ISSUE 624,  JANUARY, 2009




Meito Kansho

Examination of important swords


Classification: Juyo Bijutsuhin

Blade type: Katana


Mei: Tsuda Echizen-no-kami Sukehiro 

         Enpo 7 nen 2-gatsu hi     



Length: 2 shaku 3 sun  3bu (slightly over 70.6 cm)

Sori : 4.5 bu (1.29 cm)

Motohaba (width at the machi): 1sun 2 rin (3.1cm)

Sakihaba (width at the point): 6 bu 7 rin (2.03 cm)

Motokasane (thickness at the machi): slightly less than 2 bu 3 rin (0.7cm)

Sakikasane (thickness at the point):  1 bu 5 rin (0.45 cm)

Kissaki length: slightly over 1sun 2 bu (3.64 cm)

Nakago length: 7 sun 3 bu 3 rin (22.2 cm)  

Nakago sori: very slight


  This sword is made in a shinogi-zukuri style with an iorimune(the mune angle is sharp). The mihaba is  a little wide, there is a high shinogi line, a thick kasane, and the width between the saki and moto are different, so there is fumbari. There is  slightly deep sori, and a long chu-kisaki.  The jihada is a tight ko-itame with  a fine hada, there are thick ji-nie, and frequent fine chikei, and a beautiful bright hada.  The hamon is a chu-suguha (middle sized gunome), and the upper part of the hamon is a shallow notare, with dense nioi, frequent ko-nie, and a bright clear nioiguchi. The boshi is large with a straight komaru return. The nakago is ubu, and the nakago jiri (tip) is saki-iriyamagata, the yasurime on both the omote and ura sides are o-osujichigai, with  a kesho finish, and there is one mekugiana.

  The nidai Sukehiro is known to have created the original toranba, who Kamata Gyosho (an important appraiser) admired as being the best Shinto sword smith. After Sukehirofs time, many smiths copied his toranba-midare, and even today, some smith still make swords in this style. Over the years, people were very attracted to the toranba-midare style hamon, from this, we can see that Sukehiro was considered to be the best smith at his time. Also, besides  toran-midare hamon, Sukehiro has produced great suguha swords in which the habuchi are very bright and appear like they are floating over the bladefs surface.    Today, there are 9 Nidai Sukehiro swords which have a high level classification. A Juyo Bunkazai is dated  Empo7 2 gatsu hi ( toranba, marutsuda mei), and there are Juyo Bijutsuhin swords which are dated Empo1, 11gatsu hi ( toran-ba, kakutsuda mei),  Empo 3 nen, 8 gatsu hi (toran-ba, marutsuda mei),  two swords dated Empo 5, 8 gatsu hi (toranba, marutsuda mei), Empo 7, 2 gatsu hi ( suguha style),  Empo 7,  8 gatsu hi (shallow notare), Empo 8, 8 gatsu hi (toranba), and Tenwa1, 2 gatsu hi (suguha style), and among many toran-midare swords which have received high classifications, there are several suguha swords which have also received a high rank classification. In the past, people said that there were great suguha swords during  the kakutsuda period, but this is not true. On his last dated sword which is dated Tenwa 1, the shape appears a bit weak, but it is a great sword. This swordfs  mihaba is wider and has a strong shape and a bright deep suguha nioiguchi, and appears very good. Some people used to speculate that the Bakumatsu periodfs great smith Sa Hideyuki used Sukehirofs suguha swords as examples.    


( This explanation was provided by Hiyama Masanori, and the oshigata was made by Ishii Akira.



Shijo Kanteito No.624


*Note: the answer for No. 623(in the December issue) is a Musashidaijo Sakon Korekazu sword.


Deadline for the submission of answers for the No. 624 issue is February 5, 2009 


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 February 5, 2009.

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 there are several generations for this smith, please indicate a specific generation.


Hints for Quiz No. 624:



Blade type: wakizashi




Length: 1 shaku 7 sun 4 bu (52.72 cm)

Sori: 3.5 bu (1.06 cm)

Motohaba: 1sun 2 rin (3.1cm)

Sakihaba: 7 bu 3 rin (2.2 cm)

Motokasane: 2 bu 6 rin (0.8 cm)

Sakihaba: 2 bu (0.6 cm)

Kissaki length:1sun 9 rin (3.3 cm)

Nakago length: 4 sun 5.5 bu (13.79 cm)

Nakago sori: none


The sword is a shinogi-zukurikatana with an iorimune, a normal mihaba, and a slight difference in width between the moto and saki areas.  There is a shallow sori and a chu-kissaki. The jitetsu shows a tight ko-itame hada, there is fine ji-nie, midare utsuri, and the shinogi-ji has masame-hada.  The hamon and boshi, have tobiyaki in places, and there are ashi, yo, a bright nioiguchi, and ko-nie. The nakago is ubu, the tip is a shallow kurijiri, the yasurime are kattesagari, there are two mekugiana, and the omote side on the center under the mekugi ana has a long mei.    


Juyo Toshingu


Kurikararyu-zu mitokoromono(three piece set with dragons)


Mei: mumei Yujo

Associated paper dated Genroku10. The cost was1500 kan, and there is a Renjo origami.        


