TOKEN BIJUTSU NO.618

 

 

 

July, 2008 Issue

 

 

 

Meito Kansho:

Examination of Important swords

 

Classification: Tokubetsu Juyo Token

Blade Type: Tachi

Mei: Bitchu no kuni Aoe ju Uemontaro Sadatsugu 

         Shochu ? nen shogatsu hi (1324-25) (the g?h indicates an unreadable kanji)

                       

Dimensions:

Nagasa (length): 2 shaku, 2 sun, 4 bu (67.9 cm)

Sori (curvature): 6 bu, 6 rin

Motohaba (width at the machi): 1 sun 9 rin (3.3 cm)

Sakihaba (width at the point): 8 bu 6 rin (2.6 cm)

Motokasane (thickness at the machi):  slightly more than 2 bu, 1rin (0.65 cm)

Sakikasane (thickness at the point): 1bu 7rin (0.5cm)

Kissaki length: 1sun, 9 bu 8 rin (6.0 cm)

Nakago length: 7 sun, 4 bu, 6 rin (22.6 cm) 

Nakago sori: less than 1bu (0.3 cm)

 

Comments:

  This tachi is a shinogi tsukuri sword with an ihorimune, and a wide mihaba (width). For a sword with such a wide mihaba, the length is not long.

The motahaba and sakihaba are slightly different; there is a thin kasane (thickness); and the blade has fumbari (tapering from the machi to the point); a large sori, and a wa-sori (regular even sori) style,; and an o-kissaki. The kitae or blade surface shows an itame hada mixed with a mokume-nagare hada ( a running mokume hada), jifu, which are dark or black appearing spots on the hada and are seen in ko-Bizen work. The hada also appears like a chirimen (crepe) hada There are tight ji-nie, small chikei, and very light bo (straight) utsuri.

  The hamon is chu-suguha and ko-midare, with ko-choji and ko-gunome,. There are frequent yo and ashi, nioi with ko-nie, and fine sunagashi and kinsuji. The boshi on both the omote and ura form a ko-maru with kaeri, and the tip of the ura has kinsuji running toward the ji. The omote and ura have smooth bo-hi. The nakago is almost ubu (it is very slightly shortened) and is sakikiri (cut off at the tip), the yasurime are o-suji chigai, and there are three mekugi-ana (the second ana or rivet hole is the original hole). On the omote of the nakago, there is a large and long signature which starts above the second mekugi-ana. The signature is written in thin chisel strokes and in reverse strokes (that is the lines were chiseled in the reverse of the usual direction of writing). The ura has a date.  

 

   Sadatsugu is known as one of the ex-emperor Gotobafs ban-kaji from the ko-Aoe group. The ban-kaji were sword smiths who came to visit and work with the Emperor Gotoba and made swords with him. According to the book Kokin Meizukushi, the ban-kaji smith Sadatsugu made suguha style swords, with mokume hada. His boshi had long kaeri. He signed with a long mei: Bitchu no kuni ju Osumi Gonsuke Sadatsugu utsu. This book also did not mention a mei signed Uemontaro Sadatsugu. Later books, the Koto-meizukushi-taizen, Kousei koto kan, Kokon-kaji-biko, and the Honcho-kaji-kou all mention this sword.  And said hat Uemontaro Gonsuke and Osumi Gonsuke Sadatsugu were the same person. The Kokon-kajibikou says that he signed Bitchu no kuni ju Aoe Osumi Gonsuke Taira Sadatugu, but until the Kareki era, he also signed Uemontaro Taira Sadatsugu. But Uemontaro has this Shochu era sword, and in the book Okinshiyo there is a sword oshigata signed Bitchu no kuni ju Uemontaro Taira Sadatsugu and a date of Kareki 3 nen 11gatsu hi which is at the end of the Kamakura period. However, most of  Osumi Gonnosukefs  swords are dated during the Kokoku, Teiwa, Enbun, and Shohei eras which are in the middle of  the Nanbokucho era. Because of this timespan, it is not certain whether these two smiths are same person or possibly two different smiths, and this issue remains to be studied in more detail. Most of the Aoe sword smiths made nioi-deki hamon, but Osumi Gonnosuke made nie based suguha hamon with a big kaeri, mixed with yubashiri. These swords appear very lively and dynamic, and this shape of this sword is exceptionally wide, and has an okissaki. These characteristics are typical of Mid-Nanbokucho work from the Enbun and Teiji eras which have a very dynamic style.  These facts suggest that there might be two different smiths with this name.

