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Seeking re-assurance on my first "Nihonto" purchase.

katana gendaito showato

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#1 Jason N

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 10:51 AM

Greetings.  This will be my first actual post on NMB other than replying in some threads.  Here goes.

 

In 2016, I purchased my first "Nihonto".  I put the word "Nihonto" in quotes because the mei on my sword bears the name of a smith held in low regard (at least it would seem so from other posts on NMB), Hattori Masahiro. From what I know of this smith, he mostly produced WWII Gunto/Showato during WWII.  That said, he also produced medium grade Gendaito, presumably (by me) mostly pre-war.  I've only found limited information on Hattori Masahiro, and cannot find an example of his mei that is executed as it appears on my sword, although this one is very close, the third character from the top appears differently, and I'm no expert. 

 

At the time I purchased my sword, I had no reason to doubt I was purchasing a traditionally made Gendaito.  I purchased the sword from a Japanese sword shop, and it shipped from Japan.  I communicated with the vendor via phone and email.  I did ask if this sword was traditionally made and if Tamahagane was used (rather than imported steel).  I was told it was Tamahagane and traditionally made.  Here is a link to the archived listing of the sword I purchased.  Although I have no reason to doubt it's traditionally made, the hada is very fine and difficult to see unless viewed very close under led lighting.  I would expect the grain to be more "loose" if Tamahagane was used (see the attached hada photo to see what I mean).

 

I know I have no art sword.  I only care about the form, construction, and to know if it is a Nihonto/Gendaito.  I only question this because of the repeated references to other swords made by Hattori Masahiro that look similar to mine as being "Showato" regardless whether they were traditionally made (Gendaito) or produced for the war. I understand that Showato or Gendaito literally have no bearing on a sword's method of construction, but as they are used among collectors, "Showato" is used to denote modern swords that are not traditionally made.  In that context is how I would welcome any opinions on whether my Masahiro is "Showato" or "Gendaito".

 

I also welcome any opinions regarding my Masahiro's construction (Tamahagane or imported steel), the era the sword was made, pre-war, wartime, or post-war.

 

Thanks for taking the time to look.

 

-Jason  

 

Edit:  In case it helps, I have some more pics from the seller that aren't archived.  I made sure to download all pics at time of purchase.  I believe the Tsuba and Habaki depicted are original.  Obviously all the remaining Koshirae are newly produced.  I also found another phone pic showing the full blade, although I doubt it shows any detail that hasn't already been shown.

 

Edit2:  Added attached image of original vendor data that is not shown in archived link.

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • hada.jpg
  • mei.jpg
  • detail.jpg
  • Tsuba habaki.jpg
  • sword.jpg
  • katana data.jpg

-Jason


#2 Shugyosha

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 11:13 AM

Hi Jason,

 

I can't see an armoury stamp on the tang of the blade and I don't think any attempt has been made to remove one and this would indicate that it was traditionally made.

 

Traditionally made swords from the Showa era can be mujihada - i.e. not show any activity. I don't think that it is possible to tell by the hada alone (or absence of it) whether or not tamahagane was used - the hada is the result of the forging method applied by the smith and not the material - 17th century blades made from imported steel show hada. 

 

It's hard to tell from the seller's picture as it is (I think) scanned, but the hamon doesn't look to be oil quenched and there is something going on above the hamon line which might have been an attempt at hitatsura that hasn't been brought out in the polish. I would take this as a further indication that it isn't a mass-production blade, but if you were able to post some pictures it might be possible to get a better idea as to what this is.

 

The signature is fairly typical for wartime blades which weren't necessarily signed by the smith himself but by a person employed to cut signatures - a sort of production line process to speed up production I believe, so in addition to natural variation, it might not be the same person signing every time.

 

Hope that helps some.


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Best regards, John 

Please excuse my spelling mistakes, brevity and ignorance.


#3 Jason N

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 11:23 AM

Hi Jason,

 

I can't see an armoury stamp on the tang of the blade and I don't think any attempt has been made to remove one and this would indicate that it was traditionally made.

