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 Post subject: Tachi mori
Post #1 Posted: Wed Dec 30, 2020 6:22 am 
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuhJXjRBFxw

Actually, not a sword, but the technique is the same. Recent video of Yanagisawa Satoshi 5p visiting a goban craftsman.

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Post #2 Posted: Wed Dec 30, 2020 10:02 am 
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Nice find, Ferran, thanks for the link (should this maybe be in the equipment folder?).

Here is the same craftsman Keiji Miwa, in another clip:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhcbhq9kfF0

Notice in the Miwa clip there are two sets of vertical guides and two separate "swords", one for each direction's proper spacing. The shop must have matched sets of swords and spacers for their fine shoji boards, too.

Here is a link to Keiji Miwa's go/shogi shop:
https://www.miwagobanten.com


Forty years ago, when I first learned of the tachi mori technique, I thought, of course, a sword -- how Japanese. As decades passed and I learned more about traditional Japanese woodworking, I realized there is as much myth as mystery surrounding the craft of making go boards.

There are different levels of skill that separate board makers.

In Kuroki's video clips of their artisans at work, an actual sword lays down the lines. He is working without the aid of vertical guides but not completely freehand; the edges are protected with masking tape and a pencil line has been drawn on the surface. Still ... sword!

There is a visit to a Korean baduk factory in one of the clips below. The craftsman uses a template made of aluminum strips to guide his fountain pen that has a reservoir behind the nib filled with lacquer or a pigmented ink. (Bummer about his use of a router to carve the heso in a few seconds but, heck, traditions and techniques vary.)


More cool go board things to watch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ex-4gaaMcQM&t=13s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsSm9n9VqNM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWa0n-npl9Q
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gY2tPz9aRuw

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 Post subject: Re: Tachi mori
Post #3 Posted: Wed Dec 30, 2020 11:09 am 
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bogiesan wrote:
Nice find, Ferran, thanks for the link (should this maybe be in the equipment folder?).


Not my merit: I'm subscribed to the channel and it just appeared. Equipment... Maybe, but it's more cultural than trading, so... If any of the mods feel it belogs there, I have no issues.

Quote:
Notice in the Miwa clip there are two sets of vertical guides and two separate "swords", one for each direction's proper spacing. The shop must have matched sets of swords and spacers for their fine shoji boards, too.


It would be my guess, yes. I'm slightly sad that I don't see how they managed with a wakizashi, which has the length it has, and that's it. And I'd also like to see examples of the other techniques with thin brushes and, IIRC, stencils.

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Here is a link to Keiji Miwa's go/shogi shop:


Ah! I didn't know they were these guys.

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Forty years ago, when I first learned of the tachi mori technique, I thought, of course, a sword -- how Japanese. As decades passed and I learned more about traditional Japanese woodworking, I realized there is as much myth as mystery surrounding the craft of making go boards.


Oh, that was my understanding too. Not a katana, mostly too long, but a wakizashi, which was sometimes available to citizens. If this tool is traditional, and not an adaptation to post-WWII legal codes, then it kinda makes sense it uses the old term for sword.

Quote:
In Kuroki's video clips of their artisans at work, an actual sword lays down the lines. He is working without the aid of vertical guides but not completely freehand; the edges are protected with masking tape and a pencil line has been drawn on the surface. Still ... sword!


The ones I've seen don't focus enough on the sword. I'd like to know the state it's in. Personally, what I see more difficult is how to calibrate beginning and end of the line. Kuroki tapes it, Miwa uses a set length. How did they use it before disposable tape? Rice paste on paper? In fact, how do they clean the glue?

I also realized there are some peculiarities to the tachi used in Kuroki: besides not knowing the state of the blade, the tsuka is weird. Not on the second video, though. That one seems like a normal "white/clear" (shirasaya) tsuka, although tasnished by use with lacquer (but I can't see the blade properly either).

I find it quirky how Japanese traditions modernize... or not. You'll find swordmakers starting a fire the Scout Way and others using an electric hammer. My feeling is that it tends to go one way or the other depending on backlog and reputation [*]. If one has apprentices, he [+] can afford to get them hammering. If not... I've seen somewhere a video of goban legs started with a... profiler?

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There is a visit to a Korean baduk factory in one of the clips below. The craftsman uses a template made of aluminum strips to guide his fountain pen that has a reservoir behind the nib filled with lacquer or a pigmented ink. (Bummer about his use of a router to carve the heso in a few seconds but, heck, traditions and techniques vary.)


There are a bunch of things I don't like about that video (the heso, yes; I don't oppose starting with a router, but there's an angle... likely for a reason, and not one to do with blood). But I don't have an issue with the way he draws his lines. I think there's an old book by a Japanese maker (which is why I don't have the title) that explains different old school methods. And one used, IIRC, a stencil pen; wood, I believe. I *think* tchan mentioned the book years ago on his blog.

