Original Japanese WWII Era Tanto Dagger in Shirasaya Resting Scabbard - Traditional Handmade Blade
Original Item: Only One Available. Purchased at a recent military show, this is a very nice Japanese Tanto (短刀), which literally means short sword. These could be in any number of different shapes, depending on the requests of the person who ordered it. The blade length of a tanto is typically between 15 and 30 cm (5.9 to 11.8inches), or 1 Japanese shaku, an ancient measurement. The blade of this example is in the typical "Hira Zukuri" shape, which means it is a blade without a shinogi, or ridge typical of longer blades. It comes in a very nice Post-WWII shirasaya, or "Resting scabbard".
The tang of the blade definitely shows some age, but does not look to have been refit many times. As it is unsigned, usually this blade would be considered 無名 (mumei), or "anonymous". However, there is a name signed in the BO'HI (fuller) with 源 宗 定 - MINAMOTO MUNESADA. There is also a faint signature on SAYA (scabbard), which reads 是 永 和 夫 - Korenaga Kazuo. Neither of these are smiths that we can find any information on, so we are not sure of the reason for them being on the blade and scabbard. Looking at the blade, it is possible that it was once part of a longer blade that broke, and then was refit. It looks to have been reshaped and had BO'HI fullers added to possibly hide some defects encountered during polishing.
However, it is still definitely a traditionally made blade, showing many tell tale characteristics:
- The hole in the tang (meguki-ana) is punched, and not drilled.
- Folded steel blade - fold lines are evident on the body and spine of blade, as well as grain typical of folded steel.
- Visible temper line ("hamon") running full length of blade cutting edge, which shows visible steel crystallization along the transition.
- Tip has a correct temper line.
- Hada or Grain is visible throughout the blade surface.
- Ware Kizu (blade wounds) from lamination artifacts, only possible on handmade blades.
Offered in very good condition, the blade of this example is in very good polish, with some areas of light oxidation and staining. The edge is still quite sharp, so care is needed, and there are no nicks or other damage we can see. Blade length is approximately 7 1/8" and overall length 11 3/8". The blade shape is similar to a Kanmuri-Otoshi, however it still has a MUNE on the top of the blade, and not a false edge. The tip also rises up slightly, and the transition at the end of the part of the blade with the SHINOGI blade ridge is not well executed. It is possible that the tanto was polished by someone in training, and they did not shape the ends correctly.
The blade displays a futsu 普通 (regular) Nakago with a Kuri-jiri (rounded) nakago-jiri (tang tip). It has a vibrant visible hamon (temper line), which is a lovely GUNOME MIDARE (irregular zig zag) shape. There are multiple lamination lines along the blade, and there are clear NIE crystals along the temper line, and the correct NIOI cloudiness. There are also some ASHI, lines of crystals going towards the edge. The blade shows MASAME (straight) hada (grain) on the body, and it has a JIZOU 地蔵 (Buddha’s Head) BOSHI, or tip temper line. Definitely some interesting aspects to this blade!
This blade is mounted in a "resting scabbard" or Shirasaya, which is intended for storing the blade when it is not in use. This definitely looks to be post WWII, so the blade was most likely added to this setting during the post war period, and probably purchased by a serviceman during the occupation or Korean war. There is some light staining on the exterior, but no major damage. It has early plastic fittings at the ends of the tsuka and saya, which are black in color. The handle is quite tight on the tang, and may require a rubber mallet to remove. It still has the original thin mekugi (peg) installed.
A very nice WWII Era Tanto with a great temper line, ready to research and display!
Blade Length: 7 1/8"
Blade Style: "Kanmuri-Otoshi" tanto
Overall length: 11 3/8“
Scabbard Length: 7 7/8"
It has been over one thousand years ago that the art of making swords appeared in Japan. The swordsmiths of the time may not have known it but they were creating a legendary sword. The Samurai sword has seen combat in many battlefields. From the early days of the Samurai warrior to the fierce battles in the South Pacific during WWII.
Each hand-made Samurai sword is unique because it is forged from steel stock. A tremendous amount of work is dedicated to creating these pieces. They were an instrument of war as much as a beautiful artifact to adorn a room.
The Samurai sword has grown to be one of the most highly desired military antiques.
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