Masters of Keicho-Shinto


As announced a few days ago on Facebook, I was preparing a humble book that has the following background:

Last year, a client of mine who collects first and foremost Keicho-shinto (and who wishes to remain anonymous) commissioned me with compiling a work that quasi complements his collection (his blades are not featured). I’ve done it under the title “Masters of Keicho-Shinto” and it is quasi a catalog to a fictional, ideal exhibition on swords from that era. It features several works (about 100) of the then, well-known masters (35 in total) like Umetada Myoju, Horikawa Kunihiro, Horikawa Kuniyasu, Osumi no Jo Masahiro, Dewa no Daijo Kunimichi, Etchu no Kami Masatoshi, Kinmichi, Kashu Kanewaka, Hizen Tadayoshi, Hankei, Nanki Shigekuni, Sagami no Kami Masatsune, Echizen Yasutsugu, Owari Nobutaka, Harima Teruhiro, Hida no Kami Ujifusa and so on. Now my client has decided to share that info and asked me if I can make it a real book (original was PDF only). We/I will make it only available directly via me for the time being (b/w paperback) and for my client this is an opportunity to get some of his initial investment in this project back (so only a small part of the sales go to me as I was already paid back then of course). It comes with a detailed intro into the subject and should make an excellent reference for those who are interested in Keicho-shinto and the Momoyama-era sword style. Preview is provided below.


Price for the US letter format paberback 204p b/w book is 50 USD and 10 USD flat for shipping everywhere (except Australia which is 15 USD and Russia which is 20 USD shipping, sorry guys). As mentioned, it is direct order only for the time being. Easiest way is to PayPal me the total amount to “” and forward me your shipping details (+ phone number as Lulu asks for it) and I will have Luluy print a copy and send it to your place right away. Of course also checks and wire transfers are welcomed. Just get in touch with me at the aforementioned address. Also if you have any further questions.

eBook available here.

[Original post edited as introduced item has been sold.]


“Historic” References

Some of you who are also on the NMB might remember this great post from a while ago. After Chris made nihontô enthusiasts aware of the many digitized online references that come free of charge, I got quote some inquiries about adding indices to some of these sources or rather as copyright has expired anyway, to provide some full translations. And as you know, your wish is my command. So over the months, I started to tackle Ogura Sô’emon Yôkichi’s Akasaka Tankô Roku and Wada Tsunashirô’s Sôken Kinkô Zufu but I didn’t want to make a booklet or a PDF that you have to use at the side and where you have to work again with two things. No, I wanted to provide a single and complete copy or eBook that works by itself. Accordingly, I added all the pics (which are digitally enchanced in Wada’s Sôken Kinkô Zufu). So if you are interested, you can get these two and their eBook versions via the links below. I priced them according to what I think is fair for to the translation/compilation work I have invested. If you are fine with Japanese or just want to browse through the pics from time to time, you will find all related links along the NMB thread. Thank you for your attention.


Akasaka Tanko Roku

E Akasaka Tanko Roku


Soken Kinko Zufu

E Soken Kinko Zufu

Japan’s Most Important Sword Fittings

Update: As a reference, I compiled a brief booklet that contains all 27 sword fittings that are by today designated as jûyô-bunkazai, enlarged by 28 items that got jûyô-bijutsuhin. As mentioned, it is just a reference for those who always wanted to know what kind of sword fittings and tsuba are regarded by the Japanese government, or Bunkachô in particular, as being of greatest importance. The booklet comes in color and is in letter format. Price is just a little more than the printing costs and I also uploaded an eBook version of course (see links below). Thanks for your attention!

Japan’s Most Important Sword Fittings (color paperback)

Japan’s Most Important Sword Fittings (eBook)



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”

Aizu 11th Generation Kanesada

With my first post from the New World, I want to introduce a publication that had the honor to participate in. It is about the 11th generation Aizu-Kanesada who was active in the bakumatsu era. I had dedicated him an article a while ago which can be found here. The catalogue was written by Noboru Toyama who is one of the leading experts on this smith. I was translating about half of it, the other half was done by Fujimoto san alias Dejimaya. It presents an overview of Kanesada´s works from his earliest to his very last active period, so the reader will be able to become familiar with the changes in his signature and workmanship.

Paperback, 108 b/w pages, 8.5 wide x 11 tall

Price: 37.15 USD for the paperback and 23.20 USD for the eBook version.

Orders can be placed under the following Lulu link:


Encyclopedia of Japanese Swords

The announced publication is out now!

This completely new encyclopedic reference for the Japanese sword contains about 2,500 entries, many of them illustrated by photos and drawings. The Encyclopedia of Japanese Swords is an A-Z general encyclopedia covering each and every part of the sword: the blade, the mountings, the fittings, and all their different interpretations. Further, this encyclopedia also explains the literal or etymological meaning of each Japanese term and provides an even deeper insight into the subject.

552 pages, b/w (eBook in color), format 6 x 9″

Please note that it comes this time in three forms, the suitable edition for everyone.

