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Some memory I have--went to get 1 blade, emerged with four!!

Discussion in 'Sword Discussion' started by Jim Thompson, Jun 27, 2018.

  1. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson

    Jun 9, 2018
    Well, I knew I had a Katana in storage.

    I did, in fact.

    And two more.

    And a rather nice, practical sort of Japanese dagger about which I have no recollection at all.

    Age marches on!!

    I'll see if anyone can identify or even find interesting speculation.

    I suspect the Katana is very old.

    Japanese 6" dagger:


    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157692635174950

    11 shots in total. Signed in, one can search, surf, reduce, enlarge, or otherwise check the images and captions in detail. Otherwise, one sees postage stamp thumbnails.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/42317394954/in/photostream

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/42317394924/in/photostream/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/42317394824/in/photostream/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/29164023988/in/photostream/

    And the sword:

    Album ( I think there are 19 or maybe 21 shots in all)... I may add to this.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157696749249491

    A smattering of shots:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/42131622265/in/photostream

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/42131622225/in/photostream/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/42131622175/in/photostream/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/42131622055/in/photostream/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/43033880261/in/photostream/

    The Katana has no sheath or scabbard. One of the others has a military-looking scabbard, but seems to be a way older blade, probably some kind of mis-match. I'll try to put the links on that one in here, too.

    The sword may or may not actually be an Okinawa "capture", but I know I did business with a former Marine back then who had a large stash of blades and he always said, "I got 'em on Okinawa!" I don't know if he actually did, and I'm not even sure I got this from him, but I do know it was NOT one of the ones collected postwar in Japan proper. The other two? I don't know.

    Recall even less about the dagger.

    Best way to view is sign in with any Yahoo i.d. and then peruse, search, view, magnify, read captions, etc., etc., etc.

    Obviously, click on the photograph to view the file.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
  2. Rich S

    Rich S

    Sep 23, 2005
    The first is a Japanese Officers dirk (sometimes incorrectly called a kamikaze dirk). Can't read the inscription.
    The katana is an older one, but unsigned, so cant help with that. The katana is is terrible condition. It would need a professional polish (expensive) to begin to id it.

    The Japanese Sword Guide
  3. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson

    Jun 9, 2018
    Egad! Not only do I type faster than I think, and fail to remember all manner of oddities, I'm garbling details.


    The Katana was a purchase so long ago I forgot the details, and it actually benefited from the petroleum jelly I applied, probably some time in the seventies. The others I recall even less. Most of the really ugly rust came off when rubbed with an old t-shirt. The other two look much more interesting. But they aren't as old and may even be theater props or repros.

    Had to re-edit to get my detail ducks into some kind of straight ahead formation.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
  4. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson

    Jun 9, 2018
    I've been referring to the Katana as "The Okinawa sword" because of an old Marine from whom I purchased lots of stuff, and most of whose treasures came from there. I am by no means sure that's where he got it, or even if he was the source. However, I know this one is authentic, unlike the other two I have, which look almost theatrical. Also, a lot of the Japanese blades and stuff I got over the years was picked up in the home islands of Japan, AFTER the war, and I know this isn't one of those. But the "link" to Okinawa is NOT literal.

    I DID find some markings. The gold "smudge" seems to be Kanji, and is probably an i.d.

    There's a thing I THINK is a scratch on the tang I found at about 20x magnification which looks like the english letters "ni", very roughly outlined and very tiny. I do NOT think it is engraved or stamped, it seems to be a metal flaw or ding, nothing even intentional.

    However, these gold symbols or characters I had missed earlier definitely mean SOMETHING.

    A local suggests it's very old, and says the symbology has changed a lot in 3 centuries or more. He's a Japanese scholar, native...but his vocabulary doesn't go that far back.

    What, I have no idea.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/41243850450/in/photostream

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/41243850410/in/photostream

    Those are definitely no accident. I have no idea if they're original.

    Again, best way to view is sign in with any Yahoo i.d.

    Are those daggers common at all? I've seen them before, but I'm a firearms guy. Anyone stumble through enough Japanese to give even a partial translation?

    They must be somewhat uncommon.

    I think the other two Katanas are commercial, maybe postwar, maybe theater props, might even be fakes, albeit one is remarkably well made.

    Will have those photos available within the week.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
  5. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson

    Jun 9, 2018
    Please check out the new images.

    That gilt or gold wash is VERY unusual.
  6. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson

    Jun 9, 2018
    The dagger seems to be a "Kaiken" and apparently they're far rarer than I realized.

    And they are, indeed, associated loosely with suicide and Kamikaze and Kaiten pilots. There are strange mythologies and spiritual inferences involved with these, too.

    Anyone interpret the Kanji inscription?
  7. Rich S

    Rich S

    Sep 23, 2005
    Not a Kaiken - that is a woman's sleeve knife. You' have a WWII era Officer's dirk.
  8. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson

    Jun 9, 2018
    O.K. I thought it was a generic term, based only on size.
  9. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson

    Jun 9, 2018
  10. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson

    Jun 9, 2018
    Someone asked: I call it "KR" because I have others, and I need to find photo titles to keep them straight.

    Also, I have enhanced and swapped out some shots, especially those featuring Kanji, and enhanced some others.

    If anyone can assist with identifying these, please advise.

    The next one I'll be doing I sense is Japanese and old, but I suspect it's theatrical or something. Hard to express, but it's stereotypical.

