GENDAITO PROJECT

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UPDATE AND WHAT HAPPENED SO FAR:

I was asked relatively early on in my path of providing translations for and writing books on Japanese swords to produce something on gendaitô. I then always promised to do so but kept postponing such a project, on the one hand because I was so occupied with providing information on older swords, i.e. kotô, shintô, and shinshintô, and on the other hand because I did not yet have an idea about how to tackle this topic in the first place. Several relevant books had been published that deal with the post-Meiji sword world and the most important smiths of that era so I didn’t want to ruminate and write the same thing just with other words. Listening to inquiries I get on a regular basis on gendaitô however, it emerged that what was mostly needed was information on these smiths and references of their work. Thus I decided that when I am tackling the topic gendaitô, it should be more a database with CV’s of swordsmiths etc. rather than a history book.

In this sense, I started to collect gendaitô-related data and announced on several platforms, e.g. my website and the Nihonto Message Board, that I was looking for relevant references. This was in summer of 2014. Planned was a book that introduces in an alphabetical order as many as possible gendaitô smiths but then throughout 2015 and up to early 2016, I had received so much data that I started to think of a two-pronged approach. In other words, there is no way to fit all these gigabytes into a single physical book and I also didn’t want to have important references rot on my HD. Thus a comprehensive online database suggested itself which is easy to extend and which also allows corrections and amendments whenever new data comes in.

Long story short, there still will be a book (and an eBook) that lists all the gendaitô smiths I have in my records so far and what is known on each of them (as mentioned, as comprehensive as possible). There will be references in the form of oshigata and blade pictures and also portrait photos of some of the smiths will be provided. Parallel to that, I want to create the mentioned online database which should look something like seen here and here. For doing so, I need funds to cover the time necessary to feed the database over the coming months and to maintain it in the years to come. I thought that the database should be free and accessible for everyone who is looking for relevant information and that is why I decided to tackle this is a one-time crowdfunding instead of a pay to play or an individual subcription approach. And this is why I need your help to create the most comprehensive database on gendaitô smiths and to preserve information on them for future generations!

I am leaving for Europe this Thursday to work on a museum project and as soon as I get back, I will start an indiegogo.com crowdfunding for the Gendaito Project. There will be giveaways and perks for donations, for example eBooks and books of mine of choice, the finished Gendaito book, and even some tsuba for those who want to contribute a little more. So please stay tuned and share with your gendaitô friends that the campaigns is going to launch around March 1. Thank you!

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UNDERSTANDING THE JAPANESE SWORD

Coming up later this year… Its based on the questions I receive on a daily basis translating sword stuff for now 12 years and doing it professionally and full time for almost 10 years. Aim is to give a basic guideline on the Japanese sword, not much technical talk, not going into great detail about kantei, schools, workmanships, and styles, just to provide an orientation guide for those brand new into the subject, to provide a solid basic knowledge from where to proceed (or not). Thus it will be an inexpensive paper-back, nothing fancy, just tips and stuff from my own experience.
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How was the Japanese sword made and why was/is it made that way? What different sword forms do exist, how were they classified, and how do we classify them today? What are all these sword forms like tachi, uchigatana, sashizoe, koshigatana, chiisagatana, tantô, naginata, nagamaki, etc. and why did they emerge? Why are there “art swords,” or rather, what makes a sword an “art sword”? How were swords evaluated and appraised in the past and how is it done today? How and why were all these lists of swordsmiths (meikan) compiled? How do all the past and present swordsmith rankings work and why is there such a thing? How are swords certified/appraised today, i.e. what to do when you want to get papers for your sword and/or have your sword restored. How to recognize fake swords and practical tips for the online sword world. How to study swords hands on and how to get involved in clubs and associations? Tips for collecting or for starting a collection…
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