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Sword identification help


GMS
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Good day, all, I came into possession of a sword my grandfather brought back from WWII, and I'm trying to get as much information on it as I can. He was an MP in Osaka after the war, and was allowed to pick a long blade and a knife to take home. I have no intention of selling it, but want to be able to appreciate it more if it is something special. I've tried to take pictures of all the relevant parts, but can take more if that would help. There is no inscription on the tang, but some light scratches under the two piece habaki that were difficult to photograph. It was retrofitted to have a push button lock at some point, which cut through some writing on the inside of the fuchi. The blade, tip to habaki is 26" long with 1/2" of sori. I'm a definite newcomer into the Japanese sword arena, so I'm trying to learn all the do's and don'ts. Thanks for your time,

Gabriel

 

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Gabriel,

welcome to the NMB!

Congratulations to your sword! It looks like a genuine handmade blade in nice, but simple private mounts, adapted later to military use. It is difficult to judge the age from photos but looking at the patina of the NAKAGO, I believe the blade to be a relatively young one, maybe from the end of EDO or later, even TAISHO is possible.

I would like to suggest that you show the sword to experts near you to get a better evaluation. There are certainly some around from the California Sword Club!

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Jean, thanks for your thoughts, from my reading and looking at pictures on this forum I had an extremely uneducated guess that it was in that sort of time frame. Yeah, my first preference would be to ask someone about it in person, but due to 2020 that hasn't been an option, now I have a better idea who to go to though. I'd also love to see in person more examples of these swords, this is an area of knowledge where pictures just do not suffice. 

 

Thanks Grey, bookmarked for reading and re-reading.

 

I've tried searching through the forum for this question, but came up empty, but on the spine of the blade right near the kissaki there is a very clear demarcation line. Is that due to the way it was polished? And if so, is there a reason to do so?image.thumb.jpeg.1e4b176273c054e1b0c036bf932eb237.jpeg

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Gabriel,

as far as I know, this is done just for traditional and decorative purposes and has no functional aspect. The same is valid for the area under the HABAKI. In some ("better") swords you can see meticulous work of the polisher there, but this is only revealed when you dismount the HABAKI. 
Swords that were taken to war were often not (as expected by some collectors) the best of the family heirlooms, but simpler - but not less efficient -  blades.  The future will show if this applies to your sword as well.

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Nice sword. I like the quality and the "sunagashi" (swept sand line) in the tip (or maybe it is lightning (Inazuma)...nice.

The writing under the habaki is hard to read but the LH column in the upper pic might say SHOWA (part of a date) and the RH column in the lower pic might say OKA... (part of a name - the polisher).

 

Just a guess, but it looks like a gendaito blade, perhaps made for Iaido and then "militarised" for taking to war. Worth keeping, gently cleaning and looking after.

 

Maybe one of our native Japanese speakers can translate the polisher's writing for us?

 

Regards,

 

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Hi Gabriel,

The spine (mune) of the blade is usually burnished when the sword is polished.  The burnishing makes it shine but also makes any tempered area (hamon/yakiba) less visible. The hamon in the kissaki is called the boshi and there is usually a return (kaeri) a short way down the spine from the top of the boshi.  Leaving this area unburnished (thus the line you mention) makes it easier to see the kaeri.

If you'd like to ask a bunch of questions at once feel free to call sometime.  I'm not an authority but I do have a few decades experience and am glad to help if I can.

Cheers,  Grey  218-726-0395 central time

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Thanks for your help, gentlemen! It sounds like it's decent but nothing special. It's all a bit ratty and unkempt, so at some point I might like to refresh everything, but not anytime particularly soon I think. What are your recommendations for storing it? It's been sitting in the top of my grandfathers closet for the past 50 odd years, and I know he didn't oil it regularly. The one time he showed it to me, 10-15 years ago, he did know not to touch the blade, but more than that I don't know, as he didn't like talking about his part in the war. I put a little oil on it when it came into my hands, but past that I'm unsure of how best I can keep it in its current state.

 

Gabriel

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Hi Gabriel,

A very light coat of oil on the polished portion of the blade, as is explained in the care & handling I linked to, and you're set.  Nothing else is necessary and anything else might do damage.

Grey

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