   This o-tachi is healthy and a very rare Uemontaro Sadatsugu sword, and the ji shows a typical chirimen style and suguha with all kinds of variations in it. The ji and ha are both very interesting, and this is a very well made sword. Also, for the era, this appears to be a very original unique and revolutionary style.   

 

(This explanation has been provided by Tanobe Michihiro and the oshigata by Ishii Akira)

 

 

 

Shijo-Kanteito No.618

 

Sword Appreciation Quiz No. 618

 

 

*NOTE: For Shijo Kanteito No.617 (in the June issue) the answer is a tanto by Awataguchi Yoshimitsu

 

 

Deadline for the submission of answers for the No. 618 issue is August 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 issuefs kantei which are postmarked on or before August 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. 618:

 

Katana

Dimensions:

Length: 2 shaku, 3 sun, 5 rin (69.84 cm)

Sori: 5 bu (1.52cm)

Motohaba: 1 sun, 4 rin (3.15 cm)

Sakihaba: 7 bu, 9 rin (2.4 cm)

Motokasane: 2 bu, 6 rin (0.8 cm)

Kissaki length: 2 sun, 3 bu (6.15 cm)

Nakago length: 6 sun, 6 bu (20.0 cm)

Nakago sori: 7 rin (0.2 cm)

 

The sword is shinogi tsukuri with an ihorimune and has a wide mihaba, and there is not much difference between the motohaba and sakihaba. There is a shallow sori, an okissaki, very slight hira niku, and not much curvature in the fukura. The jitetsu is a tight itame hada, with patches of nagare hada, and ji-nie with frequent chikei. The hamon and boshi, have long ashi, round and shallow gunome, a bright nioi-guchi, frequent nie, and some parts show bright and rough nie. There are kinsuji and sunagashi. The nakago is ubu, there is a kurijiri nakago saki (tip), the yasurime are suji-chigai, there is one mekugi ana, and on the mune side of the omote mekugi ana there is an ownerfs name. Under this name in the middle of the nakago there is a big so-sho (grass style) style 3 character mei written in thick chisel strokes. The ura side of the nakago has a date written in the center between the mekugi-ana (the location of this swordfs 3 character mei is lower than is usual for this smith)    

 

 

Juyo Toshingu

 

Kaizukushizu (sea shell theme) Tsuba

Mei: Mogarashi Kitagawa Nyudo Soten sei (Kao)

         Eshu Hikone Nakayabu ju

Kitagawa Soten came from Kyoto and lived in Omi Kuni Hikone Nakayabu. At the  beginning of his career he was called Hidenori, and later changed his name to Soten and used the Mogarashi title. He studied Goto family hori (carving)  and  Mino style hori and based on these hori he created the Hikone-bori style which is a very elegant and decorative chasing design. He was active in mid-Edo period, and used this signature in Kyoho 7, Enkyo 5, and Kanei 3. Soten used all kinds of designs, and there is work with Mt.Fuji, hermit Chinese figures, warriors from Genpei war, and on this Juyo Toushingu, there are kaizusushi (sea shell) zu (pictures), on other tsuba there are omi-hattkei (images or pictures), on another tsuba,images of waves with rabbits came from yokyoku chikubujima (islands), musha-zu (warrior images), shunju kacho zu (flower and bird images), and mizube-maizuru-shidori-zu (images of cranes and plovers). Soten made mostly iron tsuba, and sometimes shakudo tsuba. He produced very elegant takabori-jisukashi (pierced) and zogan-shikie (inlay) tsuba. Most of  the Juyo Toshingu tsubas are itatsuba (flat tsuba) without jisukashi (piercing), and this is an itatsuba  with a shakudo-nanako background, and a sketch type presentation of a hundred kinds of sea shells such as sazae (turban conches), awabi (abalone), hotate (scallop), hamaguri (clam), asari (short-neck clam), and makigai (conch), seaweeds floating in the water, and there are small silver dot inlays everywhere. Shells and fishes are blessed foods from the sea, and the Japanese word kai (shell) has the same pronunciation as available, open, healthy, and excel, so this design is used for inviting blessings and good omens.  In the big ocean, hundred of shells express a chorus for the exuberance of life, and this tsuba is powerful example of the abundance of life.       

 This explanation was provided by Kobayashi Terumasa)    

 

 

 

 

Teirei Kansho Kai for June

 

The swords discussed below were shown in the June meeting at the NBTHK headquarters building. This discussion presents answers concerning the makers of these blades.