The 79.90 USD hardcover version is available here.

The less expensive 49.90 USD paperback version is available here.

And the 29.90 USD eBook version is available here.

Hope the Encyclopedia of Japanese Swords serves as my other books as a useful reference for you all!







Tameshigiri – The History and Development of Japanese Sword Testing

It´s done, the Tameshigiri book is out now!

As stated in the preface of several of my other publications, I am always trying to fill gaps and some of the blank spots in the area of non-Japanese sword-related publications. The legendary sharpness of Japanese swords is widely known, and through the activities of various martial arts practitioner’s information on tameshigiri has also become more accessible in the recent years. But, for a large part, this information focusses on modern cutting tests and only briefly discusses the historical aspect. As far as sword collectors and enthusiasts are concerned, the subject of tameshigiri has been approached by several experts in the past, but here too information is rather limited. Because this status-quo of information, being only available on certain aspects of sword or cutting tests, had prevailed virtually unchanged for decades, several misunderstandings of tameshigiri had become firmly anchored in the minds of both martial artists and collectors.

This publication systematically processes this subject for the first time to provide an, as complete as possible, overview of the historical aspect of tameshigiri. Not only are the developments from mere sword tests to systematic cutting tests under repeatable conditions are addressed, it also explains the sword testers, the various cuts and set-ups for cuts, and the practice of recording cutting test results on sword tangs for example. It is rounded-off by a reference section which provides examples of tameshi-mei from more than forty different sword testers.

To conclude, I would like to express my sincere thanks to all those who have provided me with a wealth of reference material. This was an incredible experience because I received support from all parts of the world which confirmed my belief that this book was long overdue. Without your support this project would probably have remained on my to-do list as I did not want to publish an incomplete book on this subject which again would have left more questions than answers.

In this sense I hope that Tameshigiri – The History and Development of Japanese Sword Testing meets the high expectations of such a publication and serves this and future generations of nihontō enthusiasts and martial artists likewise as a valuable reference.

Hardcover copy. 6″ x 9″, 378 pages (b/w) for 69.90 USD is available here.

And the eBook for 29.90 here.


You will have noticed that the pre-order option was for a slightly lower price. That was because I first estimated to just scratch the 300 pages mark but after incorporating more reference material and adding several chapters, the publication arrived at 378 pages. But please, none of the pre-orderers have to pay the extra 10 USD. See this as little discount for supporting the project with your pre-order. I will ship the signed books as soon as my author´s copies arrive here and I will post a little note here when done. Please note that I know from experience that Lulu´s shipment to Austria is rather slow so this might take a while.

PS: I would be most grateful if the book is ordered directly via because Amazon (where it should appear in a few days) deducts almost 3/4ths of the royalties per sold copy! Thank you very much.


As announced on the Nihonto Message Board and before I am away from all my books in the end of July, I compiled upon enquiry a enlarged color hardcover 8.25″ x 10.75″ format version of my previously published book Koshirae – Japanese Sword Mountings. The initial book had 202 black and white pages, as 6.6″ x 10.25″ paperback. Shifted to the new format, it would come up to about 140 pages. So the new version is with its 402 pages actually about twice as extensive. The extension concerns not only many color versions of the old pics and a plus of many full-color koshirae pics, the book now also contains a section on koshirae seen on paintings and portraits and the full! koshirae section (84 plates) of the famous 18th century illustrated standard work Shûko-jûshu. And because it feels now comprehensive and substantial enough, I named the publication KOSHIRAE-TAIKAN. The price is 169 USD for the hardcover, and 79 USD for the eBook.

Please understand that as far as the price is concerned, about 100 USD makes just the color and hardcover printing. Another factor for the price is that the expected copies sold will be in the lower double-digit range.

The printed hardcover copy  is only available over me, that means please contact me via mail ( if you want to order the KOSHIRAE-TAIKAN. In other words, upon transfer (PayPal or wire, what you prefer), I will have a copy print and shipped to you at That´s the easiest way. For the eBook, please also contact me. I will then give you a direct link where you can order your copy as usual.



Last but not least the SHINSHINTO-MEIKAN , arranged to a 242 pages hardcover book in the format 8.25″ wide x 10.75″ tall. It is a classic meikan format book with pictures of about 640 tangs of about 250 shinto smiths. A list of all featured smiths can be found as PDF below (the “double-entries” refer to different smiths/generations with the same name).

The price is 49.90 USD for the hardcover copy and 24.90 USD for the eBook.

Please order via these links:

Hardcover copy





Now the SHINTO-MEIKAN follows, arranged to a 456 pages hardcover book in the format 8.25″ wide x 10.75″ tall. It is a classic meikan format book with pictures of about 1,300 tangs of about 640 shinto smiths. A list of all featured smiths can be found as PDF below (the “double-entries” refer to different smiths/generations with the same name).

The price is 79.90 USD for the hardcover copy and 34.90 USD for the eBook. A SHINSHINTO-MEIKAN will follow soon.

Please order via these links:

Hardcover copy