But All My Friends Say It’s Good

There has always been this phenomenon out there. But it seems to be getting worse. Treasure hunters everywhere want to be that guy who discovers something very important, both for the prestige, the thill and of course the valuation. 

Importantly in digging up gold and diamonds: it certainly helps if you are a geologist.

The problem that people have is that they want to be the treasure hunter and make their big score, but they don’t have the background to understand what they are looking at. People have a very large emotional need to have their find confirmed. 

I have encountered this attitude many times. 

Continue reading But All My Friends Say It’s Good

One or Two Generations

After the Tokugawa made the final steps of unifying Japan, swordsmiths adopted more clear traditions of signing swords and dating them became much more common. The information they left behind and the fact that we’re dealing with “near history” makes it easier to understand swordsmith lineages. 

When it gets into the Muromachi period and earlier, things get a bit more murky. Many signatures were lost, dates are few and far between, and period specific references can contradict each other. 

In the modern period, with swords accessible to everyone and importantly with the work of the NBTHK passing Juyo blades and publishing them, the picture has become more clear. We owe a lot to Fujishiro Yoshio who’s work in the early 1900s on reference materials is more often right than wrong. So I’ll start this discussion with some of his general thoughts on this matter of one or two generations.

Continue reading One or Two Generations

Tokubetsu Juyo 2018 Results

This is a list of the items that passed Tokubetsu Juyo shinsa in 2018… I didn’t include dates where items were dated, or include the item lengths. Just type, signature and attribution. Congratulations to those who had their items accepted. It is never easy and requires patience and a good eye.

One interesting result is that some stubborn person received Tokuju for a Naotane katana. This is only the second time ever that a Shinshinto item has passed Tokubetsu Juyo. 

All errors and omissions are mine.

Continue reading Tokubetsu Juyo 2018 Results

Sugata

When studying Aikido classes often start with ikkyo, which is the first technique. Beginners and experts practice together, and it is thought that you can continue to improve your performance no matter how far along you are in study, by continuing to study the very basics. 

For swords the topic is sugata, and there are some problems with how books address it.

Continue reading Sugata

Naginata and Naginata Naoshi

A naginata polearm can be shortened like a tachi, via suriage and reshaped into a katana. There is a subtype of naginata called a nagamaki which can only be truly identified when it is with its koshirae. The name actually reflects on the wrap of the tsuka of this type of polearm. Basically, how the blade is mounted and used ends up giving it purpose, and so its name.

Continue reading Naginata and Naginata Naoshi

This is how you do it

I am starting to see more of this kind of thing online and I am happy to see it. 

This Hasebe sword had old green papers and Aoi submitted it to get new NBTHK papers to clarify any doubts about the old attribution.

I have blogged many times that green papers = no papers, and this is what dealers should do when encountering green papered items. It is not only good for the buyer of this piece, it is good for the dealer, and good for the overall market.

This is what responsibility looks like.

Wakizashi: Mumei(Hasebe)

 

Yamatorige… Sanchomo… Sanshomo?

This is a famous sword owned by Uesugi Kenshin and the blade is now Kokuho. It is an Ichimonji sword and has an extremely flamboyant hamon. 

The blade is often called Yamatorige or Yamadorige which is one reading of the characters of its name 

山鳥毛

These characters can also be read as Sanchōmō though and it’s generally felt that this is the more correct name of the sword.

Continue reading Yamatorige… Sanchomo… Sanshomo?

Pragmatism

If you found a sword.

And you lived in Japan. 

And the sword had old green papers to Soshu Masamune. 

Would you:

a) Bring the sword to the NBTHK to have a look at seeing as they are right in Tokyo?

b) Put the sword as-is on a second rate internet auction site clogged with junk?

The answer is simple. If you think it’s legitimate you do (a) and if you think it’s fake you do (b) for a few reasons.

Continue reading Pragmatism

Your stories, bring them to me.

I was thinking about some of our older companions in the sword world dying and taking their stories with them. 

I’d like to put a database together where people can submit their own stories. This shouldn’t be too hard. The idea would be to make a publically maintained book. What happened after the war was a once in a lifetime experience. No historian is covering it. 

So it’s up to us to do it. Collect the stories of our peers before it’s too late.

If you want to send them in, you can send to me via email until I figure out the software. Every time I get 5 stories I will blog a new entry on it. 

The rules are simple:

  1. please be honest, however, change names to protect people’s identity to Tom, Dick and Harry. 
  2. choose a funny story, a lucky story or an interesting story. “I bought it from Condell at a sword show” is none of that. One of our people was told he would get three swords if he bought the guy’s daughter a bicycle, so he hauled ass off to the store and got the little girl a bike. 

I think stories like that document a real and mostly American experience of finding swords. It’s no problem to me to post them in groups of 5 as they come out. I’ll call it “Story Time”. 

Have any to share?

Scotch

Scotch is pretty simple when it comes down to it.

Differences in locality make for unique elements that go into the production of the beverage. Local water, local weather conditions, local peat, distinct shapes of stills and other unusual aspects of a distillery all end up making for a single malt which has its own character, distinct from others, though sharing characteristics of its region.

Lagavulin for instance, has long had a warehouse on the seaside and during storms, breakers come in and crash up against the walls of the warehouse. Leaving barrels in this warehouse for 16 years allows for very slow diffusion of the local environment into the cask. This is one contributor to lending Lagavulin a specific flavor that is not easily emulated.

Continue reading Scotch

Sue-Sa

So, who is this smith Sue-Sa 末左?

Fujishiro has an entry for Sue Sa and says that it is an Oei period Sa school smith. The Samonji school starts with O-Sa and several of his students and their students and so on reused the single Sa 左 in their signatures. So sometimes we need to check these blades and try to determine from where in the school they came from.

Continue reading Sue-Sa

Work

I’m a programmer.

I run the blog off of wordpress but I do my own site design, and the coding for my site yuhindo.com on which it resides.

I’ve been spending the last few weeks doing some fine tuning and overhauls that I’ve put off for a long time. The first of which is moving my domain out of .ca to a .com … regional domains are problematic for a lot of reasons.

By the way Yuhin is a phrase that Tanobe sensei often uses to describe masterpiece art swords. Yuhindo is a place you can find Yuhin. I’m not sure if I’ll keep the name but we will see.

Also about “dō” …

堂 【どう (n,n-suf) (1) temple; shrine; chapel; (2) hall; (suf) (3) (suffix attached to the names of some businesses, stores, etc.) company;

Not …

道 【どう】 (n) (1) (abbr) road; (2) way; (3) Buddhist teachings;

I have more than a decade of old pages I overhauled to bring up to modern spec and will be putting my old archive back online soon. 

A lot of the changes were to embrace modern standards (sorry 2% of the world who still uses IE, it’s time to join the 21st century) and make sure the site runs fast worldwide. 

I code it all myself and I take some pride in not running any analytics scripts or tracking. I find these things are annoying and privacy violating, not to mention they slow websites down. WordPress’ software which runs this blog is an example of bloatware, many features jammed in the implementation is glacially slow due to programmer’s choices. I try to avoid that with my own site but not too much I can do about the blog software.

A lot of the changes under the hood on my site won’t be so visible but should result in snappier performance and more uniform page rendering as long as you have a modern browser of some sort.