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Recently In Japan, Sword Museum Pics

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While in Tokyo I got to the Tokyo National Museum and the Japanese Sword museum.


The Japanese sword museum did not allow pics but had a special exhibition of the 25th annual shinsa and also I got a look at the Soshu Masamune.


The Tokyo national museum did allow photos so, enjoy!





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Katana Unsigned AWATAGUCHI


In Yamashiro province (Kyoto today), Awataguchi school began to emerge from the early to middle of Kamakura period (around 13th century). In this school, 6 brothers (Kunitomo, Hisakuni, Kuniyasu, Kunikiyo, Arikuni, and Kunitsuna) were famous and skillful. From the ancient times, the works of this school has been highly evaluated for its fineness.


Tantō Signed KUNITOSHI


Kunitoshi is said to be a son of Rai Kuniyuki (来国行). There exist 2 kinds of his signature inexistence. One is composed of 2 kanji characters (国俊) while the other of signed 3 (来国俊). It has been thought that ”Meibutsu Aizen Kunitoshi (名物 愛染国俊)” was the only tanto which has signature of Kunitoshi. This tanto is the second case, and is a very valuable historical material.


Historically, it was thought that Rai Kunitoshi and Kunitoshi are not the same person. Recently the new research advocates that the two persons are the same person. The progress in the study is expected in the future.


Tantō Signed Rai KUNITOSHI


It is not determined that the 2 kinds of Kunitoshi signature, Kunitoshi signed by 2 kanji characters (国俊) and Kunitoshi signed by 3 kanji characters (来国俊), are signed by same person or not. The style of sword signed with Niji Kunitoshi and the one signed with Sanji Kunitoshi show some difference. The former style is wide and has choji-midare hamon (丁字乱れ刃文, hamon like a bunch of clove buds). The latter style, in narrow or standard in width, has a small or standard point with a straight or straight-like hamon.


Wakizashi Signed Hasebe KUNINOBU


Hasebe school,which Kuninobu belonged, shows flamboyant hitatsura style (皆焼). Kuninobu made tanto in two different sizes. One is larger than 1 feet and the other is about 6-7 sun (about 18-21cm).This sword is former.


Tachi Unsigned SENJUIN


Senjuin school worked around Wakakusa mountain in Nara province. In this area there is a temple devoted to Senju Kan-non (千手観音,Thousand-Armed Buddha of Mercy). The name Senjuin is derived from the temple. Although the school is the oldest swordsmith in Yamato province (大和, Nara today), there are a small number of their works with the signature remain.


Katana Unsigned Shikkake NORINAGA


In Yamato province, there are five old swordsmith schools (Senjuin千手院, Shikkake尻懸, Tegai手掻, Taima当麻, and Houshou保昌). The Shikkake school is founded by Norinaga (則長). He is considered to be born in Bunei 9 (1272) from his works remained. Since the sword signed with Norinaga was seen during Muromachi period (early 15th-late 16th century) , the name Norinaga is inherited in this school.


Katana Unsigned YUKIMITSU


Yukimitsu (行光), Norishige(則重) and Masamune(正宗) are the apprentices under Shintougo Kunimitsu (新藤五国光) who is a founder of Soshu-den(相州伝 the swordsmith style in Sagami). They further developed Kunimitsu style and completed Soushu-den style.


Katana Unsigned (attributed to) MASAMUNE


Masamune is one of the most excellent swordsmiths. The length of this sword modified and it is engraved with Masamune by Honami Koushitsu. It is handed down in Naruse clan who is a family of a chief retainer in Owari Tokugawa (尾張徳川) clan.


Wakizashi Signed Sagami-no-kuni jūnin HIROMITSU / Bunna 5 nen 2 gatsujitsu


Hiromitsu and Akihiro are the representative swordsmiths who made Soshu-den swords during Nanbokucho period (14th century). This sword has something in common with Masamune in hamon.


