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Japanese Blade from Court


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#1 Promo

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 09:50 AM

Sorry if my first post will be a bit longer than most others, but I would want to also tell the story of how I had stumbled across the item which I want to show here. And also as a prequel, since I'm a firearms collector who has never dealt anything with knifes or whatever types of blades, I'm a complete novice to this topic and therefore please forgive me if I'm telling something wrongly or need to ask several times to make sure I understood it correctly. Plus of course, English is not my native language.

 

At the end of March I've been attending a local court auction. They are selling all kinds of items there which were seized from thefts where the owner could not be found, items used in crime, or items which were seized when the owner got a "gun ban" (which happens if you threaten someone or injure someone and can either be done by police or by authority). The particular auction was said to feature firearms and was rather closeby, so I nevertheless thought I should attend it in case there is something of interest there. When I came there, it quickly turned out of the few "arms" most were blank firing pistols, only very few rifles of which most were cheap and modern .22 rifles with little value. The other items, such as mobile phones, clothing and bicylces were of no interest to me, so I only went in for the very few gun items. I got outbid on nearly everything which went for crazy prices as well, I therefore also paid attention to two other lots of blades. One lot consisted of a modern made Katana (easily identified as being a recent and cheap piece by the engraved (or stamped?) devlis head inside the blade, and the second lot consisting of a sabre, a small knife and an ugly looking Katana (at least I thought it looks like one). I thought that there are collectors for sabres out there, so I went for this lot and got it for € 100 (where the starting bid was at € 50). So in the end I threw these blades together with the three metal parts consisting mainly of rust which formerly were WWII rifles in the trunk of my car and drove back home.

 

A friend of mine identified the sabre as being a Prussian Infantrieoffiziersdegen 89 with a value of around € 100, so I was quite satisfied already that I didn't loose any money on it. I then took some mobile phone pictures of the Katana and sent these to a friend of mine. These were the following pictures:

 

Katana1.jpg

 

Katana2.jpg

 

Katana3.jpg

 

The friend of mine who I for whatever reason remembered for having an interest in Katanas said he thinks that my blade has a value somewhere between € 100-400 (but he wouldn't buy it at that price!), that it does look old but the condition is extremely poor. He told me that I can take off the handle by removing a wooden plug since if there are any markings one might be able to tell who made it and when it was made. Well, I followed his instructions and did find a few markings. I took out some chalk to fill in the markings and made the now following pictures:

 

Katana4.jpg

 

Katana5.jpg

 

Katana6.jpg

 

Katana7.jpg

 

I've sent those to the friend of mine and asked him if he could now tell me something on the blade. He said these should tell on the smith, blade and origin, but he does not speak Japanese and doesn't have a contact to a translator any more. I suggested asking on a forum, and he said I could try the Wehrmacht-Awards forum.


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Georg


#2 Promo

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 09:51 AM

At WAF there was someone speaking Japanese. He translated the blade markings as follows to me:

 

山浦環正作
Yamaura Tamaki Masayuki
Art name Masayuki; I was looking at 作 as "saku/made" .... it's part of his name
===============
鳫金土壇拂切手山田五三郎
Karigane Dodanbara Kire-te Yamada Gosaburō
Golden Wild Goose [cut through to] earthern mound [platform] - Cutting expert: Yamada Gosaburō

  • I'm not certain as to how the cut is called ... but the kanji 鳫金 do mean "Golden Wild Goose"
  • 鳫金 is the name of the cut. See the red line in the attached image below.
  • The chart abbreviates "Wild Goose" as 厂. Both 厂 and 鳫 mean "wild goose."
  • Usually (today) 切手 [きって ki-tte] means "postage stamp". However, in our context it is read 切れ手 [kire-te] and means "Man of Ability" .... Probably better rendered as "Cutting Expert"

天保十二年八月廿六日
Tenpo 12 [1841], August 26th

 

