List of National Treasures of Japan (crafts: swords)

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For the list of non-sword national treasure craft items, see List of National Treasures of Japan (crafts: others).
from left to right: naginata, tsurugi, tantō, uchigatana and tachi (not to scale)

The term "National Treasure" has been used in Japan to denote cultural properties since 1897,[1][2] although the definition and the criteria have changed since the introduction of the term. The swords and sword mountings in the list adhere to the current definition, and have been designated national treasures according to the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties that came into effect on June 9, 1951. The items are selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology based on their "especially high historical or artistic value".[3][4] The list presents 110 swords and 12 sword mountings from ancient to feudal Japan, spanning from the late Kofun to the Muromachi period. The objects are housed in Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, museums or held privately. The Tokyo National Museum houses the largest number of these national treasures, with 20 of the 122.[4]

During the Yayoi period from about 300 BC to 300 AD, iron tools and weapons such as knives, axes, swords or spears, were introduced to Japan from China via the Korean peninsula.[5][6][7][8] Shortly after this event, Chinese, Korean, and eventually Japanese swordsmiths produced ironwork locally.[9][10] Swords were forged to imitate Chinese blades:[11] generally straight chokutō with faulty tempering. Worn slung from the waist, they were likely used as stabbing and slashing weapons.[11][12] Although functionally it would generally be more accurate to define them as hacking rather than slashing weapons. Swordmaking centers developed in Yamato, San'in and Mutsu where various types of blades such as tsurugi, tōsu and tachi[nb 1] were produced.[11][13] Flat double-edged (hira-zukuri) blades originated in the Kofun period, and around the mid-Kofun period swords evolved from thrusting to cutting weapons.[13][13] Ancient swords were also religious objects according to the 8th century chronicles Nihon Shoki and Kojiki. In fact, one of the Imperial Regalia of Japan is a sword, and swords have been discovered in ancient tumuli or handed down as treasures of Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples.[9][13] Few ancient blades (jokotō) exist because the iron has been corroded by humidity.[8][13][14]

The transition from straight jokotō or chokutō to deliberately curved, and much more refined Japanese swords (nihontō), occurred gradually over a long period of time, although few extant swords from the transition period exist.[15] Dating to the 8th century, Shōsōin swords and the Kogarasu Maru show a deliberately produced curve.[16] Yasutsuna from Hōki Province forged curved swords that are considered to be of excellent quality. Stylistic change since then is minimal, and his works are considered the beginning of the old sword (kotō) period, which existed until 1596, and produced the best-known Japanese swordsmiths.[17] According to sources Yasutsuna may have lived in the Daidō era (806–809), around 900; or more likely, was a contemporary of Sanjō Munechika and active in the Eien era (987, 988).[13][15][18] The change in blade shape increased with the introduction of horses (after 941) into the battlefield, from which sweeping cutting strokes with curved swords were more effective than stabbing lunges required of foot soldiers.[9][16][18][19] Imparting a deliberate curve is a technological challenge requiring the reversal of natural bending that occurred when the sword edge is hammered. The development of a ridge (shinogi) along the blade was essential for construction.[20] Various military conflicts during the Heian period helped to perfect the techniques of swordsmanship, and led to the establishment of swordsmiths around the country.[19] They settled in locations close to administrative centers, where the demand for swords was high, and in areas with easy access to ore, charcoal and water.[17] Originally smiths did not belong to any school or tradition.[21] Around the mid to late-Heian period distinct styles of workmanship developed in certain regional centers.[22] The best known of these schools or traditions are the gokaden (five traditions) with each producing a distinct style of workmanship and associated with the five provinces: Yamashiro, Yamato, Bizen, Sagami/Sōshū and Mino. These five schools produced about 80% of all kotō period swords.[17][21][23] Each school consisted of several branches.[17] In the late Heian period Emperor Go-Toba, a sword lover, summoned swordsmiths from the Awataguchi school of Yamashiro, the Ichimonji school of Bizen and the Aoe school of Bitchū Province to forge swords at his palace. These smiths, known as goban kaji (honorable rotation smiths) are considered to have been the finest swordsmiths of their time.[nb 2][21][24] Go-Toba selected from the Awataguchi, Hisakuni and Ichimonji Nobufusa to collaborate on his own tempering.[25] Early Kamakura period tachi had an elaborately finished tang and an elegant dignified overall shape (sugata).[21] Tantō daggers from the same period showed a slight outward curvature.[24]

Around the mid-Kamakura period, the warrior class reached its peak of prosperity.[26] Consequently sword production was thriving in many parts of Japan.[26] Following the Mongol invasions of 1274 and 1281, smiths aimed at producing stronger swords that would pierce the heavy armour of the invaders. To achieve this, tachi became wider, thicker with an overall grand appearance (sugata) and a straight temper line.[26][27] With the Mongol threat dissipated at the end of the Kamakura period, this trend was partially reversed, as blades grew longer with a more dignified shape than those from the mid-Kamakura period.[27] However the so-called "unchangeable smiths", including Rai Kunitoshi, Rai Kunimitsu, Osafune Nagamitsu and Osafune Kagemitsu, continued to produce swords of the elegant style of the late Heian/early Kamakura period. These swords were particularly popular with Kyoto's aristocracy.[27] The production of tantō daggers increased considerably towards the late Kamakura period.[28] Master tantō makers include Awataguchi Yoshimitsu, Rai Kunitoshi, Shintōgo Kunimitsu, Osafune Kagemitsu, Etchū Norishige and Samonji.[28] The naginata appeared as a new weapon in the late Kamakura period.[28] The confrontation between the Northern and Southern Court resulted in a 60 year long power struggle between warrior lords known as the Nanboku-chō period and caused a tremendous demand for swords.[29] The stylistic trends of the Kamakura period continued, and tachi were characterized by magnificent shape, growing in overall length and the length of the point (kissaki). They were generally wide and disproportionately thin.[29] Similarly tantō grew in size to 30–43 cm (12–17 in) and became known as ko-wakizashi or sunnobi tantō (extended knives).[30] But also tantō shorter than those of the Kamakura period were being forged.[30] Enormous tachi called seoi-tachi (shouldering swords), nodachi (field swords) and ōdachi with blades 120–150 cm (47–59 in) long were forged.[nb 3][31] The high demand for swords during feudal civil wars after 1467 (Sengoku period) resulted in mass production and low quality swords as swordsmiths no longer refined their own steel.[32] There are no national treasure swords after this period.

Statistics[edit]

Prefecture City National
Treasures
Aichi Nagoya 8
Ehime Imabari 3
Fukuoka Dazaifu 1
Fukuoka 2
Yanagawa 1
Gifu Takayama 1
Hiroshima Hatsukaichi 2
Private 5
Hyōgo Nishinomiya 2
Ibaraki Kashima 1
Tsuchiura 1
Ishikawa Kanazawa 1
Kagoshima Kagoshima 1
Kanagawa Kamakura 1
Kōchi Hidaka 1
Kyoto Kyoto 2
Nara Nara 6
Okayama Okayama 3
Private 1
Osaka Kawachinagano 1
Osaka 3
Private 9
Saitama Saitama 2
Shizuoka Numazu 1
Mishima 1
Private 2
Shizuoka 1
Tochigi Nikkō 4
Tokyo Private 12
Tokyo 39
Yamagata Tsuruoka 2
Yamaguchi Hōfu 1
Iwakuni 1
Period National
Treasures
Kofun period 1
Asuka period 2
Heian period 19
Kamakura period 86
Nanboku-chō period 13
Muromachi period 1
Present location of sword National Treasures of Japan


Usage[edit]

The table's columns (except for Remarks and Design and material) are sortable pressing the arrows symbols. The following gives an overview of what is included in the table and how the sorting works. Not all tables have all of the following columns.

  • Type/Name: type of sword or sword mounting; blades mentioned in the kyōhō era Kyōhō Meibutsuchō as masterpieces (meibutsu) are mentioned by name and marked in yellow
  • Signature: for signed swords, the signature and its reading; otherwise "unsigned"
  • Swordsmith: name of the swordsmith who forged the blade; if applicable it includes the name of the school; the ten students of Masamune (juttetsu) are marked in green; the goban kaji, smiths summoned to the court of Emperor Go-Toba are marked in blue
  • Remarks: additional information such as notable owners or its curvature
  • Date: period and year; the column entries sort by year. If the entry can only be dated to a time-period, they sort by the start year of that period
  • Length: distance from the notch to the tip of the sword
  • Present location: "temple/museum/shrine-name town-name prefecture-name"; column entries sort as "prefecture-name town-name temple/museum/shrine-name"

The table of sword mountings differentiates between Sword type and Mounting type; includes a column on the employed Design and material; and lists the Overall length as the mounting in addition to the sword's length.

Key
# Meibutsu
* One of the ten students of Masamune
^ One of the goban kaji

Treasures[edit]

Ancient swords (jokotō)[edit]

The Great Bear sword

Four ancient straight swords (chokutō) and one tsurugi handed down in possession of temples and shrines have been designated as National Treasure craft items.[nb 4] A notable collection of 55 swords and other weapons from the 8th century have been preserved in the Shōsōin collection. Being under the supervision of the Imperial Household Agency, neither these items nor the well known Kogarasu Maru are National Treasures.[33][34]

Name
Remarks
Date
Type
Length
Present location
Gilt bronze tachi with ring pommel (金銅荘環頭大刀拵 kondōsō kantō tachi goshirae?)[14][35][36] Double-edged blade, said to be the oldest Japanese object transmitted from generation to generation; offered to Kunitokotachi by the Kusakabe clan and worshipped as shintai of Omura Shrine; 527 g (18.6 oz), hilt length: 7.5 cm (3.0 in), scabbard length: 92.1 cm (36.3 in) 0500late Kofun period chokutōChokutō 700168400000000000068.4 cm (26.9 in) Kochi Hidaka Omura ShrineOmura Shrine,[nb 5] Hidaka, Kōchi
Great Bear sword (七星剣 Shichiseiken?) or Seven Stars Sword[37] The sword contains a gold inlay of clouds and seven stars forming the Great Bear constellation. According to a document at Shitennō-ji, this sword was owned by Prince Shōtoku. Considered to be directly imported from the Asian continent 0600Asuka period, 7th century chokutōChokutō 700162100000000000062.1 cm (24.4 in) Osaka Osaka ShintennojiShitennō-ji, Osaka
Heishi Shōrin ken (丙子椒林剣?)[14][37] The sword contains an inscription in gold inlay: Heishi shōrin (丙子椒林?) which according to one theory, represents 丙子 (bǐng-zǐ), which is a stem-branch of the Sexagenary cycle and the author's name: Shōrin (椒林?). According to a document at Shitennō-ji, this sword was owned by Prince Shōtoku. Considered to be directly imported from the Asian continent 0538Asuka period chokutōChokutō 700165800000000000065.8 cm (25.9 in) Osaka Osaka ShintennojiShitennō-ji, Osaka
Chokutō (or futsu-no mitama no tsurugi (布都御魂剣?)) and black lacquer mounting (黒漆平文大刀拵 kuro urushi hyōmontachi goshirae?)[nb 6][14][38] Legendary sword used by Emperor Jimmu to found the Japanese nation 0794early Heian period chokutōChokutō 7002223500000000000223.5 cm (88.0 in) Ibaraki Kashima Kashima ShrineKashima Shrine, Kashima, Ibaraki, Ibaraki
Unsigned sword (剣 無銘 tsurugi mumei?)[nb 7][39][40][41] Handle in the shape of a Buddhist ritual implement, a pestle like weapon with three prongs (sanko); double-edged sword for ceremonial use only 0794early Heian period tsurugiTsurugi 700162200000000000062.2 cm (24.5 in) Osaka Kawachinagano KongojiKongō-ji (金剛寺?), Kawachinagano, Osaka

Old swords (kotō)[edit]

105 swords from the kotō period (late 10th century to 1596) including tachi (61), tantō (26), katana (11), ōdachi (3), naginata (2), tsurugi (1) and kodachi (1) have been designated as national treasures. They represent works of four of the five traditions: Yamato (5), Yamashiro (19), Sōshū (19), Bizen (45); and blades from Etchū Province (3), Bitchū Province (5), Hōki Province (2) and Saikaidō (7).

