NBTHK SWORD JOURNAL

ISSUE NUMBER 657

October, 2011

 

 

Meito Kanshou

Appreciation of Important Swords

 

Juyo Bijutsu Hin

 

Type: Katana

Mei: Mumei Den Masamune (Meibutsu Musashi Masamune)

With: Tsuruashi kawatsutsumi denchu Aoimon chirashi saya tetsukanagu        denchu kojiri uchikatana koshirae ( koshirae for use inside of a castle )

With: Old saya, one volume of Masamune tanto-ki (forging record)

         A letter from Kagawa Keizo to Iwakura Tomomi

         A letter from  Honnami Choshiki to Kagawa Keizo

         Honnami Choshikifs certification

Owned by: NBTHK (gift from Fujisawa Genyu and Fujisawa Kazuyuki ) 

                    

Length: slightly less than 2 shaku 4 sun 4 bu (74 cm)

Sori : 4 bu (1.2 cm)

Motohaba: 9 bu 6 rin (2. 91 cm) 

Sakihaba:  7 bu (2.12 cm)

Motokasane: 1 bu 7.5 rin  (0.53 cm) 

Sakikasane: slightly over 1 bu 3 rin (0.41 cm)

Kissaki length: 1 sun 8 bu 2.5 rin  (5.53 cm)

Nakago length: 5 sun 7 bu 8 rin (17.5 cm)  

Nakago sori: 7 rin (0.2 cm)

 

Commentary:

This is a shinogi zukuri tachi with an ihorimune, slightly wide mihaba, narrow shinogi, a normal kasane, and the widths at the moto and saki are different.  This blade has a shallow sori and has a somewhat large kissaki. The jihada is a visible itame mixed with jifu type hada, oitame, and ohada. There are dense ji-nie, and chikei. The hamon is notare mixed with gunome, ogunome, togariba, and yahazu style gunome. There are ashi, a dense nioiguchi, frequent nie, sunagshi, kinsuji, tobiyaki, and yubashiri. The boshi is notarekomi, the tip is round with a return. On the omote side there is a round spot without a yakiba inside of the hamon, and the ura side has a shimaba type hamon. The horimono on both sides are bohi carved through the nakago, and the tops of hi are very low.  The nakago is osuriage; the nakago jiri is  sakikiri; and the yasurime are shallow kattesagari. There are two mekugiana. This is katana is listed as the gMusashi Masamuneh in an Edo period sword book  the gKyoho Meibutsu choh. From the ji and hamon styles and the abundant hataraki, such as nie and nioi, this katana looks like work by Soshu Masamune, but Masamune has a very few blades with a wide mihaba and a long kissaki, so in light of this fact, we need more investigations and studies of this katana in the future. Concerning the namefs origin: one opinion is that it was because it was owned by Miyamoto Musashi; another opinion is that the katana belonged to the Kii Tokugawa family (Honnami Kosonfs book Meibutsu-ki listed this: this was one of Kii Chunagonfs treasured belongings), and later, the Shogun family in Edo (Musashi) received it, and the name came from this. There are also other opinions, but now we have some new data, and we are describing this.

There is a copy of the gMasamune Tantokih in the National Diet Library in the constitution and politics collection, the Imperial Household Agency Library, and the National Official Document Ministry Library. According to Yamaoka Teshu, the original copy was missing. But after investigations, it was found this is an original document, and this has become an important discovery. Also, from these two letters, we can see a story about this katana.

   At first, I will simplify the story in the letters. Iwakura Tomomi, who received the Masamune katana, asked Kagawa Keizo (who came from the Mito clan and who become a very close friend of Iwakura, and who later worked for the Inperial Household Agency where he had many important positions) to investigate and judge the katana along with Honnami Choshiki. Kagawa sent to Iwakura, the Honnami certificate dated Meiji 16, January 3rd, and his letter. According his letter, Iwakura treated the katana very carefully. Also, Iwakura appreciated Yamaoka Tessaifs integrity, and he dictated the conversation with Yamaoka, and the Chinese classics scholar Kawada Go wrote a story in kanji. One of three best Meiji calligraphers Iwatani Osamu actually wrote the letter with Rokucho style kaisho kanji (the two other calligraphers were Kasakabe Meikaku and Cho Manshu who later changed his name to Nakabayashi Gokaku)

