JUNE, 2009



Meito Kansho

Examination of Important Swords


Blade classification: Tokubetsu Juyo Token  

Blade type: katana

 Mei: Inoue Shinkai  

          (Kikumon) Empo 22 nen 8gatsu hi  



Length: 2 shaku 2 sun 9 bu (69.4 cm)

Sori: 5 bu 6 rin( 1.7 cm)

Motohaba: 9 bu 3 rin (2.83 cm) 

Sakihaba: 6 bu 9 rin (2.1 cm)

Motokasane: slightly over 2 bu 3 rin

Sakikasane: slightly over 1 bu 6 rin (0.5 cm)

Kissaki length: 1 sun 2 bu 6 rin (3.83 cm)

Nakago length: 6 sun 6 bu (19.85 cm)

Nakago sori: very slight



Shinkai was  the shodai izumi no kami Kunisadafs second son and was named Hachiroubyoe, and according to the Inoue Shinkai Taiken, he died in Tenwa 2 on November 9th, at the age of 52. The book also says he was born in Kanei 8. His farther Kunisada died on Keian 5, but before that, since Keian 2,  Shinkai signed swords with the same name as his father, Izuni no kami Kunisada. In Banji 2, there was a wakizashi, signed with the soe-mei gNidai mei saku koreh (made by the second generation). In Banji  4, he received permission from emperor to use the kikumon on his nakago. In the same year in Feburary, he added Inoue as his last name, and inscribed a large kikumon on the nakago ura side. On Kanbun 2, 8 gatsu hi ( a day in August), he started using simple kesho yasuri.  In Kanei 12, 8 gatsu hi ( a day in August), there are swords with two different signatures: Kunusada and Shinkai. So at this time he changed name, and there is a signed sword dated Tenwa 2, 8 gatsu hi. So,the Shinkai signature on his swords was only used during the last 11 years of his career. Today, Shinkai has two Juyo bunkazai swords dated Empo 4 and 5. The Empo 5 sword was a honohin ( donation) tachi mei sword  for Kibitsuhiko shrine  in Okayama). There are  5 Juyo bijutsuhin swords dated Empo  2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, and 3 tokubetsu juyo token, dated Empo 2, 3, and 4. All of these swords were made during the Empo era, when his work was admired and he was called the Osaka Masamune. Thus, at this time we can see that his work was highly developed and appreciated. This sword has a normal mihaba, and width at the moto and saki are different, it is somewhat short, has  a slightly large sori, a long chu-kissaki, the jihada is a tight fine koitame hada, there are thick jinie, frequent dense chikei, and the hamon is a shallow notare mixed with gunome, dense nioi, and there are abundant nie. In some places the nie are mixed with large (ara) nie, and the inside of the hamon has kinsuji. and The ji and ha are both bright and clear, the boshi has a wide yakiba and is in an ichimai style. The shape of the sword appears like a suriage form of an old Go sword. This sword has strong nie in the ji and ha, and more than on his usual work, and Shinkai is known as an excellent smith who uses nie among the Osaka Shinto smiths. This sword fully exhibits his high level of skill and it is one of his best works.         


 Explanation by Hiyama Masanori, and oshigata by Ishii Akira.




Shijo-Kantei To No.629


*NOTE: For the May issue No. 628, the answer is a tachi by Ohara Sanemori 


Deadline for the No. 629 kantei to is July 5th. 

Each person can vote for one smith. Write your name and address and your answer and send it to the NBTKH Shijo-Kantei. You can use the Shijo-Kantei card which is attached in this issue. Votes will be accepted which are postmarked on or before July 5, 2009.

If the sword smithfs name appears in different schools, please write the specific school, or prefecture where he worked, and if the sword smith has more than one generation, please indicate which generation you are voting for.



