NBTHK SWORD JOURNAL
ISSUE NUMBER 637
Examination of Important Swords
Classification: Tokubetsu Juyo Token
Mei: Mumei Masamune (Meibutsu Oogaki Masamune)
Length: slightly less than 2 shaku 1 sun 1 bu (63.9 cm)
Sori : 2 bu 6 rin ( 0.8 cm)
Motohaba: slightly over 9 bu (2.8 cm)
Sakihaba: 6.5 bu (1.97 cm)
Motokasane: 1 bu 9 rin (0.58 cm )
Sakikasane: 1 bu 3 rin (0.4 cm)
Kissaki lenth: 1 sun 3 bu (3.87 cm)
Nakago length: 5 sun 1.5 bu (15.6 cm)
Nakago sori: very slight
This sword is a shinogi zukuri style sword with an iorimune, a slightly wide mihaba, a slightly thin kakane, and in the center region, the blade has shallow sori. The jihada is a tight ko-itame, there are dense ji-nie, fine chikei, and the ji and ha are clear. The hamon yakihaba is somewhat low, and it is in a suguha style mixed with ko-notare, ko-gunome. The pattern is a komidare, kuichigai-ha, and there are yubashiri, and fine sunagashi. The hamon varies, and the half bottom has nie surrounded by nioi, and the nioi-guchi is fluffy and clear. The boshi has a deep yaki, and formed in nie-kuzure (crumbled nie), the tip is slightly sharp, and the boshi continues to form muneyaki. The horimono on the omote and ura have smooth futasuji hi. The nakago is o-suriage, with a kengyo shape, the yasurime are sujichigai, there are two mekugi ana, and the sword is mumei.
According to the books gKanchiinhon Meizukushih and gNoamihonh, Masamune was a student in the Shintogo Kunimitsu school, and he was active at the end of the Kamakura era; he also improved the work of the Soshuden which Kunimune had founded. In his work, there was an emphasis on more chikei, kinsuji, and nie, and he established the Soshu style. In particular, Masamune used soft and hard hagane (steel) which have different amounts of carbon, and made excellent nie yakiba, and there is no question that he is a smith who helped established the Japanese sword as an art object. In the Nanbokucho era book gShinsatsuooraih, he was listed as a master smith at that time. Today, most of Masamunefs swords are osuriage, but there are ubu kotachi which have shumei (mei written in red ink later). These swords include a blade owned by the Kishu Tokugawa family in the past, and which received a Tokubetsu Juyo token classification at the fourth shinsa, and the tachi which is called Kinoshita, which has a signature (the Tokugawa shogun family owned this sword in the past, and it is classified as Juyo Bijutsu Hin). Masamunefs styles are mainly notare mixed with gunome with ashi and crumbled nie, ko-midare hamon mixed with ko-gunome and crumbled nie, and the hamon have alternations or variations such as wide and narrow yakiba areas with a few box shaped o-gunome midare, and these are mixed with a tanzaku shapes (oblong) hamon. Some of these hamon are mixed with suguha style hamon. These styles appear like they were influenced by older swords such as Kohoki or Kobizen. This blade is the Ogaki Masamune which is listed in the book gKyoho Meibutsuchoh which was published in Kyoho era in the early 1700s in th eedo period. At that time the book stated that this was owned by Uesugi Minbu Daisuke ( the sixth generation lord Yoshinori), and the origin of the swordfs name is unknown. In addition, where the sword came from before that is unknown. However, according to Tsujimotofs book g Zusetsu Token Meibutsuchoh, the name came from Todafs castle in Ogaki, Mino, and the sword was a gift from Toda Ujitestu to shogun Hidetada, and Hidetada gave it to Uesugi Kagekatsufs son Sadakatsu to celebrated his coming of age. This was described in an Owari Tokugawa family document, the gJojo okoshimono choh describing how some of Ieyasufs belongings were given to the gosanke (the three Togugawa families) and others when Ieyasu passed away. However, in Showa 48 (1973), Mr. Sato Toyozo, who worked for Tokugawa museum in Nagoya, found a document the gSunpu obutsumono token motochoh ( an original document describing Ieyasufs swords) in Mito Tokugawa familyfs records, and this document says that this sword used to belong to Ieyasu. Ujitetsu moved to Oogaki around Kanei 2, and at that time, Hidetada had already passed away, and so the old story was incorrect. Probably, the gOogakih name was given a long time ago. This sword has a gentle low yakiba in a suguha style hamon, and a fine beautiful jihada which has ji-nie and chikei. It has a very quiet, modest, and refined feeling, and is a very impressive sword. At the fifth Tokubetsu Juyo shinsa, the koshirae (a very good one) was not displayed for the shinsa, but this sword has a subtle sophisticated Edo period koshirae.
