From the Meiji-era sword world

Yesterday we had another very interesting meeting of our Nihonto Club Deutschland which was founded in 2008 and I would like to take this occasion to present a brief article on a sword club from 125 years before.

Around June 2012, Arai Shigehiro (新井重凞), the former president of the Kyôto branch and former board member of the NBTHK, presented the association with a rare document (33,3 x 24,2 cm, 26 pages), namely the articles of the kantei club Hôryûsha (宝隆社) founded in Meiji 16 (1883). This document is insofar also very interesting as it shows us that such clubs were founded just six years after the ban on swords. Article 1 also shows us that by then, sword experts were fully aware of where the journey has to go, namely to swords being regarded as national treasures and art works. The club was located in Kyôto and the document lists three founding members, namely Nose Kakuemon (能勢角右衛門), Kishimoto Gensuke (岸本源助) and Tsujimoto Shigeyuki (辻本繁之). Kishimoto Gensuke and his son Shônosuke (岸本正之助, might also read „Masanosuke“), who is found in the Hôryûsha member´s list, runned the sword shop Kusanaginoya (草薙廼舎) which was famous as being purveyor of the imperial family in terms of swords since the end of the Edo period. By the way, Satô Kanzan published in 1973 the book „Kusanaginoya-oshigata“ (草薙廼舎押形) which bases on the vast oshigata collection of Kishimoto Kannosuke (岸本貫之助), Gensuke´s adopted son. Kannsouke was also a member of the executive board in the early days of the NBTHK. Well, the Hôryûsha was eventually dissolved and basically continued by the sword clubs Kurotani Tokenkai (黒谷刀剣会) and Gosho-Hachiman Tokenkai (御所八幡刀剣会), and with the establishment of the NBTHK, it finally merged into its Kyôto branch. In the following I want to share the articles of association of the Hôryûsha kantei club:

Articles of Association

1. Swords are treasures of our nation. Apart from the fact that they must be treated with utmost care, discussions on the quality of a smith and his work shall be carried out with a quiet voice.

2. The mutual replies to a bid on a smith might be corrected by Hon´ami Nagane (本阿弥長根).

3. Mumei blades without any of the three Hon´ami certifications origami, soejô or sagefuda shall not be presented for kantei. But mumei blades with ubu-nakago can be brought to the meeting to get an external opinion.

4. Each member is encouraged to bring one blade to the meeting. The kantei blades are presented regardless of their quality.

5. Legendary meibutsu or famous swords from certain families are presented separately at a meeting. But owners who are uncertain of their authenticity can present them as kantei swords to get an external opinion.

6. For the moment, there are six meetings per year. Each year two members are responsible for holding a meeting, taking turns every other second month.

7. Alcohol is prohibited until the end of the meeting.

8. Members should not leave until the meeting has ended.

9. The fee for a meeting which is charged at the very day of a meeting for both members and guests is at the moment 50 sen. [Today about 20 USD]

10. In the event of a „no-show“ or if the member does not cancel his attendance one day prior to the meeting by notifying the member in charge of holding the meeting, the association will charge the aforementioned fee. This rule does not apply in case of emergency or accidents.

11. If a regular meeting is delayed or has to be cancelled because of a member without any particular reason, half of the amount of all the fees of the meeting in question must be paid by this mamber..

12. The participation of guests is with the usual reserve. This does not apply to guests known to members and/or guests announcing their arrival one day prior to the meeting.

13. Swords of guests which should be presented to kantei must be discussed in advance with the member holding the meeting and are accepted with reservation.

14. Entering the association comes with a membership fee of 15 Yen  [today about  600 USD]. But the full amount is immediately returned after holding a meeting or if the person has to leave the association due to extraordinary circumstances.

15. If a member is not able to hold a meeting before he leaves the association, half of the amount of a meeting´s fee is charged. The half of a meeting fee is about 5 to 10 Yen [today about 200 to 400 USD]. Anyway, the final amount might be determined by the founding members and other members.

16. Each member has to follow the articles of association. Otherwise the founding members and other members reserve the right to exclude a member from the association.

17.  For the maintainance of the association, the articles may be changed but each change needs to be discussed by the members in a special session.

Ninth month Meiji 16 (1883), year of the sheep, Hôryûsha

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