Type of sword: katana

Length: 2 shaku 4 sun 8 bu (75.14 cm)

Sori: 4.5 bu (1.36 cm)

Motohaba: 1 sun 9 rin (3.3 cm)

Sakihaba: 7 bu 4 rin (2.25 cm)

Motokasane: 2 bu 1 rin (0.65 cm)

Sakikasane: 1 bu 7 rin ( 0.5 cm)

Kissaki length: 1 sun 6 bu 5 rin ( 5.0 cm)

Nakago length: 7 sun 8 bu (23.63 cm )

Nakago sori: 7 rin (0.2 cm)


This is a shinogi-zukuri sword with an mitsu mune, wide mihaba, and the width at the moto and saki are not much different. There is a narrow shinogi ji for the mihaba on this sword. There is a high shinogi, a shallow sori, an o-kissaki, thin hiraniku, and has a relatively straight fukura. The jihada is a tight masame, there are fine jinie and chikei. The hamon and boshi have occasional yubashiri. There are ko-ashi, a bright nioi guchi, and ko-nie. The horimono on both the omote and ura are smooth bohi and soehi. The nakago is ubu, the saki is kurijiri, the yasurime are sujichigai, there is one mekugi ana, and the omote has a long mei between the mekugiana on the mune side, and the ura side has a date and a location. This smith has very few swords of this type which have yubashiri.   




Tokubetsu  Juyo Toshingu


Shochiku mon zogan tsuba Tsuba

Tsuba with an image of pine and bamboo


Mei: Umetada Myoju


Umetada Myoju is known as one of  gthe best three artist in the Momoyama erah  along with Kaneie, and Nobuie in the toshingu world. His family was working for the Ashikaga shoguns, and they did a lot of work to shorten and make swords suriage which was common at that time, along with making zogan mei, and toso kanagu. Myoju was a sword smith, and he was known as a founder of  the Shinto school and he was a very good toshin-bori smith ( carving or making horimono on swords).  Myoju has two types of tsuba, and one type is made of iron with raimon, and sayamon (geometric regular) patterns with some gold nunome zogan, which is a classic elegant Ko- Shoami style used since the Muromachi era. The other style uses brass or red copper for a base, and uses gold, silver and copper for hirazogan, with patterns of trees or vines such as grape, kunenbo hakugi, and shochiku mon (graphic patterns). These are very elegant and gorgeous typical  Momoyama period patterns.  This tsuba is in  a Momoyama style, using a brass as the base, and a stylized shochikumon pattern appears all over the tsuba, in hirazogan using shakudo, and silver. The base has all kind of ji-mura (uneven) patterns, and the red shakudo color is beautiful and just right. It is thought that the jimura pattern was made by using some kind of chemical, and the jihada looks very original and elegant. Also, the mimifs (rim) uchikaeshi (manner in which the rim is folded over the tsuba) and details are very well made, and demonstrates more creativity than is usually seen in this era.  The very dynamic stylized pattern exhibits  the same ideas and sense we can see in kimomo patterns at that time and this tsuba  shows the Momoyara erafs culture and spirit.


(Explanation by Iida Toshihisa)    




Teirei  Kansho  Kai For May


The swords discussed below were shown in the May 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 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 May 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 given by Iida Toshihisa



Kantei To No.1: wakizashi


Mei: Suishinshi Masahide (kao)

         Kanei 8 nen 2 gatsu hi

      : Nitta minamoto Jouseikun no motome ni ooji kore wo tsukuri gi wo motte korewo sinnzu.

Length: 2 shaku 8 sun 8 bu

Sori: 5 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihori mune

Jihada: tight ko-itamehada, thick ji-nie, and occasional areas with thick nie.

Hamon: straight yakidashi, and above the yakidashi it is o-gunome midare, which becomes a  toran style: there are dense nioi, frequent nie, some sunagashi, and the hamon is bright and clear.

Boshi: straight with omaru and return  


This blade has a yakidashi from the moto, and above that, it has gorgeous  toranba style ogunome, and the ji and ha are bright and clear. From these characteristics, this initially appears to look like work by Sukehiro and Echigo no kami Kanesada who were Kanbun era Osaka shinto smiths. But the shinogi haba (width of the shinogi ji) is narrow for the mihaba, and there is little hiraniku and a long chu-kissaki. From these details, we can judge this to be a Shinshinto era sword. At this time, Sukehiro es style of omidare toran-ba become popular again, and the smiths known for this kind of hamon are Suishinshi Masahide, Tegarayama Masashige, Ichige Tokurin, Kato Tsunahide, and Tsunatoshi, which have hamon with a slanted pattern(sometimes with a sharp slant), and between  hamonfs midare  waves, the valleys have  a small square shape. Masahide has very few swords which are typical toranba, and most of his hamon have round tops. In addition his ogunome hamon appear more calm than his midare hamon. This sword is slightly different from his usual midare hamon, and some parts of the hamon are similar to Suketakafs toranba, so some people voted for Suketaka, Tsunahide, and Tsunatoshi. But if you look at carefully at the ji and ha, this sword has rougher black nie in places. This is a major characteristic of hamon in Masahidefs oguome midare hamon, and his yakidashi is almost the same width as the hamon, and is straight (suguha). Other Shinshinto smiths who made toran midare hamon, such as Tegarayama Masashige, have hamon in which the tops and valleys become sharper, and the Ichige Tokurin hamon have repetitive rhythms using one, two, or three elements.  



