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New Acquisition! NTHK Papered Mumei Shinto Wakizashi!


Mosin25
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8 minutes ago, Gakusee said:

Mark, it is not quite like that :))

I have heard Juyo and TJ take several days. They approach it seriously. 

 

Thank you Michael, I had been hoping I was mistaken and someone would correct me.

 

I'm surprised they can offer these services at such a low cost.

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6 hours ago, Gakusee said:

Kiril makes some very good points, which Darcy also made by the way. Darcy had an excellent post about 'fungibility' of certain attributions. Some nondescript schools, or indistinct makers, made such generic work that an attribution could swing one way or another on a mumei blade but roughly fell within the same quality bucket with the similar features and craftsmanship. One should not take it personally. It is what it is. 

 

I don't see it as an exclusive mark of lesser schools. It is an accurate statement, if one has in mind something like lesser Muromachi pieces, which often tend to be the same and are objectively difficult to distinguish by school.

 

Well, so is Soshu 1370-1390. Plenty of Sue Sa, Shizu, late Naotsuna which are almost the same and the attribution will always float. Dmitry has a signed Sadamune daito in his book judged to Hiromitsu. Its exceptionally unusual to judge signed blade with an old signature to the same school, same period, but another name. Did not want to set the precedent of signed Sadamune? Sadamune daito always being difficult to judge? Maybe.

 

I always disagreed with most of what Darcy wrote on kantei. "Den ..." is usually a minor hedge applied by default, but with a major early Soshu name the intent is different. Den Masamune tends to be a Nambokucho blade, or some other big issue, irrespective of setsumei. There is a reason in a list of swords you would see simply "O-Kanemitsu" but if its the first rank Soshu, they will add specifically "kiwame Sadamune", i.e. underlining its not "Den". Even if its "kiwame Hasebe", i.e. there are still two options .  "To ga aru" - by default assumes its gimei but the signature was added pre-Edo. etc. etc. 

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6 hours ago, Gakusee said:

 

The NBTHK shinsa is not open to outsiders and is behind closed doors. So Darcy would not have been able to attend a session. And why even ask that question in such a petty and irrelevant manner, as it is not pertinent to the discussion whatsoever! 

In fact Darcy has not talked about the shinsa panel being pressed and looking at signatures only.

That statement came from elsewhere (two different sources in fact) and I do not wish to quote names. But I have also heard that when an attestation is obvious (eg a very clear Sanbosugi hamon with some nie and some sort of nagare itame, etc) and the signature is OK, they would not spend too much time and give it to the obvious maker with the signature on the tang (eg  Kanemoto sandai, yondai, whatever). 

 

Next, not all members of a shinsa panel are disclosed or known outside of the NBTHK so as to minimise external influence. 

What is however possible is to sit down with a shinsa member some time afterwards and ask about a certain attestation or the opinion of the shinsa (member). I have had the pleasure of such a sit-down, facilitated by another well-known friend and contact in Japan, and listened to the gentleman explain what he thought. Fortunately, the friend could translate for me what the NBTHK gentleman was saying.

Is this part of the standard procedure? Or is this something that my friend could organise because he was well known / connected in sword circles? I do not know... But it is possible to get a little extra colour beyond just the paper. However, it happens at the NBTHK HQ in Tokyo. 

 

As far as I know, only in the USA, with the NTHK, were some of the American organisers allowed in the shinsa room. But again, I have not really participated in those processes so US members will know better. I have read reports here of submitters being able to peer over in the shinsa room, and also some of the NMB members. 

 

 

Kiril makes some very good points, which Darcy also made by the way. Darcy had an excellent post about 'fungibility' of certain attributions. Some nondescript schools, or indistinct makers, made such generic work that an attribution could swing one way or another on a mumei blade but roughly fell within the same quality bucket with the similar features and craftsmanship. One should not take it personally. It is what it is. 

 

 

So for the blade here, indeed Mino seems right and fair enough. The owner could spend a lot of time looking for features that differentiate it from other sub-schools of Mino but the blade will not become a Soshu masterpiece.  However, the owner can still learn in the process and eventually that is part of the hobby and pleasure of this pursuit.  

 

I was around well before Darcy got his start and sold his Tech business. He was told by a few of US, how the game is played and paid a considerable amount of "tuition".  Meaning, like most newbies he found out by paying his dues.. I remember when the Japanese figured out how to take photos with shadow boxes and lighting, so he went to Japan and found out how they did it. If my very good memory serves me right, he posted it somewhere at the time. I don't know if the old post is still around, I have no need to look for it.  The post was long before this forum, so there may be an updated version. 

