By Fred Weissberg 10/06
Tsunatoshi's family name was Kato and he was born around 1800. He was the son of Dewa (no) Kuni Kunihide and he was the younger brother of Kato Tsunahide. The Kato family smiths were originally from Yonezawa in Dewa. Tsunatoshi was called Kato Hachiro. He has dated works from around 1823 that he made at Azabu, Edo where he did most of his work. He received the title of Chounsai in Ansei Gannen (1854). He handed down this title to his son, Koretoshi, in 1856 and took the new title of Chojusai for himself. It is said that he received a stipend from the Uesugi Clan. He died at the age of 66 on the fifth day of December 1863.
Tsunatoshi's sword making group prospered greatly in Edo (Tokyo). He and his students greatly excelled in the making of Bizen style swords. His skill was great enough to surpass the famous sword-making group led by Suishinshi Masahide. One of the most famous of all Shinshinto sword smiths, Koyama Munetsugu, is said in some reference books to have been a student of Chounsai Tsunatoshi. Others have Munetsugu as a contemporary of Tsunatoshi's and a student of his older brother Tsunahide. Either way, the closeness of their working styles shows that they were related in some way. Among Tsunatoshi's other students were Takahashi Naganobu, Ishido Korekazu, Seiryuken Moritoshi, and others.
There is no doubt that Chounsai Tsunatoshi was one of the leading sword smiths of the Shinshinto Period.
While Tsunatoshi did toran-midare like his older brother, Tsunahide was famous for; he really excelled when he worked in the Bizen tradition. The sori will be deep koshi-zori and the kasane will be thick. His usual hamon is ko-choji midare or ko-midare. The hamon will consist of a tight nioi guchi and hard, dark spots can be seen in the yakigashira (upper part of the yakiba). There will be an uneven pattern of nie covering the nioi guchi. They will be ara-nie in areas. The hada is a dense mokume-hada mixed with o-hada in some areas. It is so tight that it will almost appear as a muji-hada. This is an important kantei point that separates Tsunatoshi from Koyama Munetsugu. Munetsugu's hada is a fine kitae of ko-itame that has a flowing feeling and a beautiful visible pattern.
Tsunatoshi's boshi is usually done midare-komi. The nakago is made with the tip in ha-agari-kengyo. The yasurimei are sujikai with some kesho at the top.
His typical signatures are as follows:
OITE TOUTO KATOU TSUNATOSHI TSUKURU
KATOU TSUNATOSHI TSUKURU
CHOUENSAI TSUNATOSHI TSUKURU KORE
DEWA YONEZAWA JU KATOU TSUNATOSHI
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