Take care. Sorry if I rambled, my brain's slightly fried.

[*] And the occasion, sure; as far as I can understand it, religious ceremonies use quite traditional fire starting methods. As in "banging a nail with a hammer until it gets red" traditional.

[+] Because I know of no women in these fields. Not a one.

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 Post subject: Re: Tachi mori
Post #4 Posted: Wed Dec 30, 2020 1:16 pm 
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I don't think a wakizashi is ever used. They use a tachi, which can have various lengths. They obviously use a small one, and so it is also called a kodachi. Being mainly a cavalry sword that was meant to hang down vertically (or stand up - tachi - if you prefer) when riding, a tachi has a more uniform weight distribution, I believe, which helps when applying pressure evenly across the board. This thicker blade is also alluded to in the kanji (太刀).

Some also use a wooden sword (kigatana).

Whichever is used, there are two methods: using guides and freehand.

The reason for using the sword as opposed to a spatula (hera) or brush is, I believe, to do with getting the lacquer lines as fine as possible (brushed lines are the worst) so it's not a matter of myth. Shogi-board lines have to be thinner than go-board lines, so there's physical skill required in applying the right pressure as well as in lining up the blade (in the freehand style).

The real expert was Yoshida Torayoshi II (吉田寅義), who used the freehand technique. He was the one who wrote the famous 1981 book on making boards. A good part of the skill, he explained, was in getting the environment just right. At the time the Nihon Ki-in, in league with the Japanese Foreign Ministry, was producing PR films for go (some here will remember the famous one about Takagawa), NHK also produced (around 1972?) one featuring Yoshida, but it was not a great success. It was shown a couple of times, I think, and then withdrawn. The problem was that the studio lights played havoc with the lacquer. Yoshida's own workshop is temperature controlled.

Yoshida is still alive, I think, and will be around 98 now. He has retired but there is now a Yoshida III and a Yoshida IV (adopted, I assume). So the technique will live on.


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Post #5 Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2021 2:13 am 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
I don't think a wakizashi is ever used. They use a tachi, which can have various lengths. They obviously use a small one, and so it is also called a kodachi. Being mainly a cavalry sword that was meant to hang down vertically (or stand up - tachi - if you prefer) when riding, a tachi has a more uniform weight distribution, I believe, which helps when applying pressure evenly across the board. This thicker blade is also alluded to in the kanji (太刀).


Hm... I kinda agree, I kinda not. I'm going to use information both from Markus Sesko's 'Koshirae Taikan' and from koryu practice. And, a bit, from other books.

One thing that also happens in other languages but that kanji makes puzzling "clear" is that some words get... "recycled", specially when not used for long enough, or when a copyist is not familiar with a weird kanji and uses an homophone or... "Tachi" itself has several diferent transcriptions depending on the period and the shape... mostly.

Now... Some curved cavalry tachi were wide and thick, sure. Some, with the very same use and kanji, were quite quite thin. It depends on the period (battle "fashions" and uses, of sorts). Finally, tachi end up being shortened, when feasible, and mounted katana style, for use during the Pax Tokugawa. Some of those you can only tell because they're signed the "wrong" side on the tang. This recycling of swords is already happening during the consolidation of Japan during the Nobunaga-Hideyoshi eras, IIRC.

Kodachi... We apparently don't quite know what they really were or how they were used.

Now, using koryu... sure, some koryu call their daisho tachi and kodachi instead of katana and wakizashi. And yet, they're carried blade up through an obi. Their tameshigiri is done using katana; dotanuki style, sometimes, but not what you'd call a tachi, not even a han dachi. And the difference between a sturdy short-ish tachi and a long katana is... almost negligible, I'd say.

My point with all this is that it's very possible that the term carried over and that artisans are using the old word for tools that wouldn't be recognized by that name if introduced to people from the Sengoku period. But trades sometimes fixate on old terms for their tools, even when they never quite actually really matched.

Now, I really don't know enough about goban to judge if this is really happening here, but a katana is, traditionally (and, these days, legally; but shaku used to be longer, IIRC), over 2 shaku of blade. A goban is a smidgen over one. And tachi were longer. My practice blade is slightly below 80 cm in blade and it's about 5 cm shorter than it should be. And it's still not a tachi. I'd say that's overkill for a 40-ish cm goban.

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Whichever is used, there are two methods: using guides and freehand.


I can readily believe that. In fact, I thought they were done freehand until I started finding youtube videos.

I have a question: do they keep those edges live? Or, rather, sharp enough. Meaning, they probably don't need them to be ready to chop, and it would be safer for the wood. And the artisan, probably, but that's usually not much of a factor when dealing with Tradition.

