least partially, in creative period. Fujishiro in his book starts by saying that he is usually associated with 1190 as starting period, then quotes several eras but concludes the smith most likely worked during the Ichimonji school period. There are not many swords left by him and some are in suguha but some are very flamboyant and exciting. He has blades which were kokuho pre-war and now JuBu, so clearly highly rated. As to the blade, yes it is TokuJu and published by Fujishiro. The Honami Kojo origami is highly valuable and it has a historic provenance. The hamon is very nice, it is zaimei , so these are the positive attributes. One will need to evaluate whether one is happy with the condition (it has some rather deep ware). But it surely is a special sword, valued very highly. It shows that the overall merits far outweigh the condition issues.
  7. So, on the topic of yari..... This is almost a separate subject and one should not extrapolate from sword knowledge and make assumptions about it being a votive blade, etc. In Muromachi, it was common for some senior samurai to wield omi yari. In fact, I personally owned an omi yari by nidai Muramasa (see below), which was 51 cm in length and around 2.5cm in motohaba. Sue-Bizen (eg nidai Yoshimitsu,Tadamitsu), various Shimada guys (Yoshisuke), Muramasa (as already mentioned), Nobutaka (Seki), etc etc particularly in the period 1450-1540 forged such larger weapons (over 50cm nagasa and often with motobaba 2.5-2.8cm). Many have been accepted at Juyo level. So, in the grand scheme of things, this post's yari is not so big, even if it is a larger and more impressive one in general. I do look forward to seeing some photos of it. Below, my former yari.
  8. How did we decide on the 'chemical' treatment of the hamon? The photos are not clear and are taken at an odd angle for assessment. Also, while not the perfect candidate for a sashikomi polish, some sort of sashikomi-like polish could have been applied and that is a polish which makes the hamon stand out more.
  9. See here: https://markussesko.com/2018/11/07/goto-soroi-kanagu/
  10. We should also not forget that: - items were often lost / broken / replaced / sold - dealers from Meiji period onwards to the present day regularly sell Tosogu separately as they have realised they can make more money that way - when a high-end tsuba is sold separately (which was a part of an en suite koshirae), and that is one of the most often done divestments, then dealers sometimes try to substitute something which broadly fits but is a different metal or configuration or just a different level of quality. A culprit with often put-together koshirae is Aoe Japan. - over the lifetime of a sword, it probably saw a number of different koshirae to suit the tastes of its respective owners. The truly en suites are normally in richer / important / Daimyo families. Those had the means and will to preserve the package intact. In fact, after Daimyo started selling off the family jewels ( between Haitorei and postWWII impoverished Japan) there have been various “sets” that have passed through quite high papers with the NBTHK. When I look at the published ones, indeed often the elements complement each other rather than replicate the same motif
  11. Well, I think you should keep them. I do not use mine much but when I do, I like the oshigata and the narrative
  12. Yes, that was lucky that everything is translated and well researched now. The daimyo provenance is quite fortunate too, unless Jiri knew about it of course.
  13. The quality is not there for top Omori work
  14. Thank you, Jussi. Interesting setsumei and thought-provoking.... talks about the characteristic style of the smith, the itame - nagare hada, the ko-ashi and ko-nie. From the photos, I would say the jihada looks pristine/perfect but the setsumei highlights some roughness here in there, known as Rai hada. But in photos it looks great and I am sure/hopeful it will be the case in hand. Physical examination will show best. But as highlighted above, the last few sentences are important and here the setsumei ends by saying that the jiba (i.e. jihada and hamon) is skillsful/masterly: calls the jiba sugure (優れ),
  15. Hi Piers, let me help your here: - part of the Juyo certification 'package' is not only the Juyo cetificate (illustrated above) but also the detailed narrative about each Juyo item (be it a sword , kodogu, etc) in particular, which is published in the annual volume Zufu Nado of the items which were accepted as Juyo in that year (well the volume comes out the year after but that is another point). - so, having the certificate is important but so is the narrative - I know you are into armour, so the Juyo Zufu Nado setsumei is the equivalent of the Juyo Bunka volumes for Juyo armour with the narrative about each armour - this sword of Jiri's has come from Eirakudo, judging by the photography, a well known dealer in Nagano - e.g., see this Eirakudo page for what the 'full package' of paperwork looks like for a Juyo sword. So, for this Muramasa, it is the page with Japanese writing, which is immediately below the Juyo certificate and above the Juyo oshigata (which, by the way is part of the same section of the Juyo Zufu Nado dedicated to the particular sword) https://eirakudo.shop/token/tanto/detail/587480 - going into the setsumei of the Muramasa tanto, we can read the definitive statement that this Muramasa is by 'the second generation, who was the most skilled of the generations'. What is the benefit: well the oshigata and certificate do not specify nidai, but the setsumei does. So, the three-four last sentences of each setsumei usually contain interesting nuggets about the specific sword. Sometimes it is confirmation of daimyo provenance, sometimes it is about the generation, sometimes it is praise saying it is among the best masterworks of the smith (which is usually a good tokuju indicator
