NBTHK Sword Journal

August,  2009




Meito Kanshou

Appreciation of Important Swords


This sword won the NBTHK Chairmanfs prize

for the Heisei 21 Shinsaku Meito Ten


  The Shinsaku Meito Ten is the annual exhibit and competition

for new swords


Type: Katana 

Mei: Shinano Kuni Kiyoyuki  

         Hesei 21, haru (spring)


Length: 72.1 cm (2 shaku 3 sun 8 bu)\

Sori: 2.4 cm (7 bu 9 rin)

Motohaba: 3.3 cm (slightly over 1 sun)

Sakihaba: 2.65 cm (8 bu 7.5 rin)             

Motokasane: 0.49 cm (1 bu 6 rin)

Sakikasane: 0. 33 cm (slightly over 1 bu)

Kissaki length: 5.45 cm (1 sun 8 bu )

Nakago length: 19.8 cm (6 sun 5 bu 3 rin )

Nakago sori: very slight



This is a shinogi zukuri sword with a wide mihaba, thick kasane, and the width at the moto and saki are not much different. It has a slightly deep sori and an o-kissaki. The jihada is itame mixed with mokume, and is a fine jihada. there are thick ji-nie and frequent fine chikei. The hamon is chu-suguha, has a shallow notare, and in places there are large midare. This is a gunome hamon mixed with choji, and there are long ashi, frequent ko-nie, abundant sunagashi, and some kinsuji. The boshi is a shallow notare with a  komaru and return. The nakago is ubu, the  nakago jiri is kurijiri, and the yasurime are a shallow katte-sagari, and there is one mekugiana. Kiyoyukifs given name is Furukawa Nobuo, and he was born in Showa 23 (1948) in Nagano prefecture. He graduate from Nagano high school and the Tokyo Science University where he studied physics. In Showa 47 (1972), he became student of the Miyairi Kiyohira ( Kiyomune) school, and on Showa 52 (1977) he received his sword smithfs license, and ten years later, he became an independent sword smith. He has been exhibiting swords since  the 14th Shinsaku Meito Ten, and he has received the Associationfs honorable chairman prize, the Associationfs chairman prize 3 times, the Sword smith associationfs chairman prize 2 times, the Kanzan prise, and 11 times he received the excellence prize, and 10 times he received the effort prize. He has also had one man exhibitions in his prefecture. For him, the ideal style is that of Shoshu den. His personality is very friendly, and he welcomes people very warmly.  At the present, he is working in Suzaka city, Nagano, and in Heisei 19, December, he received the title of Intangible Culture Asset from Suzaka city. He is optimistic for the future, and his success has depended on the help of his cityfs people.  Today, the situation is not easy for most sword smiths, and they need support from many sword enthusiasts.      


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



Shijo Kantei To No.631


* For No.630 (in the July issue) the answer is a sword by Ishido Unju Korekazu (dated Kaei 7)


The deadline to submit an answer for the No. 631 issue is September  5th. 

Each person can vote one time. Submissions must contain your name address and be sent to NBTKH Shijo Kantei To. You can use the Shijo Kantei To card which is attached in the this magazine. We will accept entries dated on or before September 5th.

If the sword smith can be found with the same name in different schools, please write which school or prefecture he worked in, and if the sword smith has more than one generation, please indicate a specific generation.


Sword type: katana



Length: 2 shaku 4 sun 5 rin (72.87 cm)

Sori: 7 bu (2.12 cm)

Motohaba: 9 bu 6 rin (2.9 cm)

Sakihaba: 5 bu 9 rin (1.8 cm)

Motokasane: 2 bu (0.6 cm)

Sakikasane: 1 bu 2 rin (0.35 cm)

Kissaki length: 9 bu 2 rin ( 2.8 cm)

Nakago length: 6 sun 8.5 bu (20.78 cm)

Nakago sori: very slight


The sword is a shinogi-zukuri sword with an iorimune, a usual mihaba, and the width at the moto and saki are  different. The sword is suriage, with a high high koshizori, the tip has sori, and there is a chu-kissaki.  The jihada is itame, mixed with occasional mokume, and the entire jihada is tight, has dense thick ji-nie, fine chikei, and a clear midare utsuri.  The hamon and boshi, have ashi, yo, and the entire hamon appears as a saka-hamon. There is a bright tight nioiguchi, and nioi type ko-nie. The nakago is suriage, and the nakagosaki was originally kurijiri, and the yasurime are katte sagari. There were three mekugi-ana, and one was filled. The omote mune side of the nakago has a long signature. 





These two tsuba were entered in the  Heisei 21, Shinsaku Meito Ten, and won the NBTHK Chairmanfs prizes.


