Yamatorige project

This post is published on behalf of Setouchi City Council (Okayama Prefecture). The city is running a campaign via Kickstarter from Tuesday 20th November–Saturday 22nd December as part of our efforts to raise the 5,000,000USD in capital needed to buy the National Treasure art sword, the ‘Yamatorige’, for their leading sword gallery, the Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum.

This 13th century tachi is considered the most significant extant masterpiece from the Bizen area, where modern Setouchi now stands. This feat is all the more impressive as, of the 2.8 million registered blades in Japan, half were made in this one small region, including an impressive 47 of the 111 designated as National Treasures. Not only is it an exquisite work of art, but the sword is also of great historical importance, having been the favoured blade of Uesugi Kenshin, among the most powerful warlords of the 16th century and national traditional icons.

While many Bizen masterworks currently reside in prominent museums such as the USA’s Metropolitan Museum and the UK’s British Museum, not one is presently in the very museum that bears the area’s name. As such, and due to its singular cultural significance, the city jumped on the chance to purchase the sword when, in January 2018, the sword’s owner gave the city a once-in-a-lifetime sales offer.

Weekly Sword Tracker

I'm going to do a little experiment which I had in mind for a while. As most of the modern sword collectors I'm looking for new swords for sale on almost daily basis and over time I've acquired a list of quality online sword shops. From now onwards I'll be posting a weekly list of new swords categorised by its certificates. Swords without papers will not be posted due to large volume and sizable amount of effort required to filter out good stuff from junk.

Please let me know if you find it useful. I'm also hoping that owners of the mentioned online shops won't mind: in theory it may boost their sales.

So here goes the first update (see the comment below).

New Member's Guide to Nihonto Club published

I have published New Member's Guide to Nihonto Club. It's a brief introduction to Nihonto Club resources. Your feedback is welcome!

Registration by invitation only

Dear Members and Visitors,

Due to recent increase in the number of spurious user account registrations and spam attacks, Nihonto Club will no longer be auto-accepting registration requests.

Please use Contact Form to apply for an account.

Apologies for the inconvenience. This policy is aimed at protecting you from unsolicited marketing and keeping the site's content clean.

Stan Nazarenko

Swordsmith Index verification finished

Dear Members and Friends,

Nihonto Club has reached a major milestone today. All records in Swordsmith Index have been verified against at least one swordsmith directory. All related databases and services have a solid foundation now, upon which Nihonto Club will grow. From now onwards you’ll never see the message ‘Warning! This record hasn't been verified yet’ again. It took more than 5 years to:

  • validate 12306 smith records (new and existing) and transform to Nihonto Club format
  • clean up, add missing characters to 2418 existing signatures
  • add 4769 new signatures in Kanji and Romaji

What's next? With all the holes in the existing data addressed, I'll be able to spend more time expanding swordsmith records with more in-depth information and continue working on the Sword Database, starting with Juyō class swords. Eventually I'm also planning to add more data on somewhat under-represented modern smiths, subject to time and resource constraints.

Many thanks to all the contributors who supplied Swordsmith Index with additional information. Your participation is always valued and appreciated.

Stan Nazarenko

Japanese Arms and Armour Seminar in Leeds, UK (24 Sep 2011)

Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds is hosting a seminar on Japanese arms & armour in September 2011.

Royal Armouries wrote:

Japanese arms and armour is an ever popular theme for our History in Your Hands seminars – come along and handle genuine items of Japanese arms and armour from our collection. Learn about the production and use of katana and wakizashi as well as taking a close-up look at armoured sleeves, helmets and face masks.

Hosted by our Curator Emeritus Ian Bottomley this is a unique opportunity to get up close and personal to some of the most beautifully made and fascinating items in our collection.

* All of the seminars run from 10:30 to 16:30 and take place at the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds.
* Lunch is not provided, but there is a bistro and a café plus a picnic area in the Museum.
* Booking is essential as the seminars tend to sell out quickly and places are limited to 20 delegates per seminar.

Seminar Details

Time: 10.30am-4.00pm
Price: 30GBP per delegate
Sutable for: Adults 18+
Venue: Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds
Website: Japanese Arms and Armour Seminar

For further information or to book please email or call +44-113-220-1888.