Yamato Province[edit]

Centers of sword production were located in central and western Japan. The provinces associated with the five traditions: Yamato, Bizen, Yamashiro, Mino and Sagami are located in central Japan.
Centers of sword production during the old sword (kotō) period. Provinces related to the Five Traditions are marked in red.

The Yamato tradition is the oldest, originating as early as the 4th century with the introduction of ironworking techniques from the mainland.[42] According to legend, the smith Amakuni forged the first single-edged long swords with curvature (tachi) around 700.[43] Even though there is no authentication of this event or date, the earliest Japanese swords were probably forged in Yamato Province.[44] During the Nara period, many good smiths were located around the capital in Nara. They moved to Kyoto when it became capital at the beginning of the Heian period, but about 1200 smiths gathered again in Nara when the various sects centered in Nara rose to power during the Kamakura period and needed weapons to arm their monks. Thus, the Yamato tradition is associated closely with the warrior monks of Nara.[45][46] Yamato tradition sugata[j 1] is characterized by a deep torii-zori,[j 2] high shinogi,[j 3] and slightly extended kissaki.[j 4] The jihada[j 5] is mostly masame-hada,[j 6] and the hamon[j 7] is suguha,[j 8] with rough nie.[j 9] The bōshi[j 10] is mainly ko-maru.[j 11][23][47] Generally the style of Yamato blades is considered to be restrained, conservative and static.[46] Five major schools or branches of the Yamato tradition are distinguished: Senjuin,[nb 8] Shikkake, Taima,[nb 9] Tegai[nb 10] and Hōshō.[nb 11] Four of the five schools are represented by national treasure swords.[45][48]

Name
Signature
Swordsmith
Remarks
Date
Length
Present location
Tachi[49] Kuniyuki (国行?) Taima Kuniyuki (当麻国行?) Sword by the founder of the Taima branch; handed down in the Abe clan; curvature: 1.5 cm (0.59 in) 1288Kamakura period, around Shōō era (1288–1293) 700169700000000000069.7 cm (27.4 in) Tokyo Tokyo The Society for Preservation of Japanese Art SwordsThe Society for Preservation of Japanese Art Swords ( 日本美術刀剣保存協会 Zaidanhōjin Nippon Bijutsu Tōkenhozonkyōkai?), Tokyo
Tachi[49] Nobuyoshi (延吉?) Senjuin Nobuyoshi (千手院延吉?) Formerly the property of Emperor Go-Mizunoo, curvature: 2.8 cm (1.1 in) 1317Kamakura period, around Bunpō era (1317–1319) 700173500000000000073.5 cm (28.9 in) Tokyo Tokyo The Society for Preservation of Japanese Art SwordsThe Society for Preservation of Japanese Art Swords ( 日本美術刀剣保存協会 Zaidanhōjin Nippon Bijutsu Tōkenhozonkyōkai?), Tokyo
Tachi[50] Kanenaga (包永?) Tegai Kanenaga (手掻包永?) Sword by the founder of the Tegai branch 1288Kamakura period, around Shōō era (1288–1293) 700171200000000000071.2 cm (28.0 in) Tokyo Tokyo Seikado BunkoSeikadō Bunko (静嘉堂文庫?), Tokyo
Ōdachi year five of the Jōji era (1366), 43rd year of the sexaganary cycle (year of the fire horse), Senjuin Nagayoshi (貞治五年丙午千手院長吉 jōjigonen hinoeuma Senjuin Nagayoshi?) Senjuin Nagayoshi (千手院長吉?) Curvature: 4.9 cm (1.9 in) 1366Nanboku-chō period, 1366 7002136000000000000136 cm (54 in) Ehime Imabari Oyamazumi ShrineŌyamazumi Shrine, Imabari, Ehime
Tantō or Kuwayama Hōshō (桑山保昌?)#[51] Takaichi ? ... Sadayoshi (高市□住金吾藤貞吉 Takaichi ? jū kingo fuji Sadayoshi?), ?kyō yonen jūgatsu jūhachinichi (□亨〈二二〉年十月十八日?) Hōshō Sadayoshi (保昌貞吉?)
1317Kamakura period, around Bunpō era (1317–1319)
Osaka Osaka PrivatePrivate (Matsumoto Ko), Osaka

Yamashiro Province[edit]

The Yamashiro tradition was centered around the capital Kyoto in Yamashiro Province where swords were in high demand. Sanjō Munechika (c. 987) was a forerunner of this tradition, and the earliest identified smith working in Kyoto.[52] Various branches of the Yamashiro tradition are distinguished: Sanjō, Awataguchi, Rai, Ayanokoji, Nobukuni, Hasebe and Heian-jo.[53]

Yamashiro tradition sugata is characterized by torii-zori, smaller mihaba,[j 12] slightly bigger kasane,[j 13] funbari,[j 14] and small kissaki. The jihada is dense small-grained itame-hada[j 15] and the hamon is suguha in nie, or small-grain nie.[23]

Sanjō, Ayanokoji and Hasebe schools[edit]

The Sanjō branch, named after a street in Kyoto and founded by Sanjō Munechika around 1000, is the oldest school in Yamashiro Province.[54] In the early Kamakura period it was the most advanced school of swordmanship in Japan.[22] Sanjō Munechika's pieces, together with those of Yasutsuna from Hōki Province, consist of some of the oldest curved Japanese swords and mark the start of the old sword (kotō) period.[53] Sanjō school's sugata is characterized by a much narrower upper area compared to the bottom, small kissaki, torii-zori and deep koshi-zori.[j 16] The jihada uses good quality steel with abundant ji-nie[j 17] and chikei,[j 18] small mokume-hada[j 19] mixed with wavy, large hada. The hamon is bright and covered with thick nioi.[j 20] It is based on suguha mixed with small chōji midare.[j 21] Hataraki[j 22] appear along the temper line.[54]

The Ayanokoji school is named for a street in Kyoto where the smith Sadatoshi lived, and may possibly be a branch of the Sanjō school.[44][55] Ayanokoji tachi are slender with small kissaki. The jihada uses soft jigane,[j 23] small mokume-hada mixed with masame-hada, abundant ji-nie, yubashiri[j 24] and chikei. The temper line is small chōji midare, nie with lots of activity.[j 22][55]

A later branch of the Yamashiro tradition, was the Hasebe school which was active in the Nanboku-chō period and early Muromachi period.[56] It was founded by Hasebe Kunishige who originally came from Yamato Province. He travelled to Sagami Province where he became one of the ten great students of Masamune (Masamune juttetsu), and eventually went to Kyoto to found the Hasebe school.[56][57] The sugata is characterized by a wide mihaba, thin kasane and shallow sori.[j 25] The jihada is fine itame-hada mixed with masame-hada, chikei and abundant ji-nie. The hamon is of irregular width, narrow and small-patterned at the bottom and wide and large-patterned at the top of the blade. There are many tobiyaki[j 26] and hitatsura[j 27] as well as rough nie.[56]

Type/Name[nb 12]
Signature
Swordsmith
Remarks
Date
Length
Present location
Tachi or Crescent Moon Munechika (三日月宗近 mikazuki munechika?)#[28][58] Sanjō (三条?) Sanjō Munechika (三条宗近?) One of the Five Swords under Heaven (天下五剣?); the name, "crescent moon" refers to the shape of the tempering pattern; owned by Kōdai-in, wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi who bequeathed it to Tokugawa Hidetada, then handed down in the Tokugawa clan; curvature: 2.7 cm (1.1 in) 1000Heian period, 10th–11th century 700180000000000000080 cm (31 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Tachi[59][60] Sadatoshi (定利?) Ayanokoji Sadatoshi (三条定利?) Sword by the founder of the Ayanokoji school; handed down in the Abe clan from 1663 when Tokugawa Ietsuna gave it to Abe Masakuni, lord of Iwatsuki castle; strong curvature 3.0 cm (1.2 in) 1200Kamakura period, 13th century 700178800000000000078.8 cm (31.0 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Katana or The Forceful Cutter (へし切 Heshi-kiri?)#[61] Unsigned Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重?)* Owned by the Kuroda family, with an inscription in gold inlay by Honami Kotoku (本阿光徳?): Hasebe Kunishige Honami ("長谷部国重本阿"?), curvature 0.9 cm (0.35 in) 1336Nanboku-chō period, 14th century 700164800000000000064.8 cm (25.5 in) Fukuoka Fukuoka Fukuoka City MuseumFukuoka City Museum (福岡市博物館 Fukuokashi Hakubutsukan?), Fukuoka, Fukuoka
Awataguchi school[edit]

Located in the Awataguchi district of Kyoto, the Awataguchi school was active in the early and mid-Kamakura period.[52][62] Leading members of the school were Kunitomo, whose tachi are similar to those of Sanjō Munechika, and Tōshirō Yoshimitsu, one of the most celebrated of all Japanese smiths.[52] Yoshimitsu was the last of the significant smiths in the Awataguchi school, and the school was eventually replaced by the Rai school as the foremost school in Yamashiro Province.[62]

Characteristic for this school are engraved gomabashi[j 28] near the back ridge (mune), a long and slender tang (nakago), and the use of two-character signatures.[62] Awataguchi sugata is in the early Kamakura period similar to that of the Sanjō school; later in the mid-Kamakura period it became ikubi kissaki[j 29] with a wide mihaba. Tantō were normal sized with slight uchi-zori.[j 30][23] The jihada is nashiji-hada[j 31] of finest quality, dense small grain mokume-hada mixed with chikei, yubashiri appear, thick nie all over the ji[j 32] The hamon is narrow, suguha mixed with small chōji midare.[23][62]