 

   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 decide who they think made the 5 swords present for examination, and then submit a paper ballot with these names. The 5 swords seen in the June 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 smithfs name.

 These comments and explanations were provided by Hiyama Masanori.

 

 

 

 

No.1 Kantei To: Tanto

 

Mei: Omi Daijo Fujiwara Tadahiro

Length: 8 sun, 8 bu

Sori: very small

Construction: hirazukuri with an ihori-mune

Jihada: tight ko-itame hada. The hada is fine with dense ji-nie, and chikei

Ha: chu-suguha with shallow notare. The nioi-guchi is dense ko-nie, mixed with occasional kuichigai-ba.

Boshi: straight with a komaru and shallow return (kaeri)

 

This is a very rare example of a tanto made by Omi Daijo Tadahiro, and is a masterpiece of Rai utsushimono work (a blade made in the style of the Rai school). Because this is an utsushimono , this blade is different from Tadahirofs usual work, and one cannot see the usual distinctive komenuka hada (an appearance like rice powder) and the blade appears old. These features make this a difficult sword to identify.    

At first, many people voted for Rai Kunitoshi, and Kunimitsu as the maker. However, upon careful examination, Rai Kunitoshi and Kunimitsu blades are seen to have more ko-nie on the ji and ha, and their ji have nie utsuri and their shape is that of  an uchi-sori tanto. When I said that this tanto was from a different era than the Kamakura era, many people then voted for this being Hizen work. Among the Hizen sword smiths, besides Omi Daijo Tadahiro, the shodai Tadayoshi, Masahiro, Tadakuni, or Yukihiro are good answers. From Keicho to Genna times, besides Tadahirofs Rai utsushimono, there are utsushimono of Naoe Shizu, Nagayoshi, Kagemitsu, Hiromitsu, Akihiro and Muramasa, so the Shodai Tadayoshi answer is the most natural one. If you compare this sword to the Shodai Tadayoshifs swords, the yakibafs nioi-guchi is different. The Shodai Tadahiro used a notare style and at the bottom of  most of his notare waves, one sees nie and a tight nioi-guchi, and the ha on Omi Daijo Tadahiro blades have some niju-ba and kuichigai-ba mixed together.

 

No.2 Kantei To: Katana

 

Mei: Tsuda Echizen no kami Sukehiro

         Kanbun 12, 2 gatsu hi

Length: 2 shaku, 1sun 

Sori: 3.5 bu

Construction: shinogi zukuri with ihori mune

Jihada: tight ko-itame, dense ji-nie, many small chikei

Ha: Wide suguha with shallow notare. There are many nie, and a bright and

       clear nioi-guchi

Boshi: a long yakiba which is straight with a komaru and long return (kaeri)

 

Among the most famous Osaka Shinto sword smiths are Inoue Shinkai and this Tsuda Sukehiro (the 2nd generation or ni-dai). This bladefs kitae shows  a tight ko-itame hada, thick ji-nie, and fine chikei. The hamon is wide, with a thick nioiguchi, and in a suguha style with many nie and shallow notare. Usually, Sukehiro makes suguha style hamon  and toran-ba, which are not as wide as Shinkaifs, and his ji and ha have less nie, kinsuji and sunagashi. In addition, his swords appear more gentle, and hamon are shallow and contain shallow notare.

  This sword does not show many of the features expected from Sukehiro, and does appear more like Shinkaifs work, and many people voted for Shinkai as the maker which was treated as a good answer. Sukehiro has two gassaku swords (a katana and wakizashi) made with Shinkai, and in these 2 swords, Sukehirofs character is strong. However, this sword is the opposite and shows much of Shinkaifs characteristics, which could be expected because  Sukehiro was influenced by Shinkai.

 

 

No 3 Kantei To: Tanto

 

Mei: Bizen Osafune Morimitsu

         Oei 26 nen 2gatsu hi

Length: 8 sun, 7 bu

Sori: uchisori

Construction: Hirazukuri with mitsumune

Jihada: ko-itame mixed with ko-mokume, fine ji-nie. There is very clear bo-utsuri

            near the ha

Hamon: suguha mixed with ko-gunome. One side has more ko-ashi and yo,

             and more nioi with ko-nie.

