August, 2013



Meito Kansho

Examination of important swords


Classification: Juyo Bijutsuhin


Type: Tachi

Mei: Sanenori

    Owner: NBTHK


Length: 2 shaku 1sun 8 bu 5 rin (66.2 cm)

Sori: 5 bu 3 rin (1.6 cm)

Motohaba: 8 bu 3 rin (2.5 cm)

Sakihaba: 5 bu 4 rin (1. 65 cm)

Motokasane: 1 bu 8 rin (0.55 cm)

Sakikasane : 1 bu (0.3 cm)

Kissaki length: 8 bu 3 rin (2.5 cm) 

Nakago length: 7 sun 3 rin (21.3 cm)

Nakago sori: 5 rin (0.15 cm)




This is a shinogi zukuri tachi with an ihorimune, it is slightly narrow, and the widths at the moto and saki are not very different. There is a standard kasane (thickness), a shallow sori, and a small kissaki. The The jihada is itame mixed with mokume hada, and the entire jihada is well forged. There are ji-nie and jifu utsuri. The hamon is a ko-choji style mixed with ko-gunome, ko-notare, and has a komidare pattern. On the omote and ura sides around the monouchi the hamon is suguha, and on the omote side from mid- to bottom part of the hamon there are high and lowvariations in the height of the hamon. There are frequent ashi and yo, a strong nioiguchi, dense nie, and some places have kinsuji and sunagashi. There is a wide nioiguchi. The boshi is straight and round. The nakago is suriage, the tip is sakikiri, and the yasurime on the omote side are sujichigai (the original pattern), on the ura the yasurimei are almost kiri (new). There are four mekugi-ana. On the omote under the third mekugiana, towards the mune side, there is a small size two kanji signature.


According to historical sword book the gMeikanh, Sanenori was one of three Ko-Bizen smiths from the end of the Heian to the early Kamakura period, the Shoan, Chokyu and Bunreki eras. Fukuoka Ichimonji wsa active in the early Kamakura period in the Hoji era and in the late Kamakura period around te Einin era. However, we have never seen this kind of signed blade. The g Nihonto Juyo Bijutsu Zenshuh and the gNihonto Meikanh are list him as the ony Ko-Bizen smith.

Examining this tachi carefully on the omote side, there  are clear dark areas over the shinogi-ji, which emphasizes the jifu uturi, and from this characteristic, this is a tachi from at least the early half of the Kamakura period. The hamon has vertical alternations mixed with ko-choji. This is tecnically high level work and at  the same time it has a little sophistication. There are gentle nie and a strong nioiguchi, and because of this, the utsuri is clear and this does not look like a really old Ko-Bizen blade. The Ko-Bizen and Ko-Ichimonji smiths active eras overlap, and in the early half of the Kamakura period,and there are many similar works. Thus, it is hard to judge either type of work, but this tachi is a proper Ko-Ichimonji smithfs work. This is the only Ko-Ichimonji style work from Sanenori with his signature, and an important piece. We are hoping that more his work be found in the future to help us understand his style and work.    


Explanation and the photo by Ishii Akira



Juyo Tosogu


To(tower), Kukuri saru (toy monkey), Sekka-mon (snow crystal mon) sukashi tuba 


Mumei: Ko-katchushi


Ko-katchushi tsuba are classified being made by a katchushi craftman in his leisure or exstra time. The working period for this style is supposed to be before the Momoyama period. This is a large tsuba with a thin body, with simple sukashi work, and an okesoko-mimi (the bottom of an oke or barrel), and the entire tsuba is finished with urushi. The well forged jihada over a long time acquires a more interesting look, and with the urushi work, it has an elegant look, a classic mood, and is simple and refined looking. This is a representative work for ko-kashushi tsuba.  The Gojunoto (five ring tower) symbolizes five thoughts and from the bottom represent gearth, water, fire, wind, and skyh. The stylized designs are a square shaped chirin (earth ring), a round mizurin (water ring), a triangle hirin (fire ring), a half round furin (wind ring), and a jewel shaped kuurin (sky ring). In Shingon-mikkyo (Buddhism), the Dainichi-nyoraifs (Buddha) Sanma-yagyo shape itself is Buddha, and same time represents the entire universe. Gojunoto work is seen from the Heian period, around the mid-12th century.  This tsuba design contains a kukuri-saru, sekkamon, and gojunoto. This means, during wartime, the samuraihad always had thoughts for peoplefs everyday life and Buddhafs feelings. This is a excellent tsuba, with a simple and robust look, but same time it has a feeling of a loving spirit and a praying heart.       



