TOKEN BIJUTSU NO.617
Examination of Important swords
Classification: Tokubetsu Juyo Token
Blade Type: Wakizashi
Mei: Musashi Daijo Fujiwara Tadahiro
Kono Tadahiro Umetada Myoju deshi (gthis Tadahiro is a student of Umetada
Nagasa (length): 1 shiyaku 4 bu 3 rin (31.6cm)
Sori (curvature): very slight
Motohaba (width at the machi): 9 bun 4 rin (2.85 cm)
Motokasane (thickness at the machi): 2 bu 6 rin(0.6cm)
Nakago length: 3 sun 7 bu 6 rin (11.4cm)
Nakago sori: none
Description of the blade:
Mune: Mitsumune (3 sided mune with a wide center),
Mihaba (width): the blade is wide
Kasane: the blade is very thick
Sori: there is a very slight sori, but the sword appears to have no sori,
i.e. it appears to be musori.
Kitae (steel) appearance: tight ko-itame hada; dense ji-nie; small chikei; the hada pattern is fine and prominent, and the surface has an appearance resembling rice powder; the appearance of the steel is clear and bright.
Hamon: chu-suguha with a very shallow notare, thick nioi; there are dense and frequent ha-nie which forms a belt inside of the habuchi; there are many kinsuji and small sunagashi. The nioi guchi is clear and bright. The boshi is straight and is komaru at the tip with a long kaeri.
Nakago: ubu. The saki (end) is iriyama-kata, the yasurime are kiri, and there is 1 mekugi ana.
Comment: the blade is a sunnobi wakizashi or a somewhat large wakizashi.
Tadayoshifs name was Hashimoto Shinzaemon, and he was the Hizen Nabashima
daimyofs familyfs sword smith. On Keicho 1 (1596), in response to an order from
Lord Nabeshima, Tadayoshi and Munenaga, another student at his school, became
students at the
On Genna 10
(1623), Tadayoshi went
The katakiriha style seen in this wakizashi is same as Tadahirofs teacher Umetada Myoju. Some blades in this style are seen among the swords signed Tadayoshi and very few are signed Tadahiro. In the work of Tadayoshi (or Tadahiro) the kiriha line from the blade is continued to the end of the nakago. This blade is the only one where he kiriha line is discontinued before the end of the nakago: in this sword, the kiriha line ends at the midpoint of the nakago. However, in most of Myojufswork, this line disappears at the top of the nakago where the yasurime starts.
The ji and ha are very well done and there is no date. However, considering the mei, this blade was likely made around Kanei 2 (1625). Also, the swordfs horimono is technically very well done and shows Umetadafs charactistic style, but there is no signature to give credit for the horimono. That means that this could be very late work by Munenaga, or very early work by Yoshinaga. Umetadafs Fudo-Miyou horimono are very distinctive: there is a ken in the right hand and the arm is square; the head is rounded on the left side; the eyes and eyebrows go upward; and the hip is displaced slightly to the right side. Also the last trailing strokes of the bonji characters are very narrow and sharp. These details on this sword are very characteristic of Umetadafs style.
On the nakago ura, there is a mei written by Umetada stating that Tadahiro is Umetada Myojufs student. This is a valuable piece of information because it tells us that these two smiths were teacher and student. There are a few more swords made in the same manner as this collaboration. However, most of these collaborative swords were made late in Myoujufs career when he worked primarily on tsuba instead of swords. Some people think that this soe (companion) meifs meaning and purpose was an effort by Umetada to promote his student Tadayoshi (Tadahiro), however, not everyone believes this, and more studies on this question are required.
This article was contributed by Tanobe Michihiro and the oshigata by Ishii Akira)
Correction and apology:
In the May issue (No.616) the caption said that there are 17 Tokubetsu Juyo Token among the Hizen blades. However, there is also a Tokubetsu Juyo Token sword made by the Shodai Iyo-no-jo Munetsugu. That means that there are 18 Tokubetsu Juyo Token among the Hizen blades, including the two blades by Iyo-no-jo Munetsugu. We apologize for this error.
Sword Appreciation Quiz No. 617
NOTE: For Shijo Kanteito No.616 (in the May issue) the answer is a katana by
Deadline for the submission of answers for the No. 617 issue is July 5th.
