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EXHIBITION GALLERY

THESE ARE EXHIBITION ITEMS OF GREAT IMPORTANCE AND ARE NOT FOR SALE.
 

Muramasa, Toshitsugu, Toshihiro

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Signature : Muramasa, Toshitsugu, Toshihiro,

Length : 2 Saku, 3 Bun, 1 Bu, 5 Rin.

Sori: 6 Bu, 5 Rin.

The construction is shinogi-zukuri with iori-mune. The blade is wide and the kissaki is large. The kitae is itame mixed with flowing mokume and the hada has a prominent feeling. The hamon is shallow and large notate mixed with gunome that is covered in ko-nie. There are ashi and the nioiguchi is tight. The hamon is uniform on both sides. The boshi is notare- komi with a ko-maru and kaeri. The nakago is ubu, and the yasuri are kiri. The nakago-jiri is kuru-jiri that cuts upward toward the ha. If one sees the nakago, they are reminded of the first generation ; however, it also looks as if it was shortened at some time later. Because of the period of the smith who helped make this blade, Toshitsugu we can conclude that this is second generation Muramasa. Toshitsugu is an Odawara Soshu (Kyoroku,1528-1532) smith. Toshihiro is an unlisted smith, but perhaps is Toshitsugu’s younger brother or a member of his family. The workmanship is very good and the blade is extremely rare.

The Curse of Muramasa

What is well known in the sword world is that blades by Muramasa (村正) were considered to be cursed or unlucky by the Tokugawa family. In this chapter I would like to shed a little more light on the circumstances and introduce the various cases which were the basis for this superstition.

It all started with Tokugawa Ieyasu´s grandfather, Matsudaira Kiyoyasu (松平清康, 1511-1536), the 7th generation of the Mikawa-Matsudaira line (三河松平) and lord of Okazaki Castle (岡崎城). The arch rivals of the Matsudaira were the Oda (織田) of neighbouring Owari province and so, in Tenbun four (天文, 1535), Kiyoyasu decided to attack Moriyama Castle (守山城)*1 which was held by Oda Nobumitsu (織田信光, 1516-1556). When the Matsudaira army of about 10.000 men set off, a rumour started to circulate that Abe Sadayoshi (阿部定吉, 1505-1549) – a retainer of the Matsudaira – was secretly communicating with the enemy. Kiyoyasu did not listen to these rumours but Sadayoshi tried to prove his loyalty and called for his son Yashichirō Masatoyo (弥七郎正豊, ?-1535). It was also assumed that Sadayoshi feared that Kiyoyasu had already sent a squad to execute him and so he gave his son the order: “As a sign of my loyalty it would be best if you kill me to dispose of this matter once and for all!” Masatoyo was not able to get a wink of sleep after receiving even the written order from his father. When morning finally broke he heard neighing horses and thought the bailiffs were faster than him and that the execution was already in progress. He jumped out of his bed, grabbed his sword lying next to his cushion and started running so that he was even able to somehow fulfil his father’s wishes and to protect the honour of the family.

On his way to Sadayoshi´s room he came across Kiyoyasu and drew his sword as in trance: “If you had trusted my father, then he would have stayed alive!” Instantly he delivered a blow towards Kiyoyasu and the latter yelled: “Masatoyo, have you turned completely mad?!” The strike severed his earlobe. When Kiyoyasu turned around to escape the situation he was fatally hit by Masatoyo´s second blow. With a smooth and clean cut his blade entered Kiyoyasu´s right shoulder and left the body at the left hip.*2Upon this Masatoyo was killed by Kiyoyasu´s companion Uemura Ujiaki (植村氏明, 1520-1552).

In the course of the investigations on this case it was found out that Masatoyo’s blade was a work of Muramasa. It was an oversized ō-katana with a nagasa of 81.8 cm. This incident is one of the earliest known written accounts which mentions the supreme sharpness of Muramasa´s blades. Extant works from the 1st generation Muramasa date from about the Bunmei (文明, 1469-1487) to the Eishō era (永正, 1504-1521). His year of birth and death is unknown but the 1535 incident took place either shortly after his death or even during his lifetime.*3 Well, the misfortunes of the Matsudaira family connected to Muramasa blades continued with Kiyoyasu´s son Hirotada (松平広忠, 1526-1549). On a balmy spring night he was woken up by the vibrations of the steps in the hall that he felt on his cushion. He opened his eyes and was able to catch a glimpse of a shadow. Immediately he grabbed his sword and shouted: “Scoundrel, stop!” When he heard more steps and tried to run in that direction he noticed that he had no more control of his legs. He looked down and recognized in fear that his clothes were blood-soaked.

