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The Art of the Japanese Sword: The Craft of Swordmaking and Its Appreciation [Hardcover]

Yoshindo Yoshihara
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 35.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

10 Sep 2012
"In The Art of the Japanese Sword, master swordsmith Yoshindo Yoshihara offers a comprehensive view on the making, finishing and appreciation of Japanese blades. The Japanese sword, a unique work of art in steel, can be appreciated from a number of viewpoints. Its functionality as a weapon, the sophisticated metallurgy and scientific thinking utilized by the swordsmith, the shape of the blade itself, and the different crystalline forms in the steel all contribute to the beauty of these remarkable weapons. The Art of the Japanese Sword conveys to the reader a basic background regarding the Japanese sword, as well as an explanation of how to view and appreciate a blade. It also illustrates the details of how a sword is made and finished today. Modern craftsmen use completely traditional methods from the past to prepare their steel, forge the sword and create the unique hardened edge. By gaining a good understanding of how a sword is actually made, the reader will be able to appreciate the Japanese sword more fully. "

Frequently Bought Together

The Art of the Japanese Sword: The Craft of Swordmaking and Its Appreciation + Facts and Fundamentals of Japanese Swords: A Collector's Guide + Samurai Sword: A Handbook
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Shokai Inc (10 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4805312408
  • ISBN-13: 978-4805312407
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 23.2 x 30.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 422,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 30 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
would recommend this book to anyone who loves the sword
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very insightful read 5 Nov 2013
By diermo
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've read books on sword making previously, but nothing compared to the intensity of the detail on each individual stage on this book. Absolutely fascinating book! It even managed to rekindle my interest in Iaido.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 8 July 2013
By Lisa J
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
this book was filled with facts and other information. It was a gift to a friend who expressed an interest in the history of these swords.
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5.0 out of 5 stars quality stuff 31 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
if you have a passion for swordfighting and would like to know more about the Japanese art of sword apprectation this book is a muct. I found it very useful as you learn various things like the proper technique for cleaning and maintaining a blade and the different curves and points of a blade.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The new definitive introduction to Japanese swords 12 Aug 2012
By Joe Pierre - Published on
Authors Leon and Hiroko Kapp and mukansa swordsmith Yoshindo Yoshihara have, with their fourth collaboration, managed to assemble what must now be considered the definitive introductory book on Japanese swords in the English language. To some extent, this volume puts all the essentials from their previous books (The Craft of the Japanese Sword, Modern Japanese Swords and Swordsmiths, and The Art of Japanese Sword Polishing) into a single 255-page volume, with the added benefit of high-quality color photos on every page (often many of them per page and always with accompanying explanatory text).

The book is divided into five chapters, each with the chapter title written in Japanese calligraphy by Yoshindo himself. Chapter One provides an essential introduction to the appreciation of the Japanese sword. This covers basic sword handling that ensures safe and respectful handling as well as guidance on what kind of features to look for when looking at or studying a sword. The section includes pages of glossary covering sword shapes, styles, parts, mountings/fittings, and specific features with clear photos, drawings, and oshigata (sword "rubbings" that illustrate the tempered edge, or hamon, of the blade). It also includes some wonderful pages on metallurgy that shed light on the Japanese sword as both art object and scientific/technological achievement. Chapter Two traces the development of the sword through the history of Japan, explaining briefly the evolution of blade characteristics according to the needs of the day (e.g. wartime vs. peace, economic prosperity vs. depression, etc.), including extensive coverage of modern blades (gendaito) post-WWII and into the present. Several characteristic examples of noteworthy blades from each major historical era are highlighted with oshigata to illustrate. A slight disappointment that actual blades photos of these blades could not be included here, but that's made up for with great photos of modern Yoshihara Family blades (for the uninitiated, Yoshindo comes from a family of well-known swordmakers and is without exaggeration generally regarded as one of the best living swordsmiths on the planet). Chapter Three covers the smelting of iron sand ore into tamahagane, the core component used to make Japanese swords. This section was written by Dr. Muneo Yaso of the Wako Museum and includes information on the chemical composition of different types of iron sand found in Japan, its chemical conversion into tamahagane within the extreme 2700-degree F temperatures of the tatara furnace, and how smiths use different pieces of tamahagane based on differing carbon content for different parts of a sword. Chapter Four (don't miss the little "Yoshindo doll" made by Suishinshi Masahide on page 120!) reveals in detail how Yoshindo crafts a Japanese sword by hand (with the help of a few sledgehammer wielding apprentices) painstakingly working a few pieces of tamahagane with a hammer and the heat of the forge into the finished iconic end-product. Here especially, the pictures are numerous, complement the text along the way, and show amazing detail such as how the hamon is made, how the blade curves during the quench, and how horimono are engraved. There's also a great brief section on hadaka-yaki, or heat-treating and creating a hamon without the use of clay (something the authors speculate was done with some regularity during the Koto era). Finally, Chapter Five covers sword polishing (with a nice review and pictures of the many stones needed for each stage) and making a habaki (sword collar) and shirasaya (storage scabbard).