First prize:

Kyokusui ni shidare-sakura(cherry blossom and running water)

sukashi kinzogan tsuba


mei: Chikuzen Wakamatsu Masaomi saku

        Heisei 21, kitae Yoshiaki

Nagamine Masaomi was born in Showa 22 (1947), and in Showa 57 (1982) he became a student of  Sasaki Tsuneharu (deceased) who had been working to recreate Higo tsuba. Nagamine mastered his teacherfs techniques, and he has an excellent command of Higo style techniques which include sukashi and kinzogan work.  This tsuba is based on Matashi chifs sukashi tsuba, and has a higo tsuba feeling. However, at the same time, it has a modern sophisticated composition, and the pattern has very little niku (volume), and that produces a warm feeling, and this is different from the old tsubas. This work has an

elegant style, and this shows the makerfs personality.



Second prize: Nagahisa no zu tsuba


Mei: Kazunari tsukuri


Naruki Kazunari was born in Showa 6 ( 1931) and studied under Takahashi Sukeshu, and he has been working to recreate old style iron tsuba such as Owari, Akasaka, and Kanayama styles. To do this, he has been collecting satestu (iron sand for making tama hagane) from all over Japan, and made iron with his own tatara, and tried to make old style jigane. In addition, he tried and successfully made surfaces with burned and rusted coloring using his own techniques, and he has established his original iron tsuba in the art world. In this tsuba he used this type of his own iron. This mimi and surface has dots which shows excellent technique, and the jigane has thick tetsu-sabi (iron rust), and the curvature is soft, and so it does not look like a modern made tsuba.        


 (Explanation by Iida Toshihisa)    



Teirei Kansho Kai For July

The swords discussed below were shown in the July 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 July 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 explanations were provided by Kurotaki Tetsuya.




Kantei To No.1: katana


Mei: Fujiwara Hirozane (Horikawa School )

Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 2 bu       

Sori: 6 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: iorimune

Jihada: itame mixed with mokume; hada is visible and has thick jinie, chikei, and there is mizukage above the machi.  

Hamon: shallow notare mixed with gunome; the entire yakiba is low, has ashi, frequent nie, kinsuji, and in places there are yubashiri tobiyaki.

Boshi: rather gentle notare, and on the omote it is togari; the ura is komaru with a  return

Horimono: the omote and ura have bo-hi, and are marudome above the machi.


This is a Fujiwara Hirozane katana. It has a wide mihaba, and the width at the moto and saki are not much different. There is a long chu-kissaki, and a shallow sori and this type of shape is seen in the Nanbokucho era or during Keicho times. But this balde has funbari at koshimoto, and above the machi the hi is finished with marudome, and a slight trace of mizukaze is seen. From these details, we can judge that this is not a suriage blade, and that the shape is an ubu sword. The jitetsu is a little rough, and the nioiguchi at yakiba is worn down, and the nie are uneven, and from these characteristics, it is not too difficult to judge this as Horikawa school sword. Voting for the Horikawa school is fine, and many people voted for Kunihiro. But for a Kurihiro sword, the boshi is not good enough, and his jitetsu is refined and graceful, and compared with his swords, this one is a little rough, and less well made. From these characteristics, Hirozanefs name comes out, but if people did not voted for Hirozane, Kunihiro is a good enough guess. 


Kantei To No.2: katana


Mei: mumei Chikakage

Length: slightly less than 2 shaku 3 sun 6 bu

Sori: slightly over 8 bu

Design: shingi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: itame mixed with mokume; a fine jihada is visible; there are ha ji-nie, and clear midare utsuri .

Hamon: mainly chu-suguha, mixed with ko-gunome, ko-choji; there are ashi, yo, strong nioi, ko-nie, and fine kinsuji. 

Boshi: shallow notare, and the tip is sharp with a return.

Horimono: omote and ura have smooth low bohi with ren-hi.


This is a typical Chikakage katana. Chikakage was an active smith at the end of the Kamakura and beginning Nanbokucho eras, which was a turbulent time ( historically some people define the Sengoku period as dating from the end of the Kamakura period).  He was working in the same school as Kagemitsu, and is thought to have been a junior student to Kagemitsu. He is supposed to have made daimei for Kagemitsu, and they were close to each other, and their styles are similar. But he was not as good a smith as Kagemitsu and their teacher Nagamitsu, and we should think about this point. This has a wide mihaba, and the width between the moto and saki are different, and it is o-suriage, but has a deep sori, koshizori, and tip has a little sori. From this shape, we can judge this as a late Kamakura sword. The jitetsu has clear midare utsuri, and the hamon is suguha style mixed with ko-gunome, and ko-choji, and has a strong nioi yakiba. The boshi is a shallow notare in the sansaku style, anad from these characteristics, we can judge this as coming from the  Kagemitsu or Nagamitsu school. If you look carefully, the jitetsu is little rough, especially, around the koshimoto, and Kagemitsu is known to have a very refined jitetsu, and from this, you hesitate judge this as work from Kagemitsu. The tip of boshi is sharp, and this is definitely not from Kagemitsu. But from the kitae and hamon and the overall style, this is a main stream Osafune sword, and among these, there is a high probability of it being Chikakage work. Some people voted for Nagamitsu. But if this was his work, the boshi should have been much better formed.



Kantei To No 3: katana


Mei: gakumei Masatsune

Length: 2 shaku 2 sun 5 bu

Sori: 8 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri,

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: tight ko-itame with ji-nie, fine chikei, and jifu utsuri.

Hamon: around the koshimoto it is primarily a choji style mixed with  ko-gunome, and on the ura side it is mixed with small clusters of large choji.  The upper part of the hamon is a choji style ko-midare mixed with ko-choji. The entire hamon has a high  yakiba, and has ashi, frequent yo, and nie. 

Boshi: straight and komaru with a return.

Horimono: omote and ura have smooth bo-hi.


This is gakumei Ko-bizen Masatsune sword. The Ko-bizen school has many styles which vary with the era, and a large number of smiths, and their styles are various and diverse. Usually, people imagine that   Ko-bizen swords have low (i.e. narrow) yakiba and are mainly ko-midare hamon. But on the other hand, there are Ko-bizen swords which have wide mihaba and gorgeous hamon. One of the characteristics of Ko-bizen swords is their diverse styles, and at this sword should be considered as one of these diverse styles.This sword has a wide mihaba, and the width at the moto and saki are not much different. Also, the tip has a sori, and the kissaki is an inokubi style. The jitetsu is refined, tight, and clear, and the dark part has jifu-utsuri, and from these two characteristics, the Bizen school name should come out. Looking at the hamon, the upper half is a Ko-bizen style, a classic ko-midare, and the lower part is mixed with big choji clusters, reminding us of the Fukuoka Ichimonji style which is the next generation. The moto and saki areas have even ha-nie, and this is a strong nie hamon sword. At the vote, because of the lower part of the yakiba, some people thought this was a later era sword. But if you look at the whole hamon, this is mainly ko-nie, and  it is not too difficult judge this as work by Masatsune.



Kantei To No. 4: wakizashi


Mei: Bizen no suke Munetsugu Kore wo tsukuru

         Koka 3 nen 8 gatsu hi

         Ichijo Hokyo ni okuru       

Length: 1 shaku 8 sun 1.5 bu

Sori: 5.5 bu

Design: hirazukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: tight itame mixed with mokume-nagarehada; there are dense ji-nie, and fine chikei.

Hamon: mainly gunome, mixed with round top gunome and choji; there are, frequent ashi, dense ko-nie, fine sunagashi, and the nioiguchi is bright and clear.

Boshi: straight shallow notare, komaru and a return.

Horimono: omote and ura have smooth katana hi


This is a Koyama Munetsugu tanto. This has a wide mihaba, is sunnobi, and a thick kasane, and the whole shape is strong. There are long ashi, which extend almost to the hasaki, and from these characteristics, we would judge this as a Shinshinto era sword. Looking at the jitetsu, it mixed with nagarehada, but is  a tight and refined hada. The hamon has round top gunome with nioi, and dense ko-nie, and they are spaced regularly and rhythmically. From these characteristics, it is possible to judge this as a Koyama Munetsugu sword. If this were a Kato Tsunatoshi sword, it would have straight yakiashi, and if it were Naotanefs work, it usually has utsuri and a square type of hamon. As the soe-mei shows, this wakizashi has a koshirae, with a scattered small pattern of the Goto familyfs kamon  gKyuyomonh, made by Ichijo. There are not too many Goto Ichijo works left today which were made around Koka 3, this could be a important piece to study his work. Also, there is an Ichijofs photo with this koshirae. This wakizashi and kanteito no.1 which is a Fujiwara Hirozane sword were formerly in the collection of the NBTHK chairman, Mr. Suzuki Kajou.   



Kantei To No. 5: katana


Mei: Nagayuki Settsukuni ni oite kore wo tsukuru

         Banshu Shiso ko-tetsu(iron) wo motte (used) kore wo tsukuru

Length:  slightly over 2 shaku 2 sun 9 bu

Sori: slightly over 6 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: tight ko-itame, with fine ji-nie, and midare utsuri

Hamon: choji mixed with gunome, and some togariba; there are ashi, yo, and a gorgeous midare nioi type of hamon; the nioi-guchi is tight and clear. 

Boshi: midare kome, sharp tip, and return.


This is a Tatara Nagayuki sword. The width at the moto and saki are different and it is easy to judge this as a Kanbun Shinto sword. Also, there is a hard hamon with a tight nioiguchi, but yo and ashi are not visible, and it has midare utsuri, and a tight jihada, and from these characteristics, it can be judged as an Ishido school sword.  This school included Nagayuki and Hioki Mitsuhira. But if this were a Mitsuhira sword, the hamon would not be as hard as this, and the boshi becomes straight and komaru. From these details, most people voted for Nagayuki. But if you judged  this as a typical Nagayuki sword, that would not be enough to appreciate the real value of this sword. The real value is understanding the meaning of the mei eShishiguri tetsuh or iron. The name of place, Shishiguri, is seen on a Bizen Kagemitsu and Kagemasa gassaku tachi dated Shochu 2. This mei includes Harima-kuni Shishiguri-gun Sanpou Nishi, and this means that already many people lived there. Also, looking for the original historical  name, in the 8th century, the Harima-kuni Fuudoki, says that the Anakuwa-gun, name is Anakuwa-mono, Iwa-daijin (god). And later the Anakuwa kanji was changed to Kanguri, and  the 10th century encyclopedia gWamei rui jushoh mentions gKanguri-gun Shisanamih. The location of Kanguri, is at the headwaters of the Chigusa river,  and is also written as Shishiguri. Later in more modern times, the name appeared on the Nagayuki swordfs mei.  But in medieval times, we are guessing that for shipping, they could not use the Chigusa river, and they used Ifuho river, or used mountain roads and the Yoshii river. Other opinions are that in medieval times, the Sanyodo (main mountain road) was already established, and possibly used (stated in the book by Enokibara Masayuki g Sanyodo in  late shuseih ( medieval times)), and also stated by Ishi Susumu in eeMedieval period villages and distributionff). Also, Nagayuki has a sword signed efChigusa tetsuh, and we can imagine that he was  interested in the iron made in the Harima-kuni mountains, and wanted to use it. Harima kuni  Shishiguri thus has a long history and tradition, and used to produced good iron.



Shijo Kantei No 629 (June, 2009 issue)


Answer and Discussion for Shijo Kantei To

Number 629 (June 2009 issue). The answer is a katana by Saito Kiyondo dated Ansei 4.


This sword has a wide mihaba, and the width at the moto and saki are not different. There is a narrow shinogi-haba for the swordfs mihaba, a shallow sori, an o-kissaki, thin hiraniku, and not much fuku, and from this shape, we can judge this as a Shinshinto period sword. Kiyondo has many gunome style midare hamon, just like his teacher Kiyomaro, and another style, where the entire jitetsu is masame, and the hamon is suguha which is Yamato Den, are these are seen often, just like as in this sword. This style is never seen in the work of his teacher and his school, and people think this is Kiyondofs original creation.

The other Yamato Den  swords often have a wide mihaba, but Kiyondofs Yamato Den has his usual narrow shinogi ji, and this is a one of his characteristic styles. Also, the entire jitetsu becomes a tight masame hada, and has fine jinie, and chikei. Usually, Yamato Den is suguha,with hotsure on the habuchi, and is mixed with kuichigaiba and nijuba, and has many nie, kinsuji, and frequent sunagashi. However, Kiyondofs Yamato Den is suguha with ko-ashi, a bright nioiguchi, with ko-nie, and the habuchi is tight, and there is not much hotsure on the habuchi, and not much sunagashi, and this is different from the usual Yamato Den swords. Sometimes, part of the jihada has yubashiri and tobiyaki, just like this sword. His Yamato Den boshi are often straight and komaru, or a shallow notarekomi and sharp tip and return, and both boshi have a concentration of hakikake on the return side, and this kind of hakikake is seen his Soshu Den swords, and this is an important point. Kiyondo has some naginata-hi with soe-hi and katana-hi with soe-hi, but his swords do not have much horimono, which is different from his older student Masahide. His nakagosaki are kurijiri, and the yasurime are sujichigai. He had many different layouts for his signature, and this sword on the omote mune side has a long signature extneding above and below the mekugi ana. The ura has a date and place, and most of time, on the omote mune side under the mekugi ana there  is a long signature, and on the ura there is a date. Most people voted for Kiyondo, and this is the correct answer. A  few people voted for Sa Hideyuki and Katsumura Tokukatsu.  Hideyuki has a masame hada sword which is entirely masame hada made around the Ansei period, but his masame hada becomes nagare hada and each masame element is thick, and looks like a stripe. His hamon is suguha style, and has frequent ashi, a dense nioiguchi, and thick nie, and a bright and clear nioiguchi. There are kinsuji and sunagashi, and his yasurime are sujichigai and kesho. Many of  Tokukatsufs swords are like Mito swords and are long, with a thick kasane, dynamic shape, and even his usual length swords have a thick kasane and high shinogi, and are very heavy. His hamon in suguha have frequent hotsure on the habuchi, and the worn down nioiguchi has frequent nie and sunagashi, and his yasurime become kiri.


Explanation provided by Hinohara Dai.