Kantei To No. 2: tachi


Mei: Sanekage (Ko-hoki)

Length: 2 shaku 6 sun 1.5 bu

Sori: 9 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihori mune

Jihada: itame mixed with o-itame and a nagare masame hada with  a visible hada is; there are jifu and dense ji-nie, and a dark jihada with jufu utsuri,

Hamon: above the machi the hamon is, and above this it is a suguha hamon with komidare, ko-notare, and there are ko-ashi, yo, frequent nie, kinsuji, sunagashi, and the habuchi is hotsure.  

Boshi: the yakiba narrows, decreases, and disappears


This is a narrow blade and the width between the moto and saki are quite different. There is a high koshizori, fumbari, and tip has shallow sori, and an elegant tachi shape. From these characteristics, we can judge this to be no later than Kamakura period work. This swordfs itame hada is visible, and there are thick ji-nie, a kitae hada, and jufu utsuri. The main ko-midare hamon has frequent nie, and from these characteristics, at first impression this looks like  a Ko-bizen blade, but the jihada is a large itame hada which is not seen in Ko-bizen swords, and hada is visible, and mixed with jifu here and there, and the jigane appears dark. The Ko-bizen yakiba is suguha style and mainly ko-midare, but this hamon is komidare, mixed with ko-gunome, ko-notare, and the inside of the ha has more nie, and a soft appearance, and there are kinsuji, and sunagashi, which alteranate, and in places, the kitae hada is visible inside of the hamon and the whole sword appears rougher and older than Ko-bizen work. This is a Ko-hoki Sanekage tachi. This is different from Ko-bizen style work and has Ko-hoki characteristics, such as the narrow shinogi ji for the mihaba, the  hiraniku, and the moto is yakiotoshi which is very rare for Ko-bizen swords. Looking at these characteristics, one can judge this as a Ko-hoki sword. According to the meikan, Sanenaga worked in the Ohara Sanemori school around the Genko era, but today he has very few signed blades, so if you judge this to be a Kohoki smith,that is an acceptable answer.  


Kantei To No 3: tachi


Mei: Bizen Osafune Morimitsu

         Oei 12 nen 8 gatsu hi

Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 7 bu

Sori: 8.5 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihori mune

Jihada: itame mixed with mokume hada; there are dense jinie and midare utsuri.

Hamon: choji mixed with gunome; the bottom of the midare hamon is wider, there are ashi, yo, and nioi with konie.

Boshi: midarekomi; omote is komaru with a long return; ura is narrow with komaru.


This is a Oei Bizen Morimitsu tachi. During the early Muromachi era in the Oei period, the Bizen Osafune school produced the sword smiths Morimitsu, Yasumitsu, Iemitsu and Tsuneie,  and they made magnificent swords, and these smiths and their swords are referred to as Ooei Bizen. Their style is a revival of Kamakura era swords, and the form of their tachi mihaba is usual for the time. They also have koshizori which is an elegant Kamakura style, and they resumed making gorgeous choji midare hamon which was out of fashion for a while. This work is supposed to be modeled after old Kamakura era Bizen Ichimonji school work, and work by Mitsutada and Nagamitsu, and shows varied choji midare hamon with variations in the height of the choji. But you look at this carefully, this work has a little more sakizori standing  out when compared with Kamakura blades, and the kasane is thick for the mihaba; the jihada is itame mixed with mokume, and the hada is visible, and these characteristics are different from Kamakura period swords. Also, the hamon nioiguchi is tight compared to the older ones, and the habuchi looks harder. The bottoms of  the  choji and gunome midare hamon become wider, and this is called a koshihiraki hamon, and this is a big difference from oldthe Bizen swords, and is a characteristic of Oei Bizen work. Also, the ura side of the boshi is midarekomi, and narrow, with  a komaru and return, and on some other swords, the tip of the boshi is often a little sharp, and these are characteristics for this school. This sword has no bohi, but there are many Oei Bizen swords with bohi and soehi, and they finished the hi with a marudome shape above the habaki. This is a typical Oei Bizen sword, and many people voted for this as Morimitsu or Yasumitsu work and these smiths are representative of the school. Both smiths have a high level of skill, and are almost at the same level, and either one is an acceptable for an answer, but big rounded hamon like this are seen more often in work by Morimitsu than byYasumitsu.



