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 Post subject: Helping to preserve the tradition
 Post Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:11 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:12 pm
Posts: 2
Location: Tampere, Finland
As there seems to be a large and bit heated discussion on few forums following this Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/The.Japanese.S ... 6798453636

I thought as I don't have Facebook I'd copy a portion what I posted on another forum to here. Unfortunately I think I am among those who saw that Facebook post in negative light. I understand what you were aiming with it and that is a good thing. I think this subject is good for discussion but depending where it will be discussed the opinions will vary greatly.

In my opinion the problem it's not in us it's inside Japan. In my mind first step would be marketing these new unknown smiths and making their work competitive. Why are the big and famous smiths the only ones who get TV and magazine time, make the new ones get that too. Maybe this is where The Japanese Sword Video Magazine could be put in good use? As even small players like me participated on that crowd funding here is a good chance to show the unknown smiths can get worldwide publicity. I still think the main point is getting Japanese people to buy from these new & upcoming smiths instead the big famous smiths.

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 Post subject: Re: Helping to preserve the tradition
 Post Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:31 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:15 pm
Posts: 152
Location: at San Francisco in California
Jussi -
I think youve got a great idea there - currently on NMB there is someone asking for a single source where they can view the works of current smiths. Paul if you are listening, more photos, more videos of up and coming artists and their works. Cannot but help the market if more people are aware of what is out there and there is real desire for genuine nihonto.

-t

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 Post subject: Re: Helping to preserve the tradition
 Post Posted: Wed May 20, 2015 6:39 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:04 am
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Location: London/Berkeley/Tokyo
Sorry to be late getting back on this. I am foolishly just one person on my own who tries to take on way too much.

My original post wasn't apportioning any blame on anyone. Merely pointing out some things that people didn't realise. I did try to make it clear by including two caveats. One was that I am bringing this to your attention 'if you truly love Japanese swords...", and the other was that if you had enough disposable income to purchase four or five of these Chinese blades, then you could probably afford a real Japanese sword. Not, if you can only afford one 300~500 USD Chinese cutter for backyard slashing. The second point was actually trying to address two points at the same time, as I had two things repeatedly happening on my FB page. People kept trying to post their 'Collections' of Chinese swords, and the repeated myths that 'all' Japanese swords cost 10's and 20's thousands of dollars. So I wasn't saying "Hey the west, it's all your fault!" I was saying "Hey the west, this is the situation, and with a little effort we can help to make a difference".

Just because I pointed this out, doesn't necessarily mean that it automatically becomes my responsibility to personally promote every up and coming smith to the internet. We already have the internet for that. In the same way that if I pointed out that you shouldn't have your work done on your antique sword by an amateur doesn't make it my responsibility to promote every single Japanese craftsman because I pointed out a mistake someone was making. I already translate both the NBTHK and NBSK craftsmens comps results as a volunteer, as well as most of the other stuff on my FB, Forum, Youtube, etc, as well as volunteer stuff that I do here for craftsmen (translations, etc). Also, I illustrated that you could purchase blades for use, fully mounted, from around 3K USD used. This doesn't help a smith directly, but it does help the sword economy in Japan. In Japan, no one can use a shinken other than real Japanese swords. So the less swords on the market there, the more likely a commission from inside Japan.

I don't think it is worth trying to blame the Japanese system, as we can only work with what we have. It is not going to change overnight, and many people inside the system don't want it to for reasons of quality control and preservation of intangible skills. It is very difficult to try to say that the smiths must bring their prices down (some mid-range smiths could though) when there are so many other craftsmen involved. The Japanese and Chinese economic standards of living are on two different levels, but so is the level of craftsmanship.

I have been trying to make videos, I think that I've made three or four so far. I have a stack of old clips, and several half edited projects. I received approximately 4K USD in donations for the project (which is still ongoing), but when you remove the expense of camera and sound equipment, editing software, etc, then add the hours and expenses in travelling, filming and then editing, responding to comments, it doesn't go very far. I am doing my best, I also have paying customers that I have to take care of, a process which includes helping Japanese craftsmen who I am introducing the work to.

I am trying to do my bit, but the west cannot just wait for people like me, Marcus Sesko and others to do everything for them. If you truly love Japanese swords... get more involved, and bring your fruits to the attention of everyone else!

Best

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