Explanation by Kurotaki Tetsuya





Shijo Kantei To No. 679


The deadline to submit answers for the No. 679 issue Shijo Kantei To is September 5, 2013. 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 magagzine. Votes postmarked on or before September 5, 2013 will be accepted. 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: slightly over 2 shaku 2 sun 1 bu (67 cm)

Sori: slightly over 4 bu (1.22 cm)

Motohaba: 9 bu 7 rin ( 2.95 cm)

Sakihaba: 7 bu 1 rin ( 2.15 cm)

Motokasane: 2 bu 3 rin (0.7 cm)

Sakikasane: 1 bu 7 rin (0.5 cm)

Kissaki length: 1 sun 2 bu 9 rin ( 3. 9 cm )

Nakago length: 6 sun 3 bu 7 rin ( 19.3 cm)

Nakago sori: very slight


 This is a shinogi-zukuri katana with a mitsumune, and it is a little wide, and the widths at the moto and saki are not much different. It is a little thick, there is a shallow sori, a long chu-kissaki, poor hiraniku, and it is a heavy katana. The jihada is tight ko-itame which  becomes muji. There are fine ji-nie, and pale unique utsuri. The hamon and boshi are as seen in the picture. There are long ashi, tobiyaki, a bright and tight nioiguchi, ko-nie, fine kinsuji and sunagashi. The nakago is ubu, and the nakago tip is a little ha-agari kurijiri. The yasurime are sujichigai with kesho, and there is a one mekugi-ana. On the omote side, the nakago has the smithfs unique style long kanji signature towards the mune edge under the mekugiana. On the ura side there is a date.




Teirei Kanshou Kai For July


The swords discussed below were shown in the July 2013, meeting at the NBTHK headquarters building. This discussion presents answers concerning the makers of these blades.

Meeting Date: July 13, 2013 (2nd Saturday of June)

Place: Token Hakubutsukan auditorium

Lecturer: Iida Toshihisa


   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 January 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.



Kantei To No. 1: tachi


Mei: Rai Kunitsugu


Length: 2 shaku 4 sun 4.5 bu

Sori: slightly over 1 sun

Style: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: tight ko-itame hada, some parts show ohada. There are frequent ji-nie, fine chikei and bo-utsuri.

Hamon: suguha style with a somewhat shallow notare, mixed with ko-gunome, and ko-choji. There are ashi, yo, frequent ko-nie, kinsuji, sunagshi, and muneyaki at the koshimoto. 

Boshi: straight, with a komaru and a shallow return.


This has a slightly narrow shape, a high koshizori, and even the tip has sori, and we call this a wazori shaped tachi. The jihada, show some places mixed with ohada, but it is a tight ko-itame, there are dense ji-nie and utsuri, and this is a refined beautiful jihada. The hamon is based on suguha, and  is mixed with ko-gunome, and ko-choji. In some places, there are saka-ashi slanted towards the kissaki, and muneyaki. The shape, jihada, and hamon all show a characteristic Kamakura period Rai school style. From this, it is not difficult to judge this as Rai school work.

This is a Rai Kunitsugu tachi. Rai Kunitsugu is known as being one of the Masamune Jutetsu since historical times. He was called  gKamakura Raih, among the Rai school smiths, and his work shows a strong Soshuden style, usually a primarily midare hamon with strong nie.

This tachi has a Rai school traditional suguha hamon, and usually his tachi and tanto are wide with a dynamic shape. However, this sword has a a slightly narrow tachi shape. Maybe because of this, in voting, people voted for the Rai school, but very few people voted for his Kunitsugu. People voted for other Rai smiths such as Rai Kunitoshi, Niji (two kanji) Kunitoshi, Rai Kuniyuki, and Rai Kunimitsu. As I mentioned, there are very few Rai Kunitsugu tachi with a narrow shape and suguha, and it is a hard to be conclusive about his work. So if you look at this as Rai shool work, it would be fine. But the Niji Kunitoshi work is different, and many of his shape are wide with an inokubi kissaki and a dynamic shape. Many of his hamon are complex gorgeous choji hamon. Rai Kuniyukifs work, besides being wider, contains narrow shapes too. His hamon are based on suguha, but contain prominent ko-choji and ko-midare. Also, at the top of the midare hamon, there are uchinoke which is a karimata style mixed hamon, and his hamon are much more classic than this tachi.      





