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dankgus

Can you tell me what you think of this knife? Special?

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Let me start by saying I don't have much interest in Japanese swords or knives besides the ability to appreciate a fine piece of work. Because of this, I am posting here looking for info from you guys who are enthusiasts. Some time ago I acquired this unusual looking knife from a friend as part of a trade, I was pretty sure the knife was special and not just your ordinary flea market garbage. About the time I took possession of the knife I posted some pictures on the rec.knives newsgroup and was told it is likely a Japanese officers dirk or possibly a (quite rare) kamikaze dirk. Google rec.knives and dirk and you should see the thread it started. That was the first time I heard/read the word "dirk". I didn't get any solid information but the feedback seemed very positive.

 

I am hoping somebody who reads this forum knows more about this interesting piece and can tell me a bit about it.

 

Any assistance is greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

--Dan

post-1297-14196757090386_thumb.jpg

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Well, looks like a tanto (thats its Japanese name)

 

If it is WWII or earlier is hard to say if you dont remove the hilt carefully by removing the peg, taking the blade out and sending us pictures of the tang.

 

Dirk is another word for dagger.

 

Kamikaze dirk is a special word for the kind of Tanto the kamikaze pilots wore into their last flight.. the only thing rare about them is that if you have a genuine one it must have been from someone who failed his flight.

 

however most kamikaze took regular tanto with them.... so a specially made kamikaze dagger imho never existed.. (cf the SS, SA, NSKK parade knife)

 

KM

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This appears to be one of the standard officer's type knives taken to war, and often fancifully called kamikaze dirks etc.

In fact, they are just personal knives carried by soldiers. Not traditionally made, and this one does appear to be oil quenched.

I bet you will see it has the rough tang typical of these. With that blade shape, I don't think it is earlier than WW2.

You see these at around $250-400 usually.

 

Brian

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however most kamikaze took regular tanto with them.... so a specially made kamikaze dagger imho never existed..
That goes against everything I ever heard / read (in widely available books) / was told. Care to name sources?

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I'm with Franco. It looks like a cut down sword.

 

A for the kamikazi daggers, I think some units may have had a Tanto giving ceremony.

A good moral thing. When your asking a teenager to be a suicide bomber, it helps for them to believe their soul may have a samurai weapon to transfer to. Regardless of dedication, and other beliefs.

Mark G

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I resisted pushing out the wooden pin to remove the blade for a couple years now even though everybody has always told me that is the way to learn more about the piece. Well, today I went ahead and did it and it went smoothly. Attached is a picture of the engraving hidden inside the handle.

 

THANKS!

--Dan

post-1297-14196757113795_thumb.jpg

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F&G and other accounts give the blade offered at many of these ceremonies being a wakizashi.

At some ceremonies, tanto were indeed given to the pilots, but the ones that are conclusively linked to Kamikaze pilots are invariably cheaper mass produced tanto of the types that we see often in shirasaya with the short crude nakago.

It wouldn't make sense to give a hand forged blade to someone going on a one-way mission.

These are short bladed knives in shirasaya usually with a groove and oil tempered hamon.

I think there are the same style as the ones commonly carried by soldiers. Have a short "naginata-style" blade type. Often with patriotic sayings on them. Since they were given by the army, I assume they were a common type that was readily available.

This one could be the front of a wakizashi, but I would like to see the nakago before drawing a conclusion. The hamon could be water or oil quenched from the pics.

In either case, no way to link this to "Kamikaze" pilots, and every reason to assume it is a WW2-carried soldier's knife. Just my conclusion from what I have seen and read so far.

 

Brian

 

Edit to add - just seen that nakago pics were uploaded. Will check them out shortly.

Can you post an overall pic of the whole blade with the bare tang, showing the whole thing in one pic?

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Mei reads : Tamba no Kami Yoshimichi ......

 

Swing low, sweet charriot, coming for to carry me home ....

