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Surrender Tag and Return to Japan

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I got to talking with a Constable (Retired Police Officer performing security) that was working at the local gun & knife show. He has a katana that came with a cloth surrender tag. Looking at the pictures he showed me, it appears to be an early shinto katana with a 2 hole suriage nakago with the original hole being 2.5 cm above the end of the nakago...was definitely a much longer sword.

He would like to attempt to find the family of the person who surrendered the sword, and return to them, as a good will gesture. I agreed to help him, if possible. I made him aware that some families are very thankful and other families may reject the offer. He is prepared to accept the families wishes, if they can be found.


Any help is greatly appreciated.




Surrender Tag Good Pic.jpg

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3 minutes ago, French nihonto said:

interesting story, I can not help you for the identification, other great master of this forum will do better. But do you have some pictures of the blade? just by curiosity

He only showed me pictures on his phone. He lives about 15 miles from me so I may be able to meet with him for some better pictures.

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It is my understanding that most, if not all Japanese families, do not want to entertain any remembrance of that era. It was a sad time, and to many a shameful time.


If the sword is indeed an older family heirloom, you might not cause any possible grief by attempting to return it. 


However, and I could be way out of line here so please use your own best judgement, but I fear you could do more damage than good by trying to find the owners family, and return the sword. Remember the Japanese culture is way different than the American culture, so please tread lightly.


My .02 worth.



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Over on Japanese Militaria our resident native Japanese contributor is adamant that this is not a good idea. He compares it to contacting a German family and offering to return a case of SS marked grenades that their Granddad had left behind. 

 On another note, the family would also need to pay for a sword license in order to keep it. Other more personal relics like Hinomaru, Senninbari  and Yosegaki are another matter, and are often welcomed as giving closure on a lost family member.

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Thanks for providing a link to the Obon Society.  I have a Yosegaki Hinomaru flag that came to me with a group of swords when I did an estate buy.  I've kept it because I didn't know what to do with it.  I will be sending it off tomorrow with the hopes that the Obon Society can locate the family.


Bob Gilmore


Flag sent out Priority Mail this morning.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/8/2021 at 7:30 AM, SteveM said:

The Obon Society is a group that tries to repatriate items taken from Japanese soldiers to their families back in Japan. They might be able to help. 



This particular tag is too far gone for me to give any meaningful input. 

Thank you for the link to the YouTube channel for the Obon Society. Stories provide so much intrinsic value to this hobby we pursue - all the stories, including the ones told on this forum. 

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