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Ed Harbulak

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Ed Harbulak last won the day on May 9 2018

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  1. Johan, you really need to purchase "The Craft of the Japanese Sword" from Amazon for $27 as Darrel suggested. All, or at least many, of your questions will be answered. For one thing, every sword blade generally has some taper to it, so does the shirasaya made for it. There are NO fixed sizes of thickness, breath and width. The dimensions of the sword dictate the size, shape, thickness, etc.of the shirasaya. As to the fit of the blade inside the shirasaya, I find it helpful to cover the blade with choji or mineral oil so you can see where the blade contacts the wood inside the shirasaya. Then carefully remove the oil stains from the inside of the shirasaya BEFORE gluing the two parts together. Good luck with your project. I'm sure the second shirasaya you make will benefit from the experience you get from the first one.
  2. Generally the fuchi and kashira match is some way. What does the fuchi look like? Perhaps a picture of the entire mounts would be helpful. Ed
  3. I saw this sword on the Showa22 web site and if you look carefully, you can see the handle has been re-wrapped recently and not by someone familiar with how the Japanese would do it.
  4. The family name of the swordsmith who made your blade is Motomura. He is listed in the names of the 1941 exhibition participants as "Motomura Kanemoto (Saga)". There were two WWII swordsmiths who used Kanemoto as their art name so don't get them mixed up. I think you are misunderstanding the concept of rare when it comes to the mounts your blade is in. Late in the war Japan was running out of essential materials and in order to save materials needed for the war effort, they simplified the scabbard and mountings in the last couple of years of the war. After using the type 98 mountings for most of the war, then they switched over to the Rinji style. Since it was only used for a couple of years at the end of the war, it's not as common as the type 98, but still there were plenty of the Rinji style made, so personally I wouldn't call them rare. Less common would be a better term.
  5. According to Markus Sesko the civilian name of the Kanemoto who made your sword was Motomura Kensaku. He was born in 1907 and studied from 1924 under 3rd generation Muto Hisahiro. He worked as a Rikugun-Jumei tosho which should tell you a lot about your sword if you did a little searching about star stamps. It also appears he entered the 1941 sword competition, but I'll let you find out how he placed since you have a copy of John Slough's book Modern Japanese Swordsmiths 1868 - 1945..
  6. We would know more if you told us the name of the sword smith.
  7. Steve, his family name was Taniguchi Kazue, he's listed in Markus Sesko's index of Japanese sword smiths as working in the Showa era, meaning WWII. He was a good enough smith to enter the 1941 exhibition which means he was making traditional blades. He is listed along with 67 other sword smiths who ranked in 5th place which was the rising swordsmiths category. Meaning he was an up and coming smith who didn't come in first, but neither did a lot of others who entered. That doesn't mean he wasn't a good smith, it just means there were others who did better. Don't go by the ranking in the 1941 exhibition, judge the sword for the quality YOU can see. You obviously liked it enough to buy it, but now you are too hung up on what other people might think. Look at it this way, in 1941 he was good enough to enter the competition and made a decent showing. There's nothing wrong with that.
  8. Steve, I checked my copy of John Slough's book that you have been quoting and I can't find any reference to 400 sword smiths at the 1941 exhibition.. It says "A total of 250 swordsmiths participated in this exhibition." There is also no mention of the number of people attending the exhibition, there were only 250 smiths who participated, meaning they entered blades for the competition. I think you are confusing the 1942 list of sword smiths that Kurihara Hikosaburo put together that does mention 400 smiths, but those are two different lists. Please read carefully. Kurihara's list in 1942 just lists the number of swordsmiths working that he knew about at the time, it has nothing to do with the number of smiths who entered the 1941 exhibition. It DOES NOT mean that 400 people entered the 1941 event.
  9. During the Meiji period when wearing swords was outlawed, many fittings craftsmen looked for other ways to make a living and began making sets of table ware using kogatana for handles. This kogatana and knife blade look typical for the Meiji era and were mostly intended for the European tourist visitors to Japan. I have found some in the past on eBay selling as table ware rather than with Japanese swords.
  10. Steve, unless your sword has a date on it, you really don't know in what year it was made other than sometime during WWII. Nor do you have any idea if your sword was the one Yoshikane entered in the 1941 competition. He may have entered more than one and presumably the blade or blades he did enter were made before the 1941 competition. Yours could have been made as late as 1945 and that's about the best you can say about your particular sword. More important than the date, is the workmanship and condition of the sword. It does look like a nice one so enjoy it for the workmanship and the history it has.
  11. The seppa would cover up the cherry blossoms and star. That's not the way the Japanese design a tsuba to be. Yes, there are genuine tsuba (not military) where the seppa can cover the design, but those really aren't "working" tsuba, but are designed as works of art. I think this is some sort of fake. In addition the two holes look like this was meant to be attached to something using nails or screws.
  12. The scabbard appears to be covered with textured lacquer while the material under the handle wrapping is called same' or shagreen in English. It's the skin of a ray. I'm sure others will give you more information about cleaning although it doesn't look like it needs more than perhaps a gentle brushing with something like a toothbrush.
  13. If you can purchase 99% alcohol, that's a great choice. Don't get overly worried about the tiny amount of water in the alcohol, remember when a sword polisher polishes a blade he uses plenty of water. Just be sure to have a thin film of oil on it when you put it back in the saya.
  14. You mentioned you plan to remove the old oil with a coffee filter and applying new oil with a microfiber cloth. Kleenex, facial or toilet tissue is fine for removing the old oil, but using a good grade of rubbing alcohol and tissue is the easier way to remove old oil from the blade. Use either the facial or toilet tissue to apply the fresh oil then wipe most of the oil off using a clean facial or toilet tissue. Only a thin film of oil is needed to keep the blade in good condition. If you search this site I'm sure you will find plenty of advice on how to remove or apply sword oil. Good luck with your new sword, it's a lot nicer than most people's first blade.
  15. As important as the mei is, it's just one of many things that must be considered when determining if the blade was made by the signature alleged to be that of the maker. Since you now have examples of three verified signatures, you should also compare the shape of the end of the nakago or tang, the slant or angle of the file marks on the tang, the location of the signature with respect to the peg hole and whether the general shape of the tang of the genuine and your tang match. Ultimately, the workmanship of the blade should be similar to what that particular sword smith's characteristics are. Things like the hamon or his forging style, masame, itame, mokume, etc. In general, an examination of the characteristics of the blade should verify the authenticity of the signature, not the other way around. In my very early days collecting Japanese sword, I acquired an excellent blade by a rather famous maker. The signature on the tang matched perfectly with examples of verified signatures in the literature. I submitted the sword to shinsa where it was judged gimei or false. I asked why it was gimei since the signature was a perfect match for a genuine signature. The shinsa team pointed out that the shape of the end of the tang did not match that of the genuine smith's style. The lesson learned was that there are excellent forgers out there who can make excellent copies of signatures. Don't depend only on the signature on your sword, everything else must match the work style of the supposed sword smith. When you are satisfied that you have considered everything else besides the signature and you think it's correct, then it's time to submit the blade to shinsa to verify your own study and conclusions. I hope this helps you to appreciate the complexity of sword collecting. Enjoy the "ride", it's often a very long one and you will learn a lot along the way.
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