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Ji nie and Tobiyaki deliberate, or accident?

Dr Fox

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Hi all.


Curiosity while cleaning a wakizashi, led me to search the board on the subject of Tobiyaki, I found a post from 2009, in which Guido explained a few points on this subject.


The opinion I gathered was that tobiyaki was part of the smiths intent in some cases, but in others was a happy accident. I say ‘happy’ due to the opinion that this event was not considered a flaw as such.


The subject blade I have, shows ji nie and tobiyaki, so my question for discussion is, ‘would this blade be considered, in one of the two categories mentioned, if at all?’


There is a mei, but not visible in the photographs


O’ Wakizashi


Nagasa = 49.53.

Sori = 1.4.

Hamon = Ji nie. Tobiyaki. Toran-Midare?

Boshi - Sagatta.

Nakago = Ubu

Nakagojiri = Kengyo

Yasurime = Katte-Sagari.

Mekugi ana = 1.






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One good indication is to research other work by the same smith and see if it consistently shows up.


It looks to me as if the smith was purposely trying to get a scattering of nie and tobiyaki over the blade. Some looks well controlled in its application, some looks a bit out of control...

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Thank you both gentlemen your opinion is valued. Now as to where I was going with this!


First, even I could see that the mei is off, and to be fair I bought as such, but I thought there was a certain quality to the blade. From there on a couple of ideas, a search of books and internet, led me to the point of posting my question on the board.


Now only having positive reactions so to speak, I move on. Could this blade have been made by a smith, who used the theme and style of Sukehiro? If so could unsigned examples have been passed as his work with gi-mei signatures?


Was this a flight of fancy on my part? Just when I thought that was a yes, I found two references that just might give credence to my thinking. The link gives mention to ‘gi-mei Sukehiro’




And following on.


Markus indicates several smiths who worked in the then highly praised toran- midare of Sukehiro

(Shinto and Shinshinto Kantei page 309)


It is my intention now to view the works of all the smiths mentioned, and see if there are any close similarities. Nothing will be conclusive, but could give possibilities to a theory. Suggestions and help from members either way on this subject would be welcomed.


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Also, this hamon is shaped more like that seen in the work of Echigo no Kami Terukane/Kanesada or some of the later Tamba no Kami Kanemichi smiths.


Sukehiro, Sukenao and Suketaka make a more rolling wave, rather than squarish, shallow waves with space between them....if you get my drift...



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Chris I was all at sea, but now I catch your drift, I am back on course again.


Looking at Sukehiro and his contemporaries, I see your point, the hamon has a constant undulation, as opposed to the series of 'flatlining' in this blade. As a comparison I have a Kanetane katana toran, which also shows the same as this wakizashi.


So another kantei point for elimination, It would be nice to be able to say, forget the mei, the features in this blade resembles work by ...............!


Its a challenge, and I am a lot further on than when I started.


But I am also mindful, that there could well be no discovery, and this could be a one off, which did not excite the original smith enough to sign.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Echigo no Kami Kanesada's work is also higher level than what was shown. He is pretty close to Sukehiro's skill in this style.


Round tobiyaki in the Osaka Shinto school with toranba are called tama (jewels).


Your sword looks like it was not a successful attempt to make a high level Osaka Shinto piece. It looks more like the Ozaki Takashige swords I had a long time ago. These look like Osaka Shinto style and come from its end point in the Shinshinto period. The quality in the jihada was not there on my swords nor in the hamon or the control of the nie. You can compare them here:




Below are photos of a legit Sukehiro. Jihada is fine and even as silk and glows. Nie are even, not ara nie but not ko nie. Bright and they show fine levels of control, like he painted it on with a brush.


Where the ara nie in the ji on your sword break down they are forming yubashiri rather than tobiyakai. This is thick ji nie with no defined boundary. Tobiyaki would be clearly defined areas of hardening in the ji. So for instance you would see yubashiri showing on early Soshu swords but the nie is fine and beautiful, and even more earlier you will see them in Ko-Yamashiro. With the mid period Soshu you get tobiyaki which look like an attempt to formalize the formation of yubashiri which may have been only a pleasant side effect. With later time whatever method was used to make the tobiyaki and hitatsura in middle period Soshu is lost or evolves away and it starts looking really clumsy and artificial, then it goes away. Later on you see tobiyaki come back and with the specialized toranba of Sukehiro and the Osaka Shinto school, you get the round tobiyaka called tama. Not everyone did it so well as your sword and my Takashige show.







