Getting Into The Groove

About 40% of suriage and ubu katana have bohi which is a simple groove which fills the shinogi area of the blade. Recently on nihontomessageboard.com a question came up about the strength effect on blades. 

I wrote about this a long, long time ago but it bears some updating here, about why a blade has grooves and what the effects are function wise. 

Continue reading Getting Into The Groove

Context

This came up recently advising  someone about a nidai Tadatsuna sword. The owner had a fine specimen of more than premium length and ranked Tokubetsu Hozon, and he was happy with the piece and it represented this smith in his collection. Probably the sword sold for what appeared to be a budget friendly price, as this is a famous smith and well regarded it was bought and added to this collection.

There are details though that apply to these things that are not always evident to buyers. I’ll go over a few examples.

Continue reading Context

Asking and arguing

We have all experienced this I am sure. Probably we have been on both sides of this coin.

Someone you know consults with you for your opinion, no matter what the subject is. You give your opinion, if it is in disagreement with their own, they begin to argue with you. 

When people ask for an opinion they are pursuing one of two goals: Education or Confirmation. In the case of someone seeking education they are trying to extract some information and update their own knowledge, either in the abstract or in the concrete (i.e. “what is this thing that I have”).

Based on people’s psychological makeup, and their reason for pursuing this hobby or anything similar, they will have a natural inclination to one path or the other. People who simply seek out confirmation will eventually find it, and they will sort out their opinions of everyone else based on whether or not they receive confirmation of their existing beliefs. It is not just with collectors of antiques or art, it goes for politics, religion, or who you think the best quarterback in the NFL is. 

This flowchart illustrates the two different paths someone seeking education and someone seeking confirmation follow. This is very important to be aware of because it is human nature to seek out confirmation of our existing beliefs and biases. It interferes with our judgment and ability to learn when we seek confirmation instead of education. 

Continue reading Asking and arguing

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