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Translation Solved!

Posted 2006.12.20 1.00 in Swords by Stephanie

A few weeks ago, I asked for help with translating the Mei on the Nakago of a Nihonto which I had recently aquired. (Signature, on the Tang, of a Japanese Sword.)

Well, the other day I finaly received some books that I’d ordered and one of them was a book called The Samurai Sword – A Handbook. I just finished reading it and there was a section which lists various Kanji characters, including lots of different forms.

And there it was, at the bottom of page 115! One of the twelve different forms of the Kanji for “Kane” matched the one on my sword! I had already identified the second Kanji as “Moto”, and this book confirmed what I had learned on the internet.

So, mystery solved, the signature on my Wakizashi is Kanemoto. I still have more research to do in order to confirm other information about the sword, such as the year and place of manufacture, but the data I have so far is that it was in the Mino province, about 1560-ish.

The Samurai Sword Handbook

Kanemoto is the name on this sword.

Need Help with Translation

Posted 2006.11.23 1.00 in Swords by Stephanie

So I’ve got this sword. It’s a Japanese sword, a wakizashi, purported to be late Koto period. It has a two-character mei (signature) and I’m trying to translate it.

I don’t speak Japanese, and know very little of the written language. My ignorance is compounded by the fact that the mei is, perhaps, 500 years old, scratched into steel, and not necessarily the best handwriting to read in the first place.

Of the two characters, the second one was relatively easy to transcribe. I am fairly sure it is moto. The first character is proving more difficult. I’ve been reviewing the Kanji tables on various websites, but haven’t found anything conclusive. The closest I could get, and this is by no means certain, is that it might be a very stylized kane but I don’t have anywhere near enough experience to really say with any degree of certainty.

I’ve looked into databases of Koto smiths, and there are a line of swordmakers with the name Kanemoto, of the Akasaka school, who worked in the Mino province. Really though, the first Kanji I have does not match the first Kanji that I see for the Kanemoto name, so unless mine is very stylized I can’t really say this is it.

The image below shows a photo of the mei on the sword, and my drawing of it. It’s very hard to get a good photo that depicts the mei well enough to illustrate. I made my drawing using a point-source light at various angles to get all the details.

I know there’s a possibility it’s a fake, it could be a nonsense marking, but it could also be a legitimate marking, just poorly made. And really, it’s the mystery that makes it interesting.

Anyhow, if anybody can help me out with a translation or information on this mei, or that first Kanji, that would be most appreciated. I can be reached by email, my address is at the bottom of the page.