Gimei (counterfeit inscription) (偽銘)

Gimei (counterfeit inscription) is an inscribed name of a person other than the original creator. Gimei is often inscribed in antiques such as Japanese swords, ceramic ware, tea utensils.

Japanese sword

Various imitations coexist with various antiques, and experts know that many Japanese imitation swords from other countries exist.
Unlike tea utensils for which the fact of introduction is important, it is important for Japanese swords to be 'real.'

Gimei of old sword

Since the style of the old swords created by the Soshu artisans is characteristic, it is easy for someone with certain knowledge to detect the imitation. As for the old swords such as the old Bizen (with inscription), the old Aoe, even an expert is not able to determine its generation or to judge its authenticity (old swords imitated at that time). In particular, there is no difference in technique among the old swords created in the latter half of the Heian period, and the way of inscribing is not consistent due to the existence of generations. Besides, imitation old swords created at that time also coexist. Even an expert is not able to detect an imitation old sword created in the period until the Kamakura period, called the jidainise (imitation created at that time). However, new swords including the old swords after the Muromachi period, and the very new sword claimed to be a sword from the Kamakura period, can be detected by its material, iron and figure. A glossy rumor about an imitation sword created by a sword craftsman that today is designated as a national treasure, is absolutely ridiculous.

Even if no inscription is carved on the sword, the feature of iron and the Nioikuchi (a part of a sword where light seems to stand out) of the old sword is definitely different from a new one.

For instance, Kunihiro HORIKAWA who was the best new sword craftsman, imitated the work of Soshu artisans, but the difference in periods, in the iron quality and the Nioikuchi, between that in the Kamakura period and those whose iron is beautiful in the Keicho Genwa era is obvious
Shinogichi (ridge) of the sword is with masame (straight grain), and the cutting part is the same as komaru (style of a cutting part) of a new sword, which makes it easy to identify at a glance.

A sample of introduced counterfeit sword

Shuten Doji Yasutsuna: Difference from the old oshigata (mold)

Bizen Saburo Kunimune: Imitation swords have been confirmed since ancient times (the middle of the Kamakura period).

Hakusan Gongen Kagemitsu: A controversy about the belief in Hakusan Gongen in the sword industry occurred in the early Showa period

List up several sword craftsmen and schools that often are subject to gimei between an old sword and a new sword, or between old swords.

Basically, gimei is often used within the school with close technical relationships (immigration, training, descendant, etc.).

As for the Mino swords, it is with masame (straight grain), and Nie deki (a type of temper line), it is often the imitation of a new sword.

Copies of shizu were popular throughout the period from the new sword to the very new sword, therefore, a great deal of attention should be paid to the sword with major grind up.

To detect a counterfeit new sword, focusing on two points; the strength of shinogichi (ridge) and the sharpness of the cutting part, would be a clue.

New swords and the very new swords with Gimei
Using Gimei, including the case of imitating the work by a student as the work by a teacher, is common; there is no obvious difference in iron quality after an appearance of new sword. Kotetsu, Tsuda Echizen no kami Sukehiro (Governor of Echizen Province Sukehiro TSUDA), Shinkai INOUE, MINAMOTO no Kiyomaro are famous. Various ideas; changing the way of inscribing, making the back of the haft round, making it thick, or inscribing a secret mark, are found. Since the research on the haft and signature was advanced, it is relatively easy to identify the sword with Gimei created in the ancient times even with a glance of the haft.

The very new sword with Gimei created by a sword craftsman today
After the decree banning the wearing of swords was promulgated, some sword craftsmen straitened and started making swords with Gimei. As the entire sword industry was straitened, their sword work was extremely refined.
The most famous sword craftsman who implemented Gimei was commonly called the 'Kajihei.'
Kajihei selected swords from all swords; the old, the new, or the very new swords, and inscribed Gimei to them. Sadakazu GASSAN who later became a member of Imperial Household Performance Art also inscribed Gimei including Ikkanshi Tadatsuna, with excellent skills.

Today, the real inscription of sword craftsman is widely known through Oshigata (mold) or photo books. A copy of real inscription is marked to the haft of the modern sword removing its inscription. However, today, it is easy to detect a sword to which Gimei was inscribed; the color of rust on the haft with Gimei was unnatural, and the iron used is also different from the ancient times.

To identify Gimei or counterfeit swords, one must be familiar with the Gokaden (classification of Japanese swords), figures in each period (weight of temochi; haft), iron, features of a blade (Nioikuchi, cutting part), haft (figure, yasurime [grinding grid mark], finished way of the back of haft, hole [mekugi holes], the position of inscription, inscription itself). It is required to face real swords and continue to learn key points for detecting real swords on one's own.

[Original Japanese]