The Ishidô (石堂) school originated at the Sekido Temple in Ômi Province around the Kanei period (1624). From there the smiths went to various sections of the country to found branch Ishidô (石堂)schools. Some went to Kii Province and came to be known as the Kishû Ishidô (紀州石堂). Later Tameyasu (為康) led this group to Ôsaka. Other smiths went to Edo, the most famous of these being Ishidô Korekazu (石堂是一). Mitsuhira (光平) was one of the students of Ishidô Korekazu (石堂是一).
The Ishidô (石堂) school smiths were best known for their ability to make swords in the Bizen tradition of the Ichimonji school. They were well known for their hamon that was a robust chôji midare which sometimes reached the shinogi. Occasionally, one finds a blade that has a prominently suguha (straight) temper. This would usually indicate that it was a specially ordered blade. Their works often had fine utsuri and the best works are often mistaken for true Ichimonji works. One distinctive feature that differs from the Ichimonji school is that the hada in the shinogi ji is masame whereas in the Ichimonji school of the Koto period it would be itame. Another difference is that in Ichimonji swords the outstanding midare patterns would keep their exuberance into the bôshi while the bôshi of the Ishidô (石堂) school tend to be of a quieter and shallower midare pattern.
Mitsuhira (光平) is now thought to have been the older brother of Tsunemitsu (堂光). He worked around the middle of the 17th century. His family name was Heki (日置). He received the title of Dewa no Kami (出羽守) and was later known as Dewa Nyudo (出羽入道). He is famous for his chôji hamon and both he and Korekazu (是一) are credited with the revival of the Bizen tradition in the Shinto period. His choji can be distinguished from the other Ishidô (石堂) smiths in that his was shaped more in a fukuro-chôji form (sack-shape chôji). This is one of the few points that separate his works from the works of his brother Tsunemitsu (堂光). For more information about this smith, please visit the following article: Mitsuhira.
Nihonto.com is pleased to present an outstanding blade by this famous smith who was not only rated as a Jo-saku quality smith, but his blades are rated as ryo-wazamono (cut extremely well). This particular blade also possesses a gold inlay cutting test done by Yamano Kanjuro Hisahide stating that it cut through two bodies in one stroke. This cutting test was done in September of 1667 (about the time this blade was made). Blades like this one having certified multiple body cutting tests are getting more and more expensive and difficult to find. They are highly sought after and their value will certainly increase in the future.
This katana has been shortened but the nagasa (cutting edge) still measures a full 68.1cm or 26.81 inches. The sori is 1.3 cm or 0.51 inches. The width at the hamachi (moto-haba) is 2.73 cm or 1.07 inches and the width at the kissaki (kissaki-haba) is 2.06 cm or 0.81 inches. The overall thickness of the blade (kasane) is 0.66 cm or 0.25 inches.
This blade has a regular width and thickness with a small sori. The jigane (grain structure) is ko-itame hada that is well grained with jinie attached. There is clear utsuri for which this school of sword making was famous during the Shinto Period. The hamon is nioi deki, with the chôji midare shape containing togari-ba and fukuro style chôji for which this smith was famous. The bôshi is notare with a round shape.
This sword looks like it is from the Yoshioka Ichimonji of the Kamakura or Nanbokuchô era. Of all Shinto and Shinshinto sword makers, Mitsuhira was the best at creating Ichimonji chôji midare hamon and this blade is an excellent example of his skill.
This blade also has a very nice koshirae (mountings) from the late Edo period. It has a kawari-nuri saya (scabbard). The tsuba is iron with a dragon, clouds, and waves engraved. The menuki are gold colored horsetail plants on a shakudô background. The fuchi and kashira are iron like the tsuba with matching dragon, clouds and waves engraved.
This blade is accompanied by NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon papers attesting to its quality and authenticity.