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Everything posted by kauai1800

  1. Aloha Chris, Thanks for that translation. Now I know the blade was made in Spring 2011, exactly a year before I purchased it. Arigato & mahalo, John
  2. Aloha, I wanted to get an exact translation of the mei on the tanto I purchased from Seki Swordsmith Kanefusa Fujiwara in 2012. (Please search my earlier posts to read the story of this tanto). One side is his name, of course, but I would like help with the exact translation and see what he wrote on the other side of the nakago. I appreciate the assistance very much!
  3. Nice to hear from you Ken. Glad you had a good trip to Bizen-Osafune. This is an interesting question. I might very delicately ask my Japanese knifemaking connection in Seki what he thinks about it. He's got a good sense of Eastern vs Western values so he's good person to gauge whether something is appropriate or might be seen as offensive/inconsiderate. And he knows Kanefusa 25 pretty well. Next time I email him I'll feel him out. I wouldn't get my hopes up though . Kanefusa 25th seemed to be doing OK financially - he had a nice house, a new SUV; but no doubt the art form is slowly dying and for his son (and his son's son...) to continue making swords there needs to be a market. I got the feeling from what his son, Kanefusa 26th, said that it's harder and harder to get the outside apprentices that will stay on for the whole decade-long process of training. You can see in the photos that he's a young guy; and probably gets an odd look when he tells someone he's a swordsmith rather than an engineer or teacher. He has finished his training however, so his path is set. I'm sure being part of something that goes back 26 generations has got to weigh pretty heavy on you as you chose your career path...lol! However the other, new apprentice who was not related by blood; he seemed like he could go either way. And I don't know that much about how these modern smiths do sell their work. Perhaps at Japanese katana shows and high-end Tokyo boutiques? I can't help but imagine that they are prized by yakuza, but I have no idea if that is true. I'm sure some of the forum members can address this. -John P "Don't just eat the hamburger, eat the HELL out of it"
  4. Many thanks for all the good suggestions. I will keep it well oiled, but not so much as to get oil on the saya. And indeed I have sent Kanefusa and his son several gifts in May. Unfortunately I know of no way to mail liquor internationally, so I could not send him rum, but this is a very good idea. Instead I sent him many small edible treats like mac nuts, kona coffee, and sent it all in a beautifully-crafted koa box. I hope it appealed to his aesthetic. I have never tried the Koloa Rum, assuming it would be "rum-of-the-mill"...lol. I've heard several good things about it recently, and as someone who loves his distilled spirits, I think I'll get some today on your suggestion! I really wish Walmart had some black velvet so I could get better photographs - this wooden board background looks terrible but is my best option at the moment. I love challenging photography, so expect to see me work to get the 'ultimate' photos of this tanto. The effort shown here is poor. I plan to rig up a better long/skinny light box and get something acceptable soon. As I mentioned I received two large rice paper documents that I would like to have fully-translated. My kids' piano teacher Auntie Aki speaks Japanese fluently, and gasped as she read how Kanefusa boldly wrote "SPIRIT OF THE SWORD" in Kanji on one of the papers. She provided a good translation of some of the documents. However the second paper contains many technical terms (regarding the hada, horimono, etc I believe) that she could not help translate; and I will post that page on the translation thread here on the forum in the hope that someone will take the time to translate it for me. Also I received a smaller, laminated card that looks similar to the NBHK documents I sometimes see here. I'd be interested to see what it says as well. I'll post more photos tomorrow. Mahalo nui! -John P
  5. Few more pix...I'll post more tomorrow. Cheers for your comments and suggestions. Mahao nui! -John P
  6. Aloha Everyone. Well about 5 months after we first saw it at Kanefusa's workshop, the tanto we got from him has finally arrived. (Here's a link to the backstory... viewtopic.php?f=1&t=12789) Even though I have read a lot of information here on the forum, frankly I am still a complete noob and I am equal parts excited and apprehensive to have such a special nihonto in my home. I want to take the best care of it, and as I have mentioned, I live in a place where rust is pervasive...because I live on the windward side, a near-invisible salty sea mist floats around my house and coats everything...this is then hydroscopic and brings in more moisture, etc. Things made from carbon steel can start to rust in just 2-3 days here. Chrome rusts in months. All but the best stainless steels will eventually form some rust. So my first question is can I simply store the tanto in an airtight container with some desiccant? Will a near-zero humidity state harm the shirasaya over time? It's just not practical for me to run air conditioning, as we pay the very highest electrical rates in the US. Nor can I imagine that just keeping it well-oiled in the constant 75% humidity + salt air will be sufficient. It might be I suppose, but it would call for extreme diligence and never missing a single spot with oil. Even a little rust 5 years from now would be very disheartening... Before I ask more questions, let me post a few photos. It's late tonight, so I will only post a few, but I have many more and these will beg more questions from a newbie such as I am. As you can see, we got it with both koshirae and a shirasaya. So far I haven't put the blade into the koshirae. There's some lovely kanji paperwork that came with it as well written by Kanefusa, plus a care kit with oil, powder etc....I'll post all this over the next few days.. I feel blessed to have this tanto for my family. To meet the man who made it; to see his forge and even smash a piece of red hot tamahagane with his hammer; then to have a tanto made by his hands..it's like a dream.
