ISSUE 625

                         FEBRUARY, 2009


                          Meito Kanshou

                Appreciation of Important Swords


Classification: Juyo Bijutsu Hin


Type: Katana



Orikaeshi-mei: Sadatsuna 

Length: slightly over 2 shaku 3sun  (slightly over 69.7 cm)

Sori: 5 bu 7 rin (1.74 cm)

Motohaba: 9 bu 7 rin(2.95 cm) 

Sakihaba: 6 bu 2 rin(1.87 cm)

Motokasane: slightly over  6 rin (0.49 cm) 

Sakikasane: slightly over 1bu (0.33 cm)

Kissaki length: slightly over 9 bu 6 rin (2.92 cm)

Nakago length: 6 sun 9 bu 7 rin (21.2 cm)  

Nakago sori: slightly over 6 rin (0.2cm)



   This sword is shinogi-zukuri style with an ihorimune (the mune angle is sharp). The mihaba slightly wide, and there is a wide shinogi-haba. The width at the saki and moto is different. There is a slightly deep sori, and a chu-kisaki.  The jihada is itame mixed with o-oitame, and mokume. The hada is very clear, there are thick dense ji-nie, frequent fine chikei, and the jihada appears dark.  The hamon is primarily ko-midare mixed with ko-gunome, gunome, ko-choji, and appears to be ko-notare. There are scattered nie ashi, small kinsuji, fine sunagashi, dense nioi, frequent ko-nie, and the nioiguchi appears soft.  The boshi is a shallow notare, and yakitsume. The nakago is suriage, and is  orikaeshi (that is part of the original  nakago was folded up to preserve the mei when the nakago was shortened). The saki-kiri has two types of yasurime: the newer yasurime are kiri, but the old yasurime are o-osuji chigai, and there are three mekugiana.

   This sword was classified as Juyo Bijutsu Hin in May, 1943, and at that time, people read the mei as being by a Sekishu school g Sanatsunah who was the son of Naotsuna and was active from the Nanboucho to Muromachi eras. However, at the present time, examinations of this mei and style have lead to new  questions about the swordfs identity, and it is now considered to be made by different smith.

     First, looking at the mei on  a Sadatsuna (from Sekishu) which was made around the Oei era and is classified as Juyo token, the Sada and Tsuna kanji are made with different styles of chisel work (tagane tsukai) from this mei. In particular, on the tsuna kanjifs left side bottom we want to look at the 4th and 6th strokes, and on the interior of the right side we want to look at the  3rd, 4th, and 6th to 8th strokes and examine differences. When we compare this with mei 1, 2, 3, and 4, which are supposed  to be Ko-hoki mei, the mei from the No 1 and 2 examples show a Sada kanji in which the first stroke and overall shape are similar. For the Tsuna kanji, examples No.1 to 4, on the left side the 4th to 6th strokes, and on the right side the  3rd, 4th, 6th,7th, and 8th strokes are made in a giyaku tagane style, which shows the same tagane tukai (chisel style) as this sword. The nakago yasurime is o-osujichigai, the same as this sword, so we can conclude this this is a Ko-hoki Sadatsuna sword. Also, this sword has itame hada mixed with o-oitame, mokume, and a dark jihada, and the hamon is ko-notare mixed with gumone, ko-gunome, ko-notare, dense nie, and has kinsuji and frequent sunagashi. All of the hada is clearly visible and soft appearing, and this is a characteristic Ko-hoki style. The hamon has high and low areas in the yakiba, and  here and there, the hamon become active and exuberant, and this is a characteristic of Sadatsunafs style. The Ko-hoki school was founded by Yasutsuna and his son Sanamori, and his students Aritsuna, Sadatsuna, Yasuie, and Sanakage followed them and were active at the end of the Heian period up to the beginning of the Kamakura Period. Their style is similar to Ko-bizen, but shows a somewhat wilder or less disciplined appearance, and their work does appear  different from Ko-bizen.


( Explanation by Hiyama Masanori, and oshigata by Ishii Akira)



                           Shijo Kantei To No.625


*For Shijo Kantei To No.624 (in the January issue) the answer is Tsushima no Kami Tsunemitsu.


