I am very pleased to present this fine tanto by the Soshu master, Yukimitsu. It measures 9 5/8 inches or 24.5 cm in length. The moto-haba is .82 inches or 2.1 cm and the saki-haba is .61 inches or 1.6 cm. The hada is a fantastic ko-itame that harkens back to the Awataguchi roots of this smith and this school. It has an almost moist appearance that is a wonder to see. The hamon is a shallow notare midare with about every type of hataraki that one hopes to find in a blade. There is niju-ba, kinsuji, profuse nie activity in, above, and in the ji. There is a cloudy utsuri as one occasionally finds on the best Awtaguchi and Yamashiro blades. For more specific information about this smith, please refer to my article,Yukimitsu.
This blade is well described in the Juyo zufu which is translated as follows:
Designated Juyo Token at the 61st Shinsa of 20 October, the 27th year of Heisei (2015)
Tanto, Unsigned; Yukimitsu
Measurements: Length: 24.4 cent.; Curvature: Uchi-zori; Width at Base: 2.0 cent.; Nakago Length: 7.6 cent.; Nakago Curvature: Slight.
Characteristics: The construction is hira-zukuri with a mitsu-mune. Both the width and thickness are average, and the shape is uchi-zori. The kitae is itame mixed with mokume that is entirely very tight and thickly covered in minute ji-nie. The jigane contains an abundance of minute chikei and conspicuous nie-utsuri. The hamon is shallow notare in style with a mixing in of ko-gunome, and the hamon is rather wide at the base of the koshi. The habuchi contains hotsure, and there is the appearance of kuichigai-ba. There is ko-ashi activity. The nioi in the habuchi is rather thick and the nie covering is thick. There is kinsuji activity and repeated streaks of sunagashi. The nioiguchi is bright and vivid. The boshi is notare-komi with a tip that has a slight pointed feeling and is brushed. There are katana-bi carved on both sides of the blade that taper off onto the nakago. The nakago is ubu with a kurijiri tip and sujikai yasuri-me. There are two mekugi-ana, and the blade is unsigned.
Explanation: As for Yukimitsu, together with such smiths as Masamune, Norishige and their teacher Shintogo Kunimitsu, who founded the Soshu-den, they furthered the development of the school, leading to its perfection. Yukimitsu is seen as being slightly senior to Masamune, and extant works that are signed are limited to tanto. Regarding his style of workmanship, based on a variety of old sword books, they state that, in addition to suguha, he produced midare-ba and occasionally hitatsura; however, the unsigned attributed works are mainly suguha or a shallow and quiet midare-ba, and the ji-ha is entirely Shintogo in style.
As for this tanto, the kitae is itame mixed with mokume that is thickly covered in ji-nie and an abundance of chikei. The hamon is tempered in a shallow notare style with a mixing in of ko-gunome. The habuchi is well covered in nie and it is bright and vivid. The ji-ha conspicuously displays Yukimitsu’s characteristics. As among similar works that have been attributed to Yukimitsu, the nie covering in the ji-ha is powerfully conspicuous, and there is the appearance of the thickly solid covering of ji-nie that becomes distinctive nie-utsuri. The hamon is that of a high ranking Soshu-den blade with its characteristic bright, beautiful and thick nie covering in the ha, and the kin-suji activity and streaks of sunagashi everywhere are brilliant, making the splendid style of workmanship superb.
This tanto comes in an old shirasaya with a sayagaki by Honma Sensei. It has a double solid gold habaki. It is in perfect polish that shows off its flawless condition. It was just awarded the status of Juyo Token in September of 2015. The Juyo papers will be issued later this year and will be sent to its new owner upon receipt.