Mei translation assistance

Can't quite figure out what's going on here.

Any help is greatly appreciated. TIA!


Hi Aaron,

I may be totally off track here, but it looks like:

一乗 備州住人 ????
ichijō bishū junin ????

(can't read the bottom part)

It refers to Ichijō school from Bingo (Bishū) province.


Thanks Stan! I had been

Thanks Stan!

I had been inclined to start with the Ichijo school because of the first character, but none of the comparable examples looked close.
The kanji looks very different than most I've seen. Shu ju nin was the only part I was confident about.
I have added another shot which shows the lower portion a bit better.
The flash makes it appear as though the nakago has been cleaned, but I assure you it has not.
Below 二 futa (?) appears to be 亅ヨ Kagi or ketsu yo?

Have you seen mei in a similar style?
The marks looks very deliberate, but the characters are very different than all references I have seen.
I suppose some measurements might help as well.
It could desperately use a polish, but the craftsmanship is superior to any others I have ever held.
Thanks for the help and insight, it is greatly appreciated!


Ok, that's helpful. I suspected the last part was a date, but the last character wasn't even visible on the first photo.

Here's my version:

一乗 備州住人 正平元二月
ichijō bishū junin shōhei gan 2 gatsu

(First year of Shōhei (1346), February)

Yes, I have seen mei like this before. It's called 'poor writing' :-D Strokes are weak (not deep enough) and characters are hard to read. I'm still not sure if my reading is any close. JŌ has got more strokes than it needs and SHŌ looks odd.

Pete (and his insightful wife) may do a better job here.



My wife agrees with your reading Stan - "ICHIJOu BISHUu JUu NIN SHOu??? GAN(?) NI GATSU(?)".
The "JOu" is OK, and the "SHOu" and "GAN" are probably OK.
The most uncertain part is the HEI in SHOHEI - there appears to be a couple of small strokes on the top that don't belong, but maybe they are just rust pits...


First Ichijo?

I have highlighted the area in question showing which are indeed rust pits.
Searching for smiths in the shōhei era results in nothing, but the first Ichijo can be found shortly after in the Kanō (1350-1352) ND era.
Would this be too early for Ichijo?
Referencing Hokke Ichijō school though suggests Nanbokuchō (1336-1394), which does fit the date.
Would you guess this is first gen Ichijo?
Unfortunately I can't really make out the hamon, should I look into a finish polish?
Would a full polish be the deserved action? Or should I simply consider shirasaya and keep it oiled?
I apologize for all the questions, as I have much to learn.
Any info, advice or suggestions are highly welcomed, and thanks again to all for the help.

to polish or not to polish?

I have no idea which Ichijo it might be.
As for polish: If you've read my advice to other folks on this subject, I am always skeptical of the need for a polish. I think it's best that only experienced collectors consider a polish, because they will better understand the pros/cons and risks/rewards. There is a general perception by newcomers that getting a polish is an easy way to made a blade look great, and increase its value.
My info may be out of date, but in my experience from years ago, there was no such thing as a "finish polish" done by a real togishi. Someone that doesn't really have the proper training may offer to skip a bunch of steps in the polishing process, but I would not recommend doing anything with a polisher that is not "the real thing".



BTW, one major argument against polish for this particular blade: It appears to be "tired", meaning that it has been polished too many times already.
The evidence what appears (in the pictures) to be a concave shape to the cutting edge just beyond the ha-machi. The ha-machi is the "step" where the cutting edge meets the tang. The polisher tries not to remove the ha-machi, even though they must remove metal from the body of the blade. So, they must create a negative curve that leads from the ha-machi into the main part of the blade.


I misspoke before, it should

I misspoke before, it should have read level 2 vs. level 1 polish as seen at
Without having the exposure of others here, it honestly looks great for it's age to me. I do understand your point though, it is well taken.
If it was a smith of great importance it would be a different story, but given the details maybe it's just as well to sit as is.
I greatly appreciate your time and assistance

not for real Nihonto

Note that the service Fred is offering is "the level of polish recommended to owners of working swords and for the average ww-2 blade". This is NOT something that should be done to a 600 year old blade that has great Historical Value, and may also have great monetary value.
Fred is a long-time dealer of supplies for sword collectors and such.
When he says "working sword", he's talking about blades used for kenjutsu practice and such (often by wanna-be samurai and rennaissance fair geeks).
And when he says "average WWII blade", he means a blade that does not qualify as a traditionally-made Nihonto (although it still has value as historic militaria).

So in my opinion, your blade should be preserved as-is (or possibly consider a real traditional polish some day, IF it makes sense).
If want to own a blade that is in "good polish", my suggestion is to buy a blade that is already in that condition. And consider an unsigned blade - you can learn more by studying it, without the "bias" of having a smith's name already known.