APRIL, 2009




Meito Kansho:

Examination  of Important  Swords


Classification: Juyo Bunkazai

Blade type: Katana


Mei: Nakasone Okisato nyudo Kotetsu 



Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 5 bu (slightly over 71.2 cm)

Sori : 4 bu 6 rin (1.4 cm)

Motohaba (width at the machi): 9 bu 9 rin (3.0@cm)

Sakihaba (width at the point): 6 bu 6 rin (2.0 cm)

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

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

Kissaki length: 1 sun 9 rin (3.3 cm)

Nakago length: 6 sun 8 bu (20.6 cm)  

Nakago sori: very slight


  This is a shinogi-zukuri style sword with an ihorimune (and the mune angle is sharp). The  saki-haba is narrow relative to the motohaba ; there is shallow sori, and a chu-kissaki.The jihada is a tight ko-itame, and around the machi there is a nagare  ohada mixed with the ko-itame hada. The entire sword has fine ji-nie, a slight amount of chikei, and a beautiful bright hada. The hamon has a short yakidashi, and from there, the yakiba is a shallow notare mixed with gunome, frequent thick ashi, and here and there, yo, dense nioi, frequent konie, some sunagashi, and a bright clear nioiguchi. The boshi just under the yokote has a deep yakikomi, and the omote is straight with a shallow komaru return. The ura side is komaru with a slightly deep return. The nakago is ubu, and the nakago jiri (tip) is kurijiri. The yasurime on both the omote and ura sides are kattesagari. There are two mekugi ana, the omote mune side has fine tagane and elegant style Ioki Nyudo Hakotora signature (this means that the bottom part of the gOkih kanji has strokes which resemble the gIh in hira kana).


  Nakasone Okisato nyudo Kotetsu was a very famous smith who is representative of Eastern Japan in Edo, and even today many sword collectors greatly appreciate his swords. Studies of Kotetsufs work began in Taisho 15 with Sugihara Shozou who published gNaksone Kotetsu Kenkyu (study)ff. The book showed his nakago mei with photos and this was revolutionary. After this, in Showa 30, Honma Junji and Sato Kanzan wrote the hKotetsu Taikanh(which was revised and republished in Showa 49 ) and in Showa 47, Ogasawara Nobuo published hNakasone Kotetsu Shinkouh. As a result of these books` publication, the studies of Kotestufs work was greatly advanced. The place of his birth and date are not certain, even today, but before he become a sword smith, he definitely was a katchushi (armor maker). His swords` signatures show dates from Meireki 2 to Empo 5, Feburary, and he died around Empo 6. Today he has 5 bunkazai swords, included this sword, and one of these is owned by the Wakayama Toshougu Museum, and 4 of them are owned by individuals. One blade has a date of  Kanbun 11, and rest of them have no date, but these were made around Kanbun 11 to Empo 12. This sword was made around Empo 2, and the ji and ha are very well made, and the whole yakiba shows a leisurely smooth appearance, and there is dense nioi and frequent ko-nie.  This sword was made during the peak of his work, and the condition is very good. The sword produces an impression of having  a large volume,  and this is typical of his swords.

  Kotetsu is representative of  the Edo smiths, but the most of the collectors who possess his swords are in the Kansai (Osaka) area, which is surprising.         


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




Shijo Kantei To No.627


*Note: the answer for Shijo Kantei To No. 626 (in the March issue) is a katana by Soshu Tsunahiro.


Deadline for the submission of answers for the No. 627 Shijo Kantei To in this issue is May 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 To card which is attached in this issue. We will accept cards with answers for this issuefs kantei which are postmarked on or before May 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. 627:


Blade type: katana




Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 5 bu (69.84 cm)

Sori: 5 bu (1.52 cm)

Motohaba: 1sun 2 rin (3.1 cm)

Sakihaba: 6 bu 4 rin (1.52 cm)

Motokasane: 2 bu 3 rin ( 0.7 cm)

Sakikasane: 1bu 3 rin ( 0.4 cm)

Kissaki length: 1 sun 9 rin (3.3 cm)

Nakago length: 7 sun 1.5 bu (21.66 cm)

Nakago sori: very slight


The sword is a shinogi-zukuri katana with an ihorimune, a slightly wide mihaba, and a difference in width between the moto and saki areas.  There is a slightly large sori and a chu-kissaki. The jitetsu shows a tight ko-itame hada, and the hada is visible. There are frequent ji-nie and fine chikei, and midare utsuri, The hamon and boshi have frequent ashi, dense nioi, thick nie mixed with rough (ara) nie, kinsuji, sunagashi, and nie suji. The nakago is ubu, there is one mekugiana, and the omote side towards the mune, there is a long signature, and the ura has a three line saidanmei.   



