View Full Version : Nihonto
04-26-2004, 02:40 AM
Are production nihonto's cutting ability graded? Do any smiths create better blades than others, or is any one smith paticularly lauded?
04-26-2004, 04:01 AM
Originally posted by Robert Miller
...Do any smiths create better blades than others, or is any one smith paticularly lauded?
Are you asking about smiths in general, or about modern (living) smiths in particular?
There are annual sword competitions in Japan, and smiths who consistantly score highly in these competitions become highly sought after.
Among modern smiths, one who comes to mind is Amata Akitsugu, who was declared an Intangable Cultural Asset in Niigata Prefecture in 1978 and a Living National Treasure in 1997.
04-26-2004, 07:19 AM
Cavaet - the words production and nihonto don't really go together. Production blades are not nihonto, nihonto are not production blades (with some exceptions).
As for smiths, depends on what you want. The yearly competition is a good guide to who is currently doing good work and who is 'moving up'. The judges criteria are primarily on the quality of the 'art'. (there is a concurrent competition for fittings, polish, etc.) Different smiths work towards different goals, historical re-creation, blade shape and style of a particular school, etc. Not all smiths compete, and those that make it to 'mukansa' level are no longer judged. There are some smiths known for making good cutters, others for something else. Some blades are graded for cutting ability, but not most of them.
You might ask specifics over in the nihonto forum on swordforum.com, or check the nihonto-listserv. Lots of long time collectors and very knowledgable people there.
04-26-2004, 11:17 AM
Just to add some more murkiness to the waters; In my experience, the world of Nihonto collection and Japanese swordsmanship don't often overlap much. Occasionally you'll meet a collector who is also a martial artist, but most of the hardcore collectors I've met are more interested in trading cigars than swinging swords. And most would rather give their own thumb a good whack with a hammer than let someone swing their valuable Nihonto through a tatami mat. I doubt many people who buy swords from smiths who are entering into the annual contests in Japan are taking those swords to tameshigiri practice.
As for good cutting swords, there's a lot of options on the market, but the term Nihonto isn't/shouldn't be used to describe them. A Howard Clark L6 Katana is a highly sought-after cutting tool, and rightfully so, but it isn't a Nihonto.
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