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


Type: Katana



Length: 2 shaku 4 sun 9.5 bu (75.6 cm)

Sori: 5.5bu (1.67 cm)

Motohaba: 1sun 7 rin(3.25 cm)

Sakihaba: 7 bu 6 rin (2.3 cm)

Motokasane: 2 bu 5 rin (0.75 cm)

Sakikasane: 1bu 7 rin (0.5 cm)

Kissaki length: 1sun 2 bu 5rin (3.8 cm)

Nakago length: 7sun 6.5 bu (23.18 cm)

Nakago sori: very slight



This sword is shinogi-zukuri style sword , has an iori mune, usual mihaba,  and the width at the moto and saki are different. This is a long sword with a low shinogi-suji (line), a very shallow sori, and a slightly short chu kissaki. The jitetsu is a tight ko-itame hada, with dense ji-nie, fine chikei, and the shinogi-ji has a strong masame hada.   The hamon and boshi show occasional nijuba, and there are frequent gunome and ashi. The overall appearance of the hamon is small with a dense nioiguchi, abundant nie, and there are kinsuji, fine sunagashi, and a bright nioiguchi. The nakago is ubu, the tip is shallow iriyamagata, the yasurime are sujichigai, there is one mekugi-ana, and the omote side on the side close to the mune, there is a long mei under the mekugi ana. 







                     Tokubetsu Juyo Toushingu

                                         Especially Important Fittings


Okina yasuri Tou-jingasa Sukashi Tsuba ( yasurime go toward center of circle)

Mei: mumei Hikozo work


    Okina yasuri are file marks which have a radial pattern and all go towards the center of an object.  A tou-jingasa is a type of Chinese hat.

        In Edo times, the Han or feudal system produced distinctive cultures in each province, and sword mountings reflect this. There are many schools which developed at that time and which originated distinctive local styles. In particular, in early Edo times, the Higo Kinko artists Hayashi Matashichi, Hirata Hikozo, Nishigaki Kanshiro, and Shimizu Jingo had excellent artistic sense and were very highly skilled. Higo Kinko work was developed and established under the influence of the first Higo Han lord Hosokawa Sansai Tadaokifs excellent artistic sense. Tadaoki worked under Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu, and at the battle of Sekigahara, he was known as one of the brave warriers in the battle. He was born in the distinguished Hosokawa family which was one of  the Muromachi Bakufufs bureaucrat families, and he was known as a culturally sophisticated man along with his father Yusai Toukou. They were known for expertise in waka (poetry), yuusoku kojitsu (old literature), and tea ceremony. Tadaoki was also one of  the tea master Sen Rikyufs jutesu (i.e. ten best students). Rikyu established efwabi chaff which is less decorative style of tea ceremony which is very quiet, and seeks to promote intense meditation. Higofs toso (sword mountings) and toushingu (fittings) received a strong influence from wabi cha tea ceremonyfs subtle artistic sense. This Hikozo tsuba is a good example of this. He used copper and radial yasurime to define the tsubafs shape, and also painted it with black urushi. The brown red ground mixes well with the radial yasurime and black urushi, and even though this is metal, it look like an old ceramic with a subtle surface appearance such as ceramic work from Shigaraki, Bizen, and Tanba, and presents a warm feeling. Also, Hisozofs original and continued juzu style Odawara fukurin (the copper rim around the tsuba) is very elegant, and from this, we can feel the effect of the wabi cha style of tea ceremony.       

(Explanation by Iida Toshihisa)    




               Teirei Kansho Kai For the New Year


The swords discussed below were shown in the January meeting at the NBTHK headquarters building. This discussion presents the 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 their shira saya tsuka). After examining the 5 swords, the meeting attendees must decide who they think made the 5 swords which were available for examination, and submit a paper ballot with these names. The 5 swords seen in the January 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. This lecture and the explanations were provided by Kubo Kyoko.




Kantei To No.1



Mei: Bizen Osafune ju Chikakage

Length: 2 shaku 1 sun 4.5 bu

Sori: 7 bu

Design: shinogizukuri

Mune: ihori mune

Jihada: itame mixed with mokume and nagarehada. The hada is visible, there are dense thick ji-nie, fine chikei, and midare utsuri.

Hamon: suguha mixed with ko-gunome, kaku-gunome, ko-choji, there are occasional saka-ashi, ashi, and yo, the nioiguchi has ko-nie, and ther are fine sunagashi.

Boshi: a little notare, with togari, a small return (kaeri), and komaru.


