Meito Kanshou

Appreciation of Important Swords


Classification: Juyo Bijutsuhin

Type: Tachi

Mei: Bungo Kuni  sou (priest) Sadahide saku

Owner: NBTHK


Length: slightly less than 2 shaku 5 sun 9 rin (78.45 cm)

Sori: slightly less than 9 bu  (2.7 cm)

Motohaba: 9 bu 9 rin (3.0 cm) 

Sakihaba: 5 bu (1.5 cm)

Motokasane: 2 bu 3 rin (0.7 cm) 

Sakikasane: 1 bu 2 rin (0.35 cm)

Kissaki length: 7 bu 3 rin (2.2 cm)

Nakago length: 6 sun 4 bu 7 rin  (19.6 cm)  

Nakago sori: 7 rin (0.2 cm) 



This is a shinogi zukuri sword with an iorimune, a usual mihaba, a slightly thick kasane, a high koshizori and funbari. The widths at the moto and saki are different. The tip is slightly uchizori, and there is a small kissaki, and these features produce an elegant tachi shape. The jihada is a tight ko-itame, with ohada in places, and the entire jihada has a soft look. There is ji-nie and a little chikei. The hamon at the moto is yakiotoshi. There is a narrow suguha style hamon mixed with komidare, and in places there is hotsure, some uchinoke, and a nijuba style hamon. There are fine ha-nie, and at the koshimoto there are kinsuji. On the ura-side koshimoto there is a pale yubashiri, and the entire hamon has a worn down nioiguchi, and is soft looking. The boshi is straight and almost yakizume. The nakago is ubu, there is an almost straight kurijiri, and the yasurime on the omote shinogi-ji and ura hiraji (flat surface) are kattesagari. On the omote hiraji and ura shinogi-ji the yasurimei are kiri. There are two mekugiana, and the first mekugiana is ubu. Above the two mekugiana on the  upper side of the hiraji center there is a large three kanji signature made with a thick tagane; under the two mekugiana there is a four kanji signature. In western Kyushu, Bungo and Satusma have produced sword smiths since the oldest recorded times, and among the most famous smiths are Yukihira and Sadahide. At the end of the Kamakura period, the oldest sword book we have, the gKanchiin Honmeizukushi g, list in two different sections, that Sadahide was Yukihirafs teacher and that he was his student. Thus, since the earliest times, we have not been sure about their relationship. Yukihira has a blade dated Genkyo 2 (1205) which is classified as Juyo Bijutsuhin, and from this we can guess his active period. People used to say that Sadahide was the head of a large training ashram with three thousand students at the mount Hiko which is located between Fukuoka prefecture and Oita prefecture today, so his signature contain the kanji gsouh (priest). Today he has three signed blades which are all Juyo Bijutsuhin, include this blade, and his signatures are gBungo kuni sou Sadahideg, sometimes with gsakuff added under these kanji. In addition, his kanji styles are not always the same, and the three mei are a little different. Also, if you look at old sword magazine oshigata, there are signatures  gBungo kuni Sadahide sakuff without the sou kanji, or gsou Sadahideff, or g Sadahideff which make a two or three kanji mei. Except in special cases, Yukihira usually signed on the ura mune side with smaller sized kanji, and Sadahide signed on the omote almost on the nakago center, or the hiraji center with a larger size kanji, and these are differences  between the two mei. Sadahidefs styles are similar to Yukihirafs, with a well forged soft appearing jihada, the hamon at the moto is yakiotoshi, there is a narrow suguha, or a narrow suguha hamon mixed with ko-midare, and a soft nioiguchi. Thsese they are characteristics of the old Kyushu style. The sword book gGenki Gannen (1) Token Mekikishoff wrote about Kyushu swords and described them as being gnarrow shaped tachi with a refined kitae-hadah, the hamon is a gnarrow suguha with some ashi and frequent nieh, and the ghamon is white, just like thin iceh. Also the habuchi is gworn down and well blendedff.  Another book the gKokin Meizukushih wrote almost the same description. This is a very important example among the few swords left today, and the shape has  a high koshizori, is longer, the widths at the moto and saki are different, the upper part  is slightly uchizori, there is a small kissaki, and an elegant tachi shape. The  jitetsu is tight ko-itame hada with a soft look, and  the moto is yakiotoshi, there is a narrow suguha with a soft nioiguchi, just like Yukihira blades which are old Kyushu swords. This is an old style blade with a dignified classic look, and shows all these good points and characteristics. The yasurime on the omote shinogi-ji and ura hiraji are kattesagari, and the omote hiraji and ura shinogi-ji are kiri, but part of the kiri yasurime are a little bit katteagari, which appears like a shallow gyaku-takanoha yasurime. In the book g Genki Gannen Token Mekikisho described these yasurimei as g shidah (fern) yasurime, and another name is gyaku-takanoha yasuri ffand what could be written about this? in the future this should be studied in more detail.                   