Type/Name[nb 12]
Signature
Swordsmith
Remarks
Date
Length
Present location
Tantō or Atsushi Tōshirō (厚藤四郎?)#[63][64] Yoshimitsu (吉光?) Tōshirō Yoshimitsu (藤四郎吉光?) Name ("atsushi" meaning "thick") refers to the unusual thickness of the blade; handed down through shoguns of the Ashikaga clan and in the possession of among others Toyotomi Hidetsugu, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Mōri Terumoto; presented to Tokugawa Ieyasu by the Mōri family 1200Kamakura period, 13th century 700121800000000000021.8 cm (8.6 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Tantō or Gotō Tōshirō (後藤藤四郎?)#[65] Yoshimitsu (吉光?) Tōshirō Yoshimitsu (藤四郎吉光?) Formerly in the possession of the Gotō house 1200Kamakura period, 13th century 700127600000000000027.6 cm (10.9 in) Aichi Nagoya Tokugawa Art MuseumTokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya, Aichi
Tantō[66] Yoshimitsu (吉光?) Tōshirō Yoshimitsu (藤四郎吉光?) Formerly in the possession of the Tachibanaya family 1185Kamakura period 700123200000000000023.2 cm (9.1 in) Fukuoka Yanagawa Ohana MuseumOhana Museum, Yanagawa, Fukuoka
Tsurugi[67] Yoshimitsu (吉光?) Tōshirō Yoshimitsu (藤四郎吉光?) The blade was part of the dowry of the adopted daughter (Seitaiin) of Tokugawa Iemitsu on her wedding with Maeda Mitsutaka; one year after Seitaiin's death, her son, Maeda Tsunanori offered the blade to the Shirayamahime Shrine praying for her happiness in the next life; width: 2.2 cm (0.87 in) 1200Kamakura period 700134800000000000034.8 cm (13.7 in) Ishikawa Hakusan Shirayamahime Shrinecustodian: Ishikawa Prefecture Art Museum, Kanazawa (owner: Shirayamahime Shrine (白山比咩神社 Shirayamahime-jinja?), Hakusan), Ishikawa
Tachi[68] Hisakuni (久国?) Hisakuni (久国?) Curvature: 3 cm (1.2 in), breadth at butt: 2.7 cm (1.1 in) 1200Kamakura period, first half of 13th century 700180400000000000080.4 cm (31.7 in) Tokyo Tokyo Agency for Cultural AffairsAgency for Cultural Affairs, Tokyo
Tachi[69][70] Norikuni (則国?) Norikuni (則国?) Curvature 2.1 cm (0.83 in) 1200Kamakura period, 13th century 700174700000000000074.7 cm (29.4 in) Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto National MuseumKyoto National Museum, Kyoto
Rai school[edit]

The Rai school, active from the mid-Kamakura period through the Nanboku-chō period, succeeded the Awataguchi school as the foremost school in Yamashiro Province.[62] It was founded in the 13th century either by Kuniyuki or his father Kuniyoshi from the Awataguchi school.[52][71] The name, "Rai" refers to the fact that smiths of this school preceded their signatures with the character "来" ("rai").[62] Rai school works show some characteristics of the later Sōshū tradition, especially in the work of Kunitsugu.[71]

Rai school sugata resembles that of the late Heian/early Kamakura period being both gentle and graceful, but grander and with a more vigorous workmanship. Starting with Kunimitsu, the kissaki becomes larger. The jihada is small-grain mokume-hada, dense with ji-nie, yubashiri and chikei. The quality of the jigane is slightly inferior to that of the Awataguchi school. The hamon shows medium suguha with chōji midare.[71]

Type/Name[nb 12]
Signature
Swordsmith
Remarks
Date
Length
Present location
Tachi[49] Kuniyuki (国行?) Rai Kuniyuki (来国行?) Blade by the founder of the Rai school; handed down in the Matsudaira clan lords over the Akashi Domain in Harima Province; curvature 3.0 cm (1.2 in) 1250mid-Kamakura period 700176500000000000076.5 cm (30.1 in) Tokyo Tokyo The Society for Preservation of Japanese Art SwordsThe Society for Preservation of Japanese Art Swords ( 日本美術刀剣保存協会 Zaidanhōjin Nippon Bijutsu Tōkenhozonkyōkai?), Tokyo
Tachi Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊?) Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊?)
1280Kamakura period
Tokyo Tokyo PrivatePrivate, Tokyo
Tantō[72] Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊?) Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊?) Uchi-zori 1316Kamakura period, 1316 700125100000000000025.1 cm (9.9 in) Aichi Nagoya Atsuta ShrineAtsuta Shrine, Nagoya, Aichi
Tantō Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊?) Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊?)
1280Kamakura period
Hyogo Nishinomiya Kurokawa Institute of Ancient CulturesKurokawa Institute of Ancient Cultures (黒川古文化研究所 Kurokawa Kobunka Kenkyūjo?), Nishinomiya, Hyōgo
Kodachi[73] Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊?) Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊?) Curvature: 1.67 cm (0.66 in) 1280Kamakura period 700154400000000000054.4 cm (21.4 in) Tochigi Nikko Futarasan ShrineFutarasan Shrine, Nikkō, Tochigi
Tachi[74][75] Rai Kunimitsu (来国光?) Rai Kunimitsu (来国光?) Handed down in the Matsudaira clan, used by Matsudaira Tadaaki in the Siege of Osaka; later owned by the Iwasaki family, founders of Mitsubishi, then by Yamagata Aritomo and by Emperor Meiji 1300Kamakura period, 14th century 700180700000000000080.7 cm (31.8 in) Fukuoka Dazaifu Kyushu National MuseumKyushu National Museum, Dazaifu, Fukuoka
Tachi[76][77] Rai Kunimitsu (来国光?) Rai Kunimitsu (来国光?) Presented to the crown prince, the later Emperor Taishō, by Tokugawa Iesato; particularly strong curvature 3.5 cm (1.4 in) 1327Kamakura period, 1327 700179100000000000079.1 cm (31.1 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Tachi[78] Work of Rai Magotarō (来孫太郎作 Rai Magotarōsaku?) Rai Magotarō (来孫太郎?)
1292Kamakura period, 1292 700177300000000000077.3 cm (30.4 in) Aichi Nagoya Tokugawa Art MuseumTokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya, Aichi
Tantō or Yūraku Rai Kunimitsu (有楽来国光?)# Rai Kunimitsu (来国光?) Rai Kunimitsu (来国光?) Oda Nagamasu, also known as Urakusai (有楽斎) received this sword from Toyotomi Hideyori; later handed down in the Maeda clan 1300Kamakura period 700127600000000000027.6 cm (10.9 in) Shizuoka ??? PrivatePrivate, Shizuoka
Tantō Rai Kunitsugu (来国次?) Rai Kunitsugu (来国次?)*
1300Kamakura period, 14th century 700132700000000000032.7 cm (12.9 in) Tokyo Tokyo PrivatePrivate, Tokyo

Sōshū or Sagami Province[edit]

Katana by Masamune with an inscription Jō Izumi no Kami shoji (城和泉守所持?) in gold inlay

The Sōshū (or Sagami) tradition owes its origin to the patronage of the Kamakura shogunate set up by Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1185 in Kamakura, Sagami Province.[45][52] Though the conditions for swordsmithing were not favourable, the intense military atmosphere and high demand for swords helped to establish the school.[45] The tradition is believed to have originated in 1249, when Awataguchi Kunitsuna from the Yamashiro tradition forged a tachi for Hōjō Tokiyori.[52] Other recognized founders were Ichimonji Sukezane and Saburo Kunimune, both from the Bizen tradition.[nb 13][79][45] The Sōshū tradition's popularity increased after the Mongol invasions (1274, 1281).[27] It is characterized by tantō daggers that were produced in large quantities; but also tachi and katana were forged.[52] With the exception of wider and shorter so called "kitchen knives" (hōchō tantō), daggers were 24–28 cm (9.4–11.0 in) long, uncurved or with a slight curve toward the cutting edge (uchi-zori).[42]

Tantō known as Hyūga Masamune

During the early Sōshū tradition, from the late Kamakura period to the beginning of the Nanboku-chō period, the smiths' goal was to produce swords that exhibited splendor and toughness, incorporating some of the best features of the Bizen and Yamashiro traditions.[79] The Midare Shintōgo by Awataguchi Kunitsuna's son, Shintōgo Kunimitsu, is considered to be the first true Sōshū tradition blade.[79] Shintōgo Kunimitsu was the teacher of Yukimitsu and of Masamune who is widely recognized as Japan's greatest swordsmith.[52] Together with Sadamune, whose work looks modest compared to Masamune's, these are the most representative smiths of the early Sōshū tradition.[79] Sōshū tradition sugata is characterized by a shallow torii-zori, bigger mihaba, smaller kasane, medium or large kissaki. The jihada is mostly itame-hada with ji-nie and chikei and the hamon is gunome,[j 33] midareba[j 34] and hitatsura. Nie, sunagashi[j 35] and kinsuji[j 36] are often visible in the hamon.[23]

