I have found an interesting sword made by "3rd Naohiro". The
inscription on the tang says that this is made of old iron from the "Kawagoe
castle". The steel has very visible layer pattern, hamon is made of
large particles including much kinsuji around it. The blade looks like
a Shoshu style, and different from his usual work. His usual work is more
compact steel, and hamon also is made of small particles (ko-nie) or smallest
particles (nioi), that looks like a Bizen style. Probably the difference
is caused from the material.
The owner explained that he got some big nails from Kawagoe castle restoration around 1970. Then he brought the steel to the smith and ordered this sword. 3rd Naohiro told him that he mixed the Kawagoe sleel within the blade steel.
November 1st 2013
I introduce a sword that I saw at the Kasuga-taisha shrine in Nara.
It is originally unsigned. It is unbelievably healthy blade from 12th century. It has been kept in the shrine as untouchable treasures since it was dedicated in 12th century, and recently it is re-polished. The blade has full meat on bevel. The steel is bright and clear. The hamon particles are very bright and dense, making komidare and choji patterns in straight outline. It is amazing that the hardened area is full of particles. It looks hard and dense, and including full of cutting power. The hamon in kissaki is very wide almost full of kissaki area. The appearances of this blade is quite different to other blades in that age what we often see at museum and sword clubs. Most of those blades are very worn.
The person who study old blades in 12th century, like Kobizen, should come to the shrine and study this blade to see how the blade is robust when it was made.
(=> Kasuga-taisha shrine)
Unfortunately, the polishing is the modern style, and its cheap hadori work breaks the elegance of the blade.
(for information => Why originally no signature on good quality blade?)
October 24th 2012
I went to the exhibition "MEIBUTSU-Treasured Japanese Swords-" at the Sano Museum. There were many good swords in the window. Especially, I was very impressed with three Ko-bizen blades displayed side by side. Those were two Naritaka and one Tomonari.
Ko-Bizen is not a name of one individual school. Its literally meaning is "old Bizen". Before the early 13th century, there were not appearing the particular schools like Ichinonji or Osafune. So we classify such old Bizen blades with the word "Ko-Bizen". Probably there were several small schools in that age. Therefore, Ko-Bizen blades includes various characters.
The three Ko-Bizen blades in the exhibition were all masterpieces, and interesting to study each of them.
3 Tomonari of Itsukushima shrine
The first Naritaka had a small kissaki and its hamon was ko-midare and ko-choji including many complex appearance.
The next Naritaka was very healthy. Its kissaki was not so small as the first Naritaka. The shape was very powerful. The hamon was suguha outline and many choji-ashi. The hamon particles were dense konie.
The Tomonari was very famous as "Tomonari of Itsukushima shrine". It was also very healthy. The shape was powerful and the hamon was suguha outline with many choji ashi made of dense konie. It looked almost just made out, except for the kissaki shape that seemed a little worn. Its character was very different to other Tomonari like Uguisumaru or Tomonari of baronYamamoto.
When I studied those three blades in the window, I thought that the characters we have learned as Ko-bizen blades were characters of worn out Ko-Bizen blades. The healthy Ko-Bizen blades were very powerful in its shape and steady in its hamon.
I believe that the Ko-Bizen blades were made as simple weapon, and never have tricky appearances. That is the reason why they are so beautiful.
The blade has no signature by shortening, and is attributed
to the "Awataguchi" school.
But the attribution does not matter because the blade is very good. It doesn't have any title or papers.
The shape of it means 13th century.
Regarding the steel, a little large layer pattern is covered with full of jinie, and utsuri appears with quite clear jifu.
The hamon is made of bright nie, and it makes a mild lined kochoji and komidare pattern.
The blade brings a natural and powerful feeling.
Every aesthetic blade have to be ashamed of itself in front of this blade.
I have understood that "Good blade is an instrument to build your personality up".
We can voyage into the infinite world that has only 3cm height from earth to heaven.
This blade is a good example of the words by General Yamaoka who was a leader of the Japanese sword culture before WW2.
"Beauty comes on naturally without wanting it, skilfulness comes on automatically without designing it."