May, 2011



Meito Kanshou

Appreciation of Important Swords


Classification: Tokubetsu Juyo Token

Type: Katana

Mei: Mumei Nagamitsu 


Length:  2 shaku 4 sun 7 rin  (72.9 cm)

Sori : 7 bu 6 rin (2.3 cm)

Motohaba: 9 bu 7 rin (2.95 cm) 

Sakihaba: 6 bu 5 rin (1.95 cm)

Motokasane: 2 bu 6 rin (0.8 cm) 

Sakikasane: 1 bu 7 rin (0.5 cm)

Kissaki length: 1 sun 2 rin (3.1 cm)

Nakago length: 6 sun 5 bu 1 rin (19.75 cm)  

Nakago sori: very slight



   This is a shinogi zukuri katana with an ihorimune, a usual mihaba, a thick kasane, and the widths at the moto and saki are different. There is a large sori and a chu-kissaki. The jihada is a tight ko-itame and there are jinie, fine  chikei, and a pale midare utsuri. The hamon is a choji mixed with ko-gunome, gunome, square shaped gunome, and togari shaped gunome. The entire hamon is small and narrow, and there is not much variation in the width of the hamon. There are frequent ashi and yo, and a nioi type hamon. The boshi is a shallow notare with a round return, and the ura side has kinsuji . The horimono on the omote and ura are bo-hi carved through the entire length of the nakago.  The nakago is o-suriage; there is a haagari kurijiri; the yasurime are slightly katte sagari; and there are two mekugi-ana. The sword is mumei.

Nagamitsu is a symbol of the Osafune school smiths, and inherited his father Mitsutadafs style, ability, and success, and a firmly established school. At this point, after the era of the Ichimonji school, this school and Nagamitsu had a very high reputation.  The majority of  his signed blades are Kamakura era work, and they are mostly tachi, but he made all kinds of  blades: kotachi, naginata, tanto, and ken.  His dates start with Bunei 11 (1274) (some people question this date, and this particular date is supposed to have been signed later according to some records). His signed work is dated up to Kagen 2 (1304). This is a 30 year active period, and during all these years his shapes and styles changed. In his early work, there are high choji hamon mixed with kawazuko choji, and very active, beautiful and gorgeous, just like his father Mitsutadafs work. In th emiddle of his career, the yakihaba are just right, and the hamon are composed mainly of a choji type of round top gunome, and these are Nagamitsufs charecteristic hamon. Later, his hamon become narrower or lower, and a suguha style mixed with ko-choji or just suguha. We can see his style changing by the era, from a gorgeous or flashy style to an elegant style. As the yakihaba change, his tachi shapes also changed. They started with a wide mihaba, an inokubi style kissaki, and a very dynamic shape. Later they have a more usual shape, and at the end of his career, the tachi show a narrower elegant shape. As people know, the transition period when he changed his style was supposed to be around the time of the Mongolian invasion (called the Genko period) in Shoo (1288-93). Beside this, there are four tanto, dated Koan 8 (1285), Einin 2, and 3 (1294, 1295), and a mumei one. The tanto hamon have a kataochi style gunome, which is the next generation Kagemitsufs style, and these tantos are an important source of information to argue that Nagamistu created this original style hamon. This is an osuriage katana, but it still has a dynamic tachi shape with a large sori, and the jihada is a refine beautiful ko-itame hada with midare utsuri. The hamon has abundant  hataraki, and there is no question that this is a very sophisticated blade. Also, the boshi is a shallow notare with a round return, called a gsansaku boshih (the omote is a very good example), and this sword shows Nagamitsufs characteristics and all his good points, and it does not matter that it is osuriage. This is a very well made blade. During the the Edo period, this is supposed to have belonged to the Kishu Tokugawa family, and has an origami by Honnami Mitsutsune dated Tenwa 2 nen.           


