Goro Nyudo Masamune
Undeniably the most famous and arguably the best swordsmith in
Japanese history was Goro Nyudo Masamune. Masamune was trained by
swordsmiths from Bizen and Yamashiro and his main teacher was Kunimitsu.
Masamune made his name when in preparation for a third Mongol Invasion he
created a stronger sword and pioneered a double quenching process for
hardening steel. This brought him fame and drew many would-be disciples to
his door for training. Masamune produced his best work in Kamakura, Sagami
province in the 1320's. Today there are very few samples of swords
actually signed by Masamune and most of the extant work are tantos rather
than katana. Examples of signed works accepted as genuine are the "Fudo
Masamune", "Kyogoku Masamune", and "Daikoku Masamune". His works are the
most frequently cited among the swords listed in the Kyoho Meibutsu Cho, a
catalogue of excellent swords in the collections of daimyos edited during
the Kyoho era by the Hon-ami family of assessors.
"Juttetsu" - Ten Brilliant Students
Masamune trained many disciples who all went on to become very famous smiths in their own rights. Masamune had ten brilliant students who gathered from various regions of Japan, namely Rai Kunimitsu, Hasebe Kunishige, Kaneuji, Kinju, Yoshihiro, Norishige, Naotsuna, Bizen Kanemitsu, Chogi, and Sa.
"Fudo Masamune" Tanto
Detail showing the horimono (engraving) of the Buddhist deity Fudo
"Hocho Masamune" Tanto