Tuttle Publishing Book Reviews

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I was recently contacted by a Tuttle Publishing ( representative who asked if I was interested in reviewing their very interesting collection of martial arts & Japanese sword books. Not being an idiot, I immediately agreed.

This blog will provide my observations & comments on the books I review. The first book will be "The Art of the Japanese Sword: The Craft of Swordmaking and its Appreciation" by Yoshindo Yoshihara & Leon & Hiroko Kapp, which is also available on Amazon (

Comments are greatly appreciated.

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  1. Carina Reinhardt's Avatar
    Hello Ken,
    That is very good news,thanks.
    I was just wondering why you published that in blogs? And how can we put a new blog, I spoke some time ago with Cady, that I usually publish 2 articles a month in three languages in my two blogs Entrenando Aikido in spanish and Wir trainieren Aikido in german, my daughter helps me to translate them also in english and Takahashi Shihan invited me to publish them in his website Aikido Academy USA. I shared two of my articles in members lounge, because there wasn't any possibility yet to have an own blog in E-Budo. Is there still no possiblity to have an own blog?, or is it just so that I am unable to find how to publish in Blogs.
    As I told Cady I just want to bring a bit more life to E-Budo. If you like to keep it just like it is now, no problem at all, as I'm glad about my loyal readers, few but always there who comment my articles every time, it is not necessary for me to have more, but Takahashi Shihan always encourages me to share my articles, he says " You never know who has, or will in the future, benefit from your important attempts to report what is of interest."
    Somebody told me to share them in E-Budo in Facebook, but that is not an alternative for me, because all things you share in E-Budo Facebook and are not published by E-Budo are put aside immediately, they are never kept in the main block in the middle. And my thoughts may be not important for E-Budo, but they are for me and my friends.

    Mahalo and Aloha
  2. Cady Goldfield's Avatar
    Hi Carina,
    We will be opening the blog function to members, but there will be an application process for this. Our administrators are busy with other responsibilities at this time, but when they are able to spend some time on this project, we will post instructions for how to apply for blogging privileges.

    Thank you for your patience!
  3. Carina Reinhardt's Avatar
    Thank you Cady
  4. Carina Reinhardt's Avatar
    Hi Cady,

    Please forget all the blog stuff and also my proposal for Logo. I didn't expect a fast reply of Mr Goldstein, but a reply, didn't know you were the spokesman from this closed Community. Cady we will keep our friendship in Facebook if you like and I will keep my help in this forum to those who need it, but nothing else, now I understand my naivity and why other former members of Aikiweb who are my friends didn't become members of E Budo, they knew immediately that you are a closed Community. Thanks for everything
  5. Cady Goldfield's Avatar
    Hi Carina,
    There are more than one spokesperson for E-Budo, I just happened to see your post here before Ken or any of the admins.

    There really isn't anything more to this than what I stated - that only the admins can do the technical things to open the blog page to members - it's the software.

    The reason for the application process is to keep random spammers from getting on the board and invading the blog page. E-Budo is not a "closed community." We monitor E-Budo on a daily process and are constantly removing individuals who joined here only to advertise porn sites and other spam products. But anyone with a sincere interest in budo, is welcome.
  6. Ken-Hawaii's Avatar
    I'm still awaiting delivery of the book from Tuttle, & so won't have any more comments until I have it in hand.
  7. mkrueger's Avatar
    Looking forward to reading your review!
  8. Ken-Hawaii's Avatar
    Okay, the book finally arrived late this afternoon, along with three other books that Tuttle would like me to review. Like Carina, I thought this might just be a rewrite of Kapp & Yoshihara's 1987 "The Craft of the Japanese Sword," but it's quite obviously an entire different animal. Starting off, the books look entirely different, with the new book almost twice the size. Second, the photography & graphics are infinitely better - not a huge surprise considering what's happened in photography after a quarter-century. Third, & most importantly, the first quarter of the new book looks at how to appreciate Nihonto before moving onto how all the parts of a sword are constructed.

