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Modern Japanese Swords and Swordsmiths: From 1868 to the Present

Leo Kapp, Hiroko Yoshihara & Yoshindo Yoshihara

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ISBN 10: 4770019629 / ISBN 13: 9784770019622
Verlag: Kodansha Europe 2002, 2002
Gebraucht Hardcover
Verkäufer Robin Summers (Aldeburgh, Vereinigtes Königreich) Anzahl: 1

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The lineage of the Japanese sword can be traced back over a thousand years, and throughout its long history the sword has emerged as one of Japan's most durable cultural assets. Part of its mythical appeal lies in the unique harmony of its historical roles as deadly hand-held weapon, embodiment of the samurai spirit, and powerful symbol of warfare. The types of sword that have been made, their forging methods, and the styles of blade have been influenced by historical events and shaped by developments in the means of combat, giving rise to five distinct periods and a host of styles and schools. The most recent period, gendaito, began in the late nineteenth century, during Japan's drive to modernize its military forces. The demand for traditional swords all but disappeared, and many schools and styles became virtually extinct. In this authoritative new book, Leon and Hiroko Kapp, together with leading swordsmith Yoshindo Yoshihara, coauthors of the bestselling The Craft of the Japanese Sword, describe this most recent period of sword history, and present the work of key craftsmen active today. Through a detailed chronicle of major events in the modern sword world, the authors illustrate the developments in sword-making, its movement into artistic spheres, and the challenges swordsmiths have faced over the last century. Many of today's smiths seek to revive the ancient arts of sword forging, and at the same time create a vital and meaningful artistic role for the sword in a modern context. In part three of this book, the authors present informative interviews with twenty-two modern smiths, who demonstrate how the blade's aesthetic power derives from a symmetry of the sword's basic elements-steel, shape, and texture-and this harmony affords the blade a singular and delicate beauty. Part four widens the scope beyond swordsmiths to include perspectives from other experts involved with gendaito, from martial arts practitioner to metallurgist. The book also includes comprehensive and intricate lineage charts of the major historical schools. The heightened aesthetic sense that characterizes the contemporary sword and its production has ushered in what can be categorized as a distinctly new era of sword history-shin-gendaito. Throughout this book the authors make a compelling argument for the introduction of this new term, which can more accurately reflect the dynamic changes that have taken place in this most modern chapter of sword history. Lavishly illustrated with rare historical photographs and works of the best smiths, including Living National Treasures, this will be essential reading for the student and connoisseur alike, as well as readers interested in skilled craftsmanship in general.

Vom Autor: [from the book]


In Praise of Gendaito

The Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai (NBTHK; the Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords) holds a sword forging competition every year. The judging committee, under the auspices of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, selects swords for exhibition with careful consideration, and gives several awards to the superior works. These awards are: Masamune Award, for particularly excellent swords; Prince Takamatsu Award; Award by the Director-General of the Agency for Cultural Affairs; NBTHK Honorary Chairman Award; NBTHK Chairman Award; Kunzan Award; Kanzan Award; Award for Excellence; and Award for Effort. This sword competition has been regarded as a gateway to success for swordsmiths, and all those in the sword world follow it avidly. Swordsmiths make a tremendous effort to win higher awards each year.

The Japanese sword developed curvature in the mid-Heian period (the eleventh century). It continued to change its shape, or sugata, from that time to the end of the Edo period (the mid-nineteenth century), adapting to the style of combat of each period. Regardless of how the style of combat changed, the Japanese sword always maintained its aesthetic character, which included beautiful curvature, grain patterns, and the hamon. Grain patterns, produced by forging, give the steel of the blade depth and richness, and the hamon, produced by hardening the edge, a process known as yakiire, brings the blade a delicate beauty. In Koto times the Japanese sword developed in five regions: Yamato, Yamashiro, Bizen, Soshu (Sagami), and Mino. Each region has its own style of shape, grain pattern, and hamon.

In Shinto times, swordsmiths produced new sugata, used new types of steel, and created new hamon; as a result, the Japanese sword became richer in variety.

Contemporary smiths have studied the traditional forging methods very seriously. They have always endeavored to search for the jigane and hamon of old masterpieces of each period with great enthusiasm. They have also improved through a sense of friendly rivalry. It is my great pleasure to see that some of them have succeeded in making pieces that are as good as, if not better than, the old masterpieces in many ways. I would like to give unconditional praise to their efforts.

Kajo Suzuki
Director General, Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai
(The Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords)

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Bibliografische Details

Titel: Modern Japanese Swords and Swordsmiths: From...

Verlag: Kodansha Europe 2002

Erscheinungsdatum: 2002

Einband: Hardcover


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