  In ancient times in China, the ryu (dragon) was a symbol of the tenshi (king), and he used this for patterens on his ceremonial clothing and on the courts architectural details. The ryu is considered to be noble and conveys the meaning of dignity. In Japan, because of its appearance, the ryu is considered to be a symbol of bravery, and the bushi loved it. The shogunfs kinko Goto family used to use the ryu, which was created by the first generation Goto Yujo, as an important theme of horimono, and this theme was continued until the Bakumatsu era.  This work is a ryu motif midokoromono, and the 10th generation Goto Renjo judged this as being Yujofs work and he wrote a paper stating this along with  a very high price of 1500 kan.  This set belonged to the Tsugaru family for a long time.      

  Yujo is known for creating a new type of jigane or surface and rich composition with a  realistic pattern. He also created new techniques for carving, and later had a large influence on craftsmen who made sword mountings, and also on gold smiths. This set uses good quality gold, and each kurikara- ryu has a detailed and curved shape which expresses volume. In particular, the menuki are very well made, and the ryu is thick and very high, and the bottom is flat and round and the carving work or relief is deep, and this produces a very strong effect of volume. Also each scale and the stomach scales have a volume and strong curvature, and Yujo paid attention to small details. Notably, the ryufs eyes look at one spot, and are very sharp, and the ryu present a feeling of dignity. This technique and distinctive style is better than later the generations of Goto work, so we can understand why Renjo put a very high value of 1500 kan on it. There are very few of the first generation  Yujofs work extant, and most of them used to be owned by the Kaga Maeda family. Most Yujo works are seen later in later generations of  the Goto family. This is the first generation Yujofs work, and from itfs workmanship and itfs history, this is an important example for study.


Explanation provided by by Iida Toshihisa.   



Shijo Kantei No 622 (November issue)


Answer and Discussion for Shijo Kantei To

Number 622 (November, 2008 issue)


  In the November issue the answer for the shijo-kantei to was a tachi by Bizen Osafune Tsuguyuki from the Kosori school.


 This tachi has a standard mihaba, and there is a small difference in the width between the moto and saki areas. The sword is suriage with a high koshizori, and the tip also has some sori. For itfs mihaba, the sword has a thick kasane, and a slightly long chu-kissaki, and from these characteristics, we can judge this as being made around the end of the Nanboku-cho era. The active period for the Kosori school was fairly long, but at the end of the Nanboku-cho era, there are many swords with this kind of shape, or tachi with normal size mihaba where the width at the moto and saki are different, with chu-kissaki, high koshizori, and an upper half with sori. Around this era, there are many swords with itame hada mixed with mokume and nagare-hada, and the hada is clearly visible, and are thick bar –like chikei, jifu, and pale midare utsuri. The hamon are ko-notare mixed with many kinds of hamon such as ko-choji, ko-gunome, ko-togariba, square type hamon, and kataochi-gunome, and these become complex midare hamon, just like this sword, or like a ko-notare hamon mixed with ko-gunome, and ko-togariba, or like the Yoshii-school with round top continuous ko-gunome, or continuous sharp tipped ko-gunome and also examples where the entire hamon shows gyaku type kataochi-gunome. All of these hamon are narrow for the mihaba, and these are smaller sized swords. Kosori school boshi are midarekomi and the tip is sharp, just like this sword. Or they are midarekomi with a komaru return. The nakgo-saki (tip) is kurijiri, the yasurime are kattesagari, and the signature on the tachi are usually on the mune side of the omote with a long mei, and many of them have a date. Some people say that at end of the Nanbokucho era Bizen swords, which did not belong to the mainstream school, such as Kunimitsu, Nagayoshi, Morikage, and Motoshige, were called the Kosori school. However, if you consider the mainstream sword smithsf active period, Kanemitsufs from  Genkyo to Joji and Motoshigefs from Showa to Joji, the possibility is that both of these smiths were not active at the end of the Nanbokucho era which was the main active period for the Kosori school. Nagayoshifs last work was during the Koureki era, and Morikagefs was during the Oei era, and both of them were passed their peak times. Nagayoshifs swords in the Koureki era changed little when compared to his peak period swords, and Morikage made a few Kosori type swords at the end of the Nanbokucho era. Also Kanemitsufs student Masamitsu made swords similar to Kosori work and these were very similar to Kosori swords. At the end of Nanbokucho era, the mainstream Bizen smiths who were active during the Nanbokucho era had passed their peak period, and they are fewer of their own characteristics visible, and so there are many swords just like this, and it is possible that swords which are hard to judge from these schools were all called Kosori swords. Most of people voted for the Kosori school smiths Tsuguyuki, Moromitsu, and Hidemitsu. At the end of the Nanbokucho period the Kosori smiths worked in very similar styles, and it is hard to judge an individual smith from this group. Thus, if you voted for the Kosori school, it is a good answer. Besides Kosori, a few people voted for Masamitsu. But because he has many swords similar to Kosori work, this is also a good answer.     


Explanation provided by Hinohara Dai.