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Dear all following the popularity of the recent kantei posted by Chris I have added another one below. Unfortunately my photographic skills aren't up to the standard seen in Chris' example so i have added a detailed description as well. Normally kantei blades  should be a typical example of a school or smiths work. In this case there are many of the features you might expect to see but it isn't altogether typical.

The sword:

Shinogi-Zukuri, iori mune with tori-sori. Suriage with nijimei 

Nagasa 48.4cm      Sori 0.9cm

Motohaba 2.8cm        Sakihaba 1.9cm     Kasane 0.6cm


The blade was originally 6-8cm longer than its current nagasa. Despite being shortened it retains elegant proportion. The blade narrows elegantly from the machi to kissaki. The shinogi is of medium height with a fairly wide shinogi-ji. There are 3 small kirikomi visible on the shinogi, one on the ura and two on the omote.


The hada is a very fine and consistent ko-itame. Overall the blade has a great deal of ji-nie which becomes brighter and larger as it progresses to the monouchi. There are also small chickei running the length of the blade. The quality of the forging and the brightness of the nie based activity are outstanding.


The hamon is a very gentle midare based on a suguha foundation. The nioi-guchi is extremely clear and bright and has a characteristic “belt like” form associated with this school.  Running throughout the hamon is a great deal of activity comprising of very bright nie which cascades through the nioi-guchi and creates clouds of nie on the border with the ji. There is kinsuji in the lower half of the blade. As it progresses towards the monouchi the nie becomes larger and brighter in areas it forms nijuba and kuichigai-ba. 


The blade has a slightly small chu-kissaki with suguha boshi which is ko-maru with a short kaeri.


The Nakago is suriage with 3 mekugi-ana. There is a nijimei on the lower part of the blade and the original yasurime are clearly distinguishable.  The yasurime are very slightly katte-sagari



DSC_0003 (2).JPG






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Ok so I am not sure what to say. I must admit on my screen I didn't see the mei when I posted it up so my apologies for being lax.

However isn't the idea of this to look at the shape and features of the blade read the description and try and assess who the blade was made and when?

So now you have read the mei what has been learned from the exercise?

The next question is which Tadayoshi made it? you have 9 generations to choose from

Fortunately the the date isn't cut on the nakago.

Again my apologies for the initial error it isn't one that will be repeated.



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don't worry Eric, I am just annoyed with myself for being careless.

I will let this run a little longer just in case anyone else wants to have a stab at it.


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9 hours ago, paulb said:

The next question is which Tadayoshi made it? you have 9 generations to choose from


Tapering is very characteristic, but I can't help myself but make a personal punt.

I remember sometime ago someone stating that third generation Tadayoshi is generally accepted as superior to the first.

At the moment I thought the statement to be unusual. Unless that someone owns something from the third generation. :)

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I think the generally held view is that the Sandai and Shodai were of a very similar standard. Which one believed to be the best had more to do with personal taste and preference.

I am not sure when doing kantei by trying to predict an owner's likely preference is a particularly good methodology.

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 An article describing this blade in more detail will be posted on the board shortly.


In summary the blade has been attributed to both the Shodai and the Sandai. I have known it for more than 20 years and have eventually concluded it is the work of the Shodai (although would have been happy with either) . Briefly the reasoning behind this is as follows: 

Niji mei blades are extremely rare. The only reference I have found to the Sandai making them was in Nihonto Koza but there are no illustrations that I can find. There are 4 niji mei blades published and these are all attributed to the Shodai.

The original size of the blade would have been about 55 to 57cm. Thus it would have been illegal if made as a wakizashi by the sandai.

The yasurime are katte-sagari if it were by the sandai you would expect katte-agari.

I think this is a kenjo mei sword made by the Shodai. According to various sources his presentation blades were a level better than his standard work and I think this may be why some considered it to be by the Sandai as generally the quality of his jigane and nie were regarded as amongst the best of the various generations .

So overall I came down in favour of Shodai but I have often been wrong before.

Well done to those who identified it as Hizen. To be honest I am not sure it would have been my first choice when I saw it initially. The Shodai did not make what might be regarded as typical Hizen blades with true suguha and konuka hada until late in his career and after his name change to Tadahiro in 1624 and even then it was early stages of those features which were refined by his son and grandson. This I think is more like an utsushi piece with Awataguchi-like hada and Soshu/Shizu hamon and nie activity. It is a very interesting sword.

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Interesting Paul. Mainly concentrated on  "nijuba and kuichigai-ba." to start with, looked like a chopped old blade hence ended up at Senjuin to start with but then all that went out of the window trying to fit Ko-itame, surprised how relatively rare it seemed back then, mostly mention of mokume.


Then on to Hizen. From memory, sure i read somewhere that  nijuba and kuichigai-ba.  was mainly linked to the 3rd, but looking at the book a short while ago its the 1st.


Also, 3 rd is said to have mainly worked in Ko-nie, but 1st Nie.


Totally missed the mei, and not a clue without looking in books who wrote what.


I do see why 1st is stated in the write up.


Suppose only folk that see hundreds of blades by 1st and 3rd would have a real  shot.


Learned something, thanks.















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Hi Alex

Glad you enjoyed it and found it useful. One of the problems with the sandai is that he died relatively young (50 I think) and was outlived by his father. As a result there are not so many of his works and according to Roger Robertshaw most of his output were daimei for his father. Add to that his Tadayoshi mei was not dissimilar to some of the Shodai's various forms and that his workmanship was of very high quality and comparable in style to the Shodai's later output then the problem is compounded.

I think Thomas mentioned in a separate mail about Michael Hagenbusch talking about probabilities and I think that applies here. The only illustrated examples of niji-mei (which are very few) have been attributed to the first generation. I haven't found any attributed to the third. Therefore the first would appear to be the most likely candidate. If you then add in the Yasurime, the length of the blade the not quite suguha hamon then  the features pushing it towards the Shodai start to add up. 

I find these blades fascinating and a great learning tool. If you have something screamingly obvious then you don't need to look so hard nor think about it so much. With something like this you really have to start working through the process (well I have to anyway). It is like doing the NBTHK monthly kantei. If you know the answer as soon as you see it you actually don't learn too much. If you have to wade through references to confirm your thinking it teaches you more and is more fun.

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