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newly found Minatogawa Jinja katana


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 Just bought this at a estate auction of a guy who collected militaria.  Took a chance and drove 12hrs/800 miles and paid off.  Was hoping for NO competition and the locals thought it a common gunto.  Anyway, as you can see the blade is dated May 1941 and has to be one of the earliest if not THE earliest sword known forged by Michimasa at the shrine forge.  If anyone has seen or knows of a earlier dated blade let me  know.  Below is the or "my" translation but the family name (Kudo?) may be wrong as am not familiar with this name.
   Obviously this blade was made for this Haruhito and he probably was a Army Ofc as it comes in Army mounts w/matt rust colored lacquered saya.  This is MASATADA's original name and has to be the first or one of the first blades made at the forge.  I found a similar shrine sword by Michimasa that rec'd Hozon papers and it is dated July 1941.  Neither that sword nor mine have the kikusui on the nakago but kikusui emblem is engraved on both sides of the habaki.  Blade is in decent polish with no nicks no problems other than few minor scratches and blems which would easily polish out but I'm too f'n old and not sending this to Japan for polish - too easy to pass it on w/o a new polish.  Let me know if a earlier dated blade is known - thanks. 
 hamon is a kind of lazy gunome with profuse nie and short ashi.  blade length is 26 1/4 "   or   67.7cm  
tom w  
 
OMOTE; 
昭和 十六年五月吉日 
SHOWA 16 NEN 5 GATSU KICHIJITSU   (MAY 1941 AUSPICIOUS DAY)
於   湊川  神社 村上道政作
OITE MINATOGAWA JINJA MURAKAMI MICHIMASA SAKU
"MICHIMASA MURAKAMI MADE THIS AT THE MINATOGAWA SHRINE" 
 
URA;
 謹呈  エ藤 治人博士  御左右  菊水 鍛刀會
KINTEI  KUDO?,HARUHITO HAKASE GOSOU KIKUSUI TANTOKAI
 (PRESENTATION TO THE HONORABLE MR HARUHITO KUDO KIKUSUI ORDERED
 SWORD FORGING ASSOCIATION )
 tsuba , all 6 seppa and fuchi marked; 
 ー目

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yea, it's phony, just ck'ing to see how many experts out there would catch it -  made the habaki myself couple days ago and the sword too !  but screwed up as I forgot the Minatogawa jinja blades were strictly for Naval personal.   And back in the 70's when I was trying to explain to a vet that his Japanese belt buckle was broken he told me something I've never forgotten "UNTIL YOU'VE SEEN IT ALL YOU DON'T KNOW IT ALL !  just my thoughts - This blade is absolutely CORRECT and habaki too !  - IF SOMEONE OUT THERE WANTS TO LAY $1000 BET I'LL SEND IT TO Japan FOR SHINSA AND WE'LL FIND OUT - MONEY TALKS AND BS WALKS !   MATTER OF FACT LET'S MAKE IT $5000 - I JUST SOLD MY ALIBABA STOCK AND HAVE A LITTLE SPARE CASH.  $5000 AND THE MONEY GOES TO A MUTUAL ACQUAINTANCE WE BOTH KNOW AND TRUST !! 

tom W

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SOLD MORE ON EBAY AND CRAIG'S LIST THEN HERE - TOO MANY "EXPERTS" - CAN'T FOOL THESE FORUM WISE ONES . "BUT"  THE BET IS STILL ON AT 5G'S IF YA THINK THIS MICHIMASA IS  PHONY   ! 

   tell ya another story - back around 85 I sent a oshigata to Tanobe of my signed and dated SADAKAZU and received BAD news that it was a gimei as the date was too early for any known.  Stubborn ol 'me' kept the sword and around 2000 sent it to Bob Benson to submit and last year sold my tokubetsu hozon Sadakazu for more than it was estimated at that Frigginn Sotheby's auction (it was 1 of 2 blades that didn't sell).  By no means am I saying I am anywhere close to a "expert" - I consider myself a student and if I lived 3 life times I doubt I'd ever change my status.  But that Sadakazu looked so good in person that I just had to have the NBTHK also see it in person and felt real good when it went tokuhozon.   As for this forum, have never seen so many who can look at photos of a mumei, signed or koto blades and give a opinion as to who/what /where/when !!! AMAZING TRULY AMAZING.  