Explanation and oshigata by Ishii Akira.



Shijo-Kantei Tou No.646


*For Shijo Kantei To No.645 (in the October issue), the answer is a katana by Bitchu no kami Tachibana Yasuhiro.


The deadline to submit answers for the No. 645 issue Shijo Kantei To is December 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 December 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: 9 sun 3.5 bu (28.33 cm)

Sori: uchizori

Motohaba: 7 bu 8 rin (2.35 cm)

Motokasane: 2 bu 5 rin (0.75 cm)

Nakago lengh: 3 sun 4.5 bu (10.45 cm)

Nakago sori: none


This tanto is hirazukuri with a mitsumune, a slightly wide mihaba, sunnobi size, a thick kasane, and is almost musori. The tip has a slightly uchizori shape. The jitetsu is a tight ko-itame, has dense thick ji-nie, a refined hada, fine chikei, bo-utsuri, and a distinctive jihada. The hamon and boshi are as seen in the oshigata. There are ashi, yo, frequent ko-nie, bright and clear, kinsuji and fine sunagashi. The nakago is ubu with a kurijiri. The yasurime are a shallow kattesagari. There are two mekugiana, and one is filled. On the omote under the ubu mekugiana along the center, there is a three kanji mei.       



Meitan Kansho


Wado koma hiki saru (monkey pulling a horse ) kosen-zu (old coin design) tsuba


Mei: Tou


During the Ritsuryo era in Japan ( the late 7th 10th centuries ), in Wado 1 (708), currency was issued. Among the gKoucho 12 senh (the 12 kinds of coins issued from the Nara to the Heian periods), the gWado kaihoff is the most famous. This was the first currency made in Japan, and is thought to have been distributed to a surprisingly large area. Evidence for this is the fact that they are found mainly in the Kinai area  (Yamashiro, Yamato, Kawachi, Izumi, Settsu) and all over Japan, and even in China. Before this coin was issued, there was a gFuhon-senff issued in the 7th century and recently found in archeological sites (in Jan, 1999). However, in the Kodai era ( Yamato, Nara, and Heian eras), there was not a monetary system, and it is a possibility that the coins were used as charms and for good luck, and these are called g ensho-senff. During the Edo period,  the e-sen was used. These were cast, and the coins had pictures and patterns on them. Primarily, the designs used were for good luck charms and to ask for good auspices. For good luck, they kept in a wallet, or put into a household Shinto altar and used in many ways. This gWado komahiki senff is one of these. It may be that Tou used the e-senfs good luck background for his design.  At that time, the oldest currency in Japan was the Wadokaiho which has a classic look, and the design showing a monkey pulling a horse has a comical, and at the same time, a sophisticated feeling. Toufs highly skillful technique enabled him to use this theme as art. Between the Wadokaiho and the monkey pulling a horse design, there appears to be no relationship. But if you think about the e-senfs background, you can understand that the omote and ura designs on them are well balanced.                   

 Explanation by Kurotaki Tetsuya.




Teirei Kansho Kai For October


The swords discussed below were shown in the October 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 October 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 Iida Toshihisa.


Kantei To No.1: katana


Mei: oite Nanki Shigekuni tsukuru kore


Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 5 bu

Sori: 5.5 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: itame mixed with  mokume; there is nagare hada at the koshimoto; there are dense thick ji-nie, and frequent chikei.

Hamon: suguha with hotsure, nijuba style yubashiri, kuichigaiba; there are frequent thick nie, kinsuji, sunagashi; hamon is bright and clear.

