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Is This Real?


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I fell into what may be a real deal Japanese sword. I know nothing about, or any Japanese swords in general. I was hoping to get some help in finding out what I have and what it's worth. If this is real I don't feel like I should keep it as I won't appreciate it fully. The pics aren't the best, but I don't have anything other than my phone for a camera. I would really appreciate some advice as to where I can get this thing authenticated and evaluated.















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Very real and very nice.


The signature reads 源宗明 - Minamoto Muneaki (second photograph). The first photograph contains the date the sword was made and another inscription that I can't quite make out because of the size of my screen and the lighting on the pic - if no one else can help you might want to re-post a larger photo.


The smith might be this guy - he's the only Muneaki using the "Minamoto" in his signature in Markus Sesko's Swordsmiths of Japan:


MUNEAKI (宗明), Bunkyū (文久, 1861-1864), Ōshū – “Kubota Muneaki” (久保田宗明), “Minamoto Muneaki” (源宗明), “Ichinoseki-shi Minamoto Muneaki” (一関士源宗明), “Rikuchū Ichinoseki-jū Kubota Muneaki saku” (陸中一関住久保田宗明作), “Rikuchū no Kuni Muneaki” (陸中国宗明), real name Kubota Fumikichi (久保田文吉, the first name can also read Bunkichi), he also bore the first name Mitsumasa (充昌), he was born in the second year of Tenpō (天保, 1831) as oldest son of Kubota Ryōzō (久保田 良蔵) who worked as a gunsmith for the Ichinoseki fief (一関藩) which was ruled by the Tamura family (田村), later Muneaki went to Kyōto and studied there under Koyama Munetsugu (固山宗次), in Ansei four (安政, 1857) he returned to Ichinoseki where he worked both as swordsmith and gunsmith for the fief, he died on the twelfth day of the eighth month Meiji 21 (明治, 1888) at the age of 58, we know blades from the Ansei (安政, 1854-1860) to the Meiji era, dense ko-itame mixed with some masame, the hamon is a gunome-chōji-midare in nioi-deki but can also be tempered in ko-nie-deki, the tip of the tang is a shallow iriyamagata-jiri, the yasurime are sujikai with keshō, he signed also in grass script, chūjō-saku

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Wow. Looks real to me, too. And it looks to be in fine condition, which seems to be a rarity lately for these kinds of lucky finds. Keep your fingers off the blade, and handle it using a soft cloth or handkerchief or some such that will not scratch the blade. Usually blades are very, very lightly oiled and stored in a plain wooden scabbard - it looks like yours has an actual scabbard (not the storage scabbard), but this is OK too, at least for now. Check around on this site for storing and handling tips. It looks like you have the real deal and despite it being a serious weapon, it is paradoxically fragile, as it can easily be marred by carelessly leaving a fingerprint on it, or trying to scrape off small rust bits with a coin, etc... 
The script on the other side says, 
I'll put the translation as a spoiler in case somebody wants to take a crack at it themselves

Keiō 2 something Month, kichijitsu = 1866, an auspicious day in July (I think, I can't be 100% sure of the month)
Kohara-shi no motome ni ōjiru*. = Made by request/order of Mr. Kohara/Ohara  The last name has two possible readings, Kohara and Ohara. I think Kohara is the most likely. I could be wrong with the reading as well, as this is written in classical Chinese style, common for this kind of inscription, but the reading is somewhat idiosyncratic.



Oh, and forum rules require a name - cuts down on the trolling and allows us to call you by something other than your handle. 

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You have a nice blade there, the condition is excellent as far as I can see.


Perhaps you should consider keeping it, at least for awhile whilst you decide if learning more about these swords is really for you or not. I'm sure everyone has a unique fondness for their first sword. :)

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I must have missed the name requirement, apologies. I'm just a dumb old grunt and tend to go with the frontal assault most of the time. Will John B suffice?


As for keeping it, it wouldn't do anything but rot in my gun safe, seems such a waste.

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If you don't want to take on the responsibility of keeping it in the shape it is then you should really sell it to someone who will and keep it for future generations. In terms of value

I won't even go there but I would place a bet that you paid a lot less than it may bring in a sale. You could always pick a number that is a fantastic

return on your investment as long as it doesnt get into a ridiculous are live 5 figures and list it on this forum under for sale with a price. I suppose

you could do the same on e-bay but it can be a dogs breakfast for buying and selling.


In any event you really did luck into it if the person selling it couldnt tell you ANYTHING about it. Any more where that came from??

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JUST take me diving before i croak, i need a adventure in the worse way, taking care of a 33 14 n 9 year old kids is killing my psychic.


an Johnny, Bobby would give it a fine home!

Stephen, any time bro.   We can hit the chow hall, do some fast roping and the strip clubs. 

Semper Fi,


  P.S. not my boat, I don't have one, buy antiques instead.


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  • 2 years later...

I too was glad to reread this thread. This smith is marginal to the Sendai Han, but he is listed in the Meikan. I can add no substance to the discusssion, but I want to say that this swords sure looks very interesting. Ichinoseki used to be neat littel country town. I find it interesting that Muneaki was both making swords AND monkeying with guns in the 1860s. Clearly there were lots of guys getting ready for War!.

Please keep us informed.


P.S. Oh, and for the record, if you want to know about serious Sendai collectors who might be interested in buying swords like this one, please keep my number on file. :)


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  • 2 weeks later...
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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