Type/Name
Signature
Swordsmith
Remarks
Date
Size
Present location
Tantō[80][81] Yukimitsu (行光?) Yukimitsu (行光?) Formerly owned by the Maeda clan; blade exhibits intermediary style between straight tempering pattern used by Yukimitsu's teacher, Gokunimitsu, and curved-wave tempering pattern of his student, Masamune 1300Kamakura period, 14th century 700126200000000000026.2 cm (10.3 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Tantō Kunimitsu (国光?) Shintōgo Kunimitsu
1293Kamakura period, around Einin to Shōwa eras (1293–1317) 700125500000000000025.5 cm (10.0 in) Tokyo Tokyo PrivatePrivate, Tokyo
Tantō Kunimitsu (国光?) Shintōgo Kunimitsu
1293Kamakura period, around Einin to Shōwa eras (1293–1317)
Osaka Osaka PrivatePrivate, Osaka
Tantō or Aizu Shintōgo (会津新藤五?)#[82][83] Kunimitsu (国光?) Shintōgo Kunimitsu Formerly owned by Gamō Ujisato. The name, "Aizu", refers to the Aizu area which he controlled. 1293Kamakura period, late 13th century 700125500000000000025.5 cm (10.0 in) Hiroshima ??? PrivatePrivate, Hiroshima
Katana[84] Unsigned Masamune With an inscription in gold inlay from 1609: Owned by Jō Lord of Izumi (城和泉守所持 Jō Izumi no Kami shoji?) and Masamune Suriage Honami (正宗磨上本阿?) (authenticated by Honami Kōtoku as Masamune sword); formerly in possession of the Tsugaru clan; curvature 2.1 cm (0.83 in) 1300Kamakura period, 14th century, before Gentoku era (1329) 700170800000000000070.8 cm (27.9 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Katana or Kanze Masamune (観世正宗?)# Unsigned Masamune Formerly in the possession of the Kanze school, a Noh school 1288Kamakura period, around Shōō to Karyaku eras (1288–1328) 700164400000000000064.4 cm (25.4 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Katana or Tarō-saku Masamune (太郎作正宗?)# Unsigned Masamune
1288Kamakura period, around Shōō to Karyaku eras (1288–1328) 700164300000000000064.3 cm (25.3 in) Tokyo Tokyo Maeda IkutokukaiMaeda Ikutokukai, Tokyo
Katana or Nakatsukasa Masamune (中務正宗?)#[85] Unsigned Masamune With a gold inlay inscription: Masamune Honami Kaō (正宗本阿花押?); formerly held by Honda Tadakatsu whose official rank was Nakatsukasa Daisuke; later handed down in the Tokugawa clan; curvature: 1.7 cm (0.67 in) 1300Kamakura period, 14th century, before Gentoku era (1329) 700167000000000000067.0 cm (26.4 in) Tokyo Tokyo Agency for Cultural AffairsAgency for Cultural Affairs, Tokyo
Tantō or Hyūga Masamune (日向正宗?)#[86] Unsigned Masamune Formerly in the possession of Ishida Mitsunari who gave this sword to the husband of his younger sister; the sword was stolen during the Battle of Sekigahara by Mizuno Katsushige, governor of Hyūga Province 1288Kamakura period, around Shōō to Karayku eras (1288–1328) 700124800000000000024.8 cm (9.8 in) Tokyo Tokyo Mitsui Memorial MuseumMitsui Memorial Museum, Tokyo
Tantō or Kuki Masamune (九鬼正宗?)#[87] Unsigned Masamune
1300Kamakura period, 14th century, before Gentoku era (1329) 700124800000000000024.8 cm (9.8 in) Okayama Okayama Hayashibara Museum of ArtHayashibara Museum of Art, Okayama, Okayama
Tantō or "Kitchen knife" Masamune (庖丁正宗 Hōchō Masamune?)#[76][87] Unsigned Masamune The name "Kitchen knife" refers to the unusually short and wide shape of the knife. In addition to this item, there are two other national treasure "kitchen knives" by Masamune. 1300Kamakura period, 14th century, before Gentoku era (1329) 700124100000000000024.1 cm (9.5 in) Aichi Nagoya Tokugawa Art MuseumTokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya, Aichi
Tantō or Terasawa Sadamune (寺沢貞宗?)#[76][88] Unsigned Sadamune Name derives from the fact that this sword was a favorite of Terasawa Shima no Kami Hirotaka who passed it on to Tokugawa Hidetada and further to Tokugawa Yorinori, lord of the Kishu fief 1335Kamakura period, mid 14th century, around Gentoku to Kemmu eras (1329–1338) 700129400000000000029.4 cm (11.6 in) Tokyo Tokyo Agency for Cultural AffairsAgency for Cultural Affairs, Tokyo
Tantō or "Kitchen knife" Masamune (庖丁正宗 Hōchō Masamune?)#[87] Unsigned Masamune The name "Kitchen knife" refers to the unusually short and wide shape of the knife. In addition to this item, there are two other national treasure "kitchen knives" by Masamune. 1300Kamakura period, 14th century, before Gentoku era (1329) 700121800000000000021.8 cm (8.6 in) Tokyo Tokyo Eisei Bunko MuseumEisei Bunko Museum, Tokyo
Tantō or "Kitchen knife" Masamune (庖丁正宗 Hōchō Masamune?)# Unsigned Masamune The name "Kitchen knife" refers to the unusually short and wide shape of the knife. In addition to this item, there are two other national treasure "kitchen knives" by Masamune. 1288Kamakura period, around Shōō to Karayku eras (1288–1328) 700121700000000000021.7 cm (8.5 in) Osaka Osaka KinshukaiKinshūkai (錦秀会?), Osaka
Tantō or Tokuzen-in Sadamune (徳善院貞宗?)#[86][87] Unsigned Sadamune Maeda Gen'i, also known as Abbot Tokuzen-in (a temple name) received this dagger from Toyotomi Hideyoshi; later it was handed down in the Tokugawa clan and the Saijō branch of the Matsudaira clan 1329Kamakura period, 14th century, around Gentoku to Kemmu eras (1329–1338) 700135500000000000035.5 cm (14.0 in) Tokyo Tokyo Mitsui Memorial MuseumMitsui Memorial Museum, Tokyo
Tantō or Fushimi Sadamune (伏見貞宗?)#[89] Unsigned Sadamune With a red lacquer stamp by a Honami sword appraiser 1329Kamakura period, 14th century, around Gentoku to Kemmu eras (1329–1338)
Hyogo Nishinomiya Kurokawa Institute of Ancient CulturesKurokawa Institute of Ancient Cultures (黒川古文化研究所 Kurokawa Kobunka Kenkyūjo?), Nishinomiya, Hyōgo
Katana or Tortoise shell Sadamune (亀甲貞宗 Kikkō Sadamune?)#[87][90] Unsigned Sadamune Name ("tortoise shell") refers to an engraving on the tang: a chrysanthemum within a hexagon, resembling a tortoise shell; curvature: 2.4 cm (0.94 in) 1329Kamakura period, 14th century, around Gentoku to Kemmu eras (1329–1338) 700170900000000000070.9 cm (27.9 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Tachi[91] Sukezane (助真?) Kamakura Ichimonji Sukezane (鎌倉一文字助真?) Sword by the founder of the Kamakura Ichimonji school; curvature 1.8 cm (0.71 in) 1200Kamakura period, 13th century, around Bun'ei era (1264–1275) 700167000000000000067.0 cm (26.4 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Tachi[76] Sukezane (助真?) Kamakura Ichimonji Sukezane (鎌倉一文字助真?) Sword by the founder of the Kamakura Ichimonji school; formerly held by Tokugawa Ieyasu 1200Kamakura period, 13th century, around Bun'ei era (1264–1275) 700171200000000000071.2 cm (28.0 in) Tochigi Nikko Nikko ToshoguNikkō Tōshō-gū, Nikkō, Tochigi

Bizen Province[edit]

Bizen Province became an early center of iron production and swordmaking because of the proximity to the continent.[17][43] Conditions for sword production were ideal: good iron sand; charcoal and water were readily available; and the San'yōdō road ran right through the province.[92] Bizen has been the only province to produce swords continuously from the Heian to the Edo period.[92] In kotō times, a large number of skilled swordsmiths lived along the lower reaches of the Yoshii river around Osafune making it the largest center of sword production in Japan.[17][93][94] Bizen province not only dominated in the numbers of blades produced but also in quality; and Bizen swords have long been celebrated for excellent swordmanship.[44][94] The peak of the Bizen tradition, marked by a gorgeous and luxurious style, was reached in the mid-Kamakura period.[94] Later, in the 13th century, the Ichimonji and Osafune schools, the mainstream schools of Bizen Province, maintained the Heian style of the Ko-Bizen, the oldest school in Bizen province.[43][95] After the 13th century, swords became wider and the point (kissaki) longer, most likely as a response to the thick armour of the invading Mongols.[43] Mass production due to heavy demand for swords from the early 15th to the 16th century led to a lower quality of blades.[43] The Bizen tradition is associated with a deep koshi-zori, a standard mihaba, bigger kasane with medium kissaki. The jihada is itame-hada often accompanied by utsuri.[j 37] The hamon is chōji midare in nioi deki.[23]

Ko-Bizen[edit]
Tachi signed "Made by Tomonari from Bizen Province"

The oldest branch of swordmaking in Bizen Province is the Ko-Bizen (old Bizen) school.[96] It was founded by Tomonari[nb 14] who lived around the early 12th century.[17][96] The school flourished in the late Heian period (10th–12th century) and continued into the Kamakura period.[43][94] Three great swordsmiths—Kanehira, Masatsune and Tomonari—are associated with the school.[43] Ko-Bizen tachi are generally thin,[nb 15] have a strong koshi-zori and small kissaki. The grain is itame-hada or small itame-hada and the hamon is small midare[j 34] made of nie in combination with chōji and gunome.

Type/Name
Signature
Swordsmith
Remarks
Date
Length
Present location
Tachi Made by Tomonari from Bizen Province (備前国友成造 Bizen no kuni Tomonari tsukuru?) Tomonari (友成?)[nb 16] Curvature: 2.4 cm (0.94 in) 1000Heian period, 11th century 700180300000000000080.3 cm (31.6 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Tachi[97] Work of Tomonari (友成作 Tomonari saku?) Tomonari (友成?)[nb 16] Handed down trhough Taira no Munemori; curvature: 3.0 cm (1.2 in) 1100Heian period, 12th century 700179300000000000079.3 cm (31.2 in) Hiroshima Hatsukaichi Itsukushima ShrineItsukushima Shrine, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima
Tachi or "Great Kanehira" (大包平 Ōkanehira?)#[76][98] Work of Kanehira from Bizen Province" (備前国包平作 Bizen no kuni Kanehira tsuku?) Kanehira (包平?) Name ("Ōkanehira") refers to the extraordinary size of the blade; unusual signature for Kanehira who usually used a two character signature; owned by Ikeda Terumasa and passed down in the Ikeda clan; curvature 3.5 cm (1.4 in) 1100Heian period, 12th century 700189200000000000089.2 cm (35.1 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Tachi[99] Masatsune (正恒?) Masatsune (正恒?) Tokugawa Munechika received the sword in 1745 from Tokugawa Yoshimune 1156Heian period, mid-12th century, around Hōgen era (1156–1159) 700172000000000000072.0 cm (28.3 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo Agency for Cultural AffairsAgency for Cultural Affairs, Tokyo
Tachi[76] Masatsune (正恒?) Masatsune (正恒?)
1156Heian period, mid-12th century, around Hōgen era (1156–1159) 700174200000000000074.2 cm (29.2 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo Agency for Cultural AffairsAgency for Cultural Affairs, Tokyo
Tachi[100][101] Masatsune (正恒?) Masatsune (正恒?) The sword passed from Tokugawa Yoshimune on his retirement in 1745 to Tokugawa Munekatsu and later on to Tokugawa Munechika; curvature: 2.8 cm (1.1 in), breadth at butt: 2.9 cm (1.1 in) 1156Heian period, mid-12th century, around Hōgen era (1156–1159) 700171800000000000071.8 cm (28.3 in) Aichi Nagoya Tokugawa Art MuseumTokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya, Aichi
Tachi[59][83] Masatsune (正恒?) Masatsune (正恒?)
1156Heian period, mid-12th century, around Hōgen era (1156–1159) 700177600000000000077.6 cm (30.6 in) Tokyo Tokyo PrivatePrivate (Aoyama Kikuchi), Tokyo
Tachi Masatsune (正恒?) Masatsune (正恒?)
1156Heian period, mid-12th century, around Hōgen era (1156–1159)
Osaka Osaka PrivatePrivate, Osaka
Tachi Sanetsune (真恒?) Sanetsune (真恒?) Curvature: 3.9 cm (1.5 in) 1077Heian period, late 11th century, around Jōryaku are (1077–1081) 700189400000000000089.4 cm (35.2 in) Shizuoka Shizuoka Kunozan ToshoguKunōzan Tōshō-gū, Shizuoka, Shizuoka
Tachi[nb 17][76][102] Work of Nobufusa (信房作 Nobufusa-saku?) Nobufusa (信房?) Curvature: 2.3 cm (0.91 in) 1100Heian period, 12th century 700176100000000000076.1 cm (30.0 in) Yamagata Tsuruoka Chido MuseumChidō Museum (致道博物館 Chidō Hakubutsukan?), Tsuruoka, Yamagata
Ichimonji school[edit]

The Ichimonji school was founded by Norimune in the late Heian period.[43] Together with the Osafune it was one of the main branches of the Bizen tradition and continued through the Kamakura period with a peak of prosperity before the mid-Kamakura period.[94][95] The name Ichimonji (一文字?, lit. character "one") refers to the signature (mei) on swords of this school. Many smiths signed blades with only a horizontal line (read as "ichi", translated as "one"); however signatures exist that contain only the smith's name, or "ichi" plus the smith's name, and unsigned blades exist as well.[95] From the early Ichimonji school (Ko-Ichimonji), the "ichi" signature looks like a diagonal line and might have been a mark instead of a character. From the mid-Kamakura period however, "ichi" is definitely the character and not a mark.[95] Some Ichimonji smiths lived in Fukuoka village, Osafune and others in Yoshioka village. They are known as Fukuoka-Ichimonji and Yoshioka-Ichimonji respectively, and were typically active in the early to mid-Kamakura period (Fukuoka-Ichimonji) and the late-Kamakura period (Yoshioka-Ichimonji) respectively.[95]

The workmanship of early Ichimonji smiths such as Norimune resembles that of the Ko-Bizen school: tachi have a narrow mihaba, deep koshi-zori, funbari and an elegant sugata with small kissaki. The hamon is small midare or small midare with small chōji midare in small nie.[95]

