11.15.21 admin@nihonto

Ichijô was born in Kyôto on the third day of the third month of the third year of Kansei (March 3, 1791).  He was the second son of Gotô Jûyô (後藤重乗)who was the fourth generation head of the Shichirôemon family, Kyôto’s Gotô branch family.  He was called Eijirô (栄次郎) in his childhood and he became an adopted son of Hachirôbei Kenjô (謙乗) at the age of nine in 1799.  When Kenjô died of illness in Bunka 2 (1805), he became the head of the family at the age of fifteen.  At that time he changed his name to Hachirôbei Mitsutaka (光貨).  In Bunka 8 (1811), at the age of twenty-one he changed his name to Mitsuyuki (光行). At the age of thirty in Bunsei 3 (1820), he changed his name again to Mitsuyo (光代).

In Bunsei 7 (1824), he made Kodogu to decorate the koshirae of a Masamune sword belonging to Emperor Kôkaku.  For this service he was given the rank of Hôkyô on the nineteenth day of December in the same year (1824).  At that time, he was thirty-four years of age.  At the age of seventy-three in the third year of Bunkyû, he produced a tachi- mounting for the Emperor Kômei and was promoted to the rank of Hôgen.

In the interim between making these two Imperial commissioned pieces, he was commissioned by the Tokugawa Shôgunate in 1851 at the age of sixty-one, moving to Edo to work there under Shôgunate employment.  He died in Meiji 9 at the age of eighty-six and was buried at Jôtokuji Temple in Kyôto together with all the great Gotô artists.

Ichijô was the last and one of greatest masters of the Gotô school.  When he first took up the metal arts, he followed the Gotô’s traditional style called iebori, and mainly produced the so-called mitokoromono consisting of three parts of sword fittings, namely menuki, kogai, and kozuka.  His favorite designs were of dragon and shishi.  Later, he dropped the iebori style of workmanship and turned to the style based on a realistic depiction of nature. His motifs were quite diversified and included natural objects such as grasses, flowers, insects, birds, and landscapes.  He depicted them in a highly elaborate and precise manner.  He enhanced his abilities by devoutly studying painting, drawing, and even poetry under some of the greatest masters of his time.

He worked in all mediums including gold, shakudô, shibuichi, suaka, and even iron.  He did extremely thorough work on his pieces.  He did everything himself from the basics, through nanako, and all the way to the finished piece.  The techniques he used were varied combinations of takabori (high relief), usu-nikubori (low-relief), iroe (use of various colored metals), zôgan (inlay), kata-kiribori (line carving with a cross sections having upright and slanting cuts), and kebori (hair-line carving).  He was especially successful in the kin-sunago-zôgan (tiny granular gold inlay) and kirigane-zôgan (thin foil inlay) by which he created decorative effects similar to lacquer work.

When he reached his last years around Ansei and Man-en eras, he took up the use of iron which was an unconventional material for the Gotô school  When he used iron, he usually signed with his alias Totsuô sanjin (凸凹山人) or Hôkyô (法橋).

Ichijô trained many great artists including Wada Isshin (和田一真), Araki Tomei (荒木東明), Nakagawa Isshô (中川一匠), Hashimoto Isshi (橋本一至), and Funada Ikkin (船田一琴).  Thus, he left a true legacy that is unequaled in Japanese metal working history.

The set of Juyo Tôsôgu presented here is an extraordinarily fine example of his work.  It represents the five famous festivals and is done in shibuichi and gold.  The following is a translation of the Jûyô Tôsôgu zufu that was issued in 1984:

Jūyō No 7816


Gosekku no zu soroi-kanagu (五節句図揃金具) – the suite fittings depicting the Five Festivals.

Tsuba:  mei: “Jinen nanajūgo Gotō Ichijō + kaō” (時年七十五・後藤一乗, “Gotō Ichijō, aged 75”).   Ura: “Gotō Hōgen saku” (後藤法眼作).

Fuchigashira:    mei: “Gotō Hōgen Ichijō + kaō” (後藤法眼一乗).

Menuki: split tanzaku-mei: “Gotō– Ichijō saku” (後藤・一乗作).

Kozuka:     mei: “Jinen nanajūyon saku – Hōgen Ichijō + kaō” (時年七十四・法眼一乗, “Hōgen Ichijō, aged 74”).​

Tsuba: height 7.4 cm, width 6.7 cm.

Fuchi:length 3.8 cm, width 2.0 cm.

Kashira:length 3.4 cm, width 1.7 cm.

Kozuka:length 9.75 cm, width 1.4 cm.

Tsuba in sumiiri-mokkō-gata, of oborogin, in takabori-iroe, and with a kozuka-hitsu-ana fuchi gashira of oborogin and in takabori-iroe; menuki of pure gold and in katachibori kozuka of oborogin, in takabori-iroe, and with the opening and the butt end in gold.

