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Amada Sadayoshi katana and Isoroku Yamamoto


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#1 Eric Santucci

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 03:24 PM

I've recently started doing some research on Amada Sadayoshi and was re-reading the excellent article Danny posted some time ago on Nihontocraft about Isoroku Yamamoto and the Amada Sadayoshi katana.

http://www.nihontocr...moto_NBTHK.html

Does anyone happen to know what has become of that Amada Sadayoshi katana that Yamamoto-san carried to his death in battle or of the shadow sword that Junichiro Watanabe noted he possessed in the article circa Showa 60? I've done some searching online, here on the board, (and spoke with Danny over email), but no luck in finding any additional info.

Thanks,
Eric
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#2 kusunokimasahige

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 03:29 PM

I am not sure how well the crash site has been investigated after the incident in which Yamamoto sama perished :

http://www.google.nl... ... 80&bih=644

http://wikimapia.org... ... il-18-1943

I do know that there is a katana in existence which was made for him :

http://www.busido.cz... ... u-yamamota

KM
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#3 Eric Santucci

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 04:59 PM

Many thanks KM,

I saw that utsushimono on the site you posted - very interesting and quite nice.

Thanks for the links to the crash site and the article info too. What is very interesting here is the notation about his body being recoved, cremated, and remains returned aboard the battleship Musashi. I quite wonder if the sword was taken with his remains at that time.

Best,
Eric
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#4 george trotter

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 05:50 PM

Maybe I can help...I worked on Bougainville Island 1976-77 in the Solomons where Admiral Yamamoto was shot down and have actually seen his crashed Betty bomber. It is still existing... about 1/3 of the (rear portion) of the fuselage (see pic). The aluminium chair he was strapped into was still there also (see pic).
Read p.200 of Tamio's New Gen of Japanese S/Smiths and you will see that Amada Sadayoshi's son has explained that the Admiral was hit by bullets. Three hit the sword made by his father...2 on the saya and 1 on the tsuka. The sword was returned to the Navy Headquarters in Tokyo and kept in a safe. The funeral procession carried his Gensui sword presented to him by the Emperor (not Amada's sword). Late in the war the Navy building received a direct hit from a bomb and the safe and the Sadayoshi sword were totally destroyed.
So, it's gone I'm afraid, but the Emperor's presentation sword must still exist?
Regards,
PS the 2 pics are from an Australian publication "Rust in Peace" about battlefields in SW Pacific.
PPS many of the pics of his plane shown in the above link do not appear to be genuine...unless the aircraft has improved with age and has partly re-assembled itself.

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#5 Eric Santucci

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 06:17 PM

Hi George,

Thanks for that info! :D It is sad to learn the fate of that sword, but at least it is a mystery no longer.

I'll see if I can track down the shadow sword that Junichiro Watanabe possessed, although I have a feeling it is likely still within the Watanabe family, but we shall see.

Thanks again!

Best,
Eric
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#6 kusunokimasahige

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 11:43 PM

George, part of the good looking wreckage in some of the photos has to do with the fact that it is a reconstruction of the Yamamoto Betty crash site in a museum ;)

The real thing is hopefully still laying where it crashed..

However some disturbing news has come to all those who would like to preserve these wrecks in situ,
since some governments of Pacific islands where battles were fought together with private parties are
removing and selling a lot of wreckage often with blatant disregard for the human remains sometimes still
found in them.

To be honest, I absolutely detest battlefield relic hunters. By whom I mean those people going out with metal detectors indiscriminately digging for loot without any knowledge of historical or archeological systematic documenting/recording of a site and who often even have the audacity to throw away bones as well as ID tags because the artifacts are more important to them (read: worth more money on the collector's market)....

KM
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#7 george trotter

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 05:41 AM

Ah, that explains it...the actual crash site is accessable, but getting to Buin and walking into the site is quite gruelling, so reconstructing the site in a museum makes sense. I did wonder at the apparent "professionalism" of the displays as to the best of my knowledge, Bougainville has been closed since my time as there has been a war of independence going on there. I even saw my old quarters on the news last year and the jungle has reclaimed the entire township.
This is off topic, but may be of interest to members...about "relic hunters"...I agree with most of what you say...in the case of the SW Pacific, there are laws to prevent this in PNG, but not in Guadalcanal. In fact, the poor villagers there are the most likely culprits as they regard the battlefields (including burial sites) as their private resource to sell to passing travellers...terrible I know. I have even seen (last year) gold teeth with particles of jawbone attached being offered for sale...so you know where this comes from!...so I do object to digging and "tomb-raiding" without official/professional guidance/record keeping.
Having said this, I have no objection to someone randomly finding an old cartridge case, or rusty bayonet lying there and picking it up.
I myself picked up a rusty revolver while on patrol on a Bougainville riverbank ...Australian issue...I still have it...obviously dropped during the war, but not in a grave or "archaeological site" if you know what I mean.
It was after my stint in the islands that I returned to Australia, entered university and then did almost 30 years in the History Dept of our state museum...yes, looking after our arms & armour collection, including 84 Japanese swords.

