Source: Robert M. Tygart, 7th March 2001, e-mail: RMTSURU@AOL.COM
On another note, as someone who has had a Japanese wife for 26 years, and who has learned LOTS of hard lessons on Japanese etiquette, it sounds like you have a real situation on your hands. Japanese culture has something called "ON", or Ongaeshi, which is an unofficial, (but very exacting) balance sheet of repaying favors. If this older gentleman gave you a family sword which he has always had, or has had for a very long time, with a statement such as "an old man doesn't have any use for this now", or words to that effect, unless you have recently pulled his family out of a burning building or the like, you probably owe him BIG TIME for this sword. If you plan to have any further contact with him and his collegues, I would find something SUBSTANTIAL to do for him, or to give to him when you see him next. "Gaijin" or foriegners aren't held to as high of standards as are other Japanese, but it will stand you in good stead if you repay the favor. Just a word to the wise.