Likes Likes:  0
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 16

Thread: Writing on Sword

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
    Posts
    740
    Likes (received)
    0

    Talking Writing on Sword

    Hi all,

    What is written on Algren's sword is translated as "I belong to the one who combines the old with the new".

    However, the actual kanji, courtesy of the photo book on the shelves is more like

    now-past-have-divine-serve-virtuous-person

    Even with differences in the Chinese and the Japanese language and how I'm interpreting the kanji, the translation of what is written on the sword is a farcry from the English translation....

    Incidently, I didn't think most katana had grooves?



    P.S. If you get a chance to see the moviebook, the sections on the Japanese sword and technique is fairly *funny*....
    David Pan

    "What distinguishes budo from various sport activities is the quest for perfection."

    - Kenji Tokitsu

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Seattle, Washington, USA
    Posts
    6,226
    Likes (received)
    117

    Default Grooves on Katana

    Originally posted by DCPan
    Incidently, I didn't think most katana had grooves?
    Grooves ("hi" or "bo hi") are quite common on katana. Other things like carved dragons, Buddhist symbols, etc. are less frequent, but still seen.

    The sword in the movie was the first time I've seen long inscriptions written anywhere but on the tang (nakago). Anyone know if that's historically accurate?
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Seattle, Washington, USA
    Posts
    6,226
    Likes (received)
    117

    Default Re: Writing on Sword

    Originally posted by DCPan
    What is written on Algren's sword is translated as "I belong to the one who combines the old with the new".
    However, the actual kanji...is more like now-past-have-divine-serve-virtuous-person...the translation of what is written on the sword is a farcry from the English translation
    Hmmm. I don't read or speak Japanese, but let's see what happens if I make some not-too-outrageous assumptions:

    now-past-have-divine-serve-virtuous-person

    "By divine right, I serve the virtuous person who has the old and the present (within him)."

    "I belong to the one who combines the old with the new."

    Doesn't seem like a far cry to me. Can any of the Japanese speakers out there tell me if I'm totally out in left field here?
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
    Posts
    740
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default Re: Re: Writing on Sword

    Originally posted by Yagyu Kenshi

    now-past-have-divine-serve-virtuous-person

    "By divine right, I serve the virtuous person who has the old and the present (within him)."

    "I belong to the one who combines the old with the new."

    Doesn't seem like a far cry to me. Can any of the Japanese speakers out there tell me if I'm totally out in left field here?
    From my understanding of the basic grammar structure, when the kanji are written in that order, a closer interpretation would be:

    "By the divinity of the past and the present, I serve the virtuous (person)".

    The problem is that by the way it is written, the words "old" and "new" is not associated grammatically with the "person" at the end.

    Honestly, unless the language structure is archaic, the way those words are lined up sounds more like someone who thought of something to say in English, then got a dictionary, found some kanji, and slapped it on.

    In other words, the phrase structure made about as much sense as the English writings you find on Asian T-shirts...same deal.

    Besides, why is the writing written on that side of the blade? The saya has a kurigata which makes me think it's a katana, so the writing is on the ura side, on the blade instead of the tang.

    Yet, in armor, he slings it like a tachi....

    Also, regarding the groove statement...I thought the groove in katana was more aesthetic...I am told that smiths add grooves and carvings to "conviniently" remove inperfections in the blade, but if they did a perfect job, they don't like adding a groove to it. Besides, I thought most blade made for "use" are stronger without grooves, as demonstrated by most "tameshigiri" blades out there...you don't really see them with grooves.

    David Pan

    "What distinguishes budo from various sport activities is the quest for perfection."

    - Kenji Tokitsu

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Seattle, Washington, USA
    Posts
    6,226
    Likes (received)
    117

    Default Re: Re: Re: Writing on Sword

    Originally posted by DCPan
    Also, regarding the groove statement...I thought the groove in katana was more aesthetic...I am told that smiths add grooves and carvings to "conviniently" remove inperfections in the blade, but if they did a perfect job, they don't like adding a groove to it. Besides, I thought most blade made for "use" are stronger without grooves, as demonstrated by most "tameshigiri" blades out there...you don't really see them with grooves.
    I have sometimes heard people say that grooves make a blade stronger, and they use the analogy of folding a piece of paper to make a "bridge."

    I don't buy that analogy, because when you fold a piece of paper you aren't remove any of the material.

    I think the main reason for grooves is to make a blade a little lighter, without substantially weakening it.

    Yes, it could also hide/remove imperfections, but there are some examples of blades by great smiths that have grooves so I wouldn't automatically assume that a grooved blade has flaws.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    28
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Dear all,

    This is what I heard from Tanemura sensei. A grooved blade can be a sign of high level skills in the hands of it's user because it is not so suitable for blocking (even with the mune). The user should be more versed in the use of tai sabaki = serious level of taijutsu.

    Sincerely
    Marc Coppens
    Genbukan Tenzan dojo - Belgium
    www.tenzandojo.org

  7. #7
    jorin Guest

    Default

    Great smiths made mistakes too. And they also used carvings to remove those flaws.
    The big mistake of the engraving of the blade in The Last Samurai is that the metal in the kanji is dark; whatever engravings are done in the blade of a sword, they are polished out with the rest of the blade, and generally burnished as well.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Seattle, Washington, USA
    Posts
    6,226
    Likes (received)
    117

    Default

    Originally posted by jorin
    The big mistake of the engraving of the blade in The Last Samurai is that the metal in the kanji is dark; whatever engravings are done in the blade of a sword, they are polished out with the rest of the blade, and generally burnished as well.
    Yes, but that wouldn't show up on film very well so the engraving was filled in with black laquer or something.

    That may not be authentic for the period, but it's cinemagraphically mandated.

