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Everything posted by SteveM

  1. Q. After I have assumed that a signature is gimei, how do I consider the validity of a date on that same katana? Assume the whole inscription; date, name, any other extra bits, is the work of the forger, trying to increase the value of the sword. Ideally you focus on the sword itself. It's difficult to do, and I can't say that I follow this rule myself. But the ideal is to focus on the sword (shape, hamon, tip, steel, nakago) and then decide if the signature is accurate to the type of sword you are looking at. Q. Why would the smith falsify the date on which the blade is completed? A smith won't falsify the date, but a forger would. Or, are you wondering about the possibility that a smith put the date on the sword, but left no name on it, and then some years later a forger added a fake name to the sword? I can't say its an impossibility, but I'd say the likelihood of this is so low that one really doesn't need to worry about it. There are cases where the sword is judged to be a good, authentic sword by a known swordsmith, however the name on the sword seems to be a forgery. Maybe the forger did a terrible job when he inscribed the name, or maybe the forger put a name that is too ambitious for the sword (like putting the name "Da Vinci" on a painting that is clearly from the 19th century). In these cases, the NBTHK will refrain from issuing authentication papers until the offending signature is removed. This is the source of some debate in the sword world, as many people don't like the idea of having to remove a signature in order to get the sword authenticated. In the first place, the NBTHK could be mistaken in their judgment, so removing a signature could do irreperable harm to a one-of-a kind item. Also, some sword owners consider even the fake name to be part of the sword's history, and so they are reluctant to remove it. About your other thread where you were discussing the first appearance of Japanese swords in South Africa. I thought it was an interesting topic, but in the end it feels almost unknowable, unless we uncover a new diary or a ship's manifest from the 16th or 17th century. (Plus, I don't know enough about South Africa to make an intelligent guess.)
  2. Yes, that would be the maker's name. Maybe this guy (although there may be others who also used the name Toshinaga) https://nihontoclub.com/smiths/TOS294
  3. Well... 吉辰 might throw quite a few Japanese people off, as this compound word isn't exactly an everyday word. But the individual kanji are learned sometime in elementary school.
  4. It's pronounced Enpō hachinen hachigatsu kisshin. Its kind of complicated to reduce to just a few sentences. Generally speaking, in Japanese most kanji have at least two kinds of pronunciations. There is the Japanese-style pronunciation that is used when the kanji is used by itself or in some context where it is a stand-alone word, and there is a pronunciation that resembles the original Chinese sound of the kanji which is used when the kanji forms part of a compound word (as in the case of 延宝). There is also a third style of pronounciation, which is used almost exclusively for names, but put these aside for now... Most Japanese will know how to pronounce a word from its context. 延宝八年八月吉辰 Enpō hachinen hachigatsu kisshin This is a four word phrase. Enpō is a compound word that employs the chinese-ish style of pronunciation (en+pō). Hachinen - dates are a hybrid of Japanese and Chinese pronunciations (already it is becoming complicated). Anyway, "hachi" is strictly Japanese. Nen comes from the chinese pronunciation. Hachigatsu - Another hybrid. As above, "hachi" is Japanese pronunciation. "Gatsu" comes from the chinese pronunciation. Kisshin is a compound word that uses the chinese-style pronunciation for each character. Just as an aside: all of these kanji are common, and still in everyday use in Japan.
  5. Aoi did another diabolical job on the description. This time, the transcription of the sayagaki in Japanese is ridiculous, and the English translation is no better. To summarize, Tanobe-sensei's sayagaki states that while most old sources name Tōchika as the son of Tsunetō (placing him at the tail end of the Heian period), this sword has the traits of a mid-Kamakura sword.
  6. For the mei, the early inscriptions are Oite Kishū Yasuhiro, or Kii-no-kuni Yasuhiro, and sometimes including the prefix "Tōichi" (Kii-no-kuni Tōichi Yasuhiro).
  7. Clearly I have to lift my sōsho game! Looks like a perfect match in that sample. (Sorry for steering you off course, George).
  8. That would work. Some people post to Imgur and post a link here.
  9. 「囗囗刻」 seems like a good start; a signature telling us who engraved the item. Somebody carved this. 保 feels very close, and it works as a part of a name...so far so good. The first one doesn't fit the sōsho version of 歌, so it should be something else, but I can't figure it out. If it were a sword I would cycle through the common kanji found in swordsmith names (Kane, Yoshi, Masa, etc..) to see if it looks like any of those, which, unfortunately, it doesn't. Sorry I couldn't offer anything substantial.
  10. That's what it looks like to me, too. Toshinaga 歳長
  11. Age is late 1930s to 1945. Maker...let's wait to be sure who the maker is before we dive into the details (but you should be able to find some info in English on the internet regarding Hattori Masahiro). We can be fairly sure of the age because of the distinct chippy style of marking the tang. No need for chalk as the name looks to be inscribed well/deep enough. Also, there may be a date inscribed on the opposite side.
  12. Need a better shot of the nakago to properly read it, but my guess is 濃州関住服部正廣作 (Nōshū Seki jū Hattori Masahiro saku). That sword in those fittings should be worth north of $2000.
  13. I don't recognize that word/words. Nothing comes up in a search, which leads me to think there is a misspelling in the words (or it is so obscure, no other person on the internet has ever made reference to it - which seems unlikely, but it could be possible). When I do a search on that phrase, the closest thing I get is 先手使番指物. Alas, there is no description for exactly what that is. I assume it is merely an identifying banner worn by someone on the very front lines of battle.
