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Navymate

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  1. These are all great points. I am curious as well if there have been any Kunimori blades submitted and the results. Out of the 16 examples I found in open source there are zero examples that were papered. Unfortunately the examples I found were mostly of the nakago and mei, there were very few pictures of the blades themselves and it was impossible to tell anything about the hada, hamon or kissaki. I will be the first to admit I’m a novice at research and Nihonto in general, so take my opinions for what they are. Neil brings up a good point that the Kunimori blades lack any stamp indicating that they were made by non-traditional methods. Why no stamp if it was mandated by law? The references to Yasuhiro after leaving the Yasukuni Shrine were that he was working at Okura Forge, where “fine military blades were made.” Not much else is said about his post Yasukuni time. Why not? For such a well documented smith there seems to be little info for this time. When I first began looking into this subject, I was under the impression that all Kunimori signed blades were the same. Now, I think there are subgroups of blades signed Kunimori and I’ll explain why. We must keep in mind that there are basically two different Kunimori signatures: the blades signed Miyaguchi Kunimori and then those signed Ikkansai Kunimori. These are clearly differentiating the blades otherwise why the different signatures. Ikkansai Kunimori signed blades give a location where they are made, whereas Miyaguchi Kunimori do not. What if the Miyaguchi Kunimori signed blades were the ones made with western steel and the Ikkansai Kunimori signed blades were made by Yasuhiro’s students with traditional materials and methods? As time passed now all Kunimori signed blades are regarded as being made with western steel whether they actually are or not. Just a thought. The short of it is I think Yasuhiro used the signature as an indicator of quality, materials used, where it was made and also who made it. It is documented that other smiths used variations in kanji and signatures to indicate similar things so I believe it feasible that Yasuhiro did the same thing. For example, in addition to the different Kunimori signatures (Miyaguchi Kunimori and Ikkansai Kunimori) note the way in which the kanji for Kuni varies in the signatures. I believe this is also an identifier. There are two basic types of Kuni kanji I see repeated in the signatures. Interestingly this Kuni variant is seen in other blades signed by Yasuhiro including the Ryujin Ikkansai Kuniteru and Ryujin Kuniteru signed blades. Personally I think that until we can find a correlation between the different Kunimori signatures (Ikkansai and Miyaguchi) and the hada, hamon, and materials used— it will be difficult to separate the truth from tainted information being repeated. With the kanji variation on Kuni being consistent across multiple signatures (Ikkansai Kunimori, Miyaguchi Kunimori, Ikkansai Kuniteru, etc) there is some identifier clearly attached to it, but is as of yet unknown. Hopefully there will be some submitted to shinsa so that more examples can be examined. More study is needed clearly. It would be interesting to see good quality pictures of the blades to start comparing quality of the steel with that of the mei.
  2. Leen—Thanks for asking your friend Ed. Please convey my gratitude to him for sharing the information he found, it has been most helpful. Yes his post is where I was able to find the bulk of the information about Kuniteru. Your friend’s Ryujin Ikkansai Kuniteru Type 3/Rinji mounts are quite amazing and one of the best examples I have seen in my limited experience. I am curious if Ed would be willing to share pictures of the blade, especially the boshi, hamon and hada. Reason I ask is that the other Kuniteru blade I’m aware of (above mentioned book, “Modern Japanese Swords: The Befinning of the Gendaito Era”) has a unique hamon pattern that starts in an Edo-style yaki-dashi then changes into midare with togari-ba and then gunome midare towards the kissaki. This hamon description in the book is very similar to the Kuniteru blade I have. Since this is quite a complex hamon style and not seen often during the war; and since this pattern was being used so late in the war I find it quite interesting that so much time and effort seemed to placed making these blades. If your friend’s blade is indeed similar, I would think that quite unique especially knowing the blade is in higher quality Type 3/Rinji mounts which are not as common either. Another aspect I find quite interesting is the variation in the KUNI kanji used in Ed’s blade signature and the one I posted. Placement varies as does the kanji itself. I found that this particular variation repeats itself, which I believe means there is much to learn just from the way these two kanji are written differently, much like the documented variations in signatures other Yasukuni smiths, such as Yasuoki, used to differentiate those made by him, his students and even the quality of the blade itself. This was written about in some of the Yasukuni books IIRC. Sorry to unload all of this, I’m just excited to talk about this, especially knowing you are Ed’s friend. Thank you for taking the time to help me.
  3. Appreciate it Bruce. I emailed the website that has the Ryujin Miyaguchi Yasuhiro blade several times but received no response as of yet. Thanks for reaching out to Kevin, I know he is very knowledgeable. Fantastic work on all your research by the way.
