Bizen Masamitsu (備前政光) was a student of the famous Bizen Kanemitsu (備前兼光) also known as O Kanemitsu (大兼光). Masamitsu (政光) left dated works from the Enbun era (1356-60) through the Ôei era (1394-1427). He is considered by some scholars to have belonged to the group of Bizen smiths called Kozori-mono, but there are differing opinions about this theory. This positive opinion seems to be mainly predicated upon the fact that overall the works of Masamitsu (政光) tend to show a gunome and ko-notare pattern in the hamon that is somewhat smallish when compared to the works of his teacher, Kanemitsu (兼光). He also worked in the same area and time period as the Ko-zori branch of the Bizen tradition. That being said the overall quality of his works are very close to those of his teacher, Kanemitsu (兼光), and generally superior to the average works of the other Ko-zori smiths.
Some of the major characteristics of Bizen Masamitsu (備前兼光) are as follows:
SUGATA Masamitsu’s long swords will be shinogi-zukuri, iori-mune. They will reflect the later Nanbokuchô Era of the Enbun period into Ôei period which marks the beginning of the Muromachi Era. In general, they will not be as wide or robust as those of his teacher, Kanemitsu (兼光), and the kissakiwill be smaller. His tantô will often be hira-zukuri and mitsu-mune.
JITETSU: The jigane is well forged and soft. Most often we find a kitae of itame mixed with mokumeforming many chikei. Utsuri appears as midare-utsuri or bo-utsuri or a combination of both is found with the chikei. This will be very close to the style of his teacher, Kanemitsu (兼光).
HAMON: It will be based on a shallow ko-notare mixed with ko-gunome, ko-chôji, togari-ba, and square shaped gunome. Overall the entire hamon will be smaller than that of his teacher and more reflective of the hamon that is found in the works of the Ko-zori Bizen school.
BÔSHI: His bôshi will generally be midare-komi with a short turn-back (kaeri). Often it will be slightly pointed which is reminiscent of the style of his father, Kanemitsu (兼光).
HORIMONO: Bo–hi is the most common and it is sometimes carved through the nakago, In addition, on occasion bonji , ken, etc. will be found.
NAKAGO: For the most part, is will be similar to that of Kanemitsu (兼光) except , as a rule, a bit shorter.
MEI: BISHÛ OSAFUNE MASAMITSU 備州長政光
The blade being offered here is a beautiful Jûyô Tôken katana by Bizen Masamitsu. The following is a translation of the description of this blade as given in the Jûyô Tôken documents:
Jūyō-tōken at the 61st Jūyō shinsa from October 20, 2015
katana, mumei: Masamitsu (政光)
nagasa 69.8 cm, sori 2.0 cm, motohaba 3.1 cm, sakihaba 2.2 cm, kissaki-nagasa 3.9 cm, nakago-nagasa 17.4 cm, nakago-sori 0.1 cm
Keijō: shinogi-zukuri, iori-mune, relatively wide mihaba, noticeable taper, thick kasane, shallow sori, chū-kissaki
Kitae: rather standing-out itame-nagare that is mixed with some mokume and that features plenty of ji-nie, chikei, and a midare-utsuri
Hamon: ko-notare-chō in nioi-deki with ko-nie and a bright nioiguchi that is mixed with gunome, ko-chōji, ko-gunome, angular elements, ashi, yō, and a few fine sunagashi, the elements of the ha are overall rather small dimensioned
Bōshi: on the omote side a little bit midare-komi with a maru-kaeri, on the ura side a somewhat late starting ko-maru-kaeri
Horimono: the sashi-ura side shows traces of a sanko-ken at where the patina of the tang begins Nakago: ō-suriage, ha-agari kurijiri, sujikai-yasurime, one mekugi-ana, mumei
Masamitsu (政光) was a Nanbokuchō-era smith of the Bizen Osafune School and had studied with master Kanemitsu (兼光). Existing dated works of Masamitsu range from as early as the Enbun era (延⽂, 1356-1361) to Ōei (応永, 1394-1428), which gives us a good idea of his active period. As seen with Tomomitsu (倫光) and Motomitsu (基光), Masamitsu’s workmanship follows in general the style of Kanemitsu, and ranging from notare over gunome to suguha, his interpretations are quite varied. One characteristic feature of Masamitsu that we recognize, however, is that his midare elements are usually small dimensioned.
This blade shows an itame-nagare that is mixed with some mokume and that features plenty of ji-nie, chikei, and a midare-utsuri. The hamon is a ko-notare-chō that is mixed with gunome, ko-chōji, and angular elements, that is rich in variety, and whose midare elements are somewhat smaller dimensioned than seen with Kanemitsu. Combined with the bōshi in midare-komi, we see Masamitsu’s typical characteristics in this blade and therefore we are in agreement with the blade’s period attribution to this smith. An abundance of niku has been preserved and both ji and ha are in perfect condition and so we have here a masterwork among all blades attributed to this smith.
This blade also has a sayagaki written by Tanobe Sensei formally in charge of research for the NBTHK and possibly the foremost living authority on Japanese swords. He writes as follows:
Bizen no Kuni Osafune Masamitsu
Suriage mumei shikamo haki-omote haki-omote togi-damari ni sanko-ken no konseki ga miraru sakufū yōshikiron-teki ni Kanemitsu monjin naru dōkō no midokoro o meiji-shi katsu deki oyobi hozon tomi ni yoroshiku, kedashi Eiwa-goro no seisaku-nendai naran.
Nagasa ni-shaku san-sun kore ari.
Koretoki kinoto-hitsuji goyō Tanzan Hendō shirusu + kaō
Osafune Masamitsu from Bizen Province
[This blade is] suriage mumei. It shows under the habaki area of the haki-omote side traces of a sanko-ken engraving and in terms of workmanship, it reflects the characteristic features of Masamitsu and him having been a student of Kanemitsu. Deki and condition are both excellent and the work can be dated around Eiwa (1375–1379).
Blade length ~ 69.7 cm
Written by Tanzan Hendō [Tanobe Michihiro] in March of the year of the sheep of this era (2015).
This blade is accompanied by an excellent set of Edo period Higo koshirae that really enhances the desirability of the blade. The photos show the quality and fine condition of this koshirae.