Hearing the first time on cutting tests is quite surprising, and I need to admit a bit weird to someone who learns for the first time on Japanese blades - why would someone cut another person into two parts just to proof a blade being capable of doing this and then additionally marking this on the blade? However, this caught enough of my interest that I then decided I will take better pictures with my DSLR and the setup I'm using for complete rifles:

 

sword_01.jpg

 

sword_02.jpg

 

sword_03.jpg

 

sword_04.jpg

 

sword_05.jpg

 

sword_06.jpg

 

sword_07.jpg

 

sword_08.jpg

 

sword_09.jpg

 

sword_10.jpg


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Georg


#3 Promo

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 10:11 AM

I learnt that Masayuki (or Kiyomaro) was a very famous smith, but also that he was faked a lot. I've also learnt over there, that the shape of the blade was a copy of a very old design, I think it was Naginata what I've been told how this shape is called (while these originally would be mounted to a wooden stick and have a longer handle).

 

Asking on the WAF was quite annoying as well, especially since I was trying to get information on the blade, but all of a sudden some persons joined the conversation who started telling me my blade is a fake and nothing original, but on the other hand sent me Private Messages asking if I would sell it to them. Among them were also dealers, and if dealers have the necessity of telling you something is not good, but they still want to have it from you, my alarm bells ring. I didn't reply to any of these "offers" and choose to answer them in public that what they are doing makes them look suspicious. This however turned out to rather upset a few of them and try to defend themselves which brought the whole discussion not where it should go and I ended up rather unhappy with the results.

 

By someone much more helpful I've then been suggested to instead post everything here, on this board. The whole story, all pictures, and see what persons here are telling me on it. I do know the chances are very little that this is an original blade, still there is some hope left. But of course in the condition it is in, it is tough to give an opinion on it. I've been told on the NBTHK and that they should be able to help me - fortunately a local friend is a member there and has sent me some book excerpts and other information. But being new to the topic makes it nearly impossible to understand all of these terms and the difference between fake applied markings and real applied markings.

 

However, I'm happy with the blade. I had mentioned in my starting post that I've only had 100 Euro in the lot of three blades, and one paid for the other two. Which means that I did get my blade here for nothing. And considering the most plausible possibility - that it is a fake - there are worse things than to have a fake for nothing, despite of its condition. So that is why I decided for myself that I will be keeping it as a nice wall hanger in my gun room unless for whatever smallest chance it turns out to be original. Therefore I'd also kindly ask anyone in here to do not make any offers on this blade since I do not want to sell this one. My reason why to post here is only to learn something on it, and maybe get a good tip on how to properly restore it. I would rather not want to send it somewhere abroad, so maybe there is a chance or source for restoration in Continental Europe.

 

Finally, the last set of very high resolution pictures I have made of it are attached. I had to rescale them to a lower resolution to be able to attach them here. I hope you have enjoyed the read and were not bored, so please don't be too harsh with someone who (so far) knows little to nothing on Nihonto!

Attached Thumbnails

  • Nihonto10.jpg
  • Nihonto09.jpg
  • Nihonto07.jpg
  • Nihonto06.jpg
  • Nihonto05.jpg
  • Nihonto08.jpg
  • Nihonto04.jpg
  • Nihonto03.jpg
  • Nihonto02.jpg
  • Nihonto01.jpg

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Georg


#4 Promo

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 10:14 AM

It turned out that I have five more pictures which I did as a final set, so I'll need to do a second post to attach them - sorry!

 

And maybe as a small side note: the blade did get better from the starting pictures to these now attached pictures. This is a result of me rubbing the blade with an oil soaked clothing. I did not do any polish nor did I use anything other than this. I have been told this is not good for the value, so I'm following these rules and only tried to conserve it in the condition as it is now, to avoid any future rust.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Nihonto15.jpg
  • Nihonto14.jpg
  • Nihonto13.jpg
  • Nihonto12.jpg
  • Nihonto11.jpg

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Georg


#5 PNSSHOGUN

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 10:47 AM

Hello Georg, let me first congratulate you on your new sword, it's quite impressive and potentially extraordinarily valuable if it is genuine. However fake signatures or Gimei are abound of this particular smith so special attention from an expert who has it in hand would be the best way forward. My first suggestion would be to contact Markus Sesko who is a member here, as well as quite an authority on Japanese swords. If it is genuine you would want to have it polished in Japan then verified by the NBTHK which is the main Japanese sword organization. If everything is authentic and the sword is free from any serious issues your 100 Euros could turn into tens of thousands.

