GLOSSARY

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In this section also, to avoid gibberish, the long vowels are not used. I hope this does not cause undue stress, but those who really wish to study can find the printed versions which show the long vowels, if not in my books, in others. This is meant to be a guide to point you in the right direction.

This glossary is copyrighted, and is placed here for individual use. While I do not mind if you print it out for your own convenience, copying and distributing it is against copyright laws. More importantly, it constitutes a breach of trust.

If you cannot read the kanji, this is because you have either not installed or not turned on a kanji program. These are available on the web at no cost, or you can buy them from sources found on the web.

This glossary also contains words which are not used in this particular text, since I have made an effort to use, as much as possible, English rather than Japanese. However, many of the terms found in this glossary do appear in other English publications related to Japanese swords, and I hope that this is of some use to the reader in studying these other sources. Also, not all Japanese terms are included, since many of them are common knowledge among sword collectors, and appear in the most basic books on the subject. Lastly, my intention is to continue to build the glossary as I continue to translate more books, and your input on this will be appreciated.

Last but not least, this glossary is not perfect.

Also, in many cases, specific terms are defined in much greater clarity either by the pictures in the book, or in specific sections, such as the section on basic sword making or the sections devoted to the changes in hamon throughout the shinshinto period.

Now then, frequently, in Japanese sword books, the kana shown after the kanji are not given, and the text looks like Chinese rather than Japanese. That is just the way things are, and we have to accept it. However, I have added the kana here for grammatical "correctness." Now then, these are not the only ways to write these words, and besides using kana, other kanji can be used to represent the same sounds. This is especially common in these days of the word processor, and sometimes the substituted kanji are totally erroneous. This applies to all subjects, and not just sword related material. Incidentally, speaking from a technical standpoint, when the kana are not included, the pronunciation is often supposed to be "Onyomi," or the Chinese pronunciation, but like any other rule, it is a guideline that is frequently not followed, or one that gets you in trouble when it is followed.

Agari: 上がりRise or go up. When referring to the boshi, it means that the tip of the boshi is near the kissaki. Also means going up to the Capital City, such as Kyoto, or now, Tokyo, and in some cases, refers to going up to larger regional city.

Ara-nie:
荒沸or 荒錵Coarse nie.

Asai: 浅い Shallow. Kaeri asai is a shallow return of the boshi.

Ashi: Thin lines extending out from or entering the hamon.

Ashi iri: 足入りWith ashi. Generally, iri means inserted.

Ashinaga choji: 足長丁子Choji with long ashi.

Atari: 当たりA widened spot at the beginning, or sometimes the ending, of a stroke. often looks like a triangle. Read the section on Gimei for graphic definitions.

Atari: 当たりThis means that the name of a smith given in kantei nyUsatsu (kantei where the nakago is covered) is "on the mark," or correct.

Are: 荒れ Coarse or rough.

Ayamezukuri: 菖蒲造りShaped like the leaf of the Japanese Iris. See shobuzukuri

Ayasugi hada: 綾杉肌 A wavy grain especially used by Gassan and Satsuma Naminohira smiths. 

Bo utsuri: 棒移りUtsuri which is straight. Also called sugu utsuri ڂ

Bohi: 棒樋 Stick shaped groove.

Bonji: 梵字 Sanskrit characters with religious significance that are engraved on the blade.

Boshi: 帽子 or 鋩子 Usually refers to the hamon pattern above the yokote. The first combination literally means "hat."

Boshi hakkake: 帽子掃 Swept boshi. The tip has an appearance like that obtained when
painting with a nearly dry or empty brush.

Buke: 武家 Samurai, warrior families.

Chakushi: 嫡子 Legal heir. May or may not be a blood relative.

Chikei: 地影 A clear grey short thin line along the surface grain appearing to be below the surface. Similar to kinsuji or inazuma.

Choji: 丁子 Clove-like hamon pattern.

Chokoku: 彫刻 Engraving, same as horimono.

Chokokushi: 彫刻師An engraver. Same as horimonoshi.

Chukan sori: 中間反り Deepest point in sori is in the middle.

Chumon mei: 注文銘 Name of the person who placed an order for a sword to be made.

Chumon-uchi: 注文打ち Items made to order.

Chu-suguba: 中直刃 Medium width suguba.

Chuzori: 中反り See chukan sori.

Dabira: 段平 A big, wide, sword. Also pronounced Danbira.

Daimei: 代銘 Usually, a mei signed by a pupil or son, with the other person's permission.  Not to be confused with a mei that has been signed bya mei specialist.

Daisaku: 代作 Usually, something made by a pupil in the name of his master, with the master's permission and guidance.

Daitsuke: 代附 Price assigned by Honami Ke in the early Tokugawa period.

Deki: 出来 A generic term meaning "done". For example, "America deki no" is made in America. Nioi deki is hamon in which nioi is prominent, or is nioi alone. Deki can also just mean the overall quality of work, or results. "Deki no yoi" can mean good results, or good workmanship, depending on context.

Dohai: 同輩 Contemporary. Seen Gohai and Senpai.

Dokko: 独鈷 See Tokko.

Dokkoken: 独鈷剣 Engraving of a ken with a dokko beneath it.

Dot: (Pronounced TEN) The short strokes in the kanji, as opposed to LINES. Not a true "dot" in the English sense of the word.

Dozen: 同然 Smiths who are contemporary and similar, such as father and son, teacher and pupil, etc.  Almost rhymes with frozen, with the last syllable pronounced as Zen.

Fudo Myoo: 不道明王 Buddhist God of War.

Fuji no hana nie: 藤の花沸 Nie that is like the flowers of wisteria, which is a poetic way of saying clumped nie, applying a term of beauty to a feature usually considered undesirable.

Fukai: 深い Generally means deep, but can sometimes be interpreted as being wide. For example, nie fukai means than the nie line on the hamon is wide.

Fukame: 深め To be made thick, as in nioi or nie. The word FUKAI has been made into a verb form. As another example, TAKAI is high, and TAKAME is to make high.

Fukura: Cutting edge near tip. Extends from the YOKOTE line to the KISSAKI.

Fukura kareru: 脹枯れる The fukura is rather flat, and not fully rounded.

Fukuro: Bag. Sometimes elements of the hamon are bag-shaped, and this is referred to as fukuro.

Fukuro yari:  袋槍 Socket yari.  A yari which has a sleeve-like base, much like the mounting device on a shovel, into which the pole is fitted, rather than a nakago which fits into the pole.

Funbari: 踏ん張り Blade is noticeably wider at the base than at the tip. Another meaning is that the first few inches above the habaki are wider than the rest of the blade.

Fushi: Pointed knot-like breaks in suguba. The FUSHI in bamboo are the joints between the sections.

