KATANA

WAKIZASHI

KOSHIRAE

KATANA KOSHIRAE

WAKIZASHI KOSHIRAE

JUYO TOKEN BIZEN OSAFUNE NAGAMITSU DAISHO

I am very pleased to offer for sale a pair of swords by the great Bizen smith, Nagamitsu. Both of these blades have been designated as Juyo Token by the NBTHK. The katana was designated as a Juyo Token in 1968 and the wakizashi was designated as Juyo Token in 1977. I have always found old Juyo Token to be more precious as the judging criteria seemed to be stricter in those days. The condition and workmanship in these swords is nothing less than magnificent. Here is a description of each blade:

KATANA

Designated as Den Nagamitsu in the 17th Juyo Token shinsa

Nagasa: 85.8 cm or 33 5/8 inche

Sori: 2.8 cm or 1 1/8 inches

Motohaba: 2.8 cm or 1 1/8 inches

Sakihaba: 1.9 cm or 3/4 inch

This is an extremely long blade even though it is o-suriage. The jitetsu is a dense and tight itame that is flawless throughout the blade. The hamon is ko-choji midare mixed with gunome with ashi, yo, kinsuji, sunagashi, etc. There is strong utsuri up both sides of the ji. The boshi is midare with a short turn back. There are bo-hi (grooves) extending down both sides of the shinogi extending into and through the tang.

WAKIZASHI

Designated as Nagamitsu in the 25th Juyo Token shinsa

Nagasa: 51.3 cm or 20 1/4 inches

Sori: 1.2 cm or 1/2 inch

Motohaba: 2.4 cm or 1 inch

Sakihaba: 1.85 cm or 3/4 inch

This is a beautiful wakizashi that started its life as a tachi. There were no wakizashi made in the middle Kamakura era when this blade was made. Even though it has been greatly shortened and lost much of its sori, it is still graceful and proportionate. The jitetsu is a perfect match for the katana in that it is also a tight ko-itame. The hamon is ko-choji midare with gunome and containing many activities such as ashi, yo, kinsuji, etc. The boshi shows the typical san-saku boshi for which Nagamitsu is famous and it has a short turn back. The wakizashi also has bo-hi running the length of both sides of the shinogi and through the tang.

Bizen Nagamitsu was the son of Bizen Mitsutada who was the founder of the Bizen Osafune School. Nagamitsu was productive from about the Bunei era (1264) to the Shoan era (1301).

The works by Nagamitsu represent the craftsmanship developed by Mitsutada. While they contain exuberant choji-midare, Nagamitsu's differs in that it also contains dominant gunome and more pointed variations of choji than his father's works. There was a distinct change in Nagamitsu's style of workmanship around the Shoo era (1288). That is, prior to the Shoo era most of the blades exhibited luxuriant, irregular patterns resembling Mitsutada's, but after Shoo, he made his blades quieter in appearance having a somewhat more subdued irregular pattern occasionally even a straight pattern (suguha).

The blades produced by the Nagamitsu are of exceptional quality having six swords designated as National Treasures and no less than 28 blades designated as Important Cultural Properties.

SUGATA: The sugata exhibits the features characteristic of the Kamakura period and is similar to the Ichimonji school of the same time. Generally blades are shinogi-zukuri, iroi mune with koshi-zori. There is a marked tapering as one approaches the point (funbari). Occasionally among Nagamitsu's works an unusual sugata may be seen which resembles the works of the early Kamakura period. Others may have a shallow sori and a mihaba (width) that does not vary greatly from the bottom to the point.

JITETSU: The kitae is ko-itame mixed with small mokume, making a fine and beautiful grain. The ji-nie is also fine and the midare-utsuri or choji-utsuri will show up in a pronounced manner.

HAMON: The hamon will be nioi based, as is the case with Bizen works. Nagamitsu's hamon is distinctive in that while it resembles that of his father, Mitsutada, with a mixture of various kinds of choji mixed with occasional gunome; in Nagamitsu's hamon the gunome are much more profuse and will have rounded heads and, in effect, resemble choji. Mitsutada never made hamon with any portion being suguba in nature, while Nagamitsu was known to make straight hamon on a rare occasion.

BOSHI: The boshi of Nagamitsu is an important kantei point. In most cases (there are always exceptions), he was known for what is called the "san-saku boshi" This boshi is so called because it was made by three swordsmiths (san-saku), Nagamitsu, Kagemitsu, and Sanenaga. The characteristic of this type of boshi is that it is fairly straight when crossing the yokote and then it slightly undulates in the mid point ending in a maru shape with kaeri.

HORIMONO: Bo-hi are commonly seen with the tops of the hi being pointed in nature. Futatsu-hi are also seen. Bonji can be found on his works on occasion.

NAKAGO: Not many ubu blades exist, but in general the nakago will be made a little short with the tip in kurijiri or kijimomo. The yasurime will be kuri or sujikai. The mei will generally be given in two characters.

This daisho come with a set of beautifully matched koshirae bearing the mon of the Hosokawa Daimyo family. The tsuba are shakudo nanako with Noh drama masks done in shakudo, copper, and gold. They are signed Ishigoro Masatsune. I do not know if the signatures are genuine, but I do know that they are exquisite. The fuchi and kashira are shibuichi and done in Omori waves. They are unsigned. The menuki are gold and are the Hosokawa family crest. The saya are lacquered black with gold Hosokawa family crests. The kojiri of the katana is also in a wave pattern. Great daisho mounts to go with great blades.

PRICE: $195,000.00

Questions or feedback? Email me!

hageyama@mindspring.com