  11. the possum

    the possum

    Jul 31, 2002
    If you're referring to the gold on the fuchi- the collar at the front of the handle, then I don't think it's writing or Kanji at all. It's decoration. Much has been lost, so I can't really tell what it was supposed to be. My great Uncle's sword had very similar gold work on the tsuba.
  12. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson

    Jun 9, 2018
    Oh, it's Japanese Kanji plus some other kind of symbology.

    And it's repeated on both sides. A professor of Japanese history, born there, and still active at the local university says the ideograms are used differently before the 18th century, and the "starburst" is a symbol approximating "infinity". But he said someone better trained in very old Japanese would know much more. I think it's therefore at least 250+ years old.

    But I'm hoping to get more information still.

    Years ago, an old friend told me some of these had prayers and poems synopsized on them. He is deceased, so I can't inquire further with him, but he DID read the old ideographs.
  13. horseclover

    horseclover Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 21, 2000
    One thing you seem to be largely missing in your presentations is your art vs some simple facts.

    The kanji shown on the blade nakago are read vertically. Horizontal and angled shots simply confuse the issue and make it quite easy for those that can read it not to bother with your ignorance. Display all blade markings on the handle end vertically, with the point of the blade up ^^^^^^^^.

    Rich Stein posted a link to some very useful information and rather than bothering to absorb any of that, you post some more links to photos that are, again, less than helpful for any that might care to help you.

    As an experienced photographer, you might add some watermarks and clearly display the images in threads such as this using the forum img /img tags instead of adding the extra hurdle for the individual images. A link to the album is sufficient but when I run into a demand to sign in to view adult content (whatever that may be) I see no reason I should have to sign into anything. Again, a case of your art and preferences vs any that might bother with you and complicating a view.

    I'll go so far as to recommend Rich Stein's good pages again and add this link to a venue that might offer some help with the Japanese blades. Keep in mind, nakago kanji should be presented vertically with the point of the blade up.

    As with the other swords, if you have already made up your mind, wait until you have your experts examine them in person and then present them with the facts as something worth visiting in an album format (instead of complicating views for those that might help).

  14. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson

    Jun 9, 2018
    Easily rotated, but it is not so easy to know which way is which when dealing with an ideograph alphabet with which I am unfamiliar.

    In short, "which way is up?" I presume you mean the blade tip.

    Signed in, such information could be left in "comments".

    The notes reflect the extant data. Signed in, the security elements don't come up. There is no actual "adult content" but there IS security. Signed in, all viewing permutations are possible. The whole idea behind a real website instead of useless 50-60 kb. images is security and flexibility.

  15. horseclover

    horseclover Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 21, 2000
    with the point of the blade up ^^^^^^^^.

    If that is not clear enough for you, perhaps visit the site offered you earlier and also spend some time researching your finds beyond distant memories. The link I posted leads to many that can help you but should they bother with the extra work?

    Why should any have to do your work for you? Why should any have to jump through hoops for you? A 53kb image would be quite sufficient in displaying those kanji but that isn't the issue here. Making life more difficult to access a file doesn't exactly invite any that might more easily read them to help you.

    Good luck in all things.
  16. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson

    Jun 9, 2018
    Will attempt to do so.
  17. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson

    Jun 9, 2018
    Adjusted/re-oriented the markings setups on the Katana which clearly has them. The one which has no actual markings I could locate, I figure not productive.

    That latter one I think is very old and undisturbed. IF there is an inscription, it must be worn or very thin. With my strongest loupe, that "ni" looking thing is all I found. And I suspect it is merely a forging issue.

    Added five new photos of the Kanji on the dagger, all point up and vertical.

    Did include a new shot of the flip side of the dagger.

    Here's one of the master shots. I am virtually certain this one is WW2.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/43392181181/in/photostream

    There are additional attendant shots.

    I have no specific recollection, but all of the "odd stuff" would've come from veterans. The black "theatrical" one I'll be imaging next probably came on some weird trade, and it, I suspect, is NOT original. Heck. It may not even be Japanese.

    "KR" also has the look of something doctored or adapted.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018
  18. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson

    Jun 9, 2018
    Wow! Sold off almost all my "collector's" literature and documents when I last moved, and gave away a lot of the books.

    This is a post-1935 officer's Katana with a very nice blade, but machine made and pretty standard. I had to re-research stuff I knew as a kid.

    I guess if one doesn't deal with the stuff regularly--and this has been put away for a while!!--some pretty basic stuff just falls out of the "knowledge cornucopia". Surprises after retirement have kept me way too busy to do a lot of the "remedial" reading and viewing in whick I'd otherwise be immersed.

    This one has no markings I can discern, and my instincts told me, very erroneously, it was a theatrical or a tourist thing. And yet the mounts look like an officer's standard piece. These seem to have been factory produced, and I find no marks, dates, or other Kanji encryptions hereon.

    The steel seems quite good, but there are what once seemed like too many mums, and there's a latch that said "inappropriate". That is, until I reviewed my own notes from 50 years ago. There's play in the grip ("tsuba") fittings, or maybe something is missing. Actually, I suspect a lot of that is the incorrect pin in it, which is merely a plastic rod of the wrong size I put in so it didn't fall apart every time I handled it.

    Still, it's kind of amusing. The cloth tie must've replaced the sheet metal loop.

    I'd not handled or noticed one of these for decades. It seems fairly typical.

    For short-term i.d. and location purposes, I'm calling it "item KA" or just "KA".

    23 shots, for your amusement. Just in case I missed something, well, I'd sure like to know.

    Album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157698750784074

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/42766752744/in/album-72157698750784074/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/42766752724/in/album-72157698750784074/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/43435288862/in/album-72157698750784074/

    (above are just 3 of the shots)

    Last edited: Jul 19, 2018

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