This is a narrow tachi shape with a small kissaki and the ji has midare-utsuri, so some people voted for Ko-bizen work. However, old Ko-bizen sword shapes become uchizori around the tip, and the hamon is mainly komidare, and the dark part of the utsuri is uneven. But this sword does have Bizen blade characteristics such as a strong sori and has koshizori, and even the tip has some sori. From this, and the kasane, we can decide that this is a late Kamakura Period Bizen sword. The hamon is suguha mixed with ko-gunome, ko-choji, and kaku-gunome, and here and there we see saka-ashi. From these details we can narrow the smiths to Kagemitsu and Chikakage. Chikakage belongs to the Nagamitsu school, and was active a little after Kagemitsu, and sometimes Kagemitsu swords look like daimei by Chikakage. They are very similar to each other, and the styles are similar, but the jitetsu, ha-nie, and boshi are slightly different. Kagemitsufs jitetsu are tight fine itame hada, and bright, and he has some of the most refined jitetsu among the Osafune smiths. Chikakagefs jitetsu is shows more hada in contrast. Chikakage has more frequent ha-nie, and his boshi are not as good as the sansaku boshi (the sansaku boshi refers to Nagamitsu, Sanenaga and Kagemitsu). From these characteristics, you can judge this work as being Chikakagefs. Many people voted for Nagamitsu and Sanenaga, but their tachi do not have kaku-gunome, and saka-ashi, and most of their ashi are straight (perpendicular and not slanted), and Sanenaga has a tighter or denser nioiguchi. Besides these almost correct answers, some people voted for Unjo, but his utsuri are dark iregular jifu utsuri, and the boshi is more round, and the bottom half  of his midare yakiba is more quite when compared to the upper part. 



Kantei To No.2



Mei: oite Nanki Shigekuni tsukuru kore

Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 4 bu

Sori: 5 bu

Design: Shinogi zukuri

Mune: Ihori mune

Jihada: Tight itame mixed with mokume. The ura shows nagare hada and the hada is visible. There are thick dense ji-nie, and frequent fine chikei.

Hamon: Shallow notare, there is a yakidashi, and above the yakidashi the hamon shows gunome, ko-notare, and choji. There are ashi, yo, a dense thick nioiguchi, frequent nie, kinsuji, sunagashi, and yubashiri type tobiyaki, and a bright clear nioiguchi.  

Boshi: Around the yokote it is yakikome, and straight. The omote is round and the ura is ichimonji style, both sides are yakizume (there is no kaeri)  and hakikake


  This sword has a wide mihaba, and the width at the moto and saki is not much different. There is a slightly thick kasane, a long chukissaki, some funbari, and from the shape, this is ubu and we can judge it was made around the Keicho Shinto period. Also, the shinogi-haba is wide for the swordfs mihaba. The shinogi is high, the ura has nagare hada, and the boshi is yakizume and has hakikake. From these characteristics, one could judge this as a Yamato Den work. Nanki Shigekuni has two types of style, one is an old Soshu Den style and has the Momoyama Periodfs very lively feeling. The other style is a Yamato Tegai school style from the Yamato Den where his home town was located. This sword shows the Soshu Den style. The hamon is mainly a midare style, the ji and ha have thick nioi, there are chikei, kinsuji, sunagashi, and the ha is bright and clear. This is a successful work in the style  of  highly ranked Soshu Den smiths. This is a Soshu Den sword, but still has Yamato Den characteristic, and these are important factors in judging this sword. Also, many of Shigekunifs jitetsu have clear well separated large oval mokume, and the jitestu and boshi are slightly different on the omote and ura,  and these are characteristics of his swords.

At the vote, many people saw these characteristics and had the correct answer, but some people voted for Kotetsu and Okimasa. From the yakikomi around the yokote, and the fact that the ji and ha are clear, it is understandable to vote for Kotetsu, but the shape is different from someone who was active around the Kambun era, and one cannot see the Yamato Den fin these later smiths. Okimasafs characteristic hamon show a double gunome pattern in his and he has has rough nie.   



Kantei To No 3



Mei: Sa

Length: 7 sun 4 bu

Sori: very slight

Design: Hirazukuri

Mune: Mitsu-mune

Jihada: itame mixed with mokume, dense ji-nie,  chikei, and white utsuri

Hamon: chu-suguha, few ko-ashi, nioiguchi has ko-nie, and is bright

Boshi: Straight: the omote is a nijuba type, and the ura is kuichigai-ba. On both sides, the tip is sharp, and there is a komaru with a long return (kaeri).