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I will take the risk and say that the mei reads (at list to my untrained eyes :) ) as tamba (no) kami yoshimichi. If so, this is not the mei of the famous smith of course, but I don't know for sure whether it is gimei or just much later smith. I will add that to me the dagger looks like a tip of longer blade so the odds go towards gimei. Mike

 

edit- while struggling the kanji here came Jean and bits me, at list I wasn't wrong reading :clap:

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Hi, suspect that this tanto is the shortened end of a once longer blade.

 

Not from the Hi (groove)

 

It is not Gimei and not intended to be (for the ones who have seen the Kyo or Osaka Tamba mei)

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There is no chance this is by any Tanba (no) kami Yoshimichi.

Nakago shape is rough and yasurime indicate WW2 manufacture.

As seen previously, I think these types of mei are patriotic wishful thinking for soldiers.

 

Brian

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I resisted pushing out the wooden pin to remove the blade for a couple years now even though everybody has always told me that is the way to learn more about the piece. Well, today I went ahead and did it and it went smoothly. Attached is a picture of the engraving hidden inside the handle.

 

THANKS!

--Dan

 

Hi Dan,

 

Additionally, it might help to sort things out by posting an image of the entire nakago including the jiri and hamachi, :thanks:

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Like I said earlier, I'm not really a Japanese sword/knife enthusiast, so I don't know all of the words you guys use to describe the components of this piece. However, later today after I take care of some errands I will take a few pictures of everything together. I have only the knife and wooden sheath, which at the moment has been disassembled by removal of the wooden peg so we could read the engraving in the handle. I'll leave it that way until I get the enough pics to satisfy everyone.

 

I'll probably be back in 2-4 hours.

 

I appreciate all of the input!

 

Thanks,

--Dan

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The mei has been added as a honorary mei for tradition as some WW II swords had. It was not made in an attempt to copy the original Yoshimichi line style of signature. I think this is what Jean alluded to. John

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@ Brian, thanks for the explanation, that was exactly what i meant.

 

If it is a Yoshimichi, it would be better indeed to photograph the entire blade without the habaki

 

The Namu-myôhô-renge-kyô ?-michi is an old Nichiren sect saying and the michi stands for the road of....... So it might well be a kamikaze dagger since on those these sayings were quite common... however!! we find the same saying also on WWII infantry officer blades...

 

Hope that helps... please send us full pictures of the entire blade.

 

KM

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At least the going-to-fade sayagaki reads "Namu-myôhô-renge-kyô ?-michi ??",

probably stating "Yoshimichi". FYI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daimoku

The last four characters are 日蓮上人 (Nichiren shonin), which means The Venerable Nichiren.

Ref. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nichiren

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Sorry about that extended delay, as excited as I was yesterday about this knife I still managed to have more important things get in the way of taking more pictures. Here are the latest pictures taken this morning, let me know if I can be more specific in taking photos, I don't mind taking as many as necessary to discover new information about this piece.

 

THANKS AGAIN!

--Dan

post-1297-14196757217004_thumb.jpg

post-1297-14196757221208_thumb.jpg

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Resized and re-uploaded to reduce file size.

I don't think there is much more you can discover about this one. Still seems to me to be a generic Japanese soldier's tanto/knife carried during WW2. If you had to describe it, you could say ...of the type carried by Kamikaze pilots, but without the link that can't be proven.

has the usual patriotic signature sometimes found. The groove seems to indicate it isn't shortened from a longer blade. I am unsure if it is traditionally made or oil quenched more mass produced, but I expect the latter. Nicer than many you see, but I don't think older than WW2.

Nice item though, and you need to oil it and keep wiping to remove as much rust as possible without using anything abrasive.

Oil that habaki too..and after a few days see if it will slip off without force. Possible it is soldered on there? Looks like there was some heat to the habaki in any case.

 

Brian

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think the color on the habaki is from corrosion on the nakago, id want to stop that rust fast, mabye a good soaking in a oil bath, at least brush oil on the dark red rust by the habaki, needs some TLC

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If you had to describe it, you could say ...of the type carried by Kamikaze pilots, but without the link that can't be proven. Brian

You made me laugh, by saying what you did you reminded me of the many times I have been annoyed by somebody saying something like "this knife was possibly used to defend the owner and his family from an attack by a rabid mountain lion while out picking berries." Do you get what I am saying? I mean, anybody can say things like "perhaps used to", "very likely", "possibly ejected from the wreckage as a kamikaze finished his final mission" and technically still not be lying or misrepresenting something. I would feel embarrassed if I described things in my life to be more than they really are. Anyway, I just thought it was funny. I really, really appreciate the input.

