Our books

Minto-to and swordsmiths; Japanese dates; iaido.

We have produced several books to share information, but as online material is now so easily available,
we have reduced the prices (+ postage)

Malcolm E Cox

Mino-to Book
This English-language handbook follows the history of sword manufacture in Mino Province, from its beginnings up to the Meiji period. Swordsmiths are listed both chronologically and within their “school”. Where available the Hawley and Fujishiro ratings are given for listed tosho, and all available examples of mei are given in Romanji in the text.

The book compiles information from sources like Hawley, magazines and journals, and newer translations such as those by Watson, Mishina and Robson (which include work by Fujishiro, Nagayama and Yoshikawa). The aim was to provide a comprehensive reference.

“Mino-to” is A4 size with softcover and is 255 pages in length; there are 20 pages of explanatory text and background history and over 90 pages of sketches of blades and oshigata. Over 2500 smiths listed. The sketches of blades are captioned with explanations, and mei translations are given.

Mino-to Supplement
The Supplement (34 pages) contains errata, further oshigata, photos and descriptions of blades, and 10 pages of geneology of the various schools in Mino during the Koto period.

Retail price for Mino-to with Supplement is AU$30.00, plus postage. ISBN 0-86856-905-4



Northern Token Society (U.K.)
Recommended Booklist and review: Mino-To by Malcolm Cox.
This is an excellent book on the swords of Mino……. and covers all periods with the exception of Showa-To. It draws on all kinds of sources in existing books and past publications and draws them together under one banner headline. Apart from a slightly quirky subdivision of types of sword, e.g. by Mon or Ke (it would have been better to stick to a simple chronological order of appearance) and the use of how he likes to describe individual Kanji, it is a useful and worthwhile volume that we could all have done with having a long time ago. Buying this book is money well spent when you consider how the majority of swords we now see are probably going to turn out to be from Mino. Another MUST HAVE book


Malcolm E Cox
The aim of this handbook is to provide an explanation of iaido and its background, the history of the development of iaido, as well as the main kata with simple figures. There is discussion on outlook and philosophy and a wide range of additional information in the Appendix.

Mal trained in Zen Ken Ren (Seitei Gata) and Eishin Ryu. Over several years a number of Japanese kendo and iaido sensei visited Brisbane, plus he was also fortunate to meet and correspond with Nakakura Kiyoshi sensei. Mal also studied kyudo at the Nan Sen Dojo of Mishima Koen sensei before he returned to Japan. Mishima sensei is a Buddhist minister and teacher of kyudo style Muyo Shin Getsu Ryu 無影心月; his name is now Hosokawa Koen sensei and he is based in Niigata with a temple and kyudo dojo.

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Retail price for Iaido: a Handbook is AU$20.00, plus postage.
ISBN 1-86435-281-7

IAIDO: A HANDBOOK (1997), By Malcolm E. Cox.
Review by Antony Karasulas, AOYAMA KORYU BUJUTSUKAN
This work on Iaido is very well researched. The first thing is the sheer volume of material included …. ‘Historical Perspective’, it’s origins, ‘What is Iai?’, discussing the concept of Iai and talking about ‘do’ and ‘jutsu’….also there is a section on several famous swordsmen of the past. The lineage of Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu is outlined… sections cover ‘Different Ryu’, ‘Contemporary Situation’, post-Edo swordsmanship, Tameshigiri and Kaishaku. The next group deal with the sword types and the sword in Iai training. The final section gives details of the Zen Ken Ren kata and less deeply, Eishin Ryu. The book is finished with 12 appendices …. very thoroughly illustrated throughout with photos, drawings, calligraphy, copies of wood block prints and detailed technique diagrams. The picture quality is not always great, being a simple publication and not expensive and glossy. I am very happy to recommend this book for any Iaidoka’s book shelf. It is honestly written, a treasure trove of details and very easy and pleasurable reading. ISBN 1-86435-281-7

IAIDO: A HANDBOOK, By Malcolm E. Cox.
Reviewed by Kim Taylor 1997
This is truly a handbook… there is a great variety of information presented, not only on iai, but on the sword, it’s furniture, the history of Japan, and even a few illustrations of old Japanese money just for fun. SECTION ONE: THE BACKGROUND Historical perspective What is iai? Some swordsmen of note. Details of masters of muso jikiden eishin ryu. SECTION TWO: THE SWORD Main sword types. The sword and iai. SECTION THREE: THE METHOD Seitei gata form of iai (zen ken ren). Basic components of iaido. SECTION FOUR: THE TECHNIQUES Zen ken ren kata (seitei gata). Eishin ryu kata (jikiden eishin ryu). There are over 100 figures, pictures and photos, in addition to the kata figures. As can be expected from a book that tackles this many subjects in 160 pages, there is a general lack of depth. In “What is iai?” the author gives several definitions which I would urge readers to consider carefully. I found the several comments by Nakakura Kiyoshi sensei to be very interesting indeed…. while beginners might appreciate the information on how to wear and fold the training outfit. The technical part deals with Zen Ken Ren Iai. Dr. Cox is a sword collector as well as a student of iai, and his many comments on that field, will be of great use to the average iai student. Overall a worthwhile purchase for the beginner.
Review: THE IAIDO NEWSLETTER Vol 9/10 #85 Oct 1997.
Kim Taylor, Dept. of Animal and Poultry Science,
University of Guelph, Ontario Canada N1G 2W1.


Malcolm and Sueko Cox

This reference book provides a convenient way to check Japanese dates on swords. The book is soft cover, A4, and 75 pages in length. There are explanations on how dates are read and different systems, glossary of types of signature (mei), list of nengo with kanji, map of provinces, and explanation of the zodiac date system.

The book contains a table listing dates from 1000 to 2010, with nengo, western year, zodiac and other cycles, and includes highlights of Japanese (sword) history. There are 26 full page oshigata of examples from 1186 to 1943 (see below), with mei and dates in Romaji and kanji, and an explanation

Retail price for “Hizuke no Hon” is AU$15.00, plus postage.
ISBN 978-0-646-47072-6


Article on Bizen Kiyomitsu, 1993, Cox and Shimano

To-ken Society of Great Britain, Programme No. 158, January 1993 (PDF 3.05MB)
Bizen Osafune Kiyomitsu Ha: outline of group and examples of work. There was a large number of blades produced and signed with the group name “Kiyomitsu” but it is often difficult to determine the smith and whether they were main stream family. Another notable feature in regard to Bizen swordsmiths are the gaps in recorded information of the late 1500’s. In August, 1591 (Tensho 18) the Yoshii River which flows through Osafune experienced a major flood which devastated the Kiyomitsu-ha including their buildings and equipment and some lives were lost, but in addition many of the records of this group’s history and work were destroyed. As a result of this devastation Kiyomitsu smiths as a group ceased work at that time.

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