There are so many excellent photos in this generously-sized book that at first glance it's easy to dismiss it as a coffee-table picture book and admittedly, there is more text and detail in the authors' previous books. But there is in fact an impressive amount of text here too that captures the essential details of the wide-ranging sub-topics about Japanese swords that are covered in their other three books, all here in one compendium. Simply put, for under $30 for this hardcover book with all of its great information and its wealth of high-quality photos, no Japanese sword enthusiast should be without it. For many, it will be "everything you need to know about Japanese swords," and hopefully for others it will be an inspirational stepping-stone along a long path of appreciating and learning much more about the art of the Japanese sword.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the Best Book on the Subject 10 Sep 2012
By Thomas Raven - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I own over a dozen books on Japanese swords. Some of them do indeed go into greater depth on one aspect or another, but this is the best overview of the process from sand to shirasaya I've ever seen. Even after reading multiple books and watching multiple DVDs on the subject, I still had questions. This book answered them.

It should be noted that this book doesn't go into much detail on the furniture of the sword. In particular, tsukamaki is ignored except for a casual mention or two when discussing existing, mounted blades.

It's a beautiful overview, filled with large pictures and printed on heavyweight paper. If you're looking for one book on the subject, this should be the one.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not purchase Kindle edition 7 Jan 2013
By ccole - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm sure this is a fanstastic book but the Kindle edition is seriously lacking. The primary reason I purchased this was for the example images of various swords from different eras, none of which appeared on the Kindle version.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magnum Opus 14 Feb 2013
By Dan Millman - Published on
I personally know, and highly respect, Leon Kapp and his wife Hiroko, co-authors of the book. However, my review is wholly unsolicited - and even if I was not acquainted with the authors, I could not possibly rate it less than five stars. As informative and readable as it is beautiful, The Art of the Japanese Sword is a work of art in itself. Dr. Kapp, a former top gymnast, and a semi-retired radiation biologist (who also happens to be deaf), found a calling in polishing Japanese swords, and is fully certified to do so.

This is his fourth book, all of which are well-researched and well-written. But this book sets the bar on any such works, and as another reviewer has stated, seems the definitive work on the subject. I'm personally incredulous that Amazon can offer the book for $29.95 (I would have initially guessed $150 as a reasonable price).

I do know, having discussed the book with the author, that it was a labor of love, and that he and Hiroko devoted years and their own funds in its production. Tuttle, the publisher, is known for high-quality works on Zen, martial arts, and Japanese culture.

As an author myself, with an interest in the spirit as well as culture of the samurai, Zen arts, martial arts, and one of the most amazing close-combat weapons ever created, the sword is indeed the soul of the samurai, and that soul shines through this work. I'll peruse its pages with pleasure, in small bites, over the years.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nippon-to 21 Nov 2012
By musubi - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This work is of exceptional quality. It is a 'must' for anyone interested in the Japanese Sword. We are all very lucky that there are people who are willing to share knowledge with others...
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