September, 2011



Meito Kanshou

Appreciation of Important Swords


Tokubetsu Juyo Token


Type: Tachi

Mei: Bizen Osafune ju Motoshige


Length: 2 shaku 5 sun 5 bu (77.25 cm)

Sori : 5 bu 6 rin (1.7 cm)

Motohaba: 1 sun 1 bu (3.05 cm)

Sakihaba: 6 bu 8 rin (2.05 cm)

Motokasane: 2 bu (0.6 cm)

Sakikasane: 1 bu 5 rin (0.45 cm)

Kissaki length: 1 sun 8 rin (3.25 cm)

Nakago length: 7 sun 5 bu 6 rin (22.9 cm)

Nakago sori: 3 rin (0.1 cm)



This is a shinogizukuri tachi with an ihorimune, which is slightly long, a large kasane (the blade is thick), and the widths at the moto and saki are not much different. This blade is suriage, but has a large koshizori, and has a somewhat short chu-kissaiki. The jihada is itame mixed with mokume and nagarehada, and some parts of the jihada are visible. There are dense ji-nie, chikei, and pale midare utsuri. The hamon is chu-suguha mixed with ko-gunome, and has square type hamon elements. There are ko-choji, shimaba (similar to tobiyaki), and some areas have saka ashi (notably, the uras ide has more). There are frequent ashi and yo, and this is almost nioi deki, and there are some kinsuji and sunagashi. The boshi is straight above the yokote on the omote, and the ura is a very shallow notare. On both sides, the tips is sharp and there is a return. The nakago is suriage, the nakago jiri is a shallow haagari kurijiri, the yasurime are sujichigai, and there are two mekugi ana. On the omote side, above the second mekugi ana ( which is the ubu mekugiana) towards the mune edge, there is a large sized long signature, and the ura side has a date.

Osafune Motoshige has blades dated from Showa 5 (1316) to Joji 2 (1363), and because 50 years is a long working lifetime, there are two opinions: one is that he was one person, and another opinion is that he was actually 2 smiths working over two generations, and we still do not have a clear conclusion. There are some examples however: the Yamashiro smith Rai Kunitoshi signed a blade stating that he was 75, and the Yamato smith Shikkake Norinaga signed stating that he was 69, and from these, Motoshigefs half century of work might not be unusual. His hamon from the beginning to his last work were a continuous regular square gunome hamon, and there are not very big differences from early his work to his later work. Because of the different sizes of his signatures (large and small), there are opinions that his work was made by a shodai and nidai smith. However, around the Koei to Jowa eras, there was a transitional period, and the usual tachi shape changed to have a wide mihaba, a long kissaki shape, and the width of the shinogi ji changed from wide to narrow, and the size of the signature also changed along with the change in the shape. There are examples of this change in the work of other smiths from the same area: Kanemitsu, Chikakage, and Motoshigefs young brother Shigezane changed the size of their signatures, and from this, it would be a sound opinion to believe that Motoshigefs work represents that of a single smith. His ancestry is supposed to have included Hatakeyama Iemori, and Morishige to Motoshige. Moriie has a tanto with primarily square gunome mixed with kataochi gunome, and some sakaashi (thought to be work from around the Koan to Einin eras), and Morishige has a tanto with low wide square gunome, and the top of hamon is even, and there are many much kataochi gunome, which is very similar to Motoshigefs work (this is dated Showa 5, and the signature is similar to Motoshigefs at the same period).There is a book g Kanchiin hon Mei Zukushih which was written in the same era as Morishige and Motoshigefs active period (there were three generations of smiths: Moriie, Morishige, and Motoshige), and around Morishigefs time the book mentions g Goro Moriieh and Motoshige was described as g the son of Morishigeh, and from these comments, Motoshigefs line of ancestry seems to be correct. Motoshige has a blade with unusually strong ha-nie and outstanding hataraki containing kinsuji and sunagashi, and which shows a strong Soshuden style. Other blades also exist which do not have hamon which are primarily square gunome. Some are suguha mixed with square gunome and with sakaashi; an entire hamon in a suguha style just like this tachi; a hamon showing ko-gunome mixed with ko-choji; and a square type of hamon with saka-ashi. From the end of the Kamakura period to the early Nanbokucho period Motoshigefs hamon are same style as his provincefs other smiths, but his jihada have nagarehada, and sometimes jifu appears, and many boshi tips are sharp, and

these characteristics are based on Bizen work, but show some influences from the neighboring province Bichu Aoe. This tachi has a wide mihaba, and the kasane at the nakago is thick, it is suriage, but has koshizori, and a dynamic tachi shape. There are no jifu which often seen in his blades, and the entire jihada is refined. Also, the hamon has ashi yo, abundant hataraki, and a healthy shape, and this is a well made tachi.


(Explanation and oshigata by Ishii Akira)



Juyo tosogu


Susuki zu (Japanese pampas grass image) kozuka

Mei: Goto Mitsutoshi (kao)


Susuki is a rice family member, and every year new sprouts emerge from the root, and often the plant forms a large clump. Susukifs other name is obana, and people love it as a one of autumnfs seven plants. A design containing a combination of the moon and susuki is called Musashino-zu, and this is a good motif for tosogu. An August harvest moon goes well with susuki, and this kozuka design shows susuki with the moon carved out with a large volume in gold, and the susuki tassels are silver iroe (silver). The background is solid gold with gorgeous gold nanako, and the entire kozuka displays a rich volume. Mitsutoshi is the 11th generation of the main Goto family, and his other Buddhist name is Tsujo. He was the branch family Senjofs third son, and was born in Kanbun 4 (1664 . The main familyfs 10th generation Renjofs son Mitsuyoshi pastsed away at the young age of 25, and he had no successor, so Renjofs daughter married with Mitsutoshi and he became Renjofs adopted son, and was named Shiro byoe Mitsutoshi. In Genroku 10 (1697), when he was 34 years old, his adopted father Renjo retired, and Mitsutoshi succeed as the 11th main Goto family head. In Kyoho 5 ( 1720 ) he became Buddhist priest and used the name Tsujo, but a year later he became ill and passed away. That why there are not too many works with the name Tsujo. His active period was from the Genroku to Kyoho eras, and there were many great machibori smiths active then, and Tsujo enjoyed prestige as the head of the main Goto family. He produced many great works including this one. @


Explanation by Iida Toshihisa and photo by Kubo Ryo.




Shijo Kantei To No. 656


*The answer for Shijo Kantei No.655 (in the August, 2011 issue) is a katana by Senji Muramasa.

The deadline to submit answers for the No. 656 issue Shijo Kantei To is October 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 magazine. We will accept any votes postmarked on or before October 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: tachi

Length: 2 shaku 3. 5 sun (69. 84 cm)

Sori: 6. 5 bu (1. 97 cm)

Motohaba: 9 bu 1 rin (2. 75 cm)

Sakihaba: 5 bu 5 rin (2. 75 cm)

Motokasane: 1 bu 5 rin (0.95 cm)

Kissaki length: 9 bu 9 rin (3 cm)

Nakago length : 7 sun 6. 5 bu (23. 18 cm)

Nakago sori: 1 bu (0.3 cm)


This is a shinogizukuri tachi with an ihorimune, a standard mihaba, and the widths at the moto and saki are different. It is suriage, with a large koshizori, the tip has sori, there is a very thick kasane for the mihaba, and there is a chu kissaki. The jihada is itame mixed with mokume, the hada is visible; there are ji-nie; dense chikei which look like kawari tetsu; jifu; and pale midare utsuri. The hamon and boshi are as seen in the picture. The hamon has ko-ashi, yo, and the hamon is low for the mihaba. the entire hamon is small or narrow, it is based in nioi, there are ko-nie and some sunagshi. The horimono on the omote and ura are bohi with marudome. The nakago is suriage, and the nakago jiri was originally kurijiri.The yasurime are katte sagari. There are three mekugi-ana, and on the omote side a little above the ubu ana towards the mune side thereis a long signature. On the and the ura side in almost the same location there is a date (this signature does not have any gyaku-tagane strokes).




Shijo Kantei No 654 ( in the July, 2011 issue)


The answer for the Shijo Kantei To No. 654 in the July issue is a tanto by Hosho Sadaoki.


This tanto has a standard mihaba and an almost standard length. It has uchizori, and from this shape, you can judge this as a mid-Kamakura era tanto. The Hosho school jihada are a tight refined masame hada. There are dense ji-nie, frequent chikei, and the hamon is bright and clear. This schoolfs jihada often have bo-utsuri, like on this tanto, and this is different from the Rai schoolfs bo-utsuri with a tight itame hada. The Hosho schoolfs utsuri is affected by the masame hada, and the jihada in locations where where there is bo-utsuri looks different from the areas where no utsuri is visible, and has a striped pattern. The hamon is suguha with a little notare activity, mixed with hotsure, nijuba, kuichigaiba, and there are frequent nie, fine kinsuji and sunagashi, and the hamon is bright and clear. These are Yamato school characteristics, and this is a well made tanto. The boshi has frequent hakikake and is yakizume. Among the schoolfs work, some blades have dense nie from the edge up to the inside of the habuchi; the hamon is bright and clear; there are frequent kinsuji and sunagashi; and the boshi has frequent hakikake. There is abundant hataraki. Other work from this school shows narrow bands of nie, less kinsuji, sunagashi and hakikake, and are somewhat gentle looking. The Hosho school nakago is kiri, the signature is on the omote, and the yasurime in this school are a unique higaki, and the hints suggested this. Most of the people voted for Hosho school smiths, such as Sadaoki, Sadayoshi,Sadakiyo, and Sadamune. These smithfs styles are very similar, and it is difficult to judge an individual name, so all Hosho school smithfs names were treated as a correct answer. In considering the shape, Sadayoshi has many larger sized works, Sadaoki often has smaller sized works, and Sadakiyo has both sizes. Sadamune is known as being representative of the Hosho school smiths, but today we never see his work, so unless you see some specific point or feature, it is better not to write his name. Because of their unique entirely masame jihada, the Hosho school name is famous, but there are very few swords extant today. These include tachi and tanto with signatures, katana without signature. These blades have classifications of koku ho, juyo bunkazai, juyo bijutsuhin, tokubetsu juyo, and juyo token. The number of signed blades is 23, and the number of clearly identified works without a signature is around 45. Thus we do not have many chances to see work from this school today.


Explanation provided by Hinohara Dai.