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Tokugawa Mon Tanto Mounted Yari


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Hi Everyone,

I recently got an interesting yari off ebay but it is mounted in a tanto koshirae. It has very impressive lacquer work but the lacquer is cracking, has flaked off in places and it looks like at one point someone used a sharpie to blacken some missing spots that have now grown. I would love to get the yari out and see if it's signed but I am not sure that will ever happen since there does not seem to be a mekugi, it could be glued in, I am not sure. It is so delicate in places I am scared every time I handle it, is there anyone who could correctly get this restored or just stabilized that forum members know of? Maybe this is not the kind of thing that should be messed with at all and just preserved as best it can be as is.


On a more general topic, has anyone seen yari mounted like this before? I remember reading somewhere that it was popular in the 1800's to repurpose mounts/mediocre blades to export. I would love opinions as to if this could this weird mounting style be a result of that or could it be a genuine mounting of something earlier? Thanks for your time and ideas.










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In my opinion (for whatever that's worth...), this is very nice lacquer (not made for tourist trade).  A samurai woman would have carried this inside the lapel of her kimono for protecting herself and her "honor".  That explains the hardware (which is nice but worn) - it is sometimes called a kaiken.  The fine details of the lacquer have been worn away smooth in some places where it rubbed against the silk kimono from daily wearing.  As you may know, lacquer is sensitive to UV and will darken when exposed too much.  Fixing fine lacquer [properly] is almost always cost prohibitive and usually undertaken only on pieces in the five figure range (you may be able to find some craftsmen outside Japan to do it inexpensively, but I've never seen an inexpensive job that looked good...).  Some museums use glues to try to stabilize the broken lacquer (but it usually doesn't look very good either).  In about 50 years, I've seen about 10 of these mounted for this purpose (however, I've seen a lot more yari mounted as tanto for men).

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Nice to meet you.

I use a translation site, so your remark I may not understand exactly.


I think it's an extension because used the blade of a "打根”or "駕籠槍".

If the sheath of the front dagger is too short, it will be pushed out from between the obi and the kimono when  "正座".

It looks like someone has already tried to remove the blade and is breaking some. Please keep it safe.



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  • 1 month later...

Many decades ago I was shown in an art gallery storeroom a beautiful yari mounted in a stunning olive-green lacquered koshirae with a high relief gold lacquered dragon winding around the koshirae.  I've never forgotten it.



EDIT:  I also once had a small yari signed SHOAMI in a tanto-style koshirae.  The tang had been cut and the yari turned into short self-defence weapon.

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There is one here in the UK at a dealers but they don't sell well.

I have also seen a large arrowhead turned into one. I think the yari were more yoroi doshi as I would imagine quite some force would be needed to use one and the tsuba would very much be needed to prevent the fingers from slipping onto the blade.

An Aukuchi is a far more effective weapon for a lady?

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Dear All.


A couple  of things to add, one while browsing in Bushido, vol. 3, no. 1.  A description of a yari by Nidai Kawachi no Kami Kunisuke.  ""..in an old shirasaya that looks like it must be a tanto until the portion covering the head is removed.  The shirasay is made in such a way that there is an inch and a quarter of wooden habaki behind the head making the nakago (tsuka) end shorter and the upper saya portion longer.  At first glance one automatically thinks of a tanto until the saya is removed."  In this case the unusual mounting allows for the yari nakago to remain unshortened, preserving the mei intact.  


I suspect that this might be the case with the example originally posted.  It is quite common to find blades in koshirae where the blade is much shorter than the saya and this would easily allow the length of the saya to fit into an obi properly.


Here is a more conventional yari tanto.



The blade here.



All the best.







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J.G. I also have a tanto mounted yari in my collection. It's signed Yamashiro (no) kami Kunishige (山城守国重). Both the tsuka and saya are hot-stamped with snowflakes and cherry blossoms. The photos are a bit older but show it when I got it and the blade after polish.

Given the strange wooden mount on yours, rather than a mekugi to hold it in place, I think yours may be a marriage. That is, I do not think the koshirae was made for the yari, but that the yari has been added to a pre-existing lacquered item. 


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I saw that many of you consider this types of tantō yari or wakizashi yari as a self defense weapon. Besides, I allways pointed that this was a mere form of storage yari blades when was not suitable having long spears inside small Edo houses. Also a kind of "weapon" that could like a chōnin that has no intention to use but yes to "show" to prove his economical position. Of course it could be used as a weapon, and of course the "yari onna" existed as last chance for self defense, but specially in good blades and expensive koshirae I consider first the options of storage and dandysm.

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Most Samurai Wives were expected to carry a Kaiken on their person, and it was often given to her along with nice lacquer koshirae as part of her trousseau or dowery.  They are sometimes a family tanto or yari remounted in nice lacquer.  Many Samurai were married, so just think how many of these were needed...  Sorry to break it to you Guys, but your "badass" tanto or yari mounted as a kaiken with cherry blossoms or a family mon is probably a woman's (although a badass woman's) weapon.

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