Happy New Year!


The finished Thaitsuki handle in katate hineri maki. The area in the middle may seem the easy part but actually it's the other way around...

The state the handle was in when I got it


Dutch Iaido & Jodo championships
On the 22nd of April, the annual Dutch Iaido & Jodo championships will be held in Rotterdam. Of course The Samurai Workshop will attend the event with a stand filled with awesome products.
We can't wait to see all our old and new friends! If you have any request for specific products which you'd like us to bring, let us know!

The location:
Sporthal De Enk
Enk 134
Feijenoord, Rotterdam

For more information, please contact us!


Part one of a wakizashi tsuka maki in Katate maki (battle wrap). The short strand ito is already cut and I'm ready to place the menuki.
Under the menuki I placed an small piece of ito to prevent them being crushed by the overlaying strand. I also marked the second overlay to receive a menuki cushion.


Back to the workshop and loving it. Between the wood shavings, clamps, files and dead fish there is a nice honoki saya base


Ôdachi: Bishu Osafune Norimitsu (forged in 1447)

Nagasa (cutting edge): 226.7 cm
Nakago (tang): 151 cm
Total length: 377 cm
Toshin weight: 14.5 kg

Worlds' largest sword that has been forged according to Japanese tradition (one piece, folded and differentially hardened). Pretty nice huh?!


I can't believe I missed this great video by American sword maker Jesus Hernandez. Awesome skills this man has!



It's good to know that even tameshigiri experts have fail moment too :)
For those who have done cutting practice this will bring back some memories. Quite a funny video, make sure you watch it with sound.



Another custom sword on its way to a happy customer....
Altijd fijn om te horen dat mensen blij zijn met hun nieuwe trainingsmaatje :)

"Zoals afgesproken zou ik je nog even een berichtje sturen naar aanleiding van mijn nieuwe zwaard.
Na een aantal weken het zwaard in gebruik te hebben en het uitgebreid heb kunnen testen moet ik je een groot compliment geven.
Het is een fantastisch zwaard met de juiste balans. Vanaf het begin had ik er al een heel goed gevoel mee."



The Ishido Summer Stage is one of the largest international ZNKR iaido seminars and is helt every two years in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
Ishido Shizufumi & co will give trainings for five days in Iaido and Jodo in which he reached the 8th dan as well as the license of Menkyo Kaiden (Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido).

As previous time, The Samurai Workshop will attend this seminar (2/3/4 August) as supplier of high quality swords and iaido accessories.
From this year it'll also be possible to have your shinken or iaito rewrapped with fresh tsukamaki. We will need to schedule this so if your iaito can use an upgrade, please contact us.

Note: No possibilities for bank or credit card payment.

The Ishido Summer Stage is helt from 31st of July to 4th August in the 'Indoor Sports Center Eindhoven'.
You can enroll for the seminar through your sensei (your dojo has to be a ZNKR member)

Het Ishido Zomer Seminar is een van de grootste internationale ZNKR Iaido seminars en wordt iedere twee jaar gehouden in Eindhoven.
Ishido Shizufumi zal vanaf 31 juli 2012 voor vijf dagen aanwezig voor trainingen in Jodo en iaido waarin hij de achste dan (hachi-dan) en de licentie van Menkyo Kaiden (Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido) heeft behaald.

Net zoals voorgaande keer zal The Samurai Workshop aanwezig zijn (2/3/4 augustus) als leverancier van hoge kwaliteit zwaarden en iaido accessoires.
Dit jaar is het tevens mogelijk om je iaito of shinken - direct - te voorzien van een nieuwe tsukamaki. Uiteraard dient dit wel van te voren worden ingepland dus is je iaito aan een opknapbeurt toe, neem even contact met ons op!

let op: PIN of credit card betaling is helaas niet mogelijk

Het Ishido Zomer Seminar wordt gehouden van 31 juli tot en met 4 augustus in het 'Indoor Sports Center Eindhoven'.

Inschrijven voor dit seminar kun je via je sensei mits je dojo is aangesloten bij de ZNKR.