Juyo Toshingu


Botan shishi zu fuchi kashira: a fuchi and kashira with images of lions (shishi) and peonies (botan)


Mei: Toshinaga (kao)


After the Genroku era, in Edo, in the toso and kinko world, the Yokoya and Nara schools were at the center of this type of work, and they set a new tone and became very active. In particular, Toshinaga was one the oldest artists among the Nara sansaku (three best artists) who were Toshinaga, Yasuchika and Joui. Toshinaga was a pioneer in the Yokoya school along with Somin who worked in the Edo machibori kinko style.  Kano Natsuo wrote in his book, Chokindan, about Toshinaga. He stated that his chisel strokes were sharp, clear, magnificent, and natural. His style shows a quiet elegance, and he is the number one master of the Nara sansaku. This is a very nice piece and supports his reputation. This kashira has an unusually high shishi takabori. But the main shishi or lion is small, and on the side, and besides that, a gently cut botan (peony) is present, and this makes this novel style takabori work appear pleasing and not excessive. The shishi is small and curved and formed with sharp strokes, and is very dynamic and very elegant looking.         


Explanation provided by by Iida Toshihisa.   




March Kansho Kai:

March Sword Appreciation Meeting


Kantei To number 1:


Blade type: wakizashi


mei: Omi daijo  Fujiwara  Tadahiro

length: 1 shaku 7 sun 4 bu

sori: 3 bu


   This is a shinogi zukuri, ihorimune wakizashi. The jihada is a tight ko-itame, with thick fine ji-nie, a fine rice powder (konuku) hada, frequent fine chikei, and a clear hada. The hamon is chu-suguha, with some shallow notare, many ko-nie, and the nioiguchi is clear and bright. The boshi is straight and there is a komaru return.

   This sword`s hada is a tight ko-itame, there are many ji-nie, the hamon is a ko-nie style, and there is straight belt-like suguha nioiguchi, and this is a very distinctive style, and many people voted for this as a Hizen sword on the first vote, which is very good. Many of the Hizen smithsf hada are slightly dark, rough and visible, but this jigane is fine and shows a well made suguha, and from this characteristic, this should be a main stream work from the sandai smith. In comparing the sandai with others, the shodai Tadayoshi has more ashi and yo in the hamon , and the widths are wide and narrow. Nie appears in the ji and his work appears dynamic. After the nidai smiths, the suguha become more orderly and smaller. If this is compared to the nidai Tadahirofs gentle suguha, the nie in the ji and ha are strong, and the jitetsu has thick dense ji-nie, frequent fine chikei, and a strong kitae hada, more than usual for his swords, and the ji and ha are bright and clear and not only the signature, but also the style is slimmer , so a vote for either the nidai or sandai is fine at this time.



Kantei To Number 2:



Mei: Sadaoki

Length: slightly less than 8 sun 6 bu

Sori: uchisori


   This blade is hirazukuri with ihorimune, and the ji is masame hada. In places there are kitae-ware, thick ji-nie, fine chikei, and a clear hada. The hamon is a narrow suguha, mixed with ko-gunome and ko-notare, and the entire hamon is in nie, with occasional rough nie, and kuichigaiba. There is a short straight tobiyaki, and around the monouchi  area the hamon becomes wider. There are frequent ko-nie and sunagashi, and around the machi there is yakikomi. The boshi has frequent hakikake, and the hamon stops at the tip.

   The mihaba and kasane are normal, and from the uchizori style tanto shape, we could judge this as a late Kamakura blade. The entire jihada is masame hada, and has fine thick ji-nie and chikei, and the hamon is suguha, with frequent ko-nie, and the habuchi has fine hotsure, sunagashi mixed  with kuichigaiba,  and there are short lines of tobiyaki along the hamon. Around the monouchi area, the yakiba is wider and the boshi has frequent hakikake, and these characteristics are from the Hosho-ha ( school) in Yamato den. The school`s kitae is masame hada with fine thick jinie, and from the monouchi to the boshi, there are nagare hada  and in places the masame hada is open, and this is characteristic for this school. From these characteristics, most people voted for Hosho-ha smiths, such as Sadaoki, Sadamune, Sadakiyo, and Sadayoshi.  The school`s smiths do not have individual  styles, and it is difficult to judge the individual smith`s work, so it is acceptable if you judge this as Hosho-ha work the late Kamakura period.  But because we do not Hosho Sadamune es signature on any swords today, it is better not vote for this name. Among the school`s smiths, Sadayoshi has many large swords, and Sadaoki and Sadakiyo have smaller normal sized swords. There are tanto which have yakikomi around the machi from this school, and besides here, this style is seen a few times in the work of Rai Kunitoshi and Shintogo  Kunimitsu.