  In the past, this Masamune katana was supposed to have been a gift from Tokugawa Yoshinobu to Yamaoka Tessai, but this was wrong. The fact is that Tokugawa family members studied abroad in England from Meiji 10 to Meiji 15, and after they returned to Japan (14 years after the revolution) , they appreciated Tessaifs work (at the meeting with Saigo Takamori in Sunpu, he made possible Yoshinobufs surrender and a peaceful Edo castle evacuation), and he was given this katana. But Yamaoka told them, that it was not appropriate for someone like him to own this kind of sword. He only did his duty as a vassal for the lord, and it was not nesessary thank him for this. He said that this should be given to some important person who helped established the Meiji government (a disciple of Tessai, Ogura Tetsuki wrote a story about Yamaoka Tessai). Yamaoka immediately presented the sword to Iwakura Tomomi, and since then this it has belonged to his family. This is an example of hidden historical data behind modern Japanese modern history .                      

 

 

(Explanation and oshigata by Hiyama Masanori)

 

 

 

Juyo Bijutsu Hin

 

Tokusagari zu ( image depicting a story for a old tokusa harvester) tsuba

Mei: Yamashirokuni Fushimi ju Kaneie

 

In the latter half of Showa 40, this NBTKH journal had many active tosogu research projects, and in Showa 50, many opinionswere written, and more than half of this journalfs articles were about tosogu discussions. Many major experts competed with each other in studies of artists and their work. I enjoyed very much reading these articles, and even today I learn many things from them. This tsuba was a center of these discussion, and commented on many times. Most of the discussions focused on the image design and composition, which are abstract subjects. Concerning Kaneie, they have been many opinions over many years. In Showa 53, there was an article based on X-raystudies, and this was the type of scientific opinion we had never seen before. Today, thirty years later, I had an opportunity to recognize the real value of this. Kaneiefs takabori are not carvings, but are gold inlay, and today this is common knowledge and even shown in later studies. But it is difficult to judge this type of feature by eye, and for me Kaneiefs characteristic work are in his jitetsu and his well done mimi uchikaeshi (edge or rim return). In the past, the master Natsuo taught in the Tokyo Art School, and he evaluated the Shodai Kaneiefs work as: very thin tsuba with a soft jitesu; more red colored than rust colored; thick and deep pattern in the carving or inlay; the mimi uchikaeshi is thick, refined, and well done. This is a great evaluation. Have you ever heard the story about their thin seppadai ? The Shodaifs is 1mm, and the Nidaifs is 2 mm, and if it were 3mm it would be a different person. This is a very thin tsuba, and it is amazing that this kind of inlay is possible over such a thin base. Of course the jitetsu must be very refined. The gold inlay on the surface is still there protected by fine deep rust, and this tsuba belonged to the Date family for 500 years. At this time, I didnft mention the design, but if anybody is interested in the design, please look at our old issues. This tsuba reminds me of many expertsf opinions, and I might be the last generation to remember their voices.                          

 

Explanation by Kubo Yasuko; photo by Kubo Ryo.   

           

 

Shijo Kantei To No. 657

 

The deadline to submit answers for the No. 657 issue Shijo Kantei To is November 5, 2011. Each person may submit one vote. Submissions should contain 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 November 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.

 

Information:

 

Type: katana

Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 7 bu (71. 81 cm)

Sori: 4.5 bu (1. 38 cm)

Motohaba: 9 bu 9 rin (3.0 cm)

Sakihaba: 6 bu 6 rin (2. 0 cm)

Motokasane: 2 bu 5 rin (0.75 cm)

Kissaki length: 1 sun 2 bu 2 rin (3.7 cm)

Nakago length : 7 sun 4. 5 bu (22. 57 cm)

Nakago sori: none

 

This is a shinogi zukuri katana with an ihorimune, a standard mihaba, and the widths at the moto and saki are different. It is suriage, has a ery shallow sori, and there is a chu kissaki. The jihada is a tight itame, and there are fine ji-nie and chikei. The shinogi has a prominent masame hada. The  hamon and boshi are as seen in the picture. The hamon has ashi, yo, dense and bright nioiguchi, dense nie, and sunagashi. The nakago is ubu, and nakago jiri is kurijiri. The yasurime are shallow kattesagari. There is a one mekugi-ana, and on the omote side the first kanji in the signature is on the mekugiana, and after second kanji, they are almost on the center of the shinogi and there is a long signature.  On the ura side there is a kinzogan saidan mei (this smithfs swords usually have rough prominent ha-nie). 

 

 

 

  

 

 

   

 

Teirei Kanshou 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 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 March 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 swordsmithfs name. This lecture and the explanations were given by Kurotaki Tetsuya.

 

 

Kantei To No.1: wakizashi

 

Mei: Bizen Osafune Iesuke

        Oei 23 nen 2 gatsu hi

 

Length: slightly over 1 shaku 2 sun

Sori: slightly less 2 bu

Style: hirazukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: itame mixed with mokume; the hada is visible; there are frequent ji-nie, chikei, and midare utsuri.

Hamon: open bottom gunome and choji, mixed with gunome, ko-gunome, and in places, square gunome. There are ashi, yo, the bottom half of the hamon has a nioiguchi with ko-nie, and the upper half has dense nie and sunagashi. 

Boshi: midarekomi; the tip is sharp; there is a shallow return, and hakikake.

Horimono: On the omote there is a katana hi; the ura has futatsu hi with marudome.

 

After the continuous long period of war , and many power games in the Nanbokucho period and early Muromachi period,  a somewhat peaceful world was established by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, who had an ambition to become more like an emperor, and he established a powerful govenment. Possibly because of Yoshimitsufs stable rule, the Oei period was an important time for Japanese history and Japanese sword history, and this wakizashi shows this kind of influence. This hirazukuri wakizashi has an usual mihaba, a long size for the mihaba, a thick kasane, and the upper half has sori, and this is a characteristic Oei period blade shape. The jitetsu is also an Oei Bizen characteristic itame hada mixed with mokume hada. From these characteristics, you can imagine Oei Bizen master smith as the maker. It is natural to think of Morimitsu and Yasumitsu. But if you look at the hamon carefully, these two name are not the best choice. The reason why is that the entire hamonfs midare is a little low, and this is a small size hamon when compared with Morimitsu. From this reason, we should look for a somewhat lower level smith. Also, in the open bottom hamon which is something between a gunome and choji midare hamon, some parts or features are spaced too far apart. Also the hamon is mixed with too many squarefeatures. From thease characteristics, I hope you would judge that this is not work by Morimitsu or Yasumitsu, and that this wakizashi is the work of the somewhat lower ranked Iesuke.          

 

 

           

Kantei To No.2: tanto

 

Mei: Bizen Osafune Masamitsu

        Jo ££ nen 6 gatsu hi

 

Length: slightly over 8 sun 9 bu

Sori: slightly less 1 bu

Design: hirazukuri

Mune: mitsumune

Jihada: ko-itame hada mixed with mokume hada; there are ji-nie, and bright bo utsuri.

Hamon: continuous gunome, square type gunome, and kataochi gunome; these are mixed in a small size hamon, and there are ashi and ko-nie.

Boshi: midarekomi and tip, with a slight return.

Horimono: omote and ura both have katana hi carved through the nakago.

 

There are two types of tanto shapes at the peak of the Nanbokucho period. One has a wide mihaba, long size, thin kasane, and shallow sori, and is called an gEnbun Joji katah or style. The other style maintains an g Enbun Joji katah balance for the mihaba and size, but has a smaller size, and we see these often. This tanto is a smaller sized one, and was made at the time of Ashikaga Yoshiakira who was the second Muromachi shogun during the Enbun and Joji period. As a tanto from this time, if you look at the jihada and hamon, the jihada has clear straight utsuri, and the hamon has a square type of gunome and kataochi gunome and forms a continuous unique hamon. From these characteristics, you can imagine the work of Kanemitsu and his schoolfs smiths. This tantofs smith is Masamitsu wose active period was from the peak of the Nanbokucho period around Joji to the early Muromachi period during the Oei era. Masamitsu has many blades similar to the later Nanbokucho period Kosori style. But in his early work around the Joji era, there are a few blades with a peak Nanbokucho shape with kataochi gunome, and are notare which is similar to Kanemitsu. This blade has a tight ko-itame hada and a refined jitetsu, almost like Kanemitsufs work. But if you look at the hamon carefully, the kataochi gunome are mixed with round top gunome, and the entire hamon is smaller, and from this characteristic, you can judge, that this is not as good as Kanemitsufs work. If you understand this point, you can recognize this as early Masamitsu work which followed Kanemitsufs style. As in this tanto, early Masamitsu works sometimes show Kanemitsu style, and to emphasize this point, we put this tanto here for kantei.             

 

 

Kantei To No 3: katana

 

Mei: Kazusa no suke Kaneshige

    Banji 4 nen 2 gatsu 11 nichi

Kinzogan: Yamano Kaemon no jo Nagahisa (kao)

         Futatsu do kiri otoshi

 

Length: 2 shaku 4 sun 3 bu 

Sori: 3.5 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: tight ko-itame; there are jinie.

Hamon: basiclly a shallow notare mixed with gunome; there are frequent thick ashi, a dense nioiguchi, and dense nie; the omote and ura around the monouchi has nie kuzure and sunagashi.

Boshi: straight with a komaru.

 

For this katana, please look at the shape first. The width at the tip is very narrow compared with the width at the moto; there is a short chukissaki; and there is a very shallow sori. This is a typical Kanbun shinto, or Edo shinto shape. As a katana from this period, if you look at the jihada and hamon, the jihada is a tight ko-itame, and the hamon is a juzuba style in gunome with all of the continuous gunome having the same height. Also, this gunome hamon has frequent ashi, and looks like a Kotetsu style katana. But if you look at the hamon carefully, there is no yakidashi at the moto, and the hamon is not as clear as Kotetsufs, and from these characteristics, one should doubt the Kotetsu answer. The important point is the midare hamon rhythm. Some parts of the hamon have a regular rhythm for the gunome: one, two, and one, two. This kind of rhythmic hamon is Kazusa no suke Kaneshigefs characteristic work, and this is a strong point in judging this as his work. Also, the hamon has sunagshi, and this is a characteristic point in judging Kaneshigefs work. The signature is in Tensho style (an ancient kanji style). This is an unsual example, and we often seen Kaneshigefs early period signatures.       

 

 

Kantei To No. 4: wakizashi

 

Mei: Echigo no kami Kanesada

 

Length: 1 shaku 8 sun

Sori: 4. 5 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: tight ko-itame hada; there are dense thick ji-nie, and fine chikei. 

Hamon: toran style midare hamon mixed with yahazu style gunome; there is  a dense nioiguchi, thick ko-nie; the omote and ura have small round hamon patterns, and there is a bright, clear nioiguchi.

Boshi: a slightly deep yakiba; straight and with a komaru.

 

This wakizashi has a usual mihaba, and the width at the moto and saki are a little different; there is a slightly deep sori, and a long chukissaki. The nidai Kanesadafs active period was during the Kanbun to Jokyo eras, and many of his blades are a Kanbun Shinto shape. Many of his blades have longer chu-kissaki instead of shorter ones, and this is one of Kanesadafs charateristic features. From these points, we would like to judge this as a Kanbun to Empo era wakizashi. If you look at the jihada and hamon, the jihada is a tight ko-itame, there is a refined hada, and the hamon is a type of Toranba style. From these characteristics, the names of Sukehiro and Sukenao come to mind. If you look at this sword carefully, this has poor hiraniku, the mune has a sharply angled shape, and the hamon is based on a clear kataochi midare toranba hamon, and is mixed with a yahazu type hamon. From these features, you can confirm the Kanisada name. In particular, this is one of Kanesadafs better wakizashi, and the refined jitetsu and bright clear nioiguchi are excellent. This is a one of Kanesadafs masterpiece wakizashi works.     

 

 

 

Kantei To No. 5: katana

 

Mei: Ashu shin Masaki Toshihiro motome ni ooji (custom order)

Katana mei : Bizen no suke Fujiwara Munetsugu saku

       

 

Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 7 bu

Sori: 7 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: tight ko-itame; becomes a muji type jihada.

