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Attached photos show a sayagaki written by Tanobe san for my Yamon Naokatsu tachi, purchased back in the very early 1970s here in St. Louis. While checking the file on this beautiful sword, I realized I've never fully translated the sayagaki. Someone broke it down for me years ago but I'd very much like a more detailed (kanji by kanji) breakdown of the body of the sayagaki. Tanobe san wrote more than usual when signing it, so that would be wonderful to understand. If this is not asking too much here, I think this information would also benefit some of the newer members, too. The photos are in the order of the sayagaki. I understand the mei part and the Nagasa part. My main interest is in the body of the sayagaki and Tanobe's signing as I said. For those who might have the old 1979 Meibutsu Catalog from that year's exhibit, this Naokatsu is on the cover and listed inside. As always, my thanks for your help. 


Sayagaki 1a.jpg

Sayagaki 1b.jpg

Sayagaki 1c.jpg

Sayagaki 1d.jpg

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Will see if I can assist with this, in part.


First portion of the sayagaki (description):


Keiō gannen aru no

This sword is of (made in) the first year of Keiō period (1865)








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As is quite often the case, the sayagaki is written in kanbun, which you need to be something of a scholar of classical literature in order to read (alas, I am not). I can pick out the meaning, but I am unsure of how to pronounce some of the phrases. This description feels majestic in its use of complicated kanbun and seldom-used kanji. I think Tanobe sensei takes pride in finding out-of-the ordinary kanji (㞮来  and 穀旦), and in employing the slightly idiosyncratic use of other kanji. 


Shōjiyamon Naokatsu


Keiō gannen ki aru kore. 
With date of Keiō gannen (1865)


Shitai gōsō sakuiki niginigishiku sōrō 
A powerful piece, full of activities.


Deki sugure katsu tame kono kō? no saikō-saku nari
A magnificent piece (unsure what comes after this) which will take its place among his best works. 


Hachō ni-shaku, go-sun, nana-bun kore ari
Length 2 shaku, 5 sun, 7 bun


Heisei jūyon nen, mizunoue-uma reki minazuki kokutan
Heisei 14 (2002), water/horse. Auspicious day in June.


Tanzan Hendō shirusu 
Written by Tanzan Hendō (aka Tanobe-sensei)


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Nice work Steve!


I couldn't even find 㞮 in the jisho! I'm still not sure what 㞮来 means exactly -is it the same as 出来?


I think "且為工" means something like "and is this smith's"

来傑レ且為此工最高作哉  "Magnificent craftmanship and is this smith's highest/best work alas!"

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Thanks guys, for explaining this as you did. I know Tanobe san does use some unusual kanji in his sayagaki, more in recent years than earlier. His sayagaki can be works of calligraphy art, especially when they become lengthy. Since posting this I did locate the earlier breakdown of the sayagaki (no real detail though) and I see the word "masterpiece" was used by the translator. Also, back in 1979 (surprised to see it that long ago!) the NTHK held a shinsa during that year's big event. The Naokatsu was later mentioned in their journal reviewing the event. Another friend translated that brief text for me and again the word "masterpiece" was used. (attached wording), so maybe that might be a good one to use. The Naokatsu was given 83 pts. at that time, but I never followed through on sending it to Japan for their Yushu level certificate. I still need to check out Darcy's site and do some comparison. I hope to keep this breakdown as a file to help with the next sayagaki puzzle that comes along. As I said, it's a good learning tool.


NTHK 1979.jpg

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