Quote:
Shogi-board lines have to be thinner than go-board lines


Oh? I know little of Go, less of Shogi. How come?

Quote:
The problem was that the studio lights played havoc with the lacquer. Yoshida's own workshop is temperature controlled.


They could try again now, with LEDs.

Thank you for the information. Happy New Year.

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Post #6 Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2021 9:20 am 
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Japanese cultural and historical smackdown!

Miwa's "swords" are clearly trimmed so they produce the exactly correct length of line. Freehand line marking with long sword -- recycled or not -- probably went out of fashion two generations ago, replaced with masking tape and pencil lines for practicality, efficiency, and a desire to avoid litigation caused by the wielding of a freakin' sword in the workplace. Grandpa's tradition remains alive in photographs and the family mythology.

As interesting as this sword/blade discussion is, marking the grid is only one step in the crafting of a fine board. However, traditional Japanese woodcraft is another long and protracted thread that would include harvesting, transportation, initial sawing, seasoning, conversion to lumber, and, of course, how the master craftsman selects the ideal grain patterns for both the playing surface and the exposed sides. Then there is selecting, preparing, and refining lacquer for the surface marking, itself a weirdly esoteric skill.

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Post #7 Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2021 11:45 am 
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bogiesan wrote:
However, traditional Japanese woodcraft is another long and protracted thread that would include harvesting, transportation, initial sawing, seasoning, conversion to lumber, and, of course, how the master craftsman selects the ideal grain patterns for both the playing surface and the exposed sides. Then there is selecting, preparing, and refining lacquer for the surface marking, itself a weirdly esoteric skill.


Oh, if you have information about that, please go ahesd. It's likely to be interesting and useful to the next poor sod... Er, enthusiast, who tries his hand at making one. All I know about Japanese woodworking is on YouTube.

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Post #8 Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2021 11:50 am 
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Quote:
Freehand line marking with long sword -- recycled or not -- probably went out of fashion two generations ago, replaced with masking tape and pencil lines


I'm not sure if it was ever IN fashion, as opposed to being a gimmick of a few families, but it is certainly not replaced by masking tape and pencil. At least Yoshida uses both (or their equivalents - I think he uses waxed paper on the edges). You may be interpreting "freehand" in a specific way, but he himself uses the English term for what he does, which is to hold a sword by the handle in one hand and tip in the other, and he then applies the sword in a vertical direction (not horizontal as with guides), using his eye to marry up the blade with the pencil lines.

The more cavalier method that some people imagine is possibly the result of seeing a commonly reproduced playing card from a very famous set of playing/educational cards (dated c. 1650)depicting Edo artisanal professions, of which go-board maker was one. The artist probably (and naturally) took a bit of licence. However, Yoshida is at pains to point out that there are no standard methods of applying the lines, and so the card may have even been an accurate representation. In any case, in Edo times, the main methods used were swords and brushes. The spatula (hera) method is relatively recent. However, all these and other methods are executed in different ways according to each maker.

Yoshida does not claim that any method, even his own, is better or more valuable than any other. However, he does say that the sword method produces a line that is prouder than other methods. In the past, stones were not as rounded as they are now. The thin "Honinbo" style was favoured then, and these wouldn't wobble significantly on proud lines. But as the Go Large culture has swept the world, thicker stones - abacus type or full-fat kamaboko - are now in favour with those who have thick wallets, and the wobble factor comes into play.

You get the same problem with top-quality shogi pieces where the names are inscribed in moriage lacquer, and in the very best pieces the lacquer is applied (by brush) repeatedly to make it even prouder. The repeated applications are part of what makes the pieces so expensive. But the result is that the pieces don't really lie flush on the board. I asked a maker about this in Tendo and didn't get a straight answer, but I was left with the impression that people who could afford to buy such pieces didn't buy them to play with. They become family heirlooms and so any damage is avoided. Maybe sword-lacquered boards fall into the same category.

I imagine there are lots of people here who've been through a similar process where they buy an expensive kaya board and their hearts sink whenever a player bangs down a stone Kajiwara style. Kaya boards do pit easily, but the Japanese get round that problem by esteeming the pits - after all, they can show how much you have been studying!

It's not a problem I have ever suffered from. I have played on some very expensive go and shogi boards and have been to several famous workshops, and do admire both the boards and the makers, but I've never had the urge to own a posh board. Or posh anything else, come to that.

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Post #9 Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2021 12:22 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
In the past, stones were not as rounded as they are now. The thin "Honinbo" style was favoured then, and these wouldn't wobble significantly on proud lines.


AHH.. I'd been puzzled with some jidaigeki with decent boards but quite thin stones. In homes representing daimyo and hatamoto, so luxury would have been kinda normal. Thanks.

