Tachi With Kogarasu Maru Blade Signed HigashiYama Ju Daijo Yoshihira.

I have added to my collection a Tachi with a Kogarasu Maru blade circa 1680 signed HigashiYama Ju Daijo Yoshihira.Everything seems right except the kanji signature has Daijo in it.If this is right then that may lend some insight to the rumour this smith was expelled by his teacher for giving himself a title without permission.This Kogarasu Maru curved double edged blade is approx 72cm long one edge of the blade is shaped in normal Tachi fashion,but unlike the standard tachi ,the tip is symmetrical and both edges of the blade are sharp ,similiar to the japanese Yari spear,except for about 20cm of the trailing or concave edge nearest the hilt,which is rounded.The Yaki-ire process yeilded a Sugaha Hamon on both sides of the blade. I would be grateful for all your expert advise and opinions And or further information you are able to find out about this smith and this blade and its rareity.I AM ALMOST CERTAIN ITS NOT A GEMEI FAKE.

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Hi Gary,

I have good and bad news for you.

Good news

Even though the picture of the signature is a bit small which makes it difficult to read, it's not Daijō 大掾 but Ōe 大江.

Here's what Fujishiro writes about Yoshihira:

Fujishiro wrote:

He is called Umetada Sukesaburô, and there are various theories in regard to his previous teacher Yoshihira. The house of Umetada [TN: The "UME" meaning buried] changed its name to Umetada [TN: The "UME" meaning plum] when it reached the generation of Muneyuki, or there is the theory that he was not in the Mon of Muneyuki (Shintô Meisakushû, Collection of Shintô Smith Names), and it is thought that this is more correct that the Shichizaemon Shigeyoshi theory. There is a story that says that in the beginning of the Tenna era he assumed on his own the title of Echizen no Daijô, and for this he was kicked out of the Mon, but I have not seen any swords with this mei. He broke off with the house of Umetada and assumed the family name of Ôe, and moved to the well of Higashiyama Kikusui. [TN: The character for "well" is the "I" of "Inoue" which means, literally, above the well.] There are swords with MUNEYUKI, YOSHIHIRA, and from his twilight years, YOSHITAKA. There are also said to be those on which he inscribed "TAKAMITSU," but none have been seen in this world. His works have a ji of itame zanguri, hamon is sugu with saka togari ha. (Wazamono)



Ōe makes much more sense than Daijō without the province name :-)

Bad news

  1. I couldn't find any examples or even references to signatures Ōe + Yoshihira (and not Yoshitaka etc).
  2. Style of the signature doesn't match the books. Yoshi 美 looks squarish, while original signatures have 美 in more roundy style, etc.
  3. Nagako-jiri (the tip of the tang) has wrong shape. And overall, the blade has a heavy mirror polish and lines are somewhat crude.

I personally think it looks more like WWII gimei and not an authentic Yoshihira. I'm happy to be corrected on that.


Kogarasu Maru

Hi Stan thank you for all your hard research work on my behalf,I have read and digested your findings with great interest and trepidation. argh ! Well we all live and learn from our mistakes however expensive they maybe. life is after all a constant learning curve by which we better our intellect and experience. however its still a nice sword so i'm not going to stress about it as i have others.i have posted some pictures of a Tanto i have with a gold inlaid cutting test kanji and i would welcome your assessment and opinions on that sword if time affords you It will be under personal collections for garyo.ONCE AGAIN THANKS STAN YOUR A STAR. Hope to hear from you soon all the best Gary.

Kogarasu Maru

hi Stan just to inform you the fitting for the sword are original bespoke fittings from the edo period so no way is it a ww11 blade although this sword has been restored and so has a modern polish and the saya restored so this maybe why you commented on polish as to the signature i am as puzzled as yourself.so who knows perhaps one day you maybe able to see the sword first hand.as you rightly point out pictures can be deceiving. in any event as prev stated mistake or not its a nice and rare sword, what did you think of the tanto. ? thanks and keep at the excellent work you do.

yours sincerely Gary.

Gary, Yes, pictures may be


Yes, pictures may be very deceiving. Fittings (except tsuba) look nice and shiny to me, which suggest either their excellent condition or novelty :-) By the way, using older fittings with new swords is a common practice.

Don't be discouraged by my opinion about this sword - probability of an error from internet attributions/identifications is very high. Please spend some time studying it - one way or another it will be time well spent.

Other swords from your collection are impressive, both blades and fittings! If you allow me, I can rearrange your items slightly to present them as a collection (I admit website's interface for publishing collections is not the most intuitive one).


Sword arrangements re Stan

Hello Stan Thank you for your welcome and prompt response, especially as i know how busy you are.
The swords weren't in their present condition and i had the Lanes Armoury send them off for restoration which obviously each was gone for a few months when the restorations were carried out the rest of the fittings on the Kogarasu Maru are in real gold, which does not as you know tarnish or deteriate as other metals do.the Lanes attested that all the swords and fitting were genuine of the period i have stated.They had been dealing in the armoury business as a family for apparently nearly 80 yrs and the current gentleman in japanese armoury for the last forty years so i welcome their and all opinions, as this is such a difficult field in identifying origins and smiths as so many old records were lost and destroyed during the war and indeed just over natural time.And as no one is above error so yes the investigations will continue into all swords in my collection of which i hope to add too. Finally Stan thank you for the offer to rearrange my collection to its best effect i would welcome that so please do.It's always great to hear from you and good hunting for the mountain of references and identifications on your table. Many thanks yours faithfully Gary .Overton.

Hi Gary,I've updated your

Hi Gary,

I've updated your collection: http://nihontoclub.com/node/17353

I hope you'll like the new layout. Feel free to change to your taste.


collection lay out

hi Stan that looks just perfect thank you very much and also for the cutting test kanji translation. Is it unusual to have this on a Tanto and especially as it was tested on a human.have you seen this alot?. I assume they must have attached a long handle to the blade to do this kind of test on this blade.? gary.

Kogarasu Maru

Hi Stan just one final question to tax your infinite wisdom on. What are the pitfalls and risks associated with sending a sword for appraisal to shinsa.Time frames / paperwork licences etc and risks of loss or sword retention and avenues needed to go down this route to draw a line under this swords lineage. and possible costs.Biggest issue getting my sword back.Thanks Stan. Sincerely Gary.


Sometimes there will be a shinsa at a sword show outside of Japan. But make sure that it is a "recognized" organization, otherwise the shinsa paper is not worth anything.
Others here will have more recent experience, but to send a blade to Japan, you can expect it to be expensive (perhaps several hundred $$) and take a long time (months). The blade has to be picked up from Japanese customs, in person, by someone that knows the process.
Before doing all that, my recommendation is to do more research by making contact with as many experienced collectors as possible. Your "hope" would be to find an example of a "matching" signature by the same smith on a blade that has already passed shinsa.



Hi Pete thanks for that information, i will certainly go with the further research option. Gary.