This little snapshot is why I like WWII gendaito...I love artifacts connected to history in my immediate time. For me, knowing a sword was made and used in WWII is just as important as the blade itself...I know I am holding something that was used in battle against my father and uncles in the Pacific.
Like Eric, it is more than just collecting "examples" of a particular thing (like an era, province, or a particular smith or group...), it is researching the actual sword (if surrender details are known), or the smith, or owners of his work, as in the case of Yamamoto etc as in many cases these smiths/owners were alive during my own lifetime and a considerable amount of info is available (or sometimes not). I once saw a gunto in a bag with a walking stick. The items were owned by an English officer who was at the Japanese surrender in Saigon. When I translated the carved inscription on the walking stick it read "Gensui (fieldmarshal) Count Terauchi" and was dated September 1945. Terauchi surrendered the entire south Asia armies on behalf of the Emperor. He was ill at the time and needed a stick to help him walk...so, that's history for you.
I'm not saying my theme/interest is the only one, just that specific history research is an important component, and I can understand Eric's interest.
Gotta love history...
Regards,
George Trotter

#8 kusunokimasahige

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 08:40 AM

Hey George, I agree partly with you on what you say about the odd pick-up of something just laying there on the surface.

Being interested/studying the history of items is not what I am against, as a historian myself I also research various periods as well as at times take contemporary items into the classroom with me. :)

What I was on about is a tendency seen online more and more in videos like the following one :



This is what I find abhorrant :



Here is a 2010 news item on the pillaging of WWII wrecks on the Solomon Islands :

http://youtu.be/YKbV4sSPHvc

Studying history is no problem for me, nor is studying Gunto or other items and their provenance.
Even the dire situation of poverty being the reason why some of the islanders themselves feel the need to sell
relics is part understandable though I am not happy with it.

We all should learn from history, but there are ways to do it properly.

KM
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#9 george trotter

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 10:50 AM

I agree, this is a subject that requires careful consideration and comment, and probably, this is not the forum for it.
Just briefly...Ideally, we should all just leave things where they lie, but this is often impractical. The idea of picking something up is (for me) a far cry from actually metal-detecting and digging over areas containing bodies or indeed taking "tours" through caves of body-parts.
We had a firm policy in Bougainville where we also came upon relics and bodies almost every week. We would immediately notify the Japanese Engineers on site (they monitored our ball-mill insallations) and they would call in the Japanese authorities who always had a cremation and a repatriation of the ashes to Yasukuni...in our case the Army recovery team (or Airforce) would deal with it, but apart from one Australian pilot, we did not find any Aussies.
The selling of the Pacific wrecks would not happen in PNG, but this case was in the Shortlands, which, while only a few miles from Bougainville, is actually in Solomons area...I notice this is where the large scale selling in happening. My friend, a Major(peacekeeping forces) was up there last year and did as much as he could to convince the locals not to sell stuff as they could make more by keeping it and charging people to pay a fee to see it "in situ" (like a museum)...but unless this improves, a lot of heritage/history will disappear.
Regards,
George Trotter

#10 Eric Santucci

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 02:08 PM

This little snapshot is why I like WWII gendaito...I love artifacts connected to history in my immediate time. For me, knowing a sword was made and used in WWII is just as important as the blade itself...I know I am holding something that was used in battle against my father and uncles in the Pacific. Like Eric, it is more than just collecting "examples" of a particular thing (like an era, province, or a particular smith or group...), it is researching the actual sword (if surrender details are known), or the smith, or owners of his work, as in the case of Yamamoto etc as in many cases these smiths/owners were alive during my own lifetime and a considerable amount of info is available (or sometimes not).



Hi George, cheers to that. :beer: I fully agree and find WWII gendaito to be quite a fascinating topic because of these very things. The stories, places, and events connected to the objects seem to imbue them with something extraordinary. I recall sitting in my living room many years ago when my grandfather was alive and him recounting some WWII stories when I produced a rather large katana from its bag for oiling. The very first thing he said to me was "I just got chills lookin' at that thing".

Thanks to both you and KM for some great info in this topic.