Quote:
You get the same problem with top-quality shogi pieces where the names are inscribed in moriage lacquer, and in the very best pieces the lacquer is applied (by brush) repeatedly to make it even prouder. [...] But the result is that the pieces don't really lie flush on the board.


In the thoughts of the immortal doctor, I might be or not a good man, but I AM an idiot. I should have realized that. Thanks, again

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Post #10 Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2021 2:19 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:

The more cavalier method that some people imagine is possibly the result of seeing a commonly reproduced playing card from a very famous set of playing/educational cards (dated c. 1650)depicting Edo artisanal professions, of which go-board maker was one. The artist probably (and naturally) took a bit of licence. However, Yoshida is at pains to point out that there are no standard methods of applying the lines, and so the card may have even been an accurate representation.\


But those playing cards makes me slightly suspicious, precisely because "block printing: is ancient in Japan and fairly advanced technique/aids required to handle "registration" of multi-color block prints.

Thus if I were faced with the problem, I could imagine strips of wood that could be clamped to the sides of the board and that had slots cut in them at the spacing between lines. Then a metal "print tool" that was a thinnish "bar" that just fit into those slots but not so thin it would be bendy. Since that would be too thick for the lines, one edge would be "sharpened" and then that ground back near either end so only the intended line length would touch the board. Ink edge, start into a pair of slots, press down. Then repeat for the rest of the lines.

The point here, what would be the NAME of such a tool? Tools in a workshop are often given names that are the names of different things in the everyday world. Thus if I speak about the "furniture" in a print shop I would not be talking about tables and chairs! I could very easily see a tool like I just described being called a "sword" << it's not a sword, but isn't that the closest thing in the world outside the shop? >>

And THAT can result in misrepresentations in art. The artist might not have actually watched the process but just a verbal description.


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Post #11 Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2021 4:37 am 
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I hope I'm misreading, but what I see here are a couple of unedifying attempts at revisionist history, which boil down to calling Yoshida a liar.

I'm no expert on go boards. As I've said, I've never been interested in owning a posh one, and talking about them reminds me too much of woodwork at school. Although I have been lucky enough to visit several workshops, my main interest there has been linguistic. Similarly, I profess no expertise on swords. I have no technical interest there. My interests are limited to owning several sgian dubh and Chinese taiji swords and sabres, and again to the technical vocabulary.

But I have eyes, and I have seen (on film) Yoshida perform his feat. I have also read his book where he describes what he does. There is not a shred of vanity or grandstanding in his book. What comes over instead, as it does with other Japanese artisans I have met, is a mindset where, whatever they study, they do not study a skill in order to get it right, but in order to never get it wrong - a very different thing. That attitude is found in the West but, in my experience, is esteemed by the public more among celebs, say sportsmen and classical musicians, than among artisans. It does exists among artisans - I remember well being instructed by the head of a major trade union here on "pride of craft" in British shipyards - but is not well appreciated by the public. Unlike in Japan.

You might argue that using a freehand sword is a party piece, but if you learn to do it well enough to do as a party piece, i.e. learn never to do it wrong, why not use it in the kitchen as well as at the party?

The technique being talked about here is called memori 目盛り, and there are various kinds depending on the implement being used. If a sword is used it is 刀盛り、 with a spatula it is 箆盛り, with a brush 筆盛り and so on. But all the methods are preceded by a process of marking out the grid, and this is called 目割. Exactly how this is done I'm not sure. I lazily copied the phrase "pencil lines" used by someone else, and maybe that's what happens, but it's possible to imagine other techniques. Yoshida doesn't describe his technique, but he clearly does work to a grid as the first photo below shows. However, one possible technique can be inferred from a comment of his. He mentions that 目盛り is sometimes called 目彫り, 目書き, 目立て but he adds that these are mistakes. He does not explain why they are incorrect but in the context it seems pretty obvious it is because they are being used of the memori process when they really belong to the mewari process. If we allow that assumption, the use of the term 彫り (hori = engrave) tells us that lines can be incised during the gridmarking process. These incisions will have two major benefits. One is to provide a groove the sword can follow, and the other is to give a key for the lacquer (or cashew) to flow into and rest in.

Attachment:
YoshidaTorayoshi.jpg
YoshidaTorayoshi.jpg [ 51.29 KiB | Viewed 591 times ]


The photo below shows Umeda Masaru of the Kuroki go shop popular among L19 denizens.

Attachment:
umedamasaru.jpg
umedamasaru.jpg [ 25.06 KiB | Viewed 591 times ]

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Post #12 Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2021 8:03 am 
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That was a very interesting video, thanks for sharing. I find the 'making of' stuff fairly interesting and when its about a hobby your interested in its even more so.

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Post #13 Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2021 3:00 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
Quote:
Or posh anything else, come to that.


Purplish prose, mayhaps?
I have a purpleheart board and purple shell stones. Just because they're lovely.

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