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Sean Swanberg




Location: Champaign, IL
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue 17 Jul, 2018 10:44 pm    Post subject: Japanese sword identification         Reply with quote

Hi All! I need help identifying this sword. I'm a long time enthusiast but this is pretty far from my usual interests. This sword and other arms were recently inherited from an in law when they passed away. The man was a well decorated West Point Col. who served all over the world. The only thing I was told about this sword in particular is that they brought it home from Japan and were told it was originally from WW2. Since the Colonel was class of '52 and never served in WW2 I suspect this is similar to many of the commodity grade WW2 era Japanese swords, but perhaps it's something more?

The tsuka and saya seem greatly oversized for the blade. Is this common? The fit is quite good and disassembly showed nothing suspicious.The blade has a few knicks and may have a very faint hamon. Some forging flaws can be seen as well. The saya is a soft wood wrapped in cord that has come apart in some areas. I can try provide better pics if these don't do the job, a bass guitar case backdrop and basement lighting were the best I could muster right now.



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Hannes Vereecke




Location: Belgium
Joined: 27 Jul 2016

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Wed 18 Jul, 2018 3:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not an expert by any means, but will try to help.
Are the more kanji present on the other side of the tang? Normally there are 4 or more Japanese characters present.
I can not read them myself, but some here can.
Also the katana was probably not used in WW2, definitely not a gunto/military type katana at first glance.
The tsuka (handle) was refinished with new cord it seems.
De blade itself seems to have a lot of forging flaws like you mentioned, a sword smith proud of his work (like most/all are) would probably not sign the tang with his name. Maybe that explains why there are only 2 Kanji present.
Most likely this was used more for decoration/ceremonial purposes.
Well, this is what I think about it anyway, like I said I'm no expert Happy
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Sean Swanberg




Location: Champaign, IL
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed 18 Jul, 2018 11:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No, there is nothing on the other side of the tang unfortunately. I would believe that the tsuka and saya are replacements due to the uneven match in blade length. The closer I look the more forging flaws can be seen in the blade. The blade is still rather sharp and maintains an edge all the way down to the fuchi. The blade geometry and sharpness make me think it was possibly serviceable at some time. It will live only as an ornament from now on of course but it would be very interesting to learn more.
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Marcus Kwa




Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 23 Jul 2017

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu 19 Jul, 2018 1:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Blade is a wakizashi, the companion blade of the (longer) katana. Most of the time the tsuba matched the katana's in design and size. So this tsuba is not disproportionate large for a wakizashi and is probably original to this blade. The small tang also hints to a wakizashi, though katana with a small tang do exist. The grip (tsuka) is inbetween katana/wakizashi length so could be made for either. Overal: the proportions of grip blade and tsuba do not seem off to me.
On authenticity, the tsuba is well made and is worth quite some on its own, the remaining furniture is not matching but this is not a point to lower its value since they are also well made. In it's lifetime pieces can be replaced or exchanged to suit the owners taste or purse.
The saya is definately not made for this blade.

Hope this was of help!

Best regards,

Marcus
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Jussi Ekholm




Location: Tampere, Finland
Joined: 16 Jun 2004
Reading list: 38 books

Posts: 93

PostPosted: Wed 01 Aug, 2018 4:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry for the late reply as I haven't checked myArmoury in a while this summer.

Wakizashi is signed 勝光 Katsumitsu, most likely one of the multiple late Muromachi c. 1500-1600's Bizen smiths.

Tsuba is at least in style of Heianjō with mon-sukashi (openings). I'm not a fittings guy really so I can be wrong with that.

Jussi Ekholm
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Sean Swanberg




Location: Champaign, IL
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed 01 Aug, 2018 10:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you very much for your translation. I also have not had much occasion to check forums or do my own research. This sword may be much older than I realized and greater care will be required. Many of my weapons, particularly as a new father and being ten years removed from martial practice, have been languishing in disuse.
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