Around the middle Kamakura period tachi have a wide mihaba and grand sugata with medium kissaki such as ikubi kissaki. The hamon is large chōji midare or juka chōji[j 38] in nioi deki and irregular width. Particularly the hamon of tachi with just the "ichi" signature is wide chōji. The hamon of this period's Ichimonji school is one of the most gorgeous amongst kotō smiths and comparable to Masamune and his students' works.[95] The most characteristic works for mid-Kamakura period Ichimonji school were produced by Yoshifusa, Sukezane and Norifusa.[95] Yoshifusa, who left the largest number of blades, and Norifusa might each in fact have been several smiths using the same name.[95]

Type/Name
Signature
Swordsmith
Remarks
Date
Length
Present location
Tachi ichi (?) Tomonari (友成?)
1185Kamakura period
Shizuoka Numazu Makiri CorporationMakiri Corporation (株式会社マキリ Kabushikigaisha Makiri?), Numazu, Shizuoka
Tachi or Nikkō Ichimonji (日光一文字?)#[103] Unsigned Fukuoka Ichimonji (福岡一文字?) Part of the Kuroda family collection, handed down in the Hōjō clan; curvature: 2.4 cm (0.94 in) 1200Kamakura period, 13th century 700167800000000000067.8 cm (26.7 in) Fukuoka Fukuoka Fukuoka City MuseumFukuoka City Museum, Fukuoka, Fukuoka
Tachi[59] Unsigned Fukuoka Ichimonji (福岡一文字?) Temper pattern resembles the feather of a pheasant: Yamatorige (山鳥毛?) 1185Kamakura period 700179000000000000079.0 cm (31.1 in) Okayama ??? PrivatePrivate, Okayama
Tachi[104] Norimune (則宗?) Norimune (則宗?)^ Curvature: 2.8 cm (1.1 in) 1185early Kamakura period, around Genryaku to Jōgen eras (1184–1211) 700178400000000000078.4 cm (30.9 in) Tokyo Tokyo Hie ShrineHie Shrine, Tokyo
Tachi[105] Yoshifusa (吉房?) Yoshifusa (吉房?) Sword of Oda Nobunaga whose son, Oda Nobukatsu, used it to slay Okada Sukesaburō in the Battle of Komaki and Nagakute

Also known as Okada slayer (岡田切 Okada-giri?), curvature: 2.1 cm (0.83 in)

1200Kamakura period, 13th century 700169100000000000069.1 cm (27.2 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Tachi[106] Yoshifusa (吉房?) Yoshifusa (吉房?) Formerly in the possession of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, later bestowed on Takekoshi Masanobu, a retainer of Tokugawa Ieyasu; subsequently owned by Takekoshi's descendants 1200Kamakura period, 13th century 700170600000000000070.6 cm (27.8 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Tachi Yoshifusa (吉房?) Yoshifusa (吉房?)
1200Kamakura period, 13th century
Tokyo Tokyo PrivatePrivate, Tokyo
Tachi [76][107] Yoshifusa (吉房?) Fukuoka Yoshifusa (福岡吉房?) In the possession of many people such as the Kishū-Tokugawa family; handed down in the Taira clan; curvature: 2.65 cm (1.04 in) 1200Kamakura period, 13th century 700171200000000000071.2 cm (28.0 in) Okayama Okayama Hayashibara Museum of ArtHayashibara Museum of Art, Okayama, Okayama
Tachi[83] Yoshifusa (吉房?) Fukuoka Yoshifusa (福岡吉房?) Handed down in the Tokugawa clan 1200Kamakura period, 13th century 700173900000000000073.9 cm (29.1 in) Hiroshima ??? PrivatePrivate, Hiroshima
Tachi Yoshihira (吉平?) Fukuoka Yoshihira (福岡吉平?)
1185Kamakura period, around Ninji to Kenchō eras (1240–1256)
Tokyo Tokyo PrivatePrivate, Tokyo
Tachi[108] Sukekane (助包?) Fukuoka Sukekane (福岡助包?) Handed down in the Tottori branch of the Ikeda clan 1185Kamakura period 700177700000000000077.7 cm (30.6 in) Osaka Osaka PrivatePrivate, Osaka
Tachi[59][83] Norifusa (則房?) Fukuoka Norifusa (福岡則房?) Handed down in the Tokugawa clan; curvature: 3.2 cm (1.3 in) 1200Kamakura period, 13th century 700177300000000000077.3 cm (30.4 in) Hiroshima ??? PrivatePrivate, Hiroshima
Katana Unsigned Fukuoka Norifusa (福岡則房?)
1185Kamakura period
Tokyo Tokyo PrivatePrivate, Tokyo
Tachi Sakon Shōgen Sukemitsu living in Yoshioka in Bizen Province (備前国吉岡住左近将監紀助光 Bizen no kuni Yoshioka jū Sakon Shōgen ki Sukemitsu?), O Great God of Arms, I beseech your aid against my enemy! (南无 八幡大菩薩 Namu Hachiman Daibosatsu?) Yoshioka Sukemitsu (吉岡助光?) Curvature: 3.9 cm (1.5 in) 1322-03Kamakura period, March 1322 700182400000000000082.4 cm (32.4 in) Osaka Osaka ??? PrivatePrivate, Osaka
Naginata[109] Ichi Sakon Shōgen Sukemitsu living in Yoshioka in Bizen Province (一備州吉岡住左近将監紀助光 ichi Bishū Yoshioka-jū Sakon Shōgen ki no Sukemitsu?) Yoshioka Sukemitsu (吉岡助光?) Handed down in the Kaga branch of the Maeda clan 1320Kamakura period, 1320 700156700000000000056.7 cm (22.3 in) Osaka Osaka ??? PrivatePrivate, Osaka
Osafune school[edit]

Founded by Mitsutada in the mid-Kamakura period in Osafune, the Osafune school continued through to the end of the Muromachi period.[93][94] It was for a long time the most prosperous of the Bizen schools and a great number of master swordsmiths belonged to it.[93] Nagamitsu (also called Junkei Nagamitsu), the son of Mitsutada, was the second generation, and Kagemitsu the third generation.[93]

Osafune sugata is characteristic for the period and similar to that of the Ichimonji school: a wide mihaba and ikubi kissaki. After the 13th century the curve moved from koshi-zori to torii-zori.[43] Other stylistic features depend on the swordsmith. In the hamon, Mitsutada adopted the Ichimonji style of large chōji midare mixed with juka chōji and a unique kawazuko chōji;[j 39] Nagamitsu produced also chōji midare hower with a different pattern and mixed with considerable gunome midare. Starting with Kagemitsu the hamon became suguha and gunome midare. Kagemitsu is also credited with the invention of kataochi gunome.[j 40] Mitsutada's bōshi is midare komi[j 41] with short kaeri[j 42] or yakitsume.[j 43] Nagamitsu and Kagemitsu use a sansaku bōshi.[j 44] Kagemitsu is also known as one of the finest engravers particularly through his masterpiece Koryū Kagemitsu.[93]

Type/Name
Signature
Swordsmith
Remarks
Date
Length
Present location
Tachi[110][111] Kagemitsu living in Osafune in Bizen Province (備前国長船住景光 Bizen no kuni Osafune-jū Kagemitsu?) Kagemitsu (景光?) Sword of Kusunoki Masashige, also called Little Dragon Kagemitsu (小龍景光 Koryū Kagemitsu?) after a relief on the face of the blade, curvature: 2.7 cm (1.1 in) 1322-05Kamakura period, May 1322 700180600000000000080.6 cm (31.7 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Katana Unsigned Mitsutada (光忠?) Also called Ikoma Mitsutada (生駒光忠?) after the former owner, Ikoma Chikamasa; with a kaō and a gold inlay inscription: Mitsutada (光忠?), made by the connoisseur Honami Kōtoku (本阿弥光徳?) 1238Kamakura period, around Ryakunin to Kangen era (1238–1247)
Tokyo Tokyo Eisei Bunko MuseumEisei Bunko Museum, Tokyo
Tachi[76][112] Mitsutada (光忠?) Mitsutada (光忠?) Tokugawa Tsunanari received this sword from Tokugawa Tsunayoshi in 1698; curvature: 2.3 cm (0.91 in) 1238Kamakura period, around Ryakunin to Kangen era (1238–1247) 700172400000000000072.4 cm (28.5 in) Aichi Nagoya Tokugawa Art MuseumTokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya, Aichi
Katana Mitsutada (光忠?) Mitsutada (光忠?) Inscription in gold inlay 1238Kamakura period, around Ryakunin to Kangen era (1238–1247)
Osaka Osaka PrivatePrivate, Osaka
Tachi or Daihannya Nagamitsu (大般若長光?)#[113] Nagamitsu (長光?) Junkei Nagamitsu (長光?) The name ("Daihannya") refers to the Daihannya sutra. The value of the sword during the Muromachi period, 600 kan, was associated with the sutra's 600 volumes; said to have belonged to the Ashikaga clan, later in the possession of Oda Nobunaga who gave it to Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Anegawa, who then gave it to Okudaira Nobumasa at the Battle of Nagashino; curvature: 2.9 cm (1.1 in) 1249Kamakura period, 13th century, around Kenchō to Shōō eras (1249–1293) 700173600000000000073.6 cm (29.0 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Tachi or Tōtōmi Nagamitsu (遠江長光?)#[114] Nagamitsu (長光?) Junkei Nagamitsu (長光?) Stolen by Akechi Mitsuhide from Azuchi Castle; later in the possession of Maeda Toshinaga, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi and in 1709 it passed from Tokugawa Ienobu to Tokugawa Yoshimichi 1249Kamakura period, 13th century, around Kenchō to Shōō eras (1249–1293) 700172400000000000072.4 cm (28.5 in) Aichi Nagoya Tokugawa Art MuseumTokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya, Aichi
Tachi Nagamitsu (長光?) Junkei Nagamitsu (長光?)
1249Kamakura period, 13th century, around Kenchō to Shōō eras (1249–1293)
Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Tachi[115] Made by Sakon Shōgen Nagamitsu living in Osafune in Bizen province (備前国長船住左近将監長光造 Bizen no kuni Osafune no jū Sakon Shōgen Nagamitsu-zō?) Junkei Nagamitsu (長光?) Curvature: 2.7 cm (1.1 in) 1249Kamakura period, 13th century, around Kenchō to Shōō eras (1249–1293) 700178700000000000078.7 cm (31.0 in) Okayama Okayama Hayashibara Museum of ArtHayashibara Museum of Art, Okayama, Okayama
Tachi Three Avatars of Kumano (熊野三所権現長光 Kumano Sansho Gongen Nagamitsu?) Junkei Nagamitsu (長光?) Curvature: 2.9 cm (1.1 in), also called: "Sword of the three temples" 1249Kamakura period, 13th century, around Kenchō to Shōō eras (1249–1293) 700178000000000000078.0 cm (30.7 in) Shizuoka ??? PrivatePrivate, Shizuoka
Tachi[116] Sahyōe-no-jō (lit. left palace guard) Kagemitsu living in Osafune in Bizen Province (備前国長船住左兵衛尉景光 Bizen no kuni Osafune no jū Sahyōe no jō Kagemitsu?) Kagemitsu (景光?)
1329-07Kamakura period, July, 1329 700182400000000000082.4 cm (32.4 in) Saitama Saitama Saitama Prefectural Museum of History and FolkloreSaitama Prefectural Museum of History and Folklore (埼玉県立歴史と民俗の博物館 Saitamakenritsu Rekishi to Minzoku no Hakubutsukan?), Saitama, Saitama
Naginata[76][117] Made by Nagamitsu living in Osafune in Bizen Province (備前国長船住人長光造 Bizen no kuni Osafune-jū Nagamitsu tsukuru?) Nagamitsu (長光?) Length of tang: 63.5 cm (25.0 in) 1300Kamakura period, 14th century 700144200000000000044.2 cm (17.4 in) Shizuoka Mishima Sano Art MuseumSano Art Museum (佐野美術館 Sano Bijutsukan?), Mishima, Shizuoka
Tantō[nb 18][76][118] Kagemitsu living in Osafune in Kibi Province (備州長船住景光 Bishū Osafune-jū Kagemitsu?) Kagemitsu (景光?) Formerly in the possession of Uesugi Kenshin; with an engraving: Chichibu Daibosatsu (秩父大菩薩?) on the blade; slight curvature 1323Kamakura period, 1323 700128300000000000028.3 cm (11.1 in) Saitama Saitama Saitama Prefectural Museum of History and FolkloreSaitama Prefectural Museum of History and Folklore (埼玉県立歴史と民俗の博物館 Saitamakenritsu Rekishi to Minzoku no Hakubutsukan?), Saitama, Saitama
Tachi[nb 19][76][119] Kagemitsu (景光?) Kagemitsu (景光?) Presented to Tadatsugu (忠次?) by Oda Nobunaga for good service in the Battle of Nagashino; curvature: 2.9 cm (1.1 in) 1333Kamakura period, 14th century towards 1333 700177300000000000077.3 cm (30.4 in) Yamagata Tsuruoka Chido MuseumChidō Museum (致道博物館 Chidō Hakubutsukan?), Tsuruoka, Yamagata
Tachi Chikakage living in Osafune in Bizen Province (備前国長船住近景 Bizen no kuni Osafune-jū Chikakage?) Chikakage (近景?) Curvature: 2.8 cm (1.1 in) 1329Kamakura period, 1329 700180500000000000080.5 cm (31.7 in) Osaka Osaka PrivatePrivate, Osaka
Tantō Nagashige living in Osafune in Kibi Province (備州長船住長重 Bishū Osafune-jū Nagashiga?) Nagashige (長重?) Slight curvature towards the cutting edge (uchi-zori) 1334Nanboku-chō period, 1334 700126060000000000026.06 cm (10.26 in) Tokyo Tokyo PrivatePrivate, Tokyo
Ōdachi[76][120] Tomomitsu living in Osafune in Kibi Province (備州長船倫光 Bishū Osafune Tomomitsu?) Tomomitsu (倫光?) Handed down in the Bizen Osafune Kanemitsu branch; curvature: 5.8 cm (2.3 in) 1366-02Nanboku-chō period, February, 1366 7002126000000000000126 cm (50 in) Tochigi Nikko Futarasan ShrineFutarasan Shrine, Nikkō, Tochigi
Saburo Kunimune school[edit]

