Meito Kanshou

Appreciation of Important Swords


Classification: Tokubetsu Juyo Token

Type: Wakizashi

Mei: aruji (owner) Nagamasa Yoshisada saku

        Shohei 13 nen 9 gatsu hi


Length: 1 shaku 2 sun 2 bu 9 rin (37.25 cm)

Sori: 1 bu 7 rin (0.5 cm)

Motohaba: 8 bu 5 rin (2.55 cm) 

Motokasane: 2 bu (0.6 cm) 

Nakago length: 3 sun 7 bu (11.2 cm)  

Nakago sori: almost none 



This is a hirazukuri, ihorimune wakizashi. It has a normal mihaba, and is sunnobi (large) for the mihaba; a thick kasane; and a shallow sori. The jihada is itame mixed with mokume, and the hada is visible in places. It has dense thick ji-nie and frequent chikei. The hamon is a ko-notare mixed with ko-gunome; there are ashi, uneven thick nie, and in some places there are some rough nie; there are kinsuji andsunagashi, and the upper part of the hamon has more frequent hataraki. Around the monouchi there yubashiri type tobiyaki, and the entire hamon has a quiet nioiguchi. The boshi on the omote is midarekomi, the tip is sharper than on the ura, and is a omaru. The boshi on the ura is a shallow notare, with a round point and a return; the tip is nie kuzure and has hakikake, and both sides have a deep return. On the omote and ura, there are katanahi. The nakago is ubu, and slightly machi okuri; the tip is narrow, and is a ha-agari type kurijiri. The yasurime are osujichigai; there is one mekugiana; and on the center of the omote, above the mekukgiana, is the ownerfs name. Under the mekugiana  there is a large three kanji signature made with a thin tagane (chisel). On the ura,  slightly to the right side of the mekugiana is the date. In Chikuzen prefecture, there are smiths (Ryosai, Sairen  Kuniyoshi, and Jitsua) who maintained the old Kyushu styles, and after them,  the famous Dai-Sa established a different style based on Soshu-den, in which the ji and ha are bright and display a sophisticated style. The students who followed this style produced what is called Sue-Sa work. Among these, Yoshisada has the most signed blades along with Yasuyoshi. Some people think that Yoshisada was Yasusadafs son, but Dai-Sa swords are dated during the Kenbu and Ryakuo era (1334-42), and Yasuyoshi has a blade dated in the Shohei era, the same time as this wakizashi is dated, and it is understandable, that  he could have been the Dai-Safs son or his student, just as many old books claim. Usually most of his blades are tanto or small hirazukuri wakizashi, and today there are only two tachi with his signature. His signatures are gYoshisada sakuh or gYoshisadah, and he has three styles: one has a predominently shallow notare hamon, another has a shallow notare type suguha style hamon, mixed with a small midare hamon which is seen in his tachi.  On most of his blades, there is a midare hamon similar to a Yasuyoshi hamon, but his midare are smaller, have frequent nie, and among Sue-Sa smiths, his hamon show a controlled low profile, and have small patterns. Many of his jihada are itame, and the hada is visible, and shapes are typical Nanbokucho large size tanto, but have narrow widths for their lengths, and this characteristic is prominent and this wakizashi shows this feature. He has very few blades without horimono, except tachi, and usually most of his blades have some kind of horimono  such as katana-hi, suken, gomabashi, etc. This wakizashi shows these this characteristic too, and the omote boshi is tsukiage, with a  sharp tip and long komaru return. This is an excellent sword among the Dai-Sa school works. This is the only blad eon which the smith has a date, Shohei 13 (or Enbun 3) (1358), and the date tell us, not only his active period, but also the schoolfs active period, and this is an important sword which is a historical resource. In this period, there is almost no other sword signed with theownerfs name, and it is interesting to think about what kind of parson Nagamasa was.                              


( Explanation and oshigata by Ishii Akira)




Shijo Kantei To No. 645


*The answer for Shijo Kantei To No. 644 (in the September issue) is a wakizashi by Seki Kanefusa.


The deadline to submit answers for the No. 645 issue Shijo Kantei To is November 5, 2010.

Each person may submit one vote. Submissions should contain your your name and address and be sent to the NBTHK Shijo Kantei To. You can use the Shijo Kantei To card which is attached in this magagzine. We will accept any votes postmarked on or before November 5, 2010. If there are swordsmiths with the same name in different schools, please write the school or prefecture, and if the swordsmith was active for more than one generation, please indicate a specific generation.






