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Thread: Help with Mei Translation

  1. #1

    Help with Mei Translation

    I've inherited a sword that has been in my family for a while. It was given to my American grandfather as a gift from visiting dignitary back around the 1950's. No one ever bothered to research its origins before (it sat moldering in a rack with assorted cavalry sabers and antique rifles for many years).

    I have attached a couple of photos (hopefully they are clear enough to read). I don't personally know anyone who can read Kanji, and I am not well immersed in Japanese sword culture. The signature looks like it was chiseled by hand to my inexperienced eyes, and the blade seems to be in very good condition considering its lack of attention over the years.

    I very much appreciate any assistance I can get with these markings and what they mean. I will answer any questions anyone might have about it to the best of my ability.

    Thank you,
    H. Lewis


    *Edit: This is also my first post on these forums. Please forgive me if I have not followed the correct protocol for this request for help.
    Attached Images Attached Images   
    Last edited by H Lewis; 09-12-2014 at 08:01 AM.

  2. #2
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    I can only do a partial translation:

    Noshu (?) x x Kanenori saku

    Noshu is province; Kanenori is swordsmith's name; saku is made this.

    Hopefully someone can correct and complete the translation for you.

    Rich S

  3. #3
    How about 'Seki ju Kojima Kanenori saku'?
    Seki is the location,a town where many swordsmiths were based producing gunto (military blades) during the war period,some of them were decent swordsmiths who produced blades made in traditional fashion of forging and your man,Kojima Kanenori was one of them.
    He appears on page 56 of John Slough's book on Japanese swordsmiths,I'm unable to copy the page but briefly the information regarding him is as follows;
    Real name Kojima Taro born 1907,younger brother of the swordsmith Kanemichi.
    Kanenori was a Rikugun Jumei Tosho,an army approved swordsmith and ranked as 1st seat in the exhibition of newly-made Japanese swords in March 1941,the same ranking as a number of very good smiths who are now very highly rated by collectors.
    He appears in Japanese reference books and rates as ! million Yen in Tokuno which is the lowest ranking but the same as other good Showa period gendaitosho.
    The signature on your sword is better than the usual one that appears on Showa-to made by him which are not traditionally made swords but that on its own doesn't mean you have a good sword(!),you need to have it looked at by someone who can differentiate between them but a well cut signature is normally a good starting point.

  4. #4
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    Agreed on the Kojima Kanenori saku, but I do believe it is Noshu as the first two Kanji.
    He did also sign Noshu Seki ju nin Kojima Kanenori saku, so likely the same smith.

    http://www.japaneseswordindex.com/oshigata/kanenor2.jpg

    This oshigata has an arsenal stamp, therefore non-traditionally made. He did
    make both showato and gendaito. Agree with you that the better carving
    is possibly a better grade sword.

    Rich S
    Last edited by Rich S; 09-14-2014 at 05:44 AM. Reason: add

  5. #5
    Ungracious as it might seem I have to disagree as there is only one character above the 'ju' kanji therefore cannot be No-shu and is more likely to be a form of 'Seki' (two 'legs' at bottom of character are appropriate and unlike those of the 'No' of Mino.)
    There doesn't appear to be any stamp on the OP's blade,perhaps some views of the blade surface and tempering might give a clue if they can be posted?

  6. #6
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    Maybe, but a really odd form of Seki.
    Rich

  7. #7
    I think it is a sosho form of 'no' for Noshu. John

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by chris franklin View Post
    Ungracious as it might seem I have to disagree as there is only one character above the 'ju' kanji therefore cannot be No-shu and is more likely to be a form of 'Seki' (two 'legs' at bottom of character are appropriate and unlike those of the 'No' of Mino.)
    There doesn't appear to be any stamp on the OP's blade,perhaps some views of the blade surface and tempering might give a clue if they can be posted?
    I would be happy to take and post a few more photos when I the opportunity.

    I appreciate everyone's help with this. Arigatou gozaimasu.

  9. #9
    Yes please....it would be very interesting to see some views of the blade and hamon.

  10. #10
    John,as there is only one character preceding 'ju' it is more likely to be 'Seki' than anything else,for it to be 'No' it would have to be followed by the three strokes representing 'shu' as it would have no meaning as a lone character and there are a number of examples of abbreviated or unusual forms of 'Seki' to be found in Ron Gregory's oshigata books (which I still find useful as reference material) but I am nit-picking as we do agree on the identity of the smith in question.

  11. #11
    Here are more pictures of the sword and its furniture.
    Attached Images Attached Images      

  12. #12
    I apologize for the glare on the blade. I am not a professional photographer and had a difficult time getting it lit enough to see the details without it reflecting into the lens.
    Attached Images Attached Images     

  13. #13

    Seki

    It has been bugging me. So here are some kanji of the type including Seki in sosho. Some have that horned look so yes probably Seki. Good call Chris. John
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  14. #14
    John,thank you for posting that,very useful for future reference.
    'H',I think you did very well with your pictures,it is very,very difficult to capture the details of a blade but you've shown the essential parts.
    At first sight I thought it might be a Showa-to as there appeared to be some 'hard' spots at the tops of the points in the hamon which is a feature of many non-traditional blades.
    On the other hand there also appear to be many long 'ashi' in the hamon which I don't think feature in Showa-to but do feature in traditionally forged and tempered blades.
    It appears to have a poor quality wartime polish which may obscure a lot of detail,some years ago I bought a sword off ebay which I fancied might be a gendaito and which on arrival had a similar looking polish that after some lengthy application of oil and uchiko disappeared to reveal a really nice hamon and jigane (to my relief!).
    A pierced tsuba is also often a sign of a better quality blade and the mounts look to be in good order,a very nice piece to own and study.
    Sorry not to be more specific on blade quality,needs to be seen 'in hand' by an experienced eye but thank you for taking the time to post all the pictures.

  15. #15
    Thanks all around. I very much appreciate everyone's help with this.

    I would like to find a discerning eye take a look at the blade and find out exactly what I have in my possession. If anyone lives (or knows someone) in the San Antonio, Texas vicinity and possesses the expertise to identify the quality of my sword I would love to meet with you (them).

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