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Help translating katana kanji needed


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Hey everyone,

 

I'm working at a small museum in New Zealand where we have a collection of Japanese swords. I'm currently cataloguing a katana in its wooden saya that has kanji I'm hoping to get translated; the maker, date and location of manufacture, the class of blade if possible, and any other details noted. We've had some rough translations done by a Japanese local so we've been working off those thus far.

 

I think we've narrowed down the appraisal to the Honami family during the Meiji period (1881 or 1883?) but I can't quite pinpoint which member specifically, possibly Chou Shoku or Kochu? We believe it was sold for 150 pieces of gold and the blade length is around 70.902cm.

 

We also think the maker might have been born in Okayama, possibly the western region, within the Kamakura era (1192-1336), with the manufacture date around the late 1240s?

 

These names came up in the translations but I haven't been able to ascertain who or what they are and how they fit into the blade's history:
Kaneyasu
Tamefusa
Norifusa (this is written on the sticker presumably added by past museum staff)
Katayama Norifusa
Katayama ichimonji

 

Any help translating/reading the kanji would be appreciated, thank you!

Sarah

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片山則房
長貳尺三寸四分
表裏樋磨上無銘也
代金百五拾枚
明治十四年晩冬鑑定同十六年一月記之
本阿弥長識

 

Katayama Norifusa
Nagasa ni-shaku san-sun yon-bu
Omote Ura hi. Suriage mumei nari.
Daikin hyaku gojū mai
Meiji jūyon-nen bantō. Kantei dō jūrokunen ichigatsu kisuru kore.
Hon'ami Chōshoku

 

Katayama Norifusa
Length of 2 shaku, 3 sun, 4 bu
Groove on both sides. Shortened, mumei (unsigned). 
150 gold "mai"
Appraised Meiji 14 (1881) winter. Recorded Meiji 16, January. 
Signed Hon'ami Chōshoku

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Hi Steve, 

Thanks so much for that, very helpful.

 

Is there a manufacture date noted on there?

 

And what unit of measurement are shaku, sun and bu?

 

Cheers

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No, there is nothing on the wooden scabbard other than what I've written, with the exception of another cryptic mark on the very tip of the scabbard, which seems to be 行国 (Yukikuni) who is a completely different Ichimonji smith.

 

The Norifusa smith mentioned on the wooden scabbard worked in the mid-13th century. But this is at odds with the actual inscription on the sword. If possible, you should get an expert to examine the sword itself. With big names and very old swords, the potential for forgery is pretty high. 

 

*Kanji on the tang is as above, in my post #3. Nobukuni is another smith's name.

 

 

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Very confusing set!
I guess the first step is to separate out the three different names and record the differences and the stories behind each. The truth is out there! (It might take years to solve it, though. Par for the course.)

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Hello Sarah/Eve,

Excuse me if you already know proper care and handling; not all small museums with Nihonto in their collections do (sometimes with unfortunate results).  Here is a link to a site with instructions (scroll down to Sword Care and Cleaning).

https://nbthk-ab2.org/sword-characteristics/

Grey

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Thanks very much everyone for your help. We're putting together a wee album to share all our Japanese blades. As Grey Doffin succinctly put it, small museums don't always have the know how. That's been the case here - a lot of good intentions and care but not the right kind. Also several mismatched blades and scabbards that probably came to NZ like that. 

 

We'll share our small collection and hopefully the experts here can let us know if any of them warrant further investigation. We don't have a ton of resources to throw at this and it's slightly outside the parameters of our project, but we all feel that if we have something special we would like to celebrate it. 

 

Thanks again and we'll get an album up soon :-) 

 

On 6/9/2021 at 11:45 PM, Grey Doffin said:

Hello Sarah/Eve,

Excuse me if you already know proper care and handling; not all small museums with Nihonto in their collections do (sometimes with unfortunate results).  Here is a link to a site with instructions (scroll down to Sword Care and Cleaning).

https://nbthk-ab2.org/sword-characteristics/

Grey

 

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That knotty mess would have carried on like that in a dusty back corner for years. It sounds as if it is getting the right kind of attention now, even if you only find 25~ 50% of the answers that you want. This can only be a good thing. Fresh eyes and bright ideas. Many thanks for your attention, beyond the call of duty.

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