(Explanation and oshigata by Ishii Akira)



Juyo Tosogu


Hairyu-zu menuki (moving dragon god with a flame design )

Mumei  Yujo

with origami stating: Hoei 6 nen dai 250 kan Mitsutoshi


An attractive point of connoisseur level work is that you can say honestly that a good object is good. In the tosogu world, a dragon is a traditional design, and is frequently on Goto family work, and fortunately, I have been able to see hundreds of different kinds of dragon designs. With or without an origami, you can imagine it is rare to come across genuine Yujo work, and if I see his work, I am very delighted. I like the words in the Sokenkisho book gAll good horimono work was started by Goto Yojo, and we can consider him as a father or inventor of such work. Some people say, before Yujofs time, Ichikawa Hikosuke was a good carver and used three types of chisels, but we have already decided that Yujo is the father of innovation here, and no other opinion matters.h The book said there are many theories, but people already recognized Yujo as an inventor or originator, and I feel comfortable with these bold words. Yujo was not only an inventor, but also an excellent smith, and nobody can beat that. To judge Yujofs work, there are many characteristic points. For example, on these menuki, his nikuoki shows a strong contrast between the high parts and deep valleys.  The dragonfs forehead shows wrinkles, the stomach is detailed. The dragonfs scales show a three dimensional presence in a style called Higakibeshi. One can also  one can see that the wrists and ankles have volume, and his nails look strong, the corners have trianglular chisel marks, and there are more details. If you see 80% of his characteristics, that would be fine, but if see 60-70% of his characteristics, a work would be called gdeng (or glikely Yujoh).

It does not matter how many times you look at these menuki, you never get tired of it, and this is a very dynamic Yujo work. This is authenticated by the 11th generation Mitsutoshi, and there is a special blue cloth with origami, and from this, you can recognize that this belonged to the collection of a wealthy merchant family in Osaka: the Konoike family collection. This family started with sake brewing in the early Edo period, and turned to currency exchanging and made a fortune. After the Meiji restoration, they were active in finance and commerce. The family had many tea ceremony masters over many generations, and they are very culturally sophisticated. Their tosogu collections consist of mainly Goto family work, and they collected from the progenitor and each generation, and asked for authentication from the main Honnami family. The Konoike family loved their collection, and the quality of the pieces is excellent. This Hoei 6 origami was made at the third generation Munetoshifs time, and at that time business was very prosperous. I can imagine they might have said gToshi san please take care of this menukih, and Mitsutoshi answered gYes, sir Ko, thank you for your business,h they had an excellent relationship with each other, and they belonged to the highest levels of society.     


(Commentary by Yasuko Kubo and photos by Kubo Ryo )       



Shijo Kantei To No. 652


*The answer for Shijo Kantei No.651 (in the April, 2011 issue) is a tachi by Osafune Motoshige.


The deadline to submit answers for the No. 652 issue Shijo Kantei To is June 5, 2011.

Each person may submit one vote. Submissions should contain your your name and address and be sent to the NBTHK Shijo Kantei. You can use the Shijo Kantei card which is attached in this magagzine. We will accept any votes postmarked on or before June 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.




Type: Katana


Length: 2 shaku 3 sun (69.69 cm)

Sori: 6.5 bu (1.97 cm)

Motohaba: 9 bu 9 rin (3.0 cm)

Sakihaba: 6 bu 3 rin (1.9 cm)

Motokasane: 3 bu (0.9 cm)

Sakikasane: 1bu 7 rin (0.5 cm)

Kissaki length: 9 bu 9 rin (3.0 cm)

Nakago length: 7 sun 2 bu (21.82 cm)

Nakago sori: very slight


This is a shinogi zukuri katana with an ihorimune, a usual mihaba, and the widths at the moto and saki are different. The katana has a large sori, and there is a chu-kissaki, and a slight or poor hiraniku. The jihada is tight ko-itame and is almost a muji-hada. The hamon and boshi are as seen in the picture. The hamon has  long ashi, a bright tight nioiguchi, the strong nioiguchi has ko-nie, and around the koshimoto the hamon is soft. The horimono on the omote and ura are bo-hi and soehi, with marudome at the lower part, and under this on the omote there is a kurikara ukibori in the flame,  and the ura has a sankoe-ken. The nakago is ubu, and there is a ha-agari kurijiri. The yasurime are osuji chigai with kesho. There is one mekugi-ana, and on the omote of the nakago on the mune side  there is a long signature and seal, and on the ura between the mekugi ana and nakago center there is a date,  and under the mekugiana  on the mune side there is a gassaku smith mei. (this katana shows a characteristic omote side smithfs signature style, and in your answer, please provide the omote side smithfs name) 



Teirei Kanshou Kai For April


The swords discussed below were shown in the April 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 April 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 Hiyama Masanori.



Kantei To No.1: tanto


Mei: Kiyomaro

         Koka Hinoto Hitsuji-toshi 8 gatsuhi


Length: 9 sun 4.5 bu

Sori: very slight

Style: hirazukuri

Mune: mitsumune

Jihada: tight ko-itame; there are fine thick ji-nie, chikei, and pale bo utsuri.

Hamon: chu-suguha; some areas have some ko-ashi; there is a tight nioiguchi, and ko-nie.   

Boshi: straight with a komaru and shallow return.

Horimono: the omote has a so style kurikara, and the ura has gomabashi with tsume (a type of base at the bottom of the horimono), and kasanebori.


This is a hirazukuri tanto with a wide mihaba, and from these characteristics we can judge this as being a Keicho Shinto or Shinshinto era tanto. The hamon is a suguha style and has bo-utsuri. the omote side has a so style kurikara horimono, from these characteristics, this appears to be a copy of a Nanbokucho era tanto. In particular, this reminds one of Bizen Kanemitsu or his schoolfs smiths utsushimono. The jihada is very tight, and it almost looks mu-jihada, and from these characteristics one can judge this as a Shinshinto tanto. In the late Edo Shinshinto period, smiths who tried to work in Bizen Den styles are Suishinshi Masahide, his senior student Naotane, the Koyama Munetsugu school, the Hosokawa Masayoshi school, and the Chounsai Tsunatoshi school. Many smiths tried this, but this is the only utsushimono we have that Kiyomaro made during his career, and even his school has no utsushinomo. For this reason, except for a few people who have seen this in the past, it was difficult to judge at the first vote, so very few people had the correct answer. This is a very well made tanto, and many people had two opinions, either from the old Kanemoto school smiths, or another Shinshinto smith who was good at utsushimono. But if you compare this with koto period tanto, the jihada is a tight ko-itame, a mu-ji type, and the suguha nioiguchi is tight and fresh and looks newer. Also, Naotane has Kanemitsu utsushinomo, and his specialty was a kataochi gunome style midare hamon, and the white utsuri in places is mixed with a darker utsuri, and this is a characteristic of Shinshinto blades, and we call this a gyakeutsurih. Koyama Munetsugu made Koryu Kagemitsu utsushimono, and his hamon repeating over  a 3-4 sun distance, and does not have this kind of utsuri. Among the Hosokawa and Chounsai school smiths, we have never seen this kind of Kagemitsu utsuri. Kiyomaro is an extraordinary smith working in Soshu  Den styles, and his tecnique is same for Bizen Den, and we can feel his presence when he did tsuchioki  for the suguha hamon here with the irregular short and fine ashi. 



Kantei To No.2: Tanto


Mei: shu Saemon Kanekiyo saku

        Oei 3 nen 2 gatsu


Length: slightly less than 9 sun 4 bu

Sori: uchizori

Design: hirazukuri

Mune: mitsumune

Jihada: tight masame type hada; there are dense ji-nie, and chikei.

Hamon: large shallow notare; there are sunagashi and fine kinsuji; some places have a wide and some places have a shallow nioiguchi; there are frequent ko-nie. 

Boshi: slightly midarekomi; there are frequent hakikake, and a slightly long return.


Generally, Yamato school smiths do not have many signed tachi, tanto, naginata, and ken, but among them, the Tegai schoolfs Kanenaga and his school have more signed blades. Kanekiyofs name was used for several generations and to the end of the Muromachi era, starting with Kanenagafs son. Signed Kanekiyo blades are known dated on Kareki 4, Ooan 3, and Kyoroku 2. This one has frequent ji-nie, and chikei, and the hamon is a notare type with thick nie. Also, looking at the hamon carefully, the habuchi has fine hotsure, sunagashi, uchinoke, and kuichigaiba. Nijuba are present, and around the monouchi the width of the ha becomes wider, and the boshi  tip has hakikake, and these are characteristic Yamato Den style features. From these details, we can judge this as a Kamakura to Nanbokucho period mainstream Yamato Den blade. At that time, in Yamato, the Senjiin, Tegai, Shikkake, Toma, and Hosho schools were active and these are called thegYamato 5 schoolsh. Among these, the Senjuin and Toma schools had very few signed tantos, so from this you can eliminate them. The Shikkake school gunome hamon is distinctive, and the nie are more gentle. In the Hosho school, the entire jihada is masame, and this is characteristic, but a more prominent masame hada is seen in their work. However, it was defficult to pick an individual smithfs name, so if you can judge this as the work of a Tegai school smith, it is sufficient.     



Kantei To No 3: Katana


Mei: Chikuzen no kami Kurihara Nobuhide oite Osaka

         Keio 2 nen 8 gatsu hi


Length: slightly over 2 shaku 7 bu

Sori: 5 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune:  Ihorimune

Jihada: visible itame hada; there are thick ji-nie and chikei.

Hamon: wide yakiba; gunome mixed with kaku-gunome, togarigunome, and choji; there are long ashi, and the center of  the hamon has thick kinsuji, long sunagashi, frequent ko-nie; some places have rough or course nie (ara-nie).

Boshi: midarekomi; the tip has strong hakikake; there is a long return.


Kiyomaro school blades have a wide mihaba, and the widths at the moto and saki are not much different. There is a narrow shinogi ji for the mihada, a sharp angle at the shinogi and a high shinogi ji. There is a shallow sori, sakizori, an okissaki, a poor fukura, not much hiraniku, and they preferred  dynamic and sharp shapes. Kiyomaro and his school used shiho-zume and hon-san-mai kitae (forging), in which the hagane is covered by the kawagane. Because of this, many of their works have long kinsuji and sunagashi on the ha side jigane, and inside of the ha, and this katana shows these characteristics. Nobuhide had the highest level of skill among the Kiyomaro school smiths, and his blades are almost as good as Kiyomaro. He also made nie type blades, and others have controlled hataraki inside of the hamon and are refined and well finished blades. He carved many horimono which are not seen often on his teacher Kiyomarofs blades, and he established his own style. Many of Kiyomarofs and his other his studentsf hamon have round gunome, and  Nobuhidefs hamon contain a mixture which includes square and sharp shaped hamon features. This boshi has frequent nie and the tip is sharp, and this is characteristic of his teacherfs work. Because of this, many people voted for Kiyomaro or one of his schoolfs smiths. Kiyomaro school smiths made characteristic gunome midare hamon; one of his students, Kiyondo, made the same kind of hamon as his teacher, but many of his round topped gunome stand out, and the entire hamon and hataraki are more gentle. Many of Suzuki Masaofs works have a low gunome midare hamon.  Around Ganji 1, on July 1, Choshu was defeated, and ordered by the Tokugawa bakufu, Nobuhide helped to produce arms (swords) in Osaka, so he stayed in Osaka from August of Ganji 1 to New Yearfs on Keio 3. In May of Keio 5, at the age of 51 he received the title Chikuzen no kami.      



Kantei To No. 4: wakizashi


Mei: Rakuyo ju Fujiwara Kunihiro

         Keicho 15 nen 8 gatsu hi 


Length: 9 sun 4.5 bu

Sori: very slight

Design: hirazukuri

Mune: mitsumune

Jihada: itame hada, mixed with mokume; the hada is tight and the entire hada is visible; there are fine dense ji-nie and chikei; the machi side has a clear mizukage.

Hamon: wide yakiba; shallow notare mixed with gunome; there is a tight nioiguchi and frequent ko-nie.

Boshi: shallow notare; the tip is round with a slightly long return.

Horimono: omote and ura have katana hi with soe hi extending into the nakago.


