Help, Japanese Sword


February 1, 2013, 08:48 AM
Hope someone can Help, before my wife finds out.
My Father-inlaw left us a WWll Japanese Sword , have NO idea
if the real deal or copy. I was messing around with it found
what looked like a button I pushed it and the handle slipped off.
I've tried to slip it back on to no avale. It has some kind of engraving
on the blade where the handle was. How do I get this back on or
anyone know where I can take this in the Atlanta area?

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Loc n Load
February 1, 2013, 09:17 AM
Without seeing the sword...I am not sure what you have...but most of the Japanese Katana's I have seen had pegs securing the grip panels to the tang, and then had a wrapping over the pegs and around the grip panels.....I suspect this " button" you pushed was a retaining peg.....during WWII the Japanese gov't "collected" thousands of family heirloom swords and chopped them down to a military sword pattern, these were issued to their officers.
Search on the web and you will probably find helpful information......but be warned...there are lots of fakes out there....without seeing the actual blade I have no idea what you have....good luck.

February 1, 2013, 12:49 PM
As noted, a real Japanese sword would not have a "button" you push to get the handle off.

It would have a peg or pin you push out through the handle and then everything slips off the tang.

Here is a real one apart.

It goes back together in the L to R order the parts are shown in the photo.

Once you have all the guard parts in place, slip the handle back on and replace the pin.


February 1, 2013, 02:59 PM
Because the OP isn't on-line, I've edited the title and the OP to remove the derogatory reference...which I'll accept he did not intend. If it is otherwise, I'm sure he'll let me know.

BTW: avoid handle the blade with your bare hands

February 1, 2013, 03:25 PM
Do not sharpen the blade!!!

February 1, 2013, 03:46 PM
It is a bamboo peg (sometimes 2 pegs) that goes through the handle to keep the whole thing together. You can cut a piece of a chop stick and lightly wedge it in there as a temporary holder, but don't hammer it in tightly. Don't swing the sword, it's not safe. It must be reattached by someone who knows what they are doing. It will probably take someone who knows swords to examine it and give you info on it. Post pics and we can tell you something about it. There are many copies, some are very good, most are not.
Since you described how it came apart, and assuming the writting under the handle looks like it does in the photo above, chances are it's a real japanese sword. There are 2 distinct classes of japanese swords; 1) "Gunto" - Made from modern (homogenous) steel for the Military and 2) "Nihonto"- Traditional hand forged blades, which may be mounted in either traditional or military mounts. The second is usually far more valuable. Value depends on current condition and original quality. There are huge differences in the quality for both and current condition can destroy their value. Some things can be repaired or repolished up, but expert polishing is very expensive and usually only done to the finest blades. Otherwise it's not worth it.

Again, do not do anything to the blade or mounts. Do not clean or sharpen anything until you find out what they are. Sometimes an otherwise cheap sword with a ruined blade may have a single falmily heirloom, historic or valuable piece of accessory that can be worth thousands of dollars even without the blade. Like the handguard, dragon insets, etc. Each piece should be evaluated by an expert.

The only thing you can do is buy a bottle of food grade mineral oil from your local pharmacy. It is sold as a laxative. Not from the hardware store. You can lightly oil the blade with that and a clean soft cotton cloth. Do not handle with bare hands or scrub the blade.

February 1, 2013, 04:45 PM
And do not remove any rust from the tang...repeat...DO NOT REMOVE ANY RUST from the tang or anywhere any method. If by chance the thing turns out to be old, the characteristics of that rust can aid in aging the knife. Swords were signed by the maker but I don't think they were dated in the western way. The maker will be an individual person so if his lifetime were known it gets easier. There can be references to the emperor at the time of manufacture as well. If the maker is not well known, then the condition of the tang is critical to estimating age. Any course of action taken on a Japanese sword must be left to an, polishing (which is way more complicate than it sounds), repair, sharpening (usually a part of polishing).

It is rather ironic given how valued Japanese swords are in Japan, that the the greatest vandal of them in history is the wartime Japanese government themselves who chopped down priceless century old swords to accept mass produced handles and fit in mass produced scabbards to re-issue to Lieutenants and Kamikaze pilots and whatnot.

February 1, 2013, 05:13 PM
You guys are Great , a Big Thank You for the advice.
So far the best thing I have done is leave it alone in my safe.
I will post some pictures, it does have engraving like in rcmodel's pic.
9mm Thank You for the correction , it was not meant to be derogatory nor malicious

February 1, 2013, 05:21 PM
Swords have been chopped down all through history, especially durring war times. WWII may have been a larger scale than ever before, but certainly not unique. It was also common for swords to be cut down to fit inside prized mounts. Many older swords have several holes drilled in them to accomodate different mounts and because their legnths have changed over time.
Those practices are hundreds of years old. Some of the most valuable swords in japanese museums are examples of this.

February 9, 2013, 10:28 PM
Update? Pics?

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