 have a nice day -  I know I am ! 

tom W 

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Haruto Kudō was an engineer, metallurgist, chairman of Yasuki Steel Production Co., councilor of the Japanese Sword Tanren Kai, General Manager of Hitachi Manufacturing, and then President of Nissan Motors. I don't know if this was presented to him, or if it was made under the direction of him. (My impression is that it was presented to him, but I don't exactly understand the relationship of the word 御左右 (an term of respect indicating instruction or orders with the recipient and the presenter). 

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If it is authentic (is it being sent for papers?) then it is a great find and would love to stand corrected. As for the other comments, well you can only know what you have seen and to think you know everything is the highest pursuit of foolishness. I just know I wouldn't touch this with a 50ft shrine pole.

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1ST THINGS 1ST:

#1 Hamish ; NO I am not admitting that I am selling a fake /gimei nihonto !  I was being sarcastic - I listed this Minatogawa Jinja katana on this forum to show everyone and also to maybe find out if this could be the very first blade forged at the shrine forge.  Never I repeat Never did I think the "experts" would suspect it gimei but WRONG !!  

 

#2  Steve, don't know you but thank you for the info on the fellow Haruto Kudo who was presented this sword.  But, wondering  if he served as the mounts are Army.  My Nihongo is lacking but I thought the   御左右 was pronounced osayu /gosayu but gosou - could this be  translated as  "Michimasa was given the order/command to make this presentation kikusui forge sword for Haruto Kudo " ?   Anyway , seems a fairly important blade and having driven 12hrs to bid I was kinda proud of this  77 yr old body holding up as when I sold my 1st minatogawa blade last year I figured I'd never find another but it happened !  thanks again Steve, for that info.  and looks like Haruto and I have something in common - I'm on my 3rd Nissan Frontier pickup ! 

 

 #3  Shogun,  Not sure if you understood what I said about the ol vet but I did not mean that I knew it all - and I sure as hell ain't seen it all - even though the internet has opened a lot of unknown info to me.   I will definitely send it to shinsa if you or any other doubting thomas wants to put up 5G's .  One does not need papers to sell a good sword as I did with my Masayuki (kiyomaru) back in 84 BUT I'm not comparing this shrine sword to my Masayuki by NO means.  Of course to this day I regret selling that treasure but I never had to sell another good blade since and fast forward 36 yrs and I'm at the age where my collection has got to go or needs to go.  I will sell this shrine sword with a 101% guarantee of it's authenticity.  If you truly believe someone would go to this much trouble and making it a presentation, no less, to a man who I doubt any foreigner and/or Japanese outside of Steve and  maybe a few others would have any knowledge of  - well- you keep your 50ft shrine pole sheathed and stay away from it  but I guarantee there are a lot of collectors who would gladly hold this blade and admire the work.   

 

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Everyone is so touchy!
I like it...it is well signed and unlikely to be gimei. That said...people can only comment on what they see. Tom...if you were studying these and were presented with a habaki that is completely different from known ones, don't you think it fair to mention it and discuss? This is not a forum where we post stuff just to get a lot of "wow!'s"
The idea of studying and learning is to examine each detail and discuss variations. I don't see anyone claiming the whole thing is fake. Just people trying to understand things that are out of the norm.
No need to get offended. If this is very early or was somehow presented outside of the norm, it could explain things. But let's not jump on everyone trying to understand variations. And by the same token, let's not immediately jump to gimei and try explain what we see.
C'mon folks. I'd rather people share stuff like this with us than fear being run off as fake. It's an interesting piece with a very interesting mei. This is a good place to research more.

