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Translation Juyo paper


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Greetings friends,
could I ask you to translate the Juyo Token of my new Kunitoshi sword ?

I don't speak Japanese and I would like to know what is written in the papers.
Thank you very much

 

Jiri

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Hello Jiri, it is a typical Jūyō certificate from the NBTHK. It just describes the sword: its dimensions, shape, steel grain (kitae), hamon, tip, tang (nakago).

It describes each using the typical vocabulary used in the sword collecting world. I will put it here in Japanese text so you can look it up yourself (which should be easy with a copy and paste into a search engine). I will put in some furigana to make it easier to understand. 

 

大磨り上 無銘 伝来国俊 (Ōsuriage Mumei "Den Rai Kunitoshi)

 

Nagasa (length)  長さ 二尺三寸二分五厘 反り七分

Keijō          (shape)  形状 鎬造り 庵棟 磨り上げて 中反り浅く 中鋒

Kitae          (steel grain)  鍛え 板目 柾がかり 地沸(にえ)つく
Hamon      (forging pattern on cutting edge) 刃文 広い直ぐ刃 わずかにのあれごころとなり 小足入る
Bōshi         (tip)  帽子 直ぐに先小丸 裏掃きかける
Nakago      (tang)  茎   大磨り上げ 先浅い栗尻鑢目浅い勝手下がり目釘孔二

 

We hereby judge and deem the article herein to be designated as an "Important Sword"
Showa 38, October 25th

NBTHK
Hosakawa Moritatsu

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Oops. Edited (after receiving the tip that I screwed up! Thanks Paul). Should be Kunitoshi.

(Originally had Kunitsugu).

(Stupid mistake, since the OP already knew and stated - correctly - that it was Kunitoshi.)

(Sigh). 

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NGMI. 

 

Translate first, then buy the sword. The setsumei is critical to any purchase/collecting decision.

 

If you can afford a Juyo blade you can afford a 50$ professional translation. 

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What Steve provided above is time-consuming, hard work. Personally speaking, I think all such love-labor translations here deserve a ($10~$50) voluntary contribution to the NMB in thanks.

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I agree - Marcus ended up charging for translation but no longer normally translate

If we overwork Steve he may slip into the backroom and that is a big loss

I feel the same about tsuba box translations

 

Grev

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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….

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I guess in the end this is a service provided on a volunteer basis, and can even be an enjoyable process to translate something related to our hobby.

 

Perhaps if it is a big translation like a setsumei or a difficult translation we can encourage a small donation to the board as a token of appreciation for services rendered?

 

Of course if this becomes compulsory then it will prevent some people from bringing potentially interesting things to the board for translation, so a opt-in basis for donation?

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? People above are talking about ‘the Setsumei’ but there is no Setsumei shown above, only the itemized description, as Steve has translated and made clear.

 

There might be a Setsumei in a publication somewhere, but am I missing something here?

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Piers et al -

Along with the Juyo certificate there is issued an oshigata and setsumei page for the "Juyo To-ken Nado Zufu" publication - these most often are several paragraphs long with detailed description of the work, the general characteristics of the artist and sometimes background on the smith. Many times information not found anywhere else will be included. Therefore if you have a sword of this quality it behooves you to collect at least all the pages on your individual smith for a complete record of the maker...

-t

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2 hours ago, Bugyotsuji said:

? People above are talking about ‘the Setsumei’ but there is no Setsumei shown above, only the itemized description, as Steve has translated and made clear.

 

There might be a Setsumei in a publication somewhere, but am I missing something here?

 

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 :)

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Many times the people making the translation request will themselves not know what they wish to understand from the document. In their minds, they may have an idea that the document will somehow tell them the details of the smith who made the sword, but in reality the document will just be a dry description of the sword itself. Is the sword old? Is it real? How much is it worth? These are basic things that people want to know, but this information isn't necessarily included in, for example, a registration certificate or a tag attached to a WW2 sword. Here I agree with Christopher and Michael, that the narrative "setsumei" which accompanies the Jūyō swords would be as valuable as, and more interesting than, the technical, almost boring, Jūyō certificate.