Instructions for submitting an answer:
Please submit only one answer for the maker of this sword, and include your name and address. Send answers to the NBTKH Shijo-Kantei. You can use the Shijo-Kantei card which is attached in this issue. We will accept cards with answers for this issuefs kantei which are postmarked on or before July 5th.
If the suggested sword smith has a name which appears in more than one school, please write the school or province your sword smith comes from, and if the sword smith has many generations, please indicate a specific generation.
Hints for Quiz No. 617:
Length: slightly less than 7 sun 2 bu (21.8cm)
Motohaba: 5 bu 9 rin (1.8cm)
Motokasane: 1bu 7rin (0.5cm)
Nakago length: 3 sun 4.5 bu ( 10.5cm)
Nakago sori: 7 rin (0.2cm)
The tantofs form is hirazukuri, with a mitsumune. The mihaba and kasane are in good balance. The blade is a somewhat small sized tanto, and displays some uchisori towards the tip. This is an unusual and very elegant shape. The jihada is koitame, and is mixed with mokume and o-hada. There are small dense jinie, and many small chikei. The blade shows nie and utsuri. The hamon and boshi are as shown in the picture, and contain a mixture of small gunome with ko-ashi and yo. Many ko-nie can be seen against the nioi background. The ji and ha both strong and bright, and there are many kinsuji and small sungashi. The nakago is ubu, the nakago tip is kurijiri, the yasurime is katte-sagari, and there is one mekugi ana. On the omote centered under the mekugiana, there is a very delicate appearing and well formed ni-ji mei (2 kanji mei).
Juyo components of koshirae
A Kozuka showing three animals: a
Mei: Mon-Yujo name, Mon-Soujo name, Mon-Jyoshin name, and Mitsutoshi kao
The Goto family is a very distinguished family in the field of kodogu (Toso-kinko). In mid-Muromachi times, the shodai Yujo worked for Yoshimasa, the 8th Muromachi Ashikaga shogun, and subsequently, the family worked for many rulers including the Ashikaga family, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the Tokugawa family. The last Goto craftsman was the 17th generation Tenjo who worked at the end of the Edo Period. The Goto family worked in Iebori, which was very highly skilled work, and was a higher ranking family, and different from those who worked in machibori. The first generation or shodai Yujo, the second generation or nidai Sojo, and the third generation or sandai Joshin, all of whom who worked for the Muromachi shogunate, were called the Jo-Sandai (the first three generations), and their work is very highly valued.
This kozuka was made by the 10th generation Tsujo Mitsutoshi. Tsujo studied the Jou-Sandaifs gold animal mon , made by the three earliest family members, and he assembled these three for use on one kozuka.
Tsujo used a bake by Yujo on the koguchi end, a shishi by Sojo in the center, and a tora by Joshin on the kojiri end. Each of these animals displays excellent work, and were made using characteristic hori techniques.
These three animals produce a well balanced kozuka, which shows excellent design and work by Tsujo.
displays a Shishi on one end which is the king of animals; a tiger (tora) on
the other end; and a
The kozukafs gaku-nanako-uchi and the urafs kin (gold)-hirumaki style is a style usually made by Tsujo Mitustoshi, and which exhibits the Genrouku erafs very fresh and exuberant style.
These are the answers concerning the makers of the blades shown in the May meeting. This meeting was held on May 10, 2008 at the NBTHK building, and the lecture was given by Nakamura Yoshikazu.
During these meetings, five swords are displayed for examination. The blades can be examined, but the nakago are covered and cannot be seen (they are left in the shira saya tsuka). After examining the 5 swords, the meeting attendees must decide who they think made the 5 swords available for examination, and submit a paper ballot with these names. The 5 swords seen in the May 10 meeting are described below, and the correct names of the makers are presented, along with an explanation of important details which should lead a person to pick the correct sword smithfs name.
Length: slightly less than 2 shaku 1 sun
Sori: 7 bu
Construction: Shinogi-zukuri with an iori-mune
Jihada: Tight itame-hada, with dense ji-nie. In some places, the jihada exhibits a mixed pattern. There is clear midare utsuri.
Hamon: Suguha, with small notare mixed with ko-gumome in nioi-deki. There is a tight nioi-guchi and the hamon is clear and bright.
