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Orikaeshi-mei — needle hole?


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In Nakahara & Martin’s Facts and Fundamentals, their discussion of orikaeshi-mei (p.78) concludes with the observation that authentic examples are likely to exhibit a “clear needle-sized hole through the fold of the turned-back mei.” And sure enough, the photographic example on the next page (fig. 91) shows an inverted mei with what I assume to be the original mekugi-ana, in the wall of which is what appears to be a tiny needle hole...

I’m unable to find any other mention of this phenomenon in the NMB “Search” function or the wider Interwebs. Is there any controversy as to the truth of this? What was the purpose of the hole? Was a wire placed into it prior to bending the mei? (I’m imagining something along the lines of filling a pipe with sand before bending it, to keep it from folding in on itself—but I can’t imagine why it would be necessary in this application.) Does the presence of a pinhole give an indication of when the orikaeshi-mei was performed?

Thanks!

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Dear Richard.

 

So you are shortening a nakago and wish to preserve the mei.  You carefully file down the excess nakago to leave a thin strip of metal that carries the mei and you chase out a corresponding groove into which this will fit.  Now all you have to do is bend the strip through 180 degrees and make it fit the groove.  You can't really dress the end with a hammer to close it firmly so you fold the strip of metal with the mei over and push it into the groove you have prepared.  You fold the metal and it forms a radius which does not quite match the squared end of the nakago that you have filed leaving a very small gap that should be clearly visible running from mune to ha.  Not perhaps needle shaped but non the less visible.

 

This is a way of discerning that the orikaeshi mei has been done properly and that a mei cut from a completely different sword has not been used.  If the mei is a continuous strip of metal then is was originally part of the nakago and hence the small hole.  If it has been cut from a different sword and added to this one then you might not see it.

 

Hope that helps.

All the best.

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  You fold the metal and it forms a radius which does not quite match the squared end of the nakago that you have filed leaving a very small gap that should be clearly visible running from mune to ha.  Not perhaps needle shaped but non the less visible.

Ahhhh, the clouds are lifting! Something like so:
(Now that makes sense! I imagined I could see a pinhole in the wall of the mekugi-ana; thanks for such a clear explanation, Geraint!)

post-4728-0-29160000-1580413859_thumb.jpeg

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