Issue Number 636

                           January, 2010



Meito Kansho


Classification: Tokubetsu Juyo Token

Type: Tanto

Mei : Noshu Gifu-ju Daido

         Shinano no kami Kunihiro


Length: 9 sun 4 bu 7 rin (28.7cm)

Sori: slightly over 6 rin (0.2 cm)

Motohaba: slightly over 8 bu 4 rin (2.55 cm)

Motokasane: 1 bu 7 rin (0.5 cm) 

Nakago length: slightly less than 3 sun 1 bu 7 rin (9.6 cm)

Nakago sori: very slight




This tanto is hira-zukuri, with a  mitsumune, wide mihaba, somewhat thin kasane, and in the center of the blade there is a shallow sori. The jihada is ko-itame and there is a visible hada. The ha and mune surfaces have a masame type jihada and fine ji-nie. The hamon has open bottom gunome mixed with a notare hamon, and the upper part of the hamon has a wide yakiba. The hamon is primarily a gunome midare hitatsura style and there are tobiyaki, a tight nioiguchi, ko-nie, and frequent sunagashi. The boshi is midarekomi, with a ko-maru, and the kaeri has a long midare hamon. The horimono on the omote is a bonji and suken, and the ura has bonji and a daikokuten. The nakago is ubu, kurijiri, with katte-sagari yasurime, and has two mekugi-ana. On the omote mune side of the nakago there are the Daido kanji, and on the ura mune side there are Kunihiro kanji. Both gassaku-mei kanji are smaller, and the long signature has a soft looking character. This is a Mino Daido and Kunihiro gassaku tanto, and  there is no date, but this is a good example of a sword which was made before Kunihiro moved Kyoto Horikawa. Daidofs former name was supposed to be Kunemichi, and he made an excellent sword and presented it to the Emperor Shogimachi, so he received the Dai title and he was named Dai Kanemichi. He later changed his name to Daido. He received the Mutsu-no-kami title around Eiroku 12. Kanemichifs (i.e. Daidofs)  sons are Iga no kami Kinmichi, Tanba no kami Yoshimichi, and Echu no kami Masatoshi and these are all good representatives of Keicho shinto smiths. This sword was supposed to have been made in Tensho 18 (1590), and at that time, in March,Toyotomi Hideyoshi departed from Kyoto to the Sagami-no-kuni Odawara castle, to fight with Hojo Ujimasa and Ujinao, the Hojo father and son. On April 3rd, Hideyoshi surrounded the Odawara castle. Also, in the same year around March, Hideyoshi ordered 2000 swords, and called silver smiths and saya makers living in Nara to Kyoto. This period  was the end of the civil war era, and Hideyoshi started to rule the entire country of Japan. In Tensho 18, Kunihiro has many swords, one signed in February gGo unbagirih ( Juyo-bunkazai), in May one was signed ghonsaku (made by) Chogi Nagao Kencho shoji (owned by)h which is a suriage katana (a Juyo Bunkazai sword, presently owned by the Owari Tokugawa museum). In August one is signed g Ashikaga-gakko uchih( made at a renown old school); a  wakizashi, and a tanto signed Fujiwara Kunihiro zaikyoji-uchikore (made while he was in Kyoto). From these, either Kunihiro on the way to the Kanto, or on the way back from the Kanto to Kyoto, is supposed to have stopped by Noshu Gifu, and made a gassaku with Daido. Concerning the time he stopped at Gifu, there are two opinions: according to the Kanzan Token Koza (a book) supposedly on the way to theKanto. According to the Tokubetsu Juyo paper which accompanies the sword, he made this sword on the way back from the Kanto. Also, this Daikokuten toshin horimono is close to Kunihirofs style and he was an excellent horimono artist.  The same kind of horimono is often seen in Tensho times, and they are well carved, and usually carved on the ura side. This is a Seki style sword, and still has a classic feeling, and shows a next generation Keicho shinto feeling. 


  (Explanation by Hiyama Masanori, oshigata by Ishii Akira)


Shijo Kantei To No.636


*For the Shijo Kantei To No.635(in the December issue) the answer is a katana by Magoroku Kanemoto.


Deadline for submission of answers for the No. 636 issue quiz is February 5th, 2010.

Each person can submit only one vote. Your name and address should be on the submitted answer and it should be send to the NBTKH Shijo-Kantei. You can use the Shijo Kantei card which attached in this magazine. Cards postmarked on or before February 5th , 2010 will be accepted.

If the sword smithfs with the same name worked in different schools, please write the school or prefecture in which the smith worked. If the sword smith has more than one generation, please indicate a specific generation.




Length: 8 sun 5 bu (25.76 cm)

Sori: uchizori

Motohaba: 8 bu 3 rin (2.5 cm)

Motokasane: 2 bu (0.6 cm)

Nakago length: 3 sun 3.5 bu (10.15 cm)

Nakago sori: very slight


This sword is hira-zukuri with a  mitsumune. It has a slightly narrow mihaba, a strong uchizori, and the fukura is poor.  The jihada is itame mixed with mokume, and the entire hada is visible. There is ji-nie, chikei, white utsuri, and the jihadafs color is dark. The hamon and boshi are as shown in the picture. The habuchi has abundant hotsure, and dense nie, frequent sunagshi, and kinsuji. The nakago is ubu. The nakago jiri is a very extended ha-agari-kurijiri shape (and the ha side of the nakago from the tip is beveled back extensively up the nakago), and the yasurime are a shallow kattesagari. There is one mekugi-ana, and the omote side has a signature. The first kanji is on the mekugi-ana, and the rest of the kanji are on the center of the nakago.    


Juyo Toshingu


Tora-zu menuki (menuki with images of a tiger)

Warikibata-mei (one kanji is signed on each menuki) Nagatsune (kao)


The tiger is a symbol of  a brave animal, the same as a dragon, shishi, and hawk, and the bushi families loved them, and often these images for toshingu. There are no tigers living in Japan, but people recognized such animals because there were books from China from early times, and also fur and pictures were available. The gNihon-shokih(a Nara era chronicle) and the gManyo-shuh( the oldest poetry in Japan from theTenpyo era) contains some descriptions of tigers, and during the bushi era after the Kamakura period and especially after the late Muromachi era, the bushi often combined images of animals and materials: for example gryu and torah (dragon and tiger) and gtake and torah (bamboo and tiger). These images were painted as byobu-e(paintings on screes or gbyobuh)). The artist Ichinomiya Nagatsune was one of the three best Kyoto kinko ( gold smiths) masters along with Ootsuki Mitsuoki, and Tetsugendo Shoraku. In Kyoto, he studied under the Goto school master Yasui Takanaga ( Kozan), and early in his career he signed Setsuzan, and later changed his name to Nagatsune. Nagatsune studied painting under Ishida Yuchin who was Maruyama Okyofs teacher, so his compositions are excellent.In particular, he was very good at sketching, and he worked with  many animal subjects, and in this father and child tiger menuki,  he carved thick solid gold and used shakudo zogan, and is a gorgeous piece. The side of tiger is round and has volume, and this shows a gracefully carve shape, and from this we can recognize his excellent composition and carving technique.            

 (Explanation by Iida Toshihisa)    





Shijo Kantei No 634 (in the November, 2009 issue)


Answer and Discussion for Shijo Kantei To

Number 634. The answer is a tanto by Uda Kunihisa.


This is a comon mihaba, and for the mihaba, this is a sunnobi tanto with a thick kasane, and a slight uchizori. From these characteristics, we can judge this as an early Muromachi tanto. The Uda school is one of branch of Yamato school, and their basic style follows the  Yamato Den work. Often, the  jihada is itame mixed with nagare hada, and hada is visible,  dark, and has white utsuri. The hamon is suguha with dense nie, and the habuchi has hotsure, kuichigaiba, and prominent sunagashi. This school is also known for a wide variety of styles, and in one of these styles, the hamon is a notare style, mixed with gunome, and has frequent nie, prominent kinsuji, and sunagashi, which resemble the work of the Etchu schoolfs founder Go Yoshihiro and Norishige. Other styles have hamon with open bottom midare, togariba, and the sunagshi inside of ha stands out. Some work is similar to the style of Fujishima Tomoshige, Nobukuni style suguha, and sue-Soshu style hitatsura hamon. Among this work, we often see examples just like this sword,: the jihada is a tight ko-itame, there is a refined kitae, and the hamon is a shallow notare style mixed with continuous gunome, a bright nioiguchi, and dense nie. People think that this type of refined sword, was made by students who learned from the Yamashiro smiths like Rai Kunimitsu, and Kunitsugu. This type of swords, contains stylistic details which include distinctive ha-nie in which each particle can almost be seen by eye, and bright nie, and this is one of the Uda schoolfs major characteristic features. Among the Uda school smiths, many of Kunifusa swords have a tight ko-itame, a bright refined jihada, and the hamon has a bright nioiguchi. Often Kunimunefs swords have a visible itame-hada, a darker jitetsu, and the sunagashi is prominent inside of the hamon. Kunihisa is not as famous as these smiths, but his jihada and hamon are bright and often very similar to Kunifusafs, and his good technique is recognized. The Uda schoolfs  tanto and wakizashi boshi are midarekomi, tsukiage, and the tip is sharp and there is a long return just like on this sword, (or the midarekomi tip has a sharp peak). This resembles the Samonji school, and this is one of their characteristic styles. Their tanto and wakizashi nakogo tips are broad wide tips with  kirijiri; the nakago mune is round;  many of  yasurime are katte-sagari; and the signatures are usually on the omote side, under the mekugi-ana along the center. In the Uda school, smiths use the gkunih kanji. Examples are Kunifusa, Kunimune, and Kunihisa, who often used four kanji characters such as g Uda Kunifusah. The schoolfs smiths also use the gtomoff kanji, like Tomotsugu, and Tomohisa, and they usually use two kanji characters in their signatures. Most of the people voted for the Uda school smiths  Kunifusa, Kunihisa, and Kunimune, These master smiths have some differences in their styles, but their  Uda school style has many similarities and the nakago styles are a single style, so we judged all of these smiths name as almost correct answers.In particular, we received many Kunifusa votes, and this sword is very similar to his, and the answer is understandable. Besides the correct answer, a few people voted for Rai Kunitoshi. Sometimes, he has tanto over 9 sun long, and very long tanto, but usually his tanto lengths are 7 sun to 8 sun, and his jihada have bo-utsuri. Also, his hamon do not have distinctive ha-nie, like on this sword, and his nakago tips are not wide, and are usually kurijiri.


Explanation provided by Hinohara Dai.