  7. I learned about the micro-diamonds the "hard" way...trying to cut meteorites with a diamond saw to make jewelry. If the blade hits a cluster of diamond psuedomorphs it will bind up and stop cutting. Under magnification you'll see there's often large patches of these tiny crystals in a iron and those are all micro-diamonds. A great book (probably the best) on all this is Nortons Rocks From Space. Used to be hard to find but now they've reissued it... http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0878423737 Cheers John
  8. This is so cool Ken. I cannot wait to see the outcome. I've done some meteorite hunting at Canyon Diablo and Tuscon and have a 4kg Campo on the living room table. I also made a small Sikhote Alin that I made into a necklace. It doesn't rust at all, and has very high nickle content. The Campo will rust a bit if I get lazy, but I generally keep it slathered with WD40. I live on the windward side so... One thing I know is that often these Iron meteorites from Campo will contain micro-diamonds in them or various pseudomorphs of graphite...do you think these might be an issue when forging? Maybe you'll have a diamond nie! Sounds like the smith you chose has experience, so all the best of luck!
  9. Many thanks for this information guys. Helpful and interesting. Martin: I sadly only have these pictures at the moment, however I will have more soon. My goal is to understand as much as possible about it. So it is bonji? 梵字? Well you can see how absolutely clueless I am! But learning. And this refers to Sanskrit words that are sometimes engraved on nihonto. Am I right thus far? And this link I see to Siddham alphabet - used by esoteric Buddhist monks in Japan for 1200 years for preserving mantras.. I really appreciate the links and images. I also found this thread here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=10283&view=next I see that bonji can be stylized. I'll have to spend some time and try and sort out which one it might be. Can anyone comment on why they think a modern sword smith would add this bonji? To be more traditional? More spiritual? Again many thanks. Arigato!
  10. Aloha, I am patiently awaiting the tanto shown below. Could someone here please translate the single character (and it's meaning) found as part of the horimono? Is there any further significance to placing this character here? I am new to the world of nihonto, but this character is placed on both sides of the blade; however I have not seen many other examples of this in my very limited exposure. I apologize as these are the only photo I have and they are not the best. Many thanks for your help and kokua, John P
  11. I'm in the jewelry trade and it's common to send thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods via Fedex, uninsured. The only safeguards are that the packing usually will have no reference to a jewelers or watch company - just initials or something similar. The basic idea is that by blending in, there's less loss. As you say, specialist insurers are very expensive - too expensive to insure every international shipment. So in my biz, millions of dollars of watches and gems are shipped uninsured every day, especially business to business. If you are in the US, the absolute safest way to ship something is by USPS registered mail - it's all kept under lock and key during it's entire journey. Not sure how much of this is applicable to nihonto, but thought I'd throw it into the discussion as a point of interest. Aloha, John P ps Pablo: never seen any additional fees or duties levied because something went through Hawaii.
  12. Saw this: http://honolulu.craigslist.org/oah/atq/2980713422.html Perhaps this is from someone here on the forum? Maybe a JSSH member? Looked pretty sweet for Craigslist... After I saw this I tried looking up 'nihonoto' on allofcraigs.com, figuring I'd see a bunch, but no; only this one and one more WW2 blade. (If you look up 'Katana', all you get are Suzuki motorcycles, which I DO like...early Katanas are cool! ) btw..I have no affiliation with, nor even knowledge of who the seller is... Aloha - John P
  13. Mahalo for that Chris. Got some presents to send Kanefusa 25 & 26. I was going to ask about putting our name on the nagako, but my wife prefers we don't do that.
