Nakago Mei Assistance (More Photos)


I recently purchased my first katana at a very reasonable price from someone with less knowledge than myself...if you can believe that. : ) It appears to have all the signs of good Nihonto - to my untrained eye - with visible steel grain, etc. and handcrafted brass tsuba.

I wanted to upload a series of 20 photos but could not. So, I decided to try posting with just one photo - a second attempt - showing the four character Kanji inscriptions for translation help. If anyone believes it worth going further please let me know and I will try posting the other photos.

With Gratitude,


In addition -- As you can see the sword has pits and is in dire need of polish. A person online said the hada and hamon were acid etched but, by his own admission he also said he was by far no expert. I was an electro-plater journeyman and dilac process specialist for many years working with all kinds of metals from stripping to plating to cleaning with many acids, hundreds of chemicals, with many steps to each process prior to. So here's my two cents - What I see is no grooves between the lines, as in eaten away by acid, or any uniformed or repetitive patterns in the hada or hamon as with fake wood like grain and hamon.

I could polish an area (as a last resort) and if it is etching it should rub away as etching is on the surface only and the real thing is not. The pits are scattered but more so at the kissaki which is typical of katana as they are more likely to touch the inside of the scabbard and rust there. I have more pics to share if needed. Thanks!

Nakago Mei assistance

If you tried to load an image it didn't show up. Try reducing the size of the photo and reload it.

Reloaded Photo

Echizento: Tried as you requested - cropped the photo to minimum size & went with black & white too. It dropped the size from 1.316 MB to 157KB, filename - image.jpg. Yellow triangle with exclamation appears after 100% loaded, says http://error. I'm out of ideas. Thanks for your help, buddy


Like the eye in a powerful hurricane, remain centered in calm & clarity amidst the uproar - F.C.

I had trouble too. It worked

I had trouble too. It worked for me when I changed the size of the photo, that is the display size. Mine were 135cmx40cm and I reduced them to 40cmx12cm, worked ok then for the first one but still needed to clear my browser to upload the rest. I'm not a tech-head, just followed some suggestions I found through google.

Sorry guys, image upload

Sorry guys, image upload should work fine now. Please try again.

More pics

Would be good to see some more photos, just out of interest.


Sorry, but I think I see "Chinese fake".
But I've been wrong before... :-)


I can't tell with 100%

I can't tell with 100% certainty whether it's a fake or not. Please add more pictures.


still fake

Here are the reasons I think it's a fake:
1) The signature is "Kameyama Chihiro". Google says this person is a movie producer, born in 1956.
2) Not quite sure from the picture, but it looks like the kanji may have been stamped, rather than chiseled. You should be able to see individual chisel marks within each stroke. The signature is extremely crisp, deep, and clear, which would NOT be the case for an old blade.
3) The nakago appears to have hamon in it, right next to the signature.
4) The shape of the kissaki (tip) is wrong - note how the slant of the tip is roughly a straight line.
5) The hada (grain) is far too obvious. This is damascus steel. It may have been acid-etched to give it more contrast, or it might be natural if the two types of steel are significantly different. In real nihonto, the billets of steel that are forge-welded together are nearly identical, making the hada very subtle. In nihonto the only major variable in the steel is the carbon content (there are virtually no other metals/minerals present). What you have is modern damascus, and likely the two steels are quite different, thus making the fake hada very obvious.
6) A solid brass (or copper) tsuba is (I believe) only normally seen in two cases: A very high-quality truba, or a common WWII-vintage gunto tsuba. In the latter case, the shape/design is nearly always the same (and doesn't match yours).


more pics

For more pics, I would recommend a close-up of the tsuba, the metal parts on the handle, and a shot that shows the entire tang (to see the shape and finish on the tang).

One other problem with it: There is no sign that it has ever been polished properly, which is very unlikely for a real nihonto. In nearly all cases, the shinogi-ji (the flat surface adjacent to the back edge) should be polished (actually burnished) very smooth, and this would still be visible even if the blade has rust damage.

BTW, regarding acid-etching:
My guess is that the hamon is likely etched (or some other superficial method), but that the "hada" is real, because it is damascus steel as I mentioned above.


So if it is fake it's a

So if it is fake it's a pretty good fake!

It's a (most likely Chinese)

It's a (most likely Chinese) fake, sorry. Using pop artist's names as signatures is also a typical feature of Chinese fakes.

Thank you all, but there's

Thank you all, but there's nothing to be sorry about as I did not pay much for the sword and I am excited for this opportunity to know everyone's thoughts and learn from them. Thank you for the very detailed explanation, Pete. And thank you all for your thoughts as well. I see it as a cheap lesson with great opportunities from a great group of people with a passion for nihonto.

