English books

The samurai sword - John M. Yumoto

Explores the origins and development of the famous samurai sword as a work of art and a weapon and discusses its identification, evaluation, and care.

Arms & Armour of the Samurai - Ian Bottomley, A.P. Hopson


Japanese Swords -  Nobuo Ogasawara

The Japanese Sword - A Comprehensive Guide - Kanzan Sato

One of the foremost experts on the Japanese sword describes their history and appreciations in this book, with photographs and illustrations.

The Japanese Sword: The Soul of the Samurai - Gregory Irvine

Drawing on the V&A's magnificent collection, this illustrated survey examines the development of the Japanese sword in an historical and social context from the 8th to the 12th century. The development of the sword from its origins as one of the world's most effective weapons in seen in the context of the emergence and development of Japan's ruling military class, the samurai, to whom it was indispensable both as a weapon and symbol of power. The book also deals with the techniques used in the making of the sword and the associated terminology. In addition to weapons from the V&A's own collections, illustrations include comparative materials from Japan's Tokyo National Museum, as well as prints showing graphic depictions of swords in action.

Samurai: The Weapons and Spirit of the Japanese Warrior

The Connisseurs Book of japanese Swords - Kokan Nagayama

A comprehensive guide to the appreciation and appraisal of Japanese swords, complete with historical background, terms and the workmanship of the foremost schools and smiths.

The Gassan Tradition - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Gassan school, believed active since the Kamakura period (1185-1333), continues to produce blades to this day.  This important English-language text presents a detailed account of Gassan Sadaichi's 1988 Boston blade along with a thorough history of the Gassan-kaji - known for it's ayasugi hada.  Includes many photos and top-quality oshigata of both the Ningen Kokuho (living national treasure['s]) masterworks and earlier blades by this influential school.
85 pgs., 8¼ x 115/8" soft cover
Japanese Military and Civil Swords and Dirks -  Richard Fuller, Ron Gregory

This book contains majority of Japanese military swords from Kyu-gunto (Western sword mounting influenced), Shin-gunto (army mouting), Kai-gunto (Navy mounting), Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), and Dirk. It also contains picture of different ranked tassels. It is a very good reference for military collection of Japanese WWII swords. This book has 288 pages.
Swords of Imperial Japan

Swords of Imperial Japan: 1868-1945 - Jim Dawson

This books contains several types of Japanese military weapons type and provided great pictures of each weapon types. It also illustrated an example of the navy and army type in the sword handle. This book has 158 pages. 

Hizen Tadayoshi The Hizen Tadayoshi School - Roger Robertshaw

Very good work about the Hizen Tadayoshi school. Good reference for distinguishing original Tadayoshi signatures from the many fakes that are available for sale. Book is out of print, but the CD is still available. Sometimes these books show up on eBay.
The Yasukuni Swords: Rare Weapons of Japan, 1933-1945:  - Kenji Mishina, Tom Kishida

Between 1933 and 1945, 8,100 of these weapons were crafted. They were forged by only a handful of swordsmiths - an all but extinct breed of traditional craftsmen. The time-honoured techniques by which they were forged, as well as the quality of steel used to create them, sets them apart from other swords produced at the time. Today Yasukuni swords are highly valued for their beauty and historical significance. This book not only describes in detail how Yasukuni swords were made, but also gives guidance to help distinguish them from the 90,000 swords that did not follow traditional forging practices and were not made of quality steel - swords which all too frequently appear at auctions for inflated prices. Among the 150 stunning photographs contained in this book are those of sword tangs (the part of the blade inside the hilt that carries important identifying information, such as the smith's signature, file markings and distinct shapes.

Nihonto Koza Nihon To Koza Koto - Part I - Volume II Harry AFU Watson
The Nihonto Koza series  is one of the standard sets for the serious japanese sword collector.  AFU Watson has translated the japanese edition for the non-japanese speaking collector. More information are available directly from AFU Watson's web site
Nihonto Koza Nihon To Koza Koto .- Part II - Volume III - Harry AFU Watson
Nihonto Koza Nihon To Koza Koto - Part III - Volume IX  Harry AFU Watson
Nihonto Koza Nihon To Koza Shinshinto - Volume V Harry AFU Watson
Nihonto Koza Nihon To Koza Shinto - Volume IV Harry AFU Watson
Hawleys Japanese Swordsmiths W. M. Hawley

