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Touken Matsumoto Blog

The 8th Okinawa Token Ichi Dec. 18, 2015

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Between the 12th of Dec. and 14th of Dec. we hosted the 8th Okinawa Token Ichi in Naha city, the most southern city of Japan. This time, we were joined by Fujita san, a young sword trader from Kanda Tokodo.

During the four years, that I have hosted this event, it has been my intention to further the insight and passion for the Japanese sword among the enthusiast in Okinawa, since there are no sword shops on the islands. I am sometimes asked by my fellow sword traders whether I am able to make a reasonable profit on the event. I usually answer that I have a feeling for the island and the potential of it. To help with the growth, I have contacted lectures on a level aimed at beginners. They seem popular among the attendees and I enjoy sharing my knowledge with others.

I am also happy to see so many of my friends there returning for each event, and enjoy catching up with them.

However, considering the cost of shipping swords to Okinawa, hotels and rent, I have to also consider the sustainability of it. Developing a market isn’t easy, but I will keep doing my best to keep the venue going in the future.

This time, we also took a trip to the Churaumi aquarium and it was a remarkable experience. I was amazed at how high the dolphins were able to jump from the water. They seemed to defy gravity.

 

The successful Dai Token Ichi 2015

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During the past weekend, Touken Matsumoto took part in the Dai Token Ichi 2015. In one sentence, this year was also a successful one.

A lot of new and old customers visited us, which made me very happy. I was very pleased to see some close foreign friends at the event as well, and I enjoyed catching up with them.

As I am a newly appointed member of the management of the All Japan Sword Traders Association, I felt quite happy to finish the event with a successful result. I therefore, would like to congratulate everyone that was involved and worked so hard on this annual event.

I look forward to making next year’s event an even more successful one. It will take place at the Tokyo Bijutsu club on the 18th of November and finish on the 20th.

Thank you everyone for a very enjoyable event.

 

 

Passing a Juyo Token and Toso evaluation Oct. 31, 2015

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Once a year, the NBTHK accepts items for a Juyo Token or Tosogu evaluation from enthusiasts and sword traders alike. In September of this year, it was the 61st time that this opportunity was offered.

An item that passes the evaluation has its value increased substantially which is why most applicants await the result with great anticipation.

Yesterday, I’m happy to say, I received 2 letters of confirmation regarding 1 sword and 1 Koshirae from the NBTHK, saying the items had been given the status of Juyo Token and Juyo Toso.

When I first found the 2 items in question, neither had a certificate of any kind. I felt, however, that both of them had the character and potential to be evaluated at a high level. Thus, I decided to hand them both over to the highly skilled people at the NBTHK, for evaluation. As it turns out, my initial instinct was correct and I find myself happy and a little proud that I was able to recognize the level of the 2 items, when I first encountered them.

This feeling of accomplishing the task of raising the status level of an item from a low one to a high one, is something I think anyone involved in the sword world in Japan finds very rewarding, much like seeing your children passing through university successfully.

The Annual Dai Token Ichi 2015

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The 28th addition of the All Japan Sword Traders Forum is a great opportunity for anyone interested in viewing thousands of Japanese Swords, as well as other Japanese weaponry, on display. The event is hosted by 72 different sword traders, from all over Japan. This makes it the perfect place to learn more about the Japanese sword, as well as to establish new contacts and get good deals.
Held at the Tokyo Bijutsu Club in Shimbashi, Minato-ku (see map), it promises to become a memorable event, for any and all enthusiasts of the Japanese Sword and Japanese Culture.

<Additional Events>
‘Swords from the era of Yoshida Shoin’ (3F in the Jubun room)
‘Engravings by contemporary sword smith’ (4F)
‘Annual services, such as free appraisals of blades, fittings and armor, are offered daily, in the afternoon only’ (4F)

From Nov. 20 (Fri)
21 (Sat)
22 (Sun) 10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 17:00

Admission fee (All three days) 2,000 yen including event catalog

Hosted by: The Japanese Sword Traders Association
Sponsored by: The Sankei Shimbun and Fuji Sankei Business i
http://sankei.jp/    http://www.business-i.jp
Tokyo Bijutsu Club
6-19-15, Shimbashi, Minato-ku Tokyo
TEL 03-5401-1339 The Japanese Sword Traders Association
Sinjuku Skyplaza 1302, 2-18-10, Okubo, Shinjuku-ku Tokyo
TEL 03-3205-0601

Translating the 2015 Dai Token Ichi catalog Oct. 15, 2015

In a few months the doors to the 2015 Dai Token Ichi will open.