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If one thing is a cert, its that Sukehiro’s work is very specific. There is no point signing a blade, that is no where near the style, it won't wash.


I pick up your points as regards to Takashige, and this blade shows several similar features. I think wanting to say “in a similar style to” will be close enough here. Thanks.





As spoken, I picked up on you fancy for Satsuma, and was there when Chris fired his shots across my bow.


His question as to the presence of Imozuro (potato fronds), a feature of Satsuma blades, not being evident here, will I believe lead him to tell me thats a no no.





So yes, there is yaki-dashi and past the ha-machi.

Imo-zuro no or any similar feature.

Thick sunagashi (brushed sand?) No.

Masame in the shinogi-ji, believing that this would be a prominent feature if there, I cannot see it here.


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Satsuma more often than not is said to have, in addition to ara-nie, thick, long sunagashi, forming imozuru, the trademark of Satsuma work. Also, frequently, there is masame. Tama-yaki with a toran -like hamon are really not textbook Satsuma. Satsuma hamon often shows a Mino influence with some togari...Nakago shape is different as well. You might post pictures of the yakidashi as the Satsuma yakidashi is different than what is seen in Osaka and Tokyo blades. My bet is it will not look like those most often seen in Satsuma blades, which is more midare based.


The large, uncontrolled nie, as I have said, show this smith was a rung or two lower than the top smiths previously mentioned.


Look to the yakidashi for a hint. My bet is he was an Osaka or Osaka influenced/trained smith, down a few ranks from Kanesada and the like....Remember, the toran-ba became very popular and was emulated by many smiths in many different areas of Japan so you may never be able to pin it to anyone specific....

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Hi Chris


Your last first.


To get this point is ok, I didn't ever think it could get pinned down to an actual smith. I am happy at this point thanks to all who helped.


Now here’s a fix. Yaki-dashi.


I have found on one site, two readings for this term.


Yaki-dashi. Straight temper line near the hamachi.


Yakidashi. Hamon drops off the edge a short distance from the hamachi.


Now I have under stood that a hamon ,that becomes straight to the hamachi, as Yaki-dashi.


And a heated nakago, can causes the hamon to drop off before the hamachi. I wasn't aware of the term for this event.


The photos have been tricked to show the Yaki-dashi as I know it!


Are we on the same page?




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Usually yakidashi means the first few inches or so of the hamon as it climbs the blade from the hamachi. If the hamon runs off the blade before the hamachi, that is usually called yaki-otoshi.


Can you take a picture that shows perhaps the first half or so of the hamon? It is hard to get a feel from such a tight shot.


Please have a look at Osaka, Edo, etc., yakidashi and see if yours fits...

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What do I know about yakidashi now? Not a lot but a lot more than I did yesterday.


Acting on advice from Chris, I searched for info on Osaka and Edo yakidashi, using my blade for comparison.


Typical Osaka yakidashi.

Starts in sugaha or gentle notare, then widens before shifting smoothly to midare. Sounds simple enough, but the application of that description to examples was fun.

But I did find two examples by Sukenao, that to me matched, called ‘sugu-yakidashi’, and others were not to far off.


Edo yakidashi.

The majority of Edo yakidashi I found stopped just above the ha machi, and the sugaha was not of any length.


Now with my limited knowledge, I compare my blade nearer to Osaka, as a general example. Knowing, that there are probable at least another dozen points I am not seeing, I submit the photos.




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Hi Denis,

The book "Cutting Edge" is a catalogue of newly polished swords in the British Museum, by Victor Harris, Tuttle, 2005 (about 160 pages). A good book with many blade pictures...I think you can get it on-line for about US$ 35...worth it IMHO.

The explanation of yakidashi that was mentioned is on Pp.21 and 158 and if you look at the illustration (and also that kindly posted by Chris) the explanation fits well:

"Yakidashi - Lower end of a complex hamon that straightens into suguha on shinto blades of some Edo schools and slopes down down to hamachi on shinto blades of some Osaka schools" (my underlining for emphasis).

Hope this helps,


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