I am pleased to present this beautiful katana by the Shintô smith, Toshinaga (歳長). Toshinaga was originally from the city of Awa in the province of Tokushima on Shikoku Island. He later went to Horikawa in Yamashiro province. His original name was Nimura Gizaemon and his initial sword making signature was Hirotsugu (廣次). Later his name was changed to Toshinaga (歳長) and his full signature was Yamashiro (no) Kami Toshinaga (山城守歳長). He is the older brother of Mutsu (no) Kami Toshinaga (陸奥守歳長). He is rated by Fujishiro as a Jô-saku smith (upper class) and the cutting abilities of his swords are rated as Ryôwazamono (this coveted rating means that his swords has superior sharpness and cutting ability). Evidencing this fact, we find that this sword has a cutting test done in 1673.
The description of this sword is as follow:
Nagasa (length): 25 3/8 inches or 64 cm.
Moto-Haba (width at the base): 3.1 inches or 1.12 cm.
Saki-haba (width at the point): 2.2 inches or 0.86 cm.
Kasane (blade thickness): 0.27 inches or 0.7 cm.
Sori (curvature): 0.51 inches or 1.3 cm.
This is a very stout blade with a shallow torii sori as one would expect to find in a blade made shortly after the Kanbun era. This smith worked in the middle of the 17th century and the blade reflects the attributes of that time period very well. The kitae is a vivid itame hada with some areas of slight mokume hada. The hamon is a shallow but undulating notare-midare that is based on nie rather than nioi. There is ji nie found throughout the blade sometimes in the form of yubashiri in some areas and tobiyaki in others. There is quite a bit of kinsuji throughout the hamon. All of these features add up to a blade of extreme beauty and very high quality. The bôshi is ko-maru )small turn-back) with a short kaeri. The notare hamon continues into the boshi and on the omote side it becomes hakikake. The nakago is ubu and both the mei and the cutting test are extremely skillfully cut. The cutting test on the ura is cut with small precise strokes and is beautiful. The kanji are not inlaid with gold, but they stand-out very well nevertheless.
The full signature of the blade is Rakuyô Yamashiro (no) Kami Fujiwara Toshinaga (洛陽山城守藤原歳長). This is an important signature because the inclusion of the term “Rakuyô” means “Kyotô”. This verifies that this blade was made while Toshinaga was studying sword making in Kyotô while he was living in Horikawa after he received the title of “Yamashiro no Kami”.
As noted above, this blade also has a rather extensive cutting test that was performed in the first year of Enpô (1673). The full cutting test reads: Enpô Gannen Juni Gatsu Kyûka Oite Ashu Suzuki Rei Nagasakashi Jinbei Saidan Sôdan Sôkotsu Chokukan Sen Dodannari (延宝元年十二月九日於阿州富田洲崎長坂氏甚兵衛截断壮男直徹千土壇也). This means,” On December 9th of the first year of Enpô (1673) at Tomita Suzaki in Ashû (Awa Province in Shikoku), Nagasaki Jinbei (the test cutter) cut through the shoulders of a middle aged man and (the cut) went into the ground.
This katana comes with a very nice set of Edo period koshirae. The saya is lacquered very beautifully as can be seen in the photos below. The tsuba is iron and looks to be of the Ono school and measures 2 ¾ inches by 2 7/16 inches. The fuchi and kashira are of shakudo and are signed Sekijôken Motozane (kao) (H 06004.0 in Haynes reference). Motozane was born in Mito in Hitachi Province in 1741. He passed away in 1830. He studied with the masters of the Nara school in Edo. His style became a combination of the Hamano, Sugiura Jôi, and Yokoya school styles. He founded the Taizen Sekijôken family school. The workmanship and condition of this fuchi and kashira is really wonderful. The menuki are made of copper and they consist of very realisticly rendered carvings of two mice, one on each side of the tsuka. The condition of the koshirae is excellent with only a couple of very small repairs to the lacquer that were done a very long time ago.
The condition of the blade is also excellent. It is in very good polish with no blemishes, flaws, or problems of any kind. It has an original large groove on each side that fills the shinogi. As noted, the nakago is unshortened and in pristine condition. If you always wanted to own a blade with a cutting test, don’t miss this chance. They are getting more and more difficult to find, especially for less than $20,000.00. This blade comes with NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon papers that attest to the authenticity of the maker of this blade and also attest to the validity of the cutting test.