Best,
Eric
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#11 george trotter

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 04:12 PM

You are very welcome Eric. Happy collecting and researching.
regards,
George Trotter

#12 kusunokimasahige

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 07:57 PM

True George, maybe worth starting a topic in the Izakaya on that.

I also am very interested in the stories of WWII, especially having met several veterans who fought for my freedom in the Netherlands was always impressive and humbling. A dying breed, thats true.

My own type 98 scabbard Gunto, which really needs a polish (did a little careful work on it with just ji and hazuya and MAN the activity jumped from it) is signed Masayuki (highly likely Gimei), The aluminum scabbard is almost completely devoid of paint. remaining paint is a sort of dark green. According to the Japanese man who once saw it when I took it to a sword show here told me that looking at the numbers on the tsuba/seppa etc it most definetely was a pre-1940 scabbard and fittings.

Sadly the fittings have once been polished so their patina is gone but it still has a nice early sarute. Tsuka needs to be replaced though.

The stories it could tell me if it could speak..... No surrender tag, no number to find in any archive to whom it was issued makes it very difficult to research., and I just love researching :)

KM
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#13 Sporkkaji

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 03:29 AM

This is what I find abhorrant :


Unlike the first video showing them blatantly defiling the battle site on the eastern front, this guy on Saipan simply picks up the belt buckle and puts it right back where it was. One is abhorrant, the other not necessarily.
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#14 kusunokimasahige

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 11:35 AM

True, but was not on about the guy... Actually emailed him to ask whether he notified the authorities, he did but they were not at all interested. What I found abhorrant is the pile of bones they just let lay about and have done for years.

KM
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#15 Fat Crip

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 11:51 PM

I realise I'm a Jonny come lately here, but I only saw this site and thread yesterday. I have a particular interest in amada sadayoshi as I have a beautiful example of his work made just a few months before his death in april 1937 aged only 36.

My grandfather AVM Ted Hawkins was c/o of a Short Sterling sea plane squadron at Seletar in August 1945. He had in his charge a number of Japanese POWs under the command of a rear admiral who spoke good English. This was very early after the end of hostilities and before most of Japan's atrocities against British POWs had come to light and the surrender of swords of late August early September had begun. Grandpa asked the Admiral for a couple of swords and a day or two later he turned up with two; a tanto which Grandpa described as 'a hari-khari knife that had obviously seen some use as it was caked in blood', and a Katana, very much in '34 pattern, but with a lot of tori-sori. It came in a fine shirasaya with ivory mounts around the mekugi ana, but, and I've never seen this elsewhere, with a Tsuba in the shape of a gibbon with a single seppa on the habbaki side. The blade is, as I say, elegant, with a lovely taper to the kissaki. Unusualy for Sadayoshi it has a midare hammon (rather like the famous 'missing' Yammamoto blade). It bares Sadayoshi's mei on the omote and is dated November '36 on the ura. Interestingly it came with a tablet attached. This gave the name of the original owner, that he lived in Moat Street in Niigata and that the sword had seen service in China, possibly Nangking, in 1937, before being returned to Japan as 'a familly treasure', before heading back off to War in Malaya, finally ending up in Singapore. It seems that my grandfather 'tested' the blade with a little hedge trimming, but then coated it in grease, put it back in it's shirasaya and stored it in his loft. I found it there when I was 9 years old in July 1976 and had a few moments to examine it before it was put back by my grandmother! I asked grandpa about it and he confidently told me it was just a 'munitions quality blade', but even as a nine year old I knew better and always hoped that I would see it again one day. Two years ago, as he was about to go in to a home (he's 92) he gave it to me along with two British infantry swords that I'd also seen in 76. I cleaned off the grease and had the tablet translated by Dr Rosina Buckland at The National Museum of Scotland in Edingurgh. She refered me on to Greg Irvine at the V&A and I started to find out about Sadayoshi. I emailed Clive Sinclaire at the Token Society who had met Amada Agitsugu (Sadayoshi's son and National Living Treasure). The story of the missing sword kept coming up, and for a while I held out the hope that mine might just be it, but, as the tsuka was siezed I couldn't check the date. I eventualy managed to remove the tsuka at the expense of a very bruised wrist. Then I discovered that mine was later. I read Watanabe's story and it answers a lot about Sadayoshi. For example, why there are no swords before 1933 bearing his mei and what happened to the 'missing' sword. Incidentaly, Sinclaire believes that Yamamoto's sword ended up in the hands of an American collector. If anyone is still awake after reading the above, I'd be happy to post a few pics if anyone's interested.
Eric Holford

#16 Eric Santucci

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 12:11 AM

Hi Fat Crip,

Welcome to the forum and thanks for your post. Please sign your real name to posts per forum rules. :thanks:

Whether the Yamamoto-San sword was blown up in attack per one story or in the hands of a collector per another we may never know, but quite a fascinating tidbit of history nevertheless.