Futasujibi: 二筋樋 Two grooves side by side.

Gakumei: 額銘 Mei enclosed in a frame, usually used to transfer mei from old nakago to the new one when a sword was shortened. This was also used to make gisaku blades, wherein perhaps the original blade was no longer any good, and the mei was removed, or a gimei was made, and the gakumei used to further mislead the unwary.

Gassaku: 合作 Something made jointly by two or more people.

Gimei: 偽名 False signature.

Gisaku: 偽作 Item intentionally made as a counterfeit.

Go: Professional name, pen name, etc. For example, my Go in a poetry chanting group is AFU.

Gohai: 後輩  Junior classman. See Senpai  先輩.

-gokoro: A hint of whatever precedes, for example, notare-gokoro is a hint of notare.

Gomabashi: 護摩箸 Grooves which look like a pair of chopsticks.

Gonome: 五の目 Half round patterns in the hamon, like a row of half discs.

Gonome midare: 五の目乱れIrregular gonome.

Gonome tsuranaku: 五の目連らなく The opposite of the next term. In other words, the gonome is not continuous, and is broken up in sections.

Gonome tsure: 五の目連れThe gonome is continuous, instead of being broken up in sections.

Goto: 豪刀 Katana of around three shaku in length.

Gunome: 五の目See Gonome.

Gyaku: The reverse of anything, or opposition to something. In general terms, the reverse of whatever is normal, but when used in applications to something which is normally vertical, this is pronounced Saka. In the case of choji and ashi, this is read as saka, and means that the choji or ashi are slanted, or in opposition to the tip.

Gyo no kurikara: 行の倶利伽羅 A kurikara carved in a style which is between the SHIN ^, or standard, and the So , or arabesque style. The three styles are referred to as shin-gyo-so.

Gyobutsu Tohaku Meito Oshigata: 行物東博名刀押形  Oshigata of Famous Swords of the Imperial Properties of the Tokyo Museum. Tohaku is an abbreviation for Tokyo Hakubutsukan, or Tokyo Museum.

Ha: group or clique.

ha: Hardened edge of the blade, the cutting edge.

Ha agari: 刃上がり Type of nakago end. Slants up (agari) towards the ha.

Ha shizumu: 刃沈む Hamon is indistinct and difficult to see, has sort of a watery appearance.

Habaki moto: Section of the blade for about three inches above the habaki.

Hada arai: 肌荒い Rough grain of the hada.

Hadame: 肌目 Grain

Hadatachi: 肌立ち Grain in the hada stands out, looking like the raised grain in a piece of wood, but it is not actually raised.

Habuchi: 刃縁 or 刃端 Borderline between the ji and the yakiba.

Habuchi hotsure: 刃縁ほつれ  Stray lines between the ji and the yakiba

Habuchi shimari: 刃縁締まりVery fine habuchi.

Hadaka nie: 裸沸 Naked nie," a nie which has a black luster.

Hadamono: 肌物  The opposite of mujitetsu, in that there is a pattern in the hada, but even more, such a pattern is ostentatiously outstanding. It is also called YAKUMO GITAE _b or clustered clouds kitae, since hadamono sometimes has a negative connotation. Was used by some smiths in forgeries of SoshU works. (Token Bijutsu, English Publication, Summer 1983)

Hahaba: 刃幅 Width of the hamon. See also YAKIHABA.

Hairyu: 這龍 or 這竜 Crawling dragon.

Hakikake: 掃き掛け Swept. See boshi hakkake.

Hakkake: 掃掛 Swept. See Boshi hakkake.

Hako ha: 箱刃 Box-like hamon.

Haki omote: 佩表 The side facing out when the sword is slung ha down, as with a tachi.

Haki ura: 佩裏 The side facing in when the sword is slung ha down, as with a tachi.

Hakomidare: 箱乱 Irregular boxlike hamon.

Hamune: 刃棟 The edge of the nakago on the ha side, unlikely to have rust re-applied in the event of tampering with the nakago.

Han: A feudal clan.

Haramiryu: 孕竜 Dragon wrapped around a sword with its body away from the sword.

Ha-saki: 刃先The edge of the blade.

Ha shizumu: 刃沈む Indistinct hamon.

Hatahoko: 旗矛 or 幡矛 A flag wrapped around a halberd.

Hatetsu: 刃鉄 Steel of the ha portion of the blade.

Hidarite sagari: 左手下がり Yasurime slanting down to the left.

Higaki: 檜垣 or桧垣Cross hatched pattern throughout the yasurime, representing a rock wall.

Hikari: Light reflections.

Hinohada:  Sections in the hada which white can be seen.

Hiraniku: 平肉 Portion of the blade surface between the shinogi suji and the hamon. "Hira" means flat, but if the hiraniku is flat, instead of being bulged or rounded, it is referred to as "no hiraniku."

Hiraniku ochite: 平肉落ちて The same as hiraniku sukunai.

Hiraniku Oi: 平肉多い Hiraniku is curved or full.

Hiraniku sukunai: 平肉少ない  The hiraniku is flat.

Hiroi suguba: 平肉直刃 Wide suguba. Sometimes the "i" is not written, especially in older books, and is written hirosuguba Ln .

Hitatsura: 皆焼  Full temper.

Hon:   Book.

Honbamono: 本場物  The "real McCoy." See honmono.

Honmono:  本物  A genuine article, the real thing. Also refers to an article that was made where it originated. For example, a Pennslvania rifle made by a man from Pennsylvania, but living in Chicago, cannot be a Honmono. It must be made in Pennsylvania in the traditional manner.

Honzukuri: 本造  Shinogi-zukuri.

Hori do saku: 彫同作  Horimono was made by the same person that made the sword.

Hori do tsukuru: 彫同造  Horimono was made by the same person that made the sword.

Hori mei: 彫銘  Mei of the person who made the horimono.

Horimonoshi: 彫物師 Carving specialist, engraver.

Hososuguba: 細直刃 Narrow suguba. Also hosoi suguba ׂn .

Hotsure: ほつれ Stray lines along the hamon.

Ichimai boshi: 一枚帽子  The whole boshi is tempered.

Ichimon: 一門  The common way of writing MON, or school, in Japanese. Since the Japanese language does not have plurals, this could be one or a thousand.

Ikubi: 猪首 Ikubi kissaki, which is stout, resembling a boars neck, with a straight edge.

Inazuma: 稲妻  Literally, lightning. Perhaps best described as short jagged streaks of kinsuji.

Inokubi: 猪首 See Ikubi above.

Iri: 入り Broadly speaking, means in or insert. Ashi iri means with ashi inserted.

