Thread: World War II Japanese Sword
1/08/2012 1:25pm, #1
World War II Japanese Sword
A co-worker of mine owns a Japanese sword. He sent me some pictures asking me if I could tell him anything about it.
It appears to be in excellent condition and mounted in World War II furniture; if I had to hazard a guess, I would say it was an officer's sword.
Beyond that, I don't know much. Three photos show markings on the tang. I have suggested someone in Baltimore who can do an expert appraisal, but my co-worker lives in Northern Virginia, so he would prefer to take the sword to someone in DC/NoVA -- if it's worth doing.
Can anyone here provide more information about the sword, or suggest who to take it to?
Thanks in advance, guys!
1/08/2012 2:32pm, #2
It is indeed an officer's pattern Shingunto however, given the hamon and what I can make out from the mei. I think your co-worker may be very lucky to have a much older toshin (blade)
Also the habaki is silver and this is not normal for a standard issued shingunto, this also suggests that the sword blade has been taken from civilian mounts and placed into the gunto furniture for warfare.
The tsuka ito (handle wrap) looks to be in remarkably good condition - hardly used, is this the original condition or has it been refurbished ?
Are there any other markings on the sword furniture which haven't been photographed ?
This must be appraised by a professional and suitably insured mate."To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".
1/08/2012 5:27pm, #3
You know what I know.
This is not my area of expertise, which is why I opened up the thread. He told me about this the other day and I was thinking, "Oh, an old WWII sword; it's probably all beat up." When he sent the pictures, I was nearly speechless with the condition it is in. I immediatly told him that even if the blade isn't old, it is a remarkable piece of militaria.
I'm sure he wouldn't be adverse to providing more pictures if there are any other views someone cares to see.
Again, does anyone have suggestions for finding an appraiser in the DC area?
1/09/2012 11:20am, #4
Ok, here's what to ask for please.
I'll phrase using all english to save any confusion
Ask the owner to clearly photograph all of the tang (both sides) so that the engraving can be clearly read.
If there are any other markings such as smaller stamps or perhaps Japanese words/symbols written in ink anywhere on the tang, also please photograph.
Photograph the top of the handle pommel where the loop is, I'm looking for a "MON" or family crest which was often present in older swords mounted into gunto furniture. These items were often custom made to include the family crest and can, be found on other metalic furniture items of the sword mounts.
- THE BLADE.
Photograph the blade again paying specific attention to the cutting edge, the milky grey area between the rest of the blade and the actual cutting edge is the hamon, if the sword is old, this pattern of hamon can (may) be used to offer some clue as to the identity of the maker if other identifying marks such as a signature aren't present.
Last edited by Rock Ape; 1/09/2012 11:25am at ."To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".
1/09/2012 11:29am, #5
As said above, the mei and habaki point to this being a quality piece that was put into military fittings for the war. He could definitely have something nice on his hands.
My old Shinkendo sensei lives in Roanoke - I don't know if he can/will give you a professional appraisal but he could probably help figure out its history.
HTFU and join Bullshido on Fitocracy!
1/09/2012 5:17pm, #6
Despite my Booj upbringing, I'm not completely ignorant of sword terminology. But I appreciate the vernacular in an effort to avoid confusion. [Insert joke about two countries separated by a common language here.] It may also be helpful to any other sword n00bs who may be interested in this thread. Perhaps we need a sword terminology sticky thread?
I talked to my co-worker this morning, even before you replied. He says there is a mon, or family crest, present on the pommel but he forgot to take a picture of it. The Mon is two hawks feathers crossing. I expect a photograph sometime in the next day or two and I'll post.
BTW, I linked my co-worker to this thread when I posted it, and he's been able to see the response. I'm sure you can imagine how much of my converstaion this morning was:
"No, no, really... You can take a guy named 'Ho Ho Fcuk You' seriously... It's a seasonal thing; he usually goes by 'Rock Ape.' No, no, really, you can take a guy named 'Rock Ape' seriously..."
Some other internet research seems to indicate this sword belonged to a Company-level or Warrant Officer. We found this based on the brown-and-blue tassel.
My co-worker picked this up at an antique show many years ago simply because it was interesting and in excellent shape.
EDIT: I checked my email. He thinks it's:
Looks like Kikuchi Clan family crest of crossed hawk feathers in a circle (MARU-NI CHIGAI TAKA-NO-HA)
1/09/2012 6:13pm, #7
. Two crossed falcon feathers. The name of the crest is Maruni chigai takanoha (丸に違鷹羽) and it belongs to the families Kubo and Hidaka. There may be other families bearing similar crest. The hawk was a symbol of a samurai in old days ”feather of hawk” was given glory to as the decoration at the time of ceremony such as New Year’s Days, and great people of a samurai were able to arrive at one’s crown in old days. That’s why it is one of the family crest of arms liked most by a samurai.
If the images of the mei are good enough I can tell you what it says.
Last edited by Rock Ape; 1/09/2012 6:19pm at ."To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".
1/09/2012 8:43pm, #8
1/10/2012 7:37pm, #9
Leave it with me mate and I'll see what I can come up with.
Tell your co-worker that it would substantially increase whatever existing value the sword already has, if he had it professionally re-polished by a qualified and experienced Japanese sword polisher. There are a number of them (all be it limited) in the US. It wouldn't cheap but it would vastly improve the sword and maintain it's life.
Given that we're most likely looking at a much older blade, it really should be mounted into shira saya rather than leaving it in the gunto saya. This is because there's moisture in the original scabbard which will be attacking the (now part polished) blade. Whomever polishes the blade would most likely either be able to construct shira saya for the blade and a wooden replacement blade to mount the gunto furtniture on (a common practice) or, recommend where to get this made.
I also STRONGLY suggest your co-worker learns how to correctly clean the blade using the right materials and does so at least once a month. This sword must not be subjected to hot/cold temp variances which might cause condensation. Basically rust must be avoided at all costs.
Dave"To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".
1/10/2012 10:40pm, #10