( Explanation and oshigata by Hiyama Masanori)
Shijo Kantei To No.637
*For Shijo Kanteito No.636 (in the New yearfs issue) the answer is a tanto by Fujishima Tomoshige.
The deadline to submit entries for the No. 637 issue is March 5th.
Each person can submit vote. Please include your name and address, and send it to the NBTKH Shijo Kantei. You can use the Shijo Kantei card which is attached in this issue of the magazine. Only entries postmarked on or before on March 5th will be accepted.
If the sword smithfs name is used in different schools, please write the school, or prefecture where he worked, and if the sword smith has more than one generation, please write a specific generation.
Length: 2 shaku 2 sun 9 bu (69.39 cm)
Sori: slightly over 7 bu (2.2 cm)
Motohaba: 9 bu 9 rin (3.0 cm )
Sakihaba: 6 bu 4 rin (1.95 cm)
Motokasane: 2 bu 6 rin (0.8 cm)
Sakikasane: 1 bu 7 rin (0.5 cm)
Kissaki length: 9 bu 9 rin (3.0 cm)
Nakago length: 6 sun 7.5 bu (20.45 cm)
Nakago sori: very slight
This sword is shinogi-zukuri, with an iorimune, and the mihaba is slightly wide. The widths at the moto and saki are different, a thick kasane, little hiraniku. The moto has funbari, ther is a deep sori, a chu-kissaki, and this is also a heavy sword. The jitetsu is a tight ko-itame which becomes muji, and there is fine ji-nie. The hamon and boshi are as seen in the oshigata: there are mostly long ashi, a tight nioiguchi, strong nioi with ko-nie, and kinsuji, sunagashi, and a bright nioiguchi. The nakago is ubu, the tip is a round shaped iriyamagata, the yasurime are osujichigai, and there are kesho yasurimei, one mekugi-ana, and the omote on the mune edge has a long signature. The ura side, slightly towards the upper area has a date ( this smith usually has many short yakidashi at the moto).
Yoshinogawa sukashi kinzogan tusba
Mei: Higo Yonemitsu Tahei Mitsumasa
Showa mizunoto ushi 86 sai (86 years old) saku
(made at the age of 86)
Sayu(left and right)warabite sukashi kirikarakusamon kinzogan tsuba
Mei: Higo Yonemitsu Tahei Mitsumasa
Showa kinoe tora 87 sai saku (made at the age of 87)
As a successor of the Higo kinko school during the Showa period, the deceased master Yonemitsu Tahei was the only parson who had the title of an intangible cultural asset (Living National treasure) in the toso kinko field. Tahei was born during Meiji 22 in Kumamoto. Master Yonemitsu was Tanobe Yasuhirafs grandson-in-law, who inherited the prestigeous Higo kinkofs Hayashi family technique, and he was active at the end of the Edo period into the Meiji period, and Yonemitsu Mitsumasa studied under him. We could say that he was one of the Higo kinkofs main-stream masters. But during the time he was learning, and later during his career , there was not much demand for these items. This situation was also similar to that for sword smiths at the time. Thus Mitsumasa had a difficult time during most of his career. This was especially true during WWII when using gold was prohibited, and he was drafted to work in a munitions factory,. During all of this time he could not work in his chosen field as a kinko craftsman. After the war, he started working again at kinko crafts and was active until Showa 55 at age at 92. He had received the living national treasure title sometime after the war. We could say that during his entire life, he tried to re-create Hayashi Matashichifs work and its inherent beauty. His compositions included nikudori (carving), sabizuke ( a rust based patina), and zougan (inlay). Both of these tsuba remind us of Matashichifs work, and these two tsuba shows his peak period techniques very well.