Iriguchi: 入り口 is "entrance" as opposed to deguchi 出口 for "exit" used in public and commercial buildings.

Itame: 板目 Wood grain pattern in the surface steel.

Itame nagareru: 板目流れるWhen the entire hada of itame kitae is flowing (nagareru) with a hint of masame, this is called itame nagareru.

Itame tachi: 板目立ちDistinct itame pattern having a raised look.

Itame tsumi: 板目詰み  Tight itame pattern.

Ji: or  It can be seen from context whether this refers to the ji of the blade or tsuba or is the common term used for one or more Chinese characters.   means ground, and is sometimes pronounced chi when it appears at the beginning of a compound word.

Jiba: 地刃  Abbreviated term meaning both the ji and the ha . Note that the "h" becomes a "b."

Jidai gimei: 時代偽名 Gimei made about the same time as the genuine article.

Jidai nise: 時代贋 A counterfeit that was made during the era of the targeted smith.

Jifu: 地斑 Black speckling resembling utsuri in the ji.

Jinan: 次男 Second son. The first ji means "next," and the second means "male."

Jitetsu: 地鉄 Steel of the ji.

Jizo boshi: 地蔵帽子 Boshi pattern resembling the head of Jizo.

Juka: 重火 Reheated or retempered blade. Kanji are different than those of the next term.

Juka choji: 重化丁子  Double choji. The ji for ka means flower, and when used alone is pronounced "hana."

Jumonji: 十文字  Cross shaped.

Junin mei: 住人銘 Mei which includes the kanji for JUNIN, meaning "resident of."

Juzu ha: 数珠刃  Hamon shaped like a monks prayer beads. Also, juzuba.

Kaeri-taoreru: 返り倒れる Fallen kaeri. See Kaeri-yoru.

Kaeri-yoru: 返り寄る Leaning kaeri. The turnback in the boshi dips towards the ha, making the boshi appear as if it is falling over, like a crumpled tall silk hat.

Kaerunoko choji: 蛙の子丁子 See kawazunoko.

Kagami-gane: 鏡金 Mirror-like metal in the hada. See mujitetsu.

Kahyo: 華表 A gate to a shrine. When used to describe the sori, it is pronounced TORII, and is, of course, the chuzori.

Kaisho: 楷書 Printing style of writing, in which kanji are easily recognized.

Kaishomei: 楷書銘  Mei in square style writing, approaching printing in appearance.

Kakinagashi hi: 掻き流し樋 Groove which goes past the machi, but do not extend to the nakagojiri.

Kakitoshi hi: 掻き通し樋 Groove which extends all the way to the nakagojiri, and is open at the end.

Kakubari gonome: 角張り五の目 Squarish gonome. See hako ha.

Kakubari sakagokoro: 角張り逆心  Squarish, with a slight angularity.

Kakubari: 角張り When referring to the saki of a nakago, it means that the sides are not tapered, common in Bizen blades. See also Sakibari, Shippari.

Kakudome: 角留 Square stop on a groove.

Kani botan: 蟹牡丹 Crab peony, which is a flower sometimes found engraved on nakago.

Kani no tsume: 蟹の爪  Hamon pattern which resembles a crab claw.

Kantei: 鑑定 Studying (kan ) a sword, and making a decision (tei ) as to its provenance.

Kanteika: 鑑定家 One who judges, or does the "kantei" of swords.

Kao: 花押  A special type of signature, used like a seal, and which often looks like a picture. Commonly used on tsuba and kantei certificates, occasionally appears on swords.

Karakusa: 唐草 Arabesque. Literally, the Kara is the kanji for Tang China, and the Kusa is grass. Frequently written with only the "KUSA," in which case it is pronounced "SO", as in SO NO RYU 草の竜, or dragon carved in arabesque.

Kasagi sori: 笠木反 Same as chukan sori or torii sori.

Kasane: 重ね Cross section at the outer edge of the mune.

Kasane usui: 重ね薄い Thin kasane.

Kashira: The heads of the choji in choji ha, or the cap on the tsuka.

Kasudatsu: 粕立つ A condition of the nie in the hamon. There is hikari (light reflections) in the nie, and it seems to be thin and soiled. Past tense is Kasudatta.

Kata ikari: 肩怒  Square shouldered. For example, when the change from the ha to the fukura is abrupt, this is kata ikari. Kata nagare, or slope shouldered, is the opposite of this.

Katai: 堅い Tight or hard.

Katakiriba: 片切り刃 or 片切り刃 Blades sharpened on one side only.

Katakiribori: 片切り彫 or 片切彫 Groove engraved with a flat border on just one side of it, as opposed to being in the middle of the ji with a border on both sides.

Katana hi: 刀樋 Groove that is shaped like a katana.

Katana mei: 刀銘 Application of the makers name on the side facing you when the sword is held pointing up with the ha to the left, in other words, so that when it is worn with the edge up, the mei is on the side facing outward.

Kataochi gonome: 肩落ち五の目 Sawtooth shaped hamon. Literally, "drooping shoulder."

Katte agari: 勝手上がり Yasurime slanting up the right.

Katte sagari: 勝手下がり Yasurime slanting down to the right.

Kawazunoko choji: 蛙の子丁子 Choji which looks like tadpoles. Also called kawazuko or kaerunoko choji. "Kawazu" and "kaeru" are accepted pronunciations for the kanji for "frog", and "ko" is "child."

Kebori: 毛彫 Engraving using very fine lines. Ke means hair.

Kei: System or line. Can refer to familial line or guild line.

Keito: 系統 See Kei.

Keisohei: 軽装兵  Lightly equipped soldiers, light infantry.

Kenmakiryu: 剣巻竜  Dragon wrapped around a sword. See Kurikara.

Kensaku: 羂索 A kind of rope originally used for hunting. In Buddhist terminology, the means of capturing and taming evils. See also Sakujo.

Kerai:  家来  Retainer, vassal. Now then, SHIN , which also means retainer, refers to the Chief Retainer or Minister, and I have rendered this kanji as KERAI. This is an error on my part in pronunciation, but not in meaning.

Kijimomo: 雉股 or 雉子股 Pheasants thigh shaped nakago.

Kikusui ha: 菊水刃  Hamon which has an appearance of flowers floating on a stream. Sometimes requires a bit of imagination to see.

Kinaibori: 記内彫  This refers to the engraving done for Echizen Yasutugu by Kinai 記内. This does not refer to the part of Japan called Kinai 機内.

Kindai: 近代 Recent times, as opposed to present day, or GENDAI 現代. For the sword study purposes, 1935 is KINDAI, 1965 is GENDAI, when we are making these distinctions. This is a very subjective term. After all, 1935 and 1965 are in the same DAI , or era, of Showa, and now, in HEISEI 平成 , strictly speaking, Showa 昭和 is no longer gendai, but we still use the term to distinguish between hand forged blades and the mass produced blades of the WW2 era.