Kantei To No. 2: wakizashi


Mei: Nagayuki Settsu no kuni ni oite kore o tsukuru

        Jokyo 2 kinoto ushi-doshi 8 gatsu hi

        Osaka Kagoyaho  futatsudo kore o kiriotosu

Length: slightly over 1 shaku 8 sun

Sori: slightly over 4 bu 

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: tight itamehada; there are ji-nie, and a pale and midare type utsuri.

Hamon: choji hamon mixed with gunome and togariba; there are vertical alterations; this is an active midare hamon, There are ashi, tobiyaki, a tight, bright and clear nioiguchi. 

Boshi: very shallow notarekomi; the tip is sharp, and there is a slight shallow return.




This wakizashi has midare utusri and the hamon is an active Ichimonji style choji midare hamon, and from these characteristics, this is obviously Bizen-Den work. From the tight nioiguchi hamon which we  hardly see in old Bizen work, the tight jihada, and the shinogi-jifs masame hada you can judge this as Shinto or Shinshinto work. Also, the widths at the moto and saki are different, there is  a somewhat  shallow sori, and a chu-kissaki, and from this shape, we can judge this as Kanbun Shinto.

In that period, the Bizen Den school which used this kind of active choji midare hamon was  Ishido school which prospered in Edo, Osaka, Kishu, and Fukuoka. This is a an Osaka Ishido Tatara Nagayuki wakizashi. Nagayuki has two styles: one is an old Ichimonji type active choji midare hamon, just like on this wakizashi, and the other is a Sue-Bizen Sukehiro style open bottom double o-gunome midare hamon. In the case of choji midare work, there are large and small midare, vertical alterations, and a beautiful active midare hamon. But many of them have large high midare hamon, and the tops of the waves are the same height, and these are mixed with prominent togari, and this wakizashi shows these characters very well. Usually, his boshi are yakikomi, the tips are sharp and there is a long return. This wakizashi does not have much yakikome activity, and there is a shallow return, but the tip is sharp.

In voting, many people saw these charcteristics and answered with Nagayuki. But there were some Ishido school names. If it were Kishu Ishido work, there is a yakidashi at the moto and the hamon are smaller (narrower). If it were Fukuoka Ishido work, the jihada is a prominent masame hada, and the midare hamon are saka-ashi. If it were Edo Ishido work, such a  large number of midare hamon waves would not be the same height, just like Nagayukifs work. Also, the nioguchi hamon is tight, and among the Ishido school smiths, we often see Nagayukifs work. Also, some people voted for Sue-Bizen Katsumitsu.  Katsumitsu does have many wakizashi sized blades. Among Sue Bizen work, he has many choji hamon and beautiful active midare hamon, but his midare hamon are smaller (narrower) than Nagayukifs and his sakizori shapes stand out.                    



Kantei To No 3: tanto


Mei: Kunitsugu (Uda)


Length: slightly over 7 sun 2 bu     

Sori: very slight uchizori

Style: hirazukuri

Mune: mitsumune

Jihada: itame hada mixed with mokume, nagare hada, and jifu. There are  chikei, frequent ji-nie, and the entire jihada is dark.

Hamon: ko-gunome midae hamon. There are ko-ashi, ko-nie, rough nie, some places have nie kuzure; there are yubashiri, muneyaki and sunagashi.

Boshi: the omote side is midarekomi, and the ura side is straight, both sides are tsukiage, tips are sharp, and there is a long return.


This is an Uda Kunitsugu tanto. At the end of the Kamakura piriod, the Uda school founder Konyudo Kunimitsu moved from Yamato no kuni,Uda gun(county) to Etchu. Since that time, they produced master smiths such as Kunifusa, Kunimune and Kunifusa, and the school prospered until the end of the Muromachi period.

This tanto is smaller with a narrow shape, and with a little uchizori. At the first impression, it looks like a Kamakura period tanto. But for that time, it is too long for the width and it is thick. The jihada and hamon have frequent nie, and from this characteristic, we can judge this as work from before the mid-Muromachi period.

