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Justin Pasternak




Location: West Springfield, Massachusetts
Joined: 17 Sep 2006

Posts: 174

PostPosted: Tue 02 Oct, 2007 7:12 pm    Post subject: Classification of Japanese Swords by Length?         Reply with quote

I've read the article: "The Historical Classification of Wakizashi and the Taxonomy of Nihon by Dr. T"

And when for example it says: Tanto (Dagger) - to be 30 cm or shorter

Thus using the metric system does that mean he is referring to 30.48 cm = 12 inches or exactly 30 cm = 11.81 inches?
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Gabriel Lebec
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Location: NY, NY
Joined: 02 Oct 2003
Reading list: 32 books

Posts: 419

PostPosted: Tue 02 Oct, 2007 9:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Justin,

If your question is about interpretation of the article, then I'd say the precise quote:
Dr. Takeuchi wrote:
V. The Legal Classification of Nihon-to in Modern Japan.
...Also, since the official adoption of the metric system in 1891, the traditional length units of "shaku," "sun" and "bu" are no longer used; thus the legal designations of tanto, wakizashi, and katana by their length under today’s Japanese laws are as follows (Ogasawara, 1994a):
...(a) tanto - to be 30cm or shorter...

Indicates exactly 30 cm in the metric system, approximately equal to 11.81" in English units. Note that Dr. T mentions that traditional units were abandoned, and since modern Japan uses the metric system and the new units are listed as cm, I would think it logical that he means "actual" metric cm. Wink

A small question on the precise meaning of a single word used in his article would probably have been better asked to Dr. T directly, as opposed to making a topic about it.

General discussion about Japanese sword classification by length is fine however. In that vein I'd like to add that, as Dr. T mentions in the section "VI. Legal vs. Academic: Coexistence of dual-classifications in Modern Japan," modern legal classification and current academic classification are two different things. The legal classification is to enforce laws regarding sword production (modern tosho are limited to 2 long swords or 3 short swords per month), possibly among other things (such as the paperwork of registration). Academic classification is usually concerned more with the overall identity of a blade rather than simplifying everything into three rigid length-based definitions.

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science." - Albert Einstein
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Justin Pasternak




Location: West Springfield, Massachusetts
Joined: 17 Sep 2006

Posts: 174

PostPosted: Wed 03 Oct, 2007 7:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks again for your help, Gabriel. Happy

In the future, I'll remember to ask Dr. T if I have any other questions.
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