Tokubetsu Juyo 2020 Results

Volume wise this was one of the smaller sessions and seems to have had very high levels of difficulty. Only four items from non-Japanese passed and a total of 51 items made it.

Of those 51, four were koshirae, six were tosogu and 41 items were swords. Notably one more Shinshinto passed, a Sa Yukihide, making this the third time a Shinshinto sword has achieved Tokubetsu Juyo. One item from the Kyoho Meibutsucho also passed, the Meibutsu Ashiya (Sudareya) Masamune of the Shimazu clan.

Results follow after the break…

Continue reading Tokubetsu Juyo 2020 Results

To mei ga aru

This language is an important note that the NBTHK inserts onto some papers for blades. It can appear at all levels of paper, from Hozon to Tokubetsu Juyo.

The typical kind of use would be like this:

太刀 銘 国吉(粟田口)(と銘がある)

Tachi: mei “Kuniyoshi” (Awataguchi) (to mei ga aru)

More after the break.

Continue reading To mei ga aru


This is going to be another post short on text. I’m working on listing a Chounsai Tsunatoshi. This blade is the biggest monster I have ever seen. 84 cm nagasa and motohaba is 4.1 cm. One of the problems with photography of a big sword is that if it is all in proportion, photos take away the sense of scale. You can’t give someone the right impression then of imposing size, this is something you get when putting it in your hands.

This photo however may do the trick. When you look at the habaki of this sword, it is in scale with the sword. So putting it beside a standard sized habaki, it allows your brain to fill in the gaps. Like looking at an NBA basketball player, if you just take his shoe off and put it beside a normal shoe, you will get an impression of the size of the man.

This sword was a custom order for a samurai who’s name is recorded on the nakago. His hobby must have been hunting dinosaurs.

Fresh and New

Just picked up the lastest Juyo volume (from the 2017 session). This is the oshigata page for the Norishige on my site that I recommended to my clients as a Juyo candidate. One of them took me up on the offer.

Looks like the NBTHK will not do any more nakago oshigata but has moved to high resolution photography for the nakago, while doing oshigata for the monouchi. 

I think it’s an interesting and good change. 

By the way the polish on this one was done by Ted Tenold. I bought it a bit rusty. As you can see there is a little bit of activity on this sword.


Token Girls

You may have been noting the girls showing up for sword exhibitions in Japan. At museums, and in the new NBTHK, it’s frequently seen. Also standing in front of Sokendo and taking some selfies. 

The world is changing.

Thanks to a video game. 

5,000 of them linked up to see the Meibutsu O-Kurikara Hiromitsu which belongs to one of my clients. Have a read about them at

Your stories, bring them to me.

I was thinking about some of our older companions in the sword world dying and taking their stories with them. 

I’d like to put a database together where people can submit their own stories. This shouldn’t be too hard. The idea would be to make a publically maintained book. What happened after the war was a once in a lifetime experience. No historian is covering it. 

So it’s up to us to do it. Collect the stories of our peers before it’s too late.

If you want to send them in, you can send to me via email until I figure out the software. Every time I get 5 stories I will blog a new entry on it. 

The rules are simple:

  1. please be honest, however, change names to protect people’s identity to Tom, Dick and Harry. 
  2. choose a funny story, a lucky story or an interesting story. “I bought it from Condell at a sword show” is none of that. One of our people was told he would get three swords if he bought the guy’s daughter a bicycle, so he hauled ass off to the store and got the little girl a bike. 

I think stories like that document a real and mostly American experience of finding swords. It’s no problem to me to post them in groups of 5 as they come out. I’ll call it “Story Time”. 

Have any to share?


Scotch is pretty simple when it comes down to it.

Differences in locality make for unique elements that go into the production of the beverage. Local water, local weather conditions, local peat, distinct shapes of stills and other unusual aspects of a distillery all end up making for a single malt which has its own character, distinct from others, though sharing characteristics of its region.

Lagavulin for instance, has long had a warehouse on the seaside and during storms, breakers come in and crash up against the walls of the warehouse. Leaving barrels in this warehouse for 16 years allows for very slow diffusion of the local environment into the cask. This is one contributor to lending Lagavulin a specific flavor that is not easily emulated.

Continue reading Scotch


I’m a programmer.

I run the blog off of wordpress but I do my own site design, and the coding for my site on which it resides.

I’ve been spending the last few weeks doing some fine tuning and overhauls that I’ve put off for a long time. The first of which is moving my domain out of .ca to a .com … regional domains are problematic for a lot of reasons.

By the way Yuhin is a phrase that Tanobe sensei often uses to describe masterpiece art swords. Yuhindo is a place you can find Yuhin. I’m not sure if I’ll keep the name but we will see.

Also about “dō” …

堂 【どう (n,n-suf) (1) temple; shrine; chapel; (2) hall; (suf) (3) (suffix attached to the names of some businesses, stores, etc.) company;

Not …

道 【どう】 (n) (1) (abbr) road; (2) way; (3) Buddhist teachings;

I have more than a decade of old pages I overhauled to bring up to modern spec and will be putting my old archive back online soon. 

A lot of the changes were to embrace modern standards (sorry 2% of the world who still uses IE, it’s time to join the 21st century) and make sure the site runs fast worldwide. 

I code it all myself and I take some pride in not running any analytics scripts or tracking. I find these things are annoying and privacy violating, not to mention they slow websites down. WordPress’ software which runs this blog is an example of bloatware, many features jammed in the implementation is glacially slow due to programmer’s choices. I try to avoid that with my own site but not too much I can do about the blog software.

A lot of the changes under the hood on my site won’t be so visible but should result in snappier performance and more uniform page rendering as long as you have a modern browser of some sort. 

Security Theater

Security theater is the practice of investing in countermeasures intended to provide the feeling of improved security while doing little or nothing to achieve it. Researchers such as Edward Felten have described the airport security repercussions due to the September 11, 2001 attacks as security theater.


Security theater works because people tend to have unrealistic expectations from not understanding the facts of the matter, and/or not wanting to accept their conclusions.

There is a way to fly safe. My system is very simple, 100% guarantees nobody will ever be injured by in-air terrorism again, and may in fact create a more pleasant flying environment for everyone.

Continue reading Security Theater


Ages ago I lugged a Pelican case of hocho back to Canada.

Every now and then someone finds the old link on my website and asks me if they are for sale. I gave most of them away 12 years ago. Anyway, this is Tsunahiro’s sword shop in Kamakura where I got them. He was not online back then but he is now.

I can vouch for the hocho as being very nice and as long as you treat them like a sword (keep them clean, keep them oiled), they are a real treat.

His lineage goes back to Masamune.

Time for a change

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet;

— William Shakespeare

So. Some advance notice… my domain name is going to change. To what, I am not yet exactly sure. But change it will, maybe soon. is available.

Actually pretty sure I know what the domain is going to be and this will happen sooner rather than later.



An interesting Yoshimitsu

Awataguchi Yoshimitsu is one of the finest smiths to have ever lived, and is mostly thought to be the best tanto maker of all time. 

I was doing some research lately and found a blade that had more info than I could really understand with my basic Japanese. I talked to Markus Sesko about it and he uncovered a lot of interesting information. 

It ended up that this was the blade used by the famous tea master Sen no Rikyo to commit seppuku. Have a read about it on Markus’ blog.