kazarena's blog

Aoe sword hunt

While working on Sword Database I occasionally do deep dives into the works of a particular school or smith. Not too long ago I recorded 99 Awataguchi swords (the number may grow by the time you may be opening this link) in various books/magazines/internet articles. Recently I found a good number of swords of Osafune Kagemitsu - this is an interesting one because Kagemitsu left many signatures with dates.

My next target is Aoe school.

This is a placeholder page where I will be tracking my progress.

Juyo Token Nado Zufu

Shuzando offers Juyo Token Nado Zufu, vol. 1-10: http://www.shuzando.co.jp/book.htm

Automated validation of Swordsmith Index data

This is more like a note to myself as I was doing some research and found few links which may be useful in the future. When I started the Swordsmith Index project 4 years ago, I had to use automated tools to cleanse and verify smith records, everything Kanji related in particular, otherwise I would have to go through thousands of records manually. The results were very positive back in 2008-2009: my tools helped to identify numerous errors and gaps in the data (e.g. smith Kanji names) which are now long since been fixed. I didn't apply similar procedure to the signatures because the data was too rough and also I needed an access to a good database of Kanji and a Japanese dictionary. But most of all, my research in this direction has stopped since a lot of my input data was stolen in a burglary (and lost on a hard drive of my old worthless laptop which was taken).

Since then I switched to different activities, with full verification of the whole Index being the most important one. As it's been planned to be completed by the end of the year, I started looking at automated tools again. Unfortunately I won't be able to publish any results as I'm just starting a new job, but I might have some time over Christmas. One of the studies analyses distribution of different Kanji across provinces (it can be done across nengō as well) which shows (no surprises here) that some characters were preferred in particular provinces. Another study (which requires the tools mentioned below) is only in the planning stage and is meant to address different patterns of signatures which may help with signature verification, automated extraction of geographical locations and also with building some sort of comprehensive manual of signature reading.

The dictionaries I was meant to use were:

KANJIDIC2 for Kanji
JMdict/EDICT for Japanese/English vocabulary


JBLite (part of J-Ben, 2 )
JBParse, 2, 3

I'll keep you informed on any further development. Until then, I have 1750 records left to verify :-)


Photos from Victoria & Albert Museum

Zach Luna posted some beautiful photos of Japanese swords in Victoria & Albert Museum in London:


New list of meitō

I found a very useful article in Japanese Wikipedia which contains a list of famous swords with brief descriptions:


I already found few swords from Kyōhō Meibutsu Chō which I had no other references to.

Surely it will grow in the future and more details will be added.

My expensive wish list

Dear Santa-san,

It's a bit off-season for wishes, but just in case if you have any of these books in stock in the next 20 years, please remember me:

Iimura Yoshiaki, Yumei Koto Taikan
Iimura Yoshiaki, Shinto Taikan
Iimura Yoshiaki, Shinshinto Taikan
Honma Junji, Showa Dai-meito Zufu

Thank you.

AFU: Translation of Sword Books

Accidentally I found an old article by Harry Afu Watson where he describes his path of becoming a translator of sword literature. I've always had a great respect for Harry's work, and this article only makes my admiration stronger.

Japanese Castle Explorer

@jcexplorer tweeted yesterday about Japanese Castle Explorer's Interactive Map. I must say, very well done!

Swordsmith Index Update

After 8 months of sitting long evenings over books and typing Kanji, I have more than 6000 individual smith records manually verified and in good shape and more than 3100 new signatures in the database. Phew!

Each record in Swordsmith record has now Province and Era filled in. This is very important as smiths can be identified by a trio "art name-province-era" and if any part is missing, you can never be sure without going back to the books.

Next target is (see you in one year :-) ) verification of all remaining records (around 4700 of them).

Also you may already have noticed that record format had changed slightly.

  • Province and Era are now displayed in Kanji on the right hand side to the smith's name.
  • Generation is displayed in Kanji (if defined) under the smith's name
  • Sword period symbol is displayed in the top right corner of the name area, similar to Nihonto Meikan. Circle corresponds to Koto, triangle - Shinto, square - Shin-Shinto, star - Gendaito. This gives the reader simple idea what smith he/she is looing at.
  • The idea of start/end year is elaborated. Ambiguous 'started in' and 'retired in' references are now replaced by 'Active Period' field which shows the range of years the smith was known to be active on. If specific years weren't entered, it shows the year range based on era field. With the current use of this field being limited, it may become more important in the future, reflecting extant works of the smith with known production year or historical evidence.

P.S. Something good is coming in 2-3 weeks. Don't miss it!


I would like to share an interesting observation (not Nihonto related). On an average day Nihonto Club gets around 30-40 spamming attempts. But October 6th had an absolute record: 611!

Thanks to our briliant anti-spam filters, no one was hurt.

Syndicate content