Loooking at the jihada, this has a characteristic Northern Japan dark jihada. Also, looking at the upper half of the hamon, there are uneven rough nie, and we can discern individual nie particles. This kind of nie is seen often in Uda school work and this is a characteristic point.

In voting, people recognized these characteristics, and voted for Uda school smiths, in particular, many voted for Kunimune. Uda Kunitsugu does not have many blades left compared with Kunifusa, Kunimune and Kunifusa, so it is hard to recognize his work. If you look at the tachi as Uda school work from before the mid-Muromachi period, it would be fine. Usually, Kunimune has a more characteristic Northern Japan dark jihada. Kunifusa and Kunihisa do not have much of the Northern Japan type jihada, and their jihada are often a tight ko-itame, with a bright and clear jihada. This tachifs jihada is of the Northern Japan type, and voting for the Kunimune name is understandable.      



Kantei To No 4: katana


Mei: Chikuzen no kami Nobuhide Seshu Osaka ni oite kore o tsukuru

        Keio Gannen(1) 11 gatu hi

Length: 2 shaku 4 sun 7 bu

Sori: 5 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: itame mixed with mokume hada. There are ji-nie, and chikei.

Hamon: gunome mixed with square shaped gunome; konotare. There are long ashi, frequent ko-nie, and frequent sunagashi and kinsuji.

Boshi: midarekomi, a komaru and a return.

Horimono: on the omote and ura there are futasuji-hi with marudome.


This katana is wide, and the widths at the moto and saki are not much different. It is thick, there is a shallow sori, and a large long kissaki, from this dynamic shape, we wish to judge this as Keicho-shinto or Shinshinto work. For the large size, the hiraniku is poor, the shinogi-ji is narrow for the width, and the midare hamon ashi are very long, extending almost to the edge of the hamon. From these characteristics you can judge this as a Shinshinto katana. Looking at the kissaki, the large long kissaki fukura is very poor. In the Shinshinto period, this kind of poor fukura with a sharp point is often seen in the Kiyomaro schoolfs works.

This katana is an example of the Kiyomaro schoolfs Kurihara Nobuhidefs excellent technical skill. Nobuhide followed his teacher Kiyomarofs style very well. His jihada are visible for Shinshinto, and many of them have dense jinie and frequent chikei, and a strong jihada. His hamon have bright nie, and are based on a clear gunome midare pattern. There are kinsuji and sunagashi, and these are his characteristic points.

The diffrence between him and his teacher and other students, are that his hamon nie, kinsuji and sunagashi hataraki are not as frequent as Kiyomarofs. Kiyomaro and the other studentsf hamon often have a round gunome midare pattern. Nobuhidefs hamon have prominent large square shaped gunome, and it does not look smooth. Also, he is supposed to have been a mirror maker before a smith, and maybe because of this, his strong point is well detailed horimono which makes him very unique.

This katana does not have a detailed horimono, but shows Nobuhidefs characteristics very well.              




Kantei To No. 5: katana


Mei: Nanbantetsu omotte Bushu Edo ni oite Echizen Yasutsugu


Length: 2 shaku 5 sun 9.5 bu

Sori: 6 bu

Design: shinogi zukuri

Mune: ihorimune

Jihada: itame mixed with mokume hada. There are dense thick ji-nie mixed with jifu, frequent chikei, and the enire jihada is dark.

Hamon: suguha style shallow notare, mixed with ko-gunome. There are frequent ko-ashi, frequent ko-nie, and some places have rough nie, sunagashi, and kinsuji; some places have muneyaki and there is a worn down nioiguchi. 

Boshi: wide yakiba and frequent nie; the omote is straight, and the ura is midarekome; both sides are tsukiage, that is the tips are sharp, pointed up toward the mune,and have a long return.


This is a Shodai Yasutsugu katana. Yasutsugu came from Omi prefecturefs Shimosaka village, and later he moved to Echizen. Then he was called to Edo and became the swordsmith for Tokugawa Ieyasu and Hidetada, so he worked for two Shoguns. From his exllent work, he is supposed to have received pemission to use  the Aoi mon and the kanji gYasuh(the same kanji as Ieyasufs Yasu)  kanji. His active period was from Keicho to around the Genwa period. Looking at his style, his katana have typical Keicho Shinto shapes, are wide and thick, and have o-kissaki. Many of his wakizashi and tanto are wide hirazukuri blades.