Like the Osafune school, the Saburo Kunimune school was located in Osafune, however the swordsmiths are from a different lineage than those of Mitsutada and his school.[121][122] The name, "saburo", refers to the fact that Kunimune, the founder of the school, was the third son of Kunizane.[122] Kunimune later moved to Sagami Province to found the Sōshū tradition together with Ichimonji Sukezane.[121] There were two generations of Kunimune, and their work is very difficult to distinguish.[121][122] This school's workmanship is similar to that of other smiths of the time but with a slightly coarse jihada and with hajimi.[j 45][121]

Type
Signature
Swordsmith
Remarks
Date
Length
Present location
Tachi[123] Kunimune (国宗?) Kunimune (国宗?)^ Curvature: 3.3 cm (1.3 in), breadth at butt: 3.3 cm (1.3 in), breadth near kissaki: 2.15 cm (0.85 in) 1200Kamakura period, 13th century 700181700000000000081.7 cm (32.2 in) Tochigi Nikko Nikko ToshoguNikkō Tōshō-gū, Nikkō, Tochigi
Tachi[123] Kunimune (国宗?) Kunimune (国宗?)^ Lost in the chaos following World War II but re-discovered by chance in 1963 and returned to Terukuni shrine a year later by the American Mr. Compton; curvature: 2.7 cm (1.1 in), breadth at butt: 3.3 cm (1.3 in), breadth near kissaki: 2.1 cm (0.83 in) 1200Kamakura period, 13th century 700181300000000000081.3 cm (32.0 in) Kagoshima Kagoshima Terukuni ShrineTerukuni Shrine (照国神社 Terukuni-jinja?), Kagoshima, Kagoshima
Tachi[83] Kunimune (国宗?) Kunimune (国宗?)^
1200Kamakura period, 13th century 700172600000000000072.6 cm (28.6 in) Tokyo Tokyo PrivatePrivate,Komatsu Yasuhiro Industries (小松安弘興産 Komatsu Yasuhiro Kōsan?), Tokyo
Tachi[87][123][124] Kunimune (国宗?) Kunimune (国宗?)^ Since 1739 handed down in the Owari branch; curvature: 2.7 cm (1.1 in), breadth at butt: 3.2 cm (1.3 in), breadth near kissaki: 2.1 cm (0.83 in) 1200Kamakura period, 13th century 700180100000000000080.1 cm (31.5 in) Aichi Nagoya Tokugawa Art MuseumTokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya, Aichi

Other countries[edit]

Etchū Province[edit]
Inaba Gō by Gō Yoshihiro

Two of Masamune's ten excellent students (juttetsu), Norishige and Gō Yoshihiro, lived in Etchū Province at the end of the Kamakura period.[125] While none of Gō Yoshihiro's works is signed, there are extant signed tantō and tachi by Norishigi.[56] One tantō by Norishige and two katana by Gō Yoshihiro have been designated as national treasures. Generally Norishige's sugata is characteristic of the time: tantō are with not-rounded fukura[j 46] and uchi-zori, thick kasane and steep slopes of iori-mune.[j 47] The jihada is matsukawa-hada[j 48] with thick ji-nie, lots of chikei along the o-hada.[j 49] The jigane is not equal to that of Masamune or Gō Yoshihiro. Norishige hamon is relatively wide and made up of bright and larger nie based in notare[j 50] mixed with suguha chōji midare or with gunome midare. Gō Yoshihiro produced various sugata with either small kissaki and narrow mihaba or with wider mihaba and larger kissaki. His jihada is identical to that of the Awataguchi school in Yamashiro Province: soft jigane, small mokume-hada mixed with wavy ō-hada. Thick ji-nie becomes yubashiri with chikei. The hamon has an ichimai[j 51] or ichimonji bōshi[j 52] with ashi[j 53] and abundant nie. The kaeri is short or yakitsume.[56]

Type/Name
Signature
Swordsmith
Remarks
Date
Length
Present location
Tantō[87] Norishige (則重?) Norishige (則重?)* Also called Japan's best Norishige (日本一則重 Nihonichi Norishige?) 1308late Kamakura period, around Enkyō to Karyaku era (1308–1329) 700124600000000000024.6 cm (9.7 in) Tokyo Tokyo Eisei Bunko MuseumEisei Bunko Museum, Tokyo
Katana or Tomita Gō (富田江?)# Unsigned Gō Yoshihiro (郷義弘, 江義弘?)* Handed down in the Toda clan (富田氏 Toda-shi?) 1336early Nanboku-chō period, 14th century
Tokyo Tokyo Maeda IkutokukaiMaeda Ikutokukai, Tokyo
Katana or Inaba Gō (稲葉江?)# Unsigned Gō Yoshihiro (郷義弘, 江義弘?)* With an inscription in gold inlay by Honami Kotoku (本阿光徳?): December 1585 Honami Kotoku (天正十三 十二月 日 江 本阿弥磨上之(花押) 所持 稲葉勘右衛門尉 tenshō jūsan jūnigatsu-hi Gō-Honami majō-kore shoji Inaba kaneumon no jō?); handed down in the Inaba clan; curvature: 2 cm (0.79 in) 1336early Nanboku-chō period, 14th century 700170800000000000070.8 cm (27.9 in) Tokyo Tokyo PrivatePrivate, Tokyo
Bitchū Province[edit]

The mainstream school of Bitchū Province was the Aoe school named after a place presently located in Kurashiki.[126] It appeared at the end of the Heian period and thrived in the ensuing Kamakura period.[127] The quality of Aoe swords was swiftly recognized, as 3 of the 12 smiths at Emperor Go-Toba's court were of this school.[126] Five tachi blades of the early aoe school (ko-aoe, before the Ryakunin era, 1238/39) have been designated national treasures.[126] The ko-aoe school consists of two families employing a similar style of swordmanship that did not deviate with time.[126] The first family was represented by the founder Yasutsugu[nb 20] and, among others, Sadatsugu, Tametsugu, Yasutsugu (the one in this list) and Moritoshi.[126] The second family, named "Senoo", was founded by Noritake who was followed by Masatsune, and others.[126] Ko-Aoe produced slender tachi with small kissaki and deep koshi-zori. A distinctive feature of this school is the jihada which is chirimen-hada[j 54] and sumigane[j 55] (dark and plain steel). The hamon is midare based on suguha with ashi and yō.[j 56] The boshi is midare komi or suguha with a short kaeri, yakitsume.[128]

Type/Name
Signature
Swordsmith
Remarks
Date
Length
Present location
Tachi[68] Sadatsugu (貞次?) Sadatsugu (貞次?)^ Curvature: 2.4 cm (0.94 in), breadth at butt: 2.9 cm (1.1 in) 1200Kamakura period, first half of 13th century 700177100000000000077.1 cm (30.4 in) Tokyo Tokyo PrivatePrivate, Tokyo
Tachi Moritoshi (守利?) Moritoshi (守利?)
1224Kamakura period, around Gennin era
Osaka Osaka PrivatePrivate, Osaka
Tachi[68][129] Masatsune (正 恒?) Masatsune (正恒?) Presented to the shrine Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū by Tokugawa Yoshimune in 1736; curvature: 3 cm (1.2 in), breadth at butt: 3 cm (1.2 in) 1200Kamakura period, first half of 13th century 700178200000000000078.2 cm (30.8 in) Kanagawa Kamakura Tsurugaoka HachimanguTsurugaoka Hachiman-gū, Kamakura, Kanagawa
Tachi[68] Tametsugu (為次?) Tametsugu (為次?) Also called Kitsunegasaki (狐ヶ崎?) after a place in present Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka; curvature 3.4 cm (1.3 in), breadth at butt: 3.2 cm (1.3 in) 1200Kamakura period, first half of 13th century 700178800000000000078.8 cm (31.0 in) Yamaguchi Iwakuni KitsukawahōkōkaiKitsukawahōkōkai (吉川報效会?), Iwakuni, Yamaguchi
Tachi[68][130] Yasutsugu (康次?) Yasutsugu (康次?) Presented to Shimazu Yoshihisa by Ashikaga Yoshiaki; curvature 3.5 cm (1.4 in), breadth at butt 3.6 cm (1.4 in) 1200Kamakura period, first half of 13th century 700185200000000000085.2 cm (33.5 in) Gifu Takayama CorporationSukyo Mahikari, Takayama, Gifu
Hōki Province[edit]