Boshi: straight with komaru and with a shallow return

Horimono: On the omote, around koshi-moto there are horimono kanji for Hachiman Dai Bosatsu (god of war) with bonji. The ura has Marishisonten (a deity) kanji with bonji.

 

In the early Muromachi era in Bizen, people wished for a return to the Bushi culture from the Kamakura era, and made copies of swords in that style. Thus Oei Bizen swords show this influence. The Oei Bizen hamon is composed of wide gunome in which the bottom is wide, and the gunome are also mixed with frequent choji in an Ichimonji-like style. Another style is suguha mixed with ko-gunome and saka-ashi which is a good example of what was seen at the end of the Kamakura era in Osafune swords. This tanto has a suguha style hamon, and many people voted for the earlier era, Votes were for the Osafune sansaku, Motoshige, Unrui, and Aoe smiths. This sword was intended to look like Kagemitsufs style, but there are a couple of details in the shape which are different from Kamakura era tanto. Oei tanto are longer in proportion to their width, and also near the edge there are bo-utsuri. There are kanji and bonji horimono with the names of deities in the koshimoto area.

Morimitsu and Yasumitsufs  work and technique are both very good, and it is hard to judge which sword smithfs work this is. However,Yasumitsu made more suguha style swords.

 

 

No 4 Kantei To: Katana

 

Mei: Fujiwara Kiyondo

        Keio 2 nen 8 gatsu hi

Length: 2 shaku, 2 sun, 8 bu

Sori: 5 bu

Construction: Shinogi zukuri with an ihorimune

Jihada: masame hada with fine ji-nie and chikei

Hamon: chu-suguha, very shallow notare, tight nioi-guchi, many ko-nie. The

            inside of the ha is bright and clear.

Boshi: straight with komaru and a long return (kaeri). The kaeri part of the boshi

            shows strong hakikake

 

This sword has a wide mihaba, and there is not much difference between the motohaba and sakihaba. There is a shallow sori, an okissaki, no hiraniku, and a thick kasane. This is a very heavy sword, and in comparison to the size of  the mihaba, the shinogi-haba is very narrow. From these characteristics, we can conclude that this blade is a shinshinto sword, and look for a sword smith who made good masame hada during this period. This leads to a clear answer too. Kiyondo is known to work in two styles: one is Kiyomarofs style gunome-midare, and the  other is a Yamato Den style with masame hada and suguha which is not the type of work typically seen in his school. There are a couple of sword smiths besides Kiyondo who are known to use masame kitae. The Mito school with Tokukatsu, and Masakatsu , and sometimes Taikei Naotane and Gassan Sadakazu, and a very few swords by Sa Hideyuki, but they are all in different styles. So at the beginning, many people voted for Tokukatsu and Masakatsu, but most of their swords are longer, do not have much sori, have an even thicker kasane, and their masame hada is rougher, and the inside of the  ha has hataraki, more prominent sunagashi, a slightly low nioi-guchi, and the boshi has more hakikake. Yukihidefs shapes are similar to Kiyondofs, but his nioi-guchi is more dense, and there are more sunagashi and kinsuji, and his swords do not have this kind of tight suguha. Kiyondo used his teacherfs style: no hiraniku, and the kissaki fukura has a relatively straight shape. In this kind of Yamato Den style, a dense nioi-guchi is rare, there is usually a tight nioiguchi,  ko-nie, not too much hotsure and sunagashi, and a bright nioi-guchi. Also, the boshi kaeri has hakikake which looks like it was drawn out or combed out, and this is Kiyondofs characteristic feature.  

       

 

No. 5 Kantei To: Wakizashi

 

Mei: Suifushi (Mito) Ichige Tokurin

         Bunsei 6 nen 2 gatsu hi

Length: 1shaku, 2 sun, 2.5 bu

Sori: 1.5 bu

Construction: hirazukuri with an ihorimune

Jihada: ko-itame hada which is very tight and almost mu-hada, and frequent ji-nie

Hamon: straight yakidashi, and above the yakidashi the hamon is ogunome-midare

              with ashi, thick nioi, frequent ko-nie, and a bright nioi-guchi.

