CONTENTS
Introduction
Umetada Myōju (埋忠明寿)
Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広)
Horikawa Kunitomo (堀川国儔)
Horikawa Kuniyasu (堀川国安)
Horikawa Kunimasa (堀川国正)
Awa no Kami Ariyoshi (阿波守在吉)
Fujiwara Hirozane (藤原広実)
Ōsumi no Jō Masahiro (大隅掾正弘)
Dewa no Daijō Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)
Horikawa Yoshikuni (堀川義国)
Horikawa Hiroyuki (堀川弘幸)
Etchū no Kami Masatoshi (越中守正俊)
Iga no Kami Kinmichi (伊賀守金道)
Echigo no Kami Kinmichi (越後守金道)
Tanba no Kami Yoshimichi (丹波守吉道)
Noda Hankei (野田繁慶)
Nanki Shigekuni (南紀重国)
Tegai Kanekuni (手掻包国)
Echizen Yasutsugu (越前康継)
Higo no Daijō Sadakuni (肥後大掾貞国)
Echizen Kanenori (越前兼法)
Echizen Kanetane (越前兼植)
Yamato no Daijō Masanori (大和大掾正則)
Wakasa Fuyuhiro (若狭冬廣)
Kashū Kanewaka (加州兼若)
Sagami no Kami Masatsune (相模守政常)
Hida no Kami Ujifusa (飛騨守氏房)
Hōki no Kami Nobutaka (伯耆守信高)
Kaneie/Nobuie (兼舎・信舎)
Aki Teruhiro 1st (初代安芸輝広)
Aki Teruhiro 2nd (二代安芸輝広)
Hizen Tadayoshi (肥前忠吉)
Hizen Munetsugu (肥前宗次)
Dōtanuki Kiyokuni (同田貫清国)
7
13
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50
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58
62
66
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90
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132
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200
–5–
UMETADA MYŌJU
Myōju’s real name was Umetada Hikojirō (埋忠彦次郎). On the basis of an extant tantō which
is dated Genna four (元和, 1618) and signed with the supplement “made at the age of 61,” of a
katana made by his student Hizen Tadahiro (忠広) that is dated Kan´ei six (寛永, 1629) and
signed with the supplement “master Myōju, who carved the horimono, 72 years old,” a katana dated
Kan´ei seven (1630) bearing the supplement “made at the age of 73,” and a ken dated Kan´ei eight
(1631) with the supplement “made at the age of 74,” we can calculate his year of birth (according
to the then Japanese way of counting years) as Eiroku one (永禄, 1558). He was born as son of
Umetada Shigetaka (重降), also named Myōkin (明欽), counted himself as 25th generation of the
famous Kyōto smith Sanjō Munechika (三条宗近), and signed in early years with Shigeyoshi
(重吉) and Muneyoshi (宗吉), although no work is extant that bears the former name. The earliest
known works of Myōju, a yari and a tantō, were made under the name Muneyoshi in the eighth
month of Keichō two (慶長, 1597). The Umetada family worked on a hereditary basis as sword-
smiths and engravers (horimono-shi) directly for the Ashikaga bakufu but were apart from that also in
charge of making habaki and seppa and of shortening sword blades and applying, on behalf of the
Hon’ami family, gold-inlaid appraisals (kinzōgan-mei) to sword tangs. When Myōju’s father
Shigetaka was head of the family, he witnessed Oda Nobunaga (織田信長, 1534-1582) destroying
the Ashikaga shogunate in 1573 and thereby their employer, and when Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣
秀吉, 1537-1598) was later on unable to attain the title of shōgun, there was now no longer any
shogunate and all former bakufu-employed artists were facing an uncertain future. But fortunately,
Hideyoshi made sure that the most important lineages of artists and craftsmen were able to survive.