Samonji was called Taisa, and he was one of the Chikuzen smiths, who descended from Ryosei, Seiren and Jitsuami. Before this blade, his swords had a soft appearing dark jitetsu and narrow suguha which were in the classic Kyushu style, so this Samonji sword is different from the previous ones. It is accepted that he developed his new style. He has two swords, which are dated 

Kenbu 5 and Ryakuo 2 and the Kenbu sword is saiha or retempered. So it is necessary to look at the other one, and this one was made in the old Kyushu style. We are not sure when he established his Samonji style with a smooth jitetsu, a primarily midare hamon, and with both, the ji and ha being bright and clear. There is one tanto by his student Yukihiro, which is signed Kanou 1 (a Kokuho tanto which is owned by the Tsuchiya family), this appears to be in the Samonji style, so we can guess  that the Samonji style changed after Ryakuo 2 and before Kanou1 during this 10 year period. We can guess that this tanto was made slightly after Ryakuo 2. This is suguha, but the ji and ha are bright and the jitesu is smooth, the ha is clear, and the boshi is sharp with  a defined kaeri or return. From these characteristics, this is one of Samonjifs transition period tanto. This is a difficult tanto to judge in a kantei to, and people voted for all kinds of smiths who made suguha tanto. Some people voted for mid to late Kamakura smiths,  Rai Kunitoshi, or the Awataguchi school. During the Nanbokucho period, Samonji tanto become small, and the same as those of Shizu Kaneuji and Nagayoshi, and look like Kamakura era tanto. But look at carefully, the thin kasane and slight sori which indicates that this was made in a different era. Some people voted for a  Sue koto Rai utsushimono, but at that time, the kasane is thicker for the mihaba, the tip has a small kasane and a thin fukura, and the boshi follows the hamon, and return does not show a soft appearance.    


Kantei To No. 4



Mei: Itakura Gonnoshin Terukane

         Enpo 8 nen 2gatsu kichijitsu

Length: 2 shaku 4 sun 6.5 bu

Sori: slightly less than 4 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: tight ko-itame, thick dense ji-nie, fine chikei

Hamon: the moto has a straight yakidashi,and  above this the hamon is a toranba style with o-ogunome-midare. Some parts show a yahazu style choji. There are long ashi, thick nioi, frequent nie, kinsuji, sunagashi, and a bright, clear nioiguchi  

Boshi: wide,  and straight with komaru


From the date and signature, this was made right after Terukane changed his name form his former name  Echizen no kami Kanesada, and the hamon style is that of Tsuda echizen no kami Sukehiro with a toranba style gunome midare. The toranba midare hamon continued to be used by Osaka shinto smiths, Terukane, Sukenao, Ikkansai Tadatuna, and by later the Shinshinto smiths Suishinshi Masahide, Kato Tsunahide, the Tsunatoshi brothers, Tegarayama Masashige, Ichige Tokurin and Ozaki Suketaka. Looking at the exact shape of the toranba, the smiths who made slanted wave shapes were Sukehiro, this Terukane, Suketaka, and Kato brothers. The smiths who did not use a slated shape, but mainly an o-ogumome midare hamon are Sukenao, Suishinshi, Tegarayama, and Tokurin. Terukanefs slanted hamon has large high and low parts, so some parts of the hamon form a yahazu style and katayama style, and this is his characteristic style. Also, other characteritics of Terukane are three continued gunome just below the yokote, sunagashi everywhere over the yakiba which is  different from Sukehiro and Sukenao, and thin hiraniku for a smith in this period, and ihorimune is sharp. These are his typical characteristics, and most of the people voted for the correct answer. Other people voted for Shintou toranba smiths like Sukehiro, and Sukenao. Beside these differences mentioned above, Sukehirofs swords have a thicker nioiguchi, and the ji and  ha are bright and clear. Sukenao was active during the Teikyo and Genroku periods, and his swords have a more pronounced sori.          




Kantei To No. 5



Mei: Kuniyoshi (Enju)

Length: 2 shaku 2 sun 2.5 bu


Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: ko-itame mixed with mokume. The entire ura side is nagare hada. There are dense ji-nie, fine chikei, and white utsuri.

Hamon: suguha style, shallow notare mixed with ko-choji and ko-gunome. There are ashi, yo, ko-nie, fine kinsuji, sunagashi, and the top of the yakiba has yubashira type tobiyaki, and some parts of the hamon have nijuba.

Boshi: Shallow notare. The ura side has kuichigai-ba. On both sides, the tip is nie kuzure and the ura become a nijuba style.


