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Translation Help Please


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#1 SSB


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Posted 28 June 2019 - 03:49 PM

Greetings - I was given this by a family member about 35 years ago and know nothing about it. Can someone help translate it and explain more about what it is and where it came from? 


Thanks in advanced!


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Shane B.

#2 Ray Singer

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Posted 28 June 2019 - 04:59 PM

This is a kozuka with a kogatana signed: 藤田近江守繼平 - Fujita Omi (no) kami Tsuguhira

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#3 Brian



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Posted 28 June 2019 - 06:52 PM

Kozuka - The handle
Kogatana - The blade.
Together they form a sort of general utility knife that was carried in a special pouch in the side of the scabbard of a Japanese sword. They can be very ornate, and are collectible in their own right.
Some kogatana are forged and folded like the swords themselves and can have temper lines. Signed by a smith, although many bear false "homage" signatures to famous smiths.

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#4 SSB


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Posted 28 June 2019 - 07:37 PM

Thanks so much for the quick response! Is there any way to tell how old it is? Were these sold / traded or did they typically stay with the same family over time? 

Shane B.

#5 SSB


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Posted 28 June 2019 - 07:38 PM

Also, what about the box? Does that have anything to do with the knife? 

Shane B.

#6 k morita

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Posted 29 June 2019 - 01:58 AM



The box is unrelated to your Kogatana knife.
東山春色 The scenery of Higashiyama,kyoto in spring.
楳仙題 painted by Baisen(Hirai Baisen,平井楳仙). 

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K Morita

#7 SteveM


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Posted 29 June 2019 - 02:05 AM

Assume Edo period, which is casting a pretty wide net from 1600 - 1870 or so. If the signature on the knife is authentic, it would place the kogatana around the 1760s - 1770s. As Brian says, the signature on the kogatana is often written by someone else, so nobody gets too worked up over signatures on these items. There are exceptions, but generally speaking these are not super high-value items.


Usually the blade handle (called kozuka) is more valuable than these utility blades themselves. The kozuka can be heirloom quality. The one in this picture doesn't look quite like heirloom quality, but despite some wear and erosion of the gold leaf it looks like a nice enough piece. The kozuka has the name Mitsuyoshi (光好) engraved, then a sort of calligraphic flourish called a kaō (花押) under it. There were at least three artists who used this name, all of them working in the latter part of the Edo period.  

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Steve M



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Posted 29 June 2019 - 07:39 AM

20190629_004909.jpg 20190629_010632.jpg Picture one is a piece sold as part of a lot of six other kozuka by a major auction house, they date the entire lot to Meiji and list this piece as : signed by Mitsuyoshi.  Picture two is of a set of antique French flatware, the kozuka handles are reproductions.  Such facsimile kozuka were produced both in Japan and Europe, so beware.  BTW, this particular motif (Shimekazari & Ise-Ebi) was extremely popular, symbolic of New Year's it was considered a good luck talisman.



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#9 SSB


    Chu Saku

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Posted 01 July 2019 - 10:06 PM

Thank you all for this information! I have no reason to believe it's fake as it was given to me by my great Aunt 35 years ago who said her husband brought it back from the war. I thought maybe the engravings would track it back to a family and didn't realize they were the artists mark. I've had it a long time so I really appreciate everyone taking the time to explain what it is! 




Shane B.

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