Very interesting information you posted and I think I speak for many by saying we would love to see some photos of your Sadayoshi sword.

Welcome again and best,
Eric
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#17 Fat Crip

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 12:17 AM

Hi Fat Crip,

Welcome to the forum and thanks for your post. Please sign your real name to posts per forum rules. :thanks:

Whether the Yamamoto-San sword was blown up in attack per one story or in the hands of a collector per another we may never know, but quite a fascinating tidbit of history nevertheless.

Very interesting information you posted and I think I speak for many by saying we would love to see some photos of your Sadayoshi sword.

Welcome again and best,
Eric


Sorry, my name is Eric too. Eric Holford. I'll post a few pics.

Eric
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#18 Lindus

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 12:45 AM

Fascinating thread Georg/KM et al.

How I regrette not have interest in the past when buying swords from UK vets,many interesting dots of history now lost,I used to advertise and when an offer came in would send a cardboard tube with printed address lable and a ten pound note inside,when the tube returned it would often contain not just the Gunto but medals,letters,photographs etc.

Dumped in a cardboard box in the loft it was around eight years ago when altering the hovel I found the box again,lucky that I had bagged each lot and attached a collection number. Some had long gone but some like the wife of a RAF padre who had been awarded a mention in despatchs for continuing a funeral whilst under fire{see below} or the war time history of a Cornish mine engineer who when working in Malaya when war broke out joined the Malay vol: force,then he and his unit with drew to Singapore which was imediatly surrendered,Burma railway,Hell ship to Japan and as a Hard rock miner was forced to work there. The letter from his relative showed that each day he would take out his meagre WW2 possessions,tooth brush,chop sticks et al and sit thinking about it {See below}

Odd when young this seemed uninteresting and now is a huge loss like my fathers WW1 naval journal where as a boy seaman he was involved in two major sea battles,Falkland Island and Coronel. Oh for the use of a time machine.

Just found this audio from an officer,not sure it will work but if it does it is fascinating how matter of fact it is. Click "gadson" and again,it should play.
Just checked and if you follow through it will play from my PC.

Also another officers sword and details,just for fun.....http://collectorsloo...d.com/swd7.html

Let me know if it works for you?.

Roy

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#19 george trotter

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 04:45 AM

hi Eric (Fat Crip), welcome to the board.
About your comment that there are two stories about what happened to Yamamoto's sword...I have only ever heard the one given by Amada Sadayoshi's son....could the family be wrong? can you tell us more?

Roy, very interesting info on that Yastsugu blade...I don't know what kanji the "Yasutsugu" mei are or whether there are any additional kanji as well, but just looking at it I see a strong similarity to a blade I once owned by Echizen sandai Yasutsugu (see centre sword in pic). maybe it is him? or of the line?
Regards,

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#20 Fat Crip

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 10:11 PM

hi Eric (Fat Crip), welcome to the board.
About your comment that there are two stories about what happened to Yamamoto's sword...I have only ever heard the one given by Amada Sadayoshi's son....could the family be wrong? can you tell us more?

Roy, very interesting info on that Yastsugu blade...I don't know what kanji the "Yasutsugu" mei are or whether there are any additional kanji as well, but just looking at it I see a strong similarity to a blade I once owned by Echizen sandai Yasutsugu (see centre sword in pic). maybe it is him? or of the line?
Regards,


A news paper man called Watanabe effectively claims to have made Sadayoshi's name and in 1985 claimed to still have the midare (sp?) sword. To cut a long story short, through Watanabe, Yamamoto's elder brother ordered a sword for his wee bro. Sadayoshi made two for him to chose from, a midare and a suguha. Big bro chose the suguha hamon as he thought the 'gentle wave' was more appropriate for a sailor. Watanabe claimed still to have the rejected sword at the time of writing in Showa 60. The full article is here:

http://www.nihontocr...moto_NBTHK.html

It tells us that before March 33 Sadayoshi was engaged in making gimei for a few unscrupulous sword dealers, though he does suggest that he was being exploited at a time when swordsmiths were finding it hard to get work. Watanabe and a few other local Niigata dignitaries set about promoting Sadayoshi, even entering a sword for him in the first Tokyo sword exhibition in 34. When he won the Prime Minister's award, his career took off, possibly peaking with the Yamamoto Isoroku commission in March 35. The only swords I've seen by him were a suguha hamon with full bo-hi on both sides dated February 36, my midare (without a bo-hi) from Nov '36 and one other I saw on rice cracker.com a ear or so ago. he died in April 37, so his career was really only a little over two and a half years. I'm always interested to see examples of his work. Mine could do with a good polish, but it's still a very splendid thing!