Great example how you can fit a worn antique tsuba on a training sword.
The nakago ana was pretty big and I was able to fit it with 1.5 mm copper sheet

as promised the pictures of the wrap complete project. I believe this originally was a Bugei Dragonfly :)


Good quality leather ito is incredibly hard to find and the price can be more expensive than of some swords. I've mainly been working with materials from the Kaneie forge or Namikawa for some years now. Needless to say, both have excellent quality stuff.
However, about a month ago I got in contact with an actual Japanese leather worker specialized in tsuka gawa and these are the first samples.
The quality is beyond anything I've ever seen. Period.
Besides cow leather he also uses deer or ox skin to make ito... sweeeet! More coming very soon!


In case some people want to get creative and build their own Here is a pretty clear image of a dodan-giri stand. The idea behind this cut descends from two sword testing methods; first the hachiwara cut which is targeted at the weakest point on a samurai kabuto (helmet) where the plating comes together (the hachi). Second is of course the pile of bodies used in corpse cutting.


The art of the Japanese sword: The craft of swordmaking and its appreciation
My copies are already shipped! Since the book isn't released yet, it was a blind purchase but the combination Yoshihara / Kapp is guaranteed to make a great addition to your book shelf!


This is one of the most elaborate photo series about tsukamaki I have ever seen. Seriously, you should share this with others :)


Tsuka shitaji made from basswood. An excellent resin and acid free material whenever honoki is unavailable.


The term 'kinko' refers to 'gold worker' or jeweler as is often used for sword furniture as an art form. One can recognize these items by the used metals such as gold, silver and (high noble metal) alloys such as shakudo and shibuichi.
The golden age of kinko was in definitely in Edo period, where the unusual long period of peace allowed craftsmen to hone their skills, often resulting in astonishing but sometimes also unpractical art pieces.
A very nice example is the following koshirae. Especially interesting is the 'ireko saya' (sleeved saya) where the saya is equipped with an 'inner saya' for easy inner cleaning or the saya itself. Practical for the collector, not so much for the samurai :)
Ireko saya are extremely rare and are mostly found on top quality koshirae. More information about the workings can be found on John Tirado's website www.sayashi.com


This is one of the two saya I'm currently working on. Since I was so smart to misplace the horn kurigata I was planning to install (on the other saya) I'm continuing with the rattan wrap (callled sendan saya).
To have everything aligned I carved out a panel as thick as the rattan. First test wrap is looking good.
The saya will also get a traditional urushi lacquer but that's another story

I absolutely love working with buffalo horn, wonderful material!
For instance, you can saw out an ugly piece like this...

And turn it into this nice tensho kashira (pommel)


Please take the time to visit the website of tsukamakishi Iiyama Takashi, a regular on the forums of The Japanese Sword. He has been giving some great advice about traditional tsukamaki as well as helping me obtain a rare book. Besides that he's a really great guy and excellent craftsman!


There ain't no party like a samurai party!


The "The Sword and Same" is a book well-known by most sword collectors and is often a highly prized possession.
Despite having one title it is actually two works combined and translated. It was first printed in 1913 and translated by Henry L. Joly and Inada Hogitaro. Most owners however have a second (1962) or even third print (1979).

"The Sword Book in Honcho Gunkiko" was written by Arai Hakuseki (1657-1725) - an academic, politician and writer in the middle of Edo period. With well over 200 works, he is greatly responsible for many things we know today about the Japanese history.
The book describes the Japanese sword from a perspective where swords were seen, used and traded in daily life. It's pretty self explanatory that this is a one of a kind documentation.
The second part "The Book of Same Ko Hi Sei Gi" was written in 1777 by Inaba Tsurio - a dealer of samegawa (ray skin). while we often make jokes about 'dead fish on swords'; those who study the Japanese sword have some idea about the depth of this matter. "The book of same" has a unique position in sword related literature as it describes subjects only known to the original craftsmen.
The combination contains historically correct 'sword lore' as well as inside information from sword craftsmen, collectors and users. If you can get your hands on it (for a reasonable price), it's definitely a great addition to your library.

A quick shot I took from my new book: The Sword and Same.
This diagram displays the shape of the kissaki being related to a perfect circle. The fukara, yokote and ko-shinogi in a beautiful harmony. Looks like we should have paid more attention in mathematics :)


For those interested in tsukamaki, I recently shot a video how I do the end knot on the ura side of a Japanese sword handle.
I know the ura and omote side are swapped. Due to budget limitation I didn't shorten the handle.




