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Exhibition Highlights Part 2

Close up shot of katana, sheath and blade

Exhibition Highlights Part 2

Close up shot of katana, sheath and blade

Daisho Koshirae from the Edo period


Juyo Tensho koshirae

Exhibited at the Tokyo National Museum exhibition Uchi-gatana koshirae in 1980.
The following is a compilation of earlier post highlights, supplemented with confirmed exhibits and images. All of these works will be on display on Saturday 16th June at our educational events. This is part 2 of 3 of our comprehensive list of exhibits, which will be published over the coming weeks. Even so, it is still incomplete and further exhibits will be added as they are confirmed. Alongside the excellent display of Iron Tsuba, we will have some beautiful examples of soft metal workmanship.
O-Wakazashi Omi no  Kami  Minamoto  Hisamichi Tokubetsu Hozon 2000.   A member of the Mishina school, Hisamichi produced very individualistic work incorporating beautifully refined hada. This piece showcases his work at its best.

Several Higo koshirae from the Hosokawa- and Matsui-Family heritage with provenances of famous Japanese collections will be shown. sword_sketch

Yamato Hosho katana

Juyo Token. Yamato blades are rare, Hosho blades incredibly rare. In more than 35 years of collecting I have only seen one other Hosho daito and that was a designated Tokubetsu Hozon in Japan at the DTI. This is the first Juyo example I have ever seen. wakizashi_joshu_jyu_kunihiro

Wakizashi : Joshu Jyu Kunihiro/Keicho 13 Nen 8 Gatsuhi

Juyo Token 52. Kunihiro is regarded by many as one of the fathers of Shinto. This piece shows exceptional workmanship and it is easy to understand why it was awarded Juyo status. katana_sakakura_gonnoshin_terukane_enpo

Katana: Sakakura Gonnoshin Terukane Enpo 9 Nen 2 Gatsu Kichijitsu

45th NBTHK Juyo. Another stunning Shinto masterpiece by a smith that is too often overlooked. naoi-shizu_katana_koshirae

Naoe-Shizu Katana and koshirae

The Naoe- Shizu school was founded by pupils of Kaneuji. Their work offers an interesting illustration of the transition from the early Yamato-Shizu work to the mature Mino style. This is an excellent example of their work. It is shown together with its koshirae, which is of very high quality. ishiguro_masayoshi_soroi_kanagu

Ishiguro Masayoshi soroi-kanagu

Juyo-tosogu March 25th 1987 Kacho-mushi no zu soroi-kanagu (En suite Set of Flowers, Insects etc)Daisho-fuchi, mei: Ishiguro Masayoshi saku (石黒政美作) Menuki, divided tanzaku-mei: Ishiguro – Masayoshi (石黒・政美) Kozuka and kogai, mei: Jugakusai Masayoshi (寿岳斎政美) This sword had been a heirloom of the Shimazu-Famiy (島津) for whom Masayoshi worked since the Edo period. Watch out for next week’s post, which will detail the special tsuba coming to Samurai Art Expo!
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Don’t limit your thinking!

Don’t limit your thinking!

At risk of sounding like an ageing hippy, I think the best music ever was performed between 1965 and 1976. During that period musicians and their fans were compartmentalised. If you liked heavy rock music (I did), you couldn’t like Motown and heaven forbid you should be caught out listening to “top of the pops” and all that “commercial” rubbish. Strangely, as time moves on, the compartments and classifications become increasingly flimsy and ill defined and I start to find I enjoy all sorts of other work. Is Rock Music from the early 70s still the best there is? Absolutely. Is it all there is? Absolutely not.

As in Music, there is a danger of allowing oneself to become too focussed on a very limited period, school or style of Japanese antiques. I seem to have gained a reputation for only liking ultra conservative Yamashiro workmanship and believing the only colour for lacquer in koshirae is black. I admit there is some truth in this and I have for many years focussed on Yamashiro koto work and later work, such as Hizen, that has its origins in this style.

There really is nothing finer than a Yamashiro suguha hamon on a tight ko-itame hada covered in ji-nie and enclosed within a gentle and dignified sugata. Or a beautiful koshirae with black lacquered saya and Iron tsuba

Sorry, I am getting carried away!

In recent years, I have been able to visit different collectors and attend different society meetings. As well as enjoying meeting some very friendly and knowledgeable people, I have also taken the opportunity to look at some beautiful artwork. The more I looked, the more I questioned my single-minded approach. I was seeing stunningly beautiful work from the Bizen tradition, incredible Osaka Shinto blades and wonderful later work from Satsuma and then Shin-Shinto masters. In fact the more I looked, the more I realised how limiting my methodology was.

There have been beautiful swords and fittings made throughout all sword periods and masterpieces produced within many schools.

Now comes the challenge. When starting out you are confronted with a vast range of work from different periods, traditions and schools, which can be extremely daunting. It therefore makes perfect sense to focus on one area to start with and learn as much as you can about that. However, in adopting this method (I did) there is a danger of becoming too blinkered in your approach and missing beautiful work that is staring you in the face.

In the exhibition at Utrecht and on the commercial stands, there will be an incredible diversity of items. While it makes sense to go with a plan as to what you want to see or may be looking to purchase, be prepared to be diverted. Sometimes allowing emotion (i.e. “I just like it”) to govern your choices can be every bit as rewarding as following a set plan. Take this opportunity to look at pieces you might not normally consider and see what makes them special. If it isn’t immediately apparent to you, ask someone else for their opinion. By doing this, you are less likely to miss something really special and will learn a great deal more in the process. We will rarely have the opportunity to study of such quality and diversity so let’s make the most of it.

Just for the record, in my opinion:

Black Sabbath were undoubtedly the best band in the 1960s/70s

and Yamashiro Awataguchi smiths were undoubtedly the best smiths ever. But I must admit that there were other exceptional works produced by other artists as well!! 

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Additional exhibits at Samurai Art Expo

Additional exhibits at Samurai Art Expo

As promised, listed below is confirmation of additional pieces that will be on display at Samurai Art expo, together with images of items previously mentioned. This list is by no means exhaustive, it is just a taste of some of the many fine works visitors will be able to enjoy.

9. Mumei katana attributed to Aoe

10. Mumei Naginata Naoshi attributed to Shikkake:

Designated Juyo Token at the 46th Juyo shinsa held in 2000. The blade has a sayagaki By Tanobe Michiro sensei describing it as “An important treasure from the beginning of the Nambokucho period.”

11. Mumei O-suriage wakazashi attributed to Enju

Designated Tokubetsu Hozon


12. Akasaka Tsuba: Reeds dewdrops and lost stirrup on the Musashi

Over the next 14 days, I will add more information. To date we have 2 Tokubetsu Juyo swords and 6 Juyo blades offered and possibly more to come. We anticipate having fine examples of both swords and fittings from all periods and most traditions of Manufacture on show.