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33 minutes ago, Rivkin said:

 

I don't see it as an exclusive mark of lesser schools. It is an accurate statement, if one has in mind something like lesser Muromachi pieces, which often tend to be the same and are objectively difficult to distinguish by school.

 

Well, so is Soshu 1370-1390. Plenty of Sue Sa, Shizu, late Naotsuna which are almost the same and the attribution will always float. Dmitry has a signed Sadamune daito in his book judged to Hiromitsu. Its exceptionally unusual to judge signed blade with an old signature to the same school, same period, but another name. Did not want to set the precedent of signed Sadamune? Sadamune daito always being difficult to judge? Maybe.

 

I always disagreed with most of what Darcy wrote on kantei. "Den ..." is usually a minor hedge applied by default, but with a major early Soshu name the intent is different. Den Masamune tends to be a Nambokucho blade, or some other big issue, irrespective of setsumei. There is a reason in a list of swords you would see simply "O-Kanemitsu" but if its the first rank Soshu, they will add specifically "kiwame Sadamune", i.e. underlining its not "Den". Even if its "kiwame Hasebe", i.e. there are still two options .  "To ga aru" - by default assumes its gimei but the signature was added pre-Edo. etc. etc. 

 

Ok, Kiril, good conversation finally in otherwise dispiriting sea of posts. Thanks for the intellectual challenge.

  • Agree on the point that it is not always lesser schools and can apply to Sue-Sa, Shizu-Naoe Shizu spectrum, etc
  • The Hiromitsu daito (one of 'lost' ie repatriated out of Japan 25 JuBi, discovered in California, etc etc ), which recently went to Switzerland at the plump cost of €600k: indeed both Dimitry and Darcy speculated was a Sadamune blade....one of the Sadamune signatures per some old scriptures. Could be they did not want to stick the necks out and redact old books/approaches. So fair point. 
  • Den is too complex to summarise here and in a short argument. Den evolved over time (so, say up to sessions 10-20 it is one thing, then different afterwards in the mid sessions and slightly different from sessions probably something like 50/55 onwards or whenever the shinsa committee went through a wholesale change (Tanobe sensei retirement, etc). Also, den is influenced by factors such as documented provenance, presence/lack of kinzogan, etc. But it is rather important to differentiate between kinzogan, kinpun, shusho etc as they have different weights and also of course - who put the signature / which judge. Also placement of Den is important and although rare, there have been instances of Den XX or XX den....
  • To mei ga aru: well, you take the harsh/conservative path in discounting them as gimei. Probably half of them are such. But as we know it means 'there is a signature of...'. The reality is there are various 'to mei ga aru' blades which lost that statement in transition from Juyo to TJ. So, you cannot wholesale discount them. In fact, I dare say, and that is a more advanced topic for the more adventurous here, that sometimes if one does the homework and pursues a to mei ga aru Juyo, they might get a discount (as to mei ga aru could) and might lose the to mei ga aru and get an uplift overall. It has happened that a Juyo blade with to mei ga aru was resubmitted in a later Juyo shinsa and got the statemet removed still within the confines of Juyo. So, it could simply mean that it needs more study/more research/more conviction or the one (or two) judges who voted against studied more or changed their views or the shinsa panel changed whatever....That game is a game of patience and deep research and study and conversations with authorities etc. 
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13 hours ago, Gakusee said:

 

But I have also heard that when an attestation is obvious (eg a very clear Sanbosugi hamon with some nie and some sort of nagare itame, etc) and the signature is OK, they would not spend too much time and give it to the obvious maker with the signature on the tang (eg  Kanemoto sandai, yondai, whatever). 

 

 

 

 

 

I have heard that we are not responsible for the current climate change, that the earth is flat, that aliens visit us. should I believe it ? 

I don't give credence to rumors, I only believe what is proven. It's probably my scientific mind that makes me react like that but I won't change. Be skeptical and don't believe the first person you meet. Always check to see if it makes sense (but it needs knowledge). 

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I am still missing Dmitrys book, so I cannot read his theories. What are the qualities that would make this a Sadamune blade? Would it be possible to see the old reference oshigata for Sadamune? I personally see the Hiromitsu attribution as very reasonable one. I just compared the existing Hiromitsu signatures with 相模国住人 and many of the seem very similar to this tachi. I have access to c. 20 Hiromitsu signatures with this longer signature style (of course only in books :)). As there are no Sadamune signatures remaining it would be very difficult to judge partial one as Sadamune especially if it would be missing the Sadamune part. And as the Hiromitsu signature style is very similar and this date would also be in his working period.

