May 11th Lecture #8: Rcognizing a Quality Blade

Japanese Sword Study Series #8

Recognizing a Quality Blade

1:00 PM Saturday, May 11,2019

Japanese Art Swords

A gallery of fine blades and related art

Thus far, we have spoken of the general identifying characteristics of the five original traditions of blade making, the Gokaden. We have looked primarily at classical blades from the late Kamakura and Nambokucho jidai (roughly 1250-1392). Going forward, we will continue with a systematic look at the Muromachi and Edo period blades (later Koto, Shinto, and Shinshinto blades). But now you are perhaps thinking about buying a blade to study, or to begin a collection. Or you have started collecting and want to build your collection. The type of blade you decide to collect is entirely a matter of personal taste and preference, but the quality of a blade, regardless of era, is based on certain unchanging criteria:

· excellent shape and proportions according to the demands of the time

· good steel worked into well-forged jitetsu with a clear jihada

· a well-formed hamon with the proper nioi/nie deki and activity for the era and style

· a well-formed nakago, showing good steel and shape

· if signed, the signature should match the workmanship of the blade

All these qualities are fairly easy to discern in a polished and possibly papered blade. But what about that enticing piece at the local antique mall, or one of hundreds of blades in less than great condition at one of the major sword shows? How to judge those pieces? That is the topic of this presentation. Not all of the blades presented this time will be pristine. I expect a fairly interactive session. Hopefully, it will be fun and a good learning experience for everyone.

As always, we will review safe handling, sword etiquette, and formal viewing of the nihonto.

Anyone interested in the Japanese sword as an object of art, craft, and history is invited to attend.

Seattle Art Sword Token Kai is a group dedicated to the study of nihonto, the Japanese sword. Seattle Art Sword Token Kai’s advisor is Tatsuhiko Konno, a licensed sword polisher with over 40 years experience in the study of Japanese swords. The lecturer is Steve Colton, who has been collecting and studying Japanese swords for 40 years.

To sign up, contactB. Tsutakawa (206) 234-4685 or email [email protected].

Ongoing construction on 136th Pl NE has created some changes. 136th Pl NE is now one-way northbound. For best access, please see