 

I would rightly be wary of any offers you receive on this sword before having it seen by a professional and been given a clear assessment & advice on where to go with it. 


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#6 John A Stuart

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 10:54 AM

Karigane 鳫金 in the cutting test 鳫金土壇拂切手山田五三郎 means an horizontal cut across the body just below the nipple line. A tough cut. John


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#7 vajo

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 11:53 AM

Congratulation!
I hope this sword is healthy. I tried to make the pictures bigger. But they are to small to see anything.

#8 kyushukairu

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 12:26 PM

Here's a comparison of the mei on your sword with two authenticated examples. In my opinion, the mei looks good, but the quality of the blade itself is what is most important, and cannot be judged without a polish.

Attached Thumbnails

  • masayuki.jpg

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#9 Geraint

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 12:28 PM

Dear Georg.

 

It is great to see that you are moving slowly and carefully, please do keep that up.  Something to bear in mind is that even if this proves to be gimei it is still a cracking sword!  As you have recouped your costs with the other items then you could have this properly restored and still be in the the money.  It would be a very nice sword.

 

Of course we all secretly hope that you have found the real deal and we would love to hear how this develops.

 

All the best.


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#10 Bazza

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 12:37 PM

Dear Georg,

 

Yet another wonderful story of discovery.  My salutations for the great effort you have made to present your horidashimono (lucky find) here on NMB.  Yours is a beautiful and meticulous write-up that will be admired by all here, I am sure.  We delight in seeing fine swords discovered and “brought back” to the Nihontô community.  You have had great fortune in finding a good sword in neglected condition in unfavourable circumstances.  In another time and place such a sword could have been cut up to make fishing knives - it has happened here in Australia!

 

I once had a similar experience and was the lucky owner of a sword in just the condition as yours, but without any furniture, just the scabbard, handle, habaki and blade.  This was perhaps 40 years or more ago.  I knew the sword was special and did not send it to any polisher known to me fearing a bad result.  After many decades it went to Japan and was restored perfectly.  The blade wasn't signed, but as a kiriha katana it was judged to be a work of the Shimosaka swordsmiths in the early Edo period.  I sincerely hope your lucky find turns out to be a genuine work of Yamaura Masayuki.  It is a fine looking blade with a good sugata (shape) and very interesting hi (grooves).  As Geraint wrote, we await with great interest the story of your continuing journey.

 

Best regards,

Barry Thomas

aka BaZZa

(Melbourne, Australia)


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#11 ChrisW

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 01:06 PM

I know we are all thinking what I am about to say: let's hope this lucky find gets proper restoration and doesn't end up back in a dark safe or closet! I sincerely hope you'll get in touch with Markus or Darcy and allow them to be your guide. I know they would not steer you wrong. This is quite fortuitous that you've come here. Best of luck to you and your new find. I hope it turns out for the best!


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#12 Gakusee

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 01:26 PM

The mei looks very confidently and well executed. It has the right positioning on the nakago mune and versus the ana. It resembles several of the “slimmer” Masayuki mei I have in my references. Of course one needs to assess the entire blade but it looks very promising.
Congratulations on your luck (tiny investment recouped already and free sword on top, which might be rather valuable).
Michael S.

