SAGA, HIZEN, JAPAN 1599 – 1871


"In Japan it is quite common for a collector of Japanese swords to concentrate on swords from his own city or prefecture. This stems from a feeling of empathy with these swords and local pride, as well as restricting the vast area of collecting to more manageable proportions. It often enables these people to become very specialised in their own field.

None are more passionate than the collectors of Hizen swords. They feel, with some justification that the swords made in Hizen during the Tokugawa period are amongst the best ever made. They boast of the great beauty and awesome cutting ability of Hizen swords. For these people, the swords of Hizen and of the Tadayoshi lineage in particular, are not inanimate art with antique interest, but the living embodiment of Bushido, and all that entails.

Hizen-to are a rich area for collecting and study, even in the West today. The availability of a number of specialised books on Hizen swords, of which this is the first in the English language, gives many opportunities for personal research. In this respect, this current volume provides much interesting and considerable original research, especially in the complicated area of signatures that might be dai-mei, dai-saku mei, gimei etc.

   A samurai could feel confident with a sword from Hizen province in his obi."

                                           Clive Sinclaire
                                                      UK To-ken Society


Clive started collecting Japanese swords thirty years ago and became a full member of the To-ken Society of Great Britain. He has also been a member of the NBTHK in Japan for most of this time. For a little over 18 years he was the editor and contributor to the To-ken Society's newsletter and is currently Chairman of the Society. He is also editor and co-translator of Nihon-to, the leading English language quarterly magazine that translates from authoritative Japanese sword sources and which has a worldwide circulation. Clive wrote many of the articles on the subject of the Japanese sword and related arts.

Clive was introduced to the Japanese sword through training in martial arts and buying a beginner's book. The fascination with the sword was immediate and soon became a grand obsession, which is still there today. He has made many trips to Japan, expressly to study swords. It was on the first trip to Japan that Saga City was visited for Kendo practice and this provided an introduction to Hizen swords. Training at Kendo (4th Dan) and Iiai-do (2nd Dan) continue to lend a practical perspective to the academic study of the Japanese sword.

Clive was also very fortunate to be able to study swords under the top polisher, Mishina sensei, who lived and worked in the UK for six years and who still maintains weekly contact. This combination of ‘East meets West’ has significantly helped the Westerner to study the unrivalled art of the Japanese sword.