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jmoto

New Collector: Kunimichi katana

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Hello

 

This forum has been a pleasure to read and I very much appreciate all the knowledge here, for a new collector like me it has been a great resource

 

Wanted to post a picture of my first blade, a katana. 

 

Yamashiro Minamoto Kunimichi

Tokubetsu Hozon papers and sayagaki by Sato Kanzan 

 

Wondering about the meaning of the kikumon on the nakago was this a common practice?

 

Thanks 


Jason

 

 

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Dear Jason.

 

I am really surprised that no one has commented on this.  You seem to have started collecting in the way that we all advise others to do but failed to do ourselves.  Most of us started with a pretty dodgy sword and then found out what we were looking at.  To start with a papered Shinto katana which is ubu, in full polish and with Kanzan sayagaki is pretty good going.  It's a lovely sword!  You will have done your research and know who the smith is and how he fits into the pattern of Shinto smiths.  The Kiku mon was given to a number of Shinto smiths, it's not what you would call common but it is characteristic of certain smiths.  

 

All the best.

 

 

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Yes very lovely I just didn't see the thread until now.

I do love a good sayagaki.

I also like to see a sword in mounts is that your intention long term or do you prefer the shirasaya alone?

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I assumed others would have stated the obvious....so I'm glad Geraint did. 🙂
Congrats and well done indeed for starting out with such a lovely sword. I wish even 5% of us did the same. You did great and I think you'll enjoy it for many years.

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Wow! Sayagaki from Sato Kanzan sensei. I like his calligraphy works. Sato Kanzan sensei and Honma Kunzan sensei were the leading founders of NBTHK and the heroes who saved Nihonto from being destroyed after world war II Amazing! This sword really is a treasure. 

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Nice work. The right way to begin. How long is the blade (cutting edge / nagasa)?

 

I believe smiths generally had to get permission to engrave the kikumon on their nakago (it's the imperial chrysanthemum after all), and so it was an honor to be able to do so. 

 

Welcome, Jason!

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2 hours ago, Geraint said:

Dear Jason.

 

I am really surprised that no one has commented on this.  You seem to have started collecting in the way that we all advise others to do but failed to do ourselves.  Most of us started with a pretty dodgy sword and then found out what we were looking at.  To start with a papered Shinto katana which is ubu, in full polish and with Kanzan sayagaki is pretty good going.  It's a lovely sword!  You will have done your research and know who the smith is and how he fits into the pattern of Shinto smiths.  The Kiku mon was given to a number of Shinto smiths, it's not what you would call common but it is characteristic of certain smiths.  

 

All the best.

 

 

 

Geraint 

 

Thank you very much for the response. I have been attempting to do research on this smith but getting a little mixed up on which Kunimichi smith I have here. Very much appreciate your comments. 

 

Jason

 

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Babu, Brian, TheBigAL, Katsujinken

 

Thank you for your comments!

 

@Babu - I am planning to leave this one in shirasaya alone for now. 

 

@Katsujinken - The nagasa is 26.3 inches on this blade 

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Yamashiro no kami Minamoto Kunimichi

Size 2 shaku 2 sun 0.45 bu 

Active between 1661-74

He was a swordsmith of Iyo province.

A Kikumon(chrysansemum crest) has been engraved on the tang and it is what is often referred to as the rustic style.Michina school often used this Kiki.
They often call this Kunishige style sword work for obvious reasons.

Hawley rates that Smith 20 points.

he also Signed  Heianjo fujiwara Kunimichi.

 

The katana was forged in Iyo (Ehime prov., Island of Shikoku) during the Genroku period (1688-1704).

Iyo Province (伊予国 Iyo-no-kuni) was an old province of Japan in the area that is today Ehime Prefecture on Shikoku.Iyo bordered on Awa, Sanuki, and Tosa Provinces. It was sometimes called Yoshū (予州) .

Genroku (元禄) was a Japanese era name (年号, nengō,, literally “year name”) after Jōkyō and before Hōei. This period spanned the years from ninth month of 1688 through third month of 1704. The reigning emperor was Higashiyama-tennō (東山天皇). The years of Genroku are generally considered to be the Golden Age of the Edo period. The previous hundred years of peace and seclusion in Japan had created relative economic stability. The arts and architecture flourished

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32 minutes ago, Babu said:

Yamashiro no kami Minamoto Kunimichi

Size 2 shaku 2 sun 0.45 bu 

Active between 1661-74

He was a swordsmith of Iyo province.