Katana Unsigned Takagi SADAMUNE


Takagi Sadamune lived in Ko-shu (江州in Shiga today) and studied under Soshu Sadamune. His sword is similar to Soshu Sadamune’s work and he was skillful at making ko-notare (hamon which is an undulating pattern of small wave). This sword is his typical work.


Katana Signed with gold inlay SHIZU/Kunzan (monogram)


Originally Shizu is a name of a place in Mino province (美濃, Gifu today). Since Kaneuji who was an apprentice of Masamune moved to this area and started to make swords, he was called Shizu Saburo Kaneuji. He is praised as one of Masamune Jittestu (正宗十哲 ten skillful apprentices of Masamune).


Katana Signed with gold inlay (red lacqure) Mizunoke-den [      ](crest)/ Honami Kōchū origami tsuki naredo yakiushinai zōgan


Go, also known as Yoshihiro, lived in Ecchu Matsukura (Toyama prefecture today). He is one of Masamune Jittestu. He was skillful at making brightly ha and jigane. This sword is typical of his work and well preserved. Though we cannot check the truth of the engraved golden characters “兜切りKabuto kiri(Cutting the Armor)”, the appreciation as Go is truly acknowledged.


Tachi Signed MASATSUNE (Kobizen)


Masatsune and Tomonari are representative swordsmiths in Kobizen style. The swords signed with their names remain in a relatively large number. The form of Tomonari’s swords are graceful than Masatsune while Masatsune is skillful for making a jigane of high quality.


Tachi Signed KAGEYASU (Kobizen)


Kageyasu signature has 2 patterns. One is signed with “Bizenkoku Kageyasu (備前国景安)” in small characters and the other is signed only with “Kageyasu (景安)”. There are relatively many works signed with “Kageyasu”. This sword shows brilliant choji and midare hamon. Kageyasu’s various techniques and variety of his style can be observed from this work.


Tachi Signed YUKIHIDE (Kobizen) (attached) Shitankiji shishimaru-mon raden efudachi-koshirae  


Yukihide is one of many swordsmiths of Kobizen school. The sword signed with his name can be often seen. This sword is an excellent work in Kobizen style.


Katana Signed with gold inlay YOSHIKANE /Hona(monogram)(Kōchū)

(attached) Kinnashiji kikukiri-mon makie saya itomaki tachi-koshirae


A swordsmith named Yoshikane can be found both in Kobizen school and Fukuoka Ichimonji school. His sign is written in 2 characters and often written in 3 characters (吉包作) as well.


Tachi Signed YOSHI [MUNE](Kobizen)


A swordsmith named Yoshimune can be found in Kobizen, Fukuoka-Ichimonji, Yoshioka Ichimonji, Osafune school and so on. This sword is appraised that it was made by Yoshimune who belonged to Kobizen school. His signed swords remain in a small number. This sword is conspicuously large and is not modified in the length.


Katana Signed with gold inlay YOSHIFUSA / Hona (monogram)(Kōchū)


Swordsmiths belonged to Fukuoka Ichimonji school made splendid o-choji midare hamon (大丁字乱れ, hamon like a large bunch of clove buds) in mid-13th century. A smith of this school Yoshifusa is a representative skillful smith. Since the swords signed with his name show many kinds of hamon, one theory supports that there were some smiths who named Yoshifusa.


Katana Unsigned (attributed to) SUKEZANE


Sukezane is a representative swordsmith when the Bizen Fukuoka Ichimonji school most flourished. He is ordered to move from Bizen to Kamakura by Kamakura shogunate, and eventually called Kamakura Ichimonji. The feature in his sword is powerful and brilliant hamon.


Tachi Signed ICHI


Some of Fukuoka Ichimonji school swordsmiths signed their name with “Ichi (一)” or signed only their names. At first, they made ko-midare hamon (uneven, irregular pattern hamon), and later choji-midare hamon, with midare-utsuri on the surface. This is a typical choji-midare hamon and sword itself is well preserved.


