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Shinshinto Jirotaro Naokatsu mystery "kao"


Ron STL
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My apologies if I've already asked about this mystery "kao" that was used on this shodai Naokatsu wakizashi, but if so, I can't locate the post. 

 

This wakizashi just returned from polish, so I'm enjoying updated what I see in the sword now that it's restored. This in turn reminded me of the very unusal "kao" that follows the signature of Naokatsu. I am quite familiar with Naokatsu' den but have never come across this kao being used before. I thought it was worth a few key strokes to check if anyone ever has see seen this kao before. This is a special order wakizashi, but I do not think that has anything to do with the use of this kao. 

 

If this fails, I may try to get a response from the NBTHK, but that's a longshot. I've found very few people who get into Naokatsu here or anywhere, but who knows. 

 

 

 

KAO.jpg

Nakago mei 1.jpg

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I'll see how a few photos turn out, if clear I'll post it. This is a handsome hirazukuri wakizashi, relatively thick (6.4 mm) that came out of UK and passed on to me. It is a very powerful wakizashi like almost all of Naokatsu's work, Has special order on it which always appeals to me. I have several Jirotaro swords plus Yamons works, plus tsuba made by them and followers. This is why this odd "kao" fascinates me, have never seen a kao associated with Naokatsu before. 

Ron STL

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Hi Ron,

I don't think that you're going to get much by way of help unless you at least post a picture of the Kao. Is your blade papered i.e. have you got confirmation that the mei is genuine?

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Appreciate your thoughts but maybe somebody will come up with it. Always difficult when we non-Japanese  to figure out unusual kanji. I thought too, it was a bit unusual for a kao. I wouldn't be surprised it it turns out to mean "saku" or "sakuru" and for some reason, just a unique kanji. Likely Naokatsu had something in mind when carving this character. The enigma continue to be a puzzler. 

Ron STL

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Is there a date on the ura?

Ron sorry to say this doesn't look like a good signature - that being said this looks to me to be a kao - his signature starts with 荘司 Shoji and when you look at the "kao" it appears to my uneducated eye to be a combination of the two characters - I checked a half dozen references and could not find another example, so it is not clear what the copiers were copying...

 

-t

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I must back-track on my earlier comment - this very well could be a kao/kakihan.  I have been hyper-focusing on cut-test kao that all fit a similar pattern, that I forgot that the smith kao can be all over the place in style.  And many of them incorporate a blend of kanji, often from their names, in the stylized logo.

 

I'm going to save this one as a Naokatsu kao.  When I add it to the the Stamps Doc, I'll call it a 'possible kao for...."

 

@Ron STL - have you got a date, or estimate, on this blade?

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Tom, I hope you're wrong on this being gimei (naturally), but after all these years with Naokaatsu a poor judgement could very well strike my aging brain. The mei (your 2nd example) is probably from Fujishiro's Shinshinto Shinto shu, p. 150. I unfortunately sold my copy many years ago (didn't like the print quality) but should get a copy. I discussed an earlier "early dated" Naokatsu with Cary Condell years ago. Cary pointed out the variations of mei by date taken from this book. I did very carefully go over the mei on my new sword very carefully before buying it (came out of UK, a non-collector). The only thing I questioned was that kao/kanji thingee. Now that I have this back in-hand from polish, reading your thoughts here, I really need to spend some quiet time with it, soon. The hamon and jiba will show me little details expected in Jirotaro's work. If I screwed up, I'm embarrassed to do so. I should no better. I'll hopefully find out soon. I've asked Robert Hughs to show this to Tanobe next visit, possibly this month. I'll of course share this afterwards. 

 

Guys were asking, so I'll attach the full nakago this posting. Yes, it does carry a special order inscription. If I can get a could shots of the full blade, I'll post those, too. At least we may all learn something from this Jirotaro Naokatsu either way. 

Ron

Nakago date 1.jpg

Nakago mei 1.jpg

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Always the workmanship will tell and if the polisher saw anything off I expect he would have said something before doing any work. Make sure Robert asks about the Kao-thingy!

-t

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It is easy to see why you like  it - I probably would have jumped on this too - I wonder if it is corrosion or something else with the condition of the Nakago that makes the Tagane look so different - I simply couldn't find any good matches in my books (incl Shishin-to Shu) I look forward to hearing any news from Japan...

Thank you for sharing it.

-t

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This afternoon I sat alone with my swords to take a long look at the Naokatsu under discussion, with an eye that it may be a gimei sword as Tom mentioned. I soon could see two kanji that were totally unlike any I could see in the Taikan, ect. These were how JI and Ro (Jiro). "JI" was typically carved quite different than was was seen on this sword. Same with "RO" where the center vertical stroke is carved long and past the bottom of the character. This was discouraging to realize, but them I set out two other authenticated Naokatsu dated close to this sword. I took a picture (attached) of these. From left, on the first sword (dated 1840), ji and ro kanji are as seen in the books. Middle sword, dated 1831, is the one under discussion. The third sword, dated 1830, surprised me. The Jiro kanji are written exactly as seen on the sword we are discussing. I thought this was so interesting and reinforces my confidence in the sword. Of course that pesty kao/kanji will await Mr. Tanobe's comments. 

 

Tom, let me know if this "Jiro" was what you saw strange or if there was more. It's all just part of our learning process. 

Ron STL

6 comparison.jpg

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1. Look at the strength and cleanliness of the yasuri in the first example.

2. There is strength and confidence in the signature of the first.

3. Compare the "Ro" kanji in all three.

4. Compare the "Tsuki" hen in Fuji and Katsu.

5. I would also look at the dates - how is the "Tsuki" cut for the date.

6. His "Nao" tends to be squarish and only the very early signatures include the last vertical stroke as in number three...

 

To my eye the first example looks the best and if I were putting money on it I would say that one is genuine. I was taught if you can find four (4) anomalies then it is highly suspect...

 

-t

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