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 Post subject: NTHK vs. NBTHK and AOI
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 3:26 am 
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Chu Jo Saku
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Location: USA
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-Art’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 year’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 it’s a showato with altered nakago to look old.
I contacted AOI and told Tsuruta San what has happened. He said the NTHK’s kanteis are not very reliable these days in Japan and he believes the sword and signature is genuine but if I’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 it’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 NBTHK’ shinsa in Japan.
Sincerely,
Rod
PS.The above mentioned sword is currently up on the AOI website.

http://www.aoi-art.com/sword/katana/06477.html

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 Post subject: Clarification...
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 5:55 am 
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Chu Saku

Joined: Sat Nov 04, 2006 4:41 pm
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The shinsa group mentioned above is the Yoshikawa NTHK shinsa team, which is coming to Chicago in April,

NOT, repeat NOT, the NTHK-NPO shinsa team coming to Minneapolis this June....

Thanks,

Chris


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 Post subject: You are assuming of course
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 6:00 am 
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Jo Jo Saku
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the NBTHK is correct when of course they could also be wrong. I feel there is too much SH@T these days with bagging one group and ok-ing another. We just had a huge amount of bullsh%t from that Yahoo idiot and now this.

I have heard this of the NTHK before, usually from disgruntled people buying crappola of Ebay and having it bounce. But I have also heard of both bad attributions and dodgy dealings at the NBTHK. The history there is common knowledge, both recent and in the 70's. Regardless of whether it is true or not, it is there. So I ask you, who is really better ?.

Also remember, this IS ALWAYS going to be an opinion, no matter who makes it. It has been said for years, if you don't like one answer, go get another. And in regards to shinsa, I think there will always be difference of opinion and I sometimes think this forum and others should just trash these types of thread for the better good of the community. This is not a game for mugs, it is not a cheap hobby, and you need thick skin.

In relation to your sword Rod, I assume being used for Iaido, it was not in polish and at what state of polish ? poor, just ok, ok ?, so my questions are, does the work match the maker ?, can you see the work clearly at the time of the NTHK shinsa ?, did Tsuruta have the blade polished before NBTHK shinsa ?????

I understand fully that many first time shinsa results are disappointing, but I always suggest to new collectors, buy a papered sword or two first, and learn properly before leaping into the deep end.

Rod, you said

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 NBTHK shinsa in Japan.


Mate, this accusation is your opinion only. This is the part of your statement that should be deleted, as you obviously are led by others opinions before making your own. You are assuming here that you know more than the NTHK, and that in my opinion, is a big mistake.

Regards

Richard


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 7:10 am 
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Chu Jo Saku
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Rich,
I’m very sorry if you think my words were too strong. I had no intention to offend any one, my intention was to share what has happened and the members could and would make their own judgments. The sword was in polish when I got it and when it was submitted to NTHK. It was just the way you see it now on the AOI site. I did not loose any money on that sword as I got full refund, so I’m not soar about this in any way.
As I mentioned I have no problem with different opinions and the comment that the “nakago was altered to look old” is not an accusation, I still have the NTHK pink paper with that comments written on it and would be glad to post it. I think an altered nakago should be obvious to the eyes of experts and it wouldn’t have passed the NBTHK shinsa with an altered nakago to look old. I never said that I know more than NTHK judges, I can never even dream of such a thing. In fact I believed in their kantei and that's why I returned the sword. Again this is not my opinion against NTHK’s opinion but it’s the NBTHK’s kantei and I didn’t and wouldn’t have posted this message before the sword passed NBTHK shinsa.
Again, I’m sorry if my words were not politically correct but I had nothing but good intention and that’s what I read from your message.
Best,
Rod

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 Post subject: Re: You are assuming of course
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 9:42 am 
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Metsuke
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Rich T wrote:
Also remember, this IS ALWAYS going to be an opinion, no matter who makes it.