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I am not saying it is fake, I'm saying it is presenting a multitude of rare or undocumented variables that need validating by experts (not yokels like myself) before any conclusions can, or should, be made. While I cannot speak for others, throwing the dice on a $15,000 sword with no paperwork, no verification, no provenance and a known target for high end forgeries is simply not my modus operandi. If this $5000 bet or guarantee extends to the buyer then my hat goes off to Tom for standing by this sword.

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Brian is, as usual, correct. I started the controversy by commenting on what I saw  was a (being diplomatic) questionable Habaki. As a collector and student of Minatogawa Jinja blades, it naturally stood out, and was worthy of comment. 

I never used fake, fraud or anything inflammatory. We are here to show discuss study and importantly learn from others, especially those more knowledgeable. 

The information in your first post about Masatada was historically correct, and interesting. And Tom W is correct, that it is very difficult judging a blade from photos. 

I have been offered FAKE Masataka and Masatada blades recently, and as their value increases more will surface. 

I have a rule now that if I am interested in a Minatogawa or Yasukuni sword now, it must have been papered. 

Tom, I would love to see more photos of Koshirae, especially the tzuka. It is described as being rare, so seeing more of it would be enlightening. 

 

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Whoa Baldi...Fifteen grand...Got to hand it to you, 800 miles in a Nissan Frontier, steering wheel in one hand, a bottle of Geritol in the other, pocket full of Alibaba cash to boot. Yee Haw...

My guess is you paid less than $2000 for the sword and more power to you if so. We all hope find to such a bargain. Also, for creating a bit of a controversy drawing attention to the sword.

Certainly you can understand, ( Which I'm quite sure you do) members questioning the legitimacy of the sword. Shin-gunto koshirae, rather mediocre tsuba and seppa, crude Kikusui mon,  and not that impressive tsuka from what I can see. Never the less, the very best luck with your find and "No" I won't take your $5,000 bet !!

 

Good luck,

 

Dave M.

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Since seeing this sword, it got my investigative juices flowing. I think it could be an interesting special order sword. 

The following is speculation, but with some documented evidence. 

It was made in 1941 for  Mr Haruto Kudo, a key metallurgist/engineer at the Yasuki Steel Production Co. At this juncture, early on in the war, Japan was gearing up to go to war with America. Yasuki were promoting their mill steel for use in sword making, and gave samples to various sword smiths for promotion and testing. Some oshigata promoting this steel is attached. 

So I speculate that Michimasa made this sword using Yasuki mill steel (not tamahagne) for Mr Haruto Kudo, probably at the time in Shira-Saya, as a promotional sample or a commissioned work. It is only logical that the chief of a steel company would have it made from his own steel. 

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Brian, ain't mad just stunned I guess as there is just no doubt in my mind that this blade is right .  I can understand it being in army mts would be out of the ordinary but the habaki itself is as well made as they normally come and maybe the kikusui is a slight variation but looks to me like Neils 2 habaki are not exactly identical ?  

  1.  Now, Neil says he was being diplomatic about the habaki remark and maybe down under that's the way they read it but to this ol man " Gee, that must be old. Made even before they learned how to make a proper Habaki, with proper Kikusui mon. A 1942 and 1943 for comparison"  this statement insinuates this is a trumped up wannabe  shrine sword or at least the  habaki - maybe I'm not educated enough to understand but that's how I read it.  Guess, Neil , being a shrine sword expert, has seen every shrine sword ever made and every engraved kikusui and mine is a bummer      I'll still stick by that ol Missouri vet's quote :  " until u've seen it all ya don't know it all " and none of us know it all - just varying degrees of experience/knowledge.   Neil, you may have been offered "fake" Masa this and Masa that but I didn't offer this to anyone on this forum - my main purpose was to show it and find out if a earlier blade is known.   Well, maybe  I'm wrong and it's gimei all the way , maybe the 80 yr old who died and left this military collection engraved the damn thing himself or WHO did engrave these habaki's ? the habaki maker , the smith ? some josan hired in at the forge?    But, I feel $5000 strong that the blade is right and if the doubters know they are right - let's bet !  Easy money !   I'll paypal the cash to Brian or Mark Jones or don't know if I can trust Peter Bleed LOL sorry Peter !  and I'll send it to Japan for shinsa !  