Kantei To No. 4: katana


Mei: tsukuri Taikei Naotane

         Naniwa( Osaka), Tempo 8, chushu ( autumn )     

Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 3.5 bu

Sori: 7 bu

Design: shingi zukuri

Mune: ihori mune

Jihada: itame hada, frequent chikei, and some ji-nie.

Hamon: square type of gunome mixed with togariba and choji; frequent ashi, some parts of the midare hamon become a slanted or saka hamon; strong nioi with ko-nie.  

Boshi: midarekomi, komaru, and the tip is slightly sharp with a return


This is a Bizen Den Taikei Naotane katana. Naotane followed his teacher Suishinshi Masahide who stared a revival of swordmaking, and he made many Bizen Den and Soshu Den swords modeled after old time smiths, and among the Shinshinto smiths, he was one of most skilful smiths. This is a Naotane Bizen Den style sword, and the mihaba is  a little narrow, it has a deep sori, a chu-kissaki, and the hamon is a small square gumome midare. and from these characteristics, this is supposed to be modeled after Osafune Kagemitsufs work. Naotanefs Bizen Den swords usually have a wider mihaba than this one, a long kissaki which is a Nanbokucho shape, and bigger gunome just like Kanemitsufs style. Another Naotane style has wide bottom gunome which is a typical Oei Bizen style, and he worked in various styles. When he made Bizen Den swords, the jihada was a fine tight ko-itame muji type of hada, and even though his swords are Shinshinto work, many of them have midare utsuri, and a softness at the top of hamon which continues to become utsuri. The jihada on this sword is not a muji style which is his usual style, and more itame hada is visible, and there are frequent chikei, and no midare utsuri. From these characteristics, some people voted for an older period smith like Kagemitsu, or another Shinshinto Bizen Den smith. In the first impression, the shape is narrow and has a high sori like a koto blade, but because of the hardness of  the hamon nioiguchi and the long ashi which extend almost all the way through the hamon, we should judge this as a Shinshinto sword. Also, the utsuri is not visible, but on part of the hamon, the top of the hamon becomes smoke-like, and this is characteristic of Naotanefs Bizen Den style. 



Kantei To No. 5: tachi


Mei: Kuniyuki (Rai)

Length: 2 shaku 4 sun 6 bu

Sori:  9 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihori mune

Jihada:  tight ko-itame occasionally mixed with itame, and mokume, and there are thick dense ji-nie, frequent chikei, and nie utsuri.

Hamon: around the monouchi area it is suguha, and below that it is suguha mixed with ko-choji, and ko-gunome, and is ko-midare; there are ashi and frequent yo, dense nioi, thick ko-nie, and around the koshimoto top of hamon has small tobiyaki type yubashiri. 

Boshi: straight with komaru.


This has a deep sori, and the part of jihada is mixed with ohada, whole jihada is a refined tight itame. There is nie utsuri, and the hamon is suguha mixed with kogunome, and ko-choji. There are frequent ko-nie, and the boshi  is straight with a komaru and a gentle return, and these are characreristic Rai school sword features in the Kamakura era. The upper part of the hamon is suguha, but under that, the suguha is mixed with ko-choji, komidare, and ko-gunome, and has small sections of  midare hamon. The top of the hamon has uchinoke (small tobiyaki above the hamon which appear white), and some  small details form karimata (bird shape) hamon. The entire blade has a classic elegance seen in the Rai school. This is a Rai Kuniyuki ubu nakago with tachi signature. Many people voted for the Rai school, and especially for Kuniyuki, and besides him, some people voted for the  niji (2 kanji) Kunitoshi, Rai Kunitoshi, and Rai Kunimitsu. The niji Kunitoshi is similar to Kuniyuki, and has choji midare hamon mixed with choji and gunome which is the same as Kuniyuki, but his hamon are bigger and become more gorgeous when compared to Kuniyuki. The Rai Kunitoshi shapes are more  narrow and more gentle, and usually the hamon is a quiet suguha mixed with gentle choji and gunome. Also, the bottom half of the hamon has small yakiba dots, and this characteristic cannot be seen in other Rai school smith work, and this is an important point in voting for Kuniyuki. This blade has no smooth kakinagashi bo-hi and muneyaki which are characteristic Rai school features, and the utsuri is a slightly midare utsuri. From these features, some people voted for Ko-bizen work, but Ko-bizen shapes and jigane are quite different.  