Naginata-naoshi-Katana Unsigned ICHIMONJI


Some of Fukuoka Ichimonji school swordsmiths signed their name with “Ichi 一” or signed only their names. At first, they made Ko-midare hamon (uneven, irregular pattern hamon), and later choji-midare hamon.


Tachi Signed Bizen-no-kuni Osafune jū sakon-shōgen NAGAMITSU tsukuru/Einin 2 nen kōgo 7 gatsujitsu


Nagamitsu is a son of Mitasutada, who is a founder of Osafune school. Nagamitsu made two style swords. One is magnificent style with gorgeous hamon while the other is gentle style with standard or straight or straight-like hamon accompanied by choji. His swords are signed with Nagamitsu or Sakonshougen(左近将監). Recently it was found that the swords which has a signature of Sakonshogen were made in the later part of his life.


Tachi Signed Bi-shū Osa (after folded) fune jū KAGEMASA


Kagemasa is also called Shinsi Saburo. The date signed in his swords corroborated with Chikakage are from Bunpo 1 (1317) to Ryakuo 3 (1340). He is said to be a younger brother or an apprentice of Kagemitsu.


Tachi Signed Bizen-no-kuni Osafune jū CHIKAKAGE (attached) Furusaya


Chikakage is referred to as an apprentice of Nagamitsu. The date signed in his swords is from Showa to Jowa of Nanbokucho period (14th century), which is almost the same period that Kagemitsu worked. His style is similar to that of Kagemitsu, however, his individuality can be overbed in the detail.


Tachi Signed KUNIMUNE (Bizen Saburō)


Kunimune is a 3rd son of Kunizane, so he is called Bizen Saburo (meaning 3rd son) Kunimune. He is ordered to move to Kamakura by Kamakura Shogunate and became one of the pioneers of Soshu swordsmiths with Sukezane and Kunitsuna.


Tachi Signed MORIIE tsukuru


Since Moriie lived in Bizen Hatakeda (Okayama today), he is called Hatakeda Moriie. It is still disputable that there are two Moriies (1st and 2nd) or only one Moriie. His swords often show Kawazuko Choji (蛙子丁子, hamon pattern which resembles tadpole) as hamon on relatively rough jigane surface.


Tachi Signed Bi (after folded) zen-no-kuni jū UNJI


From the late Kamakura period to the Nanbokucho period (14th century), some swordsmiths worked in Ukan-sho of Bizen province (Okayama today). Since they used “un (雲)” character in their name, they are called “Un rui”(Un group). Unji is a swordsmith of Un rui and there are some works which has the date of Showa, Bumpo and Kenmu in the Nanbokucho period (14th century).


Katana Unsigned (attributed to) KANEMITSU


Kanemitsu is a son of Kagemitsu. According to the date signed in his swords in existence, he worked for about 45 years. Until the beginning of the Nanbokuho period, his swords are standard size and looked like his father’s work. After that, he made bigger swords with notare hamon.


Tachi Signed Bi-shū □□ jū □shige (MOTOSHIGE)/[  ]nen □ gatsujitsu


Motoshige is a swordsmith who belonged to Osafune and is a son of Morishige. The date signed in his swords is from Showa of Kamakura period to Joji period of Nambokucho period (14th century). Since his active time is so long, one theory supports that there are 2 Motoshiges (1st and 2nd). This sword is preserved in almost perfect condition.


Katana Unsigned (attributed to) NAGAYOSHI

(attached) Kuroroiro saya uchigatana-koshirae


Tantō Signed Bi-shū Osafune jū NAGAYOSHI/Ōan 2 nen 9 gatsujitsu

(attached) Kuroroiro saya aikuchi-tantō-koshirae

(attached) Furusaya


Nagayoshi is one of the superior swordsmiths who work in the Nanbokucho period. Though he worked in Bizen (Okayama today), he is influenced by Soshu-den (相州伝 sword style made in Sagami, Kamakura).


Naginata-naoshi-Katana Signed Bi-shū Osafune jū MORIKAGE


Osafune Morikage belonged to the lineage of Chikakage and Yoshikage. He is good at making many kinds of hamon. Some have notare (gently wavy hamon) or midare (irregular line hamon) while the others have suguha (straight line hamon) and so on. This sword was originally Naginata (Japanese halbard) and remade to a katana.


Tachi Signed [HIRO]TSUGU (Ko-Aoe)


It is said that Bicchu Aoe school is founded by Yasutsugu in Joan. The swords made by this school from the end of 12th century to the middle of 13th century are called Ko-Aoe (古青江). Though the signature is rusted this sword is well preserved.


Naginata-naoshi-Katana Signed Bicchu-no-kuni jū TUGUNAO saku/ Enbun 6 nen 3 gatsujitsu


Tsugunao, as well as Tsuguyoshi and Moritsugu, is a representative Aoe school swordsmith in the Nanbokucho period. This sword is remade from Naginata.


Katana Unsigned AOE


Swords made in Bicchu are well known as local specialty. According to “Shin Sarugaku ki (新猿楽記)” written in 11th century. Aoe school is a successor of Bicchu swordsmith. Their swords made until the middle of Kamakura period are called Ko-Aoe and the swords made after the middle of Kamakura period are called Aoe.


Tachi Signed Aki-no-kuni NYŪSAI/Einin 3 nen 6 gatsujitsu


Nyusai is said to be a brother or an apprentice of Ryosai who is a founder of Chikuzen Koten School. A renowned swordsmith Samonji emerged from this school. There is another sword of Nyusai designated as an important cultural property, but this sword has earlier date engraved on the sword.


Tachi Signed JITSUA saku


Jitsua is a son of Sairen Kuniyoshi and said to be a father of O-sa (大左). Since the date engraved on his remaining swords are Genko 3 (1333), Kenmu 2 (1335) and others, his active period can be identified. The swords engraved with his name only remain in a small number.


Katana Unsigned (attributed to ) Sa YOSHIHIRO

(attached) Kuroishime mijingai komon chirashi saya uchigatana koshirae"


O-sa start to emerge in Chikuzen province (Fukuoka today) in the first half of the Nanbokucho period. He is influenced by Soshu-den and his apprentice continued . Yoshihiro is an apprentice of O-sa and he is also said to be a his son.


Katana Folded CHŌEN (attached) Genroku 10 nen Honami Kōchū origami

(attached) Kyōhō 7 nen Honami Kōchū origami


Choen said to work in Buzen (now in Fukuoka) in about Eien of Heian period (10th century). This sword is made by classical style, and it seems to have some features similar to the swords in Shousouin (正倉院). It is considered that this sword is a treasure of Genji clan “Usu Midori薄緑”.


Katana Signed Ōmi-no-kami Takagi jū SUKENAO/ Enpō 6 nen 8 gatsujitsu


Oumi-no-kami Sukenao was born in Takagai, Oumi province (Shiga today) in Kanei 10 (1633). Sukenao studied under Tsuda Sukehiro the second and married with Sukehiro’s sister. He worked in Oumi, but moved to Osaka after his master died in Tenna 2 (1682). His oldest sword was made in Kanbun 8 (1668) and the last one was made in Genroku 6 (1693) when he was 55 years old. Some of his swords are comparable to Sukehiro’s work.


Katana Signed Dewa-no-kuni jūnin Taikei Shōji NAOTANE (monogram) Hori Yoshitane/No mo yama mo terasanu tsuki nakeredomo, Umi niya fukaku kage yadoruran


Taikei Naotane was born in Anei 7 (1778) in Dewa province (Yamagata today). He was named Shoji Minobei but called himself Taikei (大慶). He was awarded Chikuzen Daijo in Bunsei 4 (1821) and Mino no Suke (美濃介) in Kaei1(1848).


He studied under Suishinshi Masahide (水心子正秀). After that he worked for Akimoto clan (Daimyo in Yamagata). A waka poem (和歌) is carved in this sword. From this point it can be imagined that Naotane regarded this sword as his best work.




Kin-nashiji aoi goshichi kiri-mon chirashi makie saya itomaki-tachi-koshirae 糸巻太刀拵


Itomaki Tachi Koshirae a practical or ritual koshirae style used by samurai in the early modern period. It is also used as a gift or dedicated to shrines and temples by upper samurai clan. Since the hilt and the part of scabbard are covered with strings (糸), this Tachi Koshirae style is called

Itomaki Tachi Koshirae (糸巻太刀, Tachikosirae covered with String).


Kin-nashiji aoi-mon chirashi kirikarakusa makie kanagai raden saya hosodachi-koshirae飾太刀拵


Kazari Tachi Koshirae is used by upper daimyos when they are in an official ceremony. The style is derived from Tang (唐) sword style in the Nara period.


Kin-ishime-mon itazutsumi saya daishō-koshirae 大小拵

Dai Sho Koshirae is a pair of katana and wakizashi. It is presumed that this style is completed in the end of Muromachi period. In the Edo period, samurai had to put on Dai Sho koshirae when they went to their castle and its styles are strictly restricted.




Mitokoromono Lions Kozuka・kōgai・menuki Unsigned Yūjō


Goto Yujo is a founder of Goto Family. He is respected as a founder of Japanese engraving. He worked for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa and contributed to Higashiyama Bunka. Since his masterpieces are dedicated to Higashiyama Gyomotsu (東山御物 artwork collected by Ahikaga Yoshimasa), his successors did the same.


Tsuba Messenger Signed Yamashiro-no-kuni Fushimi jū KANAIE


Kaneie is a founder of Efu Tsuba (pictorial designed tsuba). He designed refined tsuba in perspective.


Kozuka Royō Darma Signed YASUCHIKA


Yasuchika is a son of Tsuchiya Chusaemon who is a samurai born in Kanbun 10 (1670) in Shonai domain. He studied under Shoami Yoshihisa and married with his daughter. He moved to Edo and studied under Nara Tatsumasa when he was 34 years old in Genroku 16 (1703). After that he worked for Matsudaira Daigaku no Kami (Daimyo in Moriyama domain) and made many masterpieces. He is praised with Nara Toshinaga and Sugiura Joi as “Nara Sansaku (奈良三作,three master smith in Nara school)”.


Kozuka Peony and Lion Signed SŌMIN (monogram)


Yokoya Somin is the 3rd head of Yokoya family. He was born in Edo in Kanbun 10 (1670). Firstly, Somin worked for Edo Shogunate, but he resigned and then worked freely. So he is praised as a founder of Machibori (町彫, a masterpiece that is made by smith who does not work for Bakufu or Daimyo). Since he associated with a painter Hanabusa Iccho, his composition is impressed by Iccho.

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As I don't follow swords you don't have to make a list for me but perhaps others would be interested?


Note:  The list was added while I was typing.


The swords do not belong to the museum so there would most likely be issues with the owners if pictures were taken as they are usually identified in the descriptions.  This could open up theft possibilities etc. so I can see why they wouldn't allow the pictures.  They also publish a book on the shinsa which unfortunately is quite expensive but that could be another reason.  


I wish I could have seen the fittings.  Oh well.

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Thanks Adam, we have the ident Katana in Kataoka Ginsakus short biographie N.T.H.K... image.jpeg

This is awesome thanks! The write up I posted was a direct copy of the museum’s exhibit descriptions / brochure. So is awesome to see this augmented!

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Major thanks Adam my friend, for this post, a whole lot to look at!

You bet, my friend. I do wish I could have gotten pics of the shinsa exhibit from the Japanese Sword Museum... I get why they didn’t allow it but it made me sad!

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This thread is quite old. Please consider starting a new thread rather than reviving this one, unless your post is really relevant and adds to the topic..

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