 As for Dave in Idaho - Left Illinois 5pm Friday and reached the auction site Sat morn 7am - hit the tail end of the hurricane while driving at night on I-80 thru PA - "NIGHTMARE"  pouring down rain and going 10-30 mph.   That 2018 Nissan did good and NO Geritol needed , just some juice and trail mix but had a 53 yr old buddy share the drive and  he brought a few non-Japanese swords home.  and Yes it was under $2000 way under ! just glad there were no competitors present.  Most expensive sword sold was a Nazi Luftwaffe at $1250.  And the biggest incentive for going that far was the auction company would take NO out of state cks and NO credit card payments - figured I had a chance. As for BABA - bought in 2014 IPO at 86 and some more avg'g 110$ but the Trumpster (who I don't like but will vote for as the alternative is way worse) wants to "delist "  the Chinese stocks and I sat for a week thinking about it and pulled the trigger - if I had woke one morning and BABA was delisted I would have been a sick puppy - sick old puppy !  and don't expect to get 15G's for this blade but one of a kind work of art  and price is what one is willing to sell for and one is willing to buy for. - and shine swords are hot !  

  pics of tsuka and marked seppa and fuchi and that problematic HABAKI !  Neil , if I said the tsuka was rare - my mistake - just common but I've had 10-12  WW2 era blades in the army lacquered mts and they tend to be gendaito or real nice showato.   IDSCN1129.thumb.JPG.411856de35881156ec07415a8203cb7a.JPG solid copper and magnet doesn't adhere - maybe I'll ship the SOB to Japan and submit it - the guys from Sotheby's were here and didn't like my SA YUKIHIDE that Kurokawa wanted to buy back in 98' so sent it for papers but declined Juyo as same shinsa 2 80cm + SA blades were submitted and mine is under 70cm but fine blade and fine koshirae and surrender tag from Saitama outside of Tokyo.       

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Well, Neil,  you might have something with the Yasuki steel - I sure as hell can't tell ya what kind of steel this blade is made of.  It does have a nice hamon w/profuse nie but guess that can be done with other than tamahagane -the hada is very tight almost muji as I see it.   But, the 2 examples you show state the kanji for the Yasuki hagane - if this being a presentation to Kudosan and made of steel from his company I would think that kanji might also be added to the inscription.  How about :  maybe Kudosan had this blade made at the shrine from tamahagane to compare with a sword made from his Yasuki hagane ?   Guess just have to submit it  and get this problem solved one way or the other.  Good God, if ever one of these swords could talk - sure wish this one would blabber on about it's life !    tired, gonna watch a old Western and ZZZZ.  

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Tom,
Think you'd be wasting your time submitting, since (like Showato and many Gendaito) there is much more knowledge and info outside of Japan. They have largely been ignored up to the past few years.
I think Neil's theory is very probable.
Your habaki is completely different, and I daresay it was likely made as a regular habaki, and then maybe the logo was added later when this sword went into service or was remounted. It was not done on the regular pantograph and the logo differs.
That doesn't make it fake...just engraved later.
Sword looks good to me, we just don't know the circumstances under which it was procured. No shinsa is going to tell you that either.

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Agreed,  we'll never know the circumstance of the habaki but all this discussion would lead some to think it reflects on the sword as a whole but best to get or NOT get papers to confirm the authenticity of this blade.  We can theorize forever about the habaki but doubt we'll ever know the true fact/s.  Have a couple folks in Japan who seem to have no problem with this getting papers so guess I"ll send it and if I don't croak before next year I will msg the results. 

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My 2 cents on the kikusui -From Herman Wallinga's book.  The Sadakazu one shows a hand-crafted one that is, in my view, even less skilled ( I'm trying not to say poorly crafted!).  We found on an other Minatagawa thread (HERE) that there is quite a lot of variation of these emblems.  They were not a fixed stamp, but hand-cut, so artist conception and skill vary for all of them.