Yes, sure, but some opinions are more educated than others. ;)

But I fully agree with you that most threads discussing the abilities of the different Shinsa groups by a bunch of armchair experts and Nihontô bottomfeeders (present [NMB] company, as always, excluded) are a total waste of time. If people have such little confidence in the "experts", why do they submit a blade in the first place? Write your own Kanteishô, like that guy in Ohio, and own countless Yasutsuna, Kunitoshi, Masamune and other amazing swords. :roll: I, in the meantime, will stick with the NBTHK. :badgrin:


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 10:18 am 
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Site Admin
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I agree with both Guido and Rich.
While I don't want to start making rules about what we can and can't discuss...we need to remember that the organisations are fallible and human, and will make mistakes. They are however years ahead of 99% of us in their knowledge. Sometimes questionable decisions are made, but we are lucky to have other groups to go to for a second opinion. If they differ greatly, then we have a good reason to increase our own studies and also enjoy the blade for what we see in it.
These situations are never pleasant, but we can learn from them, without comming to conclusions that might be wrong or right. There does seem to be a leaning towards the NBTHK, and that is a good indicator, but there are many satisfied customers from the other groups too. But opinions from any of the groups are better than a guess, and we should still respect the work that they do. Form your own opinion, and go with the groups you trust...or go with all of them.
Rod..you have a difficult situation which I don't envy. All the more reason to follow the good advice of Rich in buying papered blades in the beginning if you can. In this case, it might not have helped, but we will always discuss the odd-ones out, whereas there are many more cases where the collectors are happy. Let's take this as one of the unique cases, learn from it and move on.

Regards,
Brian

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:02 am 
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Sai Jo Saku

Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2006 9:03 am
Posts: 1245
Brian,
you got there ahead of me just as I was trying to become creative. Story of my life.
In support of yours and Rich and Guidos points I would add the following observations. I was heavily invloved in the London NTHK shinsa. I believe that the overseas shinsas are a much more difficult process than perhaps the ones carried out locally in Japan, the enviroment and time pressures are all different. Therefore I am sure that on occassion mistakes are made. The judges are, like the rest of us, human (thank God). Also in London people had the opportunity to discuss the results with panel members so if the owner was unhappy or didnt understand the result they could find out why the team beleived what they did.
However the vast majority of attributions appear to be acceptable to the the owners and I think that the benefit derived from these events is considerable and deserves recognition. Unfortunately satisfied customers rarely comment so we tend to get a one sided view.
As you say Brian the level of knowledge and quantity of reaearch material available to the shinsa teams of both NBTHK and NTHK far exceed what we have access to. Therefore I beleive their opinion carries a great deal of weight.
Taking up Gudios point about armchair experts, I was recently involved with the purchase of a blade which had passed juyo shinsa in 2002. As soon as some local "experts"saw it they commented how much easier it was to get Juyo papers now than in the past, and that the modern papers were somehow devalued. Strangely the same people when looking at a sword with much earlier Juyo papers made the point that the sword would never be papered today because it was much harder to achieve Juyo status. You cant have it both ways and there will always be the sideline swipers who try and demonstrate their superior knowledge by making supposedly learned and cynical comments.
As said by others attributions are an opinion albeit a vey educated one. People are human and do make mistakes. However in the overwhelming majority of cases the opinions of the NBTHK and NTHK are more accurrate than anything else available to us.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:08 am 
Blimey, after my "How expert are the experts" thread I'm staying well out of this one!

Simon


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 Post subject: I'll add one more thing after that
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:44 am 
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Jo Jo Saku
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well 2 things.

1: I had a nice laugh at Guido's post, you crack me up mate.

2: Paul raises an interesting point. Both NTHK's probably put through 30 to 50 swords and fittings a month at in a one day shinsa in Japan. In the US, UK or Europe or where ever, they will get what, 300 ??, 400 ?, anyone got a correct figure here ?, I would hate to think what was involved in the lagistics in one for these shows.

Personally, I think that they should cap the numbers at these events. But then, the financial's may not balance out.

Anyway, I was not intending to blast Rod's head off, just that nothing is simple in this game (except me :-)) and we should all learn to look before we leap

Cheers after a long wet lunch.

Rich


Last edited by Rich T on Sat Mar 24, 2007 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: numbers
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 12:20 pm 
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Sai Jo Saku

Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2006 9:03 am
Posts: 1245
As I rember the NTHK looked at around 200 swords over the two days.
and probably a similar number of fittings


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 Post subject: Some data....
PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 2:31 pm 
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Chu Saku

Joined: Sat Nov 04, 2006 4:41 pm
Posts: 12
Some numbers for this discussion:

The NBTHK Hozon/Tokubetsu Hozon shinsa looks at 1000+ swords on average every other month when they hold their shinsa.