Hirotada was able to follow the figure into the garden. At that time, the aforementioned Uemura Ujiaki was on guard duty on the veranda. “Stop that man!,” was Hirotada´s order. After a moment of shock realising that his lord was in danger he drew his sword and chased after the man and killed him. The dead body was examined and they saw that he had only one eye, which was actually a good starting point for further investigations. It turned out that the man was a certain Iwamatsu Hachiya (岩松八弥) and that he was obviously completely drunk that evening. These were so to speak mitigating circumstances but some of Hirotada´s retainers said that he was an assassin sent by the enemy and that the intoxication was part of the plan to obscure the backgrounds. But the high level of alcohol had probably saved Hirotada´s life. However, Iwamatsu was a retainer of the Matsudaira who had lost an eye in battle and who was known for his ferocity. He also had a remarkable list of taken heads. When they removed the handle from his sword – it was a wakizashi – the signature „Muramasa“ was revealed. The misfortunes with the Muramasa blades also passed on to Tadahiro´s son Tokugawa Ieyasu. After his father’s death, the seven years old Ieyasu – his name then was Matsudaira Takechiyo (松平竹千代) – was sent as a hostage*4 to the Imagawa family (今川), who were military governors of Suruga province and the arch rivals of the Matsudaira in terms of supremacy in that area. One day, using the kozuka of his katana, he injured himself. The cut was not that deep but unnaturally painful. He cleaned the blood from the blade and could not believe his eyes: It was signed “Muramasa.” So his grandfather was killed by a Muramasa sword, his father almost, and now it was his turn. Ieyasu strongly believed that this was no coincidence and this became firmly fixed in his mind.

Years later Ieyasu married Tsukiyama-dono (築山殿, 1542-1579) to strengthen the bond between the Matsudaira and the Iwamoto. Tsukiyama-dono was the daughter of the Iwagawa-retainer Sekiguchi Chikanaga (関口親永, 1518-1562) and the younger sister of Imagawa Yoshimoto (今川義元, 1519-1560). But when Ieyasu engaged in an alliance with the Imagawa’s arch rivals, the Oda, the family of his wife was not particularly happy. By the way, Ieyasu needed the Oda to fight against the Takeda (武田). In the chaos of the war back then, Oda Nobunaga raised the suspicion that Tsukiyama-dono and her first son with Ieyasu, Matsudaira Nobuyasu (松平信康, 1559-1579), were in cat hoods with the Takeda. As a “logical” consequence and in order not to endanger the alliance with Nobunaga, Ieyasu ordered the execution of Tsukiyama-dono and the ritual suicide (seppuku, 切腹) of his son Nobuyasu. Tsukiyama-dono was executed by Ieyasu´s retainer Nakano Shigemasa (野中重政)*5 on the 29th day of the eighth month of Tenshō seven. The time for Nobuyasu came somewhat later, on the 15th day of the ninth month of that year. His second (kaishaku, 介錯) was his close friend Hanzō Moritsuna (服部半蔵守綱), but when he raised his sword he burst into tears. So the Imagawa-samurai Amagata Michioki (天方通興), who was actually the official witness of the ceremony, stood in. In this function, he was only armed with a wakizashi at that moment and, have a guess, the blade was a Muramasa! This strengthened Ieyasu’s paranoia: His grandfather, his father, himself and his son were either killed or injured by Muramasa blades. So he called for his chamberlain and, according to tradition, ordered that works of this smith should disappear from the face of earth once and for all.