Shijo Kantei No 627 (April, 2009 issue)


For Number Shijo Kantei To 627 (in the May, 2009 issue)

The answer is a Hizen no kami Yoshitsugu sword


 The mihaba is a little wide, and the width between the moto and saki are different, and there is a chu-kissaki and a Kambun Shinto shape. There is a continuous gunome hamon of the type which can be seen in Kambun and Empo time Edo Shinto swords, and many people voted for Yoshitsugu, and a few people voted for Nagasone Okimasa. Omi no kami Masahiro and Tajima no kami Sadakuni, who were Edo Hojoji school smiths, and their favorite styles were narrow suguha and chu-suguha style swords with continuous  ko-gunome, and on the inside of the ha there were frequent ashi. The shape of the gunome is clear, but the size of  the gunome is small. But among these smiths, only Yoshitsugufs gunome hamon are distinctive and bigger, and this is a Yoshitsugu characteristic. The top of the hamon is round and continuous, just like a Kotetsu juzuba style hamon. Yoshitsugu has another style hamon which has an up and down notare style mixed with gunome. Also, Yoshitsugu hamon have dense nioi mixed with rough nie, and have many kinsuji and sunagashi, and an imo-tsuru style niesuji ( continuous vine like bands of nie), along with strong hanie, and this is rare for Edo shinto smiths, and just like for Satsuma swords, these are characteristics of his style. His nakogo-saki (tip) is kurijiri, and the yasurime are kattesagari, and on the omote side, under the mekugiana and on the mune side there is a long signature, and this is also characteristic of his nakago style. Yoshitsugu was known to work in the Hojoji Masahiro school and the Hojoji Kunimasa shool, and around the Kambun era, he received the Higo no kami title and was active in Edo. Later, the Shimazu family invited him to work in  Satsuma, and after he returned from Satsuma, there are a few swords dated in the Empo and Genroku eras. We can judge that his active period was roughly in the Kambun to Genroku eras, and among the Edo Shinto smiths, Nagasone Okimasa was active at the same time, and this is slightly later than the main Hojoji school smiths.  They all made bo-utsuri in  a typical Kambun shinto style, but Yoshitsugu made many swords with  a high sori, probably because his main active period was a little later. Also Edo Hojoji smiths have many saidan mei, except for Yoshitsugu, and many of these saidan mei are in kinzogan (gold inlay), with the names Yamano Kaemon Nagahisa, and Kanjurou Hisahide. In Miyagi prefecture at the Shiogomori shrine  there is a wakizashi which Kanjurou Hisahide ordered from Yoshitsugu, so it is possible Yoshitsugu and Hisahide knew each other, but there are almost no sword saidan mei by Hisahide, and his swords have saidan mei by Takao Jindaiyu, and Mori Kosuke just like on this sword, however, unlike the Yamano family, these saidan mei are not in kinzogan (gold inlay), and sometimes it looks like Yoshitsugu carved the saidan mei himself. Okimasa was active at the same time, and many of  swords have a high sori, and inside of the ha, the hataraki are outstanding. This is similar to Yoshitsugufs work, but his swords usually have straight yakidashi on the koshimoto, and his juzaba hamon contain groups with two gunome, and the jihada has a tsuchiochi (the yakiire clay coating has been damaged) type of tobiyaki and muneyaki, and the hanie go up to the jihada. In his signatures, the first kanji is on the mekugi ana, or starts above the mekugi ana.          


Explanation and provided by Hinohara Dai