For some time now I've been thinking about doing tsukamaki workshops and today I did some extra quick and dirty nakago for future students. I deliberately made these out of 4mm brass instead of steel. A lot easier to shape - since it's much much softer - but still rigid enough to hold the tsuka.
Also at this very moment I am re-making my tsukamaki-dai (wrapping stand) so it looks like I also got another wrapping stand building pictorial coming up... This is step one


This steel tsuba was made by beginning tosogu student Roman Urban. It's made in the distinct mokko gata shape and has a gorgeous kyo-ajiro pattern. Also the seppa dai and mimi are slightly raised.
I'm happy to say this is now in my personal collection and I'm still not sure whether I will mount it on my training sword or keep it 'just' for display.
Business-wise I can't wait to work more with this diamond in the raw. Anyway, my guess is that we will be hearing more from him in the future


"Some may also feel that this knowledge should remain a mystery. For better or worse, we live in a different time than Edo Japan. There is a very real danger of these techniques fading into obscurity, through lack of use. It is always those
who practice a technique who are in the best position to carry it on and perhaps even add to it."

~ Jim Kelso

This quote was taken from an article about Japanese metal coloring with rokusho. Jim Kelso, the author and a modern artist specialized in Japanese metalworking has stayed with me for quite some years and I would to set this quote in stone before I forget about it.
Despite it is written in a certain context, I feel that it applies to many arts that were practiced in ancient times. Sword craftsmen, tosogu artists, netsuke artists but also followers of classical martial artists.
Thanks for the artists and craftsmen who let passion for the art guide them, instead of jealousy, envy and protectionism.
Also if you have time, have a look on Jim's website, I promise you'll be amazed: www.jimkelso.com


A while ago I had a discussion with a customer about the reason why Kaneie swords are better than other production swords.
The handle below is mounted by Kaneie and the one of top by another (not to be named) major production sword company...

Can you identify the traditional details of a properly sword handle?
ps. The one at the bottom has two pins; a requirement set by some dojo in Europe...


Lately I have developed an addiction for hand made tosogu (sword fittings)... I find there is something special about a truly handmade piece.
I need to make clear however I don't resent cast fittings, not at all. However those who've seen and felt a hand made piece will know; a rather large part of the story is lost with each reproduction.

Please have a look at this utsushi (replica for studying purpose) made by aspiring tosogu-shi Lorenzo Amati - Japanese Metalwork Student. The original tsuba in kawari gata (irregular shape) was made by Kamiyoshi Rakuju. The beauty of this tsuba is that the original artist painted a picture of a crescent moon while lying on his back in the long grass (with a few dew drops). This beautiful scenery all happened on the plains of Mushashino province - a popular and poetic area to many artists.

The tsuba has recently resurfaced for sale at an extremely interesting price.
Note that this piece has been submitted for shinsa and has NBTHK papers.

I'll also make an agreement with y'all. From this day forth, whomever shall enter The Samurai Workshop with a modern hand made tsuba will be mounted and fitted on your sword for free!


I am going to steal one hour and twenty minutes from your lives are you'll love me for it :) Enjoy the movie with some nice popcorn sushi!

JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is the story of 85 year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious 3 star Michelin review, and sushi lovers from around the gl
obe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro’s sushi bar.

For most of his life, Jiro has been mastering the art of making sushi, but even at his age he sees himself still striving for perfection, working from sunrise to well beyond sunset to taste every piece of fish; meticulously train his employees; and carefully mold and finesse the impeccable presentation of each sushi creation. At the heart of this story is Jiro’s relationship with his eldest son Yoshikazu, the worthy heir to Jiro’s legacy, who is unable to live up to his full potential in his father’s shadow.

The feature film debut of director David Gelb, JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is a thoughtful and elegant meditation on work, family, and the art of perfection, chronicling Jiro’s life as both an unparalleled success in the culinary world, and a loving yet complicated father.



Since I've got nothing new or interesting to say it's time to show some pictures of work I've done the last few months


This is a second ground layer of seshime ki urushi on a saya I started this summer. Can you believe that the base color of urushi is cream but it'll oxidize to an incredible deep brown within 30 minutes


Most of you guys probably know my buddy Paul Martin of 'The Japanese Sword'. If you ever though about purchasing a Japanese made shinken for iai, you may want to have a look on his website: www.thejapanesesword.com
Paul is an expert on Japanese swords and can function as an intermediate between you and numerous sword smiths or Nihonto dealers. He has now listed fully mounted swords in different lengths and with the weight specified.
It may be a tad expensive for the casual user but for those who've been around for some time, he may be able to help you in your quest.