Length: 2 shaku 2 sun 9 bu (69.39 cm)

Sori: 4 bu (1.21 cm)

Motohaba: 9 bu 6 rin (2.9 cm)

Sakihaba: 6 bu 8 rin (2.05 cm)

Motokasane: 2 bu 6 rin (0.8 cm)

Sakikasane: 1 bu 5 rin (0.45 cm)

Kissaki length: 1 sun 2 rin (3.1 cm)

Nakago length: 6 sun  8 bu (20.6 cm)

Nakago sori: none


This is a shinogi zukuri katana with an ihorimune, a normal mihaba, and the mihaba at the  moto and saki are different. There is a very shallow sori and a chu-kissaki. The jihada is ko-itame and the hada is somewhat visible. There is ji-nie, fine chikei, midare utsuri, and the shinogi-ji displays a masame type jihada. The hamon and boshi are as seen in the picture. There are ashi, yo, and the entire hamon isnarrow. There ois a bright nioiguchi, and strong nioi and ko-nie. The nakago is almost ubu (it is  a little machi okuri ), with a iriyamagata tip. The yasurime are osuji-chigai with kesho; there is one mekugiana; the omote mune side has a long signature, and on the ura side under the habaki there is a mon. (many of this smithfs blades usually have a long yakidashi at the koshimoto).


Juyo Tosogu


Shichi-fukujin zu soroi kanagu (set of matching kodogu with the seven gods of good luck)


Tsuba mei: Kiryuken Yoshimori ( kao)

Fuchi mei: Suifu ju Unno Yoshimori ( kao )

Kurikata: kinzogan mei Yoshimori


This kanagu is the work of a Mito-kinko master smith, Unno Yoshimori.  In Edo period, there are many machi-bori kinko smiths all over Japan (i.e. smiths who were working in towns, but who were not working for daimyo ). These smiths were found in Mito, Higo, Satsuma, Choshu, Kaga, Sendai, and Aizu, as well as in other areas.In particular, Mito has many kinko-shi (goldsmiths), and more than any other prefecture. Mito kinko work started around the Kanbu period in Edo times, and the founder is supposed to have studied with the Goto family. The first generation or shodai kinko-shi was Gunji Yogoro, and after him were Yatabe, Tamagawa, Taizan, Ichiryu, Uchikoshi, Hagiya, and Unno Yoshimori. Many schools started here from this foundation, and become very active. There was a shodai and nidai Unno Yoshimori, and from the signature, this work must be the shodaifs soroi kanagu (a matching set of fittings). The shodai Yoshimori was active during the Bakumatsu period, and with his excellent carving technique, people said the daimyo Tokugawa Nariaki loved his work, along with the work of Ogiya Kappei,who worked in the same prefecture. The kanagu shown here are: a fuchi and kashira with botan and shishi ( peony and lion); a tsuba with Bishamonten, and Ebitsu; a kurikata with Fukurokuju; a kojiri with Benzaiten; menuki with Jurou, and Hotei; the urakawara (the metal strip at the mouth of the pockets for the kozuka and kogai)  is a Juro related design which is god of good luckfs gunpai (war fun). Yoshimori did exellent work and had god control and design of high and low relief, and his work shows the volume of his subjects with his excellent carving technique, and in particular, each godfs face shows a realistic expression, and this is a characteristic of Mito style carving. The kurikatafs god Fukurokujufs face is supposed to have been modeled after Lord Mito Nariakifs face. 

(Explanation by Iida Toshihisa)




Teirei Kansho Kai For September


The swords discussed below were shown in the September 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 shirasaya 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 September 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 swordsmithfs name. This lecture and the explanations were given by Ishii Akira.



Kantei  to No.1: katana


Mei: Muramasa

Length: 2 shaku 5.5 bu

Sori: slightly over 5 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: ko-itamehada; some parts of ura side have itamehada; there is ji-nie, and some

             whitish utsuri.

Hamon: the moto has a yakidashi, and above this, the hamon is midare with  gunome, ko-gunome, togariba, and a square type hamon pattern. The saki and moto areas have a low yakiba. There are ashi, ko-nie, and the entire hamon has a quiet nioiguchi. The boshi kaeri to the koshimoto has a discontinuous pale muneyaki.

Boshi: small midarekomi; the omote has a komaru; the ura is round with a return; on both sides, the tip has small hakikake.