The work of Yasutsuna who lived in Hōki Province predates that of the Ko-Bizen school. Though old sources date his activity to the early 9th century, he was most likely a contemporary of Sanjō Munechika. The first forging of the first curved Japanese swords has been attributed to these two smiths.[131] Yasutsuna founded the school with the same name. Two tachi of the Yasutsuna school have been designated as national treasures: one, the Dōjigiri Yasutsuna by Yasutsuna has been named the "most celebrated of all Japanese swords"; the other is by his student Yasuie.[132] The Dōjigiri has torii-zori, distinct funbari, small kissaki; its jihada is mokume-hada with abundant ji-nie. The hamon is small midare consisting of thick nioi and abundant small nie. There are many vivid ashi visible. Yō and kinsuji appear inside the hamon.[131][133] The work of other school members including Yasuie's is characterized by coarse mokume-hada, black jigane, ji-nie and chikei. The hamon is small midare consisting of nie with kinsuji and sunagashi.[131]

Type/Name
Signature
Swordsmith
Remarks
Date
Length
Present location
Tachi[134] Yasuie (安家?) Yasuie (安家?) With a black-tinged finish and distinctive speckled pattern, typical for swords from Hōki Province, passed down in the Kuroda family, only work definitely by Yasuie; curvature 3.2 cm (1.3 in) 1159Heian period, 12th century, around Heiji era (1159–1160) 700177300000000000077.3 cm (30.4 in) Kyoto Kyoto Kyoto National MuseumKyoto National Museum, Kyoto
Tachi or Monster Cutter (童子切安綱 Dōjigiri Yasutsuna?)#[28][132][135][136] Yasutsuna (安綱?) Hōki Yasutsuna (伯耆安綱?) One of the Five Swords under Heaven (天下五剣?), legendary sword with which Minamoto no Yorimitsu killed the boy-faced oni Shuten-dōji (酒呑童子?) living near Mount Oe. Presented to Oda Nobunaga by the Ashikaga family subsequently in possession of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, curvature: 2.7 cm (1.1 in) 1000mid Heian period, 10th–11th century 700180000000000000080.0 cm (31.5 in) Tokyo Tokyo Tokyo National MuseumTokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Saikaidō (Chikuzen, Chikugo, Bungo Province)[edit]

Through rich cultural exchange with China and Korea facilitated by the proximity to the continent, iron manufacture had been practiced on Kyūshū (Saikaidō) since earliest times. Swordsmiths were active from the Heian period onwards.[126][137] Initially the Yamato school's influence is evident all over the island.[137] However, distance from other swordmaking centers such as Yamato or Yamashiro caused the workmanship to remain static as smiths maintained old traditions and shunned innovations.[137] Kyūshū blades, therefore, demonstrate a classic workmanship.[138] The old Kyūshū smiths are represented by Bungo Yukihira from Bungo Province, the Miike school active in Chikugo Province and the Naminohira school of Satsuma Province.[138] Two old blades, one by Miike Mitsuyo and the other by Bungo Yukihira, and five later blades from the 14th century, have been designated as national treasures from Kyūshū. They originate from three provinces: Chikugo, Chikuzen, and Bungo. Generally Kyūshū blades are characterized by a sugata that looks old having a wide shinogi. The jihada is mokume-hada that tends to masame-hada or becomes ayasugi-hada.[j 57] The jigana is soft and there are ji-nie and chikei present. The hamon is small midare made up of nie and based on suguha. The edge of the hamon starts just above the hamachi.[j 58]

The work of Saemon Saburo Yasuyoshi (or Sa, Samonji, Ō-Sa) is much more sophisticated than that of other Kyūshū smiths.[139] As a student of Masamune he was influenced by the Sōshū tradition which is evident in his blades.[139] Sa was active from the end of the Kamakura period to the early Nanboku-chō period and was the founder of the Samonji school in Chikuzen Province to which also Yukihiro belonged.[139] He produced mainly tantō and a few extant tachi.[139] The Samonji school had a great influence during the Nanboku-chō period.[139] Stylistically Ō-Sa's sugata is typical for the end of the Kamakura period with a thick kasane, slightly large kissaki and tantō that are unusually short, about 24 cm (9.4 in).[139]

Type/Name
Signature
Swordsmith
Remarks
Date
Length
Present location
Tachi[83][138] Chikushū jū Sa (筑州住左?) Samonji (左文字?) (Saemon Saburo Yasuyoshi)* Only extant signed tachi of Samonji; also known as Kōsetsu Samonji (江雪左文字?) since it was the favourite sword of Itabeoka Kōsetsu-sai (板部岡江雪斎?) from the Late Hōjō clan, a retainer under Tokugawa Ieyasu; subsequently in the possession of Tokugawa Ieyasu and Tokugawa Yorinobu 1336early Nanboku-chō period, 14th century, around Kemmu and Ryakuō eras (1334–1342) 700178100000000000078.1 cm (30.7 in) Hiroshima ??? PrivatePrivate (Komatsu Yasuhiro Industries), Hiroshima
Tantō Chikushū jū Sa (筑州住左?) Samonji (左文字?) (Saemon Saburo Yasuyoshi)*
1336early Nanboku-chō period, 14th century, around Kemmu and Ryakuō eras (1334–1342) 700123600000000000023.6 cm (9.3 in) Tokyo Tokyo PrivatePrivate, Tokyo
Tachi or Ōtenta (大典太?)#[28][59][140] Work of Mitsuyo (光世作 Mitsuyo-saku?) Miike Mitsuyo (三池光世?) (Tenta) One of the Five Swords under Heaven (天下五剣?), named (Ōtenta=Great Tenta) for its magnificent dignified sugata; curvature 2.7 cm (1.1 in) 1074Heian period, 11th century, around Jōhō era (1074–1077) 700166100000000000066.1 cm (26.0 in) Tokyo Tokyo Maeda IkutokukaiMaeda Ikutokukai, Tokyo
Tachi or Kokin Denju no Tachi (古今伝授の太刀?)#[141] Work of Yukihira from Bungo Province (豊後国行平作 Bungo no kuni Yukihira-saku?) Yukihira (行平?) The sword was presented to the poet Karasumaru Mitsuhiro during the Siege of Tanabe, when Hosokawa Fujitaka initiated him in the Kokin Denju (secrets of Kokin Wakashū); later in the Shōwa period, the sword returned to the possession of the Hosokawa clan; curvature: 2.8 cm (1.1 in) 1200Kamakura period, around 1200 700180000000000000080 cm (31 in) Tokyo Eisei Bunko MuseumEisei Bunko Museum, Tokyo
Ōdachi[142] Unsigned attributed to Bungo Tomoyuki (豊後友行?) Favourite sword of Ōmori Hikoshichi (大森彦七?) and offered to Ōyamazumi Shrine by his grandchild Ōmori Naoji (大森直治?) in 1470; curvature 5.4 cm (2.1 in) 1336Nanboku-chō period, 14th century 7002180000000000000180 cm (71 in) Ehime Imabari Oyamazumi ShrineŌyamazumi Shrine, Imabari, Ehime
Tantō[143] Chikushū jū Yukihiro (筑州住行弘?) Yukihiro (行弘?) Width (mihaba) 2.2 cm (0.87 in), thickness (kasane) 0.6 cm (0.24 in) 1350-08Nanboku-chō period, August 1350 700123500000000000023.5 cm (9.3 in) Ibaraki Tsuchiura Tsuchiura City MuseumTsuchiura City Museum, Tsuchiura, Ibaraki
Tantō[83] Sa (?) Samonji (左文字?) (Saemon Saburo Yasuyoshi)* One of the favourite blades of Toyotomi Hideyoshi; handed down in the Kishū-Tokugawa family 1336early Nanboku-chō period, 14th century, around Kemmu and Ryakuō eras (1334–1342) 700123600000000000023.6 cm (9.3 in) Hiroshima ??? PrivatePrivate, Hiroshima

Sword mountings[edit]

For protection and preservation, a polished Japanese sword needs a scabbard.[144] A fully mounted scabbard (koshirae) may consist of a lacquered body, a taped hilt, a sword guard (tsuba) and decorative metal fittings.[144] Though the original purpose was to protect a sword from damage, from early times on Japanese sword mountings became a status symbol and were used to add dignity.[145] Starting in the Heian period, a sharp distinction was made between swords designed for use in battle and those for ceremonial use.[146] Tachi long swords were worn edge down suspended by two cords or chains from the waist belt. The cords were attached to two eyelets on the scabbard.[147]

Decorative sword mountings of the kazari-tachi type carried on the tradition of ancient straight Chinese style tachi and were used by nobles at court ceremonies until the Muromachi period. They contained a very narrow crude unsharpened blade. Two mountain-shaped metal fittings were provided to attach the straps; the scabbard between was covered by a (tube) fitting. The hilt was covered with ray skin and the scabbard typically decorated in maki-e or mother of pearl.[146]

Another type of mounting that became fashionable around the mid-Heian period is the kenukigata, or hair-tweezer style, named for the characteristically shaped hilt, which is pierced along the center. In this style, the hilt is fitted with an ornamental border and did not contain any wooden covering. Like kazari-tachi, swords with this mounting were used for ceremonial purposes but also in warfare, as an example held at Ise Grand Shrine shows.[148]

From the end of the Heian and into the Kamakura period, hyōgo-gusari[nb 21] were fashionable mountings for tachi. Along the edge of both the scabbard and the hilt they were decorated with a long ornamental border. They were originally designed for use in battle and worn by high-ranking generals together with armour; but in the Kamakura period they were made due to their gorgeous appearance exclusively for the dedication at temples and Shinto shrines. The corresponding blades from that time are unusable.[149]

During the Kamakura and Muromachi period, samurai wore a short sword known as koshigatana in addition to the long tachi. Koshigatana were stuck directly into the belt in the same way as later the katana and uchigatana.[147] They had a mounting without a guard (tsuba). The corresponding style is known as aikuchi ("fitting mouth") as the mouth of the scabbard meets the hilt directly without intervening guard.[150]

