Manufacture period and Juyo Sessions

The info has been out there for a long while that the mid 70s Juyo sessions have weaker standards than the others. Every time I mention this I like to mention that this happened by lowering the bottom bar and accepting blades that may not have been accepted in other sessions. It doesn’t mean that all the blades are bad or blades at the top end of the range are bad. It just means that weaker blades got included, so you need to carefully study Juyo swords when you’re dealing with sessions between about 20 to 28.

As the top end is perfectly fine, the best swords in those sessions go on to pass Tokubetsu Juyo normally. At the bottom end there is zero chance of advancing and again if they were just sent in as new items a lot of them would fail today.

For this reason those blades are a target forΒ arbitrage which is where dealers (who buy and sell based on quality) can buy those blades for cheap relative to better blades. They then sell to their customers (who buy and sell based onΒ paper). Because the two groups are using different systems to value the swords, it creates a chance to profit. That is these lower quality swords will trade among people who know better for proper prices. Lower quality = lower price.

Continue reading Manufacture period and Juyo Sessions

Unpleasant Medicine for Sword Shows

Commercially based sword shows throughout the world get some mixed results. The two most healthy are the San Francisco show in August and the Dai Token Ichi in Tokyo, which is usually in the first couple weeks of November now.

Sword shows serve a few purposes. They are social gatherings, educational opportunities, and then a chance to buy or sell things.

I’m of the opinion that the bell started tolling on sword shows a while back, for many combined reasons and the process is a drawn out death spiral.

Importantly, I don’t want this to be read as criticism for show organizers. Building something, anything, is a complex task and usually people underestimate the effort and stress that goes into these things. I have never organized a sword show and I don’t know the pain and suffering involved, I absolutely do know though that organizing anything involving people on a large scale is like herding cats. Not an easy task.Β 

But I think these shows are mostly on the way out. Here’s what I think is wrong with them, and here is what I think the eventual solution is.

Continue reading Unpleasant Medicine for Sword Shows


Saw this in the news… lost 1600s era painting going to auction. What struck me is that the sword to my eye does not look at all like the European swords of the time. It looks like a ken of some sort. It appears to have a hamon on it and a clearly defined shinogi and maybe a European hilt added to it.

No other content here, just a hmm moment.

For reference:

The item in question and what it makes me think of:

The sample ken here is quite a bit longer (93cm) than the one being used in the picture. It is a prewar Kokuho which is now Juyo Bunkazai and possibly Naminohira school.

Another way of looking at things…

Another long day here. Finishing work at 5am. Again.

So, a chart for your perusal. I won’t walk you through it this time but leave you to think about it.

The difference here is an important concept.

Every Tokuju item is already something that passed Juyo. Every Kokuho item is already something that was ranked Juyo Bunkazai previously.

In this chart those papers have been plotted at the time of publication of the original sword’s papers.

So going along this chart left to right it goes up in time with all the Juyo. Now say a Juyo in session 10 passed Tokuju later, that item has been colored in as a Tokuju. So basically (this is important that you understand what the chart represents), it’s like someone laid out all of the Juyo swords in order from end to end and plotted them.

Then, you go back and flag the original Juyo as a different color to show it went on to pass Tokuju.

So there are clear trends here which agree to things I’ve routinely said on my sword listings and elsewhere.