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Thread: San Francisco Token Kai 2010

  1. #1

    San Francisco Token Kai 2010

    The San Francisco Token Kai is on. August 19-22, San Francisco, California at the Airport Marriott.

    Link for Info Here.

    http://www.ncjsc.org/SF_token_kai.htm


    I will have swords from my Moderntosho site as well as a 3 sword set of L6 katana in full mounts that are on consignment. I will also have a L6 tanto with mounts on consignment. And a really nice L6 katana I did about 7 years ago if memory serves with a fantastic gold foiled habaki by Brian Tscernega. Fully mounted and lightly used. Ask about them as I tend to keep the modern stuff locked up under the table. Come by and say hi. Learn something and see literally thousands of antique Japanese swords (fittings, parts, etc.).
    Keith Larman
    Summerchild Polishing and Modertosho Modern Japanese Swords
    "They say I have ADD, but ... Hey, look, a chicken!"

  2. #2
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    I had hoped to make it to San Francisco, but with the years troubles I'm very behind and buried in work. Hope you have a great time and say hi to Ted for me. See you guys in a few months in Tampa though.

  3. #3
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    We'll be there, if only to drool!
    <><><> <><><> <><><>
    Do what thy manhood bids thee do,
    from none but self expect applause;
    He noblest lives and noblest dies
    who makes and keeps his self-made laws.

    -Sir Richard Francis Burton

  4. #4
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    Christy and I are leaving in the morning, and staying overnight, woohoo! A first for us.

    Dan
    Dan Pfanenstiel

    "Half of what I say is meaning less" J. Lennon

  5. #5
    Hey, Dan, cool, been a while... Will be nice to see you again.
    Keith Larman
    Summerchild Polishing and Modertosho Modern Japanese Swords
    "They say I have ADD, but ... Hey, look, a chicken!"

  6. #6
    Okay, at the show.

    I've seen Dan and two of his tanto. Nice work.

    We have a table right next to Patrick Hastings who is showing his stuff but also working off and on on a large steel plate. Fun to see.

    Yoshindo Yoshihara has his usual couple tables. Benson has some really nice stuff as do a lot of the big guys (Weisberg, Quirt, et al).

    Everything from gunto and gendaito to super high end papered serious stuff. And lots of fittings.
    Keith Larman
    Summerchild Polishing and Modertosho Modern Japanese Swords
    "They say I have ADD, but ... Hey, look, a chicken!"

  7. #7
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    I feel sick that I'm not there.

  8. #8
    First visit to an event like this for me. Glad I checked it out. Lots of interesting items. Thanks to Keith for getting me to handle some swords - was a little hesitant to take my hands out of my pockets.

    If you're in the Bay Area check it out.

  9. #9
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    Back from the show, and head's reeling from the sights and advice. As usual, Keith, Ted, Patrick, all gave me invaluable advice on my work, and then I could walk around the room looking at examples on real nihonto.

    I went to the care and maintenance seminar and am all the better for it. There is always something to learn.

    I'm inclined to try osaraku style tanto, and there were three on Yoshindo's table! I spent some time there.

    I even found an old example of nagimaki, with the handle, something I've never seen in person.

    A great show.

    Dan
    Dan Pfanenstiel

    "Half of what I say is meaning less" J. Lennon

  10. #10
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    nice show this year. good lecture/exhibit today of shinshinto swords. those lectures alone always make the trip worthwhile.

    some really good deals out there, though i restrained myself for the most part and just picked up some fittings, and got my books signed by yoshindo and the kapps. they are coming out with a new book later this year that looks really nice.

    keith and ted -- thanks for answering questions as usual, though i wish i'd seen this and i would have asked to see the L6 stuff. headed out tomorrow morning, but maybe i'll stop by one more time if i can squeeze it in...

  11. #11
    Joe, sorry you didn't make it by -- I had them all available today. Showed a bunch of people a variety of things. Also got to see (and bring home) an unfinished blade made from nails from the old Noma in Japan. Very cool.

    Dan, yeah, later on I was walking the room and stopped to chat quickly with Mr. Yoshihara. I noticed the really nice osaraku on his table. Did you notice the kissaki geometry? Remember we were talking about the really subtle details? That tanto really showed an excellent shaping and really detailed what we were discussing. Especially the structure of the ji and how everything transitioned really subtly to the kissaki. I was hoping you'd seen it before you left.

    Keep up the good work, Dan. And the offer stands on that tanto of yours with the running masame. I'd be happy to help.

    Just called my house -- our dogs and relatives staying at our house are happy campers. So we're in Monterey about to go out for sushi. Then the Monterey aquarium tomorrow for us. My first sorta vacation in a long time.
    Keith Larman
    Summerchild Polishing and Modertosho Modern Japanese Swords
    "They say I have ADD, but ... Hey, look, a chicken!"