  4. Leen— Thank you for taking the time to reply and for offering to contact your friend, that would be amazing! I am grateful for any information he is willing to share. I am very curious now about the special mountings you mentioned and hope to learn more. I am glad you recognized your friend’s sword, it is very fortunate for me thank you again. Trystan— Thank you for the link, I checked it briefly but will have to take some time to translate and read it all. It is an interesting proposal indeed and I did not think of a potential connection to the Shrine. I will dig more. Appreciate you taking the time to help me.
  5. Is anyone familiar with other examples of gendaito or shin gunto named “Ryujin”? It is of interest to me due to the connection to Yasuhiro aka Miyaguchi Toshihiro. There exists a similarly signed blade made by him and I would like to know the significance (if any) of using “Ryujin” in the signature. Here is the backstory: I am a caretaker of a blade that is signed “Ryujin Toto Ju nin Kuniteru saku” dated a lucky day August 1944. While researching I have found four similarly named/signed blades: -one is signed “Ryujin Miyaguchi Yasuhiro” dated May 1945 (from Yasukuni Shrine fame); -two are signed “Ryujin Ikkansai Kuniteru kin saku” both dated May 1944; -and one by “Ryujin Ikkansai Hirokazu saku” dated February 1944 (Kazu is used but has same kanji as Teru). Interestingly, all of the examples so far have been in Army mounts and the blade length varies from 60-69cm. The best guess is that Kuniteru was a student of Miyaguchi Toshihiro (Yasuhiro) but is as of yet still undocumented, or less likely it was an art name used by Miyaguchi Toshihiro towards the end of the war. Here’s what I have found out: I contacted Chris Bowen over a year ago to see what his thoughts were while also verifying the translation and my hunch that this blade was both associated with Yasuhiro (Miyaguchi Toshihiro) and signed by his hand. His reply: “Indeed, this sword is signed Kuniteru, as is the other example you cited. The Ikkansai Hiroteru and Yasuhiro with “Ryujin” are clearly related to these Kuniteru blades. Examining them in detail I believe it most likely that they were all signed by Miyaguchi Yasuhiro. Further, given his use of the mei Yasuhiro, Kunimori and Toshihiro, it is likely that Kuniteru and Hiroteru were students at the Okura Tanrenjo, taking a kanji from Miyaguchi’s mei, as is the custom. Given that the mei all seem to be signed by the same hand, it is likely these students weren’t really fully trained and were more or less still apprentices. Cutting a mei is usually one of the last steps learned in becoming a smith. My best guess about these is that the students made the blades under Miyaguchi’s guidance and he signed them for them. There is of course an additional possibility, and that is that the blades were made by Miyaguchi himself and that these were alternative signatures he used for a brief period of time. I tend to doubt that but it is worth considering. I really have no idea why they were all signed with the kanji for Ryujin. A mystery to me that perhaps will reveal itself at some point.” I also found this previous post by Chris Bowen on a similarly signed blade on NMB: cabowen said: Posted 17 November 2013 - 09:47 AM “Rare mei. I don't think I have seen another. Must have worked with Miyaguchi at the Okura Tanrenjo.” ——————————————- These “Ryujin” blades are apparently connected with Miyaguchi Toshihiro/Yasuhiro and are after his time at the Yasukuni Shrine (most likely while working at Baron Okura’s forge). I am curious if anyone can shed some light on whether there may have been any significance to using “Ryujin” other than the obvious translation of Dragon God. Is this the name of the sword? With multiple examples found it seems less likely that it is the name of the sword itself. The earliest example I found so far is from February 1944 and the latest being Yasuhiro’s example in May 1945. Since there were many documented military slogans, Officer organizations and various horimono being added to military blades during WW2, I thought it possible that someone more experienced than myself might have seen or read something that may answer a few questions. After researching this for the last year and a half, I have found only a few bits of information: —I found one Ryujin Ikkansai Kuniteru oshigata here on NMB. Post #41 (http://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/topic/12933-yasukuni-swords-in-type-3-mounts/page-2) —another in a book entitled “Modern Japanese Swords: The Beginning of the Gendaito Era” by Leon and Hiroko Kapp; —The Ryujin Miyaguchi Yasuhiro example is from the website samuraisword.com (http://www.samuraisword.com/nihontodisplay/Gendiato/Yasuhiro/index. The above book, mentions Ryujin Ikkansai Kuniteru as a student of Yasuhiro and being from Wakayama province (which there is some doubt to the validity). There are some current smiths signing with Ryujin ju Minamoto Sadakazu and Ryujin Taro Minamoto Sadashige that are from Ryujin village in Wakayama, but from the research I’ve seen they were taught from the Gassan line. Read this on Dr. Richard Stein’s website but I highly doubt this is the same person as Kuniteru: Ryujin Taro Sadayuki listed on (https://www.japaneseswordindex.com/gtmindex.htm) Any thoughts? Thank you for any help
  6. It saddens me deeply that my friend Arnold has passed, he is missed greatly. As many have stated, Arnold was a true gentleman and incredibly generous in all aspects—including his time and knowledge which he shared frequently with me. He was my mentor and always a patient and effective teacher. Even with his busy life he always found the time to offer help, insight or even mail out reference material. Arnold was a good man and I’m better for knowing him. Not many people like that. I really miss him. I think BIG’s poem shares our sentiment. My most sincere condolences to Arnold’s family, thank you for sharing him with us.