This blade has a wide mihaba, thick kasane, and is large and long hirazukuri wakizashi, From this you can narrow the period down to work from the Nanbokucho or Keicho Shinto eras, or from the Shinshinto period. Because of  the thick kasane, you can guess this is either a either Keicho Shinto or Shinshinto blade. Kunihiro was active from Sue-koto times to early Shinto times, and his early work is called  gTensho uchih  and  gFuruya uchih and his later work done when he lived in Horikawa in Kyoto is called  g Keicho uchih and gHorikawa uchih. between these two different periods, his blades show major differences. This one was made after he moved to Horikawa in Kyoto, and has a more refined jigane than before: the important point is that you have to look at the jigane very carefully. This is itame mixed with mokume, and the hada is very visible> We  call this a gzanzurih type hada. This is the Horikawa schoolfs  distinctive jihada, and if you recognize this feature, you can judge this as a Horikawa school blade. Also, the nioiguchi appears worn down, and this is the schoolfs characteristic style. The Horikawa school used Soshu master smiths such as Shizu, Masamune, Sadamune, and Samonji as models, and this shallow notare hamon, and the boshi style are supposed to be modeled after Soshu master smith work. Among the schoolfs work, this is a more gentle hamon; around the monouchi the hamon becomes wider, and there is a dense nioiguchi. Some parts of the nioiguchi are tight, and the width varies, so there are strong and weak parts, and if you see these characteristics, you can judge this as work by Kunihiro. Also, if you take off the habaki, under the  machi there is mizukage, and yakikomi, and these features are often seen in the work of  Kunihiro, Hiromitsu, Masahiro, and Kunitoku who are senior smiths. The date of Kunihirofs death is not certain, but according to Kawaguchi Ayumifs paper, at the end of Edo Tamaru Nobunarifs book gKintairokuh it says that  Kunihiro passed away on Keicho 19 (1614) at the age of 84.    



Kantei To No. 5: katana


Mei: Kanemoto


Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 7 bu

Sori: 6 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: itame hada mixed with nagare hada; there are fine ji-nie, some chikei, and

          white utsuri.

Hamon: gunome hamon mixed with round top gunome, togari gunome, togariba, and five hamon elements grouped together become a sanbonsugi style hamon along the yakiba; there is a slightly prominent nioiguchi, ko-nie, and the entire hamon has a tight dense nioiguchi.

Boshi: the omote and ura have a large notare pattern; the tip is omaru; the curve of the hamon forms a jizo style.


Looking at the moto and saki, it appears that the funbari is a little small, and from this, we suppose that this blade is suriage. The sharp shinogi angle and high shinogi ji, the slightly thin kasane, poor hiraniku, strong sakizori, and poor fukura lets us judge this as being an uchigatana from the end of the Muromachi era. The jihada is itame mixed with nagarehada, there is a strong visible hada, prominent white utsuri, and these are typical Sue-Seki characteristics. The hamon is a sanbonsugi style, but there are many patterns: the heights of the togariba are high and low, they are continuous for three, four or five elements, and they form a group. Between the groups, the valleys form a low yakiba and move toward the tip of the hamon. From the moto to the saki the irregular togariba hamon is continuous, and the entire hamon appears like a sanbonsugi style. Another style of hamon is based on round topped gunome  instead of togariaba. This katana is the work of the the nidai Kanemoto (Magoroku). The hamon has round topped gunome mixed with togariba, and one group is formed from five continuous elements along the hamon. There are variations in the height of the yakiba, and the entire hamon is an irregular sanbonsugi style. The variations in the height of the hamon produces a prominent dynamic shape, and shows a strong spirit. Either style of Kanemotofs work is different from later erafs standardized sanbonsugi hamon. Magoroku has an original style, and you can see the nidai Magorokufs high skill as the inventor of this type of hamon. This blade is typical of his style, and many people voted for the correct answer on the first vote.       



Shijo Kantei No 650 (in the March, 2011 issue)


The answer for the Shijo Kantei To No. 650 in the March issue is a katana by the Shodai Dewa no kami Yukihiro.


