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Swordsmith Monju Shiro Kanemitsu and the malice of the Edo hairdress

 

The swordsmith Monju Shiro Kanetsugu founded in the 14th century the Monju school of swordmakers. The wife of his famous father Tegai Kanenaga went even every day to Nara`s temple prayed and meditated in the temples major hall in front of the BODHISATTVA MONJU statue to give her the birth of a son.

The desire of her heart became true and the linage holder Shiro, often called Monju Shiro was born.

Kanenagas Tegai school existed into the late 16th century. The schools tradition continued by the the famous swordsmith Nanki Shigekuni until the 11th generation who worked in the mid ninetenth century.

Shigekunis family was also named Monju. Tokugawa Ieyasu and later Tokugawa Yorinobu hired the exemptional swordsmith Shigekuni, who was one of the best shinto period swordsmiths. 

Many swordsmiths`were forced to retire or had to forge daily articles or deco works in the peaceful Tokugawa time. Only the best craftsmen worked exclusivly in the castle towns or in the Edo residencies for one Daimyo and his samurai clan.

One swordsmith who wasn`t lucky enough to become a clan smith was Kanemitsu. He forged about kan`ei ( 1624-1644) first in Yamato and later in Yamashiro. Kanemitsu a Monju school swordsmith signed: Yamashiro no kuni Fushimi-Ju Monju Fujiwara Kanemitsu. He worked in Osaka and in Kyoto`s Fushimi.

 

In the poem collection „Rakuhatsu Ga“ wich means „Best wishes for your tonsur“ he is the (even not so lucky) protagonist of the following poem:

 

otsumuri e / Monju Shiro no / samo suzushi

 

on the little head / of Monju Shiro breezes / the cold terribly bad

 

Auf den kleinen Kopf / von Monju Shiro zieht / die Kälte am schlimmsten

 

 

Monju Shiro Kanemitsu made short daggers, knives and razers in Fushimi near Kyoto. The tonsur of the forehead (sakayaka) and the hairknot (chonmage) was the typical hairdress of the Edo time. 

 

( see Markus Seskos books: Lexikon der japanischen Schwertschmiede A-M und. N-Z, BOD Norderstedt 2012 and Geschichten rund ums japanische Schwert, BOD Norderstedt, 2. Auflage 2011, Haiku Sammlung, C. Hürten Berlin)

 

Peter Reusch on a lucky day mid spring 2021

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On 6/30/2019 at 9:38 PM, TETSUGENDO said:

http://to-ken.uk/onewebmedia/Part B swords 18 06 2015 v1.pdf

 

Some very thought provoking commentary and discussion  here.

 

Definitely.   These discussion have been going on for a Long Time; I remember these same points being made 25 years ago on the nihonto mailing list.   Perhaps it's because I'm gaijin, but I agree with the points made in the article.

 

Side note: I have 2 gimei blades - one hitatsura  wakizashi signed Yasumitsu (and not chiseled-looking, but carved and looks like set up for gold inlay, needs polish), which Yoshikawa says is shinto Echizen work; another wakizashi Higashiyama ju Yoshihira - Nice shinshinto work with a toranba hamon in fresh polish.  Yes, I could remove the signatures (at least on the yoshihira; the depth of the carving on the 'Yasumitsu' would make removal problematic.    The yoshihira *might* paper reasonably without the signature (I bought it for the shape and hamon and steel - i.e. I totally ignored the signature; didn't even bother deciphering it first).

 

High-quality gimei blades are a great bargain, in a way.  :-)  And can make good targets of study (just ignore the signature).  IMHO

 

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