There are hundreds and hundreds of books available on Nihonto but the books listed
below are some of the best to begin your journey with. As you go on in your studies, you will learn
about more advanced books but as they are mostly written in Japanese, I suggest you start with these.
Below is a list of books that are recommended as a must have for beginners.
Books available through Amazon
Masterpieces from the Compton Collection published by Christie's
Whilst this may seem a little pricey to the novice, it has outstanding photographs
lets you see great swords up close and personal. ( out of print but not hard
to find )
Art and the Sword, (8 volumes) by Japanese Sword Society of
the US ( JSSUS )
Excellent series of books with important and educational information on many
of the great
sword schools. Available through
Arts of the Japanese Sword by BW Robinson. Informative book with many
that are used by hundreds of collectors daily in translating mei, nengo etc.
of print but you can find it around, it is well worth the hunt, try Michael
Swordsmiths by Hawley. A huge listing of swordsmith names with Kanji,
and dates of literally tens of thousands of swordsmiths. Some consider this
book a must have whilst
other people believe it has too many mistakes in it. There are several editions
latest is the best. I find it a very useful tool and do recommend it.
Available though Hawley Publications
is a list of Intermediate and advanced books that are recommended
( some of these books are in Japanese but I have tried
to list books with English translations )
Connoisseur's Book of Japanese Swords by Nakayama Kokan. Probably the
informative book on swords, their structure, features and the schools that employ
that you can buy in english. It can be a lot of work for the new collector but
is well worth the effort.
Definite must have Available through
Toko Jiten Koto and Shinto by Matsuo Fujishiro Translation available
by Harry Afu Watson.
Written in Japanese and fondly referred to as Fujishiro's, this book offers
hundreds of oshigata and
Information on many smiths from the Koto, Shinto and ShinShintô periods.
Definite must have
( Temporarily out of print ) NOTE:Harry Watson's translation is a must have
companion if you do not
read Japanese. Though these are now out of print, you do see them available
from time to time and
are well worth picking up. ( note: I can get these books from
time to time form Japan second hand so if
you are after these, drop me a line and I will see if I can find you a set.
Rich Turner )
Koza ( Currently 6 volumes available) Translated by Harry Afu Watson.
includes 3 books covering the Koto period, a book each for the Shinto and ShinShintô
periods, 1 book
on Kodôgu and another on the way, this is a huge collection of information
on the greatest smiths and
artisans of their respective times. Definite must have Available through
Toko Taikan by Tokuno
Kazuo. There are two editions of this book, the current reprint from 2001
and an earlier edition from 1977. This Japanese Language book is excellent and
is used by many
collectors at Sword shows and the likes. It has a great deal of information
on many smiths from the
earliest Koto times through to Gendai and offers a Yen Value ( current only
to the time it was printed )
as well. It also has many oshigata though they are small and sometimes hard
to make out.
is also an Index in English available from Dr Rich Stein at Toko
Generally a available through
Nihonto Kantei Nyumon by Yuichi Hiro & Kazuo Iida. I love this
little book and use it everywhere.
It contains major smiths and clear oshigata of their mei, has great information
on Gimei signatures
with clear examples. It has Kantei skill pages that will definitely test your
skills of Kantei. It is available
from many online Japanese sword stores as well as Satcho.
Also note there is an English Translation
available from Afu Research on CD.
This book is one of the most used books in my Library.
books that are general information, school specific or deal with kodogu etc.
Japanese Sword Guards - Sukashi Tsuba by Masayuki Sasano. The definitive
Sukashi Tsuba with clear photographs and excellent descriptions. Each section
is broken up into
schools and at the start there is a double color page of the schools typical
work. There is a clear
space to place a tsuba of your own on the page for comparison, pretty neat.
Definite must have
Out of print but not hard to find, try Michael at
Sword and Samé by Henri L Joly. This book is really made up
of two old Japanese books,
The Sword Book in Honchô Gunkikô by Arai Hakuseki and The Book of
Samé - Kô Hi Sei Gi by
Inada Tsûriô. Arai Hakuseki lived between 1657 and 1725 and this
is an excellent account of Nihonto
from days gone by. Inada Tsûriô's book is an excellent account of
Samé, or the Ray/Shark skin that
is used in Koshirae. It covers nearly everything there is to know about this
subject. This book is a great
read. Out of print and a little hard to find but try Michael at
School of Hizen Tadayoshi by Roger Robertshaw. The most definitive
book on Hizen Tadayoshi swordsmiths. ( Out of print but well worth hunting down
by Malcolm Cox. Excellent english language book specializing on the swordsmiths
province. Available through
A Genius Swordsmith and his Lineage - A fantastic catalogue on the
school by the Sano Art Museum. Written in Japanese but has an English Index.
Available through the Sano
Early Style of a Japanese Sword - sub titled in search of the origins
of the curve. Another
wonderful exhibition catalogue from the Sano Art Museum. Written in Japanese
but has an
English Index Available through the Sano
Swords and Fittings in the Western Australian Museum by G. Trotter.
of the Swords and Fittings of the Museum of Western Australia. Available through
Swords and Sword Fittings from the Collection of Dr. Walter A. Compton
Catalogue (3 volumes). Out of print but well worth the effort to hunt down.
These excellent catalogues
display some of the nicest Fittings and Swords in any collection.
Out of print and a little hard to find but try Michael at
New Nelson Japanese-English Character Dictionary. The Bible in Japanese
Kana. This book is essential if you want to learn to decipher Japanese text,
names. This is an
advanced text but once mastered, you will find it indispensable.
An Illustrated History by Mitsuo Kure. Excellent book on the History
the samurai, armour, arms, the samurai at the end of their reign and much much
Excellent photographs and well written.
The Weapons and Spirit of the Japanese Warrior by Clive Sinclaire
Excellent account by renowned British Nihontophile, Clive Sinclaire on the Samurai,
weapons and their way of life. Wonderful photographs and another great read
an amazing time and place in history.
Nihonto Book Sellers
Afu ) Watson offers his fantastic english translations of the
Nihonto Koza Series as well as JSSUS books and other publications.
has a huge range
of hard to find and out of print books on
Nihontô, Tsuba, Polearms, Amour, Samurai and much more.
is based in the UK and offers a wide range of hard to find books on
Swords and Fittings in both English and Japanese ( email only ).
Excellent range and service.
Email for a catalogue
Japanese based book
seller that has a large selection of books
at very reasonable price. The site is in Japanese but the owner speaks good
so just email and ask.
Japanese Nihonto Book store with a huge selection on all things Nihonto.
The site is in English and Japanese, the prices are great and they speak english
Bob's Books & Things Bob
Rossman runs this excellent service from his
base in Japan. His book finding service is second to none and I highly recommend
BOB'S BOOKS & THINGS
Some of my favorite
flicks to enjoy if you are into all things samurai
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