PLEASE READ: Sword/signature identification requests

There's been a recent increase in the number of requests asking to identify a sword or a signature of the sword. It's a very positive trend and a sign of growing popularity of Nihonto Club. And more so, it's an achievement of few regular members who are kindly responding to these requests.

Now it's time to review the process and define how we can do it in an orderly fashion while trying to maximize the value of this activity.

I would like to post some guidelines in order to help members and visitors with submission of such requests. While being driven by Nihonto Club management, these guidelines are in no way meant to restrict members' and visitors' freedom of self-expression, but rather to avoid potential legal issues and claims, as well as unhealthy practices and exploitation of Nihonto Club resources with commercial interest.


1. Ownership

Only the present owner of the sword or a person acting on behalf of the owner can ask for assistance with identification of the sword.

2. Security & privacy

Japanese sword can be a valuable property. It is advised to avoid posting owner's personal details, disclose present location of the sword or provide any information which can be used to trace the post to the owner's identity and home address. There is no conspiracy here, just common sense considerations when posting your personal details online. If you do, you do it on your own risk. Nihonto Club will not be held responsible for any loss or criminal damage caused as a result of publishing sensitive information in any section of this website.

3. Commercial interest

It is forbidden to ask for identification of swords or other items which are currently available for sale (including auctions). This restriction considers both sellers and actual/potential buyers. Any opinion expressed on this website may potentially affect the value of the sword and it's a general policy to avoid any kind of situations which influence commercial activity. Any person failing to comply with this rule will have his/her account permanently suspended. Any past activity (posted before the publication of these rules) is exempt, if found to be in violation.

4. Copyright restrictions

Posters are only allowed to use their own photos, images or other media. Media obtained from the previous owner/seller may only be used with express written permission of the original author and copyright holder. It is welcomed to license your media under Creative Commons License to help other Nihonto enthusiasts in the future.


In case if you aren't very familiar with the world of Japanese swords, this section outlines what can and cannot be expected when looking for information about particular sword. It also provides some general considerations about sword handling.

  • DO NOT apply any abrasive materials to the blade in order to clean it, even if affected by active rust. Look for authentic Japanese sword care manuals and then (if required) take only passive measures against rust and other damaging conditions. Any application of power or use of chemicals and abrasives may cause PERMANENT damage to the blade and its fittings!

  • Identification of Nihonto is a very complex subject. Seeking assistance online is an easy option, but it can't replace professional appraisal by designated bodies and specialists by any means. However, professional appraisals are costly and troublesome (unless you live in Japan). Good practice would be to: a) identify whether it's a genuine Japanese sword (see below); b) find out whether it's worthy of appraisal and preservation (this includes an approximate attribution of the sword to particular smith or school); c) submit the sword for professional appraisal; d) have respect and take a regular care of the sword from this point onwards, as well as any other time while the sword is in your possession. This website may assist you to some degree with points a and b.

  • If smith's signature can be read and identified with some smith from Swordsmith Index, there is no guarantee that the signature is authentic. Reading of the signature may just narrow down the search area before looking at blade's properties.

  • There is a difference between 'a genuine Japanese sword produced using traditional methods' (category 1) and 'a genuine example of some smith's work' (category 2). The sword can be of the first category at the same time as being a fake in a sense that the signature was forged (potentially centuries ago). However, this significantly affects quality and value.

  • Conclusion whether the sword is genuine (category 1) can be given online with 80% certainty based on good quality photos (20% going to blades out of polish and some non-traditional methods). (Note: this is just my own wild estimate, not a fact.)

  • Conclusion whether the sword is fake (category 1), i.e. being a modern replica, can be 99% certain, just after looking at the photos.

  • Conclusion whether the sword is genuine (category 2) when provided as an opinion on some online resource (including Nihonto Club) doesn't provide any sufficient level of certainty at all (just being on a safe side here). It should be considered as a starting point (with greater or smaller degree of confidence, depending on the proficiency of people involved and complexity of the case), not as a fact. The notion of owning a sword by a prominent master may be heart-warming, but it's always better to approach it with a cool head.

This list will be extended further, if required, at a later date.

Your feedback is always welcome.