 

I feel the same way as Michael for "to mei ga aru" that there is a signature (that will need further research). I think for many it might be a red flag. I wouldn't personally owning such blade, well I am totally fine with "Kuni fumei" blades of unknown province which many shun upon.

 

As for how much time is spent per item, I cannot say for sure but NBTHK is (most likely have to be) pretty open with their financial etc. info. I dug some numbers from their magazine few years ago.

2019

 

Hozon Tōken – 7,106 submitted – 4,749 passed

Hozon Tōsō – 333 submitted – 186 passed

Hozon Tōsōgu – 3,764 submitted – 2,401 passed

 

Tokubetsu Hozon Tōken – 3,317 submitted – 2,259 passed

Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsō – 154 submitted – 102 passed

Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsōgu – 1,062 submitted – 841 passed

 

Jūyō 65 Tōken – 997 submitted – 101 passed

Jūyō 65 Tōsō – 45 submitted – 8 passed

Jūyō 65 Tōsōgu – 287 submitted – 29 passed

 

As for the shinsa cost, you could say that Jūyō pass is roughly 10x more costly than Hozon. For sword 220,000 yen vs. 25,000 yen. I think NBTHK is running 4 Hozon/TH sword focused shinsa per year so with those numbers it would be roughly c. 2,500+ swords per one shinsa. I don't know how long the shinsa session lasts but even if you run the numbers that one sword would get looked for merely 3 minutes, then it would mean 20 swords get processed within an hour (of course some swords take longer than others, and even Japanese professionals need to take breaks). Looking at swords closely is for me very exhausting and I am not sure how long at one sitting the professional team but for very easy math lets say working 10 hours a day, it would be 13 working days to go through that amount of swords, without breaks swords coming in and out like from a machine. With 10 minutes spent per sword, they could only process 6 swords per hour, working the same time with machine accuracy and effectiviness without breaks it would be 42 working days to process through those swords.

 

Even though that above about time spent with items  (the submission numbers are real from NBTHK) is just purely speculation which Jacques hates ;), I think it shows why NBTHK shinsa teams are professionals, and you can see the amount of various swords they get to see in every shinsa session. It is kinda mindblowing when you add other sword studies etc. in the mix too.

 

Unfortunately my post is totally off the opening topic but I felt the discussion has evolved into very interesting one.

 

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27 minutes ago, Jussi Ekholm said:

I am still missing Dmitrys book, so I cannot read his theories. What are the qualities that would make this a Sadamune blade? Would it be possible to see the old reference oshigata for Sadamune? I personally see the Hiromitsu attribution as very reasonable one. I just compared the existing Hiromitsu signatures with 相模国住人 and many of the seem very similar to this tachi. I have access to c. 20 Hiromitsu signatures with this longer signature style (of course only in books :)). As there are no Sadamune signatures remaining it would be very difficult to judge partial one as Sadamune especially if it would be missing the Sadamune part. And as the Hiromitsu signature style is very similar and this date would also be in his working period.

 

I feel the same way as Michael for "to mei ga aru" that there is a signature (that will need further research). I think for many it might be a red flag. I wouldn't personally owning such blade, well I am totally fine with "Kuni fumei" blades of unknown province which many shun upon.

 

As for how much time is spent per item, I cannot say for sure but NBTHK is (most likely have to be) pretty open with their financial etc. info. I dug some numbers from their magazine few years ago.

2019

 

Hozon Tōken – 7,106 submitted – 4,749 passed

Hozon Tōsō – 333 submitted – 186 passed

Hozon Tōsōgu – 3,764 submitted – 2,401 passed

 

Tokubetsu Hozon Tōken – 3,317 submitted – 2,259 passed

Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsō – 154 submitted – 102 passed

Tokubetsu Hozon Tōsōgu – 1,062 submitted – 841 passed

 

Jūyō 65 Tōken – 997 submitted – 101 passed

Jūyō 65 Tōsō – 45 submitted – 8 passed

Jūyō 65 Tōsōgu – 287 submitted – 29 passed

 

As for the shinsa cost, you could say that Jūyō pass is roughly 10x more costly than Hozon. For sword 220,000 yen vs. 25,000 yen. I think NBTHK is running 4 Hozon/TH sword focused shinsa per year so with those numbers it would be roughly c. 2,500+ swords per one shinsa. I don't know how long the shinsa session lasts but even if you run the numbers that one sword would get looked for merely 3 minutes, then it would mean 20 swords get processed within an hour (of course some swords take longer than others, and even Japanese professionals need to take breaks). Looking at swords closely is for me very exhausting and I am not sure how long at one sitting the professional team but for very easy math lets say working 10 hours a day, it would be 13 working days to go through that amount of swords, without breaks swords coming in and out like from a machine. With 10 minutes spent per sword, they could only process 6 swords per hour, working the same time with machine accuracy and effectiviness without breaks it would be 42 working days to process through those swords.