  12. #12
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    yeah, i'm sorry i couldn't make it today -- late start in the morning and had to head back. i gave my pass to my brother and his wife so that they could check it out. probably better for my pocketbook that i didn't see the L6 stuff anyway, but i'll keep an eye out on your site just the same.

    since you mentioned yoshindo, here are a couple of pictures that i took including the osaraku tantos, as well as some stuff from mike yamazaki's table just to give an idea...





    and a some nice shakuhachi's. notice the one with the subtle engravings... tempting, but then someone else saved me and it disappeared the next time i went looking...

    Last edited by Joe Pierre; 08-23-2010 at 12:54 AM.

  13. #13
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    Hey! Thanks Joe for those pictures. My wife was in charge of the camera during the show, now I have some pictures of myself talking to Keith and Patrick, no swords. Many thanks for the osaraku blades, that helps.

    Keith, when we had discussed the osaraku shape, I knew there were some in the room to go look at, but I couldn't remember where. I walked the room 'till I found them though. Should have remembered Yoshindo's table. I do see that subtleness and believe it probably monumentally difficult to achieve. Perhaps a heavier blade to give more dramatic geometry changes for my first one? We'll see. Enjoy the vacation and we'll talk.

    Dan
    Dan Pfanenstiel

    "Half of what I say is meaning less" J. Lennon

  14. #14
    Just got home and finished cleaning/oiling/storing a bunch of stuff. I must admit to being inspired by what I saw. And looking forward to getting back to work.

    I also saw a lot of people I've seen before. The usual characters who make the trek. People who train. People who work on stuff. People who really care about the stuff. Unfortunately there are fewer new faces each year all while the old faces are starting to pass away. And many who I know are local and talk the good talk on-line never bother to come.

    I had a nice brief chat with Yoshindo Yoshihara. Paul Martin was there for a while and we talked a number of times. Jimmy Hayashi was walking the room. Brian Tscernega answered a question that had been bugging me for a while (or basically confirmed what I thought). Benson was there all weekend and gave a great talk on the Shinshinto pieces on display in the NBTHK room. There were also some amazing fittings sets. I had assume that those were brought by Mike Yamasaki, but in retrospect I'm not sure since I was late getting into the room (answering questions and taking a kid over to look at a 60K blade).

    So, is this a dying craft? Are people just not interested anymore? Are productions swords and backyard cutting good enough now?
    Keith Larman
    Summerchild Polishing and Modertosho Modern Japanese Swords
    "They say I have ADD, but ... Hey, look, a chicken!"

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    One thing I've learned about swordsmanship is there is no good enough.

    I would have loved to make it down to the show, its just unfortunate that the timing didn't quite work out for my planned California trip. I'm intending to take a week to scope out a particular area with the thought of relocating in order to take advantage of some training opportunities that I never would have expected to be able to get. I was hoping that I could work both my dojo visit and the token kai in on one trip, but it was not to be. Since I can't afford to do two trips, I had to sacrifice this one in order to make the one in another month or two. Never thought I would seriously be considering leaving friends and family to go across the country for martial arts training, but some things you just can't pass up when the possibility is there.

    I don't see as much activity as in previous years when I first got involved with the world of Japanese swordsmanship, but I am trying my best to contribute to the field in my small way. Mostly by helping guys making the swords we admire keep going.

    My newest katana and fittings are finally ready for mounting - a traditionally made blade with the size, shape, and hopefully handling that my intended system reccomends. Rick Barrett did the blade and a tsuba for me, and Josiah Boomershine was kind enough to help me with the habaki and the fuchi kashira. All the parts, including a monstrous rayskin I had to have imported through Namikawa Heibei (33" WOOT), are with the fellow who will mount this up for me, a guy who was lucky enough to attend the token kai. After the mount, its heading out for a polish and then I should be all set to post up another "Look at my new baby!" thread.

    I am very interested in the field, but there are only so many opportunities one can take advantage of. The katana and the accompanying wakizashi when completed will easily account for 20% of my yearly income when all is said and done. Because a production sword isn't quite good enough.