Sword type
Mounting type
Date
Design and material
Remarks
Blade length
Overall length
Present location
Tachi[151][152] Kazari-tachi[nb 22] Heian period, 12th century Metal fittings decorated with a chrysanthemum pattern in gilt openwork carved in high relief over a silver ground, scabbard decorated with long-tailed birds in mother of pearl inlay on nashiji lacquer ground. Its slight curvature represents a departure from Chinese prototypes. The mounting was handed down in the Hirohashi family (廣橋家?).
7002103300000000000103.3 cm (40.7 in) Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Tachi[153][154] Hyōgo-gusari[nb 23] Kamakura period, 13th century Scabbard decorated with birds, nashiji lacquer, mother of pearl inlay, gold fittings; blade signed ichi (?) Blade made by Ichimonji; also known as Uesugi Tachi (上杉太刀?) as it was handed down in the Uesugi clan; later offered to Mishima Taisha and presented to the Imperial Household in the Meiji period 700176060000000000076.06 cm (29.94 in) 7002105400000000000105.4 cm (41.5 in) Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Tachi[76][155] Hyōgo-gusari[nb 23] Nanboku-chō period, 1385 Wood, silver, gold, and copper; blade unsigned Offered to the shrine by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu
7002126000000000000126 cm (50 in) Kasuga-taisha, Nara, Nara
Tachi[148][155] Kenukigata[nb 24] Heian period Scabbard in mother of pearl design on gold ground of sparrows in a bamboo thicket Blade is rusted in and cannot be withdrawn
Kasuga-taisha, Nara, Nara
Uchigatana[nb 25] Nanboku-chō period, 1385 Blade unsigned Made by Hishi (?)
700173000000000000073 cm (29 in) Kasuga-taisha, Nara, Nara
Tachi Kenukigata[nb 24] Kamakura period Blade unsigned; ikakeji[nb 26] and guardian dog design
Kasuga-taisha, Nara, Nara
Tachi[156] Hyōgo-gusari[nb 23] Kamakura period Blade unsigned; ikakeji[nb 26] and sleeping beauty lacquer design
Kasuga-taisha, Nara, Nara
Tachi Hyōgo-gusari[nb 23] Kamakura period Blade unsigned; ikakeji[nb 26] and sleeping beauty design
Kasuga-taisha, Nara, Nara
Tachi[149][157] unique[nb 27] late Heian period, 12th century Long and narrow thin sheets of silver-plated copper are wreathed around the scabbard and handle (hirumaki) No blade present
7002104100000000000104.1 cm (41.0 in) Niutsuhime Shrine, Katsuragi, Wakayama; custody of the Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo
Koshigatana[nb 28][150][158] Aikuchi Muromachi period Blade with a signature Made by Tomonari (友成作 Tomonari-saku?) (from the Ko-Bizen school); nashiji lacquer and paulownia design in mother of pearl inlay Blade had been damaged by fire and subsequently retempered; said to have belonged to Ashikaga Takauji 700120300000000000020.3 cm (8.0 in) 700137200000000000037.2 cm (14.6 in) Itsukushima Shrine, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima
Koshigatana[159] Aikuchi Kamakura period Blade unsigned; hilt and scabbard covered with gold nashiji, chrysanthemum design in shakudō on hilt Blade attributed to Taima (当麻?) 700126500000000000026.5 cm (10.4 in) 700130800000000000030.8 cm (12.1 in) Mōri Museum (防府毛利報公会?), Hōfu, Yamaguchi
Tachi[160] Hyōgo-gusari[nb 23] Kamakura period, 14th century Blade unsigned; handle covered with white shark skin, nanako-ji (small circular lumps in the surface of the fitting), gilt openwork of tree peony arabesque carved in high relief, scabbard with line engraving of peonies on gilt bronze ground, guard with a wide ornamental border of Flowering Quince, gilt bronze metal fittings with peony design Considered to be an offering to the shrine by Prince Moriyoshi 700160900000000000060.9 cm (24.0 in) 700197000000000000097 cm (38 in) Ōyamazumi Shrine, Imabari, Ehime

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

General
  1. ^ These tachi of the ancient sword (jokotō) period should not be confused with later tachi of the old sword (kotō) period. The former, spelled 大刀, are Chinese style straight chokutō, while the latter, spelled 太刀, are curved blades.
  2. ^ According to the Showa Mei Zukushi (1312–1317), one of the oldest extant lists of swordsmiths, the goban kaji were Norimune, Nobufusa, Muneyoshi, Sukemune, Yukikuni, Sukenari, Sukenobu or Sukechika from Bizen province; Sadatsugu, Tsunetsugu, Tsuguie from Bitchū province and Kuniyasu, Kunitomo from Yamashiro province.
  3. ^ Many of these were shortened into katana during the Momoyama period.
  4. ^ Other swords from that period have been designated as National Treasures as part of excavated sets of items in the category archaeological materials.
  5. ^ Sometimes misspelled as Komura Shrine
  6. ^ A karabitsu (唐櫃) chest is attached to the nomination.
  7. ^ A black lacquer mounting (黒漆宝剣拵 kuro urushi hōken koshirae?) is attached to the nomination.
  8. ^ Oldest of five Yamato schools, named after Senjuin temple
  9. ^ Named after Taima-dera
  10. ^ Named after Tengai-mon, a gate of Tōdai-ji
  11. ^ Named after a family name, located at Takaichi
  12. ^ a b c Name as listed in the Kyōhō Meibutsu-chō (享保名物帳)
  13. ^ There were likely many other founders whose works do not exist anymore.
  14. ^ Sometimes Masatsune is also credited with the founding.
  15. ^ With some exceptions such as the Ōkanehira by Kanehira
  16. ^ a b The Tomonari who forged the swords signed Tomonari saku and Bizen no kuni Tomonari tsukuru are two different smiths
  17. ^ A thread-wrapped slung-sword mounting (糸巻太刀拵 ito maki no tachi koshirae?) with gold nashiji lacquer and scattered hollyhock insignia from the 17th century Edo period is attached to the nomination. The mounting is made of wood, lacquer, shakudō, gold, and silk. Its overall length is 112.1 cm (44.1 in).
  18. ^ A black-lacquered short sword mounting (小サ刀拵 chiisagatana koshirae?) for a tantō with a tsuba (sword guard) is attached to the nomination. It dates to the 16th century Muromachi period and is made of wood, lacquer, rayskin, leather, shakudō, gold, silver and silk. Its overall length is 46.2 cm (18.2 in).
  19. ^ A thread-wrapped slung-sword mounting (糸巻太刀拵 ito maki no tachi koshirae?) with gold nashiji lacquer from the late 16th century Momoyama period is attached to the nomination. The mounting is made of wood, lacquer, shakudō, gold, and silk. Its overall length is 109 cm (43 in).
  20. ^ This Yasutsugu is not the one in the list of swords.
  21. ^ "Hyōgo" was the name for the weapon arsenal at court and "gusari" meaning chains, refers to the straps which were made in a special woven technique, with which the sword was hung from the belt.
  22. ^ Kazari-tachi: Large elaborately decorated ceremonial sword worn by eighth century court nobles
  23. ^ a b c d e Hyōgo-gusari: a sword hung from the obi by a chain
  24. ^ a b Kenukigata: a hilt whose center is pierced resembling hair tweezers (jap.: kenukigata)
  25. ^ Attached to the nomination is a cedar box with an ink inscription on the underside of the lid: Offered by Hamuro Nagamune on January 22, 1385 (至徳二年正月二十二日葉 室 長宗奉納 shitoku ninen shōgatsu nijūninichi Hamuro Nagamune hōnō?)
  26. ^ a b c Ikakeji: A makie technique in which gold or silver powder is sprinkled densely over the lacquered ground
  27. ^ This is the only extant example of this kind of mounting. It does not have a special name.
  28. ^ A gold or silver lacquer box is attached to the nomination.
Jargon
  1. ^ overall shape of the blade
  2. ^ curvature (sori) of the blade in which the center of the curve lies roughly in the center of the blade resembling the horizontal bar of torii
  3. ^ ridge running along the side of the sword, generally closer to the back than the cutting edge
  4. ^ fan-shaped blade point
  5. ^ visible surface pattern of the steel resulting from hammering and folding during the construction
  6. ^ straight surface grain pattern (jihada)
  7. ^ border between the tempered part of the cutting edge and the untempered part of the rest of the sword; the temper-line
  8. ^ straight temper line (hamon)
  9. ^ small distinct crystalline particles due to martensite, austenite, pearlite or troostite that appear like twinkling stars
  10. ^ temper line (hamon) of the blade point (kissaki)
  11. ^ temper line (hamon) that forms a small circle as it turns back towards the back side of the blade in the point area (kissaki).
  12. ^ blade width
  13. ^ blade thickness
  14. ^ tapering of the blade from the base to the point
  15. ^ surface grain pattern (jihada) of scattered irregular ovals resembling wood grain
  16. ^ curvature (sori) of the blade with the center of the curve lying near or inside of the tang (nakago)
  17. ^ nie that appears in the ji
  18. ^ black gleaming lines of nie that appear in the ji
  19. ^ surface grain pattern (jihada) of small ovals and circles resembling the burl-grain in wood
  20. ^ indistinguishable crystalline particles due to martensite, austenite, pearlite or troostite that appear together like a wash of stars
  21. ^ an irregular temper line (hamon) pattern resembling cloves, with a round upper part and a narrow constricted lower part
  22. ^ a b patterns and shapes such as lines, streaks, dots and hazy reflections that appear in addition to the grain pattern (jihada) and the temper line (hamon) on the surface of the steel and are a result of sword polishing
  23. ^ generally used to refer to the material of the blade
  24. ^ spot or spots where nie is concentrated on the ji
  25. ^ curvature of the blade
  26. ^ a tempering (metallurgy) spot within the ji not connected to the main temper line (hamon)
  27. ^ temper line (hamon) with tempering marks visible around the ridge and near the edge of the blade
  28. ^ pair of parallel grooves running partway up the blade resembling chopsticks
  29. ^ a short, stubby blade point (kissaki)
  30. ^ curvature of the blade with a slight curve toward the cutting edge
  31. ^ surface grain pattern (jihada) resembling the flesh of a sliced pear (jap. nashi)
  32. ^ area between the ridge (shinogi) and the temper line (hamon)
  33. ^ a wave-like outline of the temper line (hamon) made up of similarly sized semicircles.
  34. ^ a b an irregular temper line (hamon)
  35. ^ marks in the temper line (hamon) that resemble the pattern left behind by a broom sweeping over sand
  36. ^ short straight thin radiant black line of higher carbon content that appears in the temper-line (hamon).
  37. ^ misty reflection on the ji or shinogiji usually made of softer steel
  38. ^ multiple overlapping clove shaped chōji midare patterns
  39. ^ a variation of the chōji midare pattern with the peaks resembling tadpoles
  40. ^ a gunome pattern with a straight top and an overall slant
  41. ^ irregular temper line (midareba) that continues into the point (kissaki)
  42. ^ part of the temper line (hamon) that extends from the tip of the bōshi to the back ridge (mune)
  43. ^ without turn-back (kaeri); a bōshi that continues directly to the back ridge (mune)
  44. ^ bōshi seen in the works of the three swordsmiths: Osafune Nagamitsu, Kagemitsu and Sanenaga: hamon continues as straight line inside the point (kissaki) area running towards the tip of the blade. Just before reaching the tip, the bōshi turns in a small circle a short distance to the back ridge (mune) remaining inside the point area
  45. ^ misty spots in the temper line (hamon) resulting from repeated grinding or faulty tempering
  46. ^ the cutting edge (ha) of the blade point (kissaki)
  47. ^ ridge of the back edge (mune), the back ridge
  48. ^ surface grain pattern (jihada) resembling the bark of a pine tree
  49. ^ a large grain pattern (jihada)
  50. ^ gently waving temper line (hamon)
  51. ^ a fully tempered point area (kissaki) because the temper line (hamon) turns back before reaching the point
  52. ^ a bōshi which turns back in a straight horizontal line with a short kaeri
  53. ^ thin line that runs across the temper line (hamon) to the cutting edge (ha)
  54. ^ distinctly visible mokume-hada (surface grain pattern of small ovals and circles resembling the burl-grain in wood) with a clearer steel than in similar but coarser patterns
  55. ^ plain dark spots on the ji that differ considerably from the surface pattern in both color and grain
  56. ^ activity (hataraki) in the temper line (hamon) that resembles fallen leaves or tiny footprints
  57. ^ regular wavy surface grain pattern (jihada)
  58. ^ notch in the cutting edge (ha), dividing the blade proper from the tang (nakago)

References[edit]

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  143. ^ "短刀 銘 筑州住行弘" [Tantō signed "Chikushū jū Yukihiro"] (in Japanese). Ibaraki Prefecture. Retrieved 2009-09-29. 
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