Kinsuji: 金筋 Whitish golden line in the hamon or yakiba.

Kinzogan: 金象嵌 Gold inlay. Appraisal mei by the Honma family are in kinzogan.

Kiri aji or kirimi: 切味 Feeling of sharpness.

Kishin mei:

Kitae: 鍛え Structure of the blade itself due to the manner of forging which is evidenced by the jitetsu, such as itame, mokume, and so on.

Kitaehada: 鍛え肌  Jihada.

Kiri: 切り In reference to yasurime, horizontal file marks; in reference to the nakagojiri, straight across. Kiri means cut, and things are usually cut straight across, hence the name.

Kiritsuke mei: 切付銘 A mei which replaces the mei when the nakago is osuriage, and in effect, the person who signs as having done the shortening is certifying that it was the original mei.

Ko-: In this translation, denotes early. The kanji means OLD

ko-: In this translation, denotes small. Note that it begins with the lower case k except when the whole word is capitalized.

ko-ashi: 小足Little ashi.

Ko-Bizen: 古備前 Early Bizen

Koburi: 小振り A smaller size person, item or characteristic in a grouping.

Kobuse: 甲伏せ Construction in which soft steel is covered by hard steel.

Kobushigata: 拳形  Fist-like. Refers to a hamon in which the valleys of the choji are clustered like knuckle bones.

Kodai: 後代  Later generation. Sometimes it seems to be used in the text to denote last generation, since it is referring to a particular person, while at other times later generation seems to be more appropriate.

Koi: 厚い  Thick. Can also be read ATSUI, but ATSUI can also mean hot, depending on the ji that is used.

Ko-gonome choji: 小五の目丁子 Small gonome with choji.

Ko-jimarishita tanto: 小絞まりした短刀 Small tanto which is just as functional as a large one.

Ko-gonome midare: 小五の目乱れ Irregular small gonome.

Kokon Kaji Biko: 古今鍛冶備考 Registry of kaji, both ancient and modern, published in Bunsei 13 (1830). Kokon means ancient and modern, or roughly, all times.

Kokuji: 刻字 Kanji carved in the blade.

Kokuji: 国字 Kanji which originated in Japan.

Ko-maru agari: 小丸上がり The tip of the ko-maru boshi is near the point of the blade.

Ko-maru sagari: 小丸下がり The tip of the ko-maru boshi is well away from point of the blade.

Komeikan: 古銘鑑  Abbreviation for the name of a book on swordsmiths, or possibly, refers to old meikans in general.

Ko-midare: 小乱れ Literally, small irregularities.

Konuka hada: 小糠肌  Hada with a grainy appearance like rice bran and rice germ produced in milling rice.

Kosaku: 古作 Made in the koto period.

Koshi: When referring to the blade, the area a few inches above the machi.

Koshi: When referring to the hamon, the slope between the peaks and valleys.

Koshiba: 腰刃 Hamon in the area a few inches above the ha machi.

Koshi no hiraita gonome: 腰の開いた五の目 Slope between the peaks and valleys of the hamon is long.

Koshizori: 腰反り The highest part of the sori is towards the koshi.

Koto Meijin Taizen: 古刀銘尽大全 Complete list of Koto Signatures, sometimes abbreviated as Taizen, also read as Koto Meizukushi Taizen.

Kozumi: Claws, a type of horimono.

Kozumu: 小ずむ Not sure, but I think it means smallish.

Kudariryu: 下り竜 Dragon going down the sword. In other words, the head of the dragon is towards the machi.

Kuichigai ha: 喰い違い刃 Hamon line is broken in crisscross lines of nie and nioi nibbled away. The more common ji of KUI H, which also means eat, is sometimes used, since it is acquired more easily when using a word processor.

Kuni: or  In sword terminology, province. Also means country, such as Japan, China, U.S., etc.. In the old days in Japan, each Kuni operated to some extent as independent states. Also read as KOKU, as in Sengoku Jidai 戦国時代, or Warring States Period.

Kurikara: 倶利伽羅 Dragon and sword. Also called Kenmakiryu 剣巻竜 meaning dragon wrapped around a sword.

Kusa kurikara: 草倶利伽羅 Arabesque style of kurihara horimono. See Karakusa. Also read as So no Kurikara.

Kusamura nie: 叢沸 Nie clustered together.

Kuzure: 崩れ Breaking up, such as an interrupted yakiba.

Kyogokaji: 京五鍛冶 Five principle kaji of Kyoto.

Machi: 区、匸、関 or Division between the nakago and the blade itself, characterized by the stepped sections at the ha and mune. This is almost gone in blades which have been polished a number of times.

Machimune: 関棟 Back edge of the machi, which are unlikely to have rust re-applied in the event of tampering with the nakago. Can be written with any of the above ji for MACHI.

Machi okuri: 関送り Machi has been redone and moved up slightly.

Majiri: 交じり Mixed. Choji ni gonome majiri means gonome mixed in choji.

Marudome: 丸留 Round stop on a groove.

Marumi: 丸み A touch of roundness.

Masa: Used as short for masame.

Masame: 柾目 Straight grain pattern in the steel on the surface of the blade.

Masame nagareru: 正目流れる When the entire hada of masame kitae is flowing (nagareru), this is called masame nagareru.

Matsuba: 松葉 See next term.

Matsu no ha : 松の葉  Fine, pine needle like elements in the hamon, between the notare. Peculiar to Fujishima works.

Matsukawa hada: 松皮肌  Hada resembling pine bark.

Matsukuizuru: 松食鶴 Crane eating a pine branch.

Meibun: 銘文 The inscription in the mei in total, as opposed to just individual kanji.

Meigirishi: 銘切り師  People who specialized in inscribing mei.

Meiji: 明治 Nengo of Meiji period (1868-1912). Also, the name of the Emperor during that period.

meiji: 銘字 Kanji of the mei.

Meikan: 銘鑑  Encyclopedia about people, literally, "name list," such as "Toko Meikan," for list of swordsmiths.

Meito: 名刀 Famous swords.

Midare:   Irregular. This kanji by itself can also mean war, rebellion or other disturbance.

Midare koshiba: 乱腰刃Fancy patterns for a few inches above the ha machi.

Midareba: 乱刃 Irregular ha.

Midare ha: 乱刃  See midareba.

Midarekomi: 乱込み Same as midare.

Mihaba: 身幅 Blade body width.

Mishina boshi: 三品帽子 Boshi with hakikake and a slight tarumi (slack) in the ha side.