Donate to Red Cross: Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami

A massive earthquake, the seventh largest recorded in history, struck the east coast of Japan on Friday 11 March.

The earthquake, measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale, triggered a tsunami which hit the east coast of Japan with 7-metre-high waves, leaving a trail of destruction.

Reports say that more than 1,000 people have died in the disaster, with many more missing and many injured. The earthquake triggered fires and caused severe damage to buildings, leaving more than five million homes without electricity and a million without water.

The Japanese Red Cross has been working on the ground since the disaster began, mobilising 86 teams, made up of around 600 doctors, nurses and support staff, to provide first aid and healthcare and assess the damage and needs of the communities affected.

Nihonto Club has made a humble donation to British Red Cross. Please consider donating to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Appeal.

Kind regards,
Nihonto Club

New image publishing system released

Publication of Japanese sword related materials in a systematic and coherent way is the main mission of Nihonto Club. Uploading images and other media and attaching them to the main content is one of its most important components. Over last 4 years a number of solutions for handling images were used in different parts of the website (boards, galleries, collections etc) trying to find one which is best fit for the purpose. Personally I had serious reservations about all of them and was simply waiting for 'the right one' before committing to posting any image-heavy content.

Also I needed to know how you use it. Images seemed to be mostly used in Discussion Boards to ask questions about particular blades and fittings, as well as providing answers. In addition, Image Gallery and Private Collections areas were actively used to share images of the items you own.

Ability to expose images in Sword Database was another important area to be addressed.

The time has now come to roll out the new image handling system based on a very promising Node Gallery module for Nihonto Club software.

The new solution is treating pages of certain types (forum topic, collection item, sword record) as galleries with the possibility of attaching a number of images. Once added, they are available at the bottom of the page. If you click any image, it brings you to the gallery view where you can browse through images, view their enlarged versions (if available) and leave your comments.

It also allows maintaining information about ownership, copyright and licensing restrictions. It will help us to be fair to people who share their work, as well as open possibilities of using publically available image repositories such as Wikimedia Commons and Flickr without breaching their Terms & Conditions. This may not be a concern for a classic style message board, but Nihonto Club is (or hoping to be) more like a research tool and we need to think long term.

Being currently exposed in the most basic form, it provides brilliant prospects for future development. I'm hoping that you'll find it more consistent, intuitive and convenient than the older solutions.

Sword Database released

I’m pleased to announce the rollout of a new feature which hopefully will become one of the most important components of this website. Sword Database (accessible from the Club Resources menu on the left hand side) is a collection of sword records, from the most prominent to the most humble ones. It starts from the list of Kokuho – Japanese National Treasures and it’s going to expand in the coming years. Information on more than 2000 swords is ready to be published in the future.

The first version of the Sword Database contains only basic metrics of the blade, attribution and references to public sources, e.g. sword books, magazines and articles. It will be eventually enhanced with photos, thorough description and other information. It’s totally integrated with Swordsmith Index and allows searching both smiths and individual swords by signature. Swordsmith records display a list of extant works (if registered in the database). See Sukemitsu or Tōshirō Yoshimitsu as examples.

Japanese Swords Seminar in Leeds, UK (12 Feb 2011)

Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds is hosting a seminar on Japanese swords in February 2011. See the description below.

Royal Armouries wrote:

Our ever-popular Japanese swords seminar will give participants a unique chance to learn about making and care of important cultural objects. Delivered by Keeper of Armour & Oriental Collections Thom Richardson and Curator Emeritus Ian Bottomley the session gives the chance to handle genuine objects from our study collections which are not usually on public display, including a wakizashi by Tadahiro of Hizen of the mid 17th century with its complete set of mounts, bags, and sword box, and a tachi of about 1400 by Sadatsugu of Bitchu.

Seminar Details

Time: 10am-4.30pm
Price: 30GBP per person
Venue: Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds

For further information or to book please email or alternatively call Jon Copley on +44-113-220-1888.

If you wish to attend, hurry up as the number of seats is limited! I'm hoping to meet some of you there.