 

Traditionally made swords from the Showa era can be mujihada - i.e. not show any activity. I don't think that it is possible to tell by the hada alone (or absence of it) whether or not tamahagane was used - the hada is the result of the forging method applied by the smith and not the material - 17th century blades made from imported steel show hada. 

 

It's hard to tell from the seller's picture as it is (I think) scanned, but the hamon doesn't look to be oil quenched and there is something going on above the hamon line which might have been an attempt at hitatsura that hasn't been brought out in the polish. I would take this as a further indication that it isn't a mass-production blade, but if you were able to post some pictures it might be possible to get a better idea as to what this is.

 

The signature is fairly typical for wartime blades which weren't necessarily signed by the smith himself but by a person employed to cut signatures - a sort of production line process to speed up production I believe, so in addition to natural variation, it might not be the same person signing every time.

 

Hope that helps some.

 

Thanks for the reply.  

 

Mujihada was how I would describe the hada of my blade.  I was assuming any Tamahagane produced blade would exhibit a looser hada.  Thanks for clarifying it for me.

 

I've pretty much come to the same conclusions and other observations you've made, but it's always good to get confirmation.

 

I don't have access to the sword at the moment, as I am traveling on business, so I've posted the only photo's I can for now.

 

Thanks, 

 

-Jason


-Jason


#4 PNSSHOGUN

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 12:01 PM

Looks like Gendaito to me.


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John


#5 Brian

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 12:08 PM

John,
Lack of an arsenal stamp does not indicate Gendaito. There are plenty of Showato without stamps.
To me, this one is too close to call. We need more pics, especially of your tang. And more blade pics. I don't think the hamon is easy to identify either. The "hard peaks" would be hidden by the polish. I think there is a chance of medium grade Showato. Or maybe Gendaito....but let's see more pics.
 


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#6 PNSSHOGUN

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 12:19 PM

Brain, I was looking at the picture he posted, thought I could see some Hada and activity in the Hamon. 


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John


#7 Jason N

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 12:25 PM

John,
Lack of an arsenal stamp does not indicate Gendaito. There are plenty of Showato without stamps.
To me, this one is too close to call. We need more pics, especially of your tang. And more blade pics. I don't think the hamon is easy to identify either. The "hard peaks" would be hidden by the polish. I think there is a chance of medium grade Showato. Or maybe Gendaito....but let's see more pics.
 

 

I know there are exceptions, but wouldn't my sword have to be traditionally made (Gendaito) to have been legally registered in Japan?  

 

I'll get around to posting some pics when I get home this week-end.  Besides better pictures of the Nakago, what types of photos would best help to make a more educated judgement?

 

Assuming traditionally made Gendaito, is there any way to determine if the blade was constructed Maru, or using a lamination method like Kobuse, or Honsanmai, etc.?

 

-Jason


-Jason


#8 Jason N

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 12:34 PM

Brain, I was looking at the picture he posted, thought I could see some Hada and activity in the Hamon. 

 

To be honest, the picture is more suggestive that the blade has hada than when held in hand,  With the correct light, strong led, or sunlight, the blade does appear to have an extremely tight hada, but It's not pronounced enough for me to say with absolute certainty, due to my lack of handling many Nihonto.  I have some good quality Chinese cutters that are oil quenched.  The hamon on my sword appears completely differently than the hamon of those oil quenched blades.  There's also nothing on the fakes that even suggests hada, unlike my potential "Gendaito".

 

-Jason


-Jason


#9 vajo

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 01:13 PM

I vote for Shinsakuto. It looks good.

If this is your sword, it is a gendaito or even a shinsakuto. https://www.samurais...word/15126.html

 

But not that wartime Masahiro.


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#10 Jason N

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 01:28 PM

I vote for Shinsakuto. It looks good.

If this is your sword, it is a gendaito or even a shinsakuto. https://www.samurais...word/15126.html

 

But not that wartime Masahiro.

 

Yes, that is my sword that was on Samuraishokai.  I included some other Masahiro example pictures for Mei comparison only.  Those do not belong to me.