After Sekigahara, the victorious side of the Tokugawa made a full investigation of the battle in order to carry out the correct rewards and punishments. In one of these investigations, the deeds of Oda Nagataka (織田長孝, ?-1606) were assessed. Nagataka was the son of Nobunaga´s brother, the famous tea master Oda Urakusai Nagamasu (織田有楽斎 長益, 1548-1622). In a battle Nagataka had killed the enemy commander Toda Shigemasa (戸田重政), namely in close combat by entirely piercing his helmet with a yari. The yariremained completely intact and was shown upon request to Ieyasu. “A truly masterly spear,” he said, but he dropped it and cut his hand. “Ha! Must be a Muramasa,” Ieyasu said jokingly and the present Urakusai replied with a serious face: “Yes, it is indeed a work of Muramasa.” “You know that blades by that smith are unlucky for the Tokugawa, don’t you!” “If so, I will never ever wear a sword from Muramasa again,” promised Urakusai, broke the shaft of the spear into two halves and threw it aside. Incidentally, another tradition says that Nagataka cut through the shaft of the yari with his wakizashi. But the misfortunes with Muramasa blades continued even after Ieyasu´s death. Tokugawa Tadanaga (徳川忠長, 1606-1633) for example, the younger brother of the third Tokugawa-shōgun Iemitsu (徳川家光, 1604-1651), committed suicide with a Muramasa-tantō. But not out of mysterious or unexplainable reasons. Already in the eighth year of Kan´ei (寛永, 1631) he was placed under house arrest because of improper behaviour – he had killed a (according to other traditions several) vassal(s). One year later he spread unfounded rumours concerning the then punishment of Katō Tadahiro (加藤忠広, 1601-1651) by the bakufu. For this, all his land was confiscated and the Tokugawa government suggested that he should commit seppuku. On the evening of the sixth day of the twelfth month of Kan´ei ten (1633) he ordered his page to bring sake and prepare dinner. When the latter returned to the chamber of his lord he saw him sitting completely dressed in white and leaning forward a bit. But when he took a closer look he saw that the white of his dress was mixed with red. He came closer and realised that Tadanaga was dead and that his Muramasa-tantō was stuck halfway in his throat. As indicated before, Ieyasu placed a quasi “Muramasa ban” but it seems that this was not so strictly monitored by the bakufu. Even in the list of Ieyasu´s estate*6 we find a Muramasa blade and in the sword chronicles of the Mito-Tokugawa family we find two katana and three yari by this smith. Another example. The Kyōto sword polisher Imamura Yukimasa (今村幸政) kept record of all the blades he had inspected and polished. In this Rekikan Kenshi (暦観剣志) protocol we find, for the Bunka era (文化, 1804-1818) alone, ten Muramasa blades given to him for a new polish. That means it was actually not that strictly forbidden to own or carry around Muramasa blades. But we can safely assume that they did not like to see an ally or a close retainer wearing a Muramasa sword because things might turn against them because of their “harmful power.” It is also known that the Tokugawa did not accept a Muramasa as an appropriate sword present.

FAMOUS KATANA BY SEKINO MAGOROKU KANEMOTO

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“Kanjo” Kanemoto ( Sekino Magoroku Kanemoto).This is a very famous Sword with outstanding Higo uchigatana Koshirae and History. The Katana was owned by Tani Tateki 1837-1911, and is a well published Sword . It has Juyo Token certificate from the NBTHK, 17th Juyo Shinsa held July 4th, 5th and 6th 1968 ( Showa 43 )

Link to the history of Tani Tateki
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tani_Tateki

Jūyō-tōken at the 17th jūyō shinsa held on July 4, 5, and 6, 1968

katana, mei: Kanemoto (兼元)
(with red-lacquer Higo uchigatana-koshirae)

Kanagawa Prefecture, Sugiyama Shigehiro (杉山重広)

Measurements

nagasa 63.0 cm, sori 1.7 cm, motohaba 3.0 cm, sakihaba 2.8 cm, kissaki-nagasa 13.0cm, nakago-nagasa 15.9 cm, only very little nakago-sori

Description

Keijo: shinogi-zukuri, iori-mune, thin kasane, sakizori, emphasized ō-kissaki, overall a sharp looking katana-sugata
Kitae: rather standing-out itame that is mixed with nagare and that features a shirake-utsuri
Hamon: togari-gunome-chō in nie-deki with a somewhat subdued noiguchi that tends towards sanbonsugi and that is mixed with a few sunagashi
Bōshi: midare-komi with a pointed kaeri and hakikake
Nakago: suriage, kirijiri, takanoha-yasurime, two mekugi-ana, a niji-mei is preserved a the tip of the tang

Explanation

Kanemoto lived in Akasaka (赤坂) in Mino province. There were several generations of Kanemoto and also smiths from other local lineages used that name. The main line Kanemoto used “Magoroku” (孫六) as trade name and thus the name “Magoroku Kanemoto” became very famous. The first generation was active around Meiō (明応, 1492-1501) and Eishō (永正, 1504-1521) and the second generation, who was the most skilled and praised master of that lineage, from around Daiei (大永, 1521-1528) onwards. The second generation also started to harden a connected togari-gunome which later came to be known as sanbonsugi.
This katana is a representative work by the second generation Kanemoto and bears a very typical signature of the master. The blade was once cherished by statesman and lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army, Tani Tateki (谷干城, 1837-1911).

 

Signature of Sekino Magoroku Kanemoto

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A MASTERPIECE PUBLISHED TSUBA by OMORI TERUHIDE, ( Botan No Zu Tsuba )

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A MASTERPIECE PUBLISHED TSUBA by OMORI TERUHIDE, ( Botan No Zu Tsuba )
This Tsuba displays outstanding exquisite mastery.

botan no zu tsuba (牡丹の図鐔) – Tsuba with peony motif

By Ōmori Teruhide (大森英秀)

Edo period

Signed: Ōmori Teruhide + kaō (大森英秀「花押」)

marugata, iron, takabori, iroe, zōgan

Height 87.0 mm, width 85.0 mm, thickness 12.0 mm

Ōmori Teruhide was a student of Ōmori Terumasa (大森英昌) who in turn had been a student of the machibori founder Yokoya Sōmin (横谷宗珉). Terumasa later adopted Teruhide and named him his successor of the Ōmori family. Teruhide was born in Kyōhō 15 (享保, 1730) and died in Kansei ten (寛政, 1798) at the age of 69. Apart from the Ishiguro and Yanagawa Schools, the Ōmori School was one of the major currents within the Yokoya system of machibori lineages and apart from the three famous masters Terumasa, Teruhide, and Terumitsu (英満), it gave rise to many kinkō artists.

This tsuba shows large blossoming and lavishingly gilded peonies of which one can almost smell the scent. The peony was cherished in China since the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and its popularity started in Japan around the time when Emperor Shōmu (聖武天皇, 701-756) grew them. The flower became henceforth a popular motif of paintings and crafts but was particularly admired during the Edo period. We have here a masterwork where Teruhide depicts the then popular queen of flowers, the so-called “red peony,” in a gorgeous overlapping manner and with brilliant gold accents.

 

SUKASHI TSUBA of MOKKOGATA

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Image of Tsuba from Sano Museum Book 1999 Exhibition
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Sano Museum Book Cover 1999
 

SUKASHI TSUBA of MOKKOGATA with INOME design. NANBOKUCHO PERIOD 14th Century. Private Collection This is an important early Tsuba exhibited at the SANO SWORD MUSEUM In Shizuoka Japan in 1999 and catalogued in the Limited edition book published at the time of the exhibition : SUKASHI TSUBA, SWORDGUARDS WITH OPEN WORK DESIGN from KOFUN PERIOD to EDO PERIOD

 

Important Masterpiece Iron and soft metal Tsuba

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IMPORTANT IRON TSUBA.

Mei : From left to right : HAGIYA KATSUHIRA — SEIRYOKEN Backside : Kao
Height : 8.8 cm
Width : 7.8 cm
Rim Thickness : 5 mm
Condition : Beautiful untouched Iron Patina with exceptional detail.
Era : Late Edo / Mito Province
Theme of KOI Swimming up stream with Snow Flakes falling from the Sky

HAGIYA KATSUHIRA 萩谷勝平 (1804-1886)

HISTORY

Katsuhira's first name was "Yasuke" (弥介). He was born in Mito on the October 20th, 1804 as the second son of Terakado Yoju (寺門与重). He was later adopted by Hagiya Nibei (萩谷仁兵衛) and learned the basics of the kinko craft from his older brother Katsufasa who first bore the name "Terakado Yosaburo" (寺門与三郎). He then studied under Shinozaki Katsushige and Oyama Motozane (泰山元孚), played an important role among the Mito-kinko of the late Edo period, and was the master of the famous Unno Shomin.

Katsuhira's go was "Seiryoken" (生涼軒) and he was hired by the Mito fief in the 1844. His two sons were Katsuhiro (勝容) and Katsuyasu (勝保).

Katsuhira died on September 6th, 1886 at the age of 83.

 

YASUCHIKA Koi Zu Fuchikashira

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MEI (signature of Yasuchika)

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AN IMPORTANT SET OF FUCHIKASHIRA ( HILT FITTINGS FOR THE HANDLE OF A JAPANESE SWORD KOSHIRAE ).
BY ONE OF THE NARA SANSAKU ( THREE GREAT NARA SCHOOL MASTERS.

Signed : YASUCHIKA, Edo Period ( Late 17th-Early 18th Century )

Setsumei: ( Explanation)

The Brass migakiji ground in decorated Gold, shibuichi, shakudo and copper takazogan and kebori with Carp (Koi ) and aquatic plant's in a stream signed YASUCHIKA. This set is accompanied by a certificate of registration as Juyo Tosogu ( Important Sword Fitting ) issued by the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai ( Society for the preservation of the Japanese Art Sword. ) This Master work set are in perfect condition and colour.

