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Japanese Meiji Era Wakizashi Sword – 17th Century Edo Blade & WW2 Surrender Tag

Japanese Meiji Era Wakizashi Sword – 17th Century Edo Blade & WW2 Surrender Tag

$2,250.00
Product code: 63

Availability: SOLD

Quick Overview:

A JAPANESE MUMEI WAKIZASHI SWORD FITTED WITH AN EDO PERIOD BLADE ORIGINALLY FORGED BETWEEN 1603 AND 1868 AND ADAPTED DURING THE MEIJI PERIOD, FITTED WITH A LAQUERED WOOD ‘SAYA’ (SCABBARD) AND HIGH QUALITY GOLD DETAILED MOUNTS.  THE SWORD STILL HAS A HEAVILY STAINED SECOND WORLD WAR ‘SURRENDER TAG’ ATTACHED.  A Japanese Meiji Mumai Wakizashi fitted with very high quality gold detailed mounts (Menuki, Fuchi & Kashira)  and a lacquered saya (scabbard).  This particular sword is fitted with an Edo period Uchigatana blade originally forged between 1603 and 1868 that was adapted during the Meiji Period. The ‘nakago’ (haft) is O-suriage style and Futsu shaped with a Kiri Nakago-Jiri (blade haft tip) and is an unmarked variant known in Japanese as a 'mumei.

Details

A JAPANESE MUMEI WAKIZASHI SWORD FITTED WITH AN EDO PERIOD BLADE ORIGINALLY FORGED BETWEEN 1603 AND 1868 AND ADAPTED DURING THE MEIJI PERIOD, FITTED WITH A LAQUERED WOOD ‘SAYA’ (SCABBARD) AND HIGH QUALITY GOLD DETAILED MOUNTS.  THE SWORD STILL HAS A HEAVILY STAINED SECOND WORLD WAR ‘SURRENDER TAG’ ATTACHED.  A Japanese Meiji Mumai Wakizashi fitted with very high quality gold detailed mounts (Menuki, Fuchi & Kashira)  and a lacquered saya (scabbard).  This particular sword is fitted with an Edo period Uchigatana blade originally forged between 1603 and 1868 that was adapted during the Meiji Period. The ‘nakago’ (haft) is O-suriage style and Futsu shaped with a Kiri Nakago-Jiri (blade haft tip) and is an unmarked variant known in Japanese as a 'mumei.

The wakizashi (name meaning is “side insertion”) is a traditional Japanese sword with a shōtō blade between 30 and 60 centimetres (12 and 24 in), with an average of 50 cm (20 in). It is similar to but shorter than a katana, and usually shorter than the kodachi  (“small sword”). The wakizashi was usually worn together with the katana by the samurai or swordsmen of feudal Japan. When worn together the pair of swords were called daishō, which translates literally as “large and small”.

In feudal Japan the two swords denoted not only a samurai but also his rank. The attention to details, design, and materials contributed in defining the swords cost and ultimately the samurai’s wealth and rank. The swords were worn on the left-hand side of the sash or belt, thus allowing a right handed individual the ability to quickly draw his sword across his body without injuring himself. While at home, samurai would only wear the wakizashi sword, removing it only at night while asleep or upon entering a tearoom. When not worn, both swords were kept in close proximity to their owner.

The designation wakizashi as it is currently used is essentially an Edo concept. According to Dr. S. Alexander Takeuchi prior to that, the term was applied to all manner of short bladed weapons carried in the sash that went by names like koshigatana, uchigatana, tanto etc. In 1645 the Tokugawa Shogunate stipulated a maximum length of 1 shaku 8 sun, reducing it further in 1668 and limiting non-military to weapons of that size or less. From Meiji times wakizashi production does seem to be much reduced because a considerable proportion were made and carried by chonin, who were at that time forbidden from carrying any kind of sword.

The use of these short swords by air crew, submariners and tank crew during WW2 has led to collectors sometimes calling them ‘Crew Guntō’. An excellent description of these swords as well as examples of similar swords can be found on the excellent online Japanese reference site ‘Military Swords of Imperial Japan (Gunto)’. A late 1944 photograph of Captain Mitio Okuyama, who commanded the Giretsu Kuteitai an airborne special forces unit of the Imperial Japanese, is attached to this listing for reference, and shows him carrying a similar weapon.

This particular sword is fitted with a Edo era shinogi-zukuri blade that has been shortened during the Meiji period for use as a Wakizashi. The sharpened steel blade is in well used condition with scratches, patina and wear. It’s in old polish with surface staining, patination and the scratched striations consistent with age and use on both faces. It has no ‘hagire’ type (major) flaws although the blade edge is marked with a few small nicks and impact notches.  The ‘nakago’ (haft) is O-suriage style and Futsu shaped with a Kiri Nakago-Jiri (blade haft tip) and is an unmarked variant known in Japanese as a 'mumei.

The original laquered wooden saya (scabbard) is in similar condition to the sword with an aged patina consistent with use. The Habaki appears to be extremely high quality and made of silver. The tsuka-ito wrapping is aged, but in good patinated condition, while the excellent high quality gold enameled mountings (Menuki, Fuchi & Kashira) are superb (see pictures). The Kyo-Shoami Tsuba (round gold detailed iron guard) is very good and of an unusual design.

These Wakizashi type swords were very highly sought after by Australian, US and British troops during WW2 as souvenirs.  This weapon, which is in original unrestored condition, may be one of those mementos acquired when the Empire of Japan surrendered in 1945. .  This provenance is reinforced by the remains of the original ‘Surrender Tag’ which is fixed to the iron Tsuba (guard).  This tag, usually a piece of cloth or paper with the officers name and unit written on it, was fixed to the sword by its original owner when the sword was surrendered to Allied Troops in late 1945 in the (vain, as it turned out) hope that the sword would one day be returned. A Japanese sword, with a surrender tag, is in the collection of the Australian War Memorial as exhibit REL/38784 and can be viewed at http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/REL38784 .

Type: Japanese Meiji Period Mumei Wakizashi Sword
Overall Length: 500.0 mm
Blade Length:  360.0 mm
Blade Width (at guard):  29.0 mm
Scabbard: Lacquered wooden saya
Overall Length of Scabbard:  420.0 mm

From Australia, this Japanese Meiji Period Mumei Wakizashi Sword is a really evocative example of a rarely encountered type.  A Japanese short sword with an Edo period Uchigatana blade originally forged between 1603 and 1868 that was adapted during the Meiji Period to Wakizashi specification, still fitted with its lacquered saya. This is one of the most original the Wakizashi I have listed and is in ‘as found’ condition.  It is unrestored, and in old polish. If like me you prefer your weapons to display evidence of age and use then this sword is well worth a look.

Additional Information

Weight (kg) 2.0000
Country of Origin Japanese (WW2)
Sword Type Officer
Maker Mumei
Year of Manufacture (circa) 1620
Overall Length (mm) 500
Blade Length (mm) 360
Blade Width (at guard) (mm) 29
Scabbard Lacquered wooden saya
Overall Length of Scabbard (mm) 420