  16. Ok, a few thoughts: - firstly, it looks like a great sword. Congrats to Jiri for buying a high-quality blade by a top smith in such a great condition. I like the finesse of the hada and the nice nie, as it behooves Rai Kunitoshi - secondly, Steve has been generous not only to Jiri but to all of us. He decides how/when to dedicate his time (like Moriyama san, etc), so I would suggest that we do not sanctimoniously jump in and start criticising Jiri for his request. Of course, the request could have been phrased differently and Jiri should make an effort to learn some of the main terms and recognise them. In that regard, Steve has been quite didactic in his approach and has transcribed the kanji for the various terms so that we can all learn. Thank you, Steve. He has not provided the full answer but has given the key to knowledge to Jiri. - thirdly, on the setsumei: yes, it is a key ‘insider secret’ to read this first and foremost. Not many people do it and it is an advanced technique if one 1) has access to the setsumei and 2) has means to have it translated (by a professional or using optical character recognition and web-based engines like Google Translate, DeepL, etc). Often dealers paraphrase the setsumei when they sell swords and that is a good shortcut to the setsumei. Sometimes they omit certain sentences or phrases which might inject doubt, so Chris is ultimately right that the setsumei sometimes holds interesting ‘secrets’ or provides some alternative interpretation or highlights certain strengths or weaknesses of a sword. - fourthly: payment for translation Good idea in principle but I would also encourage Steve to charge something himself for translations - I do not know, perhaps something nominal or get it as a donation to the board. If he gets a small fee, perhaps that will be a small incentive. However, this does raise a more profound and philosophical question: should we all start charging for a) shared knowledge b) examples we attach from references for which we have paid, c) lessons we impart to whoever has raised the question etc etc. That approach in my view undermines the nature of this community. I am curious as to what others think on this….
  17. Yes, it is possible that statement about antiques >100years was there but I always read the small font and had never noticed that. I have only once or twice shipped swords and never paid too much attention to what/:how much Parcelforce insured as that (even at their extended cover of £2500) would not have covered me. Having read the rules again, they exclude everything now - antiques, works of art, collectables etc etc
  18. Indeed, heartfelt thanks to Ian C and Mike H-S who organised a wonderful gathering for around 20-25 of us in Lickey, Birmingham. The social as well as the educational aspects made it very enjoyable. Several collectors, including both Ian C and Ian B, Bob M, Dave F, etc generously shared their items with the attendees. There were some unusual samurai accoutrements to be seen, or 'sleeper' unpapered yet blades of high quality and bearing all the hallmarks of the genuine artefact. All in all, it was a great event, held in a socially-managed and Covid-safe manner
  19. Hmm, thanks, Alex, this seems a recent amendment. And the unpleasant thing is that the EMS Worldwide/Global Priority agent for the UK is exactly Parcelforce (which is part of Royal Mail).
  20. Chris, it is pointless :))) I have attached the evidence, explained it etc. Now, I respect the Nihonto Koza enormously and refer to it frequently. I just wish to point out that Afu Watson himself published his translation in 1994, which makes the translation itself a bit dated at nearly 30 years old (but still a classic advanced text). The Japanese Koza came out in 1966 (!) I think and was revised or merely reprinted in 1972. Now in the intervening 50+ years, since that text was published many new swords were discovered, documented and passed through Juyo (including the examples I attached). Anyway, if Jacques is happy to ignore the new discoveries and still believe that the Earth is flat, that is fine
  21. George, I think not. At least the rule should be that the nengo is symmetric - if the mei is in the nakago shinogiji, that is where the nengo would be on the opposite side. Also the positioning on the nakago would be the same (here the mei is towards the nakagojiri due to suriage). I think what you are [trying] / [hoping] to see appears to be towards the hassaki side. Is it also higher up? I cannot tell. Honestly, try with some of the meikan and show it to someone in hand in the US. We are focusing a lot on the mei but there is enough of the hamon and hada to study. Compare to some of the Oei guys (the problematic issue you have is the unusual mei / syntax for that time). For earlier smiths, I would expect a much more “active” hamon (see separate topic on the active hamon :)). So, some headscratchers which need to be resolved with spending the time with the blade, Osafune taikan, Sesko books plus online images of relevant smiths. Invest the time, learn, enjoy….