  7. You are most welcome Rei. Another item to consider: look closely and notice how the initial cut on the different angles of the yasurime is deep on (some but not all) of the Emura signed blades. Compare yours and see if there are similarities and also look at the nakago mune and see if the deep initial cut is present there. I’m not saying that if the deep initial cut on the yasurime is or is not present it makes it an Emura, rather that since your blade is unsigned details like that can help you develop a more complete picture. Small details usually matter. Hope it helps. Mark
  8. Rei- Your blade has similarities in the yasurime to some of the Emura blades I have seen, such as this one: https://www.aoijapan.net/katana-emura-saku-3/ Here is a link to a search on sold items from AOI Art for “Emura” in case the link doesn’t work for you: https://www.aoijapan.net/?s=Emura&x=0&y=0 I am no expert, just merely suggesting the similarities since no one has mentioned Emura yet. I hope this helps you with your research. Good luck! Mark
  9. Thanks Brian. That’s what I assume as well but I thought it worth asking more knowledge members than myself to see if anyone had encountered such a thing in their research. I appreciate all the input.
  10. Thank you for the clarification Mr. Singer. I appreciate your input as well Franco and everyone else too. Hahaha Ed...you know being from Texas of course that is what first popped into my head. Seriously though, assembly marks was the only reference I could find prior to posting this question, but those were all on war time blades. With sword production steadily dwindling around the time this particular blade was made (1855) I find it curious as to the reasoning of cutting notches into the nakago as the method of assembly marks for fittings. If the reason it was done during the war was a simple way of keeping matched and fitted items together due to the large numbers of swords requiring fittings at the same time, then why would that same method be used when times were lean and it would clearly be much easier to keep fitted items together in fewer numbers without having to file notches for identification? If that were the case why don’t we see more nakago with these notches on them? Just thinking out loud and probably over thinking it... I am not disagreeing—as assembly marks is the most reasonable answer, I am honestly just trying to understand. Thanks again, Mark
  11. Is anyone aware of why notches on the nakago would be present on a pre-war blade? I have read here on NMB how it was common for the war time era blades to have notches or something similar to keep the sword and fittings together or as a sorting method. The blade in question (http://www.toukenkomachi.com/index_en_tachi&katana_A070618.html) is from Ansei 2 (1855) so it is theoretically possible it was pressed into service during the war and those marks are the same as previously discussed, but I find that suspect. If these are not war time era markings, then is it possible that these notches are the smith’s mark as a verification in addition to his signature? Due to the difference in the way the notches are cut it seems to me that this would indicate something specific in nature and not just a random or haphazard act. What are your thoughts? Thank you for any insight. Mark F.
  12. Congrats to Barry and a huge thank you to Rayhan and his generosity
  13. Thanks again to Ray for this great opportunity. I have learned a lot and have enjoyed participating and I also appreciate both Brian and Barry for helping.
  14. Kantei submissions: #1.) Unju Korekazu - Shinshinto - the nagasa, amount of hataraki, boshi and yasurime #2.) Hamabe Toshinori/Jukaku - Shinshinto - the way in which the hamon starts off narrow and widens as it reaches the kissaki, and also the yasurime #3.) Rai Kuniyuki - Koto (Shogen Era 1259-1260) - a common feature is Warabite choji in the monouchi area through the yokote line; also the kissaki and boshi Regards, Mark F.
  15. I was able to do as George suggested and made some (very poor) rubbings of the interior sides of the habaki. I think George is right and these are reverse images of the kanji for “dragon” and “sho”. I took pictures of the rubbings and then flipped the paper over to compare on the other pictures. Thank you to everyone who offered input I really appreciate the help and enjoy the discussion. George—great suggestion and thank you for offering it up. It is logical and also seems to be the simplest explanation—Occam’s razor comes to mind. Thanks again Mark
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