 

The Jūyō document here in this thread is full of sword terminology which is meaningful for most of us here, but I'm afraid it will be impenetrable to a new person. And yet, there is no middle-ground. You either know the jargon, or you don't. The translator can include explanations of the terms to try to make it easier, but that is time-consuming. A paper like this could easily take hours to explain fully. In this case I think I probably looked at Jiri's post count, and felt he/she would be able to spend some time with a search engine as long as the text was machine-readable. So rather than me doing a deep-dive on what "ko-ashi hairu" means, or the nuances of "jinie-gakari", I put it into text so that Jiri can explore on his own, and then come back for further explanation on any terms that remain unclear. 

 

To the larger question of translation for free, Mywei has it absolutely correct: pursuing an accurate translation can be enjoyable and rewarding for the translator as well as the reader. It also brings new collectors to the site, which is (hopefully) good for the site and good for the hobby. Its also good to have a number of eyes and brains looking at inscriptions because, as we all know, translators make mistakes. So translation work - even complicated passages, can be a pleasure. I will avoid doing a translation if it looks like its going to be thankless drudgework ("I saw this possibly fake WW2 flag on ebay today, could you please translate the 100 names on it even though I might not bid on it"). 

 

If people wish to donate to the board when they feel they have received something of value, that is a great thing, and I'm happy to help. It does get complicated if people expect a service in return for a donation, so I wouldn't want to obligate either of us to that. There are so many entry barriers to Japanese sword collecting, that its a good thing for us to try to reduce those barriers. 

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So I apologize for my question and request for help.
I just wanted to help with the translation.
But when I see the following discussion, I am sincerely sorry that I did :(
However, thanks again to Steve for his help.

Arigato Steve

 

Jiri

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Hi Jiri

You don't ask you don't get so do nor worry about your request and it raised some interesting points which is good for all of us

I felt much more comfortable  when I paid Marcus but alas he no longer offers this service

Steve will do what he wants to do that his his prerogative

If you learn a lot then donations are always help

 

 

Grev

 

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 Forums like these are wonderful platforms to share knowledge, seek help and give help.


I think many like to help simply because it brings them joy. Because they enjoyed being helped themselves in the beginning and now they can pass on their own knowledge or skills (translate).

 

When I started there was no internet and therefore no forums. With appropriate books I struggled many, many hours with texts and signatures.

But even today I still fail. Only weeks ago I asked here for help. Despite all efforts I simply came to no result in the Nengo of a dating of an Oshigata. Markus could help. It was a very unusual spelling variant for Showa. Without this help I would still puzzle today.

 

So it is much easier today to get appropriate information and help. In the past it was a few people in the "neighborhood", today it is dedicated enthusiasts of the matter all over the world. And this resource is very valuable and good.

But it does not replace the circumstance to penetrate into the matter and to acquire the knowledge by oneself (of course also with support of others - but just from own engagement). And help is important when you can't get any further with your own knowledge and skills.

 

Jiri, please don't be angry with me. But I can understand Valric. If you spend a lot of money on an important blade, ideally you should know exactly what you are doing. And it just doesn't give the impression if you don't know what is written on the saya or in the Juyo certificate.
BUT! I also know that many professional translators of "modern Japanese" have their problems with the specific texts of ancient Japanese blades. Which is why you are in good hands here again!;-)

 

 

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My firm goal is to make a plan to at least pay for a very nice dinner for some of the members here who are always so helpful. I think that would be nicer than just a monetary thanks.
The problem is getting some of them to accept it. I know some of our Japanese members are reluctant to accept a thank you gift. And I don't want to leave anyone out either.
But Steve, Moriyama san and Morita san at at the top of the list.

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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), 

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I think there are lot of good things going on this sword, that can be said even without seeing it in hand. I feel often on average swords passing Jūyō in early sessions have quite high overall quality on average. Bit of "bro science" but I think there is also bit of data to back it up. Also I just found out that it had good praise in sayagaki by Kanzan as there was a thread about it too, this is also interesting provenance, (translation provided by Moriyama-san) - 宇土藩細川家旧蔵之一 – One of the collection of Uto-han Hosokawa family. Unfortunately the text entries in the Jūyō books on earlier sessions are often lot shorter than in more modern sessions.

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Early Juyo setsumei need to be further contextalized. They are often quite "critical" especially compared to more modern ones - I believe they benchmark their comparisons to the Jubun/Kokuho, and everything else feels a little tired in comparison.

 

This is a great sword. Early Juyo with Daimyo provenance. I especially like the Boshi's nie structures and the well-preserved, ultra-fine hada. 

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