  22. Fair point and very good observation, Christian! There is indeed such filing on the opposite side (ura) of the mei side (omote) but that affects mostly the bottom part of the nakago and is particularly accute in cases of osuriage. When we have minimal shortening by clipping the jiri, not really. See attached clearly shortened blade with retained nagamei and nengo. Most of the examples I attached are not such extreme cases of shortening as to cause nengo removal.
  23. George Just checked some sources. According to Tanobe sensei: ”The Aoe school smiths of Bitchu province would be a prime example of the smiths that very commonly used saka-tagane. The old Aoe smiths worked prior to the mid Kamakura period, as well as the later Aoe smiths of the Nanbokucho period, consistently used quite a bit of saka-tagane in carving their mei. Among the Bizen province smiths, so called the Un~ group smiths including Unsho , Unji and Unju, and Chikakage, who was a student of Osafune Nagamitsu, as well as smiths in Chikakage's line who also used the kanji character "Kage"as a part of their names including Morikage, Yoshikage, Mitsukage, Norikage and Morokage, all shared the same habit of using saka-tagane. Authentic works of the Yoshii school smiths also show this characteristic. The main line of the Osafune school was succeeded by Nagamitsu, Kagemitsu and then Kanemitsu, but they all used jun-tagane [normal tagane]. On rare occasions, we encounter authentic blades with Kagemitsu mei carved with saka-tagane. These, however, can be understood as dai-mei actually carved by the peripheral line smith Chikakage on behalf of the mainline smith Kagemitsu.” When you look at sakatagane or juntagane, it is not about left or right. It is whether the stroke is chiselled In the correct/usual direction or in the opposite direction. So, if the correct direction is left to right then sakatagane would be right to left. So, he gives an example with the Rai character and Kuni character for some of the Rai smiths that were executed in sakatagane. Namely strokes one and four (the horizontal strokes) in “Rai” are chiselled from right to left (sakatagane) while normally they should be done from left to right (juntagane). See the attached image, bottom left. Next, please find attached a short video of the correct kanji stroke order for “Kage”. I have focused on that kanji as it is common across the Bizen guys referenced in Tanobe sensei’s paragraph above about sakatagane. Please watch it a few times to see how it should be executed. I always cheat and use that software to figure chisel strokes and order (shhh, do not tell the teacher!). I show below Kozori Mitsukage and Omiya Morokage and their sakatagane in red mark-up. One has to go through a similar exercise for in-depth analysis. videozip_8.mp4
  24. Jacques, Jacques, Jacques….. I do not know what to do with you…… Now, I do agree that in most / majority of Oei Bizen cases when there is nagamei there is nengo. But it is not always the case. 1. Definition Naga-mei (長銘) – Lit. “long signature.” Term to refer to a signature which consists of six or more characters. Shorter signatures are referred to as niji-mei (二字銘), sanji-mei (三字銘), yoji-mei (四字銘), and goji-mei (五字銘). However, there is no rule that the differentiation has been made at six characters because also terms like rokuji-mei (六字銘), shichiji-mei (七字銘), or hachiji-mei (八字銘) exist to refer to signatures with exactly six, seven, or eight characters respectively. 2. Yasumitsu with efu-no-dachi koshirae above Therefore, the attached zaimei example is nagamei. It does not need to be in the format province, title, name. It could be as it is here. I attached that Yasumitsu exactly because it is such a special and rare case, where there is a prayer in the signature: Yasumitsu Marishiten Daibosatsu on omote and Bishu hachiman daibosatsu on ura. 3. Suriage or not Irrelevant. The sword either has nengo or not. You claim that they always have nengo when nagamei. You have been proved wrong. Even you yourself do not mention ubu in your first statement (post 4) as you subconsciously know it is completely irrelevant. In your second statement (post 13) you go on to mention ubu, but it does not matter as the nengo is directly opposite on the opposite side of the nakago, so even if suriage, when the nagamei is preserved so will the nengo due to the physical placement of the nengo. 4. Just because … For your satisfaction, further examples of some Moromitsu and Morimitsu without nengo but with nagamei In all of this, what is much more interesting is the syntax to which Jussi pointed, ie the Bizen no kuni osa []… that is the one point to raise flags, analyse and deliberate on. Guys like Sanenaga, Chikakage, etc signed like that…. So one will need to hit the books and start comparing the ‘handwriting’ and yasurime…….
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