I'm sure Watanabe, or his decedents anyway, would be easy enough to trace for a Japanese surfer, unfortunately my Japanese is somewhere between rubbish and non-existent! If anyone takes it on I'd love to know the outcome. I'd also like to know how Sadayoshi died and how many swords he made. It can't have been many. If current rules applied, it would probably be less than 60, and I suspect from everything I've read, that it may be even less than that.

Eric Holford
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#21 Fat Crip

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 10:17 PM

Oh, something else. Of course Agitsugu was only a small boy when his father died, and he can't have been more than 6 or 7 when the Yamamoto thing happened, so whatever story he has was most likely given to him rather than first hand.

Both stories say that Yamamoto was holding the sword when shot down.

Eric Holford
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#22 pcfarrar

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 10:56 PM

About 5 years ago I had an Amada Sadayoshi katana that was in WW2 civilian koshirae. It was suguha and had good jigane and nice activity in the hamon. The nakago was badly corroded, so I'm not sure what the date was. The new owner had it polished and it came out pretty nice.

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#23 Fat Crip

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:22 AM

Thanks for showing that Peter. Yes that's clearly Sadayoshi's mei. As for the date, that's more difficult, but comparing it with the pictures of two others, then my guess would be January '35. You have to assume that it starts with the two caricatures of Showa, as it can really be nothing else, then the first character visible is juu then presumably ni, then definitely ichi and presumably it ends gatsu hi. So Showa 10, 1st month, a day (in). If someone has better eye-sight, or if you have any clearer pics, then I may be wrong, but I've based that by looking at the spacing as much as the carving. It's certainly the poorest preserved Sadayoshi nakago I've seen yet!

It's very similar to mine, except mine has a midare hamon. It's also the first time I've ever seen one mounted, which is nice too. So now we need a real expert ... i it a ¥50 or ¥100 blade? In some ways it matters not as the Prime Minister's prize was won with a ¥50 blade!

Eric Holford
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#24 cabowen

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:34 AM

I have seen several of Amada senior's swords over the years with most being in suguha. One, done in a very wide notare in nie, resembled a Shinkai wakizashi I saw once. Very unusual work for this smith but nicely done.

#25 k morita

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 02:21 AM

About 5 years ago I had an Amada Sadayoshi katana that was in WW2 civilian koshirae. It was suguha and had good jigane and nice activity in the hamon. The nakago was badly corroded, so I'm not sure what the date was. The new owner had it polished and it came out pretty nice.


Hi,
The sword mei looks Imai Sadaroku sword to me.
今井貞六
See Slough's book on page 149.
K Morita
 

#26 Fat Crip

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 03:52 AM

Hi,
The sword mei looks Imai Sadaroku sword to me.
今井貞六
See Slough's book on page 149.


The only bit that's clear to me is Echigo kuni ju. The next character looks like the first part of Amada, but isn't clear, and then it's cut off. However, the style of the carving is absolutely Sadayoshi. See the examples below. The second is mine.

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#27 cabowen

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 04:11 AM

I agree with Morita san, the above is a work by Imai Sadaroku. No coincidence the mei are similar as Imai was a student of Amada....

#28 Fat Crip

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 04:22 AM

OK, I could be wrong, but, firstly the over all shape, particularly the nakago is more Sadayoshi, than Sadaroku. Secondly, the carving of kuni is different between the two, and this is more Sadayoshi. The filing is more typical of Sadayoshi. And, finally the position of the mei, below the 'point' of the diagonal filing, is more Sadayoshi. Oh, and I forgot the date, if I have it right (and it's really not clear), is early for Sadaroku. Of course, if we could see the whole of the mei, I could be talking rot. As I'm pretty new to this game, I may be talking rot anyway, however, I will not be offended if either of you want to put me right, after all I'm here to learn.

Eric Holford
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#29 cabowen

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 04:32 AM

Look carefully and I think you will see that the second kanji is roku 六 not yoshi

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#30 Fat Crip

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 04:49 AM

Yes, I think you're right! Odd, because, with the limited samples I have to go on, I was certain ... just goes to show! Like I say, I'm here to learn. Mind you, I had started with the premiss that the second picture was the omote, and, therefore a date. It only dawned on me a few minutes ago that, if that were the case, then the script was in the wrong place! I'll have to say, in my defence that it is quarter to four in the morning!
Eric Holford




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