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Wakizashi Saya Kanji

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Wakizashi with an old blade brought back from New Guinea and in poor shape but gentle preservtion continuing. I Will post more pics etc in Military Swords of Japan soon for interest/comment, but in the mean time, a translation of 'gold' kanji on saya would be great (Nakago is mumei).  I believe a cpuple of kanji are numbers but I cant work out entire writing.




P.S. for context, one pic of complete saya to follow....unable to add it in this post (only taken up 4.1 mb ??)



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Hi Rob,

This is a bit of a weird one as the kanji are back to front. All I can think is that whoever painted the kanji on the saya used a template but overlooked that it would have a mirror writing type effect. So you have:


前刀 - Hizento - Sword from Hizen province.


二百年前 - Yaku nibyaku nen mae - not sure on the first kanji, it's tricky enough when they are printed and the right way round, but I think it reads "around two hundred years old" (literally previously).


Looks like Uwe just beat me to it.

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Of course this is just conjecture but I wonder if this is the result of a Japanese officer being asked to sort through a pile of swords at the end of the war and identify those of interest?  I have never come across this before and find it interesting. 

(Only one coffee into the day myself!)


All the best.

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Thankyou Uwe S. and John (I dont know where to start)... Firstly, I appreciate your translation. 


Secondly, I offer a thousand apologies. Somehow the last picture was in fact, mirror reversed and translating is hard enough without 'little' tech gliches like that (cant believe I did that 😯)


Finally, anyone like to have a guess why and when an IJA Officer would have painted that message on a saya? Is it possible it was simply a valued family treasure that they wished to draw attention to in order to protect/preserve in the hands of the allies?



Gerainte I love your enquiring mind ...it is a pity there is no post war mystery in terms of reversed kanji BUT.... maybe I wont leave you empty handed entirely. When I acquired the sword (much cosmoline, verdegrease dirt/dust) the inside of the tsuka was being padded out with a torn off piece of newspaper which is dated Thursday, January 17 1946 (pic attached).  I have since set this aside and replaced it with a sliver of thin cardboard.  But the question in my mind is who put that newspaper in there?  The date and 'english newspaper' would suggest a member of the allied forces as hostilities/sword surrenders should have occured well before that..but that would be a strange thing to do I would have thought (why bother?)...leave it with you 🤔






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Dear Rob.


My suggestion above was based on the memory of a written account which recorded that on a very few occasions Japanese officers were asked to go through surrendered swords to pick out the better ones.  It is hard to account for the well written kanji otherwise as this would not have been done on a sword when carried, I think.  While some Japanese troops were employed by the allies after the end of hostilities to combat local insurgencies I would guess the newspaper, dated in English, would be a post war addition, possibly by the service man who had acquired the sword.  It's a nice thing and interesting to surmise but we will never know.


All the best.

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