This sword is a little over 2 shaku which is  a short length. There is sakizori, and it has an uchigatana shape which means it can be used with one hand. From this, we can judge this as work from around the Bunki, Eisho, and Taiei periods in the mid-Muromachi era. Details to notice are that the whitish utsuri does not stand out there is a dark jigane; there is a  yakidashi (which is seen sometimes in work from other prefectures); the hamon has gunome, togariba, and a square type of hamon pattern, so a couple of different kinds of hamon patterns are here together. This hamon shows a large midare hamon, and some parts have hakoba. The moto and saki have uneven areas with a low yakiba. In addition, the entire yakiba has up and down alterations, and some parts of  the hamon valleys go almost down to the hasaki. Also, the omote and ura hamon are the same, and whole hamon has  a quiet nioiguchi. From these characteristics, it is possible to judge this as being work of as Sengo Muramasa without hesitation. Maybe some people emphasized the yakidashi, so they voted for Osaka shinto smiths such as Kunisuke, but looking at  the shape, you have to reconsider the era, and usually the ji and ha in Shinto times are brighter when compared to sue Koto swords. This sword used to belong to prince Arisugawa who was the east side general during the Ishin-wa r(a Meiji era civil war). Later,  the royal Takamatsu family who inherited this from the royal Arisugawa family, donated this to the NBTHK.            


Kantei To No. 2: wakizashi


Mei: Tsuda echizen-no-kami Sukehiro

         Enpo 8 nen 8 gatu hi

Length: 2 shaku 1 sun 3.5 bu

Sori: 4.5 bu

Design: shinogi-zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: tight ko-itame with dense thick jinie.   

Hamon: the moto has a straight yakidashi; there is an gunome midare hamon and some parts are a toranba style; there are ashi, thick nioi, thick ha-nie, and fine sunagashi; the bottom half of the hamon has yubashiri type tobiyaki; the ji and ha are bright and clear.

Boshi: straight with a komaru.               


Tsuda Sukehiro is famous for creating the toran-midare hamon, and from this people imagine that this was his style, but usually we seen more of this kind of ogunome midare hamon, and this is the main style used in his work. With either kind of  hamon, his hamon have a thick nioiguchi, and the width of  the nioiguchi is wide; there are thick smooth ha-nie, and a tight refined ko-itame jihada. The ji and ha are both very clear, and from these characteristics, Sukehiro is evaluated as a highly ranked sword smith. This well made sword shows many of his good points and characteristics. Also this yakidashi is short, and part of the midare hamon becomes square, and is mixed with a round type of hamon and becomes a toran style. The wide nioiguchi reaches the boshi, and because of this, the boshi return is not clearly finished or terminated. In places, there are sunagashi in the yakiba valleys, and this is one of his characteristic features and is an important element in judging this as work by Sukehiro. There are no people who mistook the era, but some people voted for Sukenao, Kanesada, and a later smith Ozaki Suketaka. If this were by Sukenao, the hamon would not have so many high and low variations, and would not have the delicate finish when compared with Sukehiro. Kanesada and Suketaka hamon show more exaggerated toran-midare hamon, and the three of these smiths could not compete with Sukehiro with the wide nioiguchi and clearness of the ji and ha in this work.         



Kantei To No 3: katana


Mei: Dewa daijo Fujiwara Kunimichi


Length: slightly less than 2 shaku 3 sun 5 bu

Sori: slightly less than 5 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: itame mixed with mokume; in places, the hada is visible; there are thick ji-nie

             and chikei.

Hamon: gunome mixed with ko-gunome, ko-notare, togariba, and a square type of  hamon; there are ashi, uneven thick nie, some parts have sunagashi; the top of  the hamon is mixed with yubashiri; in places there are small muneyaki.

Boshi: shallow notare and komaru return.


This blade has a slightly wide mihaba, and the widths at the moto and saki are not much different. There is a slightly long chu-kissaki. The jihada is itame, slightly visible, and not refined. The hamon has nie, and the width of the nioiguchi is uneven. From these characterisitcs, we should judge this as a Horikawa school sword from the Keicho era. Also, the omote has some saka-ashi type hamon, and both the omote and ura boshi are a shallow notare and have a komaru return, which is the Mishina style. From this Mishina style boshi, among the Horikawa school smiths, the name Kunimichi is suggested. Some people voted for the Mishina schoolfs Iga no kami Kinmichi, and this sword has a primarily gunome hamon mixed in places with togariba, which is similar to the Kansai style early Kinmichi hamon. The top of the hamon shows some sudareba type straight line yubashiri, and from these characteristics, it is understandable to vote for Kinmichi. But if this were his sword, because he was a Mino school smith, more nagare hada would stand out. There would also be more signs of a square type hamon than is seen here, and the nie is almost uniform. Also, in his early work the boshi is midarekomi with a jizo style, and these characteristics are different from Kunimichi. As a result, this is a very characteristic Kunimichi work.          



Kantei To No. 4: wakizashi


Mei: Omi daijo Fujiwara Tadahiro


Length: 1 shaku 7 sun 4 bu

Sori: 3 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: ko-itamehada; there is a fine visible hada; there are thick ji-nie and fine chikei.

Hamon: chu-suguha; it has a slight shallow notare style, a thick nioiguchi, fine thick ha-nie,

             and a clear nioiguchi.    

Boshi: straight and round; the tip has small hakikake.


This is a wakizashi by Omi daijo Tadayoshifs. It is a characteristic Hizen blade: there is a well proportioned shape; a tight ko-itame hada and fine visible jihada called ekomenuka-hadaf which is a distinctive jihada; there is a very clean and orderly suguha with a belt type nioiguchi which disappears before the hasaki; there is a sophisticated straight boshi and return and fukura. These distinctive characteristics on this wakizashi along with the suguha hamon is a good suguha example of Hizen To. We can say that this kind of style was established by him, and because of this, most of the people voted for this as a Hizen To, and there were two different opinions about this being the Nidai Tadahiro or the Sandai Tadayoshi. As Nidai Tadahihiro work, this has a wide mihaba, and is strong looking, and from this, the Sandai Tadayoshi vote should be correct. However, the Sandai Tadayoshifs jihada is more tight and refined, compared with the Nidai Tadayoshifs komenukahada which is what we see on this sword.    



Kantei To No. 5: katana


Mumei: Yukimitsu


Length: 2 shaku 2 sun 9.5 bu

Sori: 5 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: mitsu-mune

Jihada: ko-itamehada  mixed with itame hada; in some places on the omote side this

            is mixed with nagarehada; there are dense thick ji-nie, and frequent chikei.

Hamon: a chu-suguha style mixed with ko-gunome and kuichigaiba; there are frequent ashi,  a wide nioiguchi, frequent thick nie, kinsuji, and a bright and clear nioiguchi.

Boshi: straight with komaru, and the tip has hakikake.

Horimono: the omote and ura have bo-hi.


This is the first special Tokubetsu Juyo classification Soshu Yukimitsu sword. Because of the fact that the funbari at the koshimoto has disappeared, this is supposed to be an osuriage katana, and because the upper half has enough sori,  you can guess from these characteristics, that the original shape was a tachi from the end of the Kamakura period. Next, carefully examine the jitetstu; it has dense thick ji-nie,  and varied frequent chikei with different thicknesses and lengths, which makes a gstrong iron jitestuh. The hamon is a chu-suguha style mixed with ko-gunome and a small midare hamon. At first, it looks like a gentle hamon, but it has thick frequent ha-nie, and around the middle of the hamon mixed with rough nie, there are kinsuji, and the entire ji and ha have nie hataraki which stand out. From these characteristics, this would not be a Bizen or Mino sword. Because at the beginning, I mentioned that this is and osuriage mumei sword, no one voted for a shinto or shinshinto sword, but some people voted the Rai school, Toma, and Tegai schools, or Yamato Den blades. If this were Rai work,  the jitetsu would not be as strong as this, and the Rai jitestu is called nashiji-hada, which is a more soft and refined ko-itamehada. Also the utsuri should be more clearly visible. If  this were Yamato school work, the nie is a similar style but you cannot see their other characteristics such as a wide shinogi-ji haba, and the height of the shinogi-suji, and the shape of the boshi. Yamato jihada have more nagarehada standing out, and the hamon are suppose to have uchinok, and nijuba with sunagashi and kinsuji. They would have more vertical hataraki than this blade does. Because of these reasons, the last school name left is Soshu Den, and Yukimitsu made various types of hamon, including midareba and hitatsura, and unlike many  Soshu Den smiths such as Masamune, Sadamune, Norishige, and the Masamune jutetsu smiths, Yukimitsu made many suguha style hamon just like this, with a shallow gentle notare hamon, so at the end, Yukimitsufs name should come out. From considering these points, about half of the people voted for his name by third round of voting.         



Shijo Kantei No 643 (in the August issue)


Answer and Discussion for Shijo Kantei To

643 ( in the August issue). The answer is a tanto by is Tegai Kanesada (Sue Tegai).


This tanto has a normal mihaba, and is slightly long for the mihaba. There is a thick kasane, a somewhat strong uchizori, a poor fukura, and from this shape, we can judge this as being roughly a Muromachi  blade. The jihada is itame mixed with mokume and nagarehada, and the hamon is a suguha style mixed with hoture, nijuba, and kuichigaiba, and has frequent ko-nie, and sunagshi, and these characteristics show a distinctive Yamato Den style. In the koto era, Yamato Den spread from Yamato to many provinces, and during the Muromachi period, it spread and prospered as Sue-tegai, Uda, Sue-mihara, Sue-nio, and Naminohira. Sue-tegaifs characteristics are:  the jihada is not dark which is a country style characteristic, and the ji and ha are both bright, and the original Tegai schoolfs refined look is seen, and often the habuchi has a long nijuba. The schoolfs jitetsu are slightly visible, just like this blade, but itame is mixed with nagarehda and there is a tight jihada, and sometimes a whitish color appears. The boshi are straight with a komaru, or straight with a sharp tip, and many of them have a little hakikake, and sometimes there is a long kareri or return. Sue-tegai tanto nakago-saki are kurigiri, the nakago mune are round, and the yasurime are higaki, and these are characteristics of their style,  and the hint said something about this. Also, many tanto are signed above the mekugi-ana, just under the togidamari (the border of the polished area), and often the first kanji has almost disappeared. Some theories say said that Tegai school name came from the smiths who used to live and work outside of Todaiji Templefs Tengai-mon(gate), and the gate name changed to Tegai. However, Todaiji documents from the Kamakura era indicate that Tengaimon was written gTegai no gomong (the same kanji as the Tegai school). There are two opinions, that in the Kamakura era, the Tegai school smith Kanenagafs active period was at the end of the Kamakura period, and another opinion is that his work was from the mid-Kamakura era. There is old document dated Kocho 3 (1262) owned Daigoji (temple) which lists Todaiji swordsmithsf names.

According to this document, the Todaiji swordsmiths consisted of two separate groups: Honza and Shinza. Among the Honza smiths, there are the names Kanenaga and Heisaburo, but the Teigai smithsf names are not seen in this document, and it is not certain whether  Heisaburo and Kanenaga were the same person, or if some of Todaiji smiths and the Tegai school swordsmiths are the same, or if the Todaiji smiths were actually making building materials and building components which would mean that they were blacksmiths who made construction components, and belonged to a different organization from the Tegai swordsmith group. More future studies will be necessary to learn the details about this. In the voting, most of the people voted for Kanesada, Kanetoshi, and Kanesane, who were Sue-tegai school smiths. Sue-tegai smith works are similar each other, and it is difficult to judge names of individual smiths, so these smithsf names are all treated as correct answers. A few people voted for Kanenaga of the Tegai school. Kanenaga is famous in the Kamakura era as the shodai, and his name continued to be used into the Nanbokucho and Muromachi eras, and there are some tantos from these later periods. However, the Shodai Kanenaga has no known tanto in existence, and his work and Sue-tegai work are different styles, so the Kanenaga name with an indication of the Muromachi era or Sue-tegai, are treated as the only correct answers, and just Kanenaga is treated as almost correct answer. Sue-tegai smiths are Muromachi period smiths in the Tegai school, and usually Tegai smiths means from the Kamakura and Nambokucho eras, and are different from the Sue-Tegai style, but a vote for a smith from these periods is treated as an almost correct answer. Beside an almost correct answer, there was a Kanesada (Nosada) answer. His jihada are mixed with nagarehada and suguha hamon, and his nakago yasurimei are higaki-yasuri, and from these characteristics, it is understandable to vote for his name, but Nosadafs tanto copied the Yamashiro Den Rai Kunitoshi style, and have strong nioi and a tight nioiguchi, and do not stand out or appear as Yamato Den style work. They do not show details such as a hotsure habuchi with nijuba, and kuichigaiba. Also, please pay attention, to the fact that he usually does not sign above the mekugiana.                      


 Explanation and provided by Hinohara Dai.