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Preparing for San Francisco Token Kai


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Good evening everyone! 
   I’ve been very much enjoying reading all the incredible threads here and my own growing collection of books on Nihonto over the the few months. I’m also taking a vacation to San Francisco in August and will be attending at least one day of the Token Kai (I don’t think I can convince my wife to go for more than one day ;) ). Prior to that event, I was wondering:

 

1. Is there anything I should know prior to attending my first show? I.e. Things you wish you’d have known as an early student and collector

2. Shipping a sword - We’re  flying into SF, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I buy a sword at the event. How should I get it home? If you think I should ship it, any tips on carrier, insurance, packing etc? Or if I’m going to put it into a check bag for my flight, things I should know? I’m having pre-nightmares of opening my bag at home and having a sword in two pieces! 😬 

3. Anything I should bring to the show? Gloves for handling swords, a sword care kit for removing mekugi, books?

4. Areas I should be particularly studying beforehand? 
5. Lastly, is anyone else planning to attend? I haven’t posted much here because I feel like the “children should be silent until spoken to” stage at the moment 😂 But I’d love to meet the faces behind the threads.

 

Thanks for any thoughts!

Very respectfully,

Michael

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Hi Michael,

If you will attend only one day, Saturday will be best.  You can take in the Care & Handling talk (usually 10 AM) and the NBTHK/AB, also usually, puts on a show of treasures sometime during the day.  Make sure you do know proper handling (https://nbthk-ab2.org/sword-characteristics/ and scroll down) and always a nice idea to ask permission before picking up a sword to look at.  Be sure to ask all the questions you have and once asked, listen.  The show is quite informal; don't worry about fitting in.

If you buy a sword you can get it home in a checked bag, although you'll need a gun case or something similar for a long blade.  I'd include a note to TSA, placed on top when the bag or case is opened, explaining that the bag contains an antique sword and no firearms.  You can ship the sword home to yourself.  I recommend registered mail form the post office (if you live in The States), using a stout tube and the requisite stampable paper tape to seal the tube.  Registered is the safest shipping option for valuable items and, once you get above $1,00 or so in value, it is less expensive than regular priority with insurance.

Another option for getting a sword home is asking the seller if he is willing to take it home and ship to you.  Not all dealers will be willing but I know I would be.

Have a mekugi nuki for removing pegs with you; gloves aren't necessary.  Areas you should be particularly studying before hand?  All of them.

Lots of people are planning to attend.  You'll have a great time; stop by Mark's & my tables and say hello.

Grey

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I posted this in another thread when someone asked for advice much like your question:
 

My advice when looking at dealer blades and enjoying the show in general is ‘go slow’.  
 

If you don’t know the proper way (Yes… there is a correct way) to draw a blade from shirasaya or saya, ASK.  Do it slowly and considerately.  Ask to see a blade.  Even if a dealer assumes you will look at the blades because that is why he brought them, I think they appreciate you acknowledging them first.  

 

When looking at a bare blade, and you need to turn it toward a light to get a better view, LOOK AROUND FIRST.  Be aware of your surroundings.  Can’t tell you the number of times someone has been a little ‘loose’ when handling a blade or kinda moving it around a lot.  I never want to be the one doing that or on the receiving end of someone doing that.  Also, don’t approach a table too closely when someone is actively looking at a blade.  No reason to sneak up on them.:)

 

I always try to not talk while holding/viewing a blade unless the dealer asks me a question.  First, I’m trying to enjoy it.  Second, I don’t want to be spitting all over a dealers blade while it is close to my face.:)  Plenty of time for questions and discussion after it is safely on the table.

 

Pick blades up slowly and put them back down even more slowly and carefully.  My rule of thumb is “it belongs to someone else until I hand them the money”.  
 

Ask questions.  Most dealers are more than generous with information.  
 

And finally, and I feel silly even saying this, but a “thank you for letting me see your blades” is always in good order. 

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1 hour ago, Grey Doffin said:

Lots of people are planning to attend.  You'll have a great time; stop by Mark's & my tables and say hello.

Grey

Grey, thank you! All great tips, and the NBTHK website has a lot of great info. 
 

I’d love to meet up. I found your online store some times back from the Japanese Sword Index, and saw your note about bringing a book in your bag if you have room. There’s a couple I’m eyeing, so I’ll shoot you an email here in a couple weeks if I decide on one. 
 

And if you don’t have any space, that’s totally fine! Particularly because the one I think I’m most likely to buy is a doozy page-count-wise 😬 (Dawson’s Cyclopedia. I really enjoy Kyu Gunto mounts and am hoping to see some at the show).