Pete, is the signature without a doubt "Kameyama Chihiro"? I ask b/c I have researched for three months and found different possibles. 1st character "Take"? and the 2nd character "yama" was more definitive, with a second choice of "san" and the 3rd character being "Sen" with a chance of being "Chi". On the last or 4th character I could not find anything. On the Tsuba are 2-3 Kanji characters "Ari"? a far shot, and the last I found to be "mitsu".

The Kanji I have looked at carefully with a 10X magnifier typically used for diamonds. Every stroke appears to be done in one smooth strike or one continuous strike when quite possibly the steel was still hot. (Guesstimation) Most all strokes have a lifted edge to one side. What that may indicate, I have no idea.

The sword is not one made in recent years but have no idea when it was made. A somewhat modern damascus steel is consistent with the rust on the tang, which is not as aged as with older swords.

I will post the tsuba photos as you request, Pete, but do not currently have photos of the tsuka or its metal parts but will try to asap.

Thanks again all,



Like the eye in a powerful hurricane, remain centered in calm & clarity amidst the uproar - F.C.

I agree with the others

Sorry to say but I agree it's a Chinese fake. It was most likely made not too long ago within the last decade or so and has no value. There have been so many of these produced over the last few years, but to a collector they are pretty easy to spot.

Echizento, Thank you for your


Thank you for your kind words, views and assistance. The guy who sold it to me gave me the option for full refund for any reason whatsoever with postage paid. I believe he still feels that he could have sold it for more than what I paid.

FYI - The recent tsuba photos show a patine on one side but for some reason not on the other. (not sure)I know it's not a WW2 tsuba. Is it an expensive one as Pete mentioned in one of two options? It is pretty but I remain doubtful. I have however, been bitten by the Nihonto bug since then. Another very much appreciated benefit from this experience.



Like the eye in a powerful hurricane, remain centered in calm & clarity amidst the uproar - F.C.

Hi Felix, Tsuba is not

Hi Felix,

Tsuba is not Japanese either. There were cases when Chinese copies were furnished with real WWII tsuba, but this one is a modern reproduction.

As I always say in these cases, I wouldn't try digging into the meaning of the signature on the tang too much - it's virtually random/accidental.


Hello Stan, Thanks for the

Hello Stan,

Thanks for the evaluation and advice. Shortly after I first discovered the full tang with Kanji characters, I turned to my wife and said - what if after all the research I come to find out that it translates to "Made in China". She laughed so hard and so did I. I wasn't far off. Ha ha ha Thanks for everything.



Like the eye in a powerful hurricane, remain centered in calm & clarity amidst the uproar - F.C.

Felix, Here's another good


Here's another good example for you:


Erased comments here. Posted

Erased comments here. Posted twice. Sorry


Like the eye in a powerful hurricane, remain centered in calm & clarity amidst the uproar - F.C.

Kazarena, Thanks. Back to my


Thanks. Back to my old wooden bokken.... or not. : ) This sword actually has a good edge but no where as sharp as the real thing. I wonder, should I play with it, as in practice polishing and sharpening it further. I'm considering it.

To Stan and others: Should I kill this thread by removing my posts or at least the photos? Would that help keep the site cleaner? But if it serves others I will leave it as is.



Like the eye in a powerful hurricane, remain centered in calm & clarity amidst the uproar - F.C.

Felix, This thread can be


This thread can be very helpful to others. Please leave it. This is the way for people to learn by example what Chinese reproductions look like.

I would leave it as is, if I were you. It's still a sword, and if you found it 'real' enough, others will too. Once your collection grows, leave this one on a display stand, and store the real Nihonto in a safe place :-)

I would advise though to avoid any practical exercises (cutting or even swinging) with this sword. It's not made up to sufficient safety and durability standards and you may hurt yourself or others.


more comments

Hey Felix,
You mentioned something about "practice polishing" on this blade. There is nothing wrong with doing that on THIS blade (because it has no collector value), but NEVER NEVER attempt to "polish" a real sword. If you do that to a real nihonto, you will ruin it's value. No collector should fool themselves into thinking that they can "improve" the appearance of a blade, other than proper cleaning.

As for the kanji:
The first is KAME, meaning "turtle". This example is not normal for Japanese, but it may be OK in Chinese(?).
Second kanji is YAMA or SAN (different possible readings of the same character). In this context, it would be YAMA. It means "mountain".
3rd is read as SEN or CHI, meaning the number 1000.
4th is HIRO or HIROI, meaning "wide".