 

Even though that above about time spent with items  (the submission numbers are real from NBTHK) is just purely speculation which Jacques hates ;), I think it shows why NBTHK shinsa teams are professionals, and you can see the amount of various swords they get to see in every shinsa session. It is kinda mindblowing when you add other sword studies etc. in the mix too.

 

Unfortunately my post is totally off the opening topic but I felt the discussion has evolved into very interesting one.

 

 

Add ALL the administrative time on top of those numbers. organization, documentation, etc, etc.   

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15 hours ago, Baba Yaga said:

I was around well before Darcy got his start and sold his Tech business. He was told by a few of US, how the game is played and paid a considerable amount of "tuition".  Meaning, like most newbies he found out by paying his dues.. I remember when the Japanese figured out how to take photos with shadow boxes and lighting, so he went to Japan and found out how they did it. If my very good memory serves me right, he posted it somewhere at the time. I don't know if the old post is still around, I have no need to look for it.  The post was long before this forum, so there may be an updated version. 

I agree Jacques that it would have been ideal to watch the shinsa so that I could verify if they indeed do that. But as I said - it is closed to observers. So we have to go by hearsay, which I also don’t like. 
 

Jussi’s analysis is the closest we can go to a scientific analysis of what might happen. 

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I don't want to comment much on Sadamune-Hiromitsu since it will just be borrowing from Dmitry's rather long book section... and I don't understand the issue thoroughly.

On the time per blade, an observed and commented on NBTHK session in the US was not greatly different from how such are done in Japan, which in turn was not that different from NHTK sessions, which one can observe...

There are obviously people FAR more experienced with them, but here is my take.

 

The pace is professional and unless its signed and dated Norishige they don't pause and awe even for the blades which would cause me to salivate... I saw Rai and Shizu blades handled in about 3-5 minutes and ugly like hell average pieces given the same time. Opinions were stated from senior to junior members, which is contrary to my experience of how typical Japanese government panel functions, but I guess senior-to-junior order is much more expedient. The senior person does thorough look up of the blade with one or few fixed lights, then others pick it up, they state couple of opinions. No real discussion. Three phrases from the senior, one-two from the junior members. 3 minutes, maybe 5 in total.

 

I saw them getting stuck a few times when the signature was iffy and they went for the books and there was a long argument. One of the blades was upper grade shinto guy, but another just average Muromachi piece, they were just concerned that the details in this long signature were highly atypical and argued about it. I think there is general feeling that gimeing the right signature or passing gimei is something much more likely to come back and hurt them. A spread in opinions on mumei pieces is expected to be large.

 

In regards to signature appraising changing from TH to Juyo - one of the big reasons we will not see an open database-check-you-certificate ever, because if such is done someone will do the statistics on attributions like Takada, Uda and will find out the percentage of those shifts a lot with time. Many will dismiss it in a sense you are not suppose to own mumei Takada (that is if you are a cool collector), but there are similar trends with other attributions, signatures included. 

Sayagaki was refused to Juyo blade - on account of it being "well known gimei" from the prospective of the sayagaki-shi.

If one ever invites Nobuo Nakahara o-sensei (I should be hated in Japan, perfect nobody dissing both him and Ogawa Morihiro), he will discover all his Juyo are gimei, and it can be scientifically proven on the basis of nioi-guchi alone. 

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Rivkin said:

 

 

The pace is professional and unless its signed and dated Norishige they don't pause and awe even for the blades which would cause me to salivate... I saw Rai and Shizu blades handled in about 3-5 minutes and ugly like hell average pieces given the same time. Opinions were stated from senior to junior members, which is contrary to my experience of how typical Japanese government panel functions, but I guess senior-to-junior order is much more expedient. The senior person does thorough look up of the blade with one or few fixed lights, then others pick it up, they state couple of opinions. No real discussion. Three phrases from the senior, one-two from the junior members. 3 minutes, maybe 5 in total.

 

I saw them getting stuck a few times when the signature was iffy and they went for the books and there was a long argument. One of the blades was upper grade shinto guy, but another just average Muromachi piece, they were just concerned that the details in this long signature were highly atypical and argued about it. I think there is general feeling that gimeing the right signature or passing gimei is something much more likely to come back and hurt them. A spread in opinions on mumei pieces is expected to be large.

 


 

Is this the NTHK shinsa session in the US? And under whose senior stewardship was it done? Thanks. 

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