So Myōju eventually worked for Hideyoshi and took also orders from Hideyoshi’s nephew and
successor, the kanpaku Hidetsugu (秀次, 1568-1595). When he was twelve years old, the workshop
and main seat of the family had been transferred from the Sanjō (三条) to the Nishijin (西陣)
district of Kyōto. It is unclear when Myōju became head of the Umetada family but it is assumed
that it was the third year of Keichō (1598). This is namely the year when he changed his name
from “Muneyoshi” to “Myōju.” Incidentally, please note that Myōju’s name is today mostly quoted
with the simplified character for ju (寿). Two years before, the Saga daimyō Nabeshima Naoshige
(鍋島直茂, 1538-1618) had sent his promising smith Tadayoshi (忠吉, 1572-1632) to Kyōto to
refine his craft for two years under guidance of Myōju and his father Myōkin Shigetaka. Also
Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広, 1531-1614) spent some time at the Umetada forge but the exact
– 13 –
Picture 3: tachi, jūyō-bunkazai, mei “Yamashiro no Kuni Nishijin-jūnin Umetada Myōju + kaō” (山城 国西陣住人
埋忠明寿) – “Keichō sannen hachigatsu hi” (慶長三年八月日, “a day in the eighth month Keichō three [1598]”) –
“Hoka e kore o watasu-bekarazu” (他江不可渡之, “do not give this to others”), nagasa 64.7 cm, sori 1.3 cm, shinogizukuri, iori-mune. This is the blade which is thought to have been made by Muneyoshi on the occasion of him taking over
the Umetada family and changing his name to Myōju. He was 41 years old at that time. It shows horimono in the form of
a kurikara dragon on the one, and the deity Fudō-Myōō on the other side, both engraved as relief within a hitsu recess.
The whereabouts of the blade where unknown until it was found by Honma Junji among the sword collection of the
Sōma (相馬) Viscount family, the former daimyō of the Nakamura fief (中村藩) of Mutsu province. It is today preserved
in the Kyōto National Museum.
– 18 –
– 19 –
ETCHŪ NO KAMI MASATOSHI
Masatoshi was the fourth son of the Mino master Kanemichi (兼道) who took him and his
three older brothers Tanba no Kami Yoshimichi” (丹波守吉道), Iga no Kami Kinmichi (伊賀守
金道), Echigo no Kami Rai Kinmichi (越後守来金道) in the second year of Bunroku (文禄,
1593) to Kyōto where they settled in the Nishinotō´in (西洞院) district and founded the Mishina
(三品) school. Masatoshi received his honorary title Etchū no Kami on the twelfth day of the
ninth month Keichō two (慶長, 1597) and we know date signatures from the fifth year of Keichō
(1600) to the sixth year of Kan´ei (寛永, 1629). Masatoshi was one of the best Mishina smiths and
able to work in all the five gokaden. He rarely made long swords and focused instea on hira-zukuri
ko-wakizashi and tantō. Some of his works aim at the Shizu (志津) style. We don’t know when
Masatoshi was born or when he died but there were three more generations Masatoshi who were
active until around Genbun (元文, 1736-1741).
Picture 33: katana, jūyō-bijutsuhin, mei “Etchū no Kami Masatoshi” (越中守正俊), nagasa 69.4 cm, sori 3.0 cm, shinogizukuri, iori-mune, this blade bears futasuji-hi on both sides that end in kakudome above the habaki area. This blade shows a
shallow ko-notare that is mixed in intervals with togari elements and thus it seems as if Masatoshi aimed at Seki Kanemoto
(兼元) with this work.
– 84 –
– 85 –
Picture 34: wakizashi, mei “Etchū no Kami Masatoshi” (越中守正俊), nagasa 33.3 cm, hira-zukuri, iori-mune, it seems as if
Masatoshi aimed, although rather freely, at another Mino work with this blade, namely at the blade nicknamed Minemuri
(三睡) (see picture above) from the early years of Shizu Saburō Kaneuji (兼氏), i.e. from when he still signed his name
with the characters (包氏)
– 86 –
– 87 –
Picture 55: tantō, mei “Echizen no Kuni Yasutsugu Honda Hida
no Kami shoji-nai” (越前国康継・本多飛騨守所持内, “from
the possessions of Honda Hida no Kami”) – “Nanbangane –
Sanjō-Kokaji haku” (なんはんかね三条こかち迫, “[forged
with] nanban-gane, tribute to Sanjō Kokaji [Munechika]”), nagasa
29.7 cm, sori 0.45 cm, katakiriba-zukuri, mitsu-mune. This is a copy
of the meibutsu Ebina-Kokaji ( 海 老 名 小 鍛 冶 ) by Sanjō
Munechika (三条宗近) which is shown to the right.
– 124 –
– 125 –
Picture 56: katana, jūyō-bunkazai, mei “Nanban-tetsu o motte Bushū Edo ni oite Echizen Yasutsugu” (以南蛮鉄於武州
江戸越前康継, “made by Echizen Yasutsugu from nanban-tetsu in Edo in Musashi province”) – “Keichō jūkyūnen
hachigatsu kichijitsu” (慶長十九年八月吉日, “on a lucky day of the eighth month Keichō 19 [1614]”), nagasa 69.4 cm,
katakiriba-zukuri, iori-mune
– 126 –
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Introduction 7 Umetada Myōju (埋忠明寿) 13 Horikawa Kunihiro