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Modern Japanese Swords and Swordsmiths: From 1868 to the Present [Hardcover]

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Item description for Modern Japanese Swords and Swordsmiths: From 1868 to the Present by Leon Kapp, Hiroko Kapp, Yoshindo Yoshihara & Tom Kishida...

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.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   222
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 7.75" Height: 10.5"
Weight:   2.1 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Dec 13, 2002
Publisher   Kodansha International
ISBN  4770019629  
ISBN13  9784770019622  

Availability  0 units.

More About Leon Kapp, Hiroko Kapp, Yoshindo Yoshihara & Tom Kishida

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Yoshindo Yoshihara is a third-generation swordsmith. His grandfather Kuniie began making swords in 1933 in Tokyo and was ranked among the top swordsmiths in Japan during his career. Yoshindo lives and works in Tokyo with his son, who represents the fourth generation of swordsmiths in the family. Yoshindo, who is always training young swordsmiths and currently has five apprentices working with him, has been named an Important Cultural Property of the city and prefecture of Tokyo, and is a mukansa (top-ranked swordsmith) in Japan.
Leon Kapp, a molecular biologist, lives with his wife Hiroko in San Rafael, California. He has been seriously interested in Japanese swords for over twenty-five years, and has spent a great deal of time learning about them from Yoshindo.
Hiroko Kapp is a writer for Senken Shimbun News of Tokyo and writes about fashion and the fashion industry in the US. She graduated from Musashi-no Art University in Tokyo. For twenty-five years, she was active in the apparel business and designed scarves for her own line in the US.

Leon Kapp was born in 1943.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Art > Art History > Regional > Asian
2Books > Subjects > History > Military > Uniforms
3Books > Subjects > History > Military > Weapons & Warfare > Conventional > General
4Books > Subjects > Home & Garden > Antiques & Collectibles > Firearms & Weapons
5Books > Subjects > Home & Garden > Antiques & Collectibles > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Modern Japanese Swords and Swordsmiths: From 1868 to the Present?

Modern Japanese Swordsmiths  Apr 17, 2007
The book is a very good collection of historical and research material. It covers a rather short period of time; however, sword production during this period over shadows all other periods combined. If you are doing research on a particular smith the chances are you will not find much, but from an overall historical perspective the time period is well documented. Overall, the publication will be a good addition to your collection.
Excellent book for Japanese sword enthusiasts and collectors  Mar 12, 2006
Art historians have long recognized Kondansha as one of the premier publishers of books on Japanese art and artifacts, and this publication lives up to their excellent reputation. As a long-time Japanese sword collector and enthusiast, and owner of every known book in English on the Japanese sword, I was delighted that this book contains a wealth of information I didn't previously know. That in and of itself makes it a valuable treasure. I was moreover pleased that the book starts at the beginning, providing excellent background and references to help the beginner. I strongly recommend it to all my sword students, and to anyone interested in collecting, and more important, understanding the modern Japanese sword (Gendaito). The book, while very well written, does have several redundancies and a few circular references that are no doubt in part due to it being a first edition. But in most cases it is simply because the authors have a specific purpose in mind: the unabashed promotion of the traditionally-made modern Japanese sword as an object of art. The book takes a strong stand, contrary to the thinking of much of the sword-collecting world, that only Koto swords (mid Heian to 1596) have true artistic and collectible value. The book presents a powerful case for the value and craftsmanship of the modern Gendaito, set against the context of the history of Japanese swordmaking and backed up by trusted and incontrovertible sources. Of course, it does not exhort modern machine-made mass-produced blades, but rather it explains (in detail) how many thousands of WW II and modern blades were made in the traditional way, and clears up many misconceptions about what is a true and valuable Gendaito blade. While many of us will still delight in finding Koto and Shinto era blades, now we have a context for appreciating equally well the finest Gendaito. This is certainly required reading for anyone who intends to collect Japanese swords, and especially if you prowl eBay!
A Must Have Book!  Feb 21, 2006
While my library of Japanese swords and blade smiths is meager, I would highly recommend this book as a MUST HAVE!!

This book makes a great reference book about modern blade smiths from 1868 to the present. Many of these artists have turned out beautiful swords.

The authors who wrote this book did a fantastic job.

I highly recommend this book.

Good stuff  Jan 31, 2006
Very good book, easy to read and full of comprehensive information, a good starting point in the Japanese sword world.
A MUST for your nihonto library!  Jan 14, 2004
Hey all!

This is definately a book for the library! If you're looking for a good resource on researching all those showa-to and Gendai-to then look no further! This book has everything you could want and more! No Oshigata, but tons of useful info about tang markings, hot stamps, showa blade characteristics, MFG. practice, and things you never even thought of! So, you think your "star stamped" Gendai is "traditionally made"? Think again! Buy this book and you'll see what I mean... Wonderful book that has already saved me $$$


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