#13 Grey Doffin

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 02:01 PM

Hi Georg,

Nice find.  Here is a care and etiquette brochure; you would be doing yourself and the sword a favor if you read it twice.

http://www.nbthk-ab.org/Etiquette.htm

Grey



#14 Brian

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 02:05 PM

I "found" Georg on WAF and asked him to post here. He has done a wonderful job of explaining and photographing the sword.
I also must point out that the sword is undoubtedly real. Only the signature needs to be verified. But the sword is a real antique Japanese sword.
There are a lot of things that will affect the value and respectability such as flaws and possible cracks etc. That is the realist speaking. The optimist in me says "damn, that is a superb shape and style of sword....one of the best, and usually made by good smiths"
I LOVE the sword as it stands there. And we are all holding thumbs for you. I hope it gets to a polisher and we hear it is a great sword. Even if gimei, and not made by Masayuki, it may still be a very nice sword.
We will all be following this one with interest.


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#15 Gakusee

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 03:18 PM

Well done, Brian! The sword indeed looks pretty good and it seems worthwhile to polish it to reveal the hamon properly. One indeed needs to bear in mind the underlying condition (but chances are it will be better preserved than an 800-year-old blade).
Now, there seem to be quite a few Masayuki signed Juyo blades, even though their value is not perceived to be at the same level as when he became (and signed) Kiyomaro. In fact, through the Juyo zufu, one can stumble across 3-4 similar naginata blades signed Masayuki, with similar grooves and overall sugata.
So the indications on this one are good!
Michael S.

#16 Promo

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 03:31 PM

Sorry to make another picture post, but I've did those as of today since I had noticed I do not have one showing the blade in the condition as it is now in full length. Therefore please find them attached showing the full length, rear and front, every time from both sides.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Blade03.jpg
  • Blade02.jpg
  • Blade01.jpg

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Georg


#17 Darcy

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 03:56 PM

I'm tired from the last one! 

 

Needs to get checked out in Japan though.

 

The machi-okuri looked weird to me to begin with but it is pretty exactly as it should be if someone messed with it to remount it.

 

I haven't studied the mei. There are good fakes of him. It needs to be checked out at a high level because it's at least close enough, especially with a very near match in construction style and horimono. I can help but I think it is better if I offer my services as an agent so that there is no gray area to cause issues. But aside from it being a great match for an existing blade, little things like the yasurime look right. There are deviations in the mei though. Anyway if it's close enough, it just needs to be settled at the top. 

 

(That is, I think it is close enough that it can't be dismissed out of hand and needs to be further investigated. These two swords look like brothers.)

 

Attached is from Juyo 18.

Attached Thumbnails

  • masayuki.jpg

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https://www.yuhindo.com (only way to reach me, do not PM me on this board, you will not get a response)


#18 Brian

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 04:08 PM

Georg,
I wanted to mention Darcy's name, but after a recent saga, I thought he may take out a hit on me :rotfl:
But really, I do recommend you contact him for some info and possible way forward, even if he just gives you verbal advice. You are in good hands. And if he thinks it has a chance, then that is very encouraging too. Because of the state it is in, restoration would be slow, and very expensive...but the possibly outcome is wonderful. And when you paid so little, this is one of the rare cases where the value after polish would still be more than the outlay. 
I'd love to be in that position :laughing:
 


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#19 Blazeaglory

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 05:19 PM

Sorry to make another picture post, but I've did those as of today since I had noticed I do not have one showing the blade in the condition as it is now in full length. Therefore please find them attached showing the full length, rear and front, every time from both sides.

I love this blade!

Looking closely tho, could it be that this one has an OO-kissaki and it looks that the yokote has been smoothed down? I love shobu zukuri style blades but I love naginata OO Kissaki even better😊

So, just a suggestion. Or did everyone know this already? I would love to see this in full polish!
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Posted 16 April 2019 - 06:08 PM

Omg that looks like a great find! Cannot see the yokote but it looks like its been modified a bit. Congratulations and i hope you get it polished and evaluated!
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#21 obiwanknabbe

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 08:08 PM

Having paid almost nothing for it i would think it's worth the cost of a polish and shirasaya regardless, if it's healthy enough to take one that is. Wish i could trip over a score like this. Nice find. 