(Explanation by Iida Toshihisa)
Note: These tsuba are currently being exhibited at the Shin-shun Meitou Ten.
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 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 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 given by Ishii Akira.
Kantei To No.1: tachi
Length: 2 shaku 6 sun 1.5 bu
Sori: 9.5 bu
Jihada: oitame mixed with mokume; there is a jifu type of hada, and entire hada is visible.
There is dense thick ji-nie, frequent chikei, dark jifu utsuri, and the jihada is dark.
Hamon: the moto has yakiotoshi, and above this it is is mainly ko-midare; around the
monouchi it is ko-gunome mixed with ko-notare; there are frequent ashi and yo,
thick dense nie, and kinsuji , niesuji, and sunagashi mixed with the ha; here and
there the habuchi appears frayed, and around the koshimoto the nioiguchi and
the hamon is soft.
Boshi: this has almost disappeared and is not clear
This sword has a high koshizori, funbari, and the entire blade is narrow. The widths at the moto and saki are different,there is a small kissaki, and elegant tachi shape, from these characteristics, we can judge this as being work from the end of the Heian to early Kamakura era. The jihada is a large patterned itame hada, and the entire hada is a visible, less refined hada, and is mixed with jifu type hada. The entire jihada is dark, and the hamon has a strong yaki-otoshi area above the machi, and is mainly a ko-midare hamon. Around the monouchi there is a different hamon pattern which shows ko-gunome and ko-notare, and inside of the ha there are very thick nie. In places inside of the hamon kitae-hada appears and is visible, and is mixed with kinsuji, niesuji, and sunagashi. This work has a country feeling (i.e. it is not from a mainstrream school) and is dynamic looking. In examining this swordfs omote and ura side hamon, Honma Kunzan sensei said that this kantei to No.2 Masamune sword was copied or influenced from the Kohoki style. Also, the hiraniku is large for this time, and these are characteristics and feelings of the Kohoki style. This is an Ohara Sanemori schoolfs Sanekage tachi with a Juyo Bijutsuhin title. Sanekage has only three swords in existence which have a signature including this one, and it is difficult to narrow down a selection to this name from the characteristics of this sword. For this reason, if you view this as work by Yasutsuna, the main smithfrom this school, it is considered a good answer.
Kantei To No.2: Katana
Mei: mumei Den Masamune ( Meibutsu Musashi Masamune )
Length: 2 shaku 4 sun 4 bu
Sori: slightly less than 4 bu
Style: shinogi zukuri
Jihada: itame mixed with mokume; the entire hada is visible, and in places there are
jifu hada; there are thick dense ji-nie, and frequent chikei.
Hamon: ko-notare mixed with gunome, togariba, and yahazu choji: In places a square
type of hamon. On the omote side there is a low yakiba, and on th eura side
thereare large and small big midare waves along the hamon. There are ashi,
yo, dense nioi, dense thick nie, sunagashi, kinsuji, tobiyaki, yubashiri, and in
places there are muneyaki.
Boshi: midarekomi, with a round return. On the ura side, the fukura area and the return
area (the kaeri) join together and form a round open shape in the center of the
Horimono: the omote and ura have smooth bohi cut though the nakago, and the tip of the
hi is very low.