A Kikumon(chrysansemum crest) has been engraved on the tang and it is what is often referred to as the rustic style.Michina school often used this Kiki.
They often call this Kunishige style sword work for obvious reasons.

Hawley rates that Smith 20 points.

he also Signed  Heianjo fujiwara Kunimichi.

 

The katana was forged in Iyo (Ehime prov., Island of Shikoku) during the Genroku period (1688-1704).

Iyo Province (伊予国 Iyo-no-kuni) was an old province of Japan in the area that is today Ehime Prefecture on Shikoku.Iyo bordered on Awa, Sanuki, and Tosa Provinces. It was sometimes called Yoshū (予州) .

Genroku (元禄) was a Japanese era name (年号, nengō,, literally “year name”) after Jōkyō and before Hōei. This period spanned the years from ninth month of 1688 through third month of 1704. The reigning emperor was Higashiyama-tennō (東山天皇). The years of Genroku are generally considered to be the Golden Age of the Edo period. The previous hundred years of peace and seclusion in Japan had created relative economic stability. The arts and architecture flourished

 

@Babu Thank you so much, this is helpful 

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Admire the perfectly preserved fine sword, scratch-free polishing and beautiful wood scabbard. Why the registration certificate issued by the local government has a newer date than the date of Mr. Kanzan Sato's scabbard signature?
I don't think I understand it fully.

刀 銘 山城守源国道(寒山鞘書と登録証日付).jpg

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36 minutes ago, Yasaka Azuma said:

Admire the perfectly preserved fine sword, scratch-free polishing and beautiful wood scabbard. Why the registration certificate issued by the local government has a newer date than the date of Mr. Kanzan Sato's scabbard signature?
I don't think I understand it fully.

刀 銘 山城守源国道(寒山鞘書と登録証日付).jpg

The new torokusho usually means the sword was sold into the overseas market. It had previously left Japan. Subsequently someone sold it back into Japan. 

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I was forced a few times to re-register swords.  Once the funny thing was that there was an obvious error in the original registration and suddenly it became an issue when exporting.

 

Kirill R.

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Jason, what more can I say than has already been said above but WOW!!!  You have started where many finish. You should be proud of your beautiful sword and just as proud of yourself for doing so well. Congrats

              MikeR

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Congrats, for once man starts a collection with a high level smith, it deserves to be highlighted.

 

Kunimichi belongs to the Kunihiro Horikawa school (Kunihiro was with Umetada Myôju the founder of the Shinto era), He is ranked Jo-jo saku by Fujishiro  

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1 hour ago, Jacques D. said:

Congrats, for once man starts a collection with a high level smith, it deserves to be highlighted.

 

Kunimichi belongs to the Kunihiro Horikawa school (Kunihiro was with Umetada Myôju the founder of the Shinto era), He is ranked Jo-jo saku by Fujishiro  

 

Thank you for this information @Jacques D. I was a little confused trying to find info on this smith. Is he listed in by Fujishiro as Yamashiro no kami Minamoto Kunimichi or another name? 

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Thank you to everyone who has commented so far. I am delighted to know that this sword is seen as a great start to my collection by so many knowledgable experts. 

 

Truly appreciate the feedback and the comments on the smith. I have been doing my best to find information on him but was getting confused about which Kunimichi made this sword and how well regarded he was. 

 

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5 hours ago, jmoto said:

 

Thank you for this information @Jacques D. I was a little confused trying to find info on this smith. Is he listed in by Fujishiro as Yamashiro no kami Minamoto Kunimichi or another name? 

