Identifying markings on Tang

we have a sword (katana) that shows it was outfitted as a WWII sword, (all the pieces, seppa etc has the stamped numbers, 59 and the scabbard that was issued during the war, with the leather over sheaths) however we believe the blade is probably from an older period (a family blade?) The tang isn't all that long and has some pitting and rust showing and the writing on the tang is mostly hard to make out (except the top one, where unfortunately, someone seems to have put chalk or something into to see it better) I have attached a few pics. There is no stamp on the blade and no other markings on the reverse of the tang.
we are hoping to find out some sort of information about the actual blade. If any other pics are needed, please let me know. My husband knows not to touch the blade etc with his bare fingers.

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Rai something

Hi, I think there are 3 kanji there, and the first one is "Rai".
Rai is like a clan name. But there are dozens of Rai-something signatures...
For the remaining part:
Knowing the 2nd kanji would help greatly.
Given that it is extremely difficult to photograph the subtleties, I suggest two approaches:
1) Try taking images with the light coming from the side at a sharp angle, and do the light from various positions. The idea is to create subtle shadows that may make some of the strokes more obvious.
2) Study it in-hand, and try to see where the strokes are. The edit your picture and draw in the strokes that you are fairly certain of. With your own eyes, you'll be able to see details that won't show up in photos.

Other comments:
From what I can see of the nakago (tang), this blade may be quite old.

The leather in your first picture appears to be in very good condition.

How about pictures of the rest of the blade? Preferably with ALL fittings removed, including the habaki (collar around the blade, just above the handle).


rai something

ok, I have taken other pics as per your information. The whole sword is approx. 84cm from tip to end of tang and approx. 68cm from tip to end of sharpened edge

Rai Kunihisa ???

I'm going to make a "guess" and say it might be "Rai Kunihisa".
See KUN273:

This is not at all certain, because it's just too hard to see...

The blade has a nice "koshi-zori" shape (referring to the overall picture of the blade).


Rai Kunihisa??

we live in Sydney, Australia. Where can we take this blade to get a better authentication and possible appraisal etc? I've tried to look up any possible places to take it, but can't find anywhere that I think would be suitable.


Google tells me:

Sydney Token Kai
Adrian Schlemmer, President
Syndey, Australia
Contact: Adrian Schlemmer at

"Token-kai" means roughly "[Japanese] sword group". I would expect this to be a "club" of Japanese sword collectors. Most clubs will have members with varying levels of experience, and some members may be "dealers" (who are profit-oriented - beware! - "Your blade has serious problems, but I will take it off your hands for $500"). Your best resource will be those folks who have a lot of collecting experience, but do not have any financial interest in your blade. They can teach you HUGE amounts of info in a hands-on setting, by pointing out the good and bad things, and showing you other good/bad blades...

Also, be careful of "appraisal". Realistically, it may be very difficult to find a "comparable" price to justify the value put on your blade. Some antique dealers will claim that they can give an appraisal, but unless they are experienced Nihonto collectors/dealers, they really don't know what they're talking about. Just knowing the name on the signature is NOT enough. For any given smith, the value varies greatly depending on condition and features.


Sydney Token Kai

thanks Pete. I sent an email to him yesterday, so hopefully, I will receive a reply. I wasn't sure if they were still operating, but sent the email anyway.