This is a very powerful katana by the well respected Shinshintô sword smith, Saitô Kiyondo. It is shinogi-zukuri with a shallow koshi-zori shape. It has a wide and robust sugata with a cutting edge of 71.1 cm or 28 inches. The moto-haba is 3.2 cm or 1.25 inches and the saki-haha is 2.2 cm or 0.875 inches. The bôshi is komaru with a short kaeri. The nakago is ubu with one hole and it is signed Fujiwara Kiyondo (藤原清人).The ura has a date of Keio Ninen Shogatsu Hi that translates as “A day in the first month of 1866″. Having a date or Shogatsu (first month) is very unusual and rare. It also has the inscription, Futatsu do saidan, meaning ‘Two torsos were successfully cut”. Finding swords, especially swords from this time period, with a two body cutting test is getting increasingly difficult.
Kiyondo’s (清人) family name was Saitô (斎藤) and he was the adopted son of Saitô Koichirô. He was first called Kojûrô. Through the introduction of Saitô Masamoro, in 1852 he entered the mon of Kiyomaro (清麿). His apprenticeship with Kiyomaro (清麿) ended in 1854 when Kiyomaro (清麿) committed suicide. Even though his apprenticeship was very short, he mastered his teacher’s techniques and style. In 1854, he established a forge in the Kanda section of Edo. In Keiô sannen (1867) he went up to Rakuyô in Kyôto and received the title of Buzen no Kami. He returned to Dewa Shônai and worked as a swordsmith for the Han. He passed away on October 3rd in the thirty-fourth year of Meiji (1901) at the age of seventy-five. To give the reader a little background of this smith, it might be a good idea to first give some background on his very famous and tragic teacher, Kiyomaro (清麿).
Kiyondo (清人) was the student of the famous smith, Kiyomaro (清麿). Kiyomaro (清麿) is considered to have been the greatest sword maker of the Shinshintô era. Kiyondo’s (清人) works are very close in style and quality to his teacher, Kiyomaro’s (清麿). For more information about Kiyondo’s (清人) and his relationship to Kiyomaro (清麿), please refer to the following article, Kiyondo.
This blade comes with a 19th century koshirae that is in excellent condition. It is comprised of a black lacquered ishime-ji saya with aogai highlights. The shakudo kojiri is decorated with water plants in iro-e takazogan. The tsuka is fitted with shakudo fuchi/kashira decorated with crayfish in gold takazogan and hirazogan. The copper and shakudo menuki are carved as butterflies. The shakudo sukashi tsuba is carved with young bamboo leaves.
This sword comes with Tokubetsu Hozon papers from the NBTHK attesting to the validity of the signature and the cutting test. It also attests to the quality and condition of the sword. Finding swords with valid cutting tests has become very difficult lately and they are commanding very high prices.