We at Touken Matsumoto have contributed by translating the catalog from Japanese to English and at this moment that process has been successfully concluded.

This is a task that we have taken on for the last few years. We have, I feel, improved the format of the English catalog a little over these years. It is however a time-consuming job trying to find translations from Japanese that will make sense to an English reader.

Although I’ve been told that just a rough translation will be enough, I feel that this would not be adequate due to the fact that there are many possible ways to misunderstand written language. Thus, I feel a certain duty to make the translation the best possible within the confines of my ability.

Soon the translation will be available for downloads from the address below;

http://www.zentosho.com/daitokenichi/the_annual_dai_token_ichi_2012.html

I hope our efforts will contribute to the enjoyment of the event for everyone that needs an English translation.

 

Token appreciation Sep. 20, 2015

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This weekend, we hosted the 4th monthly sword appreciation course and asked Myoga sensei to teach it. The amount of people that took part in the lecture slightly challenged our capacity, but we were delighted to see a lot of enthusiasts partake.

Many of the participants were beginners, but thanks to Myoga sensei’s pedagogical explanations, they were able to appreciate the 5 Juyo Token around which the lesson was focused.
After the lecture, we had some Bento and enjoyed talking with each other.

The Juyo Token swords we studied were;
1.Katana Mumei, but attributed to the Aoe tradition
2.Katana Mumei, but attributed to the Shizu tradition
3.Katana Mumei, but attributed to Motomitsu from Bizen
4.Katana by Tsuneie made in mid Muromachi period
5.Tanto the Aoe traditon

Organizing Dai Token Ichi 2015 Sep. 9, 2015

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The other day, the organizing group of the Dai Token Ichi 2015, had an initial proofreading of the coming catalog for the event. This is an annual task and we all worked until the late evening.

11 members gathered on that day, both younger and older, to partake in the job at hand. It is difficult to coordinate everyone’s schedule to match so that we all can gather at the same time.
This is the kind of effort that is necessarily to make the venue a successful one.

This year’s event will take place from Nov. 20th to 22nd at the same location as we have used during the previous years.

Article in Token-kai nwesletter Jul. 18, 2015

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In the latest issue of ‘The Token-kai’ newsletter, there is an article of mine featured which I was asked to write a while back. The article has been translated and you’ll find the text below.

Upon asking permission from Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi to write about his school, when I visited his house in mid June, I also had the distinct pleasure of being shown his private collection of swords and antique items, which was a moment of both insight and honor for me, and left me with a very warm feeling in my heart. I would like to express my deep gratitude for this rare opportunity.

***********************************************************
‘Home town pride’ Noda city.
‘World famous martial arts Dojo’ –Yoshiyuki Matsumoto-

My birthplace is Noda city, the northern most city of Chiba prefecture, bordering Ibaraki and Saitama prefecture.

To the east runs Tone River and to the west Edo River flows. During the Edo era, these water ways were used for shipping purposes by the booming Soy sauce industry to supply Edo with the much demanded delicacy. Nowadays, the international Kikkoman corp. and the local Kinoene corp. supplies one third of Japan’s Soy, making Noda city the biggest Soy production city in Japan.

During my childhood, eating habits were slightly different compared with today, and recently, we are told to be more careful since Soy sauce contains a lot of salt. However, I personally still love to use Soy sauce on my cabbage and on my Aji-fry.

Lately, Noda city has also being frequently featured on TV as a place visited by large groups of foreigners from all corners of the earth. They arrive on the Tobu Noda line, getting off at the closest station, Atago, heading for the Bujinkan Honbu Dojo.