This blade has a slightly narrow shape, and the width between the moto and saki are different. There is a strong sori, and small kissaki, and from these characteristics some people voted for older swords. But if you look at the important facts that the tip does not have uchizori, and that the shape is wazori (nakazori), many people decided to vote for Rai Kunitoshi and Rai Kunimitsu. This swordfs ji and ha are bright and have hataraki typical for Enju work and this is a well made sword. Thus, it is understandable that some people voted for the Rai school, because Rai Kunitoshi has an elegant shape, and Rai Kunimitsu has a variety of midare hamon. Also, the jitetsu is not masame hada which is often seen in Enju school work, and  the omote has a refined hada, and the ura is nagare hada. This type of jihada are seen on Rai swords sometimes. In addition there is a very strong yubashiri type tobiyaki, and some nijuba, and this kind of hamon is seen in work from Rai Kunimitsu. So from this sword, it is understandable to think that the Enju school ie related to the Rai school. However, the utsuri are not nie utsuri which follows the yakiba, and the nie inside of the ha are not even, the ashi and yo are quiet for this variety of hamon, and the boshi becomes nie kuzure and has some nijuba. From these characteristics, one can judge this as being Enju work. Among the Enju school smiths, there are no distinctive smiths, and if you judge this as Enju, it is acceptable. Among the smiths in this school, Kuniyoshi has various types of bright hamon, and shows a high level of skill,  so ther were many votes for Kuniyoshi. Some people voted for Kunimura and Kunitoki. Kunimurafs swords are longer, and their jihada are very visible. Many of Kunitokifs hamon are suguha and have less hataraki.      



Shijo Kantei No 623 (December, 2008 issue)


The Answer for the Shijo Kantei To Number 623 (December, 2008 issue) is Shodai Musashi Daijo Korekazu


Nakasone and Hojoji are Edo Shinto school, and among these, the Edo Ishido school has fewer swords. In particular, Korekazu has few remaining swords compared to Dewa no kami Mitsuhira and Tushima no kami Tsunemitsu. Korekazu  has very few swords signed and dated, and there are signed swords from the Manji and Kanbun periods, and his active period was the Kanbun Shinto period. His shapes are different from Mitsuhira of the same school, who used Kanei to Shoho period shapes. Korekazu usually has a Kanbun Shinto shape, and this sword has a strong sori.   

His jitetsu is sometimes itame mixed with masame, but usually itame hada  become a strong nagare hada, like a type of masame hada, and there are midare utsuri. Among the Edo Ishido school, Mitsuhira and Tsunemitsu have high and low choji midare, and the choji show all kinds of shape and variety. Some parts of the hamon are very high, and almost reach the shinogi ji. Korekazufs choji are small when compared to these smiths, and have characteristic  saka ashi, and often, inside of the ha there are fine sunagashi. Mostly his His boshi are mostly shallow notare-komi ,and tip is komaru like on this sword, or straight with a komaru,which is often seen in Edo Ishido school work.

  Although it is not certain, the Ishido smiths either did not have good techniques for making horimono, or the snobbish Edoites did not have a high demand for horimono. Or possibly these smiths wanted show high flamboyant choji hamon which means that there was not enough of the soft ji surface available on which to make a horimono. Korekazu, Mitsuhira, and Tsunemitsu among the Edo Ishido smiths have almost no swords with horimono, except for bohi.  This swordfs nakago saki is kurijiri, but most of Korekazufs nakago are shallow iriyamagata, and the yasurime are katte sagari. The swords are signed on the omote under the mekugi on the mune side of the nakago in the midle of the shinogi ji. He used a large long mei inscribed with a large chisel or an o-tagane. Also, Korekazu, Mitsuhira, and Tsunemitsu in the Edo Ishido school have no kinzogan saidan mei swords which many school have at this time, and this is one of their characteristics. Judging from Mituhirafs signature, they used to live in the Akasaka area, and at this time most of the sword smiths lived around the Kanda area. The juzuba style midare hamon (in which the nioi habuchi resembles a uniform line of beans) was most popular among the Edo shinto schools, and the Ishido school was the only one which used choji hamon, and had no kinzougan saidan mei These facts suggest that they may have had strong characters among the Edo smiths. Most of the people voted for Korekazu, and a few people voted for Tsunemitsu which is almost correct. This sword has large choji for a Korekazu sword and is flamboyant. Tsunemisu used a smaller choji midare besides big choji, so voting for him is understandable, but his masame hada jitetsu are not strong, his hamon do not have much saka ashi, and a lot of his nakago saki are shallow kurijiri.      


Explanation provided by Hinohara Dai.