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wakizashi seppa tsuba translation

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#1 wmarucha99

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Posted 08 May 2018 - 03:30 AM

So I recently acquired a wakizashi from a relative and wanted to learn a bit more about it. The sword was brought back from ww2 along with a few bayonets and an officer's sword. The blade itself is completely devoid of any kanji but the tsuba and seppa's have some kanji on them. Also on the kashira (hope that is the right term) there is a crest which from what I can tell is from the mori clan though I'm not entirely sure as there seems to be quite a few different variations of that particular crest. There are a few peculiarities with the sword however, the first is that there is only one peg holding the blade in place instead of the usual two. The second is that the scabbard is a good five inches longer than the actual blade. Also of note is that the entire guard is comprised of 6 seppa (seppa or seppas?) two slightly larger pieces and a central thicker tsuba made of copper. All of the seppa are either a brass or similar composite but two are very dark from ageing and from contact with the other non brass pieces. Any and all input is greatly appreciated. 

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William A


#2 wmarucha99

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Posted 08 May 2018 - 03:36 AM

I suppose it is also worth noting that I am somewhat suspecting the blade to be newer than the rest of the sword however the lack of a second peg hole on both the blade and handle leaves me super confused about that. It is without a doubt no newer than 1944 though as that is when it was brought to the US by a family member.


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#3 Mark

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Posted 08 May 2018 - 03:36 AM

i think i see 79 an assembly number meant to keep all the parts for a sword together when assembled in a factory


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#4 IanB

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Posted 08 May 2018 - 11:00 AM

Please sign your posts with your name so we know who we are corresponding with.

 

Markings scratched on the parts of a sword are perfectly normal to, as Mark has said, to enable those assembling them to keep the components together. Remember some 2 million members of the military were entitled to wear swords and that is an awful lot of parts to mix up. The crane in silver on the kabuto gane of your sword was the kamon of the Mori family amongst others, and was added to show ownership.

Ian Bottomley



#5 wmarucha99

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Posted 08 May 2018 - 02:57 PM

From what I have been able to establish from the SBG forums is that it is a kai gunto, possibly a naval aviators sword due to it being a wakizashi. My only issue with that is that it is missing the small retention clip and does not appear to have ever had one fitted to the handle. 


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#6 ROKUJURO

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Posted 08 May 2018 - 07:49 PM

wmarucha99,

please sign all posts with your first name plus an initial as we all do.

To answer your questions: It is normal to have one MEKUGI in a blade's NAKAGO, when it is a traditionally made blade. Older blades can have several MEKUGI-ANA. Your blade, by the way, does not necessarily look like a war-time blade, but could be older. To make a safer assessment, we would need a number of detailed, well focused photos shot at right angle plus at least one of the entire blade (without HABAKI)..

The TSUBA is a standard one, machine-made, nothing to be excited about. The same applies to the SEPPA  (Japanese nouns do not have a plural form).

Your blade being shorter than a KATANA (< 60,6 cm), is probably a WAKIZASHI, if it has a fully intact tip. 

Please refrain from all attempts of cleaning or restoring the blade. Nevertheless, you may apply a drop of machine oil to the NAKAGO to stop the red (active) rust. Have an expert have a look at the blade to see if it is perhaps a hand-forged blade of some age and value.   


Regards,

Jean C.

#7 wmarucha99

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Posted 08 May 2018 - 10:30 PM

So far the only maintenance I have dared to do to the blade was wiping down the blade with a little isoprobyl to clean it of fingerprints from it's previous owner who was not very careful with it. At one point the blade was apparently very clean and devoid of any rust though the chips and dings were still present. I also did apply a little bit of gun lubrication oil to the blade though I was not sure if it was alright to apply any to the NAKAGO. Here are all the current pictures I have of the blade, I can get more this weekend if needed. I also attached two pictures of the saya though it is missing all of it's mountings. 

 

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William A


#8 george trotter

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 10:45 AM

William,

A couple of points here.

The sword looks like a true wakizashi that has been mounted for WWII use. (Just a guess but the tang end shape reminds me of Saga province work).

The markings on the tsuba (guard) are: left side of tang hole says in katakana "sa-i-to". That is SAITO, probably the name of the navy officer (or his agent) who gave the mounting shop the order. On the other side of the tang hole, as has been said, is the order/assembly number 79.

 

Just a hint. If you look at the bottom set of photos you have put the two large seppa on the same side of the guard...should be one on each side. The small seppa order seems right..

Don't worry about a missing retention clip, yours never had one fitted.

Also, it looks like the scabbard fittings are all missing? Should be a cap on the end that matched the cap on the handle and there should be two hangers and a small band.

Hope this helps,


George Trotter

#9 wmarucha99

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 03:04 PM

 

Just a hint. If you look at the bottom set of photos you have put the two large seppa on the same side of the guard...should be one on each side. The small seppa order seems right..

Don't worry about a missing retention clip, yours never had one fitted.

Also, it looks like the scabbard fittings are all missing? Should be a cap on the end that matched the cap on the handle and there should be two hangers and a small band.

Hope this helps,

 The pictures of it assembled were prior to me taking it apart and correcting the misplacement, the previous owner had taken it apart before to try and find a tang stamp. And yes all the scabbard fittings were missing, from what I have been able to figure out from the previous owner is that they were missing when the sword was brought back from the war.


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#10 wmarucha99

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 03:23 AM

So I've done myself a favor and written out the characters on the tsuba and seppa as best I could. The characters are probably a little off since my Japanese hand writing is not very good which is made worse by me trying to copy what I was able to see through x20 magnification. I've organized them into two lines per piece, the left being the left side and the right being the right side. I've tried comparing the characters to katakana charts but I'm having a hard time figuring out a few of the characters.

 

characters.jpg


William A


#11 Geraint

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 09:51 AM

Dear William.

 

Just to summarise, what you have is an unsigned wakizashi blade, almost certainly made during or before the 19th century, perhaps as old as the 1600 but at present, from what we can see not older.  It is mounted as a  kaigunto.  The scabbard is covered in lacquered fish skin, which is a nice touch though it has lost all of it's fittings.

Don't get hung up on the aviator idea, there is no way of ascertaining who carried the sword.   

 

Mark and Ian have told you that the marks on the fittings are assembly numbers so all you need to do is find a table of Japanese numbers on line and you will be able to make sense of those but they don't get you anywhere.

 

George suggest that the end of the tang, (nakago jiri), reminds him of Saga work but I'm pretty sure that's a typo and he means Kaga.  The blade is out of polish, please note the strong advice not to do anything about that yourself or you will ruin the sword.  Down the line you will have to decide whether to keep the sword as it is or pay for a professional Japanese polish, that is an expensive option and generally advice will be that it's not worth it so keep the sword as it is and enjoy.

 

For most collectors of Japanese swords the least interesting are unsigned wakizashi from the Shinto period, there are a lot of them.  If you can get to one of the sword shows or to a sword club and show it to some collectors in hand they may be able to see more and to suggest what you might have.  Some Kaga province smiths are well thought off.

 

This sword is your entree to a fascinating and never exhausted aspect of edged weaponry, you might decide that it's just the one example of ta type but you might find yourself sucked into the whole world of Japanese swords.

 

Enjoy.

 

All the best.


Geraint

#12 Shugyosha

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 10:06 AM

Hi William,

It’s perhaps a bit tenuous, but I think I can see the Japanese surname “Saito” in Katakana in amongst the numbers: イト

That might be the name of the owner or I guess it might be that of the guy in the factory assembling the parts. Or maybe just me making something of nothing… :) 

Best,

John


John 






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