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WW2 Samurai Sword Signed Hisakuni


Isley
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Posted request for tang translation back in Oct. 2021 and got answers but didn't see them until today.  Thanks so much to all who responded!  

The symbols were translated to "Yanagawa ju Hisakuni saku".    One responder suggested that there is a Showa smith listed as Fukuoka Hisakuni , who may help further identify the maker.  The sword was in my deceased father-in-law's collection and, sadly, was given to him by his friend who served in the war.  The handle had burned off or rotted so was replaced with one made of holly wood.  Probably has no real value but we were curious as to the maker.  Posting a few pictures and welcome your thoughts.

 

97301462_SAMURAISWORDPIC3.thumb.JPG.7b2e381cc2d029120a9004133a8813df.JPG

 

SAMURAI SWORD PIC 2.JPG

 

SAMURAI SWORD PIC 6.JPG

 

SAMURAI SWORD PIC 3.JPG

 

SAMURAI SWORD PIC 1.JPG

 

SAMURAI SWORD PIC 5.JPG

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I have received the following responses, which are very similar except for the city name Fukuoka vs. Yanagawa and the word junin vs. ju.   

 

Yanagawa ju Hisakuni saku

 

Probably this wartime smith:
Hisakuni (久国), Shōwa (昭和, 1926-1989), Fukuoka – „Hisakuni“ (久国), family name „Koga“ (古賀), born 1895, rikugun-jumei-tōshō

 

Yanagawa junin Hisakuni saku

 

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Thank you Baba Yaga.  We call it a WW2 Samurai sword because my father-in-law's friend took it off the body of a WW2 Japanese soldier and brought it home.  The handle had been burned off somehow so father-in-law replaced it.  He was a sword collector so I wouldn't think he would have cleaned the tang.  I lightened  the photo of the tang to make the symbols easier to read;  it is darker than it appears here.  I have read that "...as some officers came from the older samurai class and had heirlooms, it made sense for them to forego Gunto swords and bring along their forefather’s weapons."  The blade is not stainless steel and the sword is quite heavy and has a blade sharp on one side.  The sheath is very thick and of good quality.  

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5 minutes ago, Stephen said:

I think its wiped with talc....not cleaned... maybe ask original poster if that washes off or it actually was sanded I doubt it.

 

I was looing at other photos, but you're right on the one above. Talc is good for brining out the Mei. 

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2 minutes ago, Isley said:

Thank you Baba Yaga.  We call it a WW2 Samurai sword because my father-in-law's friend took it off the body of a WW2 Japanese soldier and brought it home.  The handle had been burned off somehow so father-in-law replaced it.  He was a sword collector so I wouldn't think he would have cleaned the tang.  I lightened  the photo of the tang to make the symbols easier to read;  it is darker than it appears here.  I have read that "...as some officers came from the older samurai class and had heirlooms, it made sense for them to forego Gunto swords and bring along their forefather’s weapons."  The blade is not stainless steel and the sword is quite heavy and has a blade sharp on one side.  The sheath is very thick and of good quality.  

 

You're Ok, Samurai Swords were made and carried by the Samurai. Anything made, even traditionally after is not a Samurai Sword. WW2 made swords are considered Japanese made. This will help http://www.japaneseswordindex.com/military.htm 

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it made sense for them to forego Gunto swords and bring along their forefather’s weapons.""

 

You are correct, but that is a very small percentage. Some fine "Samurai Swords" have been found in Japanese Military Mounts. 

I heavily suggest taking a look at this website http://www.japaneseswordindex.com/nihonto.htm 

It will help greatly help in research. 

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Somewhat pedantic point: if the sword in this thread is indeed by the smith pointed out in the other thread (Hisakuni, 1926-1989), then the sword would have been made well after the samurai ceased to exist as a class. It probably wasn't an heirloom sword, but nonetheless it may have been a special order sword.  

 

But I know many people tend to refer to any Japanese sword as a "samurai sword", even if the term is anachronistic to the sword. 

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Hi Gabriella!

 

I'm a little late to the discussion, and most of what can be said about your sword has been said already.  But I'd like to elaborate on a couple of points. "Samurai Sword" is a term often used to label all Japanese swords.  You can do some easy reading on the history of the Samurai HERE or other sites, but their official status ended in the late 1800's.  I'm weak on the history of blade ownership during the centuries, but there were swords made in Japan as long as there were needs for them.  For a period (memory fails me on the years) where only Samurai were allowed to carry swords, but that was not always the case.  So there were several blades made over the centuries that were bought by non-Samurai as well.  All swords built after 1876 were not made for Samurai, as that became illegal.  Japan brought in Western experts and weapons after that, and for a time, Western-styled swords were used.  But their weaknesses became evident in the Sino-Japanese and Ruso-Japanese wars.  After many requests, the Japanese military opted to revive "Samurai-styled" swords.  They had to revive the swordsmith industry to make blades again the old fashioned way.  Manufacturing methods changed to meet the huge demand of numbers, but the style was preserved.  All these blades were issued and sold to Army and Navy officers and sergeants, most of whom had no lineage whatsoever to the Samurai.  It was simply their swords that were made in the fashion of the old Samurai sword.  So, a more accurate name for them is simply "Japanese Sword." 

 

It looks like the fittings on yours are Navy, making this a "kaigunto" or Navy sword.  Are they original to the sword or were they added when the handle was rebuilt?  The handle end-cap (kabutogane) is a bit unique in that the hole for the sarute (tassle loop) was never drilled out!  Also not common, is the leather covered saya (scabbard) for kaigunto.  I own a couple myself, so they're not "rare" but not as commonly seen as the Army versions.

 

You can see what kaigunto looks like and how they differ from Army gunto on Ohumara's site Here and Here.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello, Bruce, and thank you for providing more information on swords.  The fittings are original to the sword, only the handle was rebuilt.  Father-in-law was a collector and very meticulous in maintaining maximum originality.  The scabbard is also original.  We now know the name of the friend who gifted him the sword and know that it was taken  while serving in the Army at the Battle of Guadalcanal.   The friend's relative was given the wallet and identification papers that were also taken from the fallen.  We do not know the name of the relative.

 

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