iToken Bijutsu No.559j


Nihon Koto Shi

(History of Koto)


By Dr. Honma Junji





Sadamune was an adopted son of Masamune and most faithfully succeeds to his workmanship. He was a distinguished smith but is not included in Masamune Juttetsu.


Extant work of Sadamune with authenticated signatures has not been confirmed yet but there are mumei tanto with ubu-nakago and o-suriage katana that can be attributed to Sadamune without question, namely eKikko Sadamunef, Terasawa Sadamunef, Fushimi Sadamunef and so on. His active term ranges between the Gentoku Era (1329-1330) at the end of the Kamakura and the Nambokucho Periods. There is an important description of the workmanship (around Jowa and Kanfo Eras) of Sadamune in eNoami Bon Mei Zukushif, which is referred to when studying Sadamune. Speaking of his workmanship, he employs the same forging method as that of Masamune, his hamon is based on notare with fewer hataraki but he is superior to others in forging technique. His tanto and tachi have wide mi-haba and extend ha-watari, and his tanto normally has slight sori. Looking into famous Tokuzein Sadamune owned by lord Maeda Genfi, the jihada is subjected to his rule but the hamon is o-midare that looks like hitatsura. This ko-wakizashi is an exceptional work of Sadamune and there is no other example with such a hamon. The beauty of the nie and the quality of the jigane are no comparison with those of Hiromitsu and Akihiro who were active in the Enbun and Joji Eras. Also the horimono of bonji and ken is perfectly consistent with the carving style of Sadamune. In conclusion, we must recognise that Sadamune demonstrates this kind of workmanship too.


Nobukuni of Yamashiro Province who was a student of Sadamune succeeded to the workmanship of his teacher faithfully. There are a certain of number of extant works with dates of production and they make it possible to confirm the active age and workmanship of Sadamune. Nobukuni was a descendant of Ryokai and there were three generations. It is said that 1st Nobukuni was active around the Kenmu Era but a date of the Enbum is the earliest one of his extant work. There are a few extant works of Nobukuni without dates and of which workmanship looks older than that of the Enbun Era, but they do not appear to be as earlier as the Kenmu Era.


Takagi Sadamune of Omi Province is another student of Sadamune and there are a few extant tanto with his signature. His workmanship is similar to that of Soshu Sadamune on the whole but he is never equal to Soshu Sadamune in the quality of jigane.


There are a few theories of the two smiths, that is to say, Sadamune moved from Takagi of Omi Province to Kamakura of Soshu, and Soshu Sadamune moved to Takagi of Omi Province temporarily and engaged in sword forging over there. There is no doubth that there are different smiths and Takagi Sadamune was the second generation of Soshu Sadamune or his student. Giving full scope to my imagination, I guess that Soshu Sadamune made a trip to Omi Province around the Jowa or Kanfo Era when he left his offspring or student (Takagi Sadamune) there.


(Reference photos and oshigata)

Kokuho : Katana Mumei attributed eSadamunef

(Meibutsu eKikko Sadamunef) (Owned by the Tokyo National Museum)





Speaking of Masamune Juttetsu and other smiths who are said to be students of Masamune, there are extant works of Hiromitsu of Soshu with dates of the Kanfo, Bunwa and Joji Eras. Most of them have cho-mei (signature consisting of many characters) but there are extant works with niji-mei (signature in two characters) on which the workmanship look older than others. They are not equal to Sadamune in quality and there is a possibility that they are direct students of Masamune, but this requires further study.


Kokuho : Tanto Mumei attributed to eSadamunef

(Meibutsu eTerasawa Sadamunef)




It is said that Yoshihiro lived in Matsukura-go of Etchu Province then he has been called eMatsukura Gof or eGof since old days. There is no extant work with signature and date, but inferring from his workmanship, his active age can be attributed to between the end of the Kamakura and the early Nambokucho Periods. He demonstrates Soshu-den mixed with Yamashiro-den and Yamato-den but Soshu-den is not so emphasised in his workmanship. He shows the highest skill of sword forging amongst Masamune Juttetsu and left masterpieces like eInaba Gof and eTomita Gof.




(Reference photos)

Juyo Bunka Zai : Katana (Shu-mei) gGO YOSHIHIROh

                                  gHONfA (Monogram) (by Honfami Kojo)

(Meibutsu eMatsui Gof) (owned by the Sano Museum)