 

Second one, bottom row:

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Bruce, which Sadakazu??  If the first in late Edo through Meiji then the context of the Kikusui mon is completely different. Please explain (as we say here in Australia, with apologies to a certain controversial politician here!!).

 

BaZZa.

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18 minutes ago, Bazza said:

Please explain (as we say here in Australia, with apologies to a certain controversial politician here!!).

Ha!

I'm afraid I don't know.  The picture is from a post made by Vajo on an older thread.  I just collect pictures of kikusui for my files.  I did recently see Sadakazu and Sadakatsu (sp?) mentioned in another thread as a smith that was known to use the emblem.

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Bruce, all the kikusui mons you showed were carved on the nakago, not habaki, which is the subject of discussion. And show me where one has the "S" shaped sui which is closed at the ends. Anyone with Wallinga's book has seen these. 

Now show some of your habaki photos with a the kikusui mon that may add to the investigation. The sword being discussed doesn't have a mom on the nakago, where there can be a variation. 

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I don't collect these Minatogawa and Yasukuni blades, but I have owned a few over the years, including an early Masatada.  Tom, when I saw your listing, I sent it to a friend in Germany who is a big time Minatogawa collector (and to whom I sold my first Masatada).  He says he knows you and also that he thinks it's good. I have to admit that without study, the mei looks well cut to me as well.  My friend was a personal friend of Walinga and knows these swords very well.  

 

As you say, this may be Masatada's first sword, or one of the very first from the shrine.  He was the founder and initial sensei of the shrine as I recall.  If this was his first sword from the shrine, he may well have been working on his own there and had to cut the Minatogawa mon onto the habaki himself.  In fact, it could be one of or the oldest example of a Minatogawa mon on a habaki or shrine/arsenal blade - is that possible?  

 

The other funny thing is that I believe that I have the very last blade that Masatada made.  There is a long story attached to it, which includes Rikihei Inoguchi, the top officer of the Kamikaze, who was its owner at the end of the war or early thereafter (apparently the Kamikaze were in the navy).  Masatada had had to stop working at the forge a couple years before the war ended due to ill health, and he died the month that he made my sword.  My speculation is that he came out of retirement to make it.  He did sign it as from the shrine but in an unusual way. Interesting coincidence!

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18 hours ago, IJASWORDS said:

Now show some of your habaki photos with a the kikusui mon that may add to the investigation

Neil,

My post was a "2-cents" value and in no way meant to question your unquestionable experience with koshirae or anything else. 

 

I do tend to play Devil's Advocate, though, when someone starts leaning toward an "always" or "never"! Ha!

 

So, you challenged me to dig deeper on the kikusui.  I'm only half-way through the NMB database, but just came across this one.  It's much better made than this one of this post, but closed ends.  That MAY be due to the way it was imprinted or sculpted, though.

 

On a Yoshichika, found ON THIS THREAD.

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This is a update and from a Japanese fellow of the sword: 

 

" Kintei (謹呈)
Presentation

 

Kudô Haruto hakase gosô (工藤治人博士御左右)
Ordered by Dr. Kudô Haruto (It can be read Haru hito. But he was Haruto)
 
This is a very interesting sword. I could find information of both Kudo Haruto and Murakami Michimasa.
Kudo Haruto (1878 - 1963)He made a big step to modernize Tatara, the Japanese unique iron manufacture.
He invented some unique materials to make weapons for Japan Imperial Military
(this is repeated from Steve's msg).And He was the president of Nissan Automobile, one of the biggest car-manufacturing company. "
 
and this references the Minatogawa kikusui mon background with English translation and there's more but u need to brush up on your kanji 
 
also , this is the photo of my former Masatada sword that I sold few years ago - kikusui with open sui and also on nakago 
But: wondering ?  Was the first sword forged at the shrine w/both habaki and nakago marked with the kikusui mon ?  or maybe just put on the habaki and then "let's put it on habaki and nakago "  How we ever gonna know positively ? All I know is this sword did come from a collector who had it for a long time before any phony crap came out of China or Japan and I doubt this former owner even knew what he had but not even positive about that statement. 
 
 
tom W

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