This is the Meibutsu Musashi Masamune sword listed in the efKyoho Meibutsu Choh (written in 1709) and has a Juyo Bijutsu Hin classification. Masamune is known as a great master smith in Japanese sword history. His work led to a later work in a nie style such as Soshu Den swords from Kunimitsu, and Yukimitsu, and helped to establish the sword as an art object. Consequently, not only the sword world, but other people respected him as a genius and milestone smith. This swordfs mihaba is wide, and the widths at the moto and saki are not much different. From the long kissaki, the fact that the tip of the hi is low, and from the shape, quite a few people thought that this was work from the next mid-Nanboukucho era. Masamune swords not only have all kinds of hataraki, sunagshi, kinsuji, niesuji, tobiyaki, and yubashiri, but also mixed nie and nioi, and the nioi goes into the hamon. There are also light and dark colors, and the nie have large and small sizes, and strong and weak contrast between features. The thickness of the nioi-guchi varies and there are all kinds of shapes. It seems that he purposely did not to try coordinate all of these elements, and such a kaleidoscopic range looks like natural sumie pictures. This sword shows movement and quiet contrasts, and the smith was not afraid of these different elements. There is a very dynamic yakiba, and the ji and ha have all kinds of nie and nioi. The old sword books gGenki Gannen Token Mekikishoh and efKokon Meizukushih, said that te inside of the boshi has a big round ball, which they suggest is his boshifs characteristic, and this ura side boshi tip has this feature and shows this characteristic. Masamunefs tanto, either with mei, or without mei, are primarily normal or usual shapes ( inn no tsukuri), but exceptional examples are the three ghocho Masamuneh( National treasures), which have very wide mihaba ( yo no tsukuri ). In his long swords, he also made yo no tsukuri shapes, which is the next Nambokucho erafs shape, and he has the meibutsu gIkeda Masamuneh( classified as Juyo Bunkazai), which has a similar shape. According to the Meibutsucho, the Musashi title came from the fact that Miyamoto Musashi used to own this, or from th efact that the Kishu Tokugawa family owned this and later gave it to the O-Tokugawa family (the main family in Edo, which is in Musashi province). At the end of the Edo Bakumatsu period, the last shogun Yoshinobu gave this sword to Yamaoka Tessai who was general of Yoshinobufs guard; later Yamaoka negotiated by himself with Saigo Takamori in Sunpu for the meeting between Saigo and Katsu Kaishu, and this meeting resulted in the continuance of the Tokugawa family, and Edo castle changed ownership without any battles. Later Tessai became the Meiji emperorfs chamberlain, and he gave this sword to Iwakura Tomomi who came from a noble family and helped convert the Meiji system to the modern imperial system.
Kantei To No 3: katana
Mei: mumei den Nagashige
Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 4.5 bu
Sori: slightly over 4 bu
Design: Shinogi zukuri
Jihada: itame mixed with mokume; on the omote ha side there is a distinctive nagarehada; there are frequent jinie, chikei, and some pale midare utsuri.
Hamon: ko-notare, mixed with ko-gunome, a ko-choji type hamon, togariba, and the entire
hamon is small; there are ashi, yo, thick uneven nie, kinsuji, frequent sunagshi,
and small yubashiri.
Boshi: straight almost yakizume; the are frequent hakikake.
Horimono: omote and ura have smooth bo-hi, and the points of the hi are low.
The Soshu Den school which was established by Masamune, expanded all over Japan in the Nanbokucho era, and even the original nioi-deki Bizen sword smiths were influenced. Nagayoshi, Kanemitsu, and Morikage, changed their styles and made what are called Soshu-Bizen style swords. In particular, Nagayoshi was the leading smith, and people said that among Bizen swords, Nagayoshifs does not look like Bizen work, and he is known to emphasized strong nie hataraki type swords. This is a katana by Nagayoshifs older brother Nagashige (this is classified as Juyo Bijutsu Hin, and is owned by the main Shimazu family). Nagashige has a signed gkinoe inuh Kenbu gannen (1334) tanto ( classified as Kokuho) which Honnami Kotoku owned and used himself. From Kenbu 2 (1335) there is a signed tachi and tanto, and from Koei gannen (1343) there is a signed tachi. Of the two tachi, both have low yakiba in suguha mixed with ko-gunome, and the Kenbu 2 signed tanto has a hamon made in a Kanemitsu and Motoshige style square gunome style. The kinoe inu signed tanto has nie and very strong hataraki inside of the ha, and has a partly gear shaped hamonffwhich is seen in Nagayoshifs swords. Compared with Nagayoshi, the height of Nagashigefs hamon are a little lower, and there is not not much strong up and down variation in the hamon width. From these details, his signature swords show a variety of styles, but his mumei swords are mostly like the gkinoe inuff tanto, and among Nagayoshi school work, his yakiba are smaller, and do not show not much up and downvariations in width, and these are his characteristic features. This sword shows the same style, and the entire hamon is narrower, but it has nie on the ji and ha, and the hataraki inside of the ha are dynamic, which is what we see in Nagayoshifs work. Partly ear shaped hamon midare are seen, and this is Nagashigefs characteristic style.