Keicho Shinto Hizen smiths, such as the Shodai Tadayoshi and Iyo no jo Munetsugu used a Keicho Shinto shape, but later smiths such as the Nidai Tadahiro, Sandai Tadayoshi, Shodai Masahiro, and Yukihira forged shapes which gradually changed to the original Hizen shape which are not seen in other provinces. This shape has a usual or slightly wider mihaba, and the widths at the moto and saki are not much different. There is a chu-kissaki or a slightly long chu-kissaki. For their average size, the average sori is 6 bu, and there is a high torii-zori, and beauty of this shape is known as one of the best shaped swords in the Shinto era. The Hizen jihada is primarily ko-itame with dense ji-nie and fine chikei, which is called komemuka hada. The mainstream smiths ,Tadayoshi and Tadahiro, made jihada which are a tight ko-itame, which is bright and refined. The branch smithsf jihada characteristics are a visible ko-itame hada and a darker colored jihada. The hamon are based on round topped choji and gunome, komidare, high and low yakiba, and a georgeous midare hamon which has ashi, yo, a thick nioiguchi, frequent nie, and the valleys in the hamon have prominent nie. There are kinsuji and sunagashi, and the boshi is straight and parallel with the fukura, and there is a komaru return, and these are characteristic Hizen blade midare hamon. Also, several  choji and gunome hamon are continuous and form one group, and between the groups in the hamon there is a low notare hamon. This kind of hamon is seen often in the work of Masahiro and Yukihiro who were branch Hizen smiths. The nakago is kurijiri, the yasurime are sujichigai, and on the ura mune side there is a long signature, and this is the Shodai Yukihirofs nakago style. Most of the people voted for the Shodai Yukihiro, and many of the others are voted for Kawachi Daijo Masahiro, and Harima Daijo Tadakuni. Usually, Masahiro has the most gorgeous hamon and dynamic style among these three, and in the Tadakuni hamon, the valleys of the hamon have prominent  kinsuji and sunagashi.  In Yukihirofs work, the hamon are often combined or mixed with strange shaped hamon, and compared with the other two smiths, the level of his workmanshipappears somewhat lower.  This sword has a high yakiba and gorgeous midare hamon, and for Yukihiro, this is one of his better works. Initially, it looks like Masahirofs work, and it is hard to find a clear difference from Tadakuni, so at this point, Hizen branch major smiths, who use sujichigai, and o-sujichigai yasurimei on their nakago, are all treated as correct answers. But Masahirofs nakago jiri are iriyamagata, and Tadakuni uses both, iriyamagata and kurijiri. The Shodai Tadayoshi, Musashi Daijo Tadahiro, Sandai Tadayoshi, and Iyo no jo Munetsugu names are almost correct answers. These smiths are individually a little different from Yukihiro, but the big difference is the nakago yasurimei which are kiri, katte sagari, and katte agari, they are almost always horizontal (kiri) yasuri. The main families of the Shodai Tadahiro and Nidai Tadahiro have hamon based on round topped choji and gunome, has dense nie in the hamon valleys. They have  kinsuji and sunagashi, and midare hamon, but most of time they use only choji and gunome hamon, from the moto to saki. But as I mentioned before, the branch family smiths often use groups of choji and gunome, and between the groups there is a low notare hamon. Also, the Shodai Tadayoshi and Nidai Tadahiro have some examples where several gunome and choji form one group and between these groups there is a low notare hamon called a gShizu utsushih, but in this case, each gunome and choji has almost the same shape, and is different from this kind of alternating grouped hamon.                


Explanation provided by Hinohara Dai.



The Heisei 22 nen Shijo Kantei To


We are sincerely sorry for the victims the Tohoku and Kanto disaster.

Because of this disaster, some areas had post office service problems, and could not deliver the Token-Bijutsu March issue. Our home page provided information about the March Shijo Kantei to, but it was not fair for everyone. Thus for the Heisei 22 Shijo Kantei To, we are listing the February to April voting results (because of problems with mail delivery in March). We hope you can understand this problem. We appreciate your understanding.