|Imai SadaShige Gendaito in Naval Mounts|
SaiJo Ju SadaShige Tuskuru. Lucky day in Second Moon (around March)
1943. In commemoration of the end of the Great East
Year Made: Showa
Forging Pattern: Masame
Tempering Pattern: Choji Midare
Dimensions: Nagasa: 25 13/16", Nakago: 8 5/16", Mihaba: 1 1/4", Sakihaba: 13/16", Kasane: 9/32", Sori: 1"
Mountings: Custom ordered high grade Navy Gunto with ishime lacquered saya. Some lacquer wear on the saya.
Overall Condition: The Gunto fittings are in good condition except for the saya which is cracked and chipped as can be seen in the pictures. The blade has hagiri. Imai Sadashige was one of the most important smiths during the war and made many swords for high ranking officers. He was born in 1891 and studied under Takahashi Yoshimune and Sadatsugu and was a teacher at the Japanese Sword Academy.
This is a very historically interesting sword. This sword with his long signature, imperial dating and a celebratory votive to the victory of WW2 in April 1943. Made around the time when the Allied forces were turning the tide against the Japanese in Guadalcanal and surrounding islands and the death of Admiral Yamamoto, the Japanese mainland was perhaps unaware of the reality of the till October of 1943 when Hirohito proclaimed that their country's situation was "truly grave".
Sadashige's sword often have patriotic votives on their tangs, such as one made in 1945 that reads "General Yamashita wields this sharp sword to annihilate of our bitter enemy the US armed forces, crush and destroy tens of thousands of them with no mercy."
I could not help but think that this sword was forged under the best intentions and his best efforts to celebrate Japan's victory in the Pacific over the US that never came to be. Perhaps the Japanese Naval officer that commissioned this sword never returned to retrieve it. Perhaps it was put away when the reality of the war reached home. It is curious to see a sword made by a top ranked smith with hagiri, perhaps it was put in deliberately after news of the Japanese defeat with intention to destroy the sword. Or it happened during forging, which was a sign of things to come for Japan.
In any case, it is an ironic commemoration of the beginning of the US victory in the Pacific Theatre by one of Japan's most prominent smiths at the time. Although, I am sure he meant to celebrate a Japanese Victory.
Timeline of Pacific Theatre in 1943: