The Gokaden or 5 traditions are the basis through which we can explore and hopefully Kantai a sword blade, and although there are many blades which fall outside of the Go Kaden in terms of their characteristics, the vast majority can be placed somewhere within it's parameters. The purpose of this paper is to document the variations of features found on blades from each of the Gokaden in an attempt to provide "signposts" which may direct us to one particular province. The Gokaden consist of the five provinces of Yamato, Yamashiro, Bizen, Soshu, and lastly Mino, so "without much more a do" let's have a go at detailing them.


Sugata (shape). Slim, graceful regular curve. High Shinogi. Wide Shinogi ji. Thick across the Kasane. High peaked Iore Mune. Small Kissaki, generally no turn back.

Hamon (edge). Suguha straight and narrow, slight irregularities. Some Midare, no Choji. Ko nie concentrated and plentiful along the Habuchi (pattern edge). Very little Ha nie. Boshi is Yakizume (no turn back) with some Hakikake (like brush strokes).

Hada (pattern). Masame, very tight almost becoming Nashiji. Itame and running Itame (Nageru). Very little Ji nie sometimes virtually none.

Nakago (tang). Long elegant and tapering. Kurijiri and some Kengyo.


Sugata. Slim graceful regular curve. Elegant and narrow but with Niku (meaty). Medium high Iori Mune. Small Kissaki.

Hamon. Straight narrow Suguha with small Nie. Some Nijuba (double hamon). Note: Rai School used Choji or Komidare and later Gunome. Nie small and plentiful along the Habuchi. Some Ji nie but almost no Ha nie. Boshi is Ko maru and O maru with slight Kaeri and some Yakizume.

Hada. Ko Mokume.

Nakago. Long and tapering. Kuri jiri and some Kengyo.


Sugata. Medium width and graceful, Koshi Sori. Usually medium to low Shinogi, if high it is usually due to the thinning of the Shinogi ji sometimes undertaken in later years on old blades. Iori mune. Kasane thick and sometimes thin.

Hamon. Choji in medium sized nie. O Choji midare primarily in nioi. Ko Bizen: Flattened choji so compacted as to resemble suguha. Some Notare midare. Medium sized nie along Habuchi; rarely any ji nie, never any Ha nie. Shortish Boshi.

Hada. Medium sized Mokume. Ji nie rarely seen.

Nakago Shortish stubby with almost parallel sides. Some early Muromachi pieces were longer and quite elegant e.g. Yasumitsu.


Sugata. Wide flat long and heavy with regular shallow curvature (Tori Zori). Narrowish Shinogi ji. Highest Shinogi. Thinnish Kasane. High Mune; Iori and Mitsu.

Hamon. Wide Choji midare, Notare/Gunome, Tobiyaki. Boshi: Midare Komi and some Kaen. Slight Kaeri in early works; more in later. Profuse Ara nie in Ha and Ji.

Hada. Itame. Grain of loose style, the opposite of Nashiji. Ji nie in early works. Tobiyaki also in early works but little in later ones; somewhat dead and lifeless.

Nakago Tanago Bara - Fish Belly shaped. Jiri: Kengyo.


Sugata. Long and wide. Slight to medium regular curve. Medium to thick Kasane. Iori mune. Longish Kissaki. Narrowish Shinogi ji but some blades had thinned down Shinogi ji to give a high Shinogi and thin kisane. Early Mino following the Yamato tradition would have a high Shinogi.

Hamon. Jagged edge patterns such as Sanbon Sugi with medium sized nie on a primarily Nioi working. Boshi: midare Komi and Jizo Head.

Hada. Ko Mokume. Mixture of Itame and Masame. Nashiji and Masame? Nashiji. Hard Jitetsu. Masame in Shinogi ji.

Nakago. Medium length and tapering. Jiri: Kengyo. Note: Hawks feather Yasurimei is an I.D. feature.

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