IMPORTANT: Hardware upgrade 21st Septemer 2010

Nihonto Club is going offline at 20:30 GMT due to server memory upgrade. With the website becoming more popular we have outgrown the current server capacity!

I hope the downtime will be short.

Apologies for any inconvenience it may cause.

New Book: Facts and Fundamentals of Japanese Swords. A Collector's Guide

Having received a notification from last week, I am now a proud owner of Nobuo Nakahara's 'Facts and Fundamentals of Japanese Swords. A Collector's Guide' (translated into English by Paul Martin). Actually, I have two copies now, already thinking of some kind of contest or raffle for Nihonto Club to give one away.

I had a quick glance and couldn't stop myself reading few pages here and there. Now I'm looking forward to weekend to read it from the very start to the end. It's somehow different to other Nihontō books. Instead of typical indispensable but dry sequence of glossary terms, lists of schools and prominent smiths, it is shaped as an engaging narrative with Q&A sessions, bullet points, flashbacks and terms related to the context. It offers very practical, hands-on view to sword collecting and appreciation, and gives an impression of attending a high quality seminar with a master, rather than of reading a heavy-weight academic publication. It was especially appealing as I was always wondering if it will ever be a book or online resource which (while being professional and scholarly) provides a view at Nihontō tailored to a beginner's mind, temporarily stepping away from highly specialized mindset of a connoisseur. Now we have one. I think it's very important. A person who just started having an interest in authentic Japanese swords will hardly comprehend descriptions of hamon and hada of Kunimitsu, but will rather have simple questions like 'how to tell if the sword is good' and 'how old is it' and other practicalities. This is what this book seems to be about. Needless to say that the quality of publication and imagework is top-notch, being typical to Kodansha Intl.

As seen in Questions & Answers, Nakahara-sensei offers a straight and refreshing view at the subject with less emphasis on the lore, but focusing more on the sword itself. Some of his opinions may be seen as unorthodox and strong, but as mentioned by Paul Martin in the introduction there are many different theories and viewpoints in Japan, and all of them should be considered in order to get a broad understanding of Japanese swords.

It must be said, I would really really like to have this book available at the time when I started collecting and studying Nihontō. It wouldn't be a surprise if in a few years this book will become an absolute must-have for any collector (beginner and experienced).
Amazon UK

New Book: Genealogies and Schools of Japanese Swordsmiths by Markus Sesko

As announced in NBTHK mailing list a new book by Markus Sesko is out (124 pages, published in June 2010). Author himself describes the book as:

Markus Sesko wrote:

My aim with this publication is to make the major genealogies of Japanese swordsmiths and their schools from the kotō to the shintō and shinshintō periods easily accessible to the Western reader, namely in that they are complete and have been revised for the first time, in a single book. The publication begins with a brief introduction to the history of Japanese sword literature.

Site maintenance

Due to essential web site maintenance Nihonto Club may intermittently go offline between Jun 11, 23:00 GMT and June 12 03:00 GMT.

Apologies for any inconvenience it may cause.

The Japanese Sword: Guide to Nyusatsu Kantei (Koto, Shinto Dozen List)

Nihonto Club is happy to present a new book by Paul Martin, The Japanese Sword: Guide to Nyusatsu Kantei (Koto, Shinto Dozen List) (available in English, French, Italian and Russian).

It comes in a handy size (unlike most sword books) and is beneficial to sword enthusiasts of all levels. It has basic information for beginners, blade shape charts, explanation of the rules of kantei and most importantly a Koto, Shinto dozen list for easy navigation when practicing nyusatsu kantei.

The book can be ordered at in the Store section.

Swordsmith Index: changes coming soon

As some of you may have noticed, there have already been some changes in the Swordsmith Index in recent weeks. This announcement provides details on the ongoing and planned updates for the Index.

Macrons for long vowels

When the first version of the Index was released nearly 3 years ago, a decision was made to give the ability to search and maintain data the highest priority. In order to facilitate that, all the names and terms were transformed to plain ASCII format (given the overall state of the internet technology at the time). There was some research done recently by Google which shows that Unicode is now widely adapted and supported across the Internet. This gave me reassurance that it's time to revise this decision. Since we migrated to a new platform 6 months ago, it is technologically feasible now to take another step forward and review the way Japanese names and terms are presented in Swordsmith Index and throughout the site. The proposed changes are also based on feedback from visitors and members of Nihonto Club.

Most importantly names of smiths, schools, provinces, eras as well as signatures will now be presented using macrons (ō and ū) for long o and u. Submission guidelines for Japan-related articles in Wikipedia are worth to be adapted: Manual of Style (Japan-related articles).

This change won't affect searching as both internal search and Google search can process macrons correctly (e.g. if we search for 'Bishu Osafune' it will find both 'Bishu Osafune' and 'Bishū Osafune'). This should make it easier to reconcile Rōmaji with Kanji, and also help non-Japanese readers with pronunciation. As this is (mostly) manual process, it will take a while to migrate the whole site with tens of thousands records into the new format.

Archaic pronunciations

Rōmaji for iye and suye (家, 末 and alternatives) will be replaced by modern forms ie and sue. E.g. Masaiye and Iyetsugu will be displayed and Masaie and Ietsugu.

Nyusatsu Kantei booklet ready for pre-order

Nyusatsu Kantei cover

We are about a week away from the release of our pocket guide to nyusatsu kantei. If you are interested in pre-ordering a copy, please order from the contact page at It is W 4.25" x H 6.87". 50 pages. $12 +pp.

It comes in a handy size (unlike most sword books) and is beneficial to sword enthusiasts of all levels. It has basic information for beginners, blade shape charts, explanation of the rules of kantei and most importantly a Koto, Shinto dozen list for easy navigation when practicing nyusatsu kantei.

Sorry for the bandwidth, but I felt that the western sword world needed this amazingly important tool in order to be able to practice and build their confidence in nyusatsu kantei.

Merry Christmas!

Nihonto Club wishes you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thank you for your participation and contribution to the Club this year. It's been a great success, the audience has grown by 60%. I hope you find it useful and I'm looking forward to seeing you around next year.

New Filter Options for Swordsmith Index

Swordsmith Index now allows filtering by Province and Era.

Note: when filtering by Era, only traditional Nengō are available. It's currently not possible to filter by historical periods (e.g. Nanbokucho) or sword periods (Koto, Shinto etc). This is due to the fact that filtering works off the specified Start Era field in the smith record. Therefore filtering by Koto period will only show records with Start Era = Koto, and not any Koto smiths as one would expect.

Software upgrade planned 11-13 Sep 2009

Dear Members and Visitors,

Major software upgrade is planned for the coming weekend. Nihonto Club web site will be available in read-only mode between Friday, 11 September 2009 19:00 GMT and Sunday, 13 September 2009 22:00 GMT. You won’t be able to post comments or add new content. Image Gallery will be unavailable. Smith search is not affected.

This is a big step forward which took almost a year and a half to prepare. It opens up possibilities for adding new features and services.

More detailed list of changes to follow.

Apologies for any inconvenience it may have caused.