    And The Last Samurai is a movie, not a training film for swordsmiths.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Reno Nevada
    Posts
    109
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    some-one asked above if inscrptions on blades was common or not. One of my students has a blade from around 1270 or so. Its a Wak made by buddhist monks. IT has the Lotus sutra on one side and the childrens prayer on the other side of the blade. Very stunning.

    Im sorry if this was already answered, I scanned the rest of the conversation in order to post.
    Keven Cecil
    Iaika
    Musu Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaijutsu
    www.whiteherondojo.net

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    21
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default

    Yet, in armour, he slings it like a tachi....
    Many samurai had only a katana and when wearing it with armour it was slung as a tachi. There are many ways to wear a katana slung in a tachi style - either with a special hanger (koshiate) or by winding the hakubutai in special ways.

    The thing I thought was odd in the movie was that all the samurai archers wore a tachi AND and a wakizashi. I was informed by the fellow at the sword museum in Tokyo that a wakizashi was NOT worn when in armour. Also, archers, being from the massed ranks (ashigaru) would NOT have a tachi.

    Oh, and the inscription on the sword does translate as "property of the one who combines the old with the new."
    David Hayden

  11. #11
    JMTaylor Guest

    Default Translation

    I'm not very knowledgeable about the Japanese language. I only started to study the language about a month ago... I'm curious matasaburo, can you please explain how you got the correct translation of the kanji on the sword to mean "property of the one who combines the old with the new"?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    http://kuroyamadojo.com.au/
    Posts
    691
    Likes (received)
    5

    Default

    Originally posted by matasaburo
    Many samurai had only a katana and when wearing it with armour it was slung as a tachi. There are many ways to wear a katana slung in a tachi style - either with a special hanger (koshiate) or by winding the hakubutai in special ways.

    The thing I thought was odd in the movie was that all the samurai archers wore a tachi AND and a wakizashi. I was informed by the fellow at the sword museum in Tokyo that a wakizashi was NOT worn when in armour. Also, archers, being from the massed ranks (ashigaru) would NOT have a tachi.

    Oh, and the inscription on the sword does translate as "property of the one who combines the old with the new."
    I thought that the Samurai were Archers - the Bow was considered a Samurai's weapon, even over the sword?
    Mat Rous

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Seattle, Washington, USA
    Posts
    6,226
    Likes (received)
    117

    Default

    During the early feudal period, particularly during the warring states period, when massed engagements were the rule, there would have been a lot of specialization. Archers were arches, spearmen were spearmen, etc.

    But when a small group of renegades is performing a hostage rescue, I suspect each man would carry as many weapons as he could -- flexibility would have been the order of the day. Likewise once they were off to battle Omura's troops, each man was probably assigned multiple roles.

    Also, re wakizashi with armor: technically the museum curator was right. Wakizashi were not normally worn with armor. However that's because the companion sword to the tachi wasn't called a wakizashi. It was, IIR, called an uchigatana or kodachi.

    On page 72 of Diane Skoss's Koryu Bujutsu there is a picture of a Morishige Ryu exponent in armor. He's holding a musket in his left hand and is wearing a slung tachi with a short sword thrust through his sash.

    I'm also looking for a picture I have somewhere of an old woodblock print showing a bushi in armor carrying a nodachi and wearing an uchigatana plus a tanto or yoroi doshi. Talk about armed to the teeth!

    HTH.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Boston, Massachusetts (United States)
    Posts
    187
    Likes (received)
    8

    Default

    I was told the groove has no practical purpose in combat. It was there for the sake of making more sound than what a Katana without a groove would make when cutting air. So people observing can hear a clean cut better during a kata. It seems the groove is more for competition or demonstration purposes.

    But that's interesting in one of the above posts mentions that the groove is there because of impurities and the sword smith rather not make a groove.

    A long time ago I used to be told that when the blade is stabbed into an opponent's body, the groove would reduce the suction and make it easier to pull your sword out. But I was later told that's not the case. That there will still be just as much suction with or without the groove.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Seattle, Washington, USA
    Posts
    6,226
    Likes (received)
    117

    Default

    Originally posted by Ren Blade
    I was told the groove has no practical purpose in combat. It was there for the sake of making more sound than what a Katana without a groove would make when cutting air. So people observing can hear a clean cut better during a kata. It seems the groove is more for competition or demonstration purposes.

    But that's interesting in one of the above posts mentions that the groove is there because of impurities and the sword smith rather not make a groove.
    I disagree with the idea that a groove's main purpose would be to hide impurities or flaws (kizu). Carvings might work for that, but grooves take standard positions on a blade. Do kizu only appear on the shinogiji?

    I believe that the purpose of grooves on early blades was to make the blade lighter without significantly weakening it. By removing material from the thickest part of a blade it could be made lighter without being thinner in cross-section or blade width.

    It has also been suggested by some that a groove doesn't make a blade stiffer (the I-Beam comparison), because -- unlike an I-Beam -- material is being removed. I haven't (yet) done a side-by-side experiment on otherwise identical blades, but I think it depends on whether the groove was carved before or after the hardening process. It would seem to me that if the groove is added before hardening, that the blade would be stiffer do to the shape of the hardened "skin." As a way to visualize this, take a long strip of paper an wiggle it from one end. See how it bends and flaps as you move it. Now fold the strip three times to create a lengthwise groove in the paper, and then wiggle it again. You will note that it is now much stiffer, even though no material has been added.

    That a grooved blade's whistle can be used to judge one's hasuji is likely to be a modern application, as in days of old most swordsmen would have been cutting targets, a far better test of one's technique.

    It has also, due to it's historical use on many great swords, become a matter of esthetics. To some, a sword just doesn't look "right" without it.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •