Appreciation of Important Swords
Mei: Kunihiro saku
Length: 1 shaku 4.5 bu (34.7 cm)
Sori: slightly over 3 bu (1 cm)
Motohaba: 1 sun 4 bu (4.22 cm)
Sakikasane: 1 bu 4 rin (0.42 cm)
Nakago length: slightly over 3 sun (9.2 cm)
Nakago sori: 6 rin (0.2 cm)
This is a hirazukuri tanto with a marumune, a very wide mihaba, a thin kasane, and it has a strong sori. The jihada is itame mixed, in places, with oitame, and parts of the hada are visible. There are dense ji-nie, fine chikei, and a pale bo-utsuri. The hamon is narrow, and around the monouchi it becomes wider. It is a shallow notare mixed with gunome, ogunome, sunagashi, and fine kinsuji. The nioiguchi is dense, and there are frequent ko-nie. The boshi on the omote is shallow with a loosely structured shape, the tip is sharp, and there is a long return; on the ura the boshi has a sharp tip and and a slightly long return. The nakago is ubu with a ha-agari kurijiri and katte-sagari yasurime. There are 3 mekugiana and two are filled. On the omote side under the center of the second mekugiana there is a mei written with three large size kanji, and written with a fine tagane. From very early times, the Kyushu area was exposed to strong influences from the Chinese and Korean cultures because of its location, and at the same time, it was at the forefront of defenses from incursions from Asia. Because of this, they had an original culture, and well known sword smiths such as Bungo kuni Yukihira and schools such as the Satsuma no kuni Naminohira school. They also preserved their traditions for a long period. In this area, in Chikuzen no kuni the Tsukushigun tokufu office (later called the dazaifu) which was the government office or headquarters from which Kyushu was administered. This area included the Iki and Tsushima islands, and administration of matters of defense and foreign affairs. Later this area named Chinseifu and then Kyushu tandai and it remained as a center of politics and culture. In this area, around the mid-Kamakura period, the Samonji school was founded, and included the smiths Ryosai, Nyusai, Sairen, and Jitsua. These people improved and advanced traditional styles, and among these, the smith Dai-Sa established an original new style. Kunihiro was one of the students in this group, and according to the book gHidanshoh, in the family geneologies, he was listed as Yoshihirofs son; later a correction listed him as Sadayukifs son. However, Kunihiro has a tanto dated Shohei 12 nen (1358) 12 gatsu kichijitu, and from this, he is must have been Safs student. He does not have too many signed blades, and has few tachi and naginata, and mostly tanto. His tanto are smaller sized and have usual or normal shapes, and were made at the peak of the Nanbokucho style. This work shows a wide mihaba with a thin kasane. Among the works from this school, Kunihiro, Yoshihiro, and Hiroyasu blades have a wide mihaba and strong sori, but we never see such a large size tanto as this one, and it may be that this stlye became popular around the Ryakuo era (1340) which was influenced by Basara (a Buddhist word derived from kongo), or possibly it was made as a hono-to (to be donated to a temple).
( Explanation and oshigata by Hiyama Masanori)
Shijo Kantei To No.647
*For Shijo Kantei To No.646 (in the November issue), the answer is a tanto by Rai Kunimichi.
The deadline to submit answers for the No. 647 issue Shijo Kantei To is January 5, 2011.
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 January 5, 2011. 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: slightly over 9 sun 4 bu (28.6 cm)
Sori: 1 bu (0.3 cm)
Motohaba: 9 bu 4 rin (2.85 cm)
Motokasane: 1 bu 5 rin (0.45 cm)
Nakago lengh: 3 sun (9.1 cm)
Nakago sori: none
This is a hirazukuri tanto. It has an iorimune, wide mihaba, long shape, thin kasane, and has a shallow sori. The jitetsu is itame mixed with prominent mokume. There is also nagare masame hada, and the entire jihada is visible. There are ji-nie, chikei, and white utsuri. The hamon and boshi are as seen on the picture; the habuchi has hotsure, and is mixed with small kuichigaiba; there is a tight nioiguchi, and the nie are worn down. The nakogo is ubu, the tip is a wide ha-agari kurigiri; the yasurime is a very shallow katte-sagari, and there is one mekugiana. The omote and ura mune sides have signatures, and the omote side has date.
Kinnashiji sanbukizamisaya sansaihishimon-kanagu aikuchi koshigatana koshirae
A koshigatana is an aikuchi koshirae style tanto or wakizashi without a tsuba, and used as everyday wear, or as a ceremonial sword inside of a castle, or as a baton or saigai in a battle field. It was worn inside of the obi, and on the omote side there was a kurikata and origane (kaeritsuno or hook) which prevents a sword from falling out of the obi. There was a kogai on the omote and kozuka on the ura side. This kind of koshigatana was used around the Kamakura era, and is seen in the picture scroll gMoko shurai ekotobah, and from the same era a koshirae can be seen in the Mori familyfs collection which is called a Kikuzukuri koshigatana (which is classified as a National treasure). Since the Kamakura era in each era, all kinds of urushi work and kanagu designs were used for koshigatana. This koshigatana was made at least before early the Edo period, and the saya is a sanbu kizami style with gold nashiji urushi with gold makie style work. The kanagu (metal work) for the fuchi, kashira, menuki, kozuka, kogai, koiguchi, kurikata, and kojiri are shakudo with a nanako ground worked in takabori (high relief carving). The tsuka is covered with shirosame (white same), with a gold brown ito (tape ) and is wrapped in a hishimaki style (the openings on the wrapped tape which show the same are regular and rectangular). The kanagu is thought to have been made by the Goto family judging from the carving style, and the same is a high quality skin with large granules dots. The kin-nashiji is very well done, and this koshigatana reflects the Momoyama erafs golden culture.
(Explanation by Iida Toshihiasa)
Teirei Kansho Kai For November
The swords discussed below were shown in the November 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 November 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 Hinohara Dai.
Kantei To No.1: tachi
Mei: Ohara Sanemori
Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 2 bu
Sori: 7 bu
Design: shinogi zukuri
Jihada: Oitame mixed with mokume; the entire hada is visible; there are dense ji-nie, chikei, a dark color jihada, jifu, and jifu utsuri.
Hamon: a suguha style ko-choji mixed with ko-midare, and ko-gunome; there are frequent ashi and yo, frequent ko-nie, and in some parts of the ha the jihada is visible (ha-hada); there are kinsuji and sunagashi.
Boshi: omote and ura are straight with a komaru and return.
This tachi is classified as is Juyo Bijutsuhin. Its shape reflects the end of the Heian to the early Kamakura period and has a characteristic high koshizori and is a narrow tachi. The hamon is a classic komidare style, and the jihada color is dark, and part of the ha-hada is visible, and these are distinctive Kohoki characteristics. Because the dark colored jihada and visibility of the ha-hada are not conspicuous, some people voted for this as Ko-Bizen work. Some Ko-Bizen swords have a large hada and distinctive visible hada, and such a vote is understandable. But this sword has a narrow width for the shinogi ji, and this is a characteristic Ko-Hoki shape. The jihada is mixed with different colors as seen in the jifu type iron, and this is a strong country style characteristic. Also, the ko-midare type hamon is mixed with clear shapes or signs of a ko-gunome hamon, which is not seen often in Ko-Bizen work, and from this, you can judge this sword as an old Hoki blade. Sanemori is known as Yasutsunafs son, and does not have not many signed blades when compared with Yasutsuna, and his ko-midare hamon is smaller than Yasutsunafs, and this work is characteristic of his style.
Kantei To No.2: katana
Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 9 bu
Sori: 6 bu
Design: shinogi zukuri
Jihada: itame mixed with mokume; the entire hada is visible; there are ji-nie, chikei, a dark colored jihada, and white utsuri.
Hamon: a suguha style hamon mixed with ko-gunome; there is hotsure in the habuchi, uchinoke, frequent ashi, ko-nie, kinsuji and sunagashi.
Boshi: the omote and ura are a shallow notarekomi with a komaru.
Horimono: omote and ura have bo-hi carved through the nakago.
This is an osuriage mumei, Ko-Uda katana classified as Juyo Token. Many people judged this as a Shikkake blade because this is a Yamato den style, and part of the hamon has a distinctive continuous gunome pattern. Usually, a Ko-Uda suguha hamon has habuchi hotsure, a kuichigai hamon, and from the kissaki to the nakago, hataraki is visible. There is little hataraki standing out from the hasaki towards the mune direction (such as ko-gunome, ashi, and yo). Shikkake work shows a bright and more refined Yamato Den jihada, but on this sword, itame and mokume hada are visible, along with a dark color jihada and white utsuri. From these characteristics, you can judge this to be work from a branch of the Yamato school. The hamon is a suguha style, mixed with continuous ko-gunome, but compared with a Shikkake blade, this midare hamon is uneven, and has a strong bright color, and frequent nie on the habuchi. Considering these characteristics, Ko-Uda work is a more reasonable answer.
Kantei To No 3: wakizashi
Mei: Izumi-no-kami Fujiwara Kunisada
Length: 1 shaku 3 sun 5.5 bu
Sori: slightly less than 5 bu
Jihada: itame mixed with mokume; the entire jihada is tight, and has ji-nie.
Hamon: straight yakidashi from the habakimoto, and abve this it is notare mixed with gunome and togariba; there are frequent nie, kinsuji and sunagashi.
Boshi: notarekomi togari type hamon with a long deep return; there is a little nie kuzure, hakikake; there is intermittent mune yaki.
From the signature, this work is from around Kanei 3, during the early part of the Shodai Kunisadafs career. The jihada is itame mixed with mokume, and some parts of the hada are visible, but the entire jihada is tight. The hamon has a straight yakidashi at the koshimoto, and above this it is notare mixed with gunome and togariba which is a Kansai style. The boshi has a little nie kuzure, a shallow notare, is a little sharp, and has a return which is a Sanpin style. These characteristics fit exactly the Echigo no kami Kunitoshi style, and the large size signature made with a fine tagane, is similar to Kunitoshifs style, and today people speculate that Kunisadafs actual teacher was Kunitoshi, because of these details. In voting, many people voted for Kunitoshi, and it is an almost correct answer. If this were not a Kunitoshi blade, but were Kunisadafs early work, a difference is the presence of frequent muneyaki. Usually Kunisada is known to use small a round top gunome, with clumped or grouped choji with muneyaki. However, the type blade which we have here is not seen often.
Kantei To No. 4: katana
Mei: oite Nanki Shigekuni tsukuru kore
Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 4 bu
Sori: 5 bu
Design: shinogi zukuri
Jihada: itame mixed with mokume, nagare hada, the entire hada is tight, there are dense jinie, frequent chikei, and a clear jihada.
Hamon: the moto is a shallow notare style yakidashi, and above this it is ko-notare mixed with gunome, a square type hamon, and there are yubashiri, ashi, yo, thick nioi, and thick nie; there are kinsuji and sunagashi and the hamon is bright and clear.
Boshi: the omote and ura above the yokote have yakikomi, and above this, the omote is straight with an omaru, and the ura is an omaru style; there is a small ichimonji style return and hakikake.
Nanki Kunishigefs background as known today is: at the end of the Keicho period to the early Genna era, he was hired by Tokugawa Ieyasu in Suruga, and in Genna 5, he followed the Kishu-han founder Yorinori, and moved to Wakayama. In Genna 8, he became an exclusive Kishu smith and he lived around to Kanei 14. When you look at his career, as a Keicho shinto smith, his active period was late, when compared Horikawa Kunihiro who was active at the end of Tensho to Keicho 18, and they were almost one generation apart. Nanki has a real Keicho shinto style blade made during his time in Suruga, but after he moved to Wakayama, his swords had a narrow mihaba for a Keicho shinto, and his kissaki are chu-kissaki and lonr chu-kissaki; thus it seems correct that the Genna to Kanei eras were his most active period. This sword has a notare hamon mixed with gunome, and all along the yakiba, there are kinsuji and sunagashi hatarakiand this is a Soshu Den style. However,there is a high shinogi, masame hada, and the boshi has hakikake, and these are Yamato Den details. This sword comes from a a smith working in the Keicho shinto period or a little later in the shinto period with Soshu Den and Yamato Den details, and with a very clear ji and ha. From these characteristics, the Nanki name comes to mind. In voting, many people voted for Kunisada and Kotetsu. Because of the space, I will not explain the details, but one important point is: this is Nankifs Soshu Den style blade, but is different from his early Suruga uchi blade or his Genna 7-8 special order wakizashi which has frequent hataraki inside of the hamon. This is a classic dynamic style, and this blade is showing changes to a Kanei period Shinto style which was seen all over Japan. This is a contemporary modern style, and Shigekunfs son Monju Shigekuni worked in a more normal or common Shinto style.
Kantei To No. 5: katana
Mei: Ichiyo Aoe mon
Shume no kami Ichinohira Yasuyo
Length: 2 shaku 2 sun 9 bu
Sori: 5 bu
Design: shinogi zukuri
Jihada: ko-itame, mixed with ko-mokume; the entire jihada is slightly visible; there are dense ji-nie, frequent chikei, and a slightly dark jihada.
Hamon: a suguha style with a small notare hamon mixed with ko-gunome, ko-ashi, dense nioi, thick nie; there are rough nie, kinsuji and sunagashi.
Boshi: the omote and ura have a wide hamon, straight with komaru style, a long return, and hakikake.
Ichinohira Yasuyofs basic style is Shinto Naminohira, but his ji and ha are more clear and have more sophistication. This blade has a wide shinogi ji and high shinogi. The hamon is mainly suguha, with thick nioi and thick nie, mixed with some rough nie. The nakago is kurijiri, the yasurime are higaki, and these details are precisely a Shinto Namihira style. However, looking carefully, it has a brighter ji and ha, and from these details one can think of work by Yasuyo. In voting, some people voted for Nanki Shigekuni. From the shape of the kanji gmeff, this is Yasuhirafs adopted son Yasuarifs daimei katana, and in this case, his style is more gentle than the usual Yasuyo style, with less kinsuji and sunagshi hataraki, and a wider shinogi ji, a high shinogi, and a thick nioiguchi suguha style hamon. If this were a Nanki katana, the jihada would have prominent masame hada, and the habuchi would have Yamato style nijuba and kuichigaiba. This sword has rougher ha-nie, compared with Nanki, and a worn down nioi-guchi, and from these characteristics, you can judge this as a Satsuma blade. The strong hiraniku and heavy weight of this blade are also characteristics of an original Satsuma style.
Shijo Kantei No 645 (October issue)
Answer and Discussion for Shijo Kantei To
645 ( in the October issue). The answer is a katana by Bitchu no kami Tachibana Yasuhiro
This blade has a normal mihaba, and the width at the moto and saki are different. There is a very shallow sori and chu-kissaki, from these characteristics, we can judge this as a Kanbun shinto katana. This sword has midare utsuri, and a gorgeous choji hamon, but the shape is as seen, and the shinogi ji has masame hada, and the boshi is komaru. From these characteristics, this is not an old Bizen katana, like Ichimonji, and it is more likely to be a Shinto period Ishido school katana. The modern Ishido school had branches in Edo, Kyoto, Osaka, Kishu, and Fukuoka, and each branch school had an original style and produced well made blades. Among these schools, a long yakidashi at the koshimoto is an important characteristic for the Kishu Ishido school. This hamon at the koshimoto shows a slight midare pattern which is different from usual pattern, but if this part were suguha, it would be a typical Kishu Ishido yakidashi. the Kishu Ishido schoolfs yakidashi yakihaba (width) are not an even suguha, and towards the upper part of the yakidashi section, the width becomes wider, and this katana shows this feature. Also, the Kishu Ishido school choji midare hamon have a wide hamon, as seen on this katana, and often the top of the hamon reaches the shinogisuji. At the same time, each choji is narrow, and entire hamon is smaller, and has a tight nioiguchi, and the hints mentioned these characteristics. The Kishu Ishido boshi are straight with a komaru, or are midarekomi, and often have a long return, like on this katana. They can often have frequent muneyaki. Among the Kishu Ishido smiths, Yasuhiro has more work left today. His nakago tips are iriyamagata, and on the ura under the habaki there is a mon, and from these characteristics, the Bitchu-no-kami Yasuhiro nameis suggested. Most of the people voted for Yasuhiro, and besides his name, a few people voted for Tosa Shogen Tameyasu and Mutsu-no-kami Tameyasu who are also Kishu Ishido school smiths. These smiths made choji midare hamon, and it is difficult to judge distinctively between their styles. In particular, Tosa Shogen Tameyasu has katana with mon on the omote side, so these names are treated as almost correct answers. Tosa Shogen Tameyasu has very few blades, and Mutsu-no-kami Tameyasufs nakago jiri are kurijiri. Beside these, a few people voted for Unju Korekazu. As a Shinshinto smith, his mihaba are normal or slightly wide, and his kissaki are chu-kissaki or long chu-kissaki, which are common shapes. A choji midare hamon is his strong point, and a few blades have an Aoe-mon; so from these characteristics, people may have voted for him. Korekazufs shapes are wide but his work show a thick kasane, and many of them have a narrow shinogi-haba which often are seen in Shinshinto blades; his jitetsu is a tight ko-itame and can become a become muji-hada type, and are often mixed with nagare hada. His early choji hamon, have narrow clusters, and tops are not round; there is a tight and strong nioiguchi, similar to Chounsai Tsunatoshi and Koyama Munetsugu. Usually his choji in each cluster are thick, the tops are large and round, and more likely to be similar to gunome midare hamon. There are dense nioi, dense nie, and frequent kinsuji and sunagashi. In addition, Korekazu has very few Aoi-mon blades, so please pay attention to these details.
Explanation and provided by Hinohara Dai.