Mochitetsu: 餅鉄 High quality pieces of the crushed steel made from the raw iron. Produced in the Tohoku (Northeast) district.

Moji: 文字 Writing, also pronounced monji. In the context of swords, this refers to kanji engravings on the blade which are in the ordinary type of script, rather than the BONJI 梵字, which are specific religious characters.

Mokume: 杢目 Burl wood grain hada.

Mokutachi: 杢立ち Mokume which stands out with a raised look. This is an abbreviated way

of saying "mokume hada tatsu."

Mon: formal school with an actual physical location. The ji MON  means gate, and you must enter the gate to go in the school.

Mon: Family crest.

Monji: See Moji.

Mono uchi: 文字 The section of the blade about six inches below the tip. "Mono" is "thing" and "uchi" is strike, so the mono-uchi is the part of the sword which imparts the blow.

Moroha: 諸刃 Double edged.

Moto: Base.

Moto-uchi: 元打ち Area of the ha near the base.

Moto choji: 元丁子 Choji ha at the base.

Motte: 以って but usually only inscribed. Means, with, by, of. Motte nanban tetsu saku 以南蛮鉄作 means "made of nanban tetsu"

Muji-gane: 無地金 See mujitetsu.

Mujitetsu: 無地鉄 No grain in the ji.

Muku kitae: 無垢鍛え Made of one kind of steel.

Munenagabori:  Not sure of this, but I believe it refers to a style of horimono which was originated by Munenaga.

Mune yaki : 棟焼  The mune is tempered (yaki).

Munezuru: 棟蔓  A very long return on the boshi, like mune yaki.  Tsuru is vine.

Musori: 無反り No sori.

Nado: or など This means and so on, etc., the like, and other vague terms which include any meaning of anything similar to the aforementioned which I may have forgotten. It also means that whatever is under discussion is not necessarily the specifically mentioned item, but could be one similar to that. An essential word for ending any listing of anything in Japanese, which covers the writer in any eventuality of omission or less than exact description or list.

Nakago: 中心 or Tang of the blade. The second kanji actually means stem, and in ordinary Japanese is pronounced differently. There are various other terms which mean grip, center, handle center, etc., which have their own pronunciations, but some of which, when used in a sword context, are pronounced nakago.

Nakagojiri: 茎尻 Tang end. SHIRI is also the term used for buttocks, and when used within another word, as in this case, the "shi" becomes "ji."

Nagamei: 長銘 Long mei. There seems to be no clear cut definition as to how long it must be before it becomes a "nagamei.".

Nagare: 流れ Style or line, and was followed by someone who was not necessarily a part of the Mon or Ha under discussion. When the RE is not present, it is pronounced RYU, with a long U.

Naginata hi: 薙刀樋  So called because it usually appears on naginata.

Naginata naoshi: 薙刀直し  Sword made by grinding down a naginata. In this case, the boshi is frequently yakizume.

Nanban: 南蛮 or 南蠻 Southern barbarians, the Europeans. So called because they came up from the south (MINAMI or NAN ) from China.

Nancho: 南朝 Southern Dynasty during the Nanbokucho Jidai 南北朝時代.

Nashiji hada: 梨地肌  Hada which resembles pear skin in appearance.

Nebai: 粘い  The ordinary translation is sticky or viscous, however, I have been told that it also can mean something that appears brittle, but is instead tough. This is, of course desirable in a sword.

Nendai: 年代  Age, epoch, period.

Nenki: 年記  Date inscription

Nengo: 年号  Era name

Nenrei: 年齢  Age at the time the sword or tsuba was made.  I think that it is more commonly found on tsuba.  

Nezumi ashi: 鼠足  Rats feet.  Small numerous ashi.

Nidann ha: 二段刃  Double hamon line

Nie deki: 沸出来 or 鋩出来  Hamon that is composed principally of nie.

Nie fukai or fukaku: 沸深い or 沸深く Thick nie line on the hamon.

Nihonbi: 二本樋  Double grooves.  NI is two, HON is a counter for long slender objects, and HI (BI) is the word for groove.

Niji: 二字  Two kanji

Nijuba: 二重刃  Double hamon

Ninkanmei: 任官銘  Official such as Kami, Daijo, etc..

Nioi deki: 匂出来  Hamon that is prinicipally composed of nioi.

Nioi fukaku: 匂深く  Wide nioi line in the hamon.  Also written nioi fukai 匂深い, depending on the grammatical location in the sentence.

Nioiguchi: 匂口  The part of the nioi line next to the ji.

Nioiguchi shimari: 匂口絞まり  Very fine nioi line.

Nioi kuchi:  See Nioiguchi.

Nioi saeru: 匂冴える  Nioi line is clear.  See Saeru  for a more expansive definition of this word.

Nioi shimari: 匂絞まり Very fine nioi line.

Nioi shimaritaru: See Nioi shimari.

Nioi shimaru: 匂絞まる  See Nioi shimari.

Nioi shizumu: 匂沈む  Nioi line is indistinct. SHIZUMU means to sink, and nioi line looks as if it is sunken in cloudy water.

Nippon Koto Shi: 日本古刀史  History of the swords of the Koto period (up to 1596).

Nippon Sansaku: 日本三作  The three greatest swordsmiths of Japan, a ranking conferred by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Nisemono: 偽者  Counterfeit, a spurious item.

Nobi: 延び  Extended.  Often refers to a longer size than ordinary in a given classification.

Noboriryu: 上り竜  Ascending dragon, in other words, the head of the dragon is towards the saki.

Nogihada: 芒肌  A type of short masame, resembling the appearance of heads of grain,such as rice.  Also  written as nogi hada 禾肌.

Nogime: 芒目  See nogihada.  Also called Nogime hada 芒目肌.

Nokogiriba: 鋸刃  Sawtooth shaped ha, also read nokoba.  Also written 鋸羽, and also called nogirimidare 鋸乱れ.  Also see kataochi gonome.

Notare: 湾れ or 灣れ  Slowly undulating hamon line.

Nukitagane: 抜き鏨  That portion of the stroke for a line in a ji just before the stroke ends, which usually appears as a triangular mark at the end of the line.  Also see Atari.

Nusa:   Shinto offering of cloth, rope, or cut paper.  This is the shape of a nakago known as Goheigata 御幣形, and looks sort of like the outline of and inverted pagoda.

Nyusatsu: 入札  To tender a bid.  In the case of kantei, it is to offer a written opinion as to whom the maker of a given sword is, which is usually examined with the nakago covered.

 O-:  A prefix meaning large.

O-choji: 大丁子  Large choji.

Oite: 於いて or At. Oite Tokyo 於東京 means at Tokyo, and would actually be read as "Tokyo ni oite."