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#22 ChrisW

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 11:08 PM

I think we all wish we could find something like this. Its the stuff of a nihonto enthusiast's dreams!


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#23 Surfson

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 01:46 AM

If the mei is bad, then it's not worth the cost of polish.  I haven't studied the mei, and agree with Darcy about deviations just from the examples posted here.  I concur with Brian that you should let Darcy handle it.  Maybe he can get an opinion in Japan about the mei prior to making the decision about restoration..... Congratulations on finding a beautiful sword one way or the other!


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#24 raymondsinger

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 02:05 AM

That same example Darcy shared was present in the recent Kiyomaro exhibition.

PSX_20190416_200437.jpg
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#25 Gabriel L

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 04:09 AM

Subscribed. If this turns out to be a genuine Masayuki, well, you have some amazing luck. Like Brian says, it's absolutely a genuine antique Japanese sword, the question is whether the signature is true. Please review carefully the care & handling information cited by most nihonto sites / books / videos. Do NOT get this polished by anyone other than a qualified togishi.

Darcy would be as good an agent for getting this blade ID'd and/or restored as you could ask for.


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#26 Valric

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 06:40 AM

Good on you for rescuing this one from the sharks, Brian.

 

What can I add that hasn't been said. Excellent photos and topic description. Others, please take note!

 

There is a chance this is a genuine Kyomaro. That in itself is an amazing thing to say. There are a lot of good fakes of him, so we will not know for sure until it gets to the experts in Japan. As others have said, I strongly recommend Darcy's services as the top person out there to handle this as your agent.


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#27 Brian

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 09:05 AM

If the mei is bad, then it's not worth the cost of polish.  ...

Strongly disagree Bob, but you are entitled to your opinion. However the cost is almost zero so far. Let's say it is gimei, but polishes ok without fatal flaws. Are you telling me a sword with that shape and style, mumei and in full polish wouldn't be worth a few thousand $'s?
I think this is a case of win/win. The only thing to worry about (and this is something the owner does need to know and consider) is if there are any fatal flaws like hagire or has it maybe been burned. If there are no fatal flaws then I would go for it. At least a window should be polished.
But Georg...you do need to know there is always the possibility of a fatal flaw and that would be tragic. Japanese swords are always a gamble. But one I would take if it were mine,


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#28 Jacques D.

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 09:25 AM

Gimei at 99.99% chances 

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  • Masayuki.jpg

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#29 Promo

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 10:30 AM

If this helps, had a different idea yesterday evening which I tried out today. I've put the blade in my 1200dpi picture scanner. Unfortunately items not down on the surface are blurred, but most of the markings were at the glass surface and therefore please find attached two detail shots of the markings.

 

Edit: Forum limits size to 1800 px height. Original would have 8000 px height. Original pictures are at:

https://oi251.photob...s1.jpg~original

https://oi251.photob...s2.jpg~original

Attached Thumbnails

  • Markings1.jpg
  • Markings2.jpg

Georg


#30 Beater

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 10:34 AM

The owner of this fascinating sword and I have been in discussion for many weeks now and amidst all the jubilation we are seeing, I wonder if I might drop this document into the melting pot, as a small reality check? We have seen the venerable members compare this mei to one or two examples and yet already differences are apparent. The document makes specific reference to this actual smith and advises that comparison is necessary against a high number because of the variations in his own mei over his career and, of course, the skill of forgers, not least the accomplished Kajihei.

If I am not mistaken Promo’s decision to migrate to this forum was principally because he hoped the wealth of knowledge and experience would result in some informed comments about its likely authenticity or not. Whilst we all know the final say must come from Japan, I’m sure he would welcome not just your opinions but some rationale behind your thinking. So far, blade shape, file marks, end of tang shape* and signature placement have received mention but such obvious features are unlikely to have escaped the attention of an accomplished forger. I think it will come down to a stroke by stroke analysis to provide a credible explanation of initial impressions. Sadly, of course, blade condition exclude other comparisons here.
* Ironically, I note the tang end shapes of above genuine examples show variations

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