Boshi: suguha with a slight notare. The tip is komaru with a kaeri.
Horimono: the omote and ura both have bo-hi with kaku-dome (a square end)
This blade is suriage, and because of the extent of its shortening, it is difficult to see any fumbari (the machi has been moved up a long distance, and because of the high location of the current machi, it is difficult to see the true fumbari). The blade also has a strong koshizori. Because the blade is narrow with a small kissaki, some people thought that this was early work of Nagamitsu.
Because the sori is continues to the tip of the blade, and does not decrease towards the tip, this sword is thought to be a narrow tachi from the end of the Kamakura Period. The ji has a clear midare utsuri, and the yakiba is nioi-deki, so this is a typical Bizen sword. Also, the ha is in a suguha style, with small notare and small gunome. The boshi is suguha with a shallow notare and the tip is komaru which is the sansaku boshi style. From these details, this blade is close to the style of Nagamitsu, Kagemitsu, and Chikakage. The hamon has many small notare, and we do not see hataraki inside of the ha, and this produces an impression of quietness when looking at the blade. Also, because the nioi-guchi is very tight, bright and clear, one should guess the maker could be Nagamitsu or Sanenaga, During the voting, most people voted for these two smiths.
Nagamitsu also has very beautiful swords with midare hamon, from the Shoan and Kagen eras which was his late in his life, and there are some swords which are narrow, and with suguha which produce a quiet or calm impression.
This sword is in such a style, so we could guess that it was made by Nagamitsu late in his life due to these special features.However, since this sword is very similar to Sanenagafs work, Sanenaga is an acceptable attribution.
Mei: Rai Kunitsugu
Length: slightly more than 8 sun 4 bu
Construction: Almost no sori, hirazukuri, with a mitsumune
Jihada: tight koitame, with dense ji-nie, and many small chikei. Nie utsuri is visible in the ji
Hamon: mixed ko-gunome, ko-choji, and ko-notare, with ashi, dense ko-nie, some yubashiri-kaze, small kinsuji and sunagashi, and a clear nioiguchi.
Boshi: suguha with shallow notare. The omote has a small round kaeri,and the ura has a slighty togari (sharp or pointed) shape.
Horimono: on both the omote and ura, there are smooth renhi (two hi): a bo (straight) hi and soe (companion) hi.
The blade has a slightly wide mihaba,
and is slightly sunnobi (large), and when compared to typical late
Judging from the sugata, ji, and ha, this should be Rai school work, Such as Rai-Kunimitsu, and Kunitsugu, and most people voted for these smiths.
Rai Kunimitsu and Kunitsugu were working at almost the same time, and it is difficult to discern differences between these two sword smiths. In the Rai School, Kunitsugufs characteristic style is close to Soshu den, and this blade has a characteristic Soshu style, which is indicated by the slightly wide yakihaba, the ji and ha with strong nioi, and yubashiri-kaze. Also, a sharp boshi is seen in Kunimitsu and Kunitsugu swords, and Kunimitsu has blades where the tip is very sharp and has nie-kuzuri (a shower of nie), and produces a very strong impression. Althought this blade has a sharp tip, it does not produce a strong impression. When you judge the smith, this information can help you.
Mei: Nagasone Okisato Kotetsu Nyudo
Banji 4 nen u-zuki (April) 19 nichi
Kinzogan mei: Yamano Kanjuro Narihisa, with kao, and mitsudo- saidan (cutting test)
Length: slightly longer than 2 shaku 3 sun 4 bu
Sori: slightly over 4 bu
Construction: Shinogi-zukuri with an iori-mune
Jihada: tight koitame, with dense ji-nie, many small chikei mixed with a little ohada, and a bright clear hada
Hamon: there is a straight yakidashi with the hamon composed of mixed gunome, o-gunome, konotare, and togariaba, with ashi, yo, abundant nie, and some areas have coarse nie. There are kinsuji and sunagashi, and the nioiguchi is bright and clear.
