This is a tantô by the Shintô smith, Hôjôji Masahiro. Masahiro moved from Tajima province to Edo and founded the Hôjôji school in the early 1600’s. It became one of the most prosperous schools during Shintô times. The conformity of the style of workmanship within the school suggests that they must have had some connection with the Kotetsu school.
This tantô is by the first generation Masahiro and he was the foremost smith in the school with his works closely resembling those of Kotetsu. He made mostly katana and wakizashi and tantô such as this one are very rare. This tantô has a nagasa of 11 7/16 inches or 29.1 cm. The moto-haba is 1.28 inches or 3.3 cm and the saki-haba is 1.04 inches or 2.64 cm. The Kasane is 0.27 inches or0.69 cm and the sori is shallow at 0.24 inches or 0.6 cm. The shape is what is known as shobu-zukuri. This means that it resembles the shape of a naginata that has been shortened and re-purposed into a katana or wakizashi. This blade, however, is an example of an ubu blade that was made in this shape which we often find in Shintô blades from around this time period (1661).
The hamon is gunome ashi iri, meaning that it is comprised of small gunome that are separated by ashi extending down toward the edge. From a distance it looks like a shallow notare, but closer examination shows the beautiful gunome. The hada is ko-mokume mixed with masame hada with ji-nie. The nakago is ubu with his long signature extending all the way down to the jiri. There is one mekugi-ana. The signature reads Omi no Kami Hôjôji Tachibana Masahiro (近江守法成寺橘正弘).
This sword comes with NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon papers attesting to the quality of the blade and the authenticity of the signature. Masahiro is a Jôsaku rated smith and his blades are also rated as wazamono (extremely sharp).
This blade is accompanied by a new koshirae that is simple yet elegant. It is comprised of a black lacquered saya and tsuka forming an aikuchi tantô koshirae. There are silver menuki in the millet heads. The habaki is a two-piece habaki that has been wrapped in heavy gold foil.