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Japanese sword construction methods logo

Construction methods of Japanese swords

This article will describe several methods by which the Japanese joined higher and lower carbon steels into their blades.
Aoe school

Aoe school

An old school of Japanese sword makers active in Bitchū province.
Juyo Masamune tachi

Jūyō Masamune tachi

With 1757 Hon'ami papers, 1989 Jūyō token and 2021 Tanobe sayagaki.
Early yasurime bori menpo

Early yasurime bori menpo

Russet iron, one-piece construction with decorative grooves.
Ryutaro Somen logo

Sōmen by Ryūtarō

Ryutaro was the son of Fukutake Ichirō (1928-2002).
Masamune sword menuki

Masamune sword menuki

NBTHK Hozon. Charming menuki in the form of a sword, signed "Masamune" and a tachi scabbard.
Kanenori in itomaki-no-tachi logo

Echizen Kanenori tachi

A fine, Circa 400-year-old blade in 19th-century tachi mountings.
Hata-jirushi logo

Japanese battle flag

Resist-dyed cotton in white and indigo, with three fans mon.
Shiga seki Kanenobu logo

Shiga-Seki Kanenobu katana

Active circa 1492-1501, a smith with Sōshū roots. Ō-wazamono, jō-saku.
Yasuchika elephant tsuba

Yasuchika elephant tsuba

A 19th-century copy of an important cultural art object.
Hawk and pine tsuba logo

Hawk and pine tsuba

Carved out of copper alloy with details highlighted in gold.
Unusual alphabet tsuba logo

Early tsuba with alphabet

Curious early tsuba with the beginning of the Western alphabet inscribed into it.
Fine pierced nanban tsuba

Fine pierced nanban tsuba

Very delicate work with carved guardian lions.
Hirado Kunishige tsuba

Hirado Kunishige tsuba

Of a copper alloy with a different shade on each side.
Aoi gata tsuba with foreigners logo

Thick Aoi gata tsuba with foreigners

With fine golden overlays, even on the thick rim.
Asian export sword guard with foreigners logo

Aoi-gata tsuba with foreigners

Unusual tsuba with foreign figures and Chinese auspicious symbols.
Nanban ship tsuba logo

Iron nanban ship tsuba

Pierced and chiseled showing an 18th century European vessel.
Hirado Kunishige fuchi logo

Hirado Kunishige fuchi

One of his classic designs, signed by the maker.
Unusual nanban tsuba

Unusual nanban tsuba

Very finely carved with designs reminiscent of export wares.
62 plate Kabuto with mayu

62 plate kabuto with maedate

Each plate with raised rib, the visor embossed with simulated eyebrows.
Mino-bori logo

Mino-bori (美濃彫)

Language: Japanese
Source: Michitatsu's Sōken Kishō of 1781

Nagasaki raden katana kake logo

Mother of pearl inlaid katana kake

In black and gold urushi lacquer, with fine mother-of-pearl inlays with aquatic landscapes on both sides.
Mino Mitsunaka

Mino Mitsunaka (美濃光仲)

A Japanese sword fittings artist who worked in the Mino-bori style.
Naoe Shizu tanto logo

Fine Sōshū tantō

A fine tantō forged in the Sōshū tradition with Hon'Ami Koson sayagaki.
Muramasa logo

Muramasa masterpiece tantō

A masterpiece by the "cursed" smith, active in the early 16th century.
Ainu dagger logo

Ainu dagger

Called kuttom-ushbe in the local language. This one mounted in deer antler mounts.
Mini makiri logo

Miniature Ainu makiri

Despite its size it is of remarkably fine workmanship.
Early Edo samural armor logo

Edo bullet-tested samurai armor

Very heavy armor, made for business.
Canton tsuba logo

Facing dragon Canton tsuba

Made in Canton, China, for the Japanese market.
The curse of Muramasa logo

The Curse of Muramasa, a historical overview

Swords by early 1500s maker Muramasa were considered cursed. In this article, I will explore the facts around these myths.
Jumonji yari logo

Jūmonji yari (十文字槍)

Japanese word for a cross shaped spear
Nakago logo

Nakago (茎 / 中心)

Japanese word for the tang of a sword
Echizen Kanesada blade in spectacular koshirae

Echizen Kanesada in striking koshirae

Blade with fine dragon horimono. The mounts signed Sōmin and Masatatsu.
Fine daisho with maki-e lacquer work

Fine autumn themed daishō

Both blades signed, its koshirae fine maki-e lacquer work. Ito school tsuba and Mino Gotō style mounts.
Masatsuna naginata logo

Katakiriha zukuri naginata by Masatsune

Considered one of the best makers of naginata, he worked for the household of Fukushima Masanori.
Kanabo school jumonji yari

Jumonji yari by Kanabō Masazane

Made in the 16th century, for the warrior monks of the Hozo-in temple in Nara.
Muramasa mei

Muramasa (村正)

Muramasa (村正) was a Japanese master swordsmith, active in the first decades of the 16th century.
Hachiwari logo

Hachiwari (鉢割)

Language: Japanese
Origin: Old literature

Hachiwari

Very good hachiwari

Literally "skull splitter", more widely known as kabutowari; "helmet splitter." An excellent example, one of the best of its type.
Yagami school nanban tsuba

Yagami school nanban tsuba

A masterpiece of the genre. The Yagami school were excellent carvers of iron.
Hirado Kunishige tsuba logo

Enamelled Hirado Kunishige tsuba

Fine work and one of the very few enamelled tsuba by this maker.
Hirado Kunishige logo

Hirado Kunishige (平戸市國重)

A group of Japanese sword fitting makers working on the island of Hirado.
Katana with horse themed koshirae logo

Katana in horse theme koshirae

Blade signed Sesshū-jū Fujiwara Hiroyoshi, active in the 1670s-80s.
Three wise monkeys tsuba logo

Three wise monkeys tsuba

Japanese sword guard depicting three wise monkeys conveying the message see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
Shimosaka o-tanto

Shimosaka o-tantō

N.B.T.H.K. Hozon with a set of Nanban-style koshirae with signed tsuba.
Important Juyo Ko-Hoki Sadatsuna logo

Important Ko-Hōki Sadatsuna katana

12th-century blade. 33rd Shinsha Juyō Token with sayagaki by Tanobe.
Jumyo katana logo

Jumyo katana with fine koshirae

The very detailed mountings are decorated with designs of Japanese spiny lobsters.
Musashi Taro Yasukuni katana logo

Katana by Musashi Taro Yasukuni

Signed, ubu. Complete with tasteful koshirae and Hozon papers.
Musashi Taro Yasukuni logo

Musashi Taro Yasukuni (武蔵太郎安国)

A Japanese swordsmith who lived between 1650-1730.
Shihozume kitae logo

Shihōzume-gitae (四方詰め鍛え)

Japanese word for a sword construction with a high carbon edge, low carbon core, medium carbon sides and a separate back.