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Okashi-to "Rebellion" swords.


Dave R
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I know that some here don't consider these worth collectiong while others do, but non the less they are Nihonto. Researching these has led to me asking a few questions here of people who collect these, have seen them turn up at sales or who simply know a bit about them.

How often do these turn up with better menuki as opposed to the plain iron "washer" type, I have now seen photo's of 2 with decent menuki.

To what extent are reused koshirae seen, as in "once decent now too shabby for normal use". I am particularly thinking about kashira as all the ones I have seen so far are plain iron and very shallow, made for the job of remounting a blade as Okashi-to.

Has anyone ever seen one with a Kodzuka, are they ever seen with Ito of a different colour to the usual tan or dark brown.

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Another member Ian B has put forward a good argument that "Rebellion" swords are in fact Okashi-to, and rather than reiterat his ideas second hand I would point you to his own words - viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7396&p=59258&hilit=satsuma+rebellion#p59258 . I am looking for information on this very distinctive and well known style of Koshirae, whether it be Satsuma Rebellion or Okashi-to in origin and look forward to any information you have to share on this -to me - interesting subject.

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I think it is about

お貸刀 (Okashi-to/Okashi-gatana) = Rent sword

お貸道具 (Okashi-dogu) = Rent tool (sword/armour)

城備え (Shiro-zonae) = Castel stock

 

the Castle have number of weapons and armours for rent (for temporally solders, usually farmers) in Sengoku-jidai (16th century).

They were 数打物 Kazuuchimono (mass production) sword in most simple koshirae, 束刀 Tabagatana (Bundle swords).

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There is a distinctive style of Koshirae often seen on the lower end of the Nihonto market, characterised by iron fuchi and kashira, cotton or hemp Ito, usualy tan or brown in colour and bound in a variation of Katatamaki, and menuki that are usualy iron "washers", disks, or even lacking all together. Tsuba are usualy/always iron, often very shabby. Blades are usualy worn or "tired". The core of the Tsuka is often a reused piece of a Saya, sometimes a shabby Same paneled one.

These are often called "Satsuma Rebellion" swords and the legend is that they were hurriedly put together for use in that short lived war. Another hypothesis is that they are in fact Okashi-to... variously spelt in Romanji, ie swords held in an armoury and loaned out as needed to Ashigaru.

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Ian et al -

I can agree that these look very much like the swords illustrated, however has anyone seen examples that show the age that would accrue on something made in the Muromachi jidai? Why have the National museum, Sasama and every other source completely ignored these if they were in fact part of the kit of a Sengoku soldier?

 

another schlub hoping to solve the mystery...

-t

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The swords in the illustration look to me to show a simple light overwrap that was put over the regular tsukamaki to keep it clean on campaign and to absorb sweat during use. Made of cotton and readily changed as needed. They were spirally wound with no cross over or special knotting. Yes? John

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John, It could well be that, but look at the looted sword tied to the guy's spear that is clearly a conventional binding and all of the many illustrations in the books show the same spiral wrapping on the swords of the common soldiers. Has anyone ever seen a photo or drawing of such a koshirae being used in the Boshin war? I haven't. I have seen a similar wrapping described as Shonai Han, but they were for the samurai of the Han, not the common soldiers. As for age, why should they have survived from the Momoyama? If they were stored in castles for use in the event of trouble, they would have been refurbished from time to time. I know there are some koshirae from the Momoyama, but how many of those have been re-wrapped over the last 400 years?

Ian Bottomley

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Below are some images of (I believe a Juyo) set of Muromachi period Koshirae that Fred Weissberg was kind enough to send me a while back. The lacquered leather and decorated tsuba pobably indicate it was carried by someone of a higher rank than a regular Ashigaru, but it does have similar spiral wrap and tuba with raised mimi.

 

Regards,

Lance

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A few pictures, as in two photo's and a contemporary news print, the tinted print most relevant. The b&w photo is supposedly of the Satsuma negotiators at the end of the short lived Anglo-Satsuma War. The colour tinted print is of Satsuma Officers at a briefing meeting during the Satsuma Rebellion. The Newspaper print is from a Western report of the Rebellion purporting to be a drawing from life of Saigo and his officers.

However I do feel inspired to say that what I was hoping for was not so much a discussion as to the origin of these swords, but more what were the characteristics and variations of this well defined type .

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The photo's are I believe from the "Beato Collection" and that of "Okinawa Soba", used under the fair use provision of copyright.

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They are Samurais of Satsuma-han,

so, I think they don't need to borrow "Okashi-to".

