This chapter is a detailed chapter of 11|Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先). Please read Chapter 11 before reading this section.
The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.
The Middle Kamakura period was the golden age of the sword making. We cannot deny it was because Gotoba-Joko (refer to 10| Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221 and 43|Part 2 of –10 Jyokyu-no-Ran (承久の乱1221) honored the skilled swordsmiths highly. After the Jokyu-no-ran, samurai started to prefer the grand look swords. Those are Ikubi-kissaki sword. It is said that there is no mediocre sword among the Ikubi-kissaki sword. In this chapter, we discuss the swordsmiths who are famous for Ikubi Kissaki.
Bizen Osafune Mitsutada (備前長船光忠)
Bizen Osafune Mitsutada is one of the most famous swordsmiths for Ikubi-kissaki. His sword is the most thought after sword among sword collectors. He was the founder of the Osafune group, followed by his son Nagamitsu (長光), then grand-son Kagemitsu (景光), and the rest of descendants.
Sugata (shape) — Grand look with Ikubi Kissaki. The body is rather thick with Hamaguri-ha (refer 11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先). Often suriage.
Hi (engraving) — Often Bo–hi (wide groove). The end of Bo-hi above machi often shows kakudome (square end).
Hamon (Tempered line) —- Yakihaba (Hamon width) is the mixture of wide and narrow hamon. Nioi base. Large choji, Kawazuko-choji (tadpole head shape, refer to the illustration below second from the last), Inazuma, Kinsuji (refer to the drawing in 14| Late Kamakura Period Sword
Boshi —- Yakizume. Yakizume with a short turn back.
Ji-hada —– Fine, and soft look surface. Chikei appears.
Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Bunkazai) Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Bunkazai)
Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Token) Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Bunkazai)
I displayed the above four photos several times on different pages of this website. Those were Mitsutada swords, once my father’s sword. My father did the calligraphy and took these pictures for himself. He was very proud he collected four Mitsutada and he monogrammed the name Mitsutada inside his suit jacket. It is said that Oda Nobunaga (織田信長) with his wealth and political power, he collected 28 Mitsutada. I realize those photos are not so good pictures. To avoid causing any infringement of the copyright and intellectual property rights, I only used father’s photos (not so wonderful, though), Sano Museum Catalog photos ( permission granted), and some public domain photos from Wikipedia. Please bear with me that I don’t have good photos.
Bizen Osafune Nagamitsu (備前長船長光)
Nagamitsu is Mitsutada’s son.
Sugata —– Shape is similar to the one of the early Kamakura period style. That is with Funbari and narrow at the top. This is called Nagamitsu Sugata.
Hamon —– Wide tempered line. Nioi base. O-Choji Midare (large clove shape) mixed with Kawazuko Choji (see below). Many Ashi appears. Also, he does Suguha-Choji (straight with choji mixed). Works of Inazuma and Kinsuji shows.
Kawazuko Choji on the above sword is very clear, and almost textbook like example. But often, they are not as clear as this one.
Boshi —– Yakizume or turn back a little.
Ji-hada —– Fine wood grain. Well known for Utsuri (shadow). Choji Utsuri (Shadow of Choji) or Botan Utsuri ( resembles flower peony). Choji Utsuri shows in the above picture.
Below is the poster of the Museum of Tetsu (iron) in Sakaki in Nagano prefecture in the year of 2003. The photo of the poster is Nagamitsu’s sword and Koshirae (scabbard). It was my family sword then. Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉) of the Sengoku period awarded this sword to Takenaka Hannbei (竹中半兵衛: Hideyoshi’s strategist).