Dear friends and members,
I recently had an interesting situation which would like to share it with you in the hope that it might help other members who may have a similar case.
Around the end of 2004, I noticed a beautiful long katana by Tsuguhira on AOI-Artâ€™s website. That was my first time purchasing a katana online and from AOI, so I was cautious. I asked my Japanese Iaido Sensei to call and talk to Mr. Tsuruta about this sword. He did and told me it seems a good buy although it might be a little heavy.
I bought the sword and was enjoying it for two years until last yearâ€™s NTHK shinsa at NY/NJ. I thought that was a good opportunity to get my sword papered. I was very surprised and disappointed when it did not only pass the shinsa but the judge/s remarked that itâ€™s a showato with altered nakago to look old.
I contacted AOI and told Tsuruta San what has happened. He said the NTHKâ€™s kanteis are not very reliable these days in Japan and he believes the sword and signature is genuine but if Iâ€™m not happy with it, I can send it back to him. I had bought a few other swords from AOI since my first purchase, so I returned Tsuguhira back to him. He refunded my money in full immediately after he received the sword, which I think it was an excellent customer service. Last week, Mr. Tsuruta emailed me that he submitted the Tsuguhira to NBTHK and as he was expecting it passed the shinsa. He also offered me the sword before he puts it up for sale on his website, which again I thought was a very nice customer service. But I have bought two other swords from him (one still in Japan) since I returned the Tsuguhira and do not have a need for another Shinto right now.
I thought to share my experience with the board members as I heard a few other members mentioned their dissatisfaction with the recent NTHK shinsa and many mistakes that the judges have made. I totally understand that there might be differences of opinions when it comes to the reading of signature and whether itâ€™s genuine and/or if the blade is mumei, the attribution may be different. But, I do not appreciate when per say experienced judges make such an off the wall comments that the sword has been altered to look old and then the same sword passes NBTHKâ€™ shinsa in Japan.
PS.The above mentioned sword is currently up on the AOI website.