Hizen Saga Jû Kunitsugu (肥前佐賀住國次) was a student of Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広). Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広), one of the most famous sword makers of the late 16th century and into the 17thcentury. The swords of Hizen Kunitsugu are exceedingly rare. This is probably because he helped Kunihiro throughout his long sword making career and did not sign his own swords until later in life.
After his studies with Kunihiro, he moved to Saga city in Higo province. His working style reminds us of Hizen Yukihiro in some respects. This blade comes in a shirasaya with a very nice koshirae. The shirasaya has a sayagaki by Kanzan Sato, one of the founders of the modern NBTHK organization in Japan. He is considered to have been one of the great sword experts of the 20th century. Sato Sensei’s sayagaki was written in the summer of 1967 and states that blades by this smith (Kunitsugu) rarely exist and that this blade is an excellent work.
The nagasa of this blade (cutting edge), is 68.45 cm or 26.94 inches. The sugata is strong with a shallow curvature and a slightly stretched medium kissaki (point). There is not a lot of difference in the width from the hamachi to the point. This is the classic shape of the Kanbun Shinto period around 1661. The sori (curvature) is 1.5 cm or 0.59 inches.
The width at the hamachi is 3.03 cm or 1.19 inches and the width at the kissaki (point) is 2.01 cm or 0.79 inches. The kasane (thickness of the blade) is 0.88 cm or 0.34 inches. The jigane (pattern of the grain or hada) is ko-itame that is well formed and contains a lot of ji-nie throughout. The hamon is nie deki (the edge of the temper line is comprised of nie grains) formed in a gunome-midare pattern. The width of the nie that defines the hamon is wide and lustrous.
This blade is in good polish and has no flaws or faults. It has a shakudo habaki and the tang has only its one original mekugi-ana (hole). An interesting side note is that even though Kunitsugu studied with Horikawa Kunihiro, after he moved to Saga in Hizen Province, he changed his signature and signed tachi-mei in the style of the Hizen Tadayoshi school. Obviously there was some cross training and studying going on in Hizen.
It comes with NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon papers attesting to its high quality and absolute authenticity. This blade dates to around 1661. In addition, this blade is published in Hizen no Katana To Tsuba(Swords and Tsuba of Hizen) by Fukunaga & Terada that was published in 1974. The description of the smith can be found on page 52 and the photo of the tang of this sword can be found on page 53.
This blade is accompanied by a nice set of koshirae (mountings) that are shown in the photos below. The saya is lacquered in kawarinuri style with a dark brown base. It is rubbed to show the bright under layers of red and gold lacquer that reminds us of the first light of dawn. There are a few very minor dents as shown in the photos. If you like Hizen blades and are looking for a rare blade, do not miss out on this opportunity to purchase this fine sword and koshirae.