I asked my wife to help translate. It looks like the characters are 文殊四郎 (monjyu shiro). Cannot exactly tell if it is a brand or a person's name.
This link seems to indicate it is a brand - http://www.kikuichi.com/ They have an english page, but no chisels that I could see - http://kikuichi.net/
This link seems to talk about it like a person's name - http://mkmedia.exblog.jp/17141933/
How about offering up some more information about it?
Like where it came from, how much it cost, etc, etc.
David, I got a different second character.
文 珠 四郎
Doesn't make much, if any real different since the reading seems to be the same anyway.
As it is, the like goes to the knife maker Kikuichi, and the name on the chisel doesn't even match that but has enough there to avoid too much suspicion but also enough to try and bank on the reputation of Kikuichi.
Stu, who's spent too much time on this already...
(I'd be very, very surprised if the chisel was anything better than mediocre. Probably ok to use, but it's not some fabled treasure.)
End grain should never be shown in polite company.
Hi, I bought it from ebay, got it for 30$ shipped, the seller said that he purchased it back in the 80's from The Japan Woodworker catalog. That is all the information I have on it, it is unused, and I figured for 30$ it wasn't too much of a gamble.
With all the buying on ebay, the price means close to nothing, depending on the seller and how much s/he knows about Japanese tools. Most of the sellers I've seen there know nothing about what they're selling; therefore, the item being sold could be a fantastic hierloom/tool as well as a piece of garbage.
Surprising, I'm finding I can usually pick a decent chisel in a few seconds just by what it looks like, and not what name is on it...
If no pics, I think it's probably worth $30 but I don't think it's a bargain at that price.
Why not send an email with a photo of the wrapped handle and a photo of the makers mark(at the top of the blade)to Fred Damsen at the Japan Woodworker. He would have no trouble indentifing it for you, if in fact he once sold them. It appears to be an economy chisel but might still be pretty good. It's definitely not some great chisel from a highly regarded maker, if that's what you were hoping.
My wife can't recognize the first character on the left. She thought those characters could either be a name, or say "made by" and a name. She is not sure. Sorry...
Hoop looks nondescript, but ok.
Neck, the gap isn't as tight and clean as it could be.
Hard steel looks a little thick, but ok. The upper surface looks 'as forged' which is fine in a top end chisel, not so great in a medium grade chisel. Not a kill-joy thing, but it's something that should be noted.
As I suspected, it's worth $30.
Sharpen it up and use it. It's still a chisel.
(And thanks for the pics. Never stop learning!)
Hi, it actually does have a stamp, but the lines of the stamp are so thin, that its barely noticeable in the picture. None the less, I fully plan on putting it through its paces and for the price, I wasn't expecting anything great either, just something to hold me over till I splurge. Thanks for the help everyone.