Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > Themes in History > War and Military History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

War and Military History War and Military History Forum - Warfare, Tactics, and Military Technology over the centuries

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old September 9th, 2012, 06:48 AM   #1
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 1,714
Samurai sword from ww2

My grandad has a samurai sword stripped from a dead Japanese officer in ww2, its got his life story on the handle, any idea how old this thing might be? and of what value it might have? and would it be possible to find that officers descendants?
Cavanboy is offline  
Remove Ads
Old September 9th, 2012, 07:23 AM   #2

Belgarion's Avatar
Cynical Optimist
Joined: Jul 2011
From: Australia
Posts: 6,101

Posting a picture here may be of some use, however you will not get any really useful information without having the blade examined by an historian who specialises in that field. The AWM should be able to give you some help in that direction.
Belgarion is offline  
Old September 9th, 2012, 08:24 AM   #3

Nemowork's Avatar
Teflon Soul
Joined: Jan 2011
From: South of the barcodes
Posts: 8,042

Depends, a good majority of WW2 swords were military issue machine crafted items rather than historical family items.

The difference in performance between machined and hand crafted blades was a familiar conversation for japanese officers.
Nemowork is offline  
Old September 9th, 2012, 10:26 AM   #4

M.E.T.H.O.D.'s Avatar
Eochair Feasa Foghlaim
Joined: Aug 2011
From: Gaillimh (Ireland)
Posts: 4,213
Blog Entries: 5

Your grandfather probably owns a Shin gunto sword(Japanese officers were issued with the Type 94 Shin gunto);Shin Gunto are forged with industrial or semi-industrial methods and are not Samurai swords(they are called Showato swords,from the name of Hirohito,the Showa Emperor).
I've seen Shin Gunto sold for 500,600 or even 1000 Euros,depending on the conditions of the sword and the rank of the soldier(determined by the color of the ribbon)
On the other hand,if your grandfather is really lucky, he might possess an authentic Nipponto,forged following the traditional Japanese technique.
Estimating a Nipponto is a very difficult and lenghty process due the numerous things that need to be considered, but they are approximately worth more than 3000 euros(a quite rare well preserved Nipponto can easily surpass four figures)

Last edited by M.E.T.H.O.D.; September 9th, 2012 at 10:34 AM.
M.E.T.H.O.D. is offline  
Old September 10th, 2012, 05:40 AM   #5

bil73's Avatar
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 558

samurai or not what a great piece of history
bil73 is offline  
Old September 10th, 2012, 05:43 AM   #6

bartieboy's Avatar
Joined: Dec 2010
From: The Netherlands
Posts: 6,616
Blog Entries: 5

There is no such thing as a Samurai sword from world war 2.

Besides, I wouldn't dare having such a thing in my home, just imagine how many innocent heads it could have chopped off.
There is to much innocent blood on these weapons.
bartieboy is offline  
Old September 11th, 2012, 01:50 AM   #7
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,253

If there's a life story written on the handle then obviously finding someone who can read Japanese would be a good start it would not be too hard to find folks in Japan willing to help you to find their decendents (often for free) to return that sword if you want. As long as the story is detailed enough the odds of finding their decenent should be quite high.

but yes, most of the Samurai style blades that the Japanese officers carry were large scale made blades that won't fetch too much on the market. though some officers really did carry authentic family heirlooms, those prices may be much higher though it depends. it's rather unlikely that a low to middle officer in the IJA would be from a hugely prestegious Samurai family though... those guys would have likely found a way to get themself into the higher command or a safter post at least.

The truth of the matter was, that the Samurai system was never truely abolished in reality, it was nominally canceled yes, but big Samurai family remained big, pretty much all the pre-WW2 (and even modern) Japanese government officials remain clearly connected to those familes, and they dominate the political and economics of Japan to a pretty large degree.
RollingWave is offline  
Old October 17th, 2012, 02:59 PM   #8
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 5,695

I came across this website that talked about Japanese swords that were produced around the time of WW2. Ryujin Swords. It should have a Tang stamp on it that can give some indication about who made it.

WW2 swords may or may not have a tang stamp. Some of these tang stamps may represent traditionally made swords. This issue is however hotly debated, and some of the arguments below may be considered controversial by some.

