This material is excerpted from, "Nakajima Monogatari" as written by Francis Boyd. The work was originally published as a series of articles appearing in the Northern California Japanese Sword Club Newsletter beginning in 1994. The articles have also been published in various Japanese Sword newsletters in the US, England, and Australia. The essay was written out of respect, admiration, and dedication to his teacher.

Mr. Nakajima Muneyoshi was born in Tokyo on February 26, 1922, the seventh child in a family of twelve children. His father was a knife sharpener, his mother came from a family that owned a large silk factory on the northern part of the main island. His father would walk around Tokyo every day with his toolbox full of whet stones, setting up his workshop on the sidewalk wherever he could find work. As a young boy Nakajima said that he often went with his father to sharpen knives, and it was there that his love of sword polishing began. Another thing that Nakajima did as a boy was to learn English and Chinese from the Finnish Protestant missionaries. Both of these languages were to prove useful to him later in his life.

Around the time he turned fourteen Nakajima moved to the house of the Saya Master Suzuki Manzõ to become an apprentice. Mr. Suzuki was a koshirae and shirasaya maker. He did all of the horn and woodwork for mounting Japanese swords. He also did repairs required on old swords whose mounts had been damaged. Nakajima liked Suzuki san very much but had great difficulties with a fellow student. About one year had passed when Nakajima decided to move on to a better situation.

Nakajima's next teacher was a sword polisher (togishi) who had been a hatamoto to the last Tokugawa shogun. This man so loved the sword that when they were banned by the Emperor Meiji, and the samurai class was abolished, he became a sword polisher so that he could be near the swords that he loved. Nakajima said that after only three months of working with the old hatamoto, who was in his late eighties, the man passed away. Because of the hatamoto's passing, his students were distributed among the old samurai's friends so that the apprentices would not want for work.

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