Sunday, July 17, 2016


Greetings my Gassan-aholics.  Put on your sun glasses and hold on to your seats!  You are about to witness Gassan Nirvana.  As you know Gassan Sadakatsu is Sabaku Samurai's favorite sword smith of all times.  He is considered by most to be the TOP 20th century sword maker.  He was the maker to the Imperial Household in the first part of the 20th century.  He made swords for the Emperor of Japan, high ranking military Officers and dignitaries.  One of his blades is on display in the Tower of London along with the British Crown jewels. The most rare and coveted type of sword Sadakatsu made was the Kogarasu-maru.  The Holy Grail of his Kogarasu blades,  what everybody REALLY wants is a Kogarasu sword done in ayasugi hada. .   Ayasugi is the result of folding and welding the steel so that an even undulating pattern is visible on the surface of the blade when the sword is properly polished.  How to make this pattern was a closely guarded Gassan family secret for centuries.  Sadakatsu made very few kogarasu style swords and even fewer using his distinctive ayasugi family tradition.  Collectors all over the world seek them out and are willing to pay a stupid amount of money for them.  Here, brought to you courtesy of Sabaku Samurai (at no extra charge) is a world class example for you to gawk at . This blade has an impressive 26 7/8 inch cutting edge comes in it's original shirasaya and sports a solid silver habaki made by