9.24.17 admin@nihonto


The province of Bungo (豊後) in Kyushu produced such excellent sword smiths as Yukihira (行平) in the Koto times.  Tomoyuki (友行) founded the Bungo Takada (豊後高田) school in the Nanbokucho period (南北朝時代).  Tomoyuki (友行) is considered to have been a superior sword smith.  With the passage of time it is generally felt that the quality and style declined and by the Muromachi (室町時代) period all of the works were pretty much the same.  Members of this school are also known as Fujiwara Takada (藤原高田) because they used Fujiwara (藤原) as a family name in their signatures.

There are different schools of thought on the quality of Bungo (豊後) swords made in the Shinto period.  An immediate response from many “sword experts” when Bungo(豊後) swords are mentioned is that they are not swords of great quality.  Others feel that they are good swords.  Perhaps a foundation of this opinion difference is that if you look at the structure of Bungo Takada (豊後高田) swords, you will see that they were made to satisfy practical rather than artistic needs.  Indeed, at times of war they were sought out because of their cutting ability and sturdiness.

Members of this school worked in a variety of traditions, from the Gokaden to the Shinto tokuden, but, as stated, their blades satisfied practical rather than artistic needs.

General Characteristics:

SUGATA             The sori is shallow, the kasane is thick, and the bôshi is a relatively small chu-kissaki. They also tend to taper towards the kissakiKatana and wakizashi are abundant and tanto are few.

JITETSU             They usually have a very tight and coarse mokume hada.

 HAMON             Suguha, ko-midare, gunome-midare, and o-notare are the most common.  Generally the structure is nioi deki with nie seen sparingly.  Occasionally, there  are some that have a little hitatsura.   On occasion  when they are nie deki, the habuchi is tight and they have clustered nie.  One even finds gunome -midare  mixed with stiff and awkward midare (togari-ba)  resembling the san-bon-sugi of the Mino (美濃) tradition.  To further confuse things they can also be found in chu-suguba in which the habuchi has fine nie, a quiet nioi, and ko-ashi resembling works by Hizen Tadayoshi (肥前忠吉).

BÔSHI                Maru with a kaeri is the most common, but occasionally there is one with a hint of hakikake, and there are some that are nie kuzure (abundant nie  forming an indistinct bôshi).

HORIMONO       Rarely seen and when it does exist, it is usually not of the best quality.

NAKAGO           They tend to be narrow and long.  They are kaku mune (square back edge).  The jiri (tip) tends to be  ha-agari with a tendency toward kengyo. The yasurime (file marks) are usually katte sagari (slanting slightly down from left to right), but can be yoko (straight across).

MEI                    Shinto Bungo (新刀豊後) works typically use the family name, Fujiwara (藤原), in the signature.  Additionally one of the most common characters used in the smith’s name is Yuki (行) (i.e. Yukinaga (行長), Yukihira (行平), Tadayuki (忠行), etc.).