A compilation of over 30,000 Japanese Swordsmiths' names - where and when they worked and how they signed, Kanji and Romanization of names and signatures, with a relative value rating of their work.
Cutting Edge: Japanese Swords in the British Museum - Victor Harris

In no other culture has the sword been developed to such a level of technological excellence and attained such a position of spiritual importance as in Japan. As a cutting weapon, the fully developed curved sword of the samurai is extremely effective. Complex traditional methods of forging, conducted according to the ancient precepts of reverence and cleanliness of the Shinto religion, impart these qualities to the swords. Countless varying hues and patterns of the crystalline structures of steel, which result from special methods of forging and heat treating, are visible on the surface of a finely polished blade. In these textures lies an extraordinary and unique feature of the sword - the steel itself possesses an intrinsic beauty. The Japanese sword has been appreciated as an art object since its perfection some time during the tenth century AD. Fine swords have been more highly prized than lands or riches, those of superior quality being handed down from generation to generation. In fact, many well-documented swords, whose blades are signed by their makers, survive from nearly a thousand years ago. Recognizable features of the blades of hundreds of schools of sword-making have been punctiliously recorded, and the study of the sword is a guide to the flow of Japanese history.

One Hundred Masterpieces from the Collection of Dr. Walter A. Compton: Japanese Swords, Sword Fittings & Other Accoutrements

Military Swords of Japan 1868 - 1945 - Richard Fuller, Ron Gregory

A reference/historical guide to the "collectable" market of Japanese military swords. Subjects covered include rebellion swords, Army, Air Force and home-defence emergency-issue swords, civil officials' swords, detail on blades, swordsmiths and markings, and collecting.


MINO-TO, Swords & Swordsmiths of Mino Province - Malcolm E. Cox

8 x 11.5", 268 pp., numerous b/w illustrations, paper, Brisbane, 1993. 
Providing a comprehensive information in English on Mino swords, this book is a compilation of published descriptions and information of Mino blades and smiths up to the Meiji era Haito Rei (sword-wearing ban).

The Art of Japanese Sword Polishing - Setsuo Takaiwa, Yoshindo Yoshihara, Leon Kapp

To understand Japanese sword polishing is to understand the sword itself. Through the centuries, the great connoisseurs have been polishers. A swordsmith can spend much time forging a classic sword, but refining and bringing out its final shape, colour and texture so that all the details of the steel and hamon (temper line) are clearly visible is the skill of another craftsman: the sword polisher. An experienced polisher can instantly tell provenance, so distinctive is each smith's work and so vital is such knowledge to the skilled polisher. This is the first book in English to examine in detail the polisher's techniques: skills that take 10 years of apprenticeship to master. It illustrates the methods, materials, and tools used for this process, but its true aim is to enable the reader to fully appreciate the beauty of a well-crafted Japanese sword. As readers learn both how the sword polisher enhances the beauty of the blade and how he handles the problems of coaxing out its finest qualities, they will come to a deeper understanding of this fine art and will be able to purchase or collect swords with greater pleasure and deeper knowledge. It is vital to a true understanding of the Japanese Sword.

Lethal Elegance: Samurai Sword Fittings - Joe Earle

Published in conjunction with an exhibition at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, this volume surveys that institution's extensive collection of samurai sword fittings. Introductory essays provide an overview of traditional Japanese swordmaking and decorative metalwork. The description of each item in the catalog is accompanied by high-quality color photos
The New Generation of Japanese Swortsmiths - Tamio Tsuchiko

This text explores the art and technique of the contemporary Japanese swordsmith. It discusses every aspect of sword-making as practised in Japan today, and offers dialogues between swordsmiths which reveal the intricate techniques of this craft. Over 100 photographs illustrate the swords introduced in the text.

The Craft of the Japanese Sword - Leon Kapp, Yoshindo Yoshihara

From raw steel to tempered blade, this text presents a visual account of the ancient craft of swordmaking as practiced in Japan.

Japanese History


Das Samuraischwert - John M. Yumoto

Sehr gutes Einsteigerwerk. Verständlich zu lesen. Gibt Einblick in die verschiedenen Schwerter-Perioden und erklärt die unterschiedlichen Begriffe, die ein japanisches Schwert characterisieren, inklusive einer kleinen Übersicht über die am häufigstens zu findenden Kanji-Zeichen auf japanischen Schwertangeln