O-hada: 大肌  Hada with large and loose grain structure.

Orikaeshi mei: 折り返し銘  Mei in which the original nakago is cut and folded back when a blade is shortened in order to save the original mei. Can also be used by clever counterfeiters.

Osoraku zukuri: 恐らく造り Tanto form in which the yokote is at about the middle of the blade.  Osore 恐れ means fear or dread, and this is an imposing shape.

O-sujikai: 大筋違い Yasurime which is at a steep angle to the nakago.

O-tawa: 大たわ  Large bow or curved line.

Rakugaki: 落書 Writing which is scribbled or carelessly done.

Rendai: 蓮台  Lotus pedestal for a horimono.

Rin: One tenth of a bu. 2 bu 3 rin may sometimes be written as 2.3 bu.

Ryochiribi: 両散り被  Name for a groove which is engraved so that an equal amount of flat area is left remaining on both sides in the flat part of the shinogi.

Ryu: or Dragon.

-Ryu: The same as nagare above, but it is written slightly different in Japanese. For example, Osaka-Ryu 大阪流, but Osaka no nagare 大阪の流れ. The former does not have the kana for "no" interposed, and the kana for RE does not follow the kanji for NAGA .  There is no difference in meaning.

Ryutachi: 粒立ち Grains stand out. RYU means grains, as in sand.

Sabishii: 寂しい or 淋しい  See samishii.

Saeru: 冴える  Clear and distinct. This word has strong poetic force, and is best described as "the appearance of the moon on a clear, cold autumn night." It is so clear that it gives you chills. Saeru can also mean "the way something is supposed to look.'' For instance, if a person has been hospitalized for some time, their facial complexion is not "saeru."

Saka ashi: 逆足 Ashi slanted toward the saki or tip of the blade.

Saka choji: 逆丁子 Choji slanted toward the saki or tip of the blade.

Sakame: 逆目 Upside down yasurime, in other words, katte agari yasurime, which is the opposite of katte sagari, considered to be the normal direction.

Saki: Tip, front, or end, depending on context. For example, it can refer to the point of the blade, the edge of the ha, or, as in the case of the Shinto volume, it is usually used as the term for the nakagojiri.

Sakumei: 作銘  Mei of the smith who made the sword. Basically, the same as mei.

Saki agari: 先上がり The tip of the boshi is near the point of the blade. This can also refer to the tip of a hi, or groove, engraved in the blade.

Saki sagari: 先下がり The tip of the boshi is well away from point of the blade. This can also refer to the tip of a hi, or groove, engraved in the blade.

Sakibari: 先張  When referring to the saki of a nakago, it means that the sides are not tapered, common in Bizen blades. See also Kakubari, Shippari.

Sakizori: 先反り The highest part of the sori is towards the saki.

Sakujo: 索縄 A kind of rope originally used for hunting. In Buddhist terminology, the means of capturing and taming evils. See also Kensaku.

Samishii: 寂しい or 淋しい  Sparse additional features showing in the hamon, such as very few choji in suguba. Means subdued, sad, melancholy, lonely and so on, and is the opposite of exuberant. Also pronounced sabishii.

Samoji: 左文字  Kanji written in their mirror image. Said to be due to the smith being left handed. It has been suggested to me that perhaps the smith was illiterate, and copied the kanji given to him by the priest from the wrong side of the paper. Who Knows?

Samonji: See Samoji above.

Sanji: 三字  Three kanji

Sankoken, Sanko tsukaken: 三鈷剣 or三鈷柄剣Engraving of a sword with Bhuddist Vajra handle.

Sashi omote: 指表 The side facing out when the sword is worn ha up, as with a katana. A blade with mei on the sashi omote is signed katana mei.  See also Haki omote.

Sashi ura: 指裏  The side facing in when the sword is worn ha up, as with a katana. A blade with mei on the sashi ura is signed tachi mei.

Satetsu: 砂鉄 Sand iron, iron made from black sand.

Sen:   Cutting tool for metal, possibly a drawbar. The marks left by its use are called sensuki yasuri, which are yasurime that are longitudinally parallel to the nakago. Said to take great skill to do properly.

Sengoku Jidai: 戦国時代 Warring States Period in Japanese history. Specifically, 1490-1600.

Senpai: 先輩 A term which can mean upperclassman, lead worker, or any other terms in which one person is more experienced or skilled than another, but who is not a sensei. The opposite is GOHAI 後輩.

Sensuki: 詮鋤  Yasurime that is parallel to longitudinal axis of the blade. Said to require great skill.

Shaku: A unit of measure, which is slightly less than 1 foot.

Shimame: 縞目 Stripes.

Shimari: 締まり or 絞まり Generally means tight or restricted. Nioi shimari means a narrow nioi line.

Shimi: 染み  The color of the steel fading, usually due to over polishing. It also sometimes appeared in the original ha of some famous smiths in the Koto period.

Shinae: 撓え Cross-wise cracks in a blade. Also spelled shinai and shinahi.

Shin, Gyo, So 真、行、草  Basically, this denotes three styles of something. For example, MITSU MUNE 三つ棟 is called SHIN NO MUNE 真の棟 IORI MUNE 庵棟 is called GYO NO MUNE 行の棟, and MARU MUNE 丸棟 is called SO NO MUNE 草の棟. Also, the three styles of KURIKARA are called SHIN, GYO, and SO.

Shingane: 心鉄 Core steel.

Shingi: 真偽 Real or false? From shinmei 真銘 and gimei 偽銘.  Also written 真贋.

Shinmei: 真銘 Genuine mei. Also called Shoshinmei 正真銘.

Shin no kurikara: 真の倶利伽羅  Style of carving. Is the most life-like, if you accept the idea of "life-like" dragons.

Shinobi ana: 忍び孔 An extra mekugi ana, place near the tip of the nakago, for added security and tightness of the tsuka. Seen, for example in what is commonly, but erroneously, referred to as Marine Gunto.

Shinogi suji: 鎬筋  Shinogi line

Shinogizukuri: 鎬造 Made with a shinogi, as opposed to a flat, or hirazukuri blade.

Shioai: 塩相 General term for nie and nioi. I have only seen this term in extracts from old books. There are cases when there is no nie in josaku and better, but when the nie appears, it seems to be blanketed in nioi.

Shippari: 尻張 When referring to the saki of a nakago, it means that the sides are not tapered, common in Bizen blades. See also Kakubari, Sakibari.

Shirake utsuri: 白け移り Utsuri which has faint whitish or cloudy appearance.

Shirajimi: 白染み Whitishness that appears in the ha.  Also pronouonced shirojimi.

Shodai: 初代 First generation

Soebi: 添樋 Additional hi alongside main hi which is smaller that the main hi.

