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Wakizashi Translation

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I recently found a wakizashi as I was cleaning out my grandfather's shop; this item was likely acquired by my great-grandfather when he was stationed in Japan during the Korean War. I am interested in learning more about this item and translating the text that I have found on the sword and its mountings.


There is a signature on the tang that I believe is 備州長船住祐定 / Bishu Osafune ju Sukesada. I have searched the Nihonto Club swordsmith index and I found two signatures that match, one from Choroku/Bunmei (https://nihontoclub.com/smiths/SUK781) and one from Horeki (https://nihontoclub.com/smiths/SUK926). I would greatly appreciate a second opinion on this, as well as any further insights anyone can provide.


There is also text on the tsuka, but it's hard to make out, even in person. It looks like there is both an ink marking as well as an inscription here. I figured that maybe someone who recognizes the characters might be able to figure out what they are.


The scabbard also included a kogai and a kozuka, both of which have text on them.


Thank you in advance for your time. I have attached the images in an Imgur link because they exceed the maximum file size allowed; please let me know if you need me to upload these in a different way, or if you need any different pictures / angles.


Images: https://imgur.com/a/G5Wntkh

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Hello Ben, your reading/translation is correct. I think there are probably many more smiths than the two you found, who signed with Bishū Osafune-jū Sukesada. Given the shape and the signature style, I wouldn't be looking any farther than the late 1500s for this sword's origins. It doesn't show any signs of being drastically shortened, so we can assume it was made as a wakizashi (as opposed to a tachi or katana, which was later shortened). The extra hole in the nakago looks like it might have been made to accommodate a new tsuka, which is pretty common. The signature looks fairly crisp and clear. There isn't too much patina/rust build-up on the tang. So maybe 1600s to 1700s. 


The kogai is signed 後藤光信 (Gotō Mitsunobu), with monogram. It's kind of a blurry image, so I can't really see the design on the kogai, but it's probably best to think of this signature as a forgery. Gotō Mitsunobu was a famous metalsmith, working in the early Edo era. 



Looks like the utility knife (kogatana) has a signature that starts off with maybe 千代 or 十代 (Sendai- or Jūdai-). Can you take the knife out of the kozuka? They are made so that the knife can be readily replaced, and usually they will come out without exerting much force, but if it won't budge then leave it as is. Names on kogatana are often an "homage" to a famous smith, rather than the name of the smith who made the kogatana. 

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If you are going to try and narrow it down, look at the cold chisel work for the Kanji characters and compare that to other known examples.


The stroke style of your 船 fune in 長船 Osafune for example, is particularly interesting/idiosyncratic.


PS Because there were up to 60 Sukesada over the centuries, and yours lacks a date (which would have helped), do not hold your hopes high, but rather use this as a fun exercise. :thumbsup:

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