They have their own sword, however, they are waring Satsuma-koshirae,

as we can see only tsuka that Longish thick straight (no Ryuko, no sori). That is typical Tsuka shape of Satsuma koshirae for Satsuma Jigen-ryu.

 

Satsuma Jigenryu

 

Yakushimaru Jigenryu

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cfbjb_2VKs4

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This is rather the point of the photo's.... no "rebellion swords" in sight. The Rebellion was a Samurai rebellion, they would all have their own swords in proper koshirae, so who would be carrying "rebellion swords"? This is why I tend to see the plain cheap koshirae of the question as being "Okashi To"

However, whatever we choose to call them, what I am trying to get is more information on how they went together and what variations are seen in their construction!

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So, what matters here, the saya or the tsukamaki ?

 

In the image I posted you see that one of the interpreters has a Kami Hira Maki tsuka. You also see these wound-up bindings or even Gangi-Maki and Katate-Maki on "rebellion" swords, whatever that term in itself constitutes :) . It is not as if in the East and North of Japan they bound the tsuka of their swords in a totally different manner than in the South and West. There just were many methods of tsukamaki, many types of koshirae and as many types of swords throughout Japan.

 

Has anyone ever come across a "Shimabara Rebellion Sword" ? Or is it just the Satsuma Han swords which have this "rebellious" designation...

 

KM

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All, I think this image summarises the characteristics of these weapons (I hesitate to use the word sword). The tsuka made from a bit of old saya, mounts made up from sheet iron, the binding done with strips of coarse cloth folded to make a tape and any old bit of something, but usually washers, to act as menuki. Note how the 'fuchi' is just a strip of iron bent around and brazed shut. The one part that always seems to be a genuine sword fitting, as opposed to having been cheaply assembled from scrap, is the tsuba. Whilst typing this it occurred to me that the 'washers' might be old roves from dismantled boats - they generally have the area around the hole distorted as if they have been reclaimed from some other use. Were Japanese boats clinker built?

Ian Bottomley

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Ian, you beat me to it..... here are some of the pictures I have collected so far, some from this site and some from others, sorry not to credit people but I am not too sure about privacy issues. If you see your sword, and want to be credited, sing out. As you can see they are very much a uniform bunch.

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Then you get varients like this, which uses a worn kashira rather than a purpose made shallow iron piece.

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And this one, all to standard except a nice menuki.

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I have seen some others with standard iron fittings but very nice menuki, but consider them dubious, as it looks like the menuki are later additions to dress them up for sale.

Which is why I posted the original question...... what do people see as defining a **** sword, and what variations on the theme have people seen around?

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Henk-Jan, I think we can rule out 'farmers' or other individuals by the simple fact they are all so similar in construction. These weapons, whatever they are, were made in considerable numbers as if they were ordered from a supplier. I also find it interesting that the vast majority are short - either using wakizashi blades or cut down katana blades.

Ian Bottomley

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I think as Ian says that uniformity is an issue here...... I don't think you see so many swords all of matching style in Japan until the appearance of Gunto. Thats one of the reasons why I am appealing for input on variations within the type.

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Thank you Ian for your answer. Indeed the uniformity and consideral numbers made, point in a "use as arsenal stock" direction. Also, the fact that many are small/wakizashi is an interesting notion.

 

Have any arms inventory lists of Castles and Han or even of the Bakufu's administration itself survived the various periods of war ? I know of the (very fragmented) existence of such lists in the ancient Roman Military context, but would be interested to know what kind of administration, if any, survived in Japan.

 

KM

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Ian

I certainly don't think you should rule out farmers. Satsuma had a very large percentage of Samurai in the population as many farmers were promoted to samurai rank when Hideyoshi invaded Kyushu in the 16th century. They retained this rank for ever even though they returned to the land after fighting.

Clive Sinclaire

PS Enjoyed the day at Tower of London East meets West.

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I have actualy tried to avoid the question of what these should be called, being more interested in what they look like, and what variations there are in their make up.... however since that is what this thread has been hijacked into here is my two pennyworth.

We know for a fact that there were swords made in large quantities and stored in arsenals to be loaned out to Ashigaru as needed, bundle swords, Okashi-to etc, but there are no existing swords clearly identified as from these arsenals ???.....

There are in existence large numbers of cheaply assembled very uniform swords that are genuinely old Japanese swords......

There is as far as I know no evidence for the production of "erzats" swords for the Satsuma Rebellion other than the attribution of that name in Western collecting circles to a type of cheaply (though competently) made/assembled sword, which is also the most uniformly made sword 'till the appearance of Gunto.

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This thread is quite old. Please consider starting a new thread rather than reviving this one, unless your post is really relevant and adds to the topic..

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