An Appeal For All To Join In The Serious Study Of Sword Fittings
   by Robert Haynes (1976)

A history of the scholarly study of the fittings for the Japanese sword must begin with the writings of Akiyama Kyusaku.

Akiyama was born in 1843 (Tempo 14) in the province of Tosa on the island of Shikoku. He served the Lord of Tosa in his early years as a page and wore a sword until the Haitorei edict. Later he was the principal of the Kainangaku school of Tosa. Still later he went to the city of Nara and was an officer of nthe police force of that city.

It is not known when he first became interested in the fittings for the sword but he first studied the subject with Kishimoto Gensuke, a dealer in Kyoto. It would seem for the most part he was self taught for the information then available was so meager and worthless that he had to start from scratch.

It is very fortunate that he had such a long life for he was able to devote many years to his study and pass on his knowledge to his students, the most famous of whom were, Tsunashiro Wada, Noboru Kawaguchi, and Dr. Kazutaro Torigoye. He died January 21, 1936 at the age of 93.

Wada began to publish his studies about the time of Akiyama's death. He was not only a careful follower of the research and paths laid out by Akiyama but he added important information in his own right to what his teacher had founded.

Kawaguchi was a careful follower of Akiyama's ideas and he did not deviate from them. He did do extensive research and found much valuable information concerning the Goto school and their followers, an area that Akiyama only touched on in his studies. Kawaguchi, like Kuwabara Yojiro was founded in the iron schools of study of tsuba but did most of the basic research in the Kinko schools in later life.

Dr. Torigoye has taken note of and published all that Akiyama has said in his studies, but he has gone far beyond this and added new research and information to that of his teacher while also reappraising what Akiyama knew were only theories and ideas that some one else would have to prove. This has brought up to date all the available information of the last fifty years.

From this one can see that the serious study of fittings started very recently and is still in its infancy. In addition, much that has been stated as truth has not been proven in any way and until proof is found, can not be relied on. It could be said that the published material pertaining to fittings that deals with the period before 1600 is for the most part fantasy and that even the terminology is used to cover up the fact that the real truth is not known. The information dealing with the period after 1600 is slightly more truth than fantasy.

Until we have some concrete proof of dating, origins, geneologies, and history of fittings we can not write a true study or even a basic guide to the subject. It will take years of concentrated research and many more people than are presently interested in the subject before collectors and students in the future can truly know that they can turn to the printed page to seek accurate information on any piece in their collection.

It is for every interested person to give all the help he can so this ideal may come to pass before too many more years have elapsed!


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