Chiddingstone Castle Token Taikai Report – 4/5th October 2014
This is a brief note to recount the enjoyable and informative taikai event, comprising a delightful cocktail reception and Japanese-themed dinner on Saturday, followed by a hectic Sunday. The taikai was attended by around 60 Nihontophiles and guests, with many bringing along families and friends. As previously promulgated to our membership, Ian Chapman and Paul Bowman organised the event, which included the following Sunday sessions:
Enjoyment of the castle (now a certified museum!) collection of fine swords, kodogu/tosogu, lacquer ware, yoroi, articulated animals and insects and related items
Display of various Juyo swords from collections within the UK – especially Yamato and Yamashiro blades
Demonstrations of traditional crafts, including tsuka binding (Mick Hicks), armour lacing (Robert Soanes) and sword polishing (Les Stewart)
Lectures: Hizen swords by Clive Sinclaire, pole arms by Roald Knutsen and Yamato swords by Paul Bowman and Mike Hickman-Smith
Hands-on examination of various blades, fittings and armour
Trade stands selling Japanese related items in the Great Hall
There was a lot to take in visually as well as mentally, as displays of high-quality swords and items tempted visitors, while the lecturers challenged preconceptions and engaged the audience. Clive, Paul and Mike kindly allowed visitors to study items from their collections, illustrating the points made in their presentations.
We all also enjoyed the interactive demonstrations of traditionally trained craftsmen showing their skills at restoring blades, armour and tsuka. These were interactive sessions, in which the attendees could discuss with the craftsmen their activities, materials, inspect the items and tools of the trade.
And all of those exciting activities took place in a historic building, set in beautiful grounds with sunny weather!
Honami Koshu Sensei – Newly Appointed Living National Treasure
Honami Koshu Sensei has recently been appointed Living National Treasure for the Craft of Polishing the Japanese Sword.
Below are some photos of Honami Koshu Sensei being awarded the honour, his certificate, and meeting Paul Martin.
Regional Meeting 14th October 2017
The first regional meeting of the Society was held on Saturday 14th October in Northumberland.
The meeting was enthusiastically supported and we were joined by members of both the Scottish and Irish Token Societies. Following a brief introduction outlining the plans for the day two short presentations were given. The first by Stan Nazerenko outlined the various features and characteristics one should look at when assessing the quality of tsuba. It also included some useful guidelines and pointers to consider when considering purchasing pieces.
The second presentation given by Paul Bowman discussed kantei and how using this disciplined approach to viewing a blade can help the viewer identify features and assess blades better.
Following a brief lunch break the remainder of the day was given over to studying blades and brought for display.
On display were blades ranging from the early Kamakura period through to gendaito. All were in excellent polish and condition and it was a fascinating exercise to walk through 700 years of the swordsmiths art.
Blades on display included:
Daito by Awataguchi Norikuni
Daito attributed to Chu-Aoe. Naginata-Naoshi attributed to Shikkake Wakazashi attributed to ko-Enju
Ko-wakizashi by Koyama Munetsugu Katana by Koyama Munetsugu Katana by Nobushige
Katana by Shodai Hizen Masahiro
Katana by Yamato Masanori
Katana by Tsuda echizen (no) kami Sukenao
Katana attributed to Hochoji
Katana signed Nagasone Kotetsu with cutting test
Kogarasu-maru utsushi by Gassan Sadakatsu Special order katana by Gassan Sadakatsu
There were more than 30 tsuba and small fittings available for study. These included excellent examples of both iron and soft metal tsuba. In date these ranged from stunning iron plate tsuba from the Kamakura period, all the way through to award winning modern pieces made by Ford Hallam, including the utsushi of the original tiger tsuba by Katsuhira and the prize winning millet work inspired by Tomei.
It was extremely gratifying and I think a great endorsement to the generosity and enthusiasm of our community that a local meeting in a small town in Northumberland could attract such excellent examples of the respective crafts. All of the pieces shown were of high quality and in exceptional condition many were what I would personally describe as world class. I think it is also a clear indicator of the serious commitment within our community to improve and develop understanding through such meetings.
Feedback to date suggests all who participated greatly enjoyed the day. As said at the meeting this was our first attempt to do an event of this type and I am sure we can make improvements for future meetings. We would therefore welcome feedback and suggestions. Based on our experience in Northumberland we will certainly plan additional meetings next year in other parts of the country which hopefully will enable even more members to attend and meet each other.
Thank you to all who attended and contributed to what I personally found a very informative and enjoyable day.
Meeting Report-Ashmolean Museum 10th September 2016
At the Annual general meeting in 2015 we discussed holding meetings in various locations throughout the country, engaging with museums that held Japanese collections and improving communication between the society and curators. The meeting at the Ashmolean was the first such meeting to take place.
In the morning there were 3 presentations:
Mark Radburn outlined the history and characteristics of early iron tsuba
Eckhard Kremers followed with a discussion covering early Akasaka work, identifying design features and characteristics of the iron
Ford Hallam presented an overview of his current research in the analysis of soft metal in tsuba and other fittings.
Mark’s and Eckhard’s presentations are available on the links below. Ford will publish his in the near future once he has finalised some detail.
All of these presentations were hugely enjoyable, detailed and extremely informative and we are very grateful to the presenters for their considerable effort in putting these together.
In the afternoon the meeting split in to smaller groups to view examples from the Church collection in the Ashmolean study room. These pieces are not on display so it was a great privilege to have the chance to see and handle them. Special thanks needs to be given to Clare Pollard of the Ashmolean for her enthusiastic involvement and also to Graham Curtis and Justin Orr who have spent considerable time cataloguing the collection and selecting pieces to view.
Alongside the presentation there was a display of tsuba and koshirae for members to study. Thanks to Bob Morrison, Ian Chapman, Mike Hickman-Smith and Clive Sinclaire, all of whom supplied excellent examples of fittings and koshirae. What was particularly interesting was being able to see Japanese koshirae alongside those produced by our own craftsmen. I believe our local workmanship compared extremely well.
As always the success of such meeting depends on the input and collaboration of many people. It was especially pleasing to welcome Mr. Hans Eschbaum one of the founding members of the NBTHK Europe branch and Mr. Eckhard Kremers the newly appointed Chairman. The fact they flew over and played such an active part in the day bodes well for future co-operation.
I hope all who attended enjoyed the day (and those that attended the dinner in the evening enjoyed that as well) As said at the time I am sure there are things we could do to improve these events, if you have any ideas or suggestions please do contact us and we will continue to develop the format and content.
Clive Sinclaire receiving a gift from the members of the Token of GB on the occasion of his retirement.
The AGM of the Token of Great Britain represented a significant milestone in the Societies long history. Earlier this year Clive had informed the society that he wished to retire from the position of Chairman at the end of 2015. As a result he did not stand for re-election at the AGM held on 10th December.
To attempt to describe Clive’s contribution to the society, and the study of the Japanese Sword in general, would be an almost impossible task. Since joining the Society in 1969 he has fulfilled various roles on the management committee culminating in many years of service as the society’s Chairman. During his term in office the Token Society of GB has grown and developed and is recognised around the world as a major contributor to the study and preservation of the sword and its associated art works.
The Society would like to express their gratitude for Clive’s tireless and massive contribution to its development and growth and for making it a vibrant and enjoyable place to learn and share ideas. While his leadership will be greatly missed we look forward to his continued contributions and support for many years to come.
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