Kantei To 3:



Mei: Izumi no kami Kunisada

         Banji 2 nen 2 gatsuhi nidaime saku kore

Length: 1 shaku 7 sun 4.5 bu

Sori: slightly over 3 bu


   This sword is shinogi zukuri and has an ihorimune. The jihada  is a tight itame, with thick ji-nie, and there are chikei. The hamon has a straight yakidashi, and the bottom half is choji mixed with gumome, and the upper half is notare, and has ashi, sunagashi, rough nie, and the nioiguchi is bright and clear. The boshi is straight and there is a komaru return.

   This sword is a little narrow, and the width between moto and saki are slightly different, the tip is narrow, there is a shallow sori, a short chu-kissaki, and this shape is a Kanbun Shinto style. This is a Nidai Kunisada ( Shinkai) sword, and has a Banji 2 nen date, but the style is different from his usual work. This has a straight yakidashi (the middle  of this area swells, and is a so-called  Kyo-yakidashi), and above it there is a choji hamon mixed with gunome, and this becomes a somewhat small midareba hamon. The upper half is a notare hamon, and the around monouchi, the yakiba is narrow and becomes a suguha style. The boshi is straight with a round return, and this is just like the Shin Kunisada style. So, most people voted for this as a Shin Kunisada, and from the style, we considered this to be a correct answer. A very few times, the Nidai Kunisadafs early works were in the same style as Shin Kunisada`s, and this is a good example of this. This is late Izumi no kami Kunisada signature which Shinkai  signed as a daimei,  and this is a very important reference item. There are dated swords from Keian 1, 8 gatsu kichijitsu (1648), Shoo 3(1654), Banji 2 nen 2 gatsu (1659) and Banji 2 nen in August.



Kantei To Number 4:



Mei: Kanemoto

Length: 2 shaku 1 sun 8.5 bu

Sori: 3.5 bu


    This is shinogi zukuri sword with an ihorimune.  The jihada is itame mixed with mokume, there are occasional rough appearing areas. The hada is visible, has ji-nie, and the entire blade has white utsuri. The hamon has a short yakidashi, gunome mixed with togari-gunome, sanbonsugi type gunome, ashi, a tight nioiguchi, and frequent ko-nie. The boshi omote is notare, and there is large round return with hakikake, and the ura is midare-komi, the tip has hakikake, and this becomes a togari type hamon with a shallow return.

   This is a slightly short sword, and has sakizori; the fukura is straighter than usual and has less hiraniku, and from this shape, we can judge this as a late Muromachi period sue-koto sword. The jihada is visible and flowing, and white utsuri is visible, the hamon is gunome mixed  with togariba, and is a sanbonsugi style, and from these characteristics, it is possible to judge this as a sue-koto Seki blade, and most people voted for Kanemoto and Kanesada (Nosada).  

   There are two different opinions as to whether the person who made this sword is the same person as Magoroku Kanemoto, or was a different parson. Some opinions are that he was Akasaka Kanemotofs father, or the Shodai Kanemotofs older brother, or Magoroku Kanemotofs student, and as of today we do not a clear decision about this. But judging from the swords, Kanemoto is a contemporary smith working at the same time as Magoroku Kanemoto, whose active period was around the Eisho, Daiei, and Tenbun eras. Their hamon, nakago, and signatures are similar to each other, and we can see that they are very closely related smiths. That why it is difficult to judge which Kanemoto made this sword and pinpoint a specific individualfs name. If you voted for Kanemoto (Magoroku or others, it is acceptable. There are many people who voted for Nosada, and this is understandable, but his hamon show more rounded gunome, have larger hamon, and the jihada is different from other sue-seki smiths, with a smoother finer jihada. In addition, their hamon do not use a sanbonsugi style, but a more changeable  togariba -gunome, and gunome-choji hamon, often with sunagashi.



Kantei To Number 5:



Mei: Banji 3 kanoene Yamato no kami Yasusada

         12 gatsu 3 nichi  tounotoki wakige-otoshi 12 gatsu (December) 27 nichi    


Kinzouganmei: Kanbun gannen (first year) 6 gatsu 19 nichi

                         Saidan kore Yamano Kaemonjo Nagahisa (kao)  futatsu(2) dou-otoshi

Length: 2 shaku 1.5 bu

Sori: slightly less than 3 bu


   This is a shinogi zukuri katana with an ihorimune. The jihada is a tight itame, and has thick ji-nie and chikei. The hamon is notare, mixed with gunome, and there are occasional square gunome. There are nie ashi, dense nioi, frequent ko-nie, and the nioiguchi is bright and clear. The boshi is straight with a komaru return.