  14. Thanks for all the comments. (I reckon Ken is in Japan right about now taking in all the sights and flavors...lucky guy). Roy - It's interesting what you say about Kanefusa 25th - I could gather that he's not the top top smith in Japan, but then being a newbie, I wonder how someone with such a long history of swordmaking wouldn't be practically #1. Based on what you guys are saying it has to do with his family's making of machine-made swords during WW2? Have I got that right? I find that interesting because something like that wouldn't effect my (uneducated) opinion one bit, especially when one considers that during war firms are often asked to make things they'd prefer not to or use methods they don't like - for the greater good.. I find it much more fascinating that he can trace his family's craft back 700+ years. He seems about as legit as you can get. Are there lots of other smiths with such a long continuous lineage still at work? ps the engraving of that dragon is sensational! Here's a link to some more photos and one short video taken that day...enjoy!: https://picasaweb.google.com/1103604514 ... directlink
  15. Aloha Hybrid, Thanks for that good advice. Even in the kombini (aka 7-11) there was a whole aisle of gift wrap and ornately knotted bows - so you are spot on. When we visited Japan we brought along a bag of goodies from Hawaii and made up gift bags for everyone we met and spent time with. Sure enough each of them had small gifts for us (beautifully wrapped) and had we not had something to give, we would've felt bad. One thing I've learned is to give gifts that don't take up space - things like food/booze are perfect. Mac nuts, kona coffee, red Hawaiian salt are some of the gifts we brought and they seemed well-received. I've heard that frequently neighbors will give things like toilet paper and laundry detergent as housewarming gifts- its viewed as very practical thus a nice gesture..I kinda like that! John P
  16. Ken: Wow, the $198 fares were not mythical after all! Have a blast. That's gonna be the hookup knowing the curator. Brian: Thanks for all this great information - this is exactly what I needed. The 'discussions' occurred in Japanese and quite quickly - things like papers etc were mentioned but not exactly clear what was being said...looking back, I think someone said, "no you will not get papers because none are needed". Your statement clarifies this. Also I can see from what you say that the fancy saya etc are more like decorations than I realized. And I will now definitely send gifts to he and his son. My guess is that Kanefusa-san was taken a bit off-guard by us asking to purchase the tanto, as no mention of anything like this was made prior to our visit. There was a bit of a hush in the air after we asked, but then he seemed agreeable. My friend did mention several times that we were getting something special and that usually one must wait months or even years for a blade from this forge. I'll try to learn more about the history of this tanto if I can - why it was made, etc. Again thanks guys and if anyone has more to add, I welcome it. -John P.
  17. Thanks John! And thank you too Ken. You guys have a great time in Osaka and eat some okonomiyaki for me! :D There were some killer airfares for Golden Week...looks like you got some! I am 99% sure you know about this, but here's the link to the place in Bizan-Osefune... http://www.city.setouchi.lg.jp/~osa-tok ... /index.htm It's funny because usually after I go someplace I'm a bit "over" it - however with Japan I just want to go back again already. I've got my Hawaiian Airline "Fare Alerts" all set. Glad for the JSSH! Look forward to coming over and attending a meeting and meeting you and the other members sometime later this summer. Cheers - John P
  18. Aloha, I wanted to share with the forum the experience that has basically led me here... A little background: I own a small watch company here in Hawaii and as part of my work I became very interested in making a timepiece using Damascus stainless steel. As part of the research into those prototypes I learned a bit about steel structure, effects of carbon, hardening, hand forging, etc. This work also led me into the world of nihonto and Japanese katana making, which I found fascinating. So when I was planning a family trip to Japan for March 2012, it was a priority to see some real nihonto and try to visit the town of Seki, where I knew there was a nice katana musuem and also was a center for commercial knifemaking. Here's a link to the museum... http://www.kanetsune.com/index.php?id=172 Unfortunately, as I scheduled my trip, I realized that we could only visit Seki on a Saturday - when my friend who lives there said most of the commercial knifemaking factories were closed. Bummer. I remember telling my son, "Well, sometimes when you think something's not going to work out, it works out even better than you ever thought."