A centuries-old samurai sword taken from Japan at the end of World War II by a Minnesota Army veteran is returning home.
Sam Traxler and his girlfriend will return the sword this month to descendants of the samurai, KARE reported. Traxler, whose father was given the sword by the son of the soldier who brought it to the United States, is a former soldier himself and is interested in martial arts, the television station reported.
Traxler became interested in the Japanese characters engraved in the sword and his research led to the discovery that this was no ordinary weapon, KARE reported.
For decades the sword languished in the basement of Colin Fowler, who served in Asia during World War II and brought the sword home as a souvenir, the television station reported. When Fowler died in 1995, his son, Jeff Fowler, thought about throwing it away.
“It almost ended up in the burn pit,” Jeff Fowler told KARE.
Instead, he gave to Traxler’s father, Jeff Traxler.
“He brought it out and showed it to me and said, ‘You can have it,’” Jeff Traxler told the television station. “I said, ‘I've got to do something for you.’ So, I dug a septic system with a backhoe for him.”
The sword hung on the elder Traxler’s wall until his son took a look at it.
“(Sam is) nosy about this kind of stuff,” Jeff Traxler said. “He sees something and is like, ‘What is this all about?’ I’m like, ‘Go ahead and see what you can find.’”
Sam Traxler posted pictures of the sword’s engraved characters on a Reddit page, seeking help with the translation, KARE reported.
He got it from Yano Takashi, a Japanese man, who identified the engraved characters in the sword’s handle as those of a specific blacksmith shop. Takashi also identified a family name and address, along with the family’s crest.
The Traxlers knew the right thing was to send the sword back to Japan.
“It just means too much,” Sam Traxler told KARE. “In Japan the sword has the soul of the person who carried it.”
The descendants of the original owner plan to donate the sword to a museum for public display, KARE reported.
Jeff Fowler said his father would approve.
“He had a tremendous respect for the Japanese people,” Fowler told the television station. “He’d probably want to take it back himself.”
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