-Jason


#11 Stefan

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 01:41 PM

Muji ? I can see super fine ko-hada. Hitatsura ? Do not  think so. Looks  more like an shirake  utsuri. I have seen this on an Amahide blade many  years ago. I  was  surprised to find  an utsuri on an Gendaito. But, why not. I have  also seen  an classic Sudare-Ba  on  an Horigawa Chikamitsu.

Stefan


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#12 Brian

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 02:14 PM

Actually forgot to look at the sale pics. Long day....don't ask.
Hmm. I would have said Gendaito from those pics. But from the yasurime, I strongly suspect a stamp was removed. To allow it to be registered in Japan. Happens more than you expect.
Remember that a sword can be forged and folded, and even be water quenched...but maybe the steel is foreign and not tamahagane, making it Showato.
Different levels. Either way, it looks good and has a decent polish, and I do seem to think I can see some utsuri and things going on. Hamon isn't typical Showato.


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#13 Jason N

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 02:54 PM

But from the yasurime, I strongly suspect a stamp was removed. To allow it to be registered in Japan. Happens more than you expect.

 

Brian, 

 

Looking at the seller's photos before purchase, the same thought occurred to me as well, which is why I asked them.  There was a language barrier, and the reply that I got back was that it was traditionally made from Tamahagane.  I asked for more detailed photos to be sent, but was told only the web pics were available.  I didn't want to press the issue, and for the asking price, I took the plunge.  I could have easily spent the same on a Chinese blade, and would be a fair price for a Showato, and a bargain on a Gendaito.  At least, that's how I talked myself into it ;) 

 

I'm now in the process of acquiring my "second" (or first?) Nihonto, an NBTHK papered Edo period Wakizashi.  At some point in the future, I would definitely add a papered Katana to my collection, one worthy of a far greater degree of artistic and historical appreciation above that of my Masahiro. For my funds, and my level (or lack of) knowledge, the Masahiro served it's purpose to satisfy my desire to own a Nihonto instead of a Chinese copy.  I guess there's some level of uncertainty if what I have is "Nihonto" (traditionally made Japanese sword).  Hopefully, when I get some better pics up, it will help to better determine what I actually have.

 

I wonder what conclusions we might make differently (if any)  if my Masahiro was mumei.  My doubts come more from who made it, than the sword itself.


-Jason


#14 16k

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 08:51 PM

No doubt about it being a gendaito. And quite a nice one actually.
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#15 Jason N

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 11:11 PM

No doubt about it being a gendaito. And quite a nice one actually.

 

Jean, 

 

Thanks for the re-assurance.  I think regardless of what the consensus, this sword will always remain in my collection as it represents a transitional and pivotal point in my collection... a "first love", so to speak. I've come on some hard times since I acquired this blade, and I've had to part with some items that I highly prized.  It never occurred to me to part with my Masahiro, though.  I'm doing much better now, and if my new financial situation remains stable, I can begin adding more to my collection over my lifetime. Some others may come and go, but I'll only ever have one that was my first.

 

-Jason


-Jason


#16 paulb

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 11:21 PM

J.P.

I am not disageeing with you necessarily but how can you say "No doubt" ? what can you see that is telling you this is a blade made using traditional material and techniques?

As said you may be right I am just curious as to how you are so confident.


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#17 Jean

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 11:45 PM

I am far from being a specialist, but I think it is a gendaito :)
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Jean L.
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#18 vajo

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 12:12 AM

There were 3 Masahiro in the wartime. One from Tokyo, one from Gifu and one from Fukushima.

 

And one from Kagawa  :)

 

So you should check all the 4 ones.

 

We need the gendaito project book from Markus. 


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#19 Jason N

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 12:27 AM

There were 3 Masahiro in the wartime. One from Tokyo, one from Gifu and one from Fukushima.

 

And one from Kagawa  :)

 

So you should check all the 4 ones.

 

We need the gendaito project book from Markus. 

 

Based on information from the seller, my Hattori Masahiro was from Gifu.


-Jason


#20 Blazeaglory

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 02:53 AM

Looks fine to me.
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#21 nagamaki - Franco

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 08:28 AM

Hello,

 

IMHO, 

 

1. Made from tamahagane?: my impression based upon these images is no, but would say hand folded from machined steel.

2. Water quenched?: again, my impression based upon these images is that I'm not seeing what I can determine to be nioi or nie.

