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The Yasukuni Swords: Rare Weapons of Japan 1933-1945    by Tom Kishida order for
Yasukuni Swords
by Tom Kishida
Order:  USA  Can
Kodansha International, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by John Kalaidopoulos

The Yasukuni Swords is an excellent reference for sword connoisseurs, as well as for anyone interested in the history of Samurai swords. Tom Kishida writes from the perspective of one who treasures not only the swords forged by the Yasukuni smiths, but the historical significance of their work as well. The 8,100 Yasukuni Swords were crafted in the grounds of the Yasukuni Shrine between 1933 and 1945, as Japan prepared for World War II. The Yasukuni smiths revived the forging methods of the masters to produce weapons in every way superior to the mass-produced 'Showa-to' wartime swords.

The book (translated by Kenji Mishina) has many interesting facts about the actual process of the making of a Japanese sword, and gives the reader an appreciation of how intricate that process is, and what artistry is involved. Kishida interviews surviving Yasukuni smiths and Yasukuni officials, which gives readers great insight into the actual thoughts of the smiths and the consequences that each had to deal with after World War II was over and sword forging was banned by the United States. The book has excellent illustrations of the sword smiths and actual swords that were forged at the Shrine, including 220 black and white photographs.

Though this is not a book for someone with only a casual interest in Japanese weapons, I recommend The Yasukuni Swords as a valuable reference for the connoisseur who wants to further their knowledge of the high quality Samurai swords crafted in wartime Japan.

Note: This volume will be released in January, 2005.

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