I drooled a bit over my desk when looking at this image...
Fittings, wrapping quality, lacquering, just wow!

Bishu Osafune Tadamitsu in uchigatana koshirae


Here's a sneak preview of our upcoming Batto no-hi shinken series. These through hardened blades are shaped according to an old Koto nihonto blade I've had in my possession. It's a light (around 1000 grams) and short blade (2.35 shaku) and has a moderate koshii zori (curvature). However for a more comfortable use during training I've decided to equip these with very basic higo koshirae. As all swords by The Samurai Workshop also these babies are equipped with Japanese tsuka-ito, in this case HQ cotton. So... what do you think?

Batto Collection


Most recently, (in)famous Japanese metal artist Ford Hallam and his lovely waifu Jo have decided to expand the Following the Iron Brush concept with some very cool accessories.

The first hand-made maekake have appeared on the new website and they look very very nice.
Quick introduction: maekake are traditional Japanese working aprons. Sushi chefs, jewelers and many other professions use maekake to protect their clothes with this over garment.

The advertised ones are made from hemp canvas and are given their distinct pattern through a traditional (indigo?) dye and folding process.
Written on them is the poetic term 'Zui-teppitsu' which can be translated loosely as 'following the iron brush'.

This is a great x-mas gift in case you have a friend, partner or relative who's an 'enthusiast' like me :)



Clean up time. I found these two bare blades in our stock.
They're sharp 1050 blades I obtained along the way (not Kaneie).
Absolutely no charge, I only ask you to pay the shipping costs (preferably in the Netherlands).
I have plenty of cheap fittings to help you out (also free of charge) and I should still have some matching saya. At minimal cost I can also help you with some ray skin and tsuka-ito.
Usually I would mount these myself and give it to a serious starting martial artist (my annual good deed :)) but I simply don't have the time.
However, first let's see if I can find a new owner. Let me know if you're interested in a DIY project. Serious inquiries only and no loonies.

The first recipient of the DIY katana project got his stuff. Have fun Kasper and let us know about the progress!


Everytime I ship a sword I give it a nice swing to check for possible issues... and to give it a proper goodbye This cute little (2.4 shaku) gem was sold recently.


Kaneie Sword Art Sneak Peak 2013
How do you step up your game when you're already the very best in the business... Well for instance by adding a midori tsuishu saya :)


Today I've received a heads-up from Serge Mol - author of most recently Classical Swordsmanship of Japan - of an expected release of a new book, solely about the subject of densho (?? ~written tradition / transmission / teachings).

Whether you are a follower of a classical koryu kobudo ryu-ha or a (relatively) modern aikido school, you'll eventually start to wonder how the school's knowledge has been transmitted over the years, decades or even centuries.

The lineage of some Japanese martial arts schools date back more than a thousand years and the reason we know this is the existing documentation of their techniques, school history and organisations, their members, licenses and of course, break-ups and merges.

To sum it all up: the key to the survival of many Japanese arts is the use of 'Densho'.
Note that the term Densho does not say anything about its format so a napkin with some scribbles on it can be considered a densho (as a matter of speaking of course :)).

"Bujutsu Densho: Exploring the written tradition of Japan's Martial Arts Culture" will release February 2013 and will take the reader on a journey through the art of the written documentation of Japanese warrior arts.

Subjects as the ryu-ha lineages, licenses, their physical appearances and formats as well as secret messaging and encryption will be discussed in this most promising 136 page counting book. 'Bujutsu Densho' features 32 full color pages containing images of emakimono (picture scrolls but not to be mistaken with kakemono :)).

The author's previous books can be seen as documentation on an academic level for enthusiasts and I'm very well aware that the contents aren't suitable for everybody. However for folks like me, it's another piece of the Rosetta stone towards the Japanese samurai culture.



Sword photography is by far the most time consuming part of my work. Their reflective surface, strange product dimensions (compared to a 'normal' product) and many fine details, make it a very difficult job. Also I'm a bit limited regarding my working space so I don't have the luxury to build a dedicated photography setup. Every time I receive new swords I assemble my photo stand, reposition the lights and re-invent the perfect shutter time, aperture and iso settings... Anyway, these shots are directly from my Nikon D5100 DSLR camera with 50mm prime lens, no editing whatsoever