This chapter is a detailed chapter of 11|Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先). Please read Chapter 11 before reading this section.
The red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.
The middle Kamakura period was the golden age of 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, samurais began to prefer grand-looking swords. Those were Ikubi-kissaki swords. It is said that there were no mediocre swords among the Ikubi -kissaki swords. In this chapter, we discuss the swordsmiths who were 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 swords are the most sought-after swords among sword collectors. He was the founder of the Osafune group, followed by his son Nagamitsu (長光), then grandson Kagemitsu (景光), and the rest of descendants.
- Sugata (shape) ———— Grand look with Ikubi-kissaki. The body is relatively thick with Hamaguri-ha (refer to 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 (the Hamon width) is a 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, and Kinsuji (refer to the drawing in 14| Late Kamakura Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀) .
- Boshi ————————— Yakizume. Yakizume with a short turn back.
- Ji-hada ————————- Fine and soft look surface. Chikei appears.
Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Bunkazai) Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Bunkazai)
Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Token) Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Bunkazai) Previous Endo property
I displayed the above four photos several times on other pages. Those were Mitsutada swords that my father used to own. My father did the calligraphy and took these pictures for himself. He was very proud that he had collected four Mitsutada swords, and he had the name, “Mitsutada,” monogrammed on the pocket inside his suit jacket. It is said that Oda Nobunaga (織田信長), with his wealth and political power, collected 28 Mitsutada swords.
I know those photos are not so good. To avoid any possible infringement on copyrights or intellectual property rights, photos are limited to my father’s photographs (not so wonderful, though), Sano Museum Catalog photos (permission granted), some public domain photos from Wikipedia, and a few sources. Please bear with me that I don’t have good pictures.
Bizen Osafune Nagamitsu (備前長船長光)
Nagamitsu is Mitsutada’s son.
- Sugata ——————– Shape is similar to the early Kamakura period style, which is with Funbari and is 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 (tadpole head like) Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted) Kawazuko Choji on the sword above is very clear that it is almost a textbook-like example. But usually, they are not as apparent as this.
- Boshi —————————— Yakizume or turn back a little.
- Ji-hada ——————— Fine wood grain pattern. Well known for Utsuri (shadow). Choji Utsuri (Shadow of Choji) or Botan Utsuri ( resembles flower peony). Choji Utsuri shows in the above picture.
The next poster is for an exhibit of swords at the Museum of Tetsu (iron) in Sakaki, Nagano, in 2003. The center objects in the poster are Nagamitsu’s sword, and its Koshirae (scabbard). It was our family sword then. Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉), a great daimyo in the Sengoku period, awarded this sword to his famous war strategist, Takenaka Hannbei (竹中半兵衛).