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Brian Wolfe

Japanese Police Sword Meiji Period c. 1868

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The Meiji Period (1868 – 1912):

 

The end of the feudal system along with the Shugunate (War Lords) and samurai was the beginning of modern Japan under Emperor Mutsuhito. The name of his reign or nengo was Meiji. Upon his death, as with all emperors, he himself became know by the name of his reign, in this case he was known as Emperor Meiji. Many think that the end of the samurai period coincided with the restoration of the Emperor in 1868, however the wearing of swords was not abolished until 1876. Further confusing the question of the end of the samurai period was the short lived rebellion of 1877; an effort to reestablish the old ways of the Shoguns with the Emperor only in the roll of a figurehead. The defeat of the rebellion army in 1877 brought an end for all time of the Samurai era, Therefore the date of the beginning of the Meiji Period of 1868 should be called the transitional period.   The dating for what is known as Modern Swords starts with 1868 to the present.

 

Emperor Meiji.JPG

Police Sword, second pattern, early Meiji Period:

 

There is not a lot to be found in the way of research on these swords that I can find and I take what little I know from Richard Fuller and Ron Gregory’s book, Military Swords of Japan 1868-1945. I have found some auction house descriptions that the police were armed with theses swords but like a lot of auction houses they are in the business to sell not to educate so you to take what they say with a grain of salt. I believe from what I do know about Japanese swords and their use, that these were dress swords for senior police officials; a true civil service dress sword. As you can see from the description below and the attached photos, while capable of being used as a sword much as the Wakizasi (short sword) there were available to the police weapons designed and made that would have better served the purpose. There was also a move to copy European swords and sabres so a traditional Wakizasi blade would not likely have been used and the traditional style blade more desirable for official and court functions. I base this supposition on my studies in Toyama Ryu Iaido in both the tactics and techniques of Classical Japanese swordsmanship.

 

Second Pattern Japanese Police Dress Sword Description:

 

Overall length: 28" (71 cm) 

Blade length: 21 11/16" (55.1 cm) (this is longer than the first Pattern)

Grip" Black same, or ray skin. (the first Pattern was white ray skin)

Back strap has Police badge (on all police swords)

The inverted cross guard has a ring in the front while the pommel incorporates a smaller one for a brown leather sword knot. The first Pattern used a chain guard.

Both First Pattern and Second Pattern blades were handmade.

 

Regards

Brian

 

 

Japanese sword complete.JPG

Japanese sword hilt.JPG

Japanese Police crest.JPG

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