 

My 2 cents worth.

 

 


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Regards,

Franco

#22 vajo

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 09:24 AM

Hi Jason

 

can you compare that signature to yours?

 

https://www.aoijapan...-masahiro-saku/

 

That is the one from Gifu/ Seki



#23 Jason N

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 10:14 AM

Hi Jason

can you compare that signature to yours?

https://www.aoijapan...-masahiro-saku/

That is the one from Gifu/ Seki


The two kanji for “Ha tori” look similar, but somehow off. The nakago, file marks, placement of the mei, and strokes also all look different to me, but I’m certainly no expert.

-Jason


#24 16k

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 10:57 AM

J.P.
I am not disageeing with you necessarily but how can you say "No doubt" ? what can you see that is telling you this is a blade made using traditional material and techniques?
As said you may be right I am just curious as to how you are so confident.


Well, no stamp, water quenched, Hada... looks gendaito to me. No sure, I’m not the best expert but in this present occasion, I don’t see any reason to doubt. Maybe I should have written “no doubt for me”. :)

Of course, we can’t exclude that it wasn’t made from tamahagane and that a cunning seller erased a stamp, but why always see evil? From what I’m able to see here, looks like a legit gendaito.

Now I’ll leave it to better experts to pinpoint why it isn’t one. :)
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#25 vajo

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 11:34 AM

The easiest way is to find out who the smith was. If he was a showa-to smith so he has not become tamahagene. The signature is very thin scribbled so mostley you find that on lower or medium grade showa-to. The blade itself looks very good. 

 

Yours is definetly not that masahiro from Seki/ Gifu. 



#26 Jason N

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 02:20 PM

The easiest way is to find out who the smith was. If he was a showa-to smith so he has not become tamahagene. The signature is very thin scribbled so mostley you find that on lower or medium grade showa-to. The blade itself looks very good.

Yours is definetly not that masahiro from Seki/ Gifu.


From my reasearch, there were 3 different Hattori Masahiros that worked as swordsmiths. I believe the Massahiru that was from Gifu and produced swords in Seki is my Masahiro. There are two different Masahiro Mei shown in the linked pic in my OP. The example shown on the left is the same Mei on that Aoi art blade. His mei is the closest match, and I believe he signed (or someone signed) his showato/gunto made to support the war differently than his Gendaito. I’m no expert on mei or kanji though.

-Jason


#27 vajo

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 05:38 PM

To compare.

masahiro_signatures.jpg



#28 Jason N

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 08:39 PM

To compare.
masahiro_signatures.jpg

Thanks for posting the Nakago pics. I have studied those in detail. None are a precise match. The closest is the pllain Hattori mei with seki stamp. The Hattori mei “working in Seki” is the next closest. All the others are definitely not the same smith and can be ruled out 100%. That said, I doubt the same hand signed any of those Hattori nakago.
Of the dozen or so nakago I looked at bearing “Hattori Masahiro”, the writing is just slightly off from on mine, and I haven’t seen a single other Hattori Masahiro mei on a Gendaito. I’m sure the Showato/Gunto he produced far otnumbered any amount of Gendaito he (may have) made, though.

-Jason


#29 Jason N

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 09:41 PM

To compare.
masahiro_signatures.jpg

Just to clarfiy on my previous reply...

I believe the Hattori in Seki and the plain Hattori are from the same smith as on my sword, but from different times, and I believe the mei were often signed by workers, not the actual smith. The mei on my sword is the sloppiest example I’ve seen (not very re-assuring) and all the mei I’ve seen I would attribute to “my” Masahiro are better executed than mine. Those swords are also very different than mine.
I’ll be back home tonight, so I’ll try to get some better pics besides the stuff I had archived on my phone.

-Jason


#30 Jason N

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Posted 28 April 2019 - 03:55 AM

I took some quick pics when I got home. Maybe these will help.

Now that I’m home, I can hold the sword in hand, and my doubts are lessened. The pics are lower res uploaded. In the originals, I think I can see wariha tetsu lamination method.

Attached Thumbnails

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  • IMG_4413.JPG

-Jason






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