Boshi: shallow notare, and the tip is komaru with a long kaeri in the Jizo style.
made this sword around Banji 3 to 4. The mihaba is wide, and at the moto and saki
areas, there is a difference, but there is very little fumbari. There is a shallow
sori and chu-kissaki. This is a typical Kambun Shinto style. The well forged
tight ko-itame-hada, and the yakiba composed of mixed gunome, ko-notare, and togariba
has high and low contrasting areas, and this is a typical
Also, the yakihaba is almost the same from the moto (origin at the machi) to the kissaki (tip) and appears straight which is another characteristic of his work. The bladefs hamon forms a long straight line from the moto (machi) to the kissaki, and the hamon contains big and small gunome mixed together which is called Hyotan-ba. In some places there are clusters of nie. The angle at the top of the mune is very sharp. All of these things are very characteristic of Kotetsufs Hanetora period. In addition, the boshi is made in the jizo style, and jizo and sanpin style boshi are also seen during the Hanetora period, but this boshi is different from the typical Kotetsu boshi. In voting, besides Kotetsu, some people suggested another name, Yamato-no-kami Yasusada, and his work was similar to Kotetsufs Hanetora period work, so that answer is understandable. However, Yasusadafs blades are longer, the motohaba and sakihaba are different, the sori is shallower, and the chu-kissaki is short, and these are typical Kanbun Shinto style details. Yasusadafs yakiba contain a mixture of square notare, and also midare valleys which have a square shape, and a calm appearing nioi-guchi. These characteristics are different from Kotetsufs style.
Mei: Tsuda Omi-no-kami Sukenao,
Genroku 2 sai nigatsu hi
Length: 2 shaku 5.5 bu
Construction: Shinogi-zukuri with ihorimune
Jihada: tight ko-itame, dense ji-nie, many small chikei.
Hamon: the moto has a long yakidashi, and the hamon is then formed of large gunome, mixed with a shallow notare, and is in a toranba style with ashi, dense nioi, frequent nie, small sunagashi, and a very clear nioiguchi.
Boshi: dense nioi, which is straight, and the tip is komaru with a kaeri.
Horimono: Both omote and ura have smooth bo-hi.
The mihaba is slightly wide, and the moto and saki areas do not differ very much. There is a somewhat large sori, and the chu-kissaki is slightly long, and this style is typical of the Jokyo and Genroku eras. This is a well forged blade, with dense nioi and thick nie, and the yakiba has a very clear nioguchi, is wide and appears to be exuberant, but is still smooth. There is not much difference between the high and low areas of the hamon: the low valleys in the hamon are long, and the hamon forms a wide smooth toran-midare with small sunagashi. This is characteristic of Sukenaofs style. Also, this was made in the Jokyo and Genroku era style. The length is about 2 shaku so the blade appears a bit short.
In voting, some people wrote Sukehiro
and Terukane. This was made during Sukehirofs peak time when his swords had a
deep sori, but usually not this much sori. The motohaba and sakihaba are
different from his usual work, and this kind of sword looks like a Kambun
Shinto. After the
No. 5 Tanto
Mei: Bizen Osafune Masamitsu
Teiji ?? nen 6 gatsu hi
Length: slightly more than 8 sun 9 bu
Sori: slightly less than1bu
Construction: Hirazukuri with a mitsumune
Jihada: tight ko-itame, ji-nie, along with top of the yakiba clear utsuri is present
Hamon: gunome mixed with square gunome and kataochi-gunome. Some small areas appear disordered. The hamon is made with nioi and contains ashi.
Boshi: midare-komi. The omote is komaru (a small circle), the ura is omaru (a large circle) and both have shallow kaeri.
Horimono: both the omote and the ura have smooth katana-hi
The mihaba is wide, the kasane is thin, and there is a small sori. This tanto looks short because of the wide mihaba, and during the Nanboku-cho era this kind of tanto is seen along with sunnobi (oversize) tanto. We judge that this type of tanto was made in the Enbun, and Joji eras. Because of the shape, and the straight clear utsuri in the ji, along with the kataochi gunome, most people thought this was Kanemitsu school work, and they voted Kanemitsu. This is Masamitsufs early work, signed in the Teiji era, and resembles Kanemitsufs work. So the Kanemitsu answer is reasonable. But on careful examination, small differences can be seen. This bladefs kitae-hada is tight, but when compared with Kanemitsufs well forged hada, the appearance of jifutsu and chikei are too infrequent. Also, Kanemitsufs hamon are mainly kataochi-gunome which are mixed with square gunome, but this hamon is mainly round topped gunome mixed with square and kataochi gunome, so there is a difference to be seen in the hamon. This yakiba is also smaller or narrower when compared to Kanemitsufs. These subtle differences between the two smiths have to be kept in mind.
