Newly acquired Nihonto by Kanehide(1986)

Hello everyone.

First, thanks to Stan who accepted my membership.

Some days ago, I found the site web Tokugawa Arts Swrod and saw this Nihonto

I immediately fall in love with it: perfect measurements for me, nice curvature, beautiful koshirae, almost mint condition. For a 28 years old nihonto, it is well conserved. On top of that, this is a Noshu Kanehide's late masterpiece a few years before his death. For information, the Gunto that Mr.McCartney Russel used to perform his Geness record Senbongiri was forged by Kanehide as well.

I had a few questions for the seller, we were be able to talk through skype, the seller called Yuji was very kind and answered all my questions. Here are some additionnal information about the katana:

1.This katana was made under traditional forging method constrruction of "Orikaeshi San-Mai" (turn-up three layers) using traditional fine steel of "Tamahagane" which is made by Tatara (furnace).
2.This katana was polished only once when it was made and still remains an original polish status.
3.The katanas made by Kanehide have good reputation as "supreme sharp" therefore this katana also must perform very sharp cutting result.
4.Please note that we need to apply an export permission lisence by the Agency of Cultural Affairs in Japan. This process takes 2 business weeks after processing to the government.

As it is my first Nihonto purchase, I want to ask you some questions about the quality of this Nihonto.

My questions are:

  1. From the photos on the page web(you can zoom in by clicking on the photos), do you see any sign that this blade has already been polished or repaired(if any chips or edge roll may exist)? What do you think about the Hamon and globally, does it have any hagire on the blade??

  2. How much do you know about the smith Noshu Kanehide. I know that he is one of the four 2 Millions Yen level Smith in that periode, and he has received a lot of price. I know also about the senbongiri geness record holder used his gunto to perform thousand of cuts without sharpening the edge.

  3. The seller told me that next NBTHK shinsa will take place on 3-5 november in Tokyo and the next NTHK-NPO shinsa on 14 September. As I live in France, I would prefer submit the blade for the shinsa before it being shipped to France since it would be painly hard to resend the blade back to Japan later.
    Judging from the photos and the description, do you think this blade can achieve a Tokubetsu Hozen certificate or at least the Hozen certificate?

Please let me what do you think about the quality of this Nihonto. It will be really appreciated from you to help me.

With all my respect to you, sir, thank you very much in advance, Good days!!


quality vs price

Regarding question #3: I don't really know the answer, but I would start by comparing the price that you paid with other blades of similar price, and higher price, etc. I have not looked at GENDAI prices lately, but $4500 seems low to me. If it is a low price, then why? I don't see any obvious problems in the pictures, but... If you look at a blade that is $10000, why is it more expensive? Better smith? Better workmanship? Better polish?

quality with low price

saipan59 wrote:

Regarding question #3: I don't really know the answer, but I would start by comparing the price that you paid with other blades of similar price, and higher price, etc. I have not looked at GENDAI prices lately, but $4500 seems low to me. If it *is* a low price, then why? I don't see any obvious problems in the pictures, but... If you look at a blade that is $10000, why is it more expensive? Better smith? Better workmanship? Better polish?

Hi saipan, Thank you for your answer.

First, I don't know if you saw the mei, but it is a Shinsakuto. It is made in 1986. So it is not a gendaito.

Then, you answered my questions with new questions that I don't have an answer. That is very confusing for me. If I already know the answer, I would not ask.

Why it is low price? A lot of possibility. Second hand nihonto, wear some light scratch, old shinsakuto, basic koshirae, Martial art polish, has not been used in war, or used by a Samurai, doesn't have history background...I don't know which one.

Better smith: well, this is hard to say. But for a 2 Million yens rank Smith who has won 3 time third prices and 8 time encouraged price in NBTHK contest, who received the title of "An important intangible cultural asset of Seki and Gifu pref"(equivalent to Ningen Kokuho but on a local, rather than national), and who made swords for the Emperor and Empress in 1957, I don't think he is a very bad skill smith compared to other.

What I want to know is, judging from the pictures and the description, what do you think about the quality of the workmanship. You may not identify the quality of the tamahagane used for this blade, but maybe you can have an idea on the hamon and the jihada quality.

Basing opinion only on price seems to be a little bit arbitary.(even if this may be true in 75% of the cases for Nihonto). Moreoever, what I am looking for is a not very ancient Nihonto which is still capable of excellent cutting performance. I am not a collectionner(at least not now), I probably don't need some old famous art piece which costs 4-6 millions yen but which may not be able to cut anymore and which needs to be conserved eternally as an art piece. I need something functionnal, but not made by modern steel such as l6 w2 etc...I need some functionnal Traditionnal Tamahagane made Nihonto. That's it.

