This is a
elegant Buke mounted Katana which has been attributed to the Sukesada
group of smiths.
The prefix of the Mei (BIZEN no KUNI JU OSAFUNE)
would put this piece to Sue-Bizen. The 2006 NTHK Shinsa
estimated that the characteristics of this Katana are comparable to the
style of Nagamitsu, son of Mitsutada the founder of the Osafune school. After many
months of study, it is my opinion that the workmanship in this blade is
that of Sukesada, a student of Tadamitsu school. The Sugata is shinogi-zukuri
with iori-mune and a chu-kissaki. The Jihada is ko-itame with thick ji-nie
and utsuri appears. The Hamon is choji-midare in nioi-deki accompanied
with many ashi and sunagashi. The Boshi runs off the edge in the kissaki.
The earlier Sue-Koto blades of circa Meio to Eisho (1492-1521) were
average length of around two shaku, one sun. This was due to the increased
pace of fighting.
Early history tells of heavy armor being used and
when sword (with Obusa-Choji or Juka-Choji) Ha and Ikubi-Kissaki got
trapped, the blade and/or tip became broken. There was not enough tip for
repair. The Mongolian invasions influenced Hamon, Obusa-Choji and
Juka-Choji gave way to Choji-ha based on Sugu-ha or Kataochi-gunome.
Reason being blades with very wide Ha are easy to break. The Ha is harder
than the rest of the blade and if it is the majority of the sword, it will
not absorb shock and becomes easy to break. Another consideration would be
the ending point of the Hi (grooves), this left room for repair should tip
become damaged. From the appearance of this fine sword (kissaki repair and
suriage), it is my opinion that one of the many Sukesada smiths made this
The katana was later (1560) altered/repaired into
a uchigatana due to breakage of the tip. The same Sukesada smith was able
to return this piece to its samurai owner during the Sengoku wars. Ground
fighting became the norm, armor became lighter, and the Uchigatana and
Katate-uchi (quick-draw swords) became popular. A good example would be,
during the 3rd year of Eiroku (1560), the Imagawa were defeated by Oda
Nobunaga and the Takada and Uesugi were battling at
Harima, Mimasaka and Bizen
provinces were prospering under the protection of the Akamatsu family.
Above all, Bizen province turned out a great many talented swordsmiths. A
large number of swords were made there in the late Muromachi period not
only supplying the demand of the Age of Provincial Wars in Japan but also
as an important exporting item to the Ming dynasty in China.
further consideration in the determination of the smith for this
piece, I viewed the following:
Tachi and Genbei
Biography of NAGAMITSU
It should be pointed out that the Boshi runs off
the edge in the Kissaki due to breakage and repair prior to the 1600's.
This sword is
very much a historical piece with original
papers by Inami
Hakusui. Inami wrote the first English language book
(it was published during the occupation of Japan).
The book is
titled NIPPON-TO: The Japanese Sword
(see my 'Books For Sale'
Hakusui papered this Katana to a Shinto Sukesada.
on past and current knowledge, the prefix 'Bizen
Kuni Ju Osafune'
was used only by Sue-Bizen (Koto) smiths,
Goto Waki Fuchi, Muromachi Menuki of excellent quality.
sword is mounted in old Buke period koshirae.
Saya was favored by Samurai
on swords ( "duty weapon" )
during the time of war.
The Habaki is of silver and very well-made.
|Signed: 'KUNIHIRO' (H 03590.0)|
Oval iron plate with the face carved with overall swirling clouds and the reverse with four cloud groups in Chinese style.
Mei reads 'Bizen no
Kuni Ju Osafune (suriage)'. Note similarity
to Yozozaemon mei. (center & right)
Study Fujishiro pg. 599,
600, and 601.
Paper about Oei-Bizen and Sue-Bizen Smiths.
Read about the Samurai of
Bizen who wielded this sword.