The Ishidô (石堂) school originated at the Sekido Temple in Ômi Province around the Kanei period (1624). From there the smiths went to various sections of the country to found branch Ishidô (石堂)schools. Some went to Kii Province and came to be known as the Kishû Ishidô (紀州石堂). Later Tameyasu (為康) led this group to Ôsaka. Other smiths went to Edo, the most famous of these being Ishidô Korekazu (石堂是一). Mitsuhira (光平) was one of the students of Ishidô Korekazu (石堂是一).
The Ishidô (石堂) school smiths were best known for their ability to make swords in the Bizen tradition of the Ichimonji school. They were well known for their hamon that was a robust choji midare which sometimes reached the shinogi. Their works often had fine utsuri and the best works are often mistaken for true Ichimonji works. One distinctive feature that differs from the Ichimonji school is that the hada in the shinogi ji is masame whereas in the Ichimonji school of the Koto period it would be itame. Another difference is that in Ichimonji swords the outstanding midare patterns would keep their exuberance into the bôshi while the bôshi of the Ishidô (石堂) school tend to be of a quieter and shallower midare pattern.
As noted above, the first generation Tameyasu (為廉), moved to Osaka and founded the Osaka Ishidô school. His son, the second generation Tameyasu (為廉), succeeded to the head of the school. He worked around the Kanbun era (ca 1661) and was awarded the title of Mutsu no Kami (陸奥守). He was the older brother of Bitchû no Kami Yasuhiro (備中守康廣). His given name was Hatakeda Rokurôzaemon (畠田六郎右衛門). He is rated as chûjôsaku smith and his works are rated as wazamono (very good cutting ability).
The example blade is signed Mutsu (no) Kami Tachibana Tameyasu (陸奥守橘為廉). This katana is by the second generation Tameyasu. It has a cutting edge of 29.625 inches or 75.2 cm. The moto-haba is 1.43 inches or 3.4 cm and the saki-haba is 0.8 inches or 2.2 cm. The kasane (thickness) of the blade is 0.8 inches or 0.32 cm. It has a torii-sori that is deep, measuring 0.85 inches or 2.2 cm.
This blade’s elegant sugata reminds us of the fine works of the Koto period. This blade by nidai Tameyasu shows the wide mihaba and extended kissaki of the Nanbokuchô era sugata of the 1300’s. The jigane is itame with a tinge of mokume. The hada in the shinogi-ji is masame and this is an important kantei point to remember about this school of sword making. There is midare utsuri.
The hamon starts with a typical Osaka yakidashi and leads into a robust and flamboyant hamon that is nioi deki. It is comprised of a combination of chôji mixed with jagged and peaked midare that almost reaches the shinogi-ji in areas. Definitely Bizen in style. The nioi-guchi is bright and clear and there are clouds of nie activities above the nioi-guchi. Many of the activities take place within the hamon.
The general outline of the work style of the Ishidô Kei and that of Nidai Tameyasu are as follows:
SUGATA: Tantô are rare, and shinogi-zukuri wakizashi and katana are most common. The elegant sugata reminds one of the fine works of the Koto period. The sori is shallow and the kasane tends to be thick. As for the kissaki, there are some that are stubby, but there are also some that are fairly extended. The kantei blade by Tameyasu shows the wide mihaba and extended kissaki of the Nanbokuchô era sugata.
JITETSU: The jigane tends to be itame with a fair tinge of mokume. Sometimes there will be areas of o-mokume. The hada in the shinogi-ji will always be masame and this is an important kantei point. Often there is midare utsuri. Sometimes, however, the utsuri will be weak or even non-existent in some cases. Overall, the jigane will be whiter than the works of the Koto period.
HAMON: Usually the hamon will be nioi deki ,but they are not pure nioi deki, having a hint of nie, and there are also some with clustered nie. The tone of the ha, however, will be in the Bizen style. The width of the hamon varies but it will be robust almost reaching the shinogi in some areas. Some of the smiths, such as Mitsuhira, will do a juka-choji throughout while others, such as Tameyasu, will combine some chôji with mixed with jagged and peaked midare. His works will start with a typical Osaka style yakidashi
The nioi-guchi will be bright and clear and there will be few nie activities above the nioi-guchi. Most of the activities will take place within the hamon.
BÔSHI: The bôshi will be midare komi and ko-maru. The turn back will be short. Overall the bôshi will lack the robustness of the Ichimonji bôshi of the Koto period.
NAKAGO: The nakago will be kaku mune, the saki is katayama or ha-agari kurijiri. The yasurimei will be yoko, katte-sagari or sujikai. There is no keshô yasuri.
MEI: There are both nagamei and nijimei. Generally speaking, the larger size ji(characters) are the most common. This is certainly true of the Nidai Tameyasu.