Need Help on This Katana (WWII?)

Discussion in 'Sword Discussion' started by NorvTex, Feb 22, 2021.

  1. NorvTex

    NorvTex Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    Nov 17, 2011
    I recently helped sort through the shop of a knifemaker who passed away a while back. His widow hadn't really gone through his knifemaking/collecting shop, and it was a treasure trove. One thing I ended up with was this old Katana. I don't know anything about it other than it's old, and looks to be pretty well made. Blade is just at 11.5" with a razor sharp sharpened edge of 10.5". Any info would be appreciated.

    Probably going to sell it to recover some of the $$ I paid to the widow, so value info would be helpful if anyone has any ideas.

    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
  2. Charlie_K


    Jul 16, 2012
    It's been a very long time since I last researched any Japanese blades. To me it just looks like a standard, readily produced tanto blade that never got taken out of its shirasaya mounting. The hamon is plain and unimaginative with no wave pattern about it. The habaki has an interesting two-tone style like it's made from two different pieces of metal. The rust on the tang looks relatively recent, and I'm pretty sure the roughness is quite normal since it's not meant to be on display and thus there's no reason to polish or otherwise smooth it out like the rest of the blade.
  3. Lee Bray

    Lee Bray

    Aug 2, 2006
    As mentioned, it is a tanto, not katana.
    It is signed Rai Kunitoshi, who was a very famous smith circa 1300. Rai being the school name, which was based in the Yamashiro region, and Kunitoshi being the smith's name.
    The blade shape and signature suggest that it is not a genuine Rai Kunitoshi blade but rather a later period blade with the famous signature added. Read up on 'Gimei' signatures for explanations as to why that was done.
    That said, I'm no expert on Rai school works so, given the potential upside, it's certainly worth trying to find someone versed in their works to examine the blade in hand and give an opinion. Sending it to Japan for an official 'shinsa' is an option but will cost several hundred US$, so best to save that option until you've had some positive feedback on it. You can also post the blade on the NMB forum,, for better opinions than mine.
    Please don't be tempted to clean the tang/nakago.
    Hope that helps.
    Rich S likes this.

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