Kantei To No. 4: katana
Mei: Fujiwara Hiromitsu
Length: 2 shaku 2 sun 6 bu
Sori: slightly over 3 bu
Jihada: itame mixed with mokume; the entire hada is visible, and has thick jinie, and chikei.
Hamon: ko-notare mixed with gunome, o-gunome, and togariba; the bottom half of the
yakiba is low, and the upper half has up and down variations with distinctive large
midare; there are ashi, uneven thick nie, sunagshi, and mainly on the bottton half of
the yakiba there are yubashiri; the entire hamon has a worn down nioiguchi, and under
the machi there is a pale mizukage.
Boshi: The omote is almost straight, and the ura is a shallow notate; both sides have a
komaru and return.
During the Keicho shinto period, sword smiths copied Nanbokucho osuriage tachi shapes and styles, and they produced many famous smiths: for example, in the east, Hankei, and Echizen Yasutsugu, and in the west, in Kyoto, the Horikawa and Mishina schools, and in Kii, Nanki Kunishige; in Kaga, the shodai Kanewaka; and in Hizen, Samonji and Soshu Den become very popular again. This sword has fumbari, and at the moto, and mihaba is not too wide. The widths at the moto and saki are not much different. There is a shallow sori, long kissaki, and this is a typical Keicho shinto shape. The ji-nie and ha-nie are strongly emphasized, and an itame jihada is visible, and some parts of the ji are not graceful or refined, and look rough. This is a distinctive jihada called a gHorikawa hadah, and you can not ignore this point. The whole swordfs nioiguchi is worn down, and the nioigchi width has wide and narrow parts, large and small ha-nie, strong and weak nie, and an uneven nioiguchi, and these features are characteristics of his swords. This is a Hiromitsu sword, and people used say he was Kunihirofs older student, or his close relative, and he has only four swords left today, and because of this, it is difficult to judge this as a Hiromitsu sword, and among his schoolfs smiths, one smith has a high and distinctive up and down variable yakiba,and a dynamic style, and this is Dewa daijo Kumimichi, and this name is considered a good guess. Among many Kunihiro school smiths, between Hiromitsu and Osumijo Masayoshi, the two kanji gFujiwaraff signature is very similar, and some people think that the Hiromitsu mei was Masahirofs former mei. This is an interesting point and should be studied in more detail.
Kantei To No. 5: tanto
Mei: Minamoto Hidetoshi
Tenpo 5 nen chushu (autumn)
Jusai Shujin no tame korewo tukuru
Length: 7 sun 5.5 bu
Sori: slight uchizori
Jihada: itame mixed with mokume and ko-mokume; some parts of the hada are visible;
there are dense thick jinie, and chikei.
Hamon: notare mixed with ko-notare and ko-gunome; There are ashi, rough thick frequent
nie, distinctive sunagshi, and kinsuji, mixed with tobiyaki and yubashiri.
Boshi: shallow notarekomi, a togari type hamon, a komaru and return.
Horimono: omote and ura have katana hi with marudome.
The first impression of this tanto is of its very thick kasane. In the Koto period in mid and late Muromachi times, there were similar tanto call gyoroi doshih (armor piercing tanto), but usually, we do not see this kind of thick kasane. In the Shinto period, there were not many tanto made, and they have thick kasane and are slightly wide and 8-9 sun long large tanto. This has a strong tsukurikomi, long ashi extending to the edge of the ha, and from these characteristics, we can judge as a Shinshinto period tanto. In particular, this Soshu Den ji and ha have a very high degree of perfection, and from this, the name gYotsuya Masamuneh which is Kiyomarofs nickname, comes to mind. The thickness of the kasane shows an old era style, but the slight uchizori shape, the fukura kareru which is sharp looking, and the hamon which is notare mixed with gunome, and the boshi which is a is a togari type hamon and the komaru, are all very well made, and his ideal example looked like Samonji work. The nie hataraki is very natural, and there is a very dynamic appearance, and we could say from this that his aim was reached (to make a Samonji style sword). There is another sword signed Tenpo 5, (Kiyomaro was only 22 years old then , and he signed with his former name Masayuki at this time, but only during this year, he signed with the Hidetoshi mei), and this is different from his other tanto, and just like his teacher Toshitakafs style,which is an Inshu Hamabe style, (choji midare, nioideki hamon), and that is exactly a Soshu Den style hamon, and even moreso than this sword. Maybe he was not satisfied with this copy of an old sword, and after this sword, his hamon are uneven and have rough thick nie, which is Kiyomarofs original style. This is the only sword in which Kiyomaro copied the Soshu Den style, and he succeeded.We can say this is a very memorable example of his work.
