This is a lovely tanto from the late Edo era that is unsigned and has been attributed to the well known smith Aizu Kanesada. It measures 9 inches or 22.9 cm. It has a moto-haba of 1 inch or 2.56 cm and a saki-haba of 0.74 inches or 1.9 cm. The kasane is 0.26 inches or 0.7 cm. This tanto is hira-zukuri in shape. The hamon is a wide suguha with a ko-maru turn-back with a short kaeri. The hada is a beautiful ko-itame with masame. There is a bo-hi with futatsu hi carved on the omote and a bo-hi with a large soe-hi carved on the ura. This sword is in excellent polish with no problems or flaws. It comes with NBTHK Hozon papers attesting to the attribution and the quality of the blade.
What really sets this sword apart is its fantastic koshirae. There is a legend that says that a certain koi had the strength and courage to climb a certain waterfall. When the koi reached the top exhausted, having reached its goal, the koi was transformed into a dragon. The koi dragon is one of the mythical characters in the Japanese culture which is not actually a dragon. It is a Japanese fish (koi fish), which has the power to turn into a dragon. The koi dragon starts to swim as a fish up a river and then when it reaches a certain waterfall, it tries to climb the waterfall against the current. If it is able to climb the waterfall, then it transforms itself into a dragon and thus it is known as the koi dragon. More simply put, if you work hard and persevere against all obsticles in life, you can achieve anything.
This koshirae represents that koi. The tail section is made of iron and is in the form a a fish tail. The center section of the koshirae is done in wood that is lacquered in the form of the scales of a dragon. The fuchi and kashira are both of iron and are carved in the form of a dragon. Thus we have the representation of a koi emerging from the top of a waterfall with a dragon’s head and the tail of a koi (mid-transformation). The saya also has two silver dragons as decorations. The menuki are a gold snake on the omote and a silver snake on the ura. There are two umabari style kogai, one on either side of the saya. Both are iron and one is Higo in style and the other has a dragon.
This is an wonderful tanto and outstanding koshirae the likes of which you will not likely see again soon.