About Swordsmith Index


The main purpose of the Index is to provide a comprehensive list of Japanese sword makers with sufficient information given to identify particular smith in Japanese sword literature, look for further references and collect data about smith's work in a form of separate record. It may be useful for the tasks of reading smith's signatures, in-depth research on various schools of sword making, smith's lineage, general interest in the history of Nihontō.

Origin & Sources

This index (as many other swordsmith databases in English) is based on 4 most well-known and popular directories of sword smiths:

  • Hawley's Japanese Swordsmiths by W.M.Hawley (English) [1]
  • Tōkō Taikan by Kazuo Tokunō (Japanese) [2]
  • Nihon Toko Jiten by Matsuo Fujishiro (Japanese, English) [3][4]
  • Nihonto Meikan by Junji Honma (Japanese) [5]

W.M.Hawley's book is undoubtedly the most influential so far, due to its importance across English-speaking sword appreciation community, accessibility (written in English) and systematic approach which gives each smith record a unique ID. These IDs became a widely spread point of reference to particular smiths in modern Western sword literature. Due to its popularity Swordsmith Index of Nihonto Club inherits Hawley's IDs where possible.

This project would never have happened without admirable amount of work put in by the authors and contributors of the first electronic smith databases: To-Show database, JSS/US Nihonto Knowledge Base, Robert Cole's Sho-Shin website and works of many other authors (a complete list can be found in Bibliography section).

How accurate and complete is the Index?

100% of the Index have been manually verified against at least one of the smith directories listed above. It's possible that some mistakes were made during the data entry. I'm fixing them as soon as they are reported. If you notice any, please leave a comment.

One of the most important features of the Swordsmith Index is availability of complete references to literature and online resources for almost every piece of information. Japanese swords knowledge and attributions may be highly subjective. It often relies on spurious historical records which were re-invented many centuries ago in order to overstate the prominence of particular blades and smiths. Legends and folklore shouldn't be discounted either.

Reliance on the classical sources listed above provides reasonable guarantee of data quality. As a rule of thumb, the more references and individual extant swords are mentioned in the smith record, the more accurate the record is.

In regards to the coverage, this is an approximate comparison, sorted by size:

  • Hawley's - 30000 records (brief, duplicates and spurious records exist)
  • Nihonto Meikan - 23000 records (brief, w/references, doesn't include modern smiths)
  • Swordsmith Index - 12300(*) (brief, full text descriptions to grow over time)
  • Tōkō Taikan - 3700 records (short textual information, oshigata)
  • Nihon Toko Jiten - 1500 records (detailed textual information, oshigata, only the most prominent smiths of Koto and Shinto eras)

(*) Note: this number may grow

Verified records usually provide at least as much detail as Hawley's and Meikan. The Index doesn't currently provide good coverage for the smiths which worked after 1930s.

How to use

Swordsmith Index can be accessed in two ways: Smith List (if you are looking for smith by name, ID, province or Japanese calendar era), Mei Search (if you are looking by signature or parts of signature) and Schools (view by school of sword making).

Mei Search in 'contains' mode can search the signature database by any part of the signature, including single characters, both in Kanji and Romaji. It looks for continuous matches, so if you look for 'Musashi Daijo Tadahiro', it will find 'Hizen Kuni ju Musashi Daijo Tadahiro', but not 'Musashi Daijo Fujiwara Tadahiro'. You may use 'Musashi Daijo%Tadahiro' in order to fetch more results. If not found, you may need to reduce the search string further. Search strings are NOT case sensitive.

Please note that many smiths who used signed with 2 characters will not show up in the mei search due to the lack of information about their work. If you can't find the smith by signature, use the Smith List. If no data was found in the List but you are sure the smith existed, please contact me and I'll do my best to add it into the Index.

Please take time to get used to the spellings of Japanese names, titles and locations in Nihonto Club. If unsure, make few trial searches to look for examples. E.g. 'daijo', 'mutsu no suke' will fetch results, but 'daijou' and 'mutsu-no-suke' will not. Spelling conventions are intended to be totally uniform across the website, but there may be exceptions. Particle 'no' may sometimes be omitted.

Terms of use

It is intended to be a non-commercial resource to support Nihonto studies and raise awareness of history and appreciation of genuine Japanese swords.

Swordsmith Index is licensed under Creative Commons License which allows to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work freely as long as appropriate attribution is made, the use is non-commercial and any derivative works are licensed under similar terms (for more details see here). Any of the above conditions can be waived if proper arrangements are made (contact me if unsure). Nihonto Club owner and members will not be held responsible for any loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any inaccuracy or error within Swordsmith Index.