Late Edo Period

According to the result of the shinsa committee of our society we judged this work as authentic and rate it as jūyō-tōsōgu.

October 18th, 1984

[Juridical Foundation] Nihon Bijutsu Tōken Hozon Kyōkai, NBTHK

[President] Fujikawa Kinji (富士川金二)

Designated as jūyō-tōsōgu at the 31st jūyō-shinsa held on October 18th 1984.

Gosekku no zu soroi-kanagu (五節句図揃金具) – the suite fittings depicting the Five Festivals.

​Tsuba mei:“Jinen nanajûgo Gotō Ichijō + kaō” (時年七十五・後 藤一乗, “Gotō Ichijō, aged 75”).  Ura: “Gotō Hōgen saku” (後藤法眼作).

Fuchigashira, mei: “Gotō Hōgen Ichijō + kaō” (後藤法眼一乗).

Menuki, split tanzaku-mei: “Gotō – Ichijō saku” (後藤・一乗作).

Kozuka, mei: “Jinen nanajūyon saku – Hōgen Ichijō + kaō” (時年 七十四・法眼一乗, “Hōgen Ichijō, aged 74”).

Gunma Prefecture, Ōkawa Hiromichi (大川博通)


Tsuba: height7.4 cm, width 6.7 cm, thickness at the rim 0.3 cm;

Fuchi: length 3.8 cm, width 2.0 cm, height 1.0 cm;

Kashira: length 3.4 cm, width 1.7 cm, height 0.5 cm;

Kozuka: length 9.75 cm, width 1.4 cm.

Material and interpretation: tsuba in sumiiri-mokkō-gata, of oborogin, in takabori-iroe, and with a kozuka-hitsu-ana; fuchigashira of oborogin and in takabori-iroe; menuki of pure gold and in katachibori; kozuka of oborogin, in takabori-iroe, and with the opening and the butt end in gold.

​Time of production: late Edo period​


Ichijō was born in Kansei three (1791) as son of Jūjō (重乗), the 4th generation of the Gotō Shichirṓemon (七郎右衛門) line in Kyōto. In Bunsei seven (1824), aged 34, he received the rank of hokkyō and in Bunkyū three (1863) he was promoted to the rank of hōgen. He was the last great master of the renowned Gotō family and worked initially in the iebori style of his family but changed later to more realistic interpretations. He depicted everything from birds and flowers to sceneries, used various different raw materials, and always displayed a fine and delicate workmanship.

The traditional Five Festivals, the subject of this set of fittings, started in the first month with the White Horse seasonal court banquet (aouma no sechi-e, 白馬節), followed in the third month by the Doll’s Day (hina no sekku, 雛の節句), in the fifth month by the Water Lily or Boy’s Day (ayame no sekku, 菖蒲の節句 or respectively tango no sekku, 端午の節句), in the seventh month by the Star Festival (tanabata, 七夕), and was concluded in the ninth month by the Chrysanthemum Day (kiku no sekku, 菊の節句or also referred to as chōyōno en, 重陽の宴). Except for the menuki, Ichijō worked all the individual traditional festivals out of oborogin. The takabori carvings are delicate and he made much use of iroe, all of course in an elaborate manner, and so this set shows very well the characteristic features of Ichijō. The set is also depicted in volume 1 of the book Tagane no Hana.





As noted in the Jûyô description, , this set is published in volume #1 of Tagane no Hana, an important work on fittings written by Mitsumura Toshimo (光村利藻, 1877-1955), also known as Ryūshidō (龍獅堂). Ryūshidō (龍獅堂) was a major sword and sword fittings collector of the Meiji, Taisho, and early Showa eras.  This set of fittings was among his personal collection.  You will note that this set comes with a custom made wooden box.  The inscription on the inside of the lid of the box was written by Ryūshidō (龍獅堂).

In order to prevent the sword and sword fittings related crafts from becoming extinct with the changes of the Meiji Restoration, Ryūshidō not only collected but commissioned contemporary artists to make examples new koshirae and the like. He was born and grew up in Ōsaka. He was born on November 4th 1877 as oldest son of Mitsumura Yahei (光村弥兵衛), a wealthy industrialist from Yamaguchi Prefecture involved in railway and shipping industries in the Kansai area. He was very interested in photography and founded in 1901 the “Kansai Photo Plate Making Company”, a printing company based in Kōbe. In 1918, Mitsumura moved his entire base of operations to Tōkyō and in 1928 he changed the name of his company to the “Mitsumura Printing Company”.  He retired six years later. His work focused on art printing and his so-called “Mitsumura tricolor printing” was widely recognized and admired. Mitsumura passed away on February 21st 1955, aged 77.