Soemei: 添銘 Additional mei or inscription. As you might guess, Soe means additional.

So no Kurikara: 草の倶利伽羅 Dragon wrapped around a sword, carved in Arabesque.

Shobuzukuri: 菖蒲造  Blade construction in which the blade resembles the iris leaf in shape.

Soshomei: 草書銘  Mei in grass writing. Very difficult to read without special studies.

Sotoba gata: 卒塔婆形 A nakago shape which resembles the sotoba, or grave marker, in outline.

Sudareba: 簾刃 Rattan blind shaped lines along the hamon.

Sugata: 姿  Form, body. Implies more than just shape, so as to include overall appearance.

Sugu:   In this book, this is used as short for suguba. Sugu is also another reading for the kanji for straight.

Suguba: 直刃  Straight hamon.

Sugu choji: 直丁子 Suguba with choji.

Suguba fushi hamon: 直刃節刃文 Jointed suguba. In the case of suguba, when the joints in the hamon are pointed towards the ji, the quality is not too good. See FUSHI.

Sugu ha: See suguba.

Sugu hotsure: 直刃ほつれ Suguba with strays.

Sugu ko-midare: 直刃小乱Suguba with ko-midare.

Sugu nijuba: 直二重刃 Double suguba.

Sugu yakidashi: 直焼出  Suguba for the first inch or so up from the hamachi.

Sujichigai: See sujigai below.

Sujigai: 筋違い  Yasurime which is at angle to the nakago. Literally, "different lines."

Sumi: Small black splotches.

Sun: A unit of measure, which is about 1.2 inches. 10 sun equals 1 shaku, which is about 1 foot.

Sunagashi: 砂流し or 砂流  Literally, flowing sand. A pattern in the hamon. More properly pronounced sunanagash.

Sun-nobi: 寸延び  Longer than average. Stretch limousines are sun-nobi.

Sun-zumari: 寸詰まり Slightly shorter than average.

Suriage mei: 磨上銘 or 摺上銘  Signature of the smith who shortened the sword.

Tabagatana: 束刀 Mass produced swords. TABA or SOKU means bundle.

tachi: 立ち When referring to hada, this means that whatever pattern there is in the hada stands out clearly. A literal meaning is "stand up." Can also form the word "dachi" when joined with a preceding word.

Tachi: 太刀 Long swords which were slung at the waist with the edge down.

Tagane: Punch or chisel. This can also refer to the marks made by the punch or chisel, and this is usually clear from the context.

Tagane kizami: 鏨刻み  Mark made with a chisel or punch.

Tagane makura: 鏨枕 The metal which is raised around a punch mark. Literally, chisel mark pillow.

Takai: 高い High

Takanoha: 鷹の羽 Hawk's feather, or the yasurime pattern resembling hawks feathers, in which the lines slant downwards to both sides from the centerline or shinogi of the nakago.

Takenokozori: 筍反り Small sori at the tip which resembles a bamboo shoot, or takenoko, in shape.

Tama:  Circular patterns in the hamon that are free from the main part. Looks like YO that are not connected.

Tamagaki ha: ʊ_n Ha which resembles the pattern of a stone wall.

Tamayaki: 玉焼き In hamon which tend to midare, tama, or round spots, occur in the ji.  Apppears in Bizen works.  Also, hamon in which the kashira are round.

Tameshimei: 試銘 Cutting test mei.

Tani: See valley.

Tansotetsu: 炭素鉄 Carbon steel.

Tatsu: 立つ  To stand up or to stand out. This is the verb form of "tachi." Mokume tatsu means the mokume appears to be raised up, or stands out.

Tekuse: 手癖  The manner of using the hands, as is evidenced by the inscription style, yasurime nado.

Tobiyaki: 飛焼 or 飛び焼き Islands of temper pattern in the ji, also called yo, or leaves.

Togari: 尖り Pointed. Also refers to the shape of the boshi.

Togari-gokoro: 尖り心 A hint of togari.

Togari ha: 尖り刃 Sharp pointed patterns in the ha.

Togari ha-gokoro: 尖り刃心  Hint of togari ha.

Tokensho: 刀剣書 Books on Japanese Swords

Tokko: 独鈷  A type of sword from India used as a Horimono design.

Tosho: 刀匠  Master swordsmith.

Tsukurikomi: 造込み Generally speaking, the overall construction of the swords in regard to shape, as opposed to the type of ji, hada, and such.

Tsume: Claw.

Tsure: 連れ Connected or cotinuous. Usually used in reference to GONOME, in which the pattern is continuous, rather than interrupted by, for instance, patches of suguba.

Tsuno yakiba: 角焼き刃 The kashira of the yakiba look like steer horns. Peculiar to Fujishima.

Tsuru: Crane

Tsuru:   Vine

Uruoi: 潤い Watery looking.

Uchigatana: 打刀 Two handed fighting sword.

Uchi no ke: 打ちのけ Small moon shaped patterns of nie in the hamon.

Uchitagane: 打鏨 See atari tagane above.

Ura mei: 裏銘 Mei on the ura of the nakago, in other words, on the side opposite the sakumei. As a generic term, this seems to usually refer to a nenki.

Ura nenki: 裏年記 Date inscription on the ura, or back, of the nakago.

Urumi-gokoro: 潤み心 Watery looking hamon. Misty. See also HA SHIZUMU.

Utsuri: 移り "Reflections" in the ji. These may or may not be the same as the hamon. They get their names from their resemblance to a hamon pattern, such as midare utsuri 乱移り. However, a straight utsuri is referred to as bo utsuri 棒移り.

Uzumaki: 渦巻き Swirl, like the patterns in burl wood.

Valley: When referring to the choji of a hamon, this is just the opposite of what you might think. It refers to the section which is nearest to the edge of the blade, and not the section towards the ji.

Yahazu: 矢筈 Hamon pattern resembling arrow notches.

Yakaji: 野鍛冶  Not sure, but I think it is just a country blacksmith.

Yakemi: 焼け身  Burned sword. "Yake" is burn, "mi" is body. Literally, burned body. This refers to a sword that has been in a fire. If this is retempered, it is called Saiba 再刃.

Yakiba shizumi: 焼き刃沈む See ha shizumu.

Yakidashi: 焼出し Portion of hamon two or three inches above the base.

Yakigashira:  焼き頭 Heads on the hamon pattern on the ji side of the hamon.

Yakihaba: 焼き幅 Width of the tempered portion. See also HAHABA n.

Yakikomi: 焼き込み  The hamon of the yakidashi goes in toward the shinogi.

