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Old Green NBTHK Kanteisho papers: Legitimate?


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Dear NMB Members:


I recently purchased a Mitsuaki kozuka from a collector who acquired it in the late 70's or early 80s from Blaine Navroth. These green papers came with it. I wonder if these were the papers issued in the 80s by the NBTHK teams that came to the U.S., or whether they appear to be papers issued by the NBTHK in Japan. I recall that the papers issued by the "traveling" NBTHK group were later discredited and not honored. This piece has really great workmanship, and is the same demon pictured on a tsuba by Mitsuaki in the Boston Museum collection of Japanese Swords and Fittings book. This piece is signed on the reverse.


Any input or translation of these papers is appreciated. I purchased the piece for the piece itself, not the papers. I have added a few photos of the kozuka.



Bill E. Sheehan (Yoshimichi)  









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Hi Bill, hope all is well.


I have to think this is Mitsuaki, son of Mitsutoshi? Of the Kikuoka School? The Goto Mitsuaki works there are no mei that are comparable to the work above, but I don't seem to have any examples of this Kikuoka maker in all my books (weird) and cannot find any online. Will keep digging.

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Thanks Steve M, great read.



With new info I think the mei is no good. 


This is the Boston MFA piece I think:



Just really different workmanship.

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This is Mitsuoki (光興), of I'm not sure which school, but possibly Ōtsuki.


The papers are from Showa 55 (1980). I don't think they were issued outside of Japan. 


Correct:   Otsuki Mitsuoki.


NBTHK 1980 Traveling papers.

Refer here:  http://www.nihontocraft.com/japanese_sword_papers.html


While the pre Hozon/TH system papers are no longer recognized by the NBTHK, this is not to say they were discredited in some shameful way.

Many from the 1980 traveling shinsa are decent attributions. This being a bigger name, I'd be cautious with it. Next step would be to hit Wakayama.

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Jeremiah, Curran and Steve:


Thanks for the great information. Especially the link to the green paper's history. I found the Otsuki school at page 149 in "A Brief History of Japanese Sword Fittings Artisans." It lists Mitsuoki Yamashiroya Kihachiro Dairyusai Ryukudo, born 1766, who died at age 69 in 1834. Does "Yamashiroya" indicate he was from Yamashiro? If the signature in not gimei, is this the likely artisan who made this piece?


Curran: Is Wakayama's information available online, or only in book format? 


Thanks for the information and research leads.




Bill E, Sheehan (Yoshimichi) 

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Hi Bill,


Whether it's right or not, what you have is a fine depiction of an Oni Nembutsu,  or demon on a religious pilgrimage,


They started life as a Talismanic form of roadside art referred  to as Otsu - E,  in a time when Christianity was banned, but the taste for "trinkets of devotion", or to quote Bram Stoker "Foul Baubles of Man's Vanity" had been acquired by the entrepreneurs along the Tokaido.


Pilgrims passing through Otsu on route to Kyoto would be able to purchase a painted, printed or just plain nasty image of the Demon dressed as a Priest going for a walk.






The paper fragments, now mounted as Kakejiku (Hanging Scrolls) are much sought after today, as examples that survive are rare.


I know, I attempted to buy one last year in Kyoto, and thought the charming dealer was quoting my Mobile (smartphone) number......... :(

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"Next step would be to hit Wakayama".


If you are attempting to verify mei then you would be looking for, Toso Kodogu Meiji Taikei' three book set.  It helps to have the three book, 'Haynes Index' set as well which is in English to find the maker information and corresponding page information.  These sets are vital for anyone who is intent on purchasing zaimei fittings (signed fittings) without current origami.  


There is another meikan called, 'Shinsen Kinko Meikan' which is also referenced in Haynes Index but is 'very' difficult to find.  It is the edited/updated version of the original 'Kinko Meikan' which had to be updated due to inclusion of what were felt to be gimei examples.  These two are the main reference meikan which are utilized by the shinsa teams in Japan.

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Dear Brian, Peter and Malcolm:


Thanks so much for the additional information and comments on this kozuka. I especially appreciate the recommendations on the fittings reference sources, and the links to the Otsu-e articles. Great reading. Thanks again. Of the five pieces I recently acquired from this collector, this kozuka is my favorite.



Bill E. Sheehan 

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