TYPES OF SIGNATURES
Most of the signatures are carved into the metal itself. In some of the World War Two period
swords the markings are painted. Most of the time in red or white paint.
Some blades will contain both types of signatures, painted and carved/punched.
Additional markings may include arsenal stamps or the Showa (WWII) era stamp.
LOCATION OF THE SAMURAI SWORD SIGNATURES
The Samurai swords are signed in the area known as the tang.
The tang is covered by the handle of the sword, which is normally secured to the tang
via the use of one or two wooden pegs. Once the pegs are removed the handle comes off
easily revealing the signatured.
Swords can be signed in one side or in both sides of the tang.
unfortunatelly some of the signatures in the Samurai sword may be forgeries. The signatures
that may be faked are normally those of renouned sword makers.
Some of the forgeries may date back to the time when the master sword maker was alive. In
other cases the origin is more modern. The forgeries are normally perpetrated by an
individual wanting to increase the value of the sword.
INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE SIGNATURE
The information that can be obtained from interpreting the signature in the Samurai sword
includes the following: Date, Swordmaker's name (Master), City in which the sword was made,
Additional stamps in the same area provide the arsenal and period.
The signature is generally composed of 5 or 7 characters. The following section provides a
breakdown of each type.
FIVE CHARACTER SIGNATURE
The following is an example of a tamg that has 5 characters in the signature.
Where the five character signature:
HI - Usually Province name
ZEN - Usually Province name
TADA - Usually the title
KUNI - Usually the makers name
SAKU - Usually the makers name
SEVEN CHARACTER SIGNATURE
The following is an example of a tamg that has 7 characters in the signature
TRANSLATING SAMURAI SWORD DATES
Some of the Samurai swords are dated. The dates are found in the tang of the sword. There were different methods
that the swordsmith employed to date the blades. Some of them are discussed in this section of the website.
Dates are read from the top down. Dates are most commonly written on one side of the tang while the other side holds
the master's signature. However, this is not always the case. there are times when the signature and date are
located in the same side of the tang.
The characters employed to write a date consisted of numbers, written in kanji, and the symbols for year, month and day.
See the following chart.
Additional characters such as those used to describe the different seasons of the year may have also been added to the
date in order to indicate when in the year the sword was produced.
SOUTHERN COURT EXAMPLE
The following is an example of how a sword is dated using the Southern Nengo method. This is a sword from
the Showa period, starting in 1926, which covers the WWII period.
The dates were based on a period plus the number of years into
the period where the sword was made. The date inscriptions on the sword are read from the top down.
The following is a tool that translates the Japanese characters and provides the date in which a WWII samurai
sword was created. All you have to do is enter the three date characters as defined in the picture above.
WWII Samurai sword date of manufacture translator tool