Japanese kamikaze tanto

length: 9 1/2"
blade: 6 1/4"
blade width: 15/16"
grip: 3 1/2"
weight: 5 oz

WWII era kamikaze "suicide" tanto. In theory, Japanese kamikaze pilots were to commit seppuku in the last few seconds before crashing their planes into American ships. I kind of have my doubts about how often it was actually done - even when the knife is worn hanging in a sheathe around your neck, I'd imagine it would be kind of tough to pull it out and disembowel yourself while trying to accurately target a ship that's blasting all of it's anti-aircraft weaponry at you. Besides, how could anyone check, and for that matter, why did kamikaze pilots wear helmets? Anyway ... the blade on this tanto is definetly war era machined workmanship that obviously survived the war. The scabbard and hilt and neck sheathe were done after the war, by someone who respected the blade enough to think it deserved quality workmanship in it's mountings. The dovetail work in the ends of the scabbard and grip are an indication of this. The neck sheathe is dead-on in the style of WWII, but the wartime Japanese weren't working in black leather - standard military leatherwork was brown. Regardless of the newer (late 1940's/early 1950's) mountings, this is quite the nice little tanto.

Comments from a collector friend on my comments above:

"1. You have "were to commit seppuku in the last few seconds before crashing." It is my understanding that the pilot had the choice whether to commit suicide, or not. It was not an order, nor directive. Your phrasing "were to commit" give the implication that it was an order You also might want to include that if the pilot missed the ship- he had the option of killing himself to ask forgiveness of the honorable ancestors for his failure. Many of the planes had only enough gas for a one way trip.

2. "pull it out and disembowel yourself." Wrong. Becuase the pilot was straped into a very narrow seat with seat belts, still wearing many layers of clothing not to mention the Japanese version of the "may west" or life vest; it would be impossible for him to "disembowel" himself. The procedure was to pull the knife out from it's neck sheath and thrust it straight into the throat much like the womans form of seppuku. Notice that the Japanese never had any female pilots. ???

3. "How could anyone check?" The honorable ancestors see all. Of coarse no other human could check if the plane blew up in a ship, or sunk into the ocean, but you have to rememeber the people and culture that you are dealing with. GLory and honor (face) mean all. No one would intentionaly disgrace himself, his family, or the honorable ancestors."