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Journal of Asian Martial Arts - Articles
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Intrinsic Values of the Japanese Sword

By Harunaka Hoshino, Curt Peritz, Richard W. Babin, Ed.D., James Goedkoop, B.A., Anthony DiCristofano, Andrew Tharp, B.S., Peter J. Ward, Ph.D.

Intrinsic Values of the Japanese Sword
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Intrinsic Values of the Japanese Sword

The famed samurai sword (nihonto) represents the pinnacle of bladed weaponry in the Japanese warrior’s arsenal. This book addresses the sword’s intrinsic historic, monetary, military, and artistic values.The seven chapters for this particular anthology were selected from materials published in the Journal of Asian Martial Arts
       Tharp’s chapter details aspects of the nihonto that make it unique in the world as a valued objet d’art, protected by law codes specifically written to preserve these cultural relics even when made by contemporary master smiths.
       DiCristofano writes on sword sketchings, which allow the human eye to view details of the sword blade often unnoticed because of the subtlety inherent in the work. 
       Hoshino’s chapter presents a overview of various blade types. His focus on blades leads to the next chapter by Richard Babin on how to make a scabbard. 
       “Test cutting” provides proof of the practicalily of the sword and swordsman’s technique. Peter Ward utilized an ancient diagram of main targets for body cuts and modern technology to actually view the inner structures of the blade’s path along these targets. 
       Peritz’s chapter presents the Ainu, an indigenous group in Japan. They incorporated blades made by Japanese smiths according to their own taste. 
       Goedkoop’s chapter deals with another medium, as the master craftsman creates wooden replicas of Japanese swords. 
       As you read other books and articles about Japanese swords, or practice kendo or iaido, or see highly polished blades in a museum, the chapters here will enhance your knowledge and appreciation of nihonto and their intrinsic value.

Author Bio:
Richard W. Babin, B.S., M.D., is a practicing surgeon who served two years’ active duty in the USAF as chief of head and neck surgery at Maxwell Field during the Vietnam conflict. His interest in the martial arts began with several years of judo in the 1960s in San Francisco. Upon entering private practice he began studying Yang-style taiji, which he still pursues. He has practiced Muso Shinden Ryu iaido for many years and has been awarded the rank of third dan by the All US Kendo Federation.

Anthony DiCristofano studied Japanese language and kendo before heading off to Japan in 1993. He returned to the US with a quest for forging swords. He returned to Japan in 2005 in order to observe and learn traditional Japanese foundation forging and to study and understand the process of making traditional Japanese steel (tamahagane). Among his noted teachers are Leon Kapp, and Master Smith Yoshindo Yoshihara (designated Important Intangible Cultural Asset by the Japanese government). Since 2000 he’s been a professional smith. See:

James Goedkoop, B.A., runs Kingfisher WoodWorks LLC in Vermont, manufacturing wooden weapons specific to the Japanese sword-related martial arts—mainly swords and staffs used in the aiki martial arts and selected wooden swords of the old schools (koryu). He produced the bokken used on the set of Edward Zwick’s movie The Last Samurai. The chapter in this e-book documents an evolution into the redevelopment of archaic techniques in weapons production. Goedkoop’s mastery of woodworking is married to the subtle sensitivities of Japanese aesthetics and budo. See:

Harunaka Hoshino trained in karate, kenjutsu, and ninjutsu in Tokyo, Japan. His martial arts background is balanced with studies in Japanese culture, history, and language. Mr. Hoshino has been living and teaching in San Francisco since 1971, where he also serves as the president of the Japanese Sword Society and Japanese Sword Restoration Center. 

Curt Peritz spent decades researching the history and culture of the Ainu, an indigenous people of Japan. Because of the Ainus’ particular flair for woodcarving and adapting Japanese sword blades to fit their own style of sword dressing, he conducted research in Japan as well as a number of museums, such as the Peabody Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. Mr. Peritz’s chapter embodies the results of his years of research.

Product Specifications:
  • Nihonto: A Legal Perspective on Japanese Swords and Their Intrinsic Value, by Andrew Tharp, B.S.
  • Oshigata: Appreciating Japanese Sword Tracings for Their Reference and Beauty, by Anthony DiCristofano
  • Bladed Weaponry with Illustrations from the Japanese Antique Sword Museum, by Harunaka Hoshino
  • Amateur Saya Craft: Scabbards in the Making, by Richard W. Babin
  • Sword-Cutting Practice of Feudal Japan: Anatomical Considerations of Tameshigiri, by Peter J. Ward, Ph.D.
  • The Ainu and Their Swords in Japan: A Concise Overview, by Curt Peritz
  • 1,000 Swordmaking Cuts: August Events at the Kingfisher Woodworksby James Goedkoop, B.A.

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