   The width of the blade at the moto and saki is different. There is a chukissaki, a shallow sori, and from this shape, we can judge this to be a Kanbun shinto sword. Because there is a  strong masame hada on the shinogi ji, we can judge this as being the work of an Edo smith. At this time, the Edo smiths who made notare hamon mixed with gunome hamon and a high and low hamon areas are seen on either Yasusada or Kotetsufs early swords (Hanetora era).  This has a good kitae hada, and the nioiguchi is brighter than on Yasusada`s usual swords, so many people voted for this as being a work by Kotetsu. But if you examine the nioiguchi,  Kotetsu`s swords are better, and the nioiguchi is not clear enough here. Kotetsu swords have a straight yakidashi, and usually the yokote has yakikomi. Most of Yasusada`s swords do not have a yakidashi, the hamon is composed of a square type of notare, and around the monouchi, the yakiba is low and gentle. His boshi is slightly curved and follows the line of the fukura, and has a round return. The ihorimune shape has a sharp angle, and this sword has similar characteristics when compared to his swords, except for the boshi and the ihorimune.  Besides Kotetsu, some people voted for Okimasa and Kaneshige  among the Edo smiths,  and Miyoshi Nagamichi who`s work is similar to theirs, and a few people voted for Kashu Kanewaka. During the Hanetora period, Kotetsu made mixed gunome hamon, but his gunome are bunched in groups of two, there are thick ashi, a straight yakidashi, and on the boshi, the yokote has a strong yakikomi, and usually the ji and ha are brighter and clearer. Okimasafs gunome hamon show two or three grouped gunome with a continuous rhythm. Izumi no kami Kanesada swords have nie, a dense nioi suguha which is Inoue Shinkai style, or are mostly shallow notare mixed with gunome, and with ashi. Kazusa no kami Kaneshige  has mostly continuous gunome  which become juzuba, and they are made in a different style from this sword. Miyoshi Nagamichi es hamon have occasional irregular nie and strong sunagshi. Kanewakafs notare is square box style hamon, and it is understandable that some voted for him, but the inside of the ha has irregular nie, and the jigane is mixed with nagarehada.



  Shijo  Kanteitou No.625 ( February issue)


The answer for Quiz No. 625 is a sword by the Nidai Hojoji Masahiro


This is common mihaba, and the width at the moto and saki are different; there is a very shallow sori, a short chukissaki, and from this shape, we can judge this as Kanbun Shinto work from an Edo smith.

  In particular, in the Edo Hojoji school the width between the moto and saki areas show big differences, there is a very shallow sori and a stick-like shape, low shinogi suji, and an original tsukuri-komi, and these are characteristics of their work, and often we see a long sword just like this. Most of the school`s jitetsu are a tight ko-itame, there are thick ji-nie, fine chikei , and the shinogi ji has a clear itame hada, and this is a characteristic Edo smith style. Many of the Hojoji school hamon are a chu-suguha style mixed with many ko-gunome, and the top of the gunome are straight lines, and there are frequent ashi. But sometimes, just like on this sword, each gunome shape is clear, and the hamon forms a juzuba style, and if either of these are compared with a Kotetsu hamon, the entire hamon has a smaller size.

Sometimes, the top of the gunome hamon has nijuba, and this is known as a characteristic of this school.

Many of the school`s boshi are straight and have a komaru return, and sometimes there are frequent hakikake, but very few of them are above the yokote, and they have yakikomi and a komaru return which is called a Kotetsu boshi. The Hojoji school has few horimono, and only bohi and soehi are seen. The school`s smiths (exept for Yoshitsugu) made very similar styles, and it is a difficult to judge individual smiths` work. However, the shijo-kantei description showed a nakago image, and it has a shallow iriyamagata, and from this, it is possible to judge this as Omi no kami Masahirofs work. Most people voted for Masahiro. Many people voted for the shodai Masahiro, and his style and nakago are similar to the nidai`s work, and we accepted this as a correct answer. The shodai Masahiro signaturefs tagane tsukai has individual stresses, and a square type style, but the nidai Masahirofs mei have a more smooth tagane tsukai (chisel stroke style) and the whole appearance is more gentle.  Except for this almost correct answer, a few people voted for Kotetsu. His individual gunome  hamon are bigger,  have thick, long  ashi, and have an original  juzuba style. His ji and ha are brighter and more clear, and most of these swords have a Kotetsu boshi style, and a style similar to this sword from the Hakotora period, and the nakago are either ha-agari kurijiri (slanted to the ha side) or kuriji


Explanation provided by Hinohara Dai.