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Bruce Pennington

Kikusui

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After doing some research into Kikusui on gunto, I've discovered some interesting tid-bits, which may not be news to some of us, but I'll post what I've found.  If anyone sees something I've missed or has something to add, please do!

 

According Dan King, “A Tomb Called Iwo Jima,” the crest we know today as the Kikusui was the clan crest of a 14th Century Samurai, Kusunoki-Masa-sige , who fought to the death proclaiming “But that I had seven lives to give to the Emperor!” (at least the saying is attributed to him).  “The Japanese military used … the crest … as a symbol of devotion and self-sacrifice.  The Navy adopted Minatogawa Jinja as their sacred shrine.”     

 

 

1228033550_KusunogiMon.png.90a58b2813d715b33101d80020835573.pngMinotogawa.thumb.jpg.327759e9ad7e398c185adc5d39537764.jpg

 

Crests are found on blades, nakago, and habaki.  Stylized Kikusui are found on tsuba, menuki, and mon.  They are hand-crafted, not stamped.  Most come with a 9-petal chrysanthemum (one mon found with 7 petals) sitting atop an S-shaped flowing river.  The rivers mostly fall into 3 styles.

Style 1:  Three Parallel lines

:  

The sample group is small, but all observed of this version are squared at the ends

 

1034897835_3squared.jpg.09839623a773c07e6dba09c11e9921d9.jpghabaki.thumb.png.36ca17ce2eaba984151cbd70d5b71151.png

 

 

Style 2:  3-2-3

Ends slanted    1228033550_KusunogiMon.png.90a58b2813d715b33101d80020835573.png

Ends Squaredpost-3487-0-38771100-1548714265_thumb.png.4cbf546df1b542c558a9b53766bcfa4c.png

This version is created two ways: 2 parallel lines with the third added at the top and bottom

; Or:  2 parallel lines with the third added in the bends of the river.

 

Style 3: 2-1-2    Two parallel lines merge to one in the center and emerge as 2 at the bottom.  The third line is simulated by adding curves at each bend.

22264991_2-1-2Tanto.jpg.a557b6e0308b87e4e10c522ee26550c1.jpg2-1-2.jpg.ea8efddf26b1ef98f5a5dbbb15e1738b.jpg

Style 4: 2-1-3   Two parallel lines merge to one in the middle, coming out as three at the bottom

914904424_2-1-3again.png.787dd28e0fdb4a8ca3bddb7e5f2c2459.png2-1-3.png.417897d48ffb4090fb29d40552578f51.png

 

 

 

 

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A Kikusui on a fuchi (note only 7 petals)

fuchimon1.thumb.jpg.eb04a68e59f652ebab2996f676e0770a.jpg

 

Kikusui-themed menuki

menuki.jpg.df98516ccbb677c150ea63cd00864b64.jpg

 

Of course Kikusui are found on things other than swords:

A yari case (style 2 slanted)

CasePainted.jpg.436e928efc6a5c664fe707e8e5cf8d21.jpg

 

Kikusui-themed tsuba

tsubaInlaid.jpg.677124b789c27812bed854bc05ebbc73.jpgTsubaPainted.jpg.0e4b62ea177bb5ef85c4f23be064c0a4.jpg

 

A Mini-submarine

Sub.thumb.jpg.81435dec9220dcfafe2c013b8628a660.jpg

 

A shirasaya

StampOnShirasaya.jpg.6e26186e088080dc8a069064f667e8b7.jpg

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Nice thread Bruce.  Arnold Frenzel bought a huge embroidered flag that was from Minatogawa and had a giant kikusui on it.  I wonder where it is now?  Hopefully somebody will post a Mishina school blade with a kikusui hamon!

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Nice! All the examples you show have the SUI, (the S) flowing water, open ended. Especially the Shrine and official Navy insignia. A minor detail I know, but maybe a guide to identifying poor reproductions? 

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Bruce san,

I recall seeing a Type 98 gunto (signed Kaneuji?/Masauji?) a few decades ago...with a kikusui engraved on the BLADE, about 1 inch forward of the habaki. If my ancient memory is not confused, the hamon was Mt fuji appearing through the clouds, again, just in front of the habaki. So long ago, may have been 2 different swords...but just thought you should know the kikusui has been seen on a showato? blade.

Regards,

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A thought on the 2-1-3 design - I had initially thought them to be crude and/or sloppy attempts at the kikusui, but the idea occurred to me that the top 2 lines are tight and the bottom 3 are wide giving the visual impression that the river is flowing toward the viewer, with the top farther away and the bottom nearer. 

 

Didn't expect to sit in on an art appreciation class, did you!

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Bruce, 

 

Your threads and studies will never cease to amaze me. I think that without you, I would never have noticed there were so many variants of the Kikusui. Keep this up and one day, write a book with all your discoveries. Your dedication to those subjects is amazing.

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Thanks JP!  It's just something I enjoy!  Now .... to figure out how to get paid for it!!!! Ha!  If I ever get enough together to qualify for a book, that's something that would be fun to look into.  You, and half the guys here, will all get free copies for your contributions to our hobby.  I just gather stuff that other guys have already posted.

 

Speaking of already posted, found a discussion of the use of the emblem by the Kamikaze operation.  There's likely more on this, please add if anyone has more, but here's stuff from A POST ON WARRELICS.

Kamikazi Kikisui Explained.jpg

Aircraft Tail.jpg

Patch.jpg

A kamikaze headband worn by a factory worker (they apparently swapped headbands) found HERE

headband (kamikaze worn by factory worker).jpg

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