  14. Yes, I was going to mention that too. It looks a lot like Sukeie, but I couldn't find any relevant reference either. So, with slight reservation, I'm leaning toward Sukemune.
  15. This guy (or someone after him). "Suke" on this sword is 助. https://nihontoclub.com/smiths/SUK279
  16. Mei says 備州長船助宗 Bishū Osafune Sukemune Bishū is another name for Bizen province (modern day Okayama, basically). Osafune is a town name. The town still exists. Sukemune is the name of the smith.
  17. I think it is a typo in the Nihontoclub database. 丹波 can be read either as Tamba or Niwa depending on the context. It seems in this case it should be read Niwa.
  18. Yes, as I mentionted in my first post I think it is possible there was some intention on the part of the smith to use "Ichi" in his name to further drive home the point that he was working in the style of Ichimonji. Bear in mind that Ichi (一) is a very common character to use in boy's names. It is usually applied to the first-born son's name (the baseball player Ichirō Suzuki, for example, or the musician Ryuichi Sakamoto). So on the one hand you shouldn't read too much into it. It could be just a name. But yes, it could be the smith trying to further remind everyone that the sword emulates an Ichimonji sword. At the end of the day, the sword itself is the important thing, rather than the name on the tang. And it looks like your sword is a fine example of a sword from this time and this lineage, so it looks like you did well with your impulse purchase.
  19. Here is the reference that shows his birth name. https://www.samuraishokai.jp/sword/15117.html Neither of the swords I linked to have a date on them, so they may be contemporary with your sword. The paper for your sword says yours was made in the Shōō era (1652-1655). The use of the kiku mon was awarded to your smith after this time.
  20. 當=当 It means "to hit" (as in, to hit a target), or to win something (election, lottery). The kanji on the left, and the one that is on your sword, is the original version. The kanji on the right is the simplified version that is in use in Japan today. There is no difference in meaning or pronunciation. Just two ways of drawing the same kanji. By itself it is pronounced ataru/atari. (If you are "of a certain age" you remember the video game company Atari. It was said that they took their name from this Japanese word meaning to win/hit). However, when this character is used as part of a compound word, it is pronounced tō. On your sword this character is combined with 一 (ichi) to form a sort of compound word tōichi. Actually it is a name rather than a word, but anyway the pronunciation of the two together (當一) is tōichi. There isn't a great amount of detail on Tōichi/Yasuhiro. None that is readily available to me, anyway. As you may know, swordsmiths and other artisans, scholars, politicians, in feudal Japan often went through many name changes in their lives. They may take on two or three or more different names as they proceed through their career. My guess is that Tōichi was a name he adopted early in his career, and then he dropped it as he began to be recognized (or maybe after the death of Yasuhiro 1st). His name at birth was Toda (or Tomita) Gorōzaemon. The use of the kiku-mon was something only allowed only under license/permission from the central government. It's use was a privilege that had to be awarded. The fact that it doesn't appear on your sword, plus the use of Tōichi in the name, makes me think your sword was made early in his career. Tō is indeed a homonym for sword (tō), but this is just a coincidence. Japanese is full of homonyms.
  21. Hello JT, the sword was good enough for the gentlemen of the NTHK to deem it genuine, so I think you can take some comfort from that. If there were any obviously problematic things about the sword, the NTHK would have caught them (hopefully) and flagged the sword as gimei. The NTHK may not be held in as high regard as the NBTHK, but it does run a very close second, and their judgment will be be better than any of us peering at your sword through our various screens. (And remember, the sword confirms the signature, so if the sword looks like Kii Yasuhiro work, slight variations in the signature may be tolerated.) Here are some other signed, authenticated Tōichi Yasuhiro swords. https://iidakoendo.com/1359/ https://www.touken-world.jp/search/23506/ Tōichi is Yasuhiro the 2nd. Don't worry about the length. I don't know if the use of "ichi" in the name was a nod to Ichimonji. I think its plausible, but I can't find any discussion of why that name is used.
  22. The headings should be 鍛 and 銘文  and the type of hada as written is 小杢目
  23. Minor nitpicking: Look again at the headings for #7 and #8. You have the correct meaning, but the readings are off. Not so minor: Look again at the kanji describing the hada in #7.
  24. Also consider the possibility that the "theme" is something you aren't aware of (but was common to a Japanese gentleman of the 1700 or 1800s). A theme can be something quite complicated. The theme may be "fittings made by metalworkers who come from my province", or "fittings representing a theme from Japanese literature" (but whose cohesion is lost to us westerners). Recently there was a tsuba posted that showed a rabbit, the moon, and waves - three things that would seem to be totally random. But then we discover that they are connected to a historical literary source, in addition to having connotations of good luck and prosperity. I think most people who could afford to order or assemble their own koshirae, would probably be fairly sophisticated, and the fittings they choose would/might reflect that sophistication. This is the long way of saying what George and Jean say in their posts above. I also agree completely with Mark when he mentions the unlikelihood of a set of fittings staying together through the centuries, unless it is a specific set like the Gotō mitokoro-mono fittings that are collected as a sub-genre by themselves. (A great example from the Sanō museum, below) https://www.sanobi.or.jp/bijutsukan/collection/sword_fitting.html
  25. 氣象如猛勇? The meaning is a bit of a mystery to me. "Brave, like the weather"... this is the straight translation of the words, but it is probably some literary allusion that carries a different meaning. Some phrase from a classic Japanese or Chinese text. Nothing shows up in a search, so I'm at a loss. (I could be wrong about the last character, but it should still turn up in a search. Alas, I'm drawing blanks.
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