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.

Meeting North East of England


Following the earlier announcement a meeting in the North East of England has been provisionally booked for Saturday 14th October.

Venue: Centre Of Britain Hotel Haltwhsitle.

This is planned to be an informal meeting enabling members who may not have been able to attend other events we have run to meet and to discuss swords and fittings.

The event will start mid morning and end at 5 pm.

For those wishing to stay over the Centre of Britain Hotel offers a number of excellent and very good value rooms and excellent food.

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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