Shijo Kantei To No 635 (in the December, 2009 issue)
Answer and Discussion for the
Shijo Kantei To
635 (December, 2009 issue). The answer is a katana by Magoroku Kanemoto.
This sword has a slightly wide mihaba, and the width at the moto and saki are not different. There is sakizori, a chukissaki, and long shape, from thes features, we can judge this as late Muramachi era work. Magoroku Kanemotofs active period was around the Taiei to Kyoho eras, and he has usual sized katana, but many of his works are shorter than the usual or common ones, just like this one. At the same time the distinctive Seki style, with a low hiraniku is often seen. The jitetsu is itame mixed with nagare hada, and the hada is visible. There is ji-nie and white utsuri, and this is a characteristic Seki style. The Shodai Kanemoto has a signature g Noshu Akasaka ju Kanemotoh in a round style of writing, and sometimes has a Meiou date, but his hamon does not show much of a sanbonsugi style. It is gunome, gunome mixed with choji, and is an irregular midare hamon. On the habuchi there are fine uchinoke mixed with yubashiri, rough ha-nie,and sunagashi. After the shodai Kanemoto, Magaoroku Kanemoto appeared, and he is known as the originator of the sanbonsugi hamon. His sanbonsugi are usually gyoshotai (a kanji character style between the kaisho and sosho styles), and he does not use only one style, but uses has all kind of patterns. His hamon can contain up and down variations with togariba, and the togariba can be groups of two or three or four or five. They can be continuous and become a fused group, and between these groups of togariba the vallies of the yahiba almost disappear. Up and down uneven variations of togariba are continuous and the entire hamon can be composed of sanbonsugi. Also the hamon can be formed using mainly using round topped gunome and can be called sanbonsugi, and just like on this swordfs mixed hamon. Thus Magoroku Kanemoto made all kinds of hamon and variations. Also, just like on most usual Seki work, the omote and ura have almost the same hamon, and parts of the midare hamon valleys are kakedashi (i.e. the hamon or nioi in the valleys are almost faded out). Compared to later sanbonsugi smiths, for the mihaba on this sword, the yakiba is low or narrow, and this is one of his characteristics. It is known, that after Magoroku, the sanbonsugi styles donft have much character, and are in very similar styles. Magoroku boshi are mainly midarekomi with togariba type hamon, or a jizou type hamon, and it is rare, as on this sword to see a straight boshi and komaru return. His nakogo are iriyamagata (some times there is a shallow ha-agari kurigiri), the yasurime are takanoha, and the mei is a ni-jimei (contains 2 kanji characters) on the omote and ura around the mekugi ana. This kantei to result was a typical result, and most of the people voted for Magoroku Kanemoto. A few people voted for Kanemoto ( with different kanji). Kanemoto has very few works left, and there are some opinions that he was the same parson as Magoroku Kanemoto, or Magorokufs father or his younger brother, and his favorite style is similar to Magorokufs gyoshotai sanbonsugi, and the nakago is a similar style, so this answer was treated as a correct answer.
A few people voted for the almost correct answer of Shodai Kanemoto, Sandai Kanemoto, Kanefusa, and Kanenori who are sue-koto smiths. Shodai Kanemoto swords are a little different from his, as we mentioned, and most of his signatures have long mei. Other sue-koto smiths have sanbonsugi styles, but they are different from Magorokufs gyoshotai sanbonsugi, and you should pay attentionto this detail.
Explanation provided by Hinohara Dai.