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Ishido Yasuhiro - but what's up with the Ichi?


jt nesbitt
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Yeah, don't buy swords online when you are drunk.

After losing out on an auction recently, I got all butt hurt about it and went and impulse bought something.

Don't get me wrong...I LOVE this sword, but I don't feel like I did enough research before pulling the trigger and now I am struggling to find a comparable signature. I "mei" have made a huge mistake.

 Here's the thing- I can find a pretty good amount of info on the Ishido school, and Yasuhiro, but I cant find any nakago/oshigata images with this particular signature or with the "ichi" character.

 When I was in school (Fine Arts Major), students were instructed to make direct copies, and original work "in the style of" old masters. We were instructed to sign this work "after" - so a signature would read "JT Nesbitt, After El Greco".

 Is the Mei on this blade a similar philosophy? Is Yasuhiro paying homage to Ichimonji in writing?

This sword is longer than most Ishido work, 29", and does not have a chrysanthemum, does this mean that it is an earlier (Yasuhiro 1st) Edo period?

 It's not too late for me to cancel this purchase if the consensus is that I got ahold of a bogue here....Thanks Ya'll for giving me your time!!  -- JT

 

21233-2.jpg21233paper-1.jpg

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Hello JT, the sword was good enough for the gentlemen of the NTHK to deem it genuine, so I think you can take some comfort from that. If there were any obviously problematic things about the sword, the NTHK would have caught them (hopefully) and flagged the sword as gimei. The NTHK may not be held in as high regard as the NBTHK, but it does run a very close second, and their judgment will be be better than any of us peering at your sword through our various screens. (And remember, the sword confirms the signature, so if the sword looks like Kii Yasuhiro work, slight variations in the signature may be tolerated.)

 

Here are some other signed, authenticated Tōichi Yasuhiro swords. 

https://iidakoendo.com/1359/

https://www.touken-world.jp/search/23506/

 

Tōichi is Yasuhiro the 2nd. Don't worry about the length. I don't know if the use of "ichi" in the name was a nod to Ichimonji. I think its plausible, but I can't find any discussion of why that name is used. 

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Hey Steve-

 Thanks for the info!

 What does Tou- Ichi translate to? I can't find a translation for tou (to?) sword? 

 Are the examples that you posted dated? I have seen a few 2nd and 3rd generations with Kiku mon, why is it not present on this sword? Thanks so much for your assistance! -- JT

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當=当 It means "to hit" (as in, to hit a target), or to win something (election, lottery). The kanji on the left, and the one that is on your sword, is the original version. The kanji on the right is the simplified version that is in use in Japan today. There is no difference in meaning or pronunciation. Just two ways of drawing the same kanji. 

 

By itself it is pronounced ataru/atari. (If you are "of a certain age" you remember the video game company Atari. It was said that they took their name from this Japanese word meaning to win/hit). However, when this character is used as part of a compound word, it is pronounced tō. On your sword this character is combined with 一 (ichi) to form a sort of compound word tōichi. Actually it is a name rather than a word, but anyway the pronunciation of the two together (當一) is tōichi.

 

There isn't a great amount of detail on Tōichi/Yasuhiro. None that is readily available to me, anyway. As you may know, swordsmiths and other artisans, scholars, politicians, in feudal Japan often went through many name changes in their lives. They may take on two or three or more different names as they proceed through their career. My guess is that Tōichi was a name he adopted early in his career, and then he dropped it as he began to be recognized (or maybe after the death of Yasuhiro 1st). His name at birth was Toda (or Tomita) Gorōzaemon. 

 

The use of the kiku-mon was something only allowed only under license/permission from the central government. It's use was a privilege that had to be awarded. The fact that it doesn't appear on your sword, plus the use of Tōichi in the name, makes me think your sword was made early in his career. 

 

Tō is indeed a homonym for sword (tō), but this is just a coincidence. Japanese is full of homonyms. 

 

 

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Here is the reference that shows his birth name. 

https://www.samuraishokai.jp/sword/15117.html

 

Neither of the swords I linked to have a date on them, so they may be contemporary with your sword. 

The paper for your sword says yours was made in the Shōō era (1652-1655). The use of the kiku mon was awarded to your smith after this time. 

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Steve-

 Is it possible that there is a little word play going on here? Perhaps taking the first part of his name is "Toda" and he made swords in the style of Ichimonji  - (To-Ichi) - AND he thought it was cool to have Atari (a win/hit) association? 

A PORTMANTEAU (taking the first letters of several words to form a new name/brand, ie - BiMoTa motorcycles) that is also a double entendre?

Quite a coincidence that the inspiration of the Ishido school is the Ichimonji school and this sword has Ichi written on it, don't you think? -- JT

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Yes, as I mentionted in my first post I think it is possible there was some intention on the part of the smith to use "Ichi" in his name to further drive home the point that he was working in the style of Ichimonji. Bear in mind that Ichi (一) is a very common character to use in boy's names. It is usually applied to the first-born son's name (the baseball player Ichirō Suzuki, for example, or the musician Ryuichi Sakamoto). So on the one hand you shouldn't read too much into it. It could be just a name. But yes, it could be the smith trying to further remind everyone that the sword emulates an Ichimonji sword. 

 

At the end of the day, the sword itself is the important thing, rather than the name on the tang. And it looks like your sword is a fine example of a sword from this time and this lineage, so it looks like you did well with your impulse purchase. 

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3 hours ago, Darkcon said:

Mai I ask the price range of this blade? Koshirae included?

 

Thanks

 

It was one of the swords I recommended in another recent thread ("advice on some options please") to give you an idea of the price range of swords that was being discussed.

On 7/13/2021 at 8:45 AM, mywei said:

If we are looking at shinto katana with koshirae. I would probably not buy the last two as not ubu, less desirable or re sellable imo

 

I would suggest to keep looking!

Just a couple that may interest you, similar price range to yours

 

Shinto ichimonji style Ishido school. Has nthk papers but will prob paper Nbthk too I would assume

https://www.aoijapan.com/katana-kii-kuni-touichi-yasuhiro/

 

6th gen Hizen Tadayoshi with konuka hada and interesting koshirae imo. Nbthk TH

https://www.samurai-nippon.net/SHOP/N-537.html

 

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Matt- 

 You want to hear something crazy? My offer on the Ishido Yasuhiro was accepted on the very day you made this post. What are the chances that of all the THOUSANDS swords for sale in the world on 7/12 - a guy from Melbourne, and a guy from halfway around the world in New Orleans - Would be saying "yeah that one is awesome" while looking at the same sword at the same time - Then meet up on a message board a week later?!?! 

 Please tell me why this one? I kinda stumbled into it as I am not even close to being on your level.....I would love to hear why it appealed to you.

 Also - I heard that some Ishido work made Juyo, any info on that would be awesome. Thanks -- JT

 

 

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The internet does make the world seem much smaller...And the NMB certainly is the Nexus of the nihonto world online outside of Japan!

 

I'm certainly no expert (far from it), but Ishido works are quite popular I think due to their style that is reminiscent of the Ichimonji schools.

 

The proportion of shinto blades going Juyo are much smaller compared to koto. There are some resident experts on Juyo here that will be able to give you the numbers of Ishido that have passed Juyo.

 

By the way, if the sword is still in Japan it may be worth asking Aoi to submit for NBTHK papers  (I'm sure it will be fine)

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10 hours ago, Vermithrax16 said:

Love Ishido works and Yasuhiro comes from a great line. I still search for a shodai Tameyasu to this day. This one is nice, congrats!

 

Jeremiah-

 Thanks for the stamp of approval. Do you have any idea whether any Ishido work has made it to Juyo level? Any resources you could direct me to so that I can learn more about them would be really helpful. Thanks -- JT

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2 hours ago, Vermithrax16 said:

 

 

Crazy....

It is so interesting to me that a sword made at roughly the same time, by the same group of dudes, who used the same source of inspiration, with the same techniques and materials, would be valued so differently.

The sword you referenced is 25x more expensive than the one that I bought. Is it nicer?   Yeah, I can see that it is a better work, more finely made, probably a special order because of the length, lovely bohi, yeah....Nice. 25 times nicer? I just don't know. Goes to show how little I know and how far I have to go to get up to speed on this subject material. 

 I think that this is where the industrial design component ends, and the art world begins...and brand becomes REALLY important.

 I wish I had some more reference material on the Ishido school.  - - -JT

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In the style of, in the manner of, follower of, student of; these are all used to qualify workmanship of art and have value in themselves. Original artwork by the master of which the preceding are imitative can be hundreds of times more dear. This is the nature of collecting and quite normal. John

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This falls bit off my interest as I am into early swords,  I don't have too much study material on these newer swords as they are not my focus. However I got intrested in this and took a look, and I am not exactly sure of the result. Someone more skilled in Japanese can make corrections.

 

Here is history part of the Jūyō 42 katana entry - and my rough translation.

 

備中守康広は, 富田五郎左衛門といい, 紀州石堂派を代表する刀工で, のちに紀州から大坂に移り, 大坂石堂派の始祖となっている.

作風は, 御家芸ともいうべき備前伝で映りの立った鍛えに, 丁子乱れを得意としている.

銘文は, 初期には (於紀州康広), 或は (紀伊国康広) などときり, また (紀伊国當一康広) と當一を冠するものもある.

備中守を受領してからは, 表裏に銘をきり分けたり, この作に見られるように裏に菊紋を刻している

 

Bitchū no Kami Yasuhiro was Tomita Gorōzaemon, swordsmith from Kishū Ishidō school. He later moved from Kishū to Ōsaka and founded Ōsaka Ishidō school.

He is very skilled in Bizen style chōji midare and utsuri.

Early signature styles were (於紀州康広) and (紀伊国康広) [This next part is relevant for the sword in question but I can't quite understand it], there is also style of signature (紀伊国當一康広).

After receiving the title Bitchū no Kami, signature is now on both sides and Kikumon is engraved on to the back as seen in this work.

 

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12 hours ago, Jussi Ekholm said:

銘文は, 初期には (於紀州康広), 或は (紀伊国康広) などときり, また (紀伊国當一康広) と當一を冠するものもある

 

For the mei, the early inscriptions are Oite Kishū Yasuhiro, or Kii-no-kuni Yasuhiro, and sometimes including the prefix "Tōichi" (Kii-no-kuni Tōichi Yasuhiro). 

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