Boshi: straight with komaru and return


This is a Nanki Shigekuni sword. Shigekuni is considered to be a Yamato Teigai school descendant and one of best smiths in the Keicho Shinto era. He worked in several styles: a Tegai Kanenaga style (he was descended from Kanenaga ) with a primarily suguha Yamato Den style; his other primary style is a Momoyama Soshu Den style, in which the ji and ha have nie, and there is abundant hataraki; another style is a mixture of these styles. This katana, at the koshimoto shows some nagarehada, and the hamon is mainly suguha mixed with a very shallow notare, hotsure, kuichigaiba, and a yubashiri style nijuba. Inside of the ha there are frequent nie and kinsuji, and except for the boshifs usual komaru return, these are characteristic Yamato Den style features.  This sword is mainly Yamato Den, but the jihada is mixed with itame and mokume, and in particular, the mokume hada stands out. There are dense ji-nie, frequent chikei, and the inside of the ha has bright and brilliant refined nie and kinsuji, and these are Soshuden style features. This mix of features is his Shigekunifs characteristic style. Also, for a Keicho Shinto blade, the mihaba is not wide, but a usual or slightly wide mihaba. The kissaki is not an o-kissaki, but is a chu-kissaki, and slightly long size with these features are characteristics of his swordfs shapes.  This is a typical Kunishige style, and many people voted for him, but some people voted for  the Keicho Shinto smiths Sendai Kunekane and Hizen Tadayoshi. Kunikanefs favorite style is a Yamato Den suguha which is the same as Shigekuni, but his jihada is masame hada, and the boshi is yakizume, and the tip has strong hakikake, which is an old Yamato Den style. The Tadayoshi jihada is a distinctive Hizen style komenuka hada which is a tight ko-itame hada, and Tadayoshi has very few hamon with a prounced Yamato den style like this work.  


Kantei To No.2: tachi


Mei: Bishu Osafune Moromitsu

         Eiwa 2 nen 6 gatsu (the nakago is cut at the bottom of the ggatsuh kanji).

Length: 2 shaku 4 sun 1.5 bu

Sori: slightly over 6 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: itame mixed with mokume and nagarahada; there are ji-nie and jifu; the bottom part has straight utsuri, and the upper part has midare utsuri. 

Hamon: ko-notare mixed with gunome; a choji style hamon with togariba; the entire hamon is small, and there are ko-ashi, yo, strong nioi, ko-nie, and sunagashi. 

Boshi: midarekomi; the omote has a sharp tip; the ura is narrow with a komaru return.               

Horimono: omote and ura have bo-hi extended through the nakago.


This jihada has clear utsuri. The shape shows a wide mihaba, and the kissaki is long. From this shape it is easy judge this as a Bizen blade. This is a Moromitsu tachi date during the Eiwa era during the later Nambukucho period.  Moromitsu was one of the Kosori smiths in late Nambokucho Bizen, and worked along with Narishige, Hidemitsu, Tsunehiro, and Iemori. The Kosori jihada is itame mixed with mokume and nagare hada; all kinds of hada are visible. Compared with the mainstream Osafune smith Kanemitsufs school, many of the jihada are a little rough, and the hamon contains ko-gunome, togariba, ko-notare, ko-choji, a square type of hamon, and all kinds of hamon. The entire hamon is small and irregular. This ji and ha show distinctive characteristics, and many people voted for Kosori smiths. Beside Kosori smiths, some people voted for Kanemitsu school smiths and Oei Bizen smiths. This is a wider mihaba, and longer than usual kissaki is for a Kosori tachi, and is similar to Enbun and Joji work with large shapes when Kanemitsu was active, and from the shape it is understandable to vote for Kanemitsu school smiths. However, the mihaba is narrower and has a more gentle shape when compared with them. Also, the ji and ha characteristics are different. If this were an Oei Bizen tachi, there would be a more usual tachi shape, and the jihada would be itame mixed with mokume, and when compared to Kosori work, there would be a more regular jihada. The hamon contains open bottom gunome and choji, and many of the midare hamon are more larger and more active. Also, it was difficult to come up with the Moromitsu name from the bladefs characteristics, so if you voted for the Kosori school alone, it is an acceptable answer.                  


Kantei To No 3: katana


Mei: Omi no kami Hojoji Tachibana Masahiro


Length: slightly over 2 shaku 3 sun 6 bu

Sori: 5 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: tight ko-itame, with dense thick ji-nie, chikei, fine frequent chikei; the hamon is bright and clear.

Hamon: suguha style mixed with continuous gunome; there are frequent ashi, thick nioi, thick nie, and the nioiguchi is bright and clear.

Boshi: straight with a komaru and slightly long return.


This mihaba is usual for an uchigatana. The widths at the moto and saki are different; there is a shallow sori, a chu-kissaki, and the shinogi-ji has a strong  masame hada. These are characteristics of Kanbun Shinto work,  and the blade shows a typical Edo Shinto character. Because the top of the hamonis even, and there is a continuous gunome hamon in a juzuba style with midare, many people voted for Edo Shinto smiths such as Kotetsu, Okimasa, Kazusa no suke  Kaneshige, and Hojoji school smiths.This is an Edo Hojoji school sword by the Shodai Omi-no-kami Masahiro. The schoolfs midare hamon is chu-suguha, mixed with tightly spaced gunome and ko-gunome, and is a continous pattern. The top of  the hamon does not have much up and down variation, and many of these hamon are almost a straight line, and have frequent  gunome and ashi. Often some parts of the hamon have nijuba which this katana does not have. Some people voted for Kotetsu, but if this were Kotetsufs work, the hamon would be larger, there would be thick ashi, and the ji and ha would be more clear. In addition, the boshi on the omote and ura both have yakikomi at the yokote and are straight with a komaru and return which is called a Kotetsu boshi. Okimasa has his own style hamon in which two gunome are fused together. Kozusa-no-suke Kaneshigefs midare hamon have single gunome, and  two gunome together; his characteristic hamon show single gunome and two grouped gunome in a continuous pattern. The Edo Hojoji school produced good smiths such as Masahiro, Yoshitsugu, Sadakuni, Kunimasa, and Masanori, and their styles are not very different, so if you voted for Hojoji school smiths, it is acceptable. But among the school, Yoshitugu has a large sori in his shapes and his gunome hamon iare larger, and many of his hamon have frequent nie.       


Kantei To No. 4: katana


Mei: Taira Nobuhide

        Ganji gan nen (beginning year, or year 1) 12 gatsu hi

Length: 2 shaku 4 sun 1.5 bu

Sori: 5 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: itame mixed with mokume hada and nagare hada; dense ji-nie, and frequent chikei.

Hamon: gunome mixed with a square type hamon, togari, ko-notare; there are long ashi, dense nioi, thick nie, kinsuji and sunagshi.     

Boshi: midarekomi; the omote is komaru, and the ura is sharp, and both have a long return. 


 This sword has a wide mihaba, a narrow shinogi-haba for its mihaba, and a thick kasane. It is a long katana, and the kissaki is long, which makes a dynamic shape. The midare hamon has long ashi almost throughthe ha, and from these characteristics, it is easy to judge this as a Shinshinto katana. For the large size, the hiraniku is poor, also the kissaki fukura has a distinctively poor shape. Poor fukura shapes are seen in the Kiyomaro school among the Shinshinto smiths.The schoolfs blades have visible or prominent jihada for Shinshinto work, and have abundant ji-nie, frequent chikei, and a strong jihada, and the hamon has frequent nie and distinctive kinsuji and sunagashi, which is a typical Soshu Den style, and this sword shows these characteristics very well. 



Kantei To No. 5: tachi


Mei: Nagamitsu


Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 8 bu

Sori: 8 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: tight itame hada with frequent jinie, chikei, and midare utsuri.

Hamon: choji mixed with gunome and togari; there are frequent ashi, yo, a somewhat wide nioiguchi, ko-nie, kinsuji and sunagashi.

Boshi: shallow notare, with a small round return.


This sword has funbari at the koshimoto, and an ubu, or close to ubu shape. There is a usual mihaba and high koshizori. The tip has sori, there is a chu-kissaki, and theere is a beautiful midare utsuri. From these characteristics, we would like to judge this as a mid-Kamakura Bizen blade. Additionally, the hamon is konotare and is primarily choji mixed with gunome. It a beautiful active midare hamon, and from these characteristics, you can imagine it to be from the Ichimonji school, the Hatakeda school, or Mitsutada and Nagamitsufs Osafune school. This is the Osafune founderfs son, the Nidai Nagamitsufs tachi. Nagamitsu has a wide range of hamon styles; one is distinctive georgeous choji hamon which is similar to his father Mitsutadafs; another is a tight nioiguchi with a simple suguha style; and this is slightly small midare hamon which is an example of the first style. Many people voted for Bizen school smiths. If this were Fukuoka Ichimonji school work, the choji would be more prominent when compared to Nagamitsu, and the hamon would have more up and down variations in a midare hamon. If this were Hatakeyama school or Mitsutada school work, a big midare hamon would be seen, similar to the Ichimonji schoolfs, and it would contain  narrow bottom choji and Kawazuko choji. If this were work from the Ichimonji and Hatakeyama schools, the hada would be more visible when compared with Nagamitsufs work; if this were by Mitsutada, the jihada would be tighter than Nagamitsufs jihada. This boshi has a somewhat loose shape, and it is not perfect, but this is work from the second half of the Kamakura period, and the Osafune smiths Nagamitsu, Sanenaga, and Kagemitsu made a distinctive boshi called a g sansaku boshiff and this style is not seen in the work of smiths from the first half of the Kamakura period.        



Shijo Kantei No 644 (in the September issue)


Answer and Discussion for Shijo Kantei To

644 ( in the September issue). The answer is a wakizashi by Seki Kanefusa.


This wakizashi has a wide mihaba, large sunobi shape, and the upper half has sori. From from this shape we can judge this as being work from the second half of the Muromachi era. Most Seki jihada are itame mixed with nagare hada, many of the hada are visible and have a whitish appearance and Seki swords have the same kind of jihada. They have all kind of hamon, one is a round top gunome mixed with gunome-choji, togariba, and yahazu type choji. Another is sanbonsugi and notare, and among these, the round top, open bottom distinctive gunome-choji hamon continue to be called gKanefusa midareff hamon, and  if you see many Kanefusa blades and a number of Seki blades, you can recognize the hamon style you see in this sword (round top, loose bottom hamon examples are seen often). Many of Seki boshi, like on this type of sword, are midarekomi, and komaru with a return, and the tip of the boshi moves towards the ha edge, which is called a gjizo-boshiff. This wakizashi shows these characteristics. Kanefusafs tanto and hira-wakizashi nakago are kurijiri, and many of the yasurime are higaki and sometimes kattesagari. The  location of the mei vary considerably. A typical mei will be 2 kanji or three kanji such as gKanefusa sakuff or a long mei with gNoshu Seki ju Kanefusa tsukuruh. Sometimes the date is inscribed on the ura. Many Seki tanto and hira-wakizashi have higaki yasurime, and during the Muromachi period, another school which used higaki yasurime on tanto and hirazukuri wakizashi was the Sue-Teigai school, but they used different angles. Seki  higaki  are filed at a steep angle in which osujichigai and gyaku-ooujichigai cross. Sue-Teigai yasurimei are filed at a more gentle angle compared to Seki work in which sujichigai and gyaku-sujichigai cross. Most of the people voted for Kanefusa, and beside him, a few people voted for Kanesada, Ujifusa, and Daido who are Seki smiths. Among the Seki hamon, the distinctive Magoroku Kanemoto gyosho-style (semicursive or relaxed writing style) Sanbonsugi is clearly different from other smiths, but beside this, most of Seki styles are similar to each other, and it is difficult point out an individual smithfs name. Thus people who voted for Seki smiths were considered to have an almost correct answer. Beside the correct answer, a few people voted for the Naoe-Shidzu smiths Kanetomo and Kanetsugu. Sometimes Naoe-Shizu blades have gunome midare hamon, like early Seki hamon, and  the styles are similar, but their hira zukuri wakizashi have a wide mihaba, a longer shape, a thin kasane, and the upper partfs saki-sori does not stand out.However, in their hamon,  the habuchi has fine hotsure, the nioiguchi is not tight, there are frequent nie, and the inside of the ha has prominent sunagshi and kinsuji.                     


 Explanation provided by Hinohara Dai.