Several collectors interested in learning more about Japanese swords, fittings and armour formed the To-ken Society of Great Britain in 1967. Their stated aim was to form a society for the study and preservation of Japanese swords. At this time there was little written in the English language on the subject and contact with knowledgeable Japanese willing to impart information was virtually negligible. Now, over thirty years later, these are still the aims of the Society, but we have progressed greatly in many areas.
Today, thanks to the efforts of a few individuals, a number of books in English are readily available and there is a free flow of information. Within the Society there are competent sword polishers, both here and in Japan, restorers of sword furniture and lacquer, excellent hilt wrappers, specialist book sellers and a number of dealers in Japanese swords. The Society is represented at a number of international events in both the USA and Japan on a regular basis. We also have a table twice a year at the London Arms Fair.
Regular monthly meetings are held in central London where informal talks and Kantei sessions are the usual format. For all members a quarterly newsletter called The Programme, which is the lifeblood of the Society, is published. Also the Nihon-to magazine, is available on a separate subscription. Nihon-to is the world's leading English publication on the subject of Japanese swords and fittings, containing exclusive translations from Japanese sources, such as the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai, the Token Shunju Shinbun and Shibata Token Rei Magazine.
A number of booklets are published by the Society, mainly with the beginner or less experienced collector in mind. A list of these is available on request or published in The Programme.
For a more in depth look at us, visit the web site on www.to-ken.com
The society is very proud of its excellent relationships and contacts with a number of top polishers, swordsmiths, restorers and appraisers in Japan. It holds a favored position in the eyes of the Japanese sword community as a serious minded study group with a healthy attitude to Japanese swords. In the autumn of 1997, a number of members were able to take advantage of these contacts and go to Japan, both to visit a swordsmith and a major exhibition in Tokyo National Museum.
To apply for membership, write to the Membership Secretary, Mr Peter Richards, at 23 Suffolk Close, Holland-on-Sea, Essex CO15 5SQ
For advice and appraisals, please contact
Clive Sinclaire at 340 Hurst Road, Bexley, Kent DA5 3LA or e-mail on CSinclaire@ukgateway.net
To read Clive's article 'History of collecting and studying japanese swords (from a gaikokujin's perspective)' please click here.
IF YOU OWN A JAPANESE SWORD, YOU SHOULD BE A MEMBER OF THE TO-KEN SOCIETY OF GREAT BRITAIN
"The sword is the soul of the warrior. If any forget or lose it he will not be excused."
- Tokugawa Ieyasu