The NTHK-NPO (coming to Minneapolis in June) looks at 50+ on average per month, though the average has been nearly double this the last 6 months or so.

The NTHK-Yoshikawa, based on what was published in their journal before they stopped publishing the shinsa results a few years ago, was 10 or so blades per month.

At previous US shinsa, the NTHK under Yoshikawa Kentaro looked at 400-500 items each shinsa.

I have no idea how many items the NTHK-Yoshikawa is putting through their shinsa in the US. While the NTHK under Yoshikawa Kentaro came to the US roughly once every 6-8 years, the NTHK-Yoshikawa group is coming every year of late.

The NTHK-NPO capped its intake at the last shinsa in the US at 140 items per day. This will be lowered to about 80 items per day in Minneapolis for just the reasons mentioned above- it is too easy to make mistakes when rushed.

These figures are a few years old but still relevent I believe.

Chris


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 1:12 am 
Hi,

I know I said I'd stay out of this one but I'm fickle!

However, I don't want to make any comments about the two shinsa organisations.......just to add an opinion about possibly altered nakago from Aoi Art.

My own dealings with Aoi have been extremely good (indeed, they sold me my Yasutoku which just passed NBTHK Hozon) but, as to whether they would sell a showato with an altered nakago, I'd ask you to take a look at the following sword on their website and tell me what you think.
http://www.aoi-art.com/sword/katana/06311.html

If (and I'm only saying if)) this is a clumsily removed Showa or Seki stamp then this sword is actually illegal here in Japan.

Simon


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 1:39 am 
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Chu Jo Saku
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that seems like a very good price for that sword- stamp or no stamp


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 4:36 am 
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Jo Saku

Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 5:12 am
Posts: 120
I am not sure I should weigh in on this one but I think it bears
repeating in this particular discussion.
I was once told not to give up if I recieved a "pink paper" on a signature
by the NTHK. "Wait and either resubmit or send to the NBTHK".
This did happen to me.
I submitted a Gassan Sadakatsu in new Japanese polish with special Minatogawa atributions to the NTHK because
it would be quicker. I wanted it back for the Tai Kai.
They rejected it and charged me. This was a bitter dissapointment
and others could not believe this had happened either. Those that had
seen it, that is. We had an oshigata made and left for Mr. Tanobe of the NBTHK who looked at it later and said it looked o.k. to him. Months later it went back to Japan and it was approved "hozon" by the NBTHK and returned with a beautifull sayagaki by Tanobe san. It sold at the subsequent tai kai for $15,000.
I wish I still had it but could not turn down that many $100. bills all at
one time.
This was then spent on other works to keep the hobby alive and well.
I have a piece in Japan for polish and again to be submitted to NTHK.
I do not worry about it as I think of the previous as water under the bridge.
(this one is mumei though).
I too have bought and sold through AOI art. Someone once said ask
plenty of questions first and they will give honest answers. The key is to not rely just on their description and pics. but to question them.
kind regards
Bill Delagrange


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 Post subject: Shinsa
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 5:50 am 
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Jo Jo Saku
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Hi Rod,
I can feel your pain dude.
I had some REAL problems with the last shinsa in NY.
I don't mind them pinking if their not sure about a signiture, or if they can't read a signiture due to age, although you would think they would try.
I sent through a couple that I thought were gemei, just to be sure. Still nice swords though.
But they really blew a couple of mine. One to the point of likely getting skipped, and the sheet atributed to the sword next to it. Of course they could not admit to any of this, as it could have opened a big can of worms.
But it didn't take Serlock Holmes to figure out what had happened.
I have had a number of people look at the swords in question, and they all say the shinsa team was on crack. or more likely, there was a mixup of some kind.
Oh well, I just put it down as a lesson.
Not much I could do about it anyway. I will just enjoy them as they are, as paper doesn't make them any better looking, unless you plan to sell.
One day I may sell them, but I will just get what I want for them or they will not go.
Mark Green

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