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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought this sword, along with a type 38 carbine and a bayonet, at an estate sale almost exactly a year ago. I've spent lots of time on the internet trying to learn as much as I could about all of them, which eventually led me to this forum recently. I have mostly just lurked but after reading some of the very expert opinions it was obvious that if I had found this site a year ago I would have been about 11 months further ahead than I am now.

Anyway, I have been attempting to translate the mei on the tang of my sword. I have come to the tentative conclusion that it is a Koa Isshun blade made in June of 1941. The characters on the right side of the tang may be phonetic but I haven't had any success with them, so far.

Thanks for any opinions anyone may have.

Steve
 

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Swordsmiths

信光 = swordsmith's name

1942 Japanese Swordsmiths Ranking by Kurihara Hikosaburo:

Rank 1. 最上作 SAIJO SAKU
2. 上上作 JOJO SAKU: 小山信光 Koyama Nobumitsu
3. 上作 JO SAKU
4. 中上作 CHUJO SAKU
5. 中作 CHU SAKU
6. 中下作 CHUGE SAKU
7. 下作 GE SAKU: 佐光信光 Sako Nobumitsu

There were over 400 swordsmiths in the above 7 grades. I hope your sword was forged by one of the above two 信光.
 

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The make is June Showa 19 (1944), and I believe this "Nobumitsu" is the Seki smith, real name Sako Shin-ichi (佐光信一) or smith name Sako Nobumitsu (佐光信光).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks so much, Edokko. I will make a tag with that information on it and attach it to the sword. Do you think I got the Koa Isshun part correct? It seems as though the kanji characters must be sort of intuitively identified, much like a signature in English, based on the penmanship, if you can call it that, of the writer.

Thanks again.

Steve
 

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Steve, you're welcome.
No, it's not a Koa-Isshin blade but an oil-quenched, semi machine made sword made by the smith who was part of the group of Gunto makers in the Seki area (a place in the Gifu prefecture).
A Koa-Isshin blade were made at the Mantetsu (South Manchurian Railways) Works, and are also semi-machine made but very reliable. They were not signed by the smiths but were marked with the slogan "Koa-Isshin" meaning "Prosperity of Asia under one spirit", a bit of irony considering the puppet empire of Manchuria became the trigger for WW2 and the sufferings in Asia.
 

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On a somewhat related note, last night the PBS series "Nova" had an hour-long program about Japan's sword-making industry. Parts of it were very interesting. Did anyone else here watch it?

C/
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hope you don't weary of my thanks, Edokko.

Dang, seinen, I missed it! I gotta do better. My PBS watching has diminished since the arrival of my satellite dish with it's history, science, military and discovery channels. The PBS guide in my local paper lists the Nova program but nothing about that show's content. If you hear about a re-run, let us know.

Steve
 

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Dang, seinen, I missed it! If you hear about a re-run, let us know. Steve
Normally, I flip right past PBS programming and I only caught it by accident. The show was so interesting our kids (both girls) watched it from start to finish. Then again, they like to go with me to gunshows, so maybe it's not that odd.

C/
 

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Steve, keep it comin'

Dang, Seinen ! you lucky dog, having daughters that like going to gunshows. The only way I can drag mine out to one (who BTW is the one dressed in the blue kimono on the avatar), is with a lure of "I'll buy you a nice shiny piece of jewellry, stone or some stuffed animal, or all of 'em, so howzabout a little outing with Daddy ?". What am I gonna do without those jewellry tables at the gunshows....
 

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Dang, Seinen ! you lucky dog, having daughters that like going to gunshows. The only way I can drag mine out to one (who BTW is the one dressed in the blue kimono on the avatar), is with a lure of "I'll buy you a nice shiny piece of jewellry, stone or some stuffed animal, or all of 'em, so howzabout a little outing with Daddy ?". What am I gonna do without those jewellry tables at the gunshows....
We took them to their first gunshow a year ago last weekend. I had to literally drag them both out. I was amazed. This oldest is into Victorian-Era collectible photos, so they're going to the Hartford (CT) Antique Firearms Show this coming Sat. Should be another good trip. The youngest likes to look at the Civil War uniforms. Neither is interested in firearms, except for plinking with my .22 and Yugo M59/66 SKS.

I was meaning to inquire about the two girls in your avatar. I figured they were your daughters.

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Yep, thats what I need to do. Take my daughter plinkin' in the desert somewheres in Nevada. My son never caught on high gear with guns nor shooting, but the daughter's the active type, so perhaps.
The gal in the blue is mine, and the one in the red kimono is her best pal. Took that photo when both dressed up for the Japanese annual "girls-day" celebration on March 3.
 

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Hey guys
I just checked and that show about making Samurai swords is on in about 5 hours. Its being repeated at 1:00 am thursday morning.
 
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