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Writing on tsuka?


30 Sep 2016
Hi all. I’m wondering if anyone can tell me what this says? It’s written on a tsuka and not very clear so I’ve tried to copy it out as best I can. My best guess is that it is late edo, but I can’t be sure. Any input is very welcome. Many thanks.


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I might be totally off, but is it possible that the right side is Suzuki, followed by something?


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Its possible. Can you get a clearer, brighter shot?
Hi, thanks for the reply. I tried to get a good picture, but it's just too faint. Only shows up when it's wet and that causes reflections. Don't think I'd be able to get a better one.
Hi, thanks for the reply. I tried to get a good picture, but it's just too faint. Only shows up when it's wet and that causes reflections. Don't think I'd be able to get a better one.
You can definitely get a better shot because it's blurry from camera shake. Try holding the camera very still next time.
This one's not much better. I'll try to take some more.


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It looks like you're holding the object in one hand and the camera in your other hand. You're never going to get a clear picture that way.

You need to place the object on a table. Use other objects (books, pillows, etc) on each side to hold it in position. Also place the camera on the table. When it is in focus, use the self-timer to take the picture. That way your hand won't shake the camera. Place a lamp near the object, but to one side. Don't rely on just the normal lighting in the room. Your room isn't as bright as you think it is and the low light causes a slow shutter speed, which also introduces blur into the photo.
I'll do my best, but the kanji are barely legible and it's very hard to get the camera to pick them up. They're not much more visible than in the photos. Maybe they're just too old and faded. I'll try again, but they might just be impossible to make out.
Ok, so I put some varnish on to make it as clear as possible, and followed Mike Cash's advice (Thanks Mike). Hope this will help. Many thanks.


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Thank you Mike. Any ideas about the left side? The first kanji has me foxed entirely.
The first one is the clearest one of all. 白

The second one is a mystery.
Just looking at it, it could be 万, or 石, or 百... or if a lot of it had rubbed off, 夏
Thank you both for your replies. I am very much out of my depth with this. I have some experience with translating writing on the nakago of swords, but they tend to be quite formulaic and relatively simple. Not knowing what this piece of writing relates to make translation very difficult. Someone suggested that the first two could be 百万, and the start of a motto or slogan. Looking at it in this light I couldn't make sense of the right side. If the right is a name I'm unsure what the left side would be likely to be. I assume whatever is written was important enough to write in the first place, but even that is speculation. Any further help would be very welcome. Thanks again.
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My guess, based on nothing whatsoever, is that the left side is a place name.
Thanks to everyone for their help with this. I've tried looking up different combinations of possible kanji, and not come up with anything that seems to make sense. I was hoping the writing might link the tsuka to the swordsmith Suzuki Kaga no Kami Sadanori, so the Suzuki is promising. Without understanding the rest of the kanji it is very speculative. I think I'm going to have to give up on it for now. Thanks again for your help.
Given how common the family name Suzuki is, odds are that it just belonged to a regular guy.
I agree Mike, on it's own the Suzuki means very little. It was a long shot to start with, and probably just a coincidence.
The swordsmith wouldn't bother with the tsuka, and the tsuka-maker wouldn't write "Suzuki" on the tsuka. If it were contemporary with the sword, he might write Sadanori, if anything, but even that is a longshot.
The tsuka/koshirae are not permanent items. They degrade over time and are unceremoniously replaced, so I doubt it refers to the swordsmith. You have the sword that fits in this tsuka? Or just the tsuka?
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You're quite right Majestic, it was a very long shot to think the writing would be a reference to the smith. The tsuka is from a sword that is in very bad condition, to the extent that the mei is mostly unreadable. The idea that it is a Sadanori blade is just a theory I'm exploring, I'm looking for clues about the sword and the writing on the tsuka was a possibility I couldn't ignore.
The sword should provide the biggest and best clues. The shape (koto or shinto), the sori, the kissaki, the nakago, and then you can get into the detail of the hamon and the various activities there. The tsuka, etc., are all very replaceable, so it isn't unusual to see a two-hundred year old tsuka and fittings on a sword that is 600 years old. Anyway, the sword (even in bad shape) can tell you much. Of course, if its in such terrible shape that it is impossible to determine an age or school, then the sword is basically scrap. There is a forum for sword enthusiasts called Nihonto Message Board. The guys there can also give you advice.
Thanks Majestic. From what I can see everything is spot on for it to be Sadanori, but I'm no expert. The blade is not far off being scrap, but it's an interesting research project.
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