This is an excellent katana by the second generation (Nidai) Dewa Daijô Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路) of the Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広) school. This smith worked around the Manji era (万治) of the Edo period (1658-1661). He studied with his father, the shodai (first generation) who was, in turn, a student of Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広) one of the founders of the Shintô sword period. He closely follows the tradition of his father the shodai Kunimichi (国路). The full signature on this sword reads Dewa Daijô Fujiwara Kunimichi (出羽大掾藤原国路). There is no date but the NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon papers specify the working period of the smith as the Manji (万治) period so thus we can attribute this work to the second generation.
This sword has a cutting edge (nagasa) of 69.4 cm or 27.3 inches. It has a shallow sori that is 1.27 cm or 0.50 inches. This was a popular sugata for this time period. The width at the hamachi (moto-haba) is 2.93 cm or about 1.15 inches and the saki haba (width at the kissaki) is 2.14 cm or 0.84 inches. The thickness of the blade (kasane) is 0.6 cm or 0.23 inches. The nakago is ubu (unshortened) with two mekugi ana.
This is a graceful katana with a slightly stretched kissaki (point). The jigane (grain of the metal) is itame mixed with some o-itame that is attractive and there is ji-nie together with chikei. The hamon begins at the hamachi in a gently rising nie-deki suguha pattern, not unlike found on the Osaka Shinto swords, that develops into a robust gunome-midare with sunagashi and long areas of kinsuji throughout. The bôshi is a sansaku style boshi.
The works like this of the second generation are very close to those of his father, the first generation, with only very slight variations in some of the characters of the signature. Though this sword is not dated, the NBTHK has acknowledged it to be by the second generation and they have awarded it Tokubetsu Hozon papers. This sword is in excellent polish with no flaws or problems of any kind.
This sword comes with a nice set of koshirae from the late Edo period of the 19th century. The saya is a brownish-black lacquer. The tsuba is of iron and looks to be of the Shingen school, or at least influenced by that school as evidenced by the area of iron rings that have been partially plated with gold and have the appearance of being woven into the iron plate. It also has some brass inlay much in the Heianjo school style. Overall a very interesting tsuba. The fuchi and kashira are shakudo with monkeys climbing among bamboo branches. The menuki are of copper and gold, with a design of fruit that appears to be kaki (persimmons). The koshirae is in excellent condition.
The blade is in excellent polish with no problems or flaws. It has a gold wrapped habaki and is in a shirasaya. The sword comes with NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon papers attesting to the validity of the signature and the quality of the blade’s workmanship and condition.