Boshi: straight with ko-maru and long kaeri (return)

 

From the ko-itame-hada which is very dense and appears almost mu-hada, one can judge that this sword was made at the end of the Edo Shin-shin-to period. At this time, the sword smiths who worked in the Osaka Shinto Nidai Sukehirofs toranba style using o-gunome are Suishinshi Masahide and his students Kato Tsunahide and Tsunatoshi, Tegarayama Masashige, Ozaki Suketaka and his student Ichige Tokurin. This hirazukuri tanto has a good shape and the yakiba and nioiguchi are bright and there are very even nie. At that time, Tokurin was known as one of the sword smiths who made the best toranba, and this sword is very well made. Although many people voted for Masahide, Masahidefs nioi-guchi are not as clear as this, and sometimes from the ha into the ji, rough black nioi are visible. Sometimes, Masashigefs midare hamon, at the top and bottom, are transformed into a togari shape. Tsunahide and Tsunatoshif s nioi-guchi is tight and sometimes Suketakafs midare hamon become square in the bottom portions. Usually, Tokurinfs hamon are o-gunome with a one (small), two (middle), or three (large) repeat pattern or rhythym, and this sword shows a little bit of this kind of pattern.

 

 

 

 

 

Answer and Discussion for Shijo Kantei To

Number 616 (May issue)

 

 

In the May issue, the answer for the Shijo Kantei To quiz is a sword by Higashiyama Yoshihira.

 

There are several opinions concerning the origin of Higashiyama Yoshihira. One is the Umetada Myoju, school, and other is the Umetada Myoshin school. It is hard to decide precisely when he was most active, because there are not too many of his swords available today and it is rare to see a dated sword.

  Some of Yoshihirafs swords are dated during the Kanbun and Enpo eras, and some Edo  sword books list his active working time as Genroku, Hoei, and Shotou. The Kyohabutae, a journal or publication written in Kyoho 2 (1685) listed his swords. From these facts, we can guess that his active working time was the Kanbun and Enpo eras to the Teikyo and Genroku eras, and because of this, there is a strong likelihood that Yoshihirafs teacher was Umetada Shigeyoshi.

He made many wakizashi and  fewer long swords. His long swords are similar to this sword which has a wide mihaba, and the moto- and saki-haba are not much different. There is a deep sori and a long nakago, which is similar to the Teikyo to Genroku Shinto shapes. Because he was working at this time, he must have been influenced by the styles used in that period. Yoshihirafs jitetsu shows a tight ko-itame hada which is sometimes mixed with nagare-hada, and his hamon are a notare style mixed with gunome, and gunome midare. This swordfs hamon is a toran style from the kissaki to the nakago. The hamon is also composed of gunome or choji shaped like half yahazu choji, and this is known as his characteristic hamon. This is called Higashiyama Yoshihirafs katayahazu-midare. Some of  his swords are katayahazu-midare from the moto to the tip, and this sword has a notare and gunome hamon mixed with katayahazu-midare and this style is often seen. Many of these swords have straight yakidashi, the boshi-yaki is long, the boshi kaeri is long and this is also part of his characteristic style. His nakago-saki (tip) is kurijiri, the yasurime are shallow katte-sagari.In addition, his nakago yasurime start in a very low position on the nakago , on both the omote and ura sides around the mekugi-ana. This sword has two mekugiana, and the upper one is the original one. As you can see, in Higashiyama Yoshihirafs swords, the  distance from the  ubu nakago-ana to the machi is shorter than the width of  three fingers. In other words, the distance from the ubu-ana (the original mekugi ana) to the machi is shorter than usually seen in swords, and this is another characteristic of his work.

    Most mei are in a peculiar rei-sho (formal) style and signed Higashiyama ju Yoshihira with five kanji characters. Another mei is Heianjo ju Yoshihira saku, and he later changed his name and signed Higashiyama Sousetsu and Oei Keiryu. One Edo period sword book claimed that he signed Oe Takamitsu, but this fact is not considered well founded today. Most people knew Higashiyama Yoshihirafs name, but not many have seen his swords, and very few are dated; in addition the identity of his teacher and his active working dates are not well established. Thus, there is much that is uncertain about this smith. Also, the name Higashiyama Yoshihira suggests a relation to the nobility and a sophisticate. Yoshihira changed his name often, and there is also a story that he named himself Echizen Daijo and was expelled by his teacher (this story is not confirmed). All of these mysterious stories made him a popular sword smith, but there are many fake Yoshihira swords, and real ones are very rare. Because of this, it is unusual to see his work in  a shijo kantei, but once you look at the oshigata and the hints, you can see that he has many distinctive characteristics. In other words, he is a sword smith who has a very strong personality, such as Noda Hankei.                                

 Once most people understood these facts, they voted for the correct smith.

 

The Shijo Kantei explanations were given by Hinohara Dai.