Born the son of a Shonai Clansman, Tsuchiya Yasuchika (1670-1744 ) studied under Shoami Chinkyu and married his daughter before moving to Edo at the age of thirty-four and studying under Nara Toshimasa. He took the tonsure in 1730 and was named To-u. He is known as one of the Nara Sansaku ( Three great Nara-school Masters ) along with Nara Toshinaga and Sugiura Joi. The Carp ( Koi ) in the stream was one of Yasuchika's favourite design's which he used on a number of Tsuba and Fuchi - Kashira.

Jūyō-kodōgu at the 48th jūyō shinsa held on October 11, 2002

sōri no zu fuchigashira (藻鯉図縁頭) - Fuchigashira depicting carp in seaweed

mei: Yasuchika (安親)

Kanagawa Prefecture, Ikeda Nagamasa (池田長正)

Measurements

Fuchi length 3.75 cm, width 2.05 cm, height 0.7 cm; kashira length 3.4 cm, width 1.6 cm, height 0.4 cm

Description

Hinshitsu-keijō: brass, sukidashi-takabori, suemon, gold, shibuichi, shakudō, and suaka iroe Jidai: mid-Edo period

Explanation

Yasuchika’s first name was Yagohachi (弥五八) and he was born in Kanbun ten (寛文, 1671) as son of the Shōnai fief (庄内藩) samurai Tsuchiya Chūzaemon (土屋忠左衛門). As he grew up, he became a student of Shōami Chinkyū (正阿弥珍久) whose daughter he married later. In Genroku ten (元禄, 1697), then aged 34, he left for Edo where he learned from Nara Tatsumasa (奈良辰政) and where his talent started to unfold. During the Shōtoku era (正徳, 1711-1716), he was employed by Matsudaira Daigaku no Kami Yorisada (松平大学頭頼貞, 1664-1744) who was the daiymō of the Moriyama fief (守山藩) in Mitsu province, yielding an annual income of 20,000 koku, and the nephew of Tokugawa Mitsukuni (徳川光圀, 1628-1701), the prominent daimyō of Mito. In Kyōhō 16 (享保, 1731), aged 61, he entered priesthood under the lay name Tō’u (東雨). He left us many great masterworks and was later regarded with Nara Toshinaga (奈良利寿) and Sugiura Jōi (杉浦乗意) ad one of the Nara Sansaku (奈良三作), the “Three Great Nara Masters.”

This fuchigashira set depicts a carp in seaweed and carps or crabs in or next to running water were one of the strong points of Yasuchika. Accordingly, there exist numerous tsuba and fuchigashira that are similarily interpreted. This set is of brass and the seaweed, waving in the current of the running water, is highlighted in suaka and gold iroe. The carp is set in via shakudō and shibuichi suemon-zōgan. A masterwork that perfectly displays the characteristic composition and carvings of the Yasuchika’s flowing motifs.

Inscription box (outside):

Tsuchiya Yasuchika saku (土屋安親作) – Work of Tsuchiya Yasuchika

sōri no zu shinchū fuchigashira (藻鯉図真鍮縁頭) – Brass fuchigashira
depicting carp in seaweed

 

Inscription box (inside):

安親作と称するもの世上多 Yasuchika saku to shō-suru mono sejō ō
けれども本品は稀に出来物 keredomo honhin wa mare ni dekimono
なり nari
昭和十四年六月 Shōwa jūyonen rokugatsu
中央刀剣会審査員 Chūō Tōken Kai Shinsa’in
桑原雙蛙 Kuwahara

 

“Although there are many works of Yasuchika in existence, this set is of a rare, outstanding quality.

June of 1939

Judge of the Chūō Tōken Kai

Kuwahara Sō’a [Yōjirō, 1868-1955]”

 

TANTO KOSHIRAE, LATE EDO PERIOD

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PUBLISHED : KUROROIRO NURI AGEHACHO MON MAKIE SAYA AIKUCHI TANTO KOSHIRAE

JIDAI : EDO KOKI

SETSUMEI : A ISSAKU KANAGU AIKUCHI TANTO KOSHIRAE OF SUPERB QUALITY WITH 12 AGEHACHO (BUTTERFLIES ) IN GOLD RAISED LAQUER. THE MENUKI ARE SOLID GOLD AND THE TWO BUTTERFLIES ON THE KOZUKA ARE ALSO SOLID GOLD.

AN IMPORTANT KOSHIRAE FOR THE STUDY OF ASTHETICS, BALANCE AND THE MASTERFUL WORK OF JAPANESE SAMURAI ART AT ITS VERY BEST. THERE IS A SIMILAR WORK IN THE TOKYO
NATIONAL MUSEUM SWORD SECTION OF A NATIONAL TREASURE DAISHO KOSHIRAE WITH THE SAME AGEHACHO MON.

OA LENGTH : 43 cm