Saturday, July 9, 2016


  Hey!  Wake up!  I have another interesting bit of cutlery to give you a gander at.  For your consideration I put before you a tanto with an apparently interesting pedigree. This ancient bit of iron was made by the famous Nanbokucho period sword maker Tomomitsu .  The kanji character he uses for "Tomo" in his signature also has the (Chinese) pronunciation of "Rin" so he is known as Rin-Tomo by collectors to distinguish him from several other well known Tomomitsu.  He is a son of the REALLY famous Bizen Kanemitsu who was one of Masamune's golden students.  This is another blade with ALL the bells and whistles.  Blade cutting edge length is 10 3/8 inches.  It is ubu which means the nakago (tang) of the blade has not been cut or shortened.  The nakago  is signed and dated on one side (Bishu Osafune Tomomitsu) (Feb 1366)  and on the other side it says "Hachiman Daibosatsu" which is an invocation to the God of armed forces.  The blade is mitsumune, this means the back or spine of the blade is three sided which is unusual as most blades have a two sided spine much like the roof of a house. One side of the blade has a stylized ken sword carved in it for decoration and a bonji (Sanskrit) character on the other.  The temper line is a straight suguha style and the hada (forging pattern) is a strong mokume or wood grain typical of the era.  The workmanship of the blade features such treats a utsuri and chikei (you'll have to look some of this crap up yourself I can't explain everything or this blog would be a mile long).  Tomomitsu rates a wopping 100 points in Hawley's and a sweet jojosaku from Fujishiro. Several of his blades have been designated NATIONAL TREASURES.  This blade received a Tokubetsu Kicho rating (one step below the coveted juyo rating) from the NBTHK in 1972.  As far as I know it was never submitted for Juyo but I strongly suspect it is a good contender.  The polish is old but top quality.  Now for some intrigue (you knew it was coming).  The blade is housed in a plain wooden scabbard and handle called a shirasaya.  There is Japanese writing on the outside of the shirasaya (called sayagaki) that says this blade has a black set of koshirae (fittings) and that the tanto was the possession of the Uesugi which are a famous clan of Samurai.  This is pretty cool by itself but the sayagaki is signed with a kao (sort of a hand written personal symbol) and has the writer's red stamped chop or seal.  I have not been able to figure out who he is.  The chop was a bit faded so I enhanced it with PhotoShop to show you.  There is a well known family of sword appraisers called the Honami who did sayagaki like this but I have not come up with any good matches to the Kao.  I suspect the sayagaki was done during it's appraisal by the NBTHK in 1972 by an expert back then or prior to that but that is just a guess .  If anybody recognizes the chop or Kao and knows who the writer was please drop us a line here at Sabaku Samurai.  A valuable reward of eternal gratitude is offered for any good information (because we're too cheap to offer anything better). The black koshirae were apparently separated from the blade some time ago.  If you have them I want em back.  Check us out at .  Until next time I bid you adieu (or maybe a doodoo) (nah, the world already has enough of that). 

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