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Aoi Art 1-54-6 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 151-0053 Japan



Tsuruta’s Blog (December 2023)

How is everyone doing?
Autumn deepens, and the ginkgo trees are turning a brilliant golden color, making Tokyo even more beautiful. The skies are clear, and it seems we are in for some pleasant days ahead.

Unfortunately, the war between Ukraine and Russia shows no signs of ending, and the conflict between Israel and Gaza continues relentlessly. Many people have lost their lives, suffered injuries, or been separated from their families due to these wars. It's truly a tragic situation. It's possible that the mutual grudges could lead to endless conflicts in the future. I sincerely hope for an end to these wars soon. I also hope that we can avoid further conflicts caused by the development and miniaturization of new weapons.

Recently, Japanese swords, small tools, and armor have been increasingly exported to foreign countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, China, Russia, Australia, and New Zealand. I am amazed at the extensive knowledge foreigners have about these items. They scrutinize and purchase them carefully. Samurai culture, represented by Japanese swords and armor, is no longer just a part of Japan but is now appreciated worldwide. At a recent sword fair, many Japanese and international visitors attended, and some high-value items were sold. Many foreigners visited our store during the fair. We had a chance to renew old acquaintances and share our well-being. In Japan, Japanese swords are carefully polished and preserved, but once exported, they are rarely polished abroad if they rust. This poses a significant problem for the future of these swords. I am concerned about the proliferation of counterfeit swords by malicious individuals.

In the past, the sword museum classified swords as either "Special Precious Swords" or "First Class Special Precious Swords," but these classifications have been discontinued. Now, only "Important Swords" are recognized. The museum, a leading authority in sword appraisal, started classifying "Special Precious Swords" around 1951. The excitement of having a sword classified in this category was immense, with some people even celebrating with red rice. However, obtaining an appraisal certificate for an "Important Sword" can take almost a year and costs around 200,000 yen. I have decided not to participate in the appraisal process this time, although others have requested it. Recently, foreigners have been vigorously studying Japanese swords and increasing their knowledge. The methods of appraisal might need to be reconsidered. I hope the sword museum will continue to enhance its appraisal skills. At 83 years old, I deeply hope for the museum's proper continuation and have made donations, earning my name a place on a pillar in the museum.

Currently, generative AI and ChatGPT are growing rapidly, leading to some chaos in their management. The convenience they offer is attracting widespread attention, but this also brings certain distortions. While translating Japanese to foreign languages is relatively simple, the translated content often differs significantly. While translations involving numbers, legal terms, medical or scientific content, and other clearly defined texts are highly reliable, translations of topics like Japanese swords, which can be categorized in multiple ways, have been problematic. I was frustrated to find the translation completely different, making me apologize for any misunderstanding in my previous message. I will be more careful in the future.

Recently, there has been a resurgence in Bitcoin. Many people, especially the youth in advanced countries like the United States and Europe, have been drawn to Bitcoin, leading to huge movements of money and the possibility of making a fortune. However, without supporters, one might end up in significant debt or even face decades of imprisonment in the U.S. Generative AI, like robots, will continue to play a significant role, accumulating vast knowledge from humans and using it to guide people, sometimes in the wrong direction. I am very interested in how this will develop in the future and believe that if used effectively, generative AI can generate profits. However, as an older person, I prefer to save and enjoy the rest of my life. Rapid progress in the world often leads to unhappiness. For example, if autonomous driving becomes successful, it might make drivers redundant, reduce the need for police enforcement against drunk driving, and eliminate overtime work. However, there are still problems to be addressed in this area.

The recent sword sale event was a success, with many Japanese swords on offer and significant sales. The large number of foreign buyers is a testament to the global appreciation of Japanese swords and armor. However, a problem arises when these items are exported, as Japanese swords are prone to rust and require returning to Japan for repairs, which can be expensive and risky. Training foreign polishers and scabbard makers might be necessary. In foreign countries, Japanese swords are often seen as valuable investments. Recently, a whisky bottle was auctioned for over 200 million yen, a price at which it's unlikely to be consumed. The perspectives of wealthy people are often incomprehensible to ordinary people. Some people earn billions in annual profits and might see a 200-million-yen whisky bottle as an investment in future price appreciation.

As for politics, it's disappointing that the Prime Minister is chosen not through a presidential system but within the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, often influenced by less capable politicians. Many decisions, including those regarding the Olympics, are made by a few politicians without considering the betterment of the nation. As long as the Prime Minister appears detached, Japan will not showcase its best and may even fall behind countries like South Korea.

I wish everyone well. To all the grandfathers and grandmothers, please enjoy every day. If you encounter difficulties, do not hesitate to consult your local ward office. Couples should spend quality time together. Enjoy this beautiful autumn season, take walks among the golden ginkgo leaves, relax in hot springs, and treat your wives to some leisure time. Teach your children kindness, cheerfulness, and simplicity. Children can endure strictness, so let's raise them to be patient.

Kazushige Tsuruta