The Bujinkan was organized in the 1970’s by Hatsumi Masaaki, who is the grandmaster of the school and still keeps going strong at the age of 83. This martial art has become famous for its practicality when teaching traditional skills such as unarmed fighting, sword etc. Hatsumi sensei’s students are not only martial artists, but some of them are specialists in different areas of law-enforcement, military special ops and so on. I have been told that there are over 100,000 members from more than 50 countries around the world, and sometimes there are more than 100 students visiting the Dojo at the same time.

Some of these students have been friends of my father’s for more than 20 years, with an interest in Japanese swords. Many of them come to visit us when they are in Japan for a while. My father, who doesn’t speak English at all, has great respect for his foreign customers and has never once experienced any problems. Sometimes a sword has been paid for the next time the buyer comes to Japan. At one point, a customer tragically died, but before passing on, he asked his students to bring the remaining amount to Japan on their next trip.

This spirit of honesty and loyalty is one reason, I am so very proud of my home town and the relationships that are formed here.

The 6th Noda Token Ichi Jul.14, 2015

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During the weekend that past, we hosted the 6th Noda Token Ichi at a local hotel. During the 3 days of the event, we had a lot of familiar faces and new enthusiasts visit. As the event is becoming more and more established, we have first time visitors that have a lot of questions and interest in finding out about swords. It is my impression that this time we had more visitors than previously, which makes me both happy and grateful.

The next time of this event is scheduled to be hosted is in Jan. 2016, at the same place.

The 7th Okinawa Token Ichi Jun. 30, 2015

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From the 26th to the 28th of June, we hosted the 7th Okiniawa Token Ichi, in Naha. We host this event twice a year, and this was the 4th consecutive year for us.

I was very happy to see that once again we had more visitors than the previous event and that so many look forward to this weekend with great anticipation.
Before opening on the 3rd day, I gave a small beginners level lecture, on how to correctly handle the sword when evaluating it, or when it is being cleaned or inspected. I was happy to find that the number of people attending it had also grown since last year.
The event was an overall success both from a cultural and business perspective, and I feel very grateful to all the people that visited us.

I was also pleasantly surprised at the knowledge of the ‘Saniwa’ girls, (enthusiasts of the ‘Tōken Ranbu’ lit. “Wild Swords Dance”) that visited the event, and I think their enthusiasm and insights may be important for the future impact on, and the interest in the history and craftsmanship of, the Japanese sword. I am very happy to have spent time with these enthusiasts.

Touken Koza, sword studies at Touken Matsumoto Jun. 23, 2015

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This last weekend we hosted the first sword appreciation class of this semester. It is the 5th consecutive year that we offer these lessons to interested people.

Eleven members of the old group remained and seven new were added.
Among the new students, there was a young lady and a young man. Something that made me very happy. Although, they may have been a little hesitant at first, they were quickly taken in by the rest of our group, much like new family is smoothly integrated.

I look forward to seeing their knowledge and enthusiasm grow.

Tradition and technology united Jun. 13, 2015

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A customer of ours spoke to me about a video clip that is trending on the internet. It is made by Yasukawa Electric Corporation and has a robot mimicking the cuts of a master swordsman. As I searched for the video, I found my acquaintance Machii sensei was the swords man that taught the robot to cut. Machii sensei has reached worldwide recognition for his super human ability to cut very fast and very accurate.

I would encourage anyone interested to go to YouTube and look at the video.
I myself was amazed by the highly innovative technology and the human skill displayed.

I was moved by the beauty of the clean actions of a master using a Japanese sword.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3XyDLbaUmU

Company trip to Seoul Jun.10, 2015

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On June 5th, I, our accountant, business partners and our staff took a trip to Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The aim of our trip was to educate ourselves, on the subject of Korean culture and history.

The planning for this journey has been long in the making, and it came to me as an idea several years ago. As June marks the 5th anniversary for my involvement with the company, it seemed that the timing was right. During this period, I have worked very hard, sometimes in to the early hours, to realize my wishes for the company.

Unexpectedly, an somewhat worryingly, there was a localized outbreak of the MERS virus which made me concerned for everyone’s safety, and I contemplated calling off the whole thing. However, after gathering information from the Japanese consulate and local authorities in Seoul, I realized that the risk of catching the virus was minuscule, and thus saw the adventure through.
As expected, no harm came to anyone’s health and we had a good time.

