The Japanese Sword

The Japanese Sword

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Since ancient times, the Japanese sword has proven to be an exemplary weapon in many battles. Although for many years the emphasis on the sword was as a cutting weapon, from 1876 (Meiji 9), when the Haito-rei law was decreed banning the wearing of swords in public, the sword moved further and further from practical use. In recent times, Japanese swords have come to be referred to as art-swords, and are now appreciated as art objects.

In addition to being appreciated as art, Japanese swords have a long history and have been passed down since the late-Heian period. The shape (construction and curvature) and workmanship (hada and hamon) varies according to the period of manufacture. Sword specialists break this down into the following categories. Swords produced before the first year of Keicho era (1596) are referred to as Koto (old-swords). Swords produced after that, up to the Bunka and Bunsei eras (180430), are referred to as Shinto (new-swords). Additionally, any swords produced between 1804 and 1830 are referred to as Shin-Shinto (new new-swords), and swords produced after 1876 are generally referred to as Gendaito (modern swords). The main differences between Koto and Shinto blades are that many Koto blades are of a robust construction with a much deeper graceful curvature. Even in the Koto period there are many variations in workmanship. The makers' techniques and characteristics can be seen in the different combinations of the activities in the steel, such as utsuri, chikei, kinsuji, etc. The hues and textures of the steel in a well-forged blade give the viewer the impression that they can see right into the steel itself. Koto hamon are also praised for their beauty. They come in various forms, suguha (straight), gently undulating patterns like ko-midare, or flamboyant patterns like choji-midare and so forth. Along the border of the hamon and the jihada are crystalline activites called nie and nioi. These activities can also go deep into the hamon. Depending on the prevalent amount of nie or nioi blades are determined to be either nie-deki (mostly nie), or nioi-deki (mostly nioi). This is also a determining factor when appraising which school or maker the blade comes from. Shinto blades, on the other hand, tend to be shallow in curvature. Compared to the generally more practical Koto blades, the hada and hamon of Shinto blades tend to be more artistic, or appealing to the eye.

In this publication, Nihon no Bi: Nihonto (The Japanese Sword), we have selected superior blades from the late-Heian period onwards that are important to the history of Japan and are rich in information. There are different swords representing the workmanship of the various provinces, and schools, such as Sanjo Munechika ofYamashiro province, Masatsune ofBizen province, Masamune of Sagami province, and so forth. We have also included many examples of excellent sword fittings, tsuba, carved metal fittings, and full sets of mountings.

This publication contains about 45 swords and daggers. It is the first time that a book on Japanese swords has ever been produced with the blades in their actual size.

Recently, there has been an increase in the popularity of Japanese swords. We would be very pleased if this definitive source on the subject became useful for many sword enthusiasts.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 258 pages
  • 254 x 254 x 21mm | 1,308g
  • Chermignon, Switzerland
  • Italian
  • 184 colour photographs, gatefolds
  • 4054062946
  • 9784054062948
  • 1,644,861