    To those e-Budo members who simply use a sword for martial arts, this approach may simply be interesting; but for those of us who collect Nihonto, the book will provide insights from a modern tosho (swordsmith) who has been designated as Mukei Bunkazai, or Important Intangible Cultural Asset, by the Japanese Government, and as Mukansa, or "above judgement," by the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai (NBTHK). Yoshindo Yoshihara comes from an unbroken line of Japanese swordsmiths since the Edo period (1600-1868). I had the privilege of meeting him quite a number of years ago, & my only regret is that I was too dumb/stupid/crazy (choose one) to purchase a gorgeous daisho set of katana & wakizashi that he offered me at a price that today will barely buy a cheap gunto. His "common work" blades today start at $30,000, & I've seen his masterpieces go for well over $50,000.

    I'll make comments as I work my way through his new book.

  9. Ken-Hawaii's Avatar
    Okay, I'm about a third of the way through the book, & continue to be highly impressed, for the most part.

    I was a little dismayed to see that Yoshihara included a section in sword care & maintenance on how to clean a blade before every viewing. He recommends applying uchiko to remove any dust, dirt, or oil, but I personally disagree with this approach. Uchiko is really the dust-sized particles of the same stones that are used by professional togishi (polishers) to put the final polish on a Nihonto, so by applying it every time you want to view the blade, you're (1) lightly scratching the surface, & (2) removing a small but significant amount of metal. This may not be particularly noticeable to the average sword owner, but it's happening nonetheless. Wiping the blade down with a tissue will easily remove 99% of the dust & oil before viewing, & then a light coating of choji oil will protect the surface from rust once again.

    The book then goes into sword terminology, including some excellent illustrations & photos. One particular page on sori (blade curvature) answered a question that my own sword mentor had been wondering about for more than 50 years, & that tidbit alone is worth the price of this book. Examining the hamon, the visible pattern of the cutting edge, is delved into, along with the steel & structure of the blade. That section was less than a dozen pages, & I would have liked to see more detail. Koshirae & shirasaya, or sword mountings, are addressed in the next section, along with tosogu (tsuba, menuki, etc.). There are some really excellent photos for viewing & drooling. Thoughts on the Japanese Sword is a three-page section where sword collectors & users give their views on what makes Nihonto important.

    The next chapter goes into the history of the Japanese sword. It contains some excellent charts, maps, & photos that will give the reader a lot of depth on how Nihonto evolved, starting with the earliest Heian Era blades, & going right through the present Gendaito & shinsakuto. Something I wasn't used to seeing in a book are many examples of oshigata, or highly-detailed rubbing or hand-drawn facsimile of the actual activity in the blade. Anyone who really wants to understand how his or her sword blade is made needs to create an oshigata, & although this book doesn't address how to create one, I point the reader to, which goes into considerable detail.

    I'm getting ready to sit down & read the next section on Gendaito, & will post again after another hundred pages or so. This is definitely a book worth going through slowly, rather than just glancing at the text & pictures.
    Updated 4th September 2014 at 11:20 by Ken-Hawaii
  10. hursetyakar's Avatar
    bu sporlarla uğraşmak gerçekten çok güzel. Böyle bir site kurduğunuz için çok teşekkürler. =
    Updated 3rd November 2015 at 00:55 by Cady Goldfield (removed link to spam site (porn))
  11. Samurai Chrome's Avatar
    Nice lucky well done.

    I would like it if someone paid me to review martial arts books.
  12. markjsimon's Avatar
    A few years ago I came across an old katana. After extensive research through the local University, friends and colleagues I'm am still unable to determine the origin or history behind the katana.

    Any recommendations for who I might contact next?
  13. BudoPL's Avatar
    That's a nice one. Fine book about japanese katana sword. Good job.
    Updated 14th October 2017 at 10:08 by BudoPL (New thoughts.)
  14. Mitchy's Avatar
    Tuttle Press is a great publishing company. The quality of their books is superb.