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Posts posted by SteveM

  1. My wild guess: "Received from my father-in-law".

    I can't get that second to last kanji - which I think is causing both of us to fish for possibilities.

    The kanji on the other side is indeed year (秊). It just came up in a Tanobe sayagaki a couple of weeks ago.

    It's a favorite of his. Interesting to see it in another context.

    • Like 1
  2. Scott and Marco are right with the Era name. And Marco got the 年 (year) on the end of the date. 

    If you look at the tang and think, "how will I ever pick out these kanji out of the 10,000 to 20,000 kanji in use in Japan", it is quite daunting. But if you look at it knowing there is a good chance one of the inscriptions is a date, it narrows the focus to a huge degree. If you are looking at a modern sword, your focus gets narrowed even more, and the task becomes a lot less daunting. 


    Names require a bit more practice, but this too is made a lot simpler if you know that most names are a two-kanji composite, with a lot of the same kanji popping up over and over again. In this case, the first kanji of the name is 兼 (Kane) which has to be one of the top 3 kanji in use for swordsmith names, and very commonly found in names of Mino (aka Gifu, Nōshū, Seki) smiths. WW2 blades often come from the Gifu/Mino area, so Kane is quite common on WW2 blades. 


    The second kanji of the name on this sword is sort of an intermediate/advanced level kanji, not because it is unusual, rather it is made difficult by the inscribers' very cursive style. The kanji has been greatly reduced or abbreviated from its normal, printed form. 



    兼武 Kanetake 


    • Like 2
  3. Hello Scott,

    So far you are correct. If you have 10 + 9 (or almost any other numbers), you should be thinking, "this must be a date". And if you suspect its a date, the kanji before the numbers are very likely an era name. (And the kanji behind the numbers is equally predictable). Given that it’s probably a date, and given the very choppy inscription style, hopefully you can get one side of the tang. 


    The name on the opposite side is slightly more tricky. (If you have the date, you can very likely guess what the first kanji of the other side might be, since it is a kanji that is very common to swordsmiths of this era/location.)





  4. Possible to get pictures of the sword itself? Full shape, and then some close ups? 

    Usually you look at the sword first, and then the signature. The reason for this is that with a bit of practice, anyone can learn how to forge a name. But swordmaking...this is something that isn't easily faked. 


    Here is a Naotane sword from the same year as the date on your sword for comparison.


  5. The blade says:


    Kōzuke-no-kami Sugawara Sukekane


    The saya says the same thing minus the surname (kind of clan name, I think) of Sugawara


    Writing it on the saya is just one way of keeping track of your collection without having to unsheath it and then re-sheath it every time you want to remember the name on the item. 


    Assume the shirasaya was made sometime in the last 50 years. (It could be older, but...its not really super important how old the shirasaya is, unless the item is an heirloom sword with sayagaki from some renowned scholar). 

    • Like 2
  6. On 9/8/2021 at 11:03 PM, k morita said:


    I'm wondering about this bit here. I don't think this should be interpreted as a wish for world peace, but I can't figure it out. If I search for this phrase I get a reference to a certain Amano Kanzaemon (天野勘左衛門), who is the subject of an old legend, but I don't feel this is right.  

    Maybe @k morita or @Nobodycan help with this bit? 


  7. 守住 = Morisumi. Very late Edo to Meiji artist. Looks like he shifted to saber fittings (out of necessity, no doubt). 

    Wakayama doesn't list his gō, but this tsuba says 池南亭 Chinantei.

    Kind of an interesting piece that bridges the era of handmade swords and fittings, with the era of more mass-produced and less personalized fittings. 


  8. 出羽国住人大慶庄司直胤(花押)



    Robert has it right: Dewa-no-kuni jūnin Taikei Shōji Naotane (kaō)

    Date of Bunka 14, Autumn. (1807)


    The last line is a cutting test inscription.

    Same year, December 26th, at Senjū (in suburbs of Tokyo at that time).

    Performed the Tai-tai cut


    (although here its spelled incorrectly. It should be 太々.)

    • Like 2
  9. 文化六己巳年八月九日於江府浅  




    Bunka 6 (1809), tsuchinoto-mi, August 9th. In Edo, Asakusa.

    (Name of person who performed cutting test)

    Performed the "kesa" cut (diagonally up from the side)


    You'll have to wait for the big guns to come to provide clarity on the middle bit (in red) and to decipher the grass script. I presume the grass script will be a waka poem (regarding the moon, but anything beyond that is unreadable for me).  





    • Like 4
    • Haha 1
  10. 第六八一




    681st ?

    Iron openwork carving with silver inlay

    One pair of chopsticks for tea (presumably "tea ceremony")


    I can't read the writing on the outside of the box. I'm also unable to figure out what the "681" reference is. The artists 681st work? 

    Hopefully someone will chime in and clear it up.


    Edit: Maybe the box lid says 火ばし (Hibashi - brazier chopsticks).

  11. The reverse side contains a part of a patriotic poem written in the 1800s by Fujita Tōko. The poem celebrates loyalty and a virtuous, righteous Japan, and was popular from the Bakumatsu era to the end of WW2. 


    神洲孰君臨 萬古仰天皇

    皇風洽六合 明徳侔太陽


    It's written in Chinese style, so translation requires to go from this hybrid Chinese/Japanese 19th century poetic style, to modern Japanese, to English, which is a bit of work. It's something like


    Heaven sent the Imperial Family to rule over Japan,

    and their clear and manifest righteousness has spread across the land since ancient times


    You can find the original, complete poem here



    I don't see the Genji date anywhere on the sword or on the papers. The papers indicate a date sometime circa Kōka (1840s). 

    • Like 5
  12. Hello Howard,

    You are not getting many replies because I think this piece is Chinese rather than Japanese. 

    The writings refer to Chinese eras, artistic themes, and artists (I think).


    For example, the far left of picture #3 mentions 大清元年仲冬月中旬製 (Made in Year 1 of Qing Dynasty, Mid November). 

    I don't know how Chinese dynasty dating conventions work (i.e. I don't know if they work the same way as Japanese era dates), so I can't tell you what the above date would be in the western calendar (Google says Qing year 1 is 1616, but...I would be surprised if this piece were more than 200 years old, judging by the clarity of the characters carved and the color inlays).  


    Anyway, maybe one of our Chinese-speakers can jump in with something more definitive. 

  13. Would like to see a more close-up photo of the right side to get the second kanji of the recipient's name.

    It looks something like 


    Masao-kun ha kōa senshi


    Masao has become a warrior for East Asia


    Across the top, from right to left, is the near ubiquitous 祈武運長久 (Inoru/Ki Buun chōkyū). Pray for everlasting luck in battle.

    Around the red disc in very large letters you can see a phrase that was popular during the war, 八一宇 (Hakkō Ichiu) Eight points, one universe. This phrase was recently the subject of a thread here. The meaning is something like "all nations living peacefully under one imperial roof". Only, in this flag the second kanji, 紘 is wrong, and the writer has mistakenly used 弘 instead. Also, the 大 (dai) at the far left is kind of unusual. Judging from its size and its placement it looks like the writer meant it to be a part of the "hakkō ichiu" phrase, but it doesn't belong there. Kind of weird. 


    There are other patriotic phrases spread around the flag, as well as names of colleagues and friends of the recipient. 


    Edit: The 大 at the far left could plausibly the name of the person who wrote 八紘一宇. It could be the name "Masaru" (or other possible readings for names). But that feels like a stretch to me. 

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