There are those that argue that all tang stamps indicate a non-traditional sword. However, this argument does not stand up to analysis. Not all tang stamps are equal. The star stamp, for example, was used to indicate blades made by smiths of the Rikugun Jumei Tosho (Army approved swordsmiths). Similarly, the Minatogawa Kikusui mon indicates the blade was made at the Minatogawa Shrine. The Minatogawa Shrine forged traditionally made blades, i.e. gendaito, for the Navy. Minatogawa swords are relatively rare as only a few hundred were made, and they are avidly sought by collectors.

The same applies to the Yasukuni Shrine swords, which were made for the Japanese Army. Only 8,100 of these blades were made, and they are also considered rare. Any sword made at the Yasukuni Shrine forge by a Shrine smith is, by definition, a gendaito. These blades are considered to be among the best quality traditionally made blades of the WW II era. A list of Yasukuni Shrine swordsmiths is available at Chris Bowen's Tokyo Kindai Tosho Index.

Swords of the WW2 period which have received origami (authentification papers) from the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kai (NBTHK) or Nihon Token Hozon Kai (NTHK) are also considered gendaito. However, not all of a smith's blades are gendaito simply because one blade amongst many has received origami. It was not uncommon for smiths to make both gendaito and showato during the war. Again, each blade must be judged on its own merits, and not just on the signature of the swordsmith.

Which brings us to the common tang stamps, such as Showa, Seki and Mukden stamps. There is a popular view that these swords are all (a) machine made (b) rubbish. Whilst there is some truth in this argument, it is far too much of an over-generalisation.

Tang stamps are found on some of the poorest blades the Japanese ever made. However, the purpose of tang stamps was only indicate that the sword’s manufacture was non-traditional in some way. To be considered traditional, the starting material must be tamahagane, and the sword must be forged in the traditional manner, and differentially tempered using yakire and water as a quenching agent. If only one of those things is non-traditional, then the sword as a whole is not considered traditional. If, for example, the starting point is not tamahagane, but foreign imported steel, then the sword is not traditional; it is not a nihonto. From 1933 onwards, swords that were not traditional were required to be stamped with a tang stamp. Since the war swords with a tang stamp have been regarded as poor swords by virtue of being non-traditional.

As we shall see, there are serious problems in applying this argument in all cases. For now it should be noted that the use of non-traditional materials is neither new, nor is the result necessarily inferior to a traditionally made sword. To argue otherwise is simply evidence of prejudice. Tamahagane is not the most ideal starting material for a sword; the perfection of the Japanese sword is down to the ability of generations of Japanese smiths to overcome the limitations of their starting material. Japanese smiths were, like any perfectionists, always on the lookout for anything to improve their swords. The Edo period smith, Yasutsugu, was the first to use foreign steel rather than tamahagane, and proudly marked this fact on his tangs. It meant a better sword. By today's rules, Yasutsugu’s swords would not be considered traditional because of the inclusion or use of foreign iron. If they had been made during WW2, the law would have required them to bear a tang stamp. These days they would be classified as showato and regarded as inferior. They are however considered traditional because they are antique and are regarded as superior examples of nihonto. Spot the illogic....Ryujin Swords
Here is also some information about Japanese WW2 swords:


  • No one knows the exact total, but possibly as many as a million Japanese swords were brought to the United StatesClick the image to open in full size. by American soldiers during World War II and U.S. occupation of Japan. The Samurai Sword Identification & Price Guide, a good source for estimating sword values, states that "the number of Samurai swords found in the U.S. is greater than those found in Japan


  • Most war trophy swords stem from the Japanese military's mass production of so-called Shin-Gunto or "New Army Swords" presented to all Non-Commissioned Officers in the Imperial Japanese Army beginning in 1935.
  • World War II factory-made swords display a stamped serial number and all have so-called "blood grooves" along the blade designed to make the sword lighter to carry. The value of authenticated Japanese army swords ranges from $300 to $500. http://www.ehow.com/facts_5852250_va...ai-swords.html

Last edited by Bart Dale; October 17th, 2012 at 03:24 PM.
Bart Dale is offline  

  Historum > Themes in History > War and Military History

samurai, sword, ww2

Search tags for this page
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Your favorite sword Commander War and Military History 351 November 25th, 2013 12:30 PM
Zulfiqar, sword of Ali Nick Middle Eastern and African History 16 April 23rd, 2013 12:26 AM
sword or bayonet Young Guard War and Military History 120 September 2nd, 2012 06:14 PM
Attila's Sword Inc Ancient History 1 August 20th, 2011 10:59 AM
sword police? oshron Asian History 6 August 13th, 2009 08:54 PM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.