I would be grateful if you could make some more objective opinions please?

Sorry about my lack of knowledge, but if I am an expert and know comparing two quality swords, I would not post here for help.

Thank you very much. Have a nice day!

Hi Zhang and welcome! My

Hi Zhang and welcome!

My first thought was like Pete said that the price was too low for a modern sword, especially when it comes from Japan. Then I checked prices for similar katana by Kanehide which appeared on the market recently and they were all in the same range, if not cheaper (again, that's almost expected when buying online in Japan).

Answers to your questions:

  1. I don't think it was polished or repaired - it's too early for this sword. I don't see any signs of even very careful Iai practice - most likely it remained in the scabbard for the most of its life.

  2. I don't know much about Gendai smiths, but I'm sure you can find something in the internet or in the books about modern swords. The description on the page you posted is reasonably detailed. Slough [1] says he was active during the war and then he restarted swordmaking in 1954.

  3. It's almost impossible to judge the quality of the steel through photos. Also, Sanmei tends to enhance their pictures by increasing contrast to the maximum. It overemphasizes the details and makes jigane look worse than it really is. The shape is good and healthy, but I'm not a huge fan of this hamon. But again, one cannot fully appreciate the blade just by photos (and also I'm not a bug fan of Gendaito anyway, so I'm naturally biased :-) ). My opinion is that this sword was made for appreciation and not Iai.

  4. I don't think this sword needs certification (and I'm not even sure it will be accepted for certification - it's too new) - it's Japanese, it's authentic, it's made using traditional methods. It's only the authenticity of the signature and attribution which may need a professional appraisal. If it passes certification, it can only receive a 'Hozon'. I think I heard somewhere recently that for nearly the first time in history some modern sword received Tokubetsu Hozon, but that must have been an exceptional blade. (unless I'm terribly mistaken - again, I don't know much about Gendaito).

I compared the signature with other examples of Kanehide, and it doesn't look too similar. However, most examples are from war time era, while this sword was made 40 years later. I would also check if there was another Kanehide active in the 80s - maybe it' a different smith.

Overall, it looks like a good sword in good koshirae. If I were you I'd enjoy it without any certification :-)




Widowmaker wrote:

it is a Shinsakuto. It is made in 1986. So it is not a gendaito.

We may be picky about terminology, but gendaito means 'modern sword' and it's a generalisation of any modern (i.e. post Shinshinto) swords.

See for a detailed discussion :-)

no shinsa

I agree with Stan's advice about not trying to get certification (origami).
Since he is a gendai smith, there is really no question about who made it, unless there is a concern that it is a "modern gimei", which I think is highly unlikely.
Getting "papers" on a modern blade does NOT increase its value (I think). As Stan said, it may not even be possible. As I have written many times on this forum, I usually advise people NOT to think about getting "papers", because folks don't understand the costs and benefits of submitting to shinsa.

An idea:
Since Stan mentioned that the mei perhaps isn't a close match to other examples, and that this blade was made in 86 (long after WWII), I wonder if it might have been made by a student of the WWII-period smith? If this were true, it could explain a difference in price, etc.

You might want to ask Chris Bowen for his opinions. He is quite an expert at modern smiths. His web site is . If he gives you any info, please let us know here what he says.

And yes, as Stan mentioned, "gendai" means "modern", while "shinsaku" means "new made". I use the word gendai because I speak Japanese (a little/some), and it is the word that would be used in normal conversation.


thank you

Thank you for all your answer. That brings me a lot of information.

You also saved me from my dilemma (paper or no paper, shinsa or no shinsa). LOL. I think I will follow your advice and I feel great now.

1.About the mei, Kanehide did made little modification on his mei after the WWII period. Here is a link that you can see how his mei evolved.

2.Thank you guys for the precision about the terminology, I thought Gendaito were nihonto made after shinshinto until the end off WWII.

3.By the way, the sword in the link below is the gunto that mr.McCartney Russell used to perform his senbogiri record. Make thousand Cuts of Tatami and still remaina sharp, this is some quiet good sword. Who said that Tamahagane sucks compared to modern steel?

Thanks again for all your sincere opinions. I will make some high resolution photos when the Ninhonto will be shipped to me. Have a nice day to all!

Hi guys, just want to let you

Hi guys, just want to let you know that the Nihonto arrived last week.