During our visit, we went to the national museum, and visited the check point between North and South Korea. We saw a traditional Korean play at a theater and visited the world heritage site ‘Changdeok Palace’. It was all very pleasant.

It has been a long time since I last traveled abroad and I would like to do so again in the near future, which is why I will keep working very hard.

The 9th Ningyocho Token Ichi Jun. 2, 2015

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Last weekend, we hosted the 9th Ningyocho Token Ichi in Tokyo. A lot of our customers came to visit and we spent much time discussing the different aspects of the Japanese sword. I always find these talks enlightening and I was pleasantly surprised that so many congratulated me on my official appointment to the Japanese Sword Traders Association. Some of them even brought me gifts which I appreciated very much. The outcome of the event was better than I expected and I feel very grateful for the continued support I enjoy from people that I more or less have come to consider as family.

Lessons from the sword smith Amemiya san May 24, 2015

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On 23 May, I took part in a lesson on how to forge a Kogatana at the forge of Takano Mitsuyuki a sword smith located in Tokyo.

It was the first time I tried my hand at this craft, and I enjoyed the experience quite a lot, much due to the kindness and assistance from Amemiya Tosho, Takano Tosho’s disciple. During this single day event, I got to experience Yasurigake (rough filing), Senkezuri (working the metal with a plainer), Uchinobashi (hammering out the metal), Meigiri (signing the blade), Tsuchioki (clay coating) and Yakiire (tempering).
Though my result was probably quite mediocre compared to Amemiya san’s, at least the experience gave me an insight and appreciation for the skills and hard work of a sword smith.
I was however very pleased to see the shape of the Sori after quenching my blade and I thought the Hamon was rather pleasing as well.

I shared the day’s lesson and experiences with one other first timer, a medical student, who, after the lesson explained to me that though he was studying medicine, it was his heart’s desire to become a sword smith.

A new day, a new challange May 21, 2015

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Since I left the financial world and entered that of the sword tradesman, it has now been 5 years.

I realize that there is still much for me to study and learn. It is therefore my hope and wish that I will grow with my new responsibility as a newly selected member of the All Japan Sword Traders Association’s board.

I will work hard to become a link between the new and old as well as between the junior and senior. Although I’m still young and not as experienced as my seniors, I will do my best to bring my experiences from the world of financial companies to further bring a dynamical aspect to my new assignment.

Improved Security May 15, 2015

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As of last month, you may have noticed that the URL address on your computer becomes green when you visit our home page. This is because I have required the service of Symantec to make our website more secure for you. I believe I may be the first sword trader in Japan to have a home page encrypted for the customer’s and visitor’s safety, with any personal information.
We have always treated any information that you share with us, with the at most discretion and respect, but as there are more criminal activity drawn to the internet, I feel this is a precaution that is well worth the investment. It is just one more step for us to give you the privacy and security you deserve.

Nihonto Koza graduation Apr. 27, 2015

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For the last 4 years, it has been my pleasure and privilege to study with the guidance of Watanabe Taeko sensei. During this time, I have had a lot of opportunities to familiarize myself with some exclusive swords at the Sano museum, that are not easily available for closer studies to the general public, due to the fact that they are kept conserved behind glass.
As I have passed through the beginner’s level and graduated from the advanced class, I feel that I will now take my studies to a practical level more suited for my business.
I feel a lot of gratitude towards Watanabe sensei for her patience and great knowledge, and hope that I may, in some small way be a reflection of my teacher.

Nodakai sword auction Apr. 21, 2015

Last weekend, we had a regular auction event at our shop. I am happy to say that it was quite successful and would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that participated.

I see a growing interest in the Japanese sword and I think this is reflected in many ways. More and more people are learning about the Japanese sword and more people are getting involved in the business. I am happy to say that I think the Japanese economy and the way it is becoming stronger is one reason for this.

In the future, I would like to help others to understand the sword and the business world around it better.

