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For sword related research, you can't beat the National Diet Library in Tokyo. As a university employee, I was able on many occasions to get access to their materials. For several years, they have been working to digitize many of their older and rarer holdings. From time to time I have checked their web site and I think it is time to bring this amazing resource to the attention of the NMB...


The site has considerable English menus for navigating. Of course you still need to search in Japanese and understand the results, which are in Japanese. I got over 200 hits on downloadable books with Nihon-to as my search term 日本刀. You can only download 40 pages at a time which means it took me 26 downloads and 30 minutes to get the complete Fujishiro Shinto Hen and Koto Hen. I would advise anyone trying this to install Rikaichan or something similar with allow you to put the cursor on a kanji within a web site and get a popup translation. This will help explain the results.


They also have a photocopy service which allows researchers to get hardcopy of sections of interests, for a fee, mailed to you after you register.


The online items are all off copyright and thus available for download. There are roughly 600 additional items returned with the "nihon-to" search that can be obtained by photocopy as they are still under copyright.


For anyone looking to do serious research, the availability of this information is unmatched anywhere else I am aware of...This is really wonderful....



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In what format are the downloads?

If you find a book like this: http://dl.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/1116191/1 how do you then download it, besides saving 2 pages at a time forever?

Maybe we should approach this intelligently, instead of everyone jumping around trying to get the same stuff. If someone can gather some links to good books, maybe we can share the work, and allocate downloads to individuals, which can then be uploaded somewhere and shared?

Ethically, I don't see a problem since there is no copyright anymore. Anyone want to search a bit and see what is worth getting?



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Brian, Chris,


The NDL online database is indeed a great tool. Over the last few months I have downloaded a number of books, and done some processing on them to make them more manageable (pinned the multiple files together, removed the blank spaces around the edges and tried to do text recognition on them using Acrobat) - I am happy to share the files for the benefit of everyone. They range in size from a couple of megabytes to nearly 100MB and the quality is variable; some are very good, others are quite poor. Perhaps it would be possible to upload these in the articles section of the NMB?


My interests are more on the fittings side, so the list below is heavily skewed towards that. I haven't searched thoroughly for sword books so I'm sure there are many more of use. I'm not 100% sure on all of the romaji names, so I have also included the kanji (which you can also use to search here: http://dl.ndl.go.jp/?__lang=en). The files I have are:


Nihon Toko Jiten 日本刀工辞典 (Fujishiro), Koto and Shinto Hen

Shinto Shu, Hamon to Meiji 新刀集-刃文と銘字 (Fujishiro)


Choshu Tsuba 長州鐔 (Soemon)

Akasaka Tsubako Roku 赤坂鐔工録

Higo Kinko Roku 肥後金工録 (Nagaya)

Kinko Kantai Hikketsu 金工鑑定秘訣 (Yoshiaki)

Nihon Soken Kinkoshi 日本装剣金工史 (Kuwabara)

Nihon Tsuba toko roku 日本鐔刀工録 (Soemon)

Senso to Tsuba 戦争と鐔 (Nagaoka)

Soken Kinko Zufu 装剣金工図譜 (Wada)

Tagane no Hana (4 books) 鏨迺花

Toban Shokan Kotetsu 刀盤賞鑑口訣 (Kanzan)

Tsuba 100 shi Kougei zuan 鐔百姿 - 工芸図案 (Okuma)

Yokoya Somin 横谷宗珉 (Soemon)


Let me know if there is interest in uploading these to the NMB, otherwise I will look into other file sharing sites so they can be accessed by everyone.


In terms of searching, I have found it most useful to search using author names, and for specific book titles rather than just for terms like nihonto or tsuba. There is an advanced search button on the website (which allows specific search for keywords, titles etc) which is in English and quite user friendly - it is easy to download 20/40 page (I can't remember) sections of the books and then stitch these together later.





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I think spreading this around and uploading them to a central location so they can be downloaded in bulk is a great way to distribute the wealth.


You are limited to downloading 20 "frames" at a time, which is 40 pages. Yes, a bit of a hassle, but a small price to pay...


You must go to the "print" button, which then allows you to specify a range. Then hit the "pdf" button and it downloads as a pdf file. You do this sequence until you have the whole book downloaded.


Excellent job James!

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Awesome. I would be happy to host them, and add them to a relevant section to share them.

Perhaps you could email me with some sizes of those files and I can set you up with an ftp upload or something. Would be a great resource to share.

You can note which ones are poor quality and which are worth keeping.

We can also see which ones have an English translation out there. brian (at) nihontomessageboard .com



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I've sent you an email with details and links for all the files. All of them are worth keeping as the text is legible in all, just some have quite poor quality pictures.


Chris, it would be great if there was something in the works for the files that currently are only available from computer access within the NDL. There are a whole load of books that I'd love to get electronically but are only accessible from within the library at the moment.


Glad to be of help,



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Here are some more available online with the search 刀匠 :




日本刀大観. 上巻




日本刀大観. 下巻




諸家秘説鑑刀集成. 続編






刀剣辞典 : 鑑定秘訣








刀剣鑑定秘訣. 古刀編 

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Chris et al

Indeed, this sounds like a potentially wonder resource. Simply paging thru interesting old volumes would certainly reveal treats, but a problem orientation is what guides searching most effectively. So, let me ask, Chris, where to you start? What are you looking for? Please advise us on how to use this resource?


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This thread is quite old. Please consider starting a new thread rather than reviving this one, unless your post is really relevant and adds to the topic..

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