It’s done. The revised and enlarged three-volume hardcover set SWORDSMITHS OF JAPAN AKI-KUNI, KURA-SANE, and SATO-ZEN, formely titled Index of Japanese Swordsmiths, is out now and finally easily available outside of Europe! It is letter format, black & white on cream paper, a tan linen hardcover with a glossy dust jacket, and each volume has about 500 pages. The real thing looks, except for the changed title, pretty much like my test print introduced earlier here (or see picture below).


As for kotō, shintō, and shinshintō smiths, this publication qotes the wazamono ranking that goes back to revised edition of the 1815 published list of wazamono of the Kaihō Kenjaku (懐宝剣尺), and the so-called Fujishiro Ranking used by Fujishiro Yoshio and Matsuo in their 1935 publications Nihon Tōkō Jiten – Kotō Hen and Nihon Tōkō Jiten – Shintō Hen. When it comes to gendaitō and especially WWII-era smiths, this publication includes the ranking of about 300 contemporary smiths carried out by Kurihara Akihide (栗原昭秀) in 1942 under the title Seidai Tōshō Iretsu Ichiran (聖代刀匠位列一覧). In addition, also the five ranks and the special rank of the sixth national sword making contest, the Shinsaku Nihontō Denrankai (新作日本刀展覧会), from 1941 are quoted where about 250 swordsmiths were awarded. Apart from that, I also added the info if there are blades designated as kokuhō and/or as jūyō-bunkazai by a smith (marked by two different symbols).

As indicated in my update posted the other day, I am now more flexible with pricing and offer the set for 179.70 USD (59.90 USD each) instead of the initial 280 USD for the two-volume set. Also the timing is pretty good right now as there are four days left of Lulu’s Mother’s Day sale that saves you 20% on print books. So please use code MOM20 until May 10th to make use of this great offer. Please give me a few more days to finish the eBook version as I have to unite the three volumes into one file.

Links to the books are found below (please click on preview of the first, i.e. the AKI-KUNI copy to lean about the new layout):

Volume 1: AKI-KUNI

Volume 2: KURA-SANE

Volume 3: SATO-ZEN



The dust jacket version only ships from the US so there is also an “international” version (marked by the supplement “intl.”) that comes as standard casewrap hardcover. Please see link below:

International Volume 1: AKI-KUNI

International Volume 2: KURA-SANE

International Volume 3: SATO-ZEN


Preface to the Revised Edition:

“Three years have now passed since I published my two-volume Index of Japanese Swordsmiths and, although it seems to be a pretty short period of time for a second edition, it was indeed necessary for several reasons. First of all, the English version contained left-over fragments of the German version and just too many typos that were missed in the proofreading. This brings us to the second reason for the early update, the layout. It was brought to my attention that the font was just too small to work comfortably with the two volumes. And the third and most important reason for the early update is the fact that the initial English version was never made available to the international market as it was supposed to be. After struggling with makeshift options to make the set accessible to non-European readers, and with the aforementioned shortcomings in mind, I decided that it was time to tackle a revision. First of all, the layout was changed and a different, larger-sized font and even larger capitalized headers (i.e. smith names) which mark each entry were chosen. Due to new reference material not available at the time the initial edition was published, the revised edition was enlarged by more than 300 gendaitō, but of course several other smiths were also added who were missed the first time round. In addition, historic portraits of smiths, about 400 photographs of contemporary smiths, and pictures that contribute to the understanding of an entry were added. This resulted in an increase of about 600 pages which therefore made it necessary to split it up into three volumes. I also integrated the overview of nyūdō-gō used by the swordsmiths to enable the (non-ebook) reader to find smiths on the basis of their pseudonyms. Last but not least, a different title had to be chosen, on the one hand because the now longer set represents more of an encyclopedia of swordsmiths rather than an index, and on the other hand to avoid issues and confusion with the initial publication. With this, I hope that the revised and enlarged Swordsmiths of Japan becomes the standard work in the West for research on Japanese swordsmiths as it is still the only comprehensive non-Japanese publication of its kind.


Early Summer 2015

Markus Sesko”

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