 

1 hour ago, Mark S. said:

And finally, and I feel silly even saying this, but a “thank you for letting me see your blades” is always in good order. 

Mark, are you sharing the table with Grey, or is that a different Mark? Thank you as well! It seems a lot of the handling advice boils down to “have good situational awareness/be mindful and be intentional about your actions,” and I think that fits quite well with the rest of Japanese culture. And as for interacting with dealers and hosts, just some plain ole good manners and being considerate goes a long way!

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Michael -

My usual advice to first time visitors is "Leave your wallet at home!" - you'll see so much good stuff you can fill up a suitcase pretty quick. Seriously though Grey has covered what you need to know - if you get to the show and have questions you can ask any of our members - recognizable by the black and white happi coats - we are happy to point you toward persons who collect in a certain area or answer general questions about sword stuff. Since there are booksellers there if you find you need a reference while making a purchase decision many folks will be happy to lend you a book so you can do your research on the spot. If your wife likes decorating there are often paintings, scrolls and woodblock prints along with pottery and other things to look at - if she likes kodogu there will be lots of good stuff to eye and one of our members even makes her own jewelry from kodogu. If she'd prefer a long walk there is a beautiful bayside promenade just outside the hotel that is popular with locals. Give your self plenty of time to see everything, keeping in mind that some table holders will duck out during meal times so you may have to circle back to catch them "at work".

 

Do take the time to introduce yourself and do give us your feedback afterwards as we are always looking to improve the experience for folks...

-tch

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1 hour ago, MichaelSeeley said:

 

Mark, are you sharing the table with Grey, or is that a different Mark?
 


I’m a different Mark… however I have made purchases from both Grey and Mark and have been extremely satisfied.:)

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My personal take is SF show stands a bit aside from Chicago and Florida ones. I had good luck picking quality unsigned fittings - you can still discover quite a few mainline+ Goto pieces in the US (same and more in Japan), but the blades can be (very) challenging. Its the only US show that has Japanese dealers, plus upper grade US dealers. Consequences - the room gets vacuumed pretty fast, what is not vacuumed people don't want to sell until it papers, and Juyo blades tend to be priced at upper Tokyo retail level, because that's what Mr. Saito has on them. But between 3 and 20k there is some decent selection and one can buy a good blade at a substantially below retail price. Haggle a bit. Bring cash.

 

Chicago and Orlando are more about fishing in murky waters.

 

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Thomas, that sounds great! Jokes aside, my wife's an artist and will love seeing a new angle to Japanese art in Nihonto. That there will be other art at all is just a great bonus! We're getting very excited.

 

Kirill, ooh, I hadn't even thought of bringing cash. Do any dealers bring Squares or other card-accepting devices? I'm not necessarily keen on walking about San Francisco with thousands of dollars on my person.

Also, in case others hadn't run across this, I found a coupon for $3 off admission: https://www.nihonto.com/31st-tokenkai/ .

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3 hours ago, MichaelSeeley said:

Kirill, ooh, I hadn't even thought of bringing cash. Do any dealers bring Squares or other card-accepting devices? I'm not necessarily keen on walking about San Francisco with thousands of dollars on my person.

 

Would not count on this in the least. 

Shows = cash.

People who know you sometimes take checks for major items.

But coming from the airport, you will not have to dive through SF. Its pretty close and no significant activity around except for the show.

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16 hours ago, Grey Doffin said:

If you buy a sword you can get it home in a checked bag, although you'll need a gun case or something similar for a long blade.  I'd include a note to TSA, placed on top when the bag or case is opened, explaining that the bag contains an antique sword and no firearms. 

 

You obviously have more experience with it, but I always add firearm to the guncase. It will be hand inspected in any case, with a firearm at least it will at least certainly will be hand carried and issued to me in exchange of showing ID, versus standing at the luggage point and wondering - did it make to general luggage, or somebody said "or those are dangerous weapons" and did send to special handling.

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Guys, I just read a recent article that stated car break-in's in San Francisco have increased by over 750% since last year. "Smash and Grabs" can, and do, occur frequently in The City. Not trying to be a downer, just be extra cautious if you are driving in or have a rental car. It would be tragic to be a Smash and Grab victim, especially if you were to lose a valuable sword or other collectible pieces. Use common sense and situational awareness for sure!

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So the 750% number is complete BS - use situational awareness like you would in any major city as noted

 

The venue is in Burlingame which does not have a smash and grab problem but still "don't leave valuables in your car" - do travel to the City, all the popular tourist spots are still worth the trip - don't forget though they are popular tourist spots...