Yaki kuzure: 焼崩れ The hamon is not even and there are breaks in it, such as the hamon running out to the edge of the blade, or picture what a choji ha would look like if the blade was polished away too much. Kuzure means crumbled.

Yaki otoshi: 焼き落とし  Hamon runs out into the ha saki an inch or so before the ha machi. Otoshi means "to drop,", thus the yakiba is "dropped."

Yakisageru: 焼き下げる  The tip of the boshi is way down from the kissaki. This can also mean that the return on the boshi goes way down the mune. Pictures help a lot in this case.

Yakisomi: 焼き染み I cannot find a definition for this, or even be sure this is the proper pronunciation. However, "yaki" is burn, and "somi" can mean to dye or discolor, and this may refer to either heat discoloration or loss of the hamon in a section due to excessive heat.

Yakumo-gitae: 八雲鍛え See hadamono.

Yanone: 矢の根  Arrowhead. Incidentally, "NE" means root, and I guess the head becomes the root if it is buried in someone.

Yasuri:  File. Also, this is commonly used as an abbreviation for YASURIME 鑢目, which is obvious from the context of the sentence in which it is used.

Yasurime: 鑢目 File marks

Yakiba: 焼刃  Hardened surface along the edge. The hamon is the line between this and the ji.

Yakizume: 焼詰  Boshi line with no turnback. This is characteristic of a naginata which has been reshaped into a katana, but does not necessarily mean that this was done.

Yo:   Small patterns in the hamon which look like leaves.

Yodomi: 淀み  Stagnation. In the case of swords, this refers to a step formed by the meeting of the two holes drilled from both sides to make the mekugi ana.

Yokote: 横手  Line separating the point from the rest of the blade.

Yotetsu: 洋鉄  Western steel.

Yowai: 弱い  Weak. Also, 5 sun yowai means a little less than 5 sun.

Yubashiri: 湯走り Concentrated nie in sections of the ji.

Zaimei: 在銘 Has a mei, the opposite of mumei.

Zanguri:  ざんぐりCoarse pear skin-like hada.

Zokumei:  俗名  A name of the smith in addition to his regularly used name, for example, HIKOBEINOJO SUKESADA.

-zukuri:  造り This is the spelling taken on by tsukuri and denotes that the object being discussed was made in the manner of the preceding word, such as hirazukuri 平造り made flat.

-zumi: 積み  Piled up or packed tightly. "Tsumi" becomes "zumi" when joined with a preceding word.

DATES

There are special terms for certain dates, such as GANNEN 元年 for the first year of an era, Shogatsu 初月 for the first month of the year, and TSUITACHI  一日 or 朔日 the first day of the month. However, when these pronunciations are intended, they are written with special characters. Nonetheless, people may use the special pronunciation even if these special characters are not used.  The Japanese language uses two sets of pronunciations for numbers, Chinese and Japanese.  Generally speaking, the Chinese pronunciation is used in compounds, as when the number is followed by a counter. Some exceptions are that the Japanese is used for 1 and 2, and often for 4 to avoid the word shi, which is a homonym for death. For example, one person is hitori, two is futari (Japanese), and three is sannin (Chinese), while four is yonin (Japanese). Also, for some reason shigatsu is used for the fourth month, but the Chinese pronunciation is not used for days, even being avoided on the 14th and 24th, years, and even for four months, which is yonkagetsu.  Incidentally, in one song I have, ten months is pronounced toutsuki, instead of the usual juukagetsu.

NUMBERS

 

 

CHINESE

JAPANESE

1

,

ICHI

HITOTSU

2

,

NI

FUTATSU

3

,

SAN

MITSU

4

SHI

YON

5

GO

ITSUTSU

6

ROKU

MUTTSU

7

SHICHI

NANATSU

8

HACHI

YATTSU

9

KYUU or KU

KOKONOTSU

10

,

JU

TO

DAYS

Tsuitachi First

Ichijitsu First

Futsuka Second

Mikka Third

Yokka Fourth

Itsuka Fifth

Muika Sixth

Nanoka Seventh

Youka Eighth

Kokonoka Ninth

Touka tenth

Juuyokka Fourteenth

Hatsuka Twentieth

Nijuuyokka 24th

MONTHS

Months are counted with the Chinese pronunciation, that is, ichigatsu, nigatsu, sangatsu, for first month, second month, third month.  Since these are months in the lunar calendar, they should not be interpreted as January, February and March until the Meiji era, which starts in 1867.

YEARS

Years are counted in the same way as months. The first year of an era is called Gannen.  So if you see ICHINEN 一年, this would probably mean one year rather than the first year.

ZODIAC

The zodiac terms for the years are sometimes included in the nengo, and these positively identify the years, and these are recognizable as a hyphenated word, the first of which ends in either e or to. The zodiac is an ingenuous method of combining ten variables and twelve variables and getting only sixty combinations. For a very lucid explanation of the zodiac calendar and other very valuable information concerning art signatures, see "Japanese Art Signatures", by James Self and Nobuko Hirose, published by the Tuttle Publishing Co. You should be able to obtain it through any local book store, and the cost is only about $35.00, which is nominal for the amount of information contained.

Also, any of the basic English books on swords provides a complete listing of the dating terms.

GENERATIONS

The Chinese pronunciation or ONYOMI 音読みfor a number is used before the word DAI to designate a generation, except that SHO, meaning beginning, is used for the first generation. For example, NIDAI for second generation, SANDAI for third, YONDAI (never that other word, shi, a homonym for death) for the fourth, and so on. Now sometimes a term may come up such as SANDAIME 三代目, and means third generation from a point at which you started counting, which is usually the first, and basically translates to the same thing as SANDAI, i.e., third generation.  To put it another way, SANDAI can mean either three generations or the third generation, but SANDAIME can only mean the third generation from a given starting point.

COUNTING IN GENERAL

The Japanese method of counting objects is the same as the Chinese, in that special terms, or counters, are added to the ONYOMI (ichi, ni, san, etc.) to make a word. The counter is often descriptive of the items being counted, such as MAKI, meaning roll up, for scrolls. The "CHI" in ICHI and HACHI (1 & 8) frequently appears as a doubling of the consonant. For example, ICHI and HON for one pencil would be IPPON. Also, ROKU and HYAKU  (6 & 100) becomes ROPPYAKU 六百. An interesting sidelight to this is that while there is no separate plural form in Japanese, there is a distinction between one and two, or more than two. For instance, HITORI, HUTARI for one and two people, using the Japanese pronunciation, but SANNIN, GONIN, for three, five, and so on, using the Chinese pronunciation. Variations do appear, often in poetry, and I have seen MITTARI and YOTTARI, but this does not mean they are "correct" in the grammatical sense of the word. Remember, there are no absolutes.

Ganbatte!

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