...but still I was disappointed. However a few days before we were supposed to visit, my friend in Seki emailed and said that our luck had turned very good and that he had arranged to visit a real local katana maker. WOW! Once we got to Seki, my friend met us and together we visited the museum and had some awesome udon. Then it was time to go to Kanefusa-san's studio. It was located alongside a nice house outside of town a couple miles. My friend had explained that Kanefusa was 25th Generation swordsmith, and was an official Japanese Living Treasure. His son, 26th Gen Kanefusa was also there with one additional assistant. As most of you know, generally they do much of this work at night, so it was a special treat for them to fire up the forge in the middle of the day for a small group of gaijin (foreigners). Even my small kids 9 & 5 were allowed - this is exceptional hospitality. With my friend interpreting, Kanefusa showed us the tamahagine starting materials, then an example of the individual steps that are so well-known by forum members here. He showed a blade that was ready for heat treatment with his characteristic clay layer applied to make the hamon associated with his work. Then he did something which I felt was very gracious - he gave everyone a chance to hammer on the red-hot steel. How cool. I can imagine that perhaps he might have felt it a bit "Disneyworld-ish" to allow us to come into what is basically a sacred space and "play" with his forge...even my son got to take a swing. All I can say is I bowed very very deeply to him afterwards. As a final act of trust, Kanefusa-san brought out one of his newly completed katana and allowed us to hold it - again even my 9 year old son. (My son is pretty chill for a 9 yo though). Wow, to see his work up close, feel the sword's lightness and even poetry - it was simply amazing. But wait - the most amazing thing yet is about to happen..... After he sheathed the katana, he brought out a small tanto to show the engraving work he and his son do. This tanto was spectacular - engraved with delicate ume (plum) flowers. Suddenly, my wife, who has pretty much been just quietly taking all this in, looks at me and mouths the words "Let's get it". Huh?... Wha? My head was kinda spinning... Is my wife suggesting we buy a tanto? Really? This one? Right now? I pull her aside and we have a chat about the potential price, our already over-budget trip to Japan, our ability to send our kids to college, etc... :D Still she says, "I want it! Let's get it." Now it is very clear why I married her! :lol: I figure we can find some way to pay for it later, but the chance to buy a real nihonto from its maker is something that won't happen to us again - probably ever. So we talk some specifics about price, the need to have a saya made, transferring it to the US, etc. and we made the deal right then and there. Soon we left, again bowing deeply and communicating our respect and appreciation. The tanto currently is still in Japan being completed and should be ready in a few more weeks. -And that's why I'm here!- To learn, to share the little I know, and to gain appreciation. I do have a few questions though... Is it proper for me to ask for the original shirasaya in addition to the newly made black lacquer saya? It seems like this would be a useful thing to have. We should be getting the NTHK paperwork with the tanto - is there anything else I should ask for? Would it be proper for him to include a tracing of the blade with his mei? Anything like that? His own special oil? Maybe a small piece of tamahagine? I want to ask for the right things without asking for anything improper. ...kinda like "what would you do if you were me?" type thing. Also should I send Kanefusa-san a gift of any sort? Or have my friend in Seki buy him a bottle of sake? Gift giving is very important in Japanese culture and I do not want to offend. Is Fedex the best way to ship it from Japan to Hawaii? I saw the thread about getting the rayskin cleared by USFW - I've shipped rayskin watch straps Fedex before so I am familiar with the hassles. Is there any other paperwork needed on the US side? Of course I'll have lots more questions about care, understanding the hamon, etc once the tanto arrives, but for now, I'll post 4-5 photos from that special day. I am lucky to live only one island away from Ken and the Japanese Sword Society of Hawaii, and plan to connect with them to learn all I can. I'll try and make a nice slideshow with more photos and maybe some video in the next week or so and link to it from this thread. In the pics you'll see the tanto with 26th Gen Kanefusa holding it. I have more photos of it to post later... Thus is the tale of a newbie who got lucky. After we had left, I asked my friend who has lived in Seki for 50 years how many times he had visited Kanefusa's studio in the past - his answer "Never before - I've only seen the exhibition at the museum". That made it clear just how lucky we had been. Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I appreciate any information you can pass along. Cheers, John P.
  19. Aloha Fred - Is there an update on what happened to your tanto? Bummer it's been held up. I've got a vested interest since I have a tanto with rayskin going through Fedex Alaska soon and I want it to have as few hassles as possible. I've had a problem like this before and they generally want you to send them a form certifying it is not on the CITES list. It goes through the Fedex customs broker generally. Seems like by now it should've been resolved. Hope so. -John P
  20. Aloha Everyone, Been lurking here a bit, but finally got signed up. I'm coming into the world of Nihonto through a pretty neat experience where my family and I visited Seki-Gifu Japan last month and met 25th Gen Kanefusa-san and was able to visit his workshop and see him and his son in action. After such an amazing day, we decided to purchase a newly-made tanto from him and currently we are waiting for it to be completed (saya, etc). I should have it in May sometime. I've got some photos and videos from that day and I'm happy to post them. Basically I'm here to learn: to learn about the history, the cultural aspects and also the care of the new tanto once it arrives. I live on Kauai and here in Hawaii we have a Japanese Sword Society (and I see Ken is on this forum!); although they are located on Oahu, hopefully I can still meet up with them from time to time. Many thanks to Brian for creating this resource! -John
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