 

From Markus Sesko's book 

 

Kunimichi (国路), Genna (元和, 1615-1624), Yamashiro – „Heianjō-jū Kunimichi“ (平安城住国道), „Dewa no Daijō Fujiwara Kunimichi“
(出羽大掾藤原国道), „Dewa no Daijō Fujiwara Rai Kunimichi“ (出羽大掾藤原来国路), „Dewa no Daijō Kunimichi“ (出羽大掾十一辻),
he was first a student of Iga no Kami Kinmichi (伊賀守金道) but studied later also under Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広), he signed his
name in his early years with the characters (国道), the also early signature variant (十一辻) for „Kunimichi“ is a play on words: „Kuni“ can
also be written with the characters „nine“ (ku, 九) and „two“ (ni, 二), added-up „eleven“ (十一), the character (辻) is actually read as „tsuji“
and has the meaning „road“, but road can also be written with „michi“ (道・路), sources which do not know this play on words quote the
reading of the characters (十一辻) incorrectly as „Jūichitsuji“, from the 14th year of Keichō (1609) he signed his name with the characters
(国路), the change is probably not connected with the receiving of the honorary title „Dewa no Daijō“ because he signed the latter also in
combination with the variant (国道) for „Kunimichi“, his year of death is unknown, there exists a date signature of the fifth year of Keian
(慶安, 1652) with the information „at the age of 77“ which calculates his year of birth as Tenshō four (天正, 1576), the latest extant date
signature is from the ninth month of Meireki three (明暦, 1657) and is combined with the information „at the age of 82“, this signature is
finely chiselled and it is therefore assumed that the blade is one of his latest works, the exact date when he received his honorary title „Dewa
no Daijō“ is not known, the earliest blade signed that way is dated with the eighth month Keichō 20 (1615), therefore it is assumed that he
received the title around Keichō 19 or 20, the using of the character „Rai“ (来) in some of his signatures alludes to a connection to the
Mishina school, another support for this theory is that he signed his name during his early years with the „Mishina-michi“ (道), due to his
long artistic period we know relative many blades by him, he was highly talented and one of the most outstanding smiths of the Horikawa
school, we know works in the Keichō-shintō style of Kunihiro but his strong point was a flamboyant hamon with variation in the height and
depth of the yakihaba and excellent nie- and nioi-based hataraki, in the shintō style he forged a dense ko-mokume and the hamon is here an
ō-gunome-midare which bases on an ō-notare, but also an ō-gunome-midare or gunome-midare is seen, partially the gunome elments are
densely arranged and seem like a single midare elements, the bōshi is a ko-maru agari which tends to midare-komi, when he worked in the
Yamato tradition he forged a mokume mixed with noticeable masame, the hamon is here a chū-suguha with uchinoke in ko-nie-deki, the
bōshi is ko-maru or ko-maru agari. 

 

Hope it will be useful.

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1 hour ago, Jacques D. said:

 

From Markus Sesko's book 

 

Kunimichi (国路), Genna (元和, 1615-1624), Yamashiro – „Heianjō-jū Kunimichi“ (平安城住国道), „Dewa no Daijō Fujiwara Kunimichi“
(出羽大掾藤原国道), „Dewa no Daijō Fujiwara Rai Kunimichi“ (出羽大掾藤原来国路), „Dewa no Daijō Kunimichi“ (出羽大掾十一辻),
he was first a student of Iga no Kami Kinmichi (伊賀守金道) but studied later also under Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広), he signed his
name in his early years with the characters (国道), the also early signature variant (十一辻) for „Kunimichi“ is a play on words: „Kuni“ can
also be written with the characters „nine“ (ku, 九) and „two“ (ni, 二), added-up „eleven“ (十一), the character (辻) is actually read as „tsuji“
and has the meaning „road“, but road can also be written with „michi“ (道・路), sources which do not know this play on words quote the
reading of the characters (十一辻) incorrectly as „Jūichitsuji“, from the 14th year of Keichō (1609) he signed his name with the characters
(国路), the change is probably not connected with the receiving of the honorary title „Dewa no Daijō“ because he signed the latter also in
combination with the variant (国道) for „Kunimichi“, his year of death is unknown, there exists a date signature of the fifth year of Keian
(慶安, 1652) with the information „at the age of 77“ which calculates his year of birth as Tenshō four (天正, 1576), the latest extant date
signature is from the ninth month of Meireki three (明暦, 1657) and is combined with the information „at the age of 82“, this signature is
finely chiselled and it is therefore assumed that the blade is one of his latest works, the exact date when he received his honorary title „Dewa
no Daijō“ is not known, the earliest blade signed that way is dated with the eighth month Keichō 20 (1615), therefore it is assumed that he
received the title around Keichō 19 or 20, the using of the character „Rai“ (来) in some of his signatures alludes to a connection to the
Mishina school, another support for this theory is that he signed his name during his early years with the „Mishina-michi“ (道), due to his
long artistic period we know relative many blades by him, he was highly talented and one of the most outstanding smiths of the Horikawa
school, we know works in the Keichō-shintō style of Kunihiro but his strong point was a flamboyant hamon with variation in the height and
depth of the yakihaba and excellent nie- and nioi-based hataraki, in the shintō style he forged a dense ko-mokume and the hamon is here an
ō-gunome-midare which bases on an ō-notare, but also an ō-gunome-midare or gunome-midare is seen, partially the gunome elments are
densely arranged and seem like a single midare elements, the bōshi is a ko-maru agari which tends to midare-komi, when he worked in the
Yamato tradition he forged a mokume mixed with noticeable masame, the hamon is here a chū-suguha with uchinoke in ko-nie-deki, the
bōshi is ko-maru or ko-maru agari. 