    Is the San Francisco show the only one in the US now? I think I recall hearing something about Florida. If that is still going on in February I should be able to plan for it.
    Last edited by Jonathan Frances; 08-26-2010 at 08:13 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Larman View Post
    So, is this a dying craft? Are people just not interested anymore? Are productions swords and backyard cutting good enough now?
    no doubt about it, interest seems to be flagging. i think you've hit on some of the main issues -- to some extent the art is dying -- i mean, we are mainly talking about the appreciation of antiques (though of course there are plenty of smiths making shinsakuto in japan who are continuing and advancing the tradition, as well as the american smiths -- and polishers -- making their contributions here).

    then there are the financial factors. in this economy, people are being more cautious about spending, especially when it comes to spending on what are essentially collectors items (or trips to drool over them). so, there's less sword buying, less attendance of token kais, and evidence of flagging enrollment in jsa dojos. i have some higher end blades on sale in the classifieds here, and they haven't really budged. just doesn't seem like a good market now.

    there also seem to be two camps who might be interested in nihonto. becoming a serious collector requires a certain amount of expendable income, such that most nihonto collectors seem to be older men with some money to spare. then at the other end of the spectrum, there are mostly younger people attracted to japanese swords though an interest in anime, chanbarra, highlander (the humble beginnings of this forum) and the like, but as you say the production market seems to have satisfied this crowd. there do seem to be two camps though -- "collectors" and "users." just look at this forum --there is a big gap between the minority of people seriously interested in nihonto and those interested in "japanese (style) swords" and cutting water bottles in their backyard. i remember i posted a lot of pictures of last year's show here, and almost nobody commented on them at all.

    if i think about it, more striking than the lack of "new" people at the token kai was the lack of young people. so, what's that all about? some of the above, but also i think the nihonto world is a little closed and hard to break into. it's taken me a while to slowly learn about nihonto, and i'm still a relative ignorant newbie, but in the past couple of years i've read a lot of books, and have managed to meet and become at least casually friendly with folks like you and ted, leon kapp, mike yamazaki, michael and gabe bell, anthony dicristofano, randy black and even yoshindo (not that he knows who i am or anything) and that's made a big difference in terms of learning and feeling a little like i fit in.

    so, what's maybe missing at some of these events and what could help stimulate interest are some really basic lectures geared towards total newbies. the thing about nihonto is that you really do need to learn a totally new vocabulary. i probably know more than the average person about nihonto, but at the same time, while i love the lectures, a good deal of it still whizzes over my head, especially when you start mentioning names of smiths. i managed to muster up the courage to ask bob a few questions at the lecture -- one that ended up being totally dumb (since i was mistaking tobiyaki for utsuri) and other that i think was more reasonable, but a lot of time i find myself kind of nodding pretending i know what's going on.

    anyway, i think interest ebbs and flows and will probably reignite at some point, assuming the economy does. maybe when "the last samurai II" comes out?
    Last edited by Joe Pierre; 08-26-2010 at 09:33 PM.

  17. #17
    Joe:

    Hey, you kinda hit a problem I've been trying to address in my own way over the years. But... Over all those years attending these things the one thing that is constant is *not* about the approachability or lack of beginning lectures. It is the very fact that so many don't physically show up in the first place. I have suggested more "entry level" talks, but the reality is that no one wants to give that talk to an empty room. So the talks tend to be geared towards those who in fact attend. And for the last 8 years or so (best I can tell) the crowd has thinned at best. And all those enthusiastic people on-line who complain about not being able to see the good stuff or not having opportunities to learn are conspicuously absent.


    Actually I'm not really complaining. It is more an observation from someone who was an enthusiastic newb once who started studying, going to shows, and still feels like a total newb. I struggle along myself and I have to admit I missed the kantei session this year (mostly I hadn't yet looked over the schedule then realized it had already started when I did look it over -- I was way too tired from the drive up that morning to go in half way -- I'm still kicking myself that I didn't sack up and go in anyway).

    Nah, the sincere question is about how things have changed on forums like this. It used to be there was precious little between total garbage and high end antiques. At that time this forum flourished especially when the first generation of decently made production swords started to arrive. Then guys like Guido, Rich S., and Craig were posting regularly, often answering my questions. Nowadays I don't see many questions that are all that interesting and I wonder if the world has just changed such that there really is a new area where production swords are "good enough" and exist in their own niche completely divorced from the traditional art and craft. Heck, most production swords I see today look like knockoffs of older production swords. Caricatures of caricatures. Mistakes repeated and magnified. Have we evolved a new species completely here? Cause it feels like some of us are trying to swim upstream but very few are along for the ride anymore...

    No judgement. Just wondered about it as I drove home yesterday. Time to refocus.
    Keith Larman
    Summerchild Polishing and Modertosho Modern Japanese Swords
    "They say I have ADD, but ... Hey, look, a chicken!"

  18. #18
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    i hear what you're saying, and i think you are correct in suggesting that the production market has satisfied the "good enough" niche, though i also think there is a fundamental difference between art collectors and people who want the best useable blade that their money can buy. most people looking for "battle ready" but pretty swords aren't going to be lured into the nihonto market. it's just a different animal altogether.

    in any case, i think if you hosted an event here in socal that featured a demo of antiques and modern blades along with a lecture, we could get a lot of people to attend. what do you think?
    Last edited by Joe Pierre; 08-28-2010 at 12:52 AM.

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