'Nihonto' boom in Japan Apr. 15, 2015

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Recently, a cell phone game called ‘Token Ranbu’ has become very popular in Japan, especially with young women. There was an article about this trend in a Japanese financial paper named ‘the Nikkei Shimbun’, which talked about how famous swords made by legendary sword smiths are the main characters in the game. At book stores, there are books and magazines about Japanese swords and swords men that I think will help alongside the game to make the Japanese sword more popular and spread the interest to groups that haven’t had any interest in them before. This may lead to a little sword boom in Japan which I find really encouraging.

TATARA SAMRAI (movie) Mar. 12, 2015

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As a member of the ‘TOKENKAI’, a newsletter published every other month, I am sometimes asked to write articles to be featured in said newsletter.
This time, I had the pleasure to write about a future movie project, by the name of ‘TATARA SAMURAI’. This movie will be directed by Yoshinari Nishikori, and the Executive producer is none other than Hiro, of the music group EXILE, one of Japan’s most famous pop bands. The lead role will be played by Sho Aoyagi, also a member of EXILE.
Thus, this week I found myself partaking in a meeting with the chairman of NBTHK, as well as other members of the management, to plan for the movie.
Since this movie examines the work and mind of a Japanese swordsmith, as well as the subtle artistry and beauty, that is a result of the dedicated work and years of polishing mind and spirit, needed for the craft, I think it will be popular among both young and old. I also expect the enthusiasm and involvement of Hiro and Sho, both artists in their own right, to further inspire the younger generation.
The movie is to premier in May 2016.

Insights from the master sword smith, Ozawa Norishige

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Last Sunday, we had the distinct pleasure and honor of hosting a lecture by the master craftsman, Ozawa Norishige, a sword smith who has received several prizes from the NBTHK, and who kindly shared some of his expertise and deep insight on forging a Japanese sword, with us. Ozawa Tosho is a student of Takano Yukimitsu, of the Ono Yoshimitsu linage, and both a kind and humble man.

As a result of Ozawa Tosho’s lecture, there was a great boost of enthusiasm in all that attended the event. Just as Ozawa Tosho’s beautiful character shines through in his swords, his understanding of this ancient skill becomes clearly apparent through his words.

After the event, I put forth a request to have a Tanto in Akihiro-utsushi style, by Ozawa Tosho, which he kindly agreed to make. I am looking forward with great anticipation, to display the Tanto at the next lecture of his, I am certain it will be a very interesting item to study for all participants. It is, I feel, our duty to safe guards his level of skill and insight, to make sure it is not lost for the future generations.

Should you the reader, be interested in further following this excellent sword smith, you can do so by clicking the link below;

https://www.facebook.com/umevayasi/photos_stream?tab=photos_stream

The 8th Ningyocho Token Ichi

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Last weekend, Touken Matsumoto hosted its 8th Ningyocho Token Ichi. Although the weather forecast, once again, predicted heavy snow, the weather remained fine.

This time, I had tried a new way of advertising, using flyers inserted into the Asahi-shimbun, which proved successful.

The turn up to the event was good and I am happy that so many of our friends and customers support us. Thank you very much.

In the future, I hope to inspire our group of customers, friends and clients to grow, so that we all benefit from our mutual interest and relationship.

5th Noda Token Ichi Jan. 13, 2015

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The past weekend, we hosted the 5th Noda Token Ichi and it went off without a hitch. The weather was beautiful throughout the event and I was happy to see a lot of familiar faces. Through advertising in the Chiiki Shimbun, we were able to reach a larger aria of enthusiasts than previously. However, through a misunderstanding, some customers showed up after 3 pm on the last day and I would like to apologize for any inconvenience as they may have come from far away. The first 2 days we always close at 5 pm. I would also like to express my gratitude to those who, through the internet, found out and traveled long distances to attend.
Through establishing new relationships with some new visitors, I was able to have pleasant conversations with many people and look forward to speaking and communicating with them soon again. It made me very happy to hear people say that they have been looking forward to coming to our events, and it warms my heart and make it worth the effort of organizing the events.
I will make more efforts to improve these events and I am looking forward to an even better 6th Noda Token Ichi taking place on the 10th to 12th of July opening the doors at 10 am and closing at 5 pm. The event will take place at the Hotel Granbois.