 

-t

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9 hours ago, Rivkin said:

 

You obviously have more experience with it, but I always add firearm to the guncase. It will be hand inspected in any case, with a firearm at least it will at least certainly will be hand carried and issued to me in exchange of showing ID, versus standing at the luggage point and wondering - did it make to general luggage, or somebody said "or those are dangerous weapons" and did send to special handling.

 So this I think belongs in another thread - I don't put that much faith in baggage handlers and the TSA - instead I get to the airport plenty ahead of time - I take my case to the TSA counter - there I have it inspected and swabbed for explosives, which is what they really care about - they put an "Inspected by" card in the case and then it is sealed in the presence of the TSA officer. This ensures that they will not need to open it in transit...

-t

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20 hours ago, Toryu2020 said:

 So this I think belongs in another thread - I don't put that much faith in baggage handlers and the TSA - instead I get to the airport plenty ahead of time - I take my case to the TSA counter - there I have it inspected and swabbed for explosives, which is what they really care about - they put an "Inspected by" card in the case and then it is sealed in the presence of the TSA officer. This ensures that they will not need to open it in transit...

-t

Thank you! This is exactly the advice I was looking for. The last thing I want is to open my bad and find… nothing on the other end. Thank you!

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Are dealers at tables interested in purchasing/trading from non-dealers? It feels odd to walk up to someone and go “Hey buddy, wanna buy a sword?” but I’m wondering if I should bring an Army Gunto to sell and save on shipping etc.
 

Which brings me to a second question. From this nice walkabout video from 2016, it seems gunto (or at least Gunto mounts) are for sale. Is it largely traditional Nihonto (my guess), or does the convention have Japanese militaria as well?


Again, thank you all for your time in replying. I’m getting SO excited, and this is all very helpful.

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Hi Micheal,

If it is Japanese and edged weapon, from hundreds of years ago and up to recently made, including military swords, you will find it at the show.  You will have little trouble selling a sword either.  Ask my table mate Mark Jones to have a look; he does a lot of business in Japanese military swords.

Cheers,  Grey

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  • 4 weeks later...
Please note the NBTHK/AB is scheduled to present five! Juyo blades representing the five main schools of the Yamato-den. In addition a very special presentation of kodogu will be on display.
"At the San Francisco show coming up will be an OUTSTANDING display for study put on by the NBTHK-AB of Goto Ichijo and Ichinomiya Nagatsune fittings it will be the best display ever put on in the USA of their works I believe all of the Nagatsune are examples in his sketch book and most of the Ichijo are in the original boxes from Ichijo when he made them for the original buyer!
If you are a Kodogu person or just want to see the best of the best, come the the show and see the display, as a grouping like this will not be put together again !!!!!!"
 
Schedule for the sword show just dropped...
2021 TOKEN KAI
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
FRIDAY AUGUST 6
8:00 A.M.-12:00 P.M. Dealer Set-up Ballroom F-J
12:00 P.M.-10:00 P.M. Public Show Hours Ballroom F-J
6:00 P.M.-8:00 P.M. Cocktail Reception Foyer F
SATURDAY AUGUST 7
9:00 A.M.-10:00 P.M. Show Hours Ballroom F-J
10:00 AM-11:00 P.M. JSSUS Etiquette Lecture Ballroom C-D
11:00 A.M.11:30 A.M. NBTHKAB Board Meeting. Ballroom C-D
1:00 P.M.-3:00 P.M. NBTHKAB Display/Forum Ballroom C-D
6:00 P.M.-8:00 P.M. Cocktail/Dinner Reception* Foyer F
SUNDAY AUGUST 8
9:00 A.M.-4:00 P.M. Show Hours Ballroom F-J
4:00 P.M. Show Closes
Thank you
*This event is for Exhibitors only.
Edited by Toryu2020
Spellin'
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@Toryu2020 I saw you had commented on both this and another thread about the Token, and the pit of my stomach dropped thinking it was a cancellation message due to COVID. So thankful we’re still on; frankly, I can’t remember the last event I’ve been so excited for.

 

Bought a hard rifle case to fly a new treasure(s 😁) home, been reading and studying a bunch, made flash cards for Nihonto terminology. I’m in totally nerd mode and super excited 🤓 People at the office are egging me on too; it’s great! 

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Quick note if you’re planning on attending the show that there is a new county regulation which requires indoor mask wearing for all persons regardless of vaccination status under the CDC’s new guidelines. Tell your friends attending the show!

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