His jihada are itame mixed with mokume hada, there is little visible hada, and the entire jihada is dark. This kind of jihada is a Northern Japan style , and is called gEchizen ganeh.

His hamon are based on notare hamon with nie. Yasutsugufs notare hamon are mixed with small ko-gunome, and many of them have frequent ko-ashi. His hamon have frequent nie, some places are rough and have mura (uneven spots), and a worn down nioiguchi, and these are his charcteristic points.

Yasutsugufs boshi are a shallow notare with a tsukiage style (i.e. sharp tips pointed up towards the mune) and a return, which is the Sanpin boshi style. Also, his characteristic boshi return is long.

This boshifs notarekomi is not too obvious, but shows this characteristic. From this, many people voted for Yasutsugu. But a few people voted for Kunihiro school smiths such as Kunihiro and Hirozane. Maybe they thought that Yasutsugufs visible hada was  the Horikawa schoolfs rough jihada called gzangurih. If it were Horikawa school work, their jihada are not as dark as Yasutugufs and their mokume hada are not as prominent as his. Also, their nie and the brightness of the nioiguchi are different from Yasutsugufs.




Shijo Kantei To No 677 ( in the June, 2013 issue)

The answer for the Shijo Kantei To No. 677 in the June issue is a wakizashi by Omi daijo Tadahiro.


Among the Hizento, the work of Keicho Shinto smiths such as the Shodai Tadayoshi and Iyo no jo Munetsugu have a Keicho Shinto shape. After them, smiths such as the Nidai Tadahiro, the Sandai Tadayoshi, Kawachi daijo Masahiro, and Dewa no kami Yukihiro smiths produced a number of blades with Hizenfs characteristic original shape, instead of popular shapes seen all over Japan in each period. Their shapes are standard or are slightly little wide, and the widths at the moto and saki are not very different; the kissaki are chu-kissaki or a slightly long chu-kissaki, and they average about 6 bu over or under the average sori value for a standard size katana.

This blade seems to have a slightly shallow sori for a Nidai Tadahiro wakizashi. The balance at the moto and saki, and shape of the chu-kissaki shows characteristics of a Hizen sword. But this is wide for a Nidai Tadayoshi wakizashi and the hints suggested this.

Many of Shodai Tadayoshifs Musashi daijo period Hizento jihada are  a tight ko-itame, there are dense thick ji-nie, fine chikei, and a refined jihada. His suguha hamon have a clear nioiguchi, ans are usually a belt-like suguha.

This is a slightly narrow suguha for Hizen-to, and many Hizen suguha are wider than this. Also, this is  a wide nioiguchi suguha, there are short ko-ashi, pale frequent nie, the tips of the ashi are continuous, it looks like suguha, and the entire hamon looks like a belt. Most Hizento boshi are parallel with the fukura, and have a komaru and return. The Nidai Tadahirofs nakago tips are iriyamagata and his

yasurime are kiri, but there are a few kattesagari yasurime, just like on this wakizashi. Usually his shinogi-zukuri wakizashi signatures (mei) are on the omote side towards the mune edge with long kanji mei. Hizen branch school major smiths such as the Shodai Masahiro, Yukihiro, and Tadakuni have kinzogan saidanmei mei by Yamano Kaemon Nagahisa. However, the main school smiths, such as the Shodai Tadayoshi and the Nidai Tadahiro hardly ever have saidanmei even among the large number of swords they produced. In voting, most of people voted for the Nidai Tadayoshi and a few people voted for Musashidaijo Tadahiro (the Shodai Tadayoshi). During the Shodai Tadahirofs Tadayoshi period, his nakago tips are kurijiri, and most of his yasurime are a shallow katte-agari or katte-sagari. Most of his suguha are a shallow notare, classic looking, and we hardly ever see this kind of suguha. Also, during his Musashi daijo Tadahiro period, we hardly ever see katte-agari yasurime. Considering the style and the nakago, the Nidai answer is desirable. As almost correct, a few people voted for the Sandai Tadayoshi.     

The Nidai Tadahirofs katte-agari nakago tips are supposed to have two styles with the Nidaifs own signature and the Sandai Tadayoshifs daimei, and we to study this more. Early Sandai Tadayoshi nakago tips are iriyamagata, but later his nakago yasurimei are always katte-agari. This is a different from the hint, but please pay attention to these details.


Explanation by Hinohara Dai