Masamitsu worked late in the Nanbokucho era, and was a contemporary of the Kanemitsu school, and many of his swords were very similar to the Kosori style. This blade shows the Kanemitsu style and also some features of the Kosori style. With these considerations, one can judge that this is a Masamitsu blade. However, many of Masamitsufs swords were made in the Kosori style which have an itame hada mixed with mokume and nagare hada, and show rough or uneven forging, and the hamon is ko-midare mixed with other kinds of hamon. This is a difficult sword for kantei, so if one votes for the Kanemitsu school, that is an acceptable answer.
Explanation for the Shijo-Kanteito No.615 (April issue)
Sword Appreciation Quiz No. 615
The answer for the No.615 Shijo-Kanteito was a sword by Ishido Unju Korekazu
dated Ganji gan nen ki.
In the late Bakumatsu Shinshinto period, dynamically shaped swords were very popular, with a wide mihaba, and with the width at the machi and at the point (motohaba and sakihaba) almost the same, leaving the sword with almost the same width along its entire length up to the yokote at the beginning of the o-kissaki. At that time, Unju Korekazu made many swords in this style which have usually wide mihaba, or a slightly wide mihaba, with a constant mihaba up to the kissaki.
This swordfs mihaba is slightly wide and the kissaki is long. but many of Korekazufs swords show a normally wide mihaba, with a length of 2 shaku 5 sun, 6 bu, and are thick (have a large kasane), and have a narrow shinogi-haba (width of the shinogi-ji). His jitetsu show a tight ko-itame hada which appears to be mu-hada, or mu-hada mixed with nagare-hada, producing an appearance of a flowing masame type hada, and sometimes chikei are present. Unju Korekazu worked in the later half of the Tenpo era to the Meiji period. In the Koka and Kaei eras, in his early work, he used choji-midare which was very similar to that of Chounsai Tsunatoshi and Koyama Munetsugu. In his choji midare hamon, the choji are narrow, and the tops of the choji have a round shape and appear a bit like gumone. The choji also are tightly packed or bound to each other. There is a tight nioi–guchi, and the hamon is made primarily in nioi. In his later work, the swords resemble this sword, which means that the hamon is composed of large choji with round tops, and small gunome shaped choji midare which contain mixed gunome, togariba, and konotare, with long ashi, dense nioi, thick nie, and a bright clear blade where kinsuji and sunagashi stand out. People say that these swords exhibit a Bizen choji style with nie, and this is considered to be one of his best styles of work, and there are many well made blades like this.
Korekazufs boshi are midare-komi, and like this sword, show warekomi, or straight boshi. In most of his work the boshi are komaru with kaeri. His swords sometimes have bo-hi, and very few blades have horimono.
Unju Korekazufs nakogo are mostly kurijiri (or sometimes iriyamagata), the yasurime in his early work are sujikai with kesho, and later are osuji-chigai with kesho which are just like those on this sword. His mei is not always the same, and on the swords without bo-hi, the omote side has a long mei, and on the ura side on most of them, he signed the date in a somewhat higher position. Around the Kaei and early Ansei eras, in his early work, there are some swords where he carved an aoi-mon under the habaki.
In the latter half of the Ansei period, there are many swords which he signed Fujiwara Korekazu which have 4 kanji, and under this are the kanji sei kitae, saku kore, or saku.
In voting, many people voted for Unju Korekazu, and some people voted for Sa Hideyuki.
Hideyuki is a late Shinshinto sword smith, working in the same period as Korekazu and his style, jitetsu and nakago are similar to this sword. But many of his hamon are suguha or shallow notare mixed with gunome, and have dense nioi, frequent nie, sunagashi, and kinsuji which follows the style of Inoue Shinkai. His notare hamon mixed with gunome are wider, and in the low notare hamon the gunome are larger, so his style is different from this choji style hamon. Around the Tempo and Koka eras, in his early work, there are some Bizen style blades, but the top of his choji are less round, and small gunome-choji clump together, and with the tight nioi-guchi these become primarily nioi type swords.
The explanations concerning these swords were provided by Hibino Dai.