Hamon: gunome midare hamon mixed with choji, and there are long frequent ashi,

        And a tight nioiguchi; there are ko-nie and clear hamon.   

Boshi: the omote is a shallow notare, and the ura is slightly midarekome, and

      both sides have a tip with a komaru return.  

 

For this katana, one should look at the details of the shape first: the wide mihaba; the widths at the moto and saki are not different; the shallow sori; the poor hiraniku; and the heavy and dynamic shape. Next, you look at the jitetsu and hamon. The jitetsu is a tight ko-itame kagami (mirror-like) tetsu, and the hamon is a choji midare with a regular rhythm, and has long ashi. At this time, the names of prominent Bizen Den master smiths should come to mind: Suishinshi Masahide, Taikei Naotane, and Koyama Munetsugu. From the is round top choji hamon with a regular rhythm, you should vote for Koyama Munetsugu. If this were work by Tsunatoshi, it would have a straight yakidashi, and if were by Naotane, it would have a more square type of gunome hamon and utsuri. This has a Banei 1, August date. This is the year Munetsugu was changing his nakago yasurime, and he has two styles: one is sujichigai kesho, and the other is kiri. From the next year Bunkyyu 1, all his nakago yasurimei are kiri.

            

 

 

Shijo Kantei To Number 655 (in the August, 2011 issue)

 

The answer for the Shijo Kantei To No. 655 in the August issue is a suriage tachi by Senji Muramasa.

 

This tachi has a usual mihaba, and the widths at the moto and saki are a little different. The upper half of the blade has sakizori, and there is a chukissaki. From  from this shape, you can judge this as being a Muromachi period tachi. Muramasa is supposed to have a master and pupil relationship with Heianjo Nagayoshi, and their styles show some similarity. Nagayoshifs jihada are a tight itame, there is a bright jitetsu, and a very refined Kyoto style.  Muramasafs work is in itame hada, many of his hada are visible, and there is often a dark colored jihada. His utsuri are  not quite white, but a pale whitish color, and this is a feature of his work. This hamonfs upper half is suguha, and the lower half is a midare hamon. On Muramasafs blades, the upper half is suguha and the lower half is midareba, or the upper half is midareba, and the lower half is suguha. The hamon changes in the middle of the sword from a suguha to a midare hamon, and this kind of tecnique is often seen in Sue Koto swords. The lower half of the midare hamon is a notare style hamon mixed with gunome and togariba. The midare hamon has prominent up and down variations, and some parts of the yakiba go to the hasaki (edge) and almost disappear. This is an active hamon, and some parts of the notare hamon show square box shaped features. As we listed in the hints, the omote and ura hamon are same pattern, and has a worn down nioiguchi. From these characteristics, it is possible to judge this as a Muramasa katana. The tip of the nakago is a narrow, unique tanago-bara shape, and the nakago jiri is iriyamagata (sometimes he uses kurijiri and ha-agari kurijiri), and the yasurime are kattesagari. The signature is towards the mune edge, and these are characteristics of his nakago style. In voting, most of people voted for Muramasa, and as a almost correct answer, a few people voted for Masashige. His styles is very similar to Muramasafs, but his jihada are more visible, there are more strong ha-nie, dense nie, there are nie-kuzure, more frequent kinsuji and sunagashi, and the nakago are marumune. This is a typical Muramasa style katana, so unless you see some strong features contradicting this, it is better to judge this as Muramasafs work. Except for the correct or almost correct answer, a few people voted for Fujishima Tomoshige school work. Those are Muromachi period country swords; the jitetsu is itame hada mixed with nagare hada;there is a dark colored jihada; the hamon nioiguchi are worn down, and from these characterisitcs, it is understandable to vote for Tomoshige, but many of their jitetsu have clear white utsuri, and the hamon are open bottom midare hamon mixed with a yahazu style hamon; there are tsuno-ha, which are alternating hamon, or a Shikkake style continuous ko-gunome, or square gunome mixed with togariba. All of these have frequent ha-nie, sunagashi, and in the boshi, hakikake are prominent. Also, please pay attention to the fact that we do not often see this kind of sprominent square box shaped midare hamon in a large size.               

 

Explanation provided by Hinohara Dai.