 

Any more observations, please let me know, I am very interested and learning a lot from all of this.

 

Thanks,

--Dan

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Yep..get your point. I only added that because with the patriotic saying also written on the outside of the saya, that gives it just that few extra % possibility that it might have been from a pilot. No way of knowing, and if I had to bet, I would say not. But they were known to do this kind of thing. However it is more likely that some officer or soldier carried this inside his tunic as a reminder of his past and as a morale booster.

No definite texts on this subject as yet. Do a seach anywhere (even on this forum) for kamikaze dagger or dirk and you should pull up pics of the more typical type of soldier's knife.

Here is one example:

IMG_7901-1.jpg

 

Brian

 

Edit to add: I think there is a small chance that genuine pilot's daggers had a hole at the bottom for a neck lanyard. That will need more research though.

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Osaka Tamba you can probably rule out because neither tang nor mei looks like 17thcent.

There were several Kyo Tamba though working in the 19th cent. but I do not know them well and indeed the hamon does not look like sudare-ba to me. Mei looks abit strange, too.

Imho blade is earlier than Showa(sorry to contradict you there, Brian), so everything, including shortening and resigning is possible.

 

Greetings to all,

Martin

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Sorry, was feeding my dogs and missed page 2.

Realized now that you were far beyond the Yoshimichi theme. The new photos look different.

Martin

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possibly ejected from the wreckage as a kamikaze finished his final mission

 

Is actually quite a funny one if you know something about the Kamikaze and where they struck....

 

Though i liked the mountain lion berry one too!

 

;)

 

KM

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It doesn't really matter, if this dirk was carried by a "kamikaze"-pilot or not. Simple-minded collectors of militaria might get a kick from the idea, but knowing about the sad circumstances in which many young men were forced to give their lives in senseless missions, this is somewhat appalling. Imperial propaganda of unselfish heroes, sacrificing willingly their lives, has been shattered by serious historians lately.

 

As for the blade: Sugata (especially abruptly turning fukura), poorly executed bo-hi (look at the top-end) and crude yasurime make this blade not earlier than Showa-period. Mei is gimei beyond doubt. YOSHIMICHI lines in Kyoto and Osaka extinguished long before this blade was made. It is just a very poorly made Nihon-To, maybe to the hands of a suicide-pilot before his last mission, but this would make the whole thing even sadder.

 

reinhard

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For those of you still believing in a heroic "samurai attitude" of tokkotai-missions during WWII, I recommend for a starter:

 

Kamikaze Diaries, Reflections of Japanese student soldiers, by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney

 

It is explaining, on a scientific basis, how warrior ethics of old (which I admire), were pervertedly used to manipulate people during modern age warfare. The book can easily be found and read by Google book-search, entering: "Kamikaze diaries"

 

reinhard

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For those of you still believing in a heroic "samurai attitude" of tokkotai-missions during WWII, I recommend for a starter:

 

Kamikaze Diaries, Reflections of Japanese student soldiers, by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney

 

It is explaining, on a scientific basis, how warrior ethics of old (which I admire), were pervertedly used to manipulate people during modern age warfare. The book can easily be found and read by Google book-search, entering: "Kamikaze diaries"

 

reinhard

 

Recommended indeed.

 

Link : http://www.amazon.com/Kamikaze-Diaries- ... 083&sr=1-1

 

 

Add too "Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms and Nationalisms", same author, University of Chicago Press, 2002.

This one enters the use and strumentalization of traditional esthetic and symbolism as the cherryblossoms

http://www.amazon.com/Kamikaze-Cherry-B ... 0226620913

 

Second one available in italian language too, under the title "La vera storia dei Kamikaze giapponesi"

http://www.brunomondadori.com/scheda_opera.php?ID=1502

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