 

Hope it will be useful.

You have the wrong generation. 

This sword is the 2nd not first gen based on this mei. 

This smith also signed Heianjo fujiwara kunimichi. 

 

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Please quote correctly from my books. The Kunimichi (国) in question has nothing to do with Dewa Daijō Kunimichi (国) (who just happened to sign with the same characters 国道 in the early years of his career).

 

That's the smith you are looking for:

 

KUNIMICHI (国道), Genroku (元禄, 1688-1704), Iyo – “Yamashiro no Kami Minamoto Kunimichi (山城守源 国道), he also worked in Yamashiro and carved a chrysanthemum onto his tangs

 

 

Edited by Markus
Clarification
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1 hour ago, Markus said:

Please quote correctly from my books. The Kunimichi (国) in question has nothing to do with Dewa Daijō Kunimichi (国) (who just happened to sign with the same characters 国道 in the early years of his career).

 

That's the smith you are looking for:

 

KUNIMICHI (国道), Genroku (元禄, 1688-1704), Iyo – “Yamashiro no Kami Minamoto Kunimichi (山城守源 国道), he also worked in Yamashiro and carved a chrysanthemum onto his tangs

 

 

 

 @Markus Thank you for taking the time to clarify this for me. Very helpful. 

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You will love your sword, so at night time you look at it, and sigh. The owner is happy with that alone. But if you want to get deeper into the background, you need another time and effort (Only a minority of collectors, even Japanese, do it. It's even more difficult for collectors in different languages.).

The country of Iyo in the feudal era was a land far from the center of Japan, but since it was in the route of the domestic sailing , exchanges of people and technology are active. In addition, Shogun Tokugawa often replaced the lord for reign reasons, and the swordsmith attached to the lord also moved or left. Take a look at the variety of Iyo lords and swordsmiths listed by the Japanese official compilation. Iyo's swordsmith is peculiar, influenced by multiple tech schools.

 

https://www.i-manabi.jp/system/regionals/regionals/ecode:2/56/view/7406

 

In fact, you can get two different theories about the technical school by just searching online for "刀 銘 山城守源国道". As shown in the list above, the one theory is that it is the Mishina school in Kyoto, and the other is the theory that it is the Kunikane school in Sendai. I don't know the information to clarify which or both.

 

http://www.nipponto.co.jp/swords6/KY332482.htm
 

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Well done and congratulations Jason. Its definitely good to see someone start off with a nice blade like this. The only thing I think is good to start with a lesser sword would be to learn how to care for and handle Nihonto properly before risking damaging a good sword but as long as they learn the necessary care its all good as im sure you are.

Enjoy your lovely sword.

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12 hours ago, Greg F said:

Well done and congratulations Jason. Its definitely good to see someone start off with a nice blade like this. The only thing I think is good to start with a lesser sword would be to learn how to care for and handle Nihonto properly before risking damaging a good sword but as long as they learn the necessary care its all good as im sure you are.

Enjoy your lovely sword.

 

Yes, I completely agree with you here Greg.

 

Handling and care has been a major concern of mine. I am brave enough to admit that when I first got the sword I actually had nightmares in my sleep about destroying it by some careless accident. 

 

I believe that through research and knowledge passed to me by the collector I purchased this from (who has become a friend) I am in a position to be a good "caretaker" of this piece. 

 

One question I did have for the experts here. Is anyone able to read the sayagaki?

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