YAMATO no KAMI YASUSADA
By Fred Weissberg 4/09
Yamato-no-Kami Yasusada has long been thought to have moved to Edo from Echizen Province having been a student of the Shodai Yasutsugu. Another school of thought has been that he came to Edo from the Kishu Ishido group. While the former was the predominate thinking for quite awhile, a discovery of a sword signed by him dated in the tenth year of Kanbun (1670) and which stated to have been made when he was fifty-three years of age has shifted the thinking to the latter idea that he was originally from the Kishu Ishido group. That information allows us to deduce that if he was 53 years old in Kanbun 10 (1670), he was born around Genwa 4 (1618). Since the Shodai Yasutsugu died in Genwa 7 (1621), this would make Yasusada only three to four years old at the time of Yasutsugu's death.
The presence of a wakizashi inscribed Kishu Wakayama (no) Jyu Yasuhiro Tsukuru Yamato-Daijo Yasusada Saku is further evidence of Yasusada's affiliation with the Kishu Ishido group. Further, Yasusada's use of family name Tonda that is identical with the name used by both Tameyasu and Yasuhiro of the Kishu Ishido group adds to the probability that Yasusada was an artisan who once belonged to the Kishu Ishido School.
There is no doubt that Yasusada migrated to the Edo area. The presence of some of his works dating from the Keian era and signed Bushu-ni-Oite Kore wo Tsukuru, together with the fact that some of his swords bear Yamano Kaemon-no-jo Nagahisa cutting attestation, an Edo area cutting tester, show that he moved to Edo by the first year of the Keian era (1648).
Many of Yasusada's blades bear cutting tests by such prominent testers as Yamano Kauemon-no-jou Nagahisa and his blades have been given the t itle of ryo-wazamono meaning "very good cutting ability".
Yasusada's blade characteristics, especially the long o-sujikai filed nakago with a markedly sloped ha-agari tip are quite similar to the works of Izumi (no) Kami Kaneshige. This has led scholars to the conclusion that Izumi (no) Kami Kaneshige was a principal teacher of Yasusada. Further, since Izumi-no-Kami Kaneshige is generally thought to have also been the teacher of Kotetsu, it is probable that Yasusada may have had an influence on the early works of Kotetsu. This is born out by the fact that his work has a good resemblance to the early work of Kotetsu. In fact many of his blades are mistaken for Kotetsu in kantei. One of the major differences between the two, however, is the fact that Kotetsu's blades usually have yakidashi and his hamon tends to widen around the yokote while Yasusada's does not.
SUGATA: Most of Yasusada's works are katana and wakizashi done in shinogi-zukuri form. His katana are made in typical Kanbun Shinto shape with little sori and with a marked narrowing from the hamachi to the boshi. They are often longer than one usually finds blades made in this era. Another important characteristic of Yasusada's sugata is the steep sloping angle of t he bevels of the iori-mune of his blades. This is an important kantei characteristic.
JITETSU: The grain of the steel is a fine ko-itame. There will be strong ji-nie sometimes appearing as ara-ji-nie. The shinogi-ji is masame further pointing to the fact that he was a smith from the Edo Shinto School.
HAMON:His typical hamon will be a ko-midare mixed with gunome. Occasionally a suguha example will be found. Many will also have togari-ba in places. His hamon will have markedly varied widths throughout its length. The valleys and peaks of some of the gunome will have a straight to square characteristic. There will be ara-nie mixed with nie is places and ashi will be present. There will also be sunagashi embellishing the hamon and the overall nioiguchi will be somewhat faint. The gunome will not be as regular as that of Kotetsu and Kotetsu's nioi-guchi will be much brighter. Another characteristic of Yasusadaâ€™s hamon is the marked narrowing of the midare just below the yokote.
BOSHI: Generally ko-maru. A long kaeri will often be found. He is also known to have made blades with a jizo shaped boshi.
NAKAGO:The filemarks on Yasusada's nakago are o-sujikai. It is interesting to note that as the file marks extend toward the nakago-jiri, they become more slanted. Also at the very top of the nakago where the file marks begin, there is usually a small triangular area left without file marks. The nakago jiri will be a very gentle ha-agari kurijiri. As noted, many of his swords will possess cutting tests
HORIMONO: Bo-hi (single grooves) are found. Other horimono sometimes found are ken-maki-ryu and bonji.
MEI: With a few exceptions, some of which have been noted above, he usually signed his swords with the go-ji mei. The character â"Sada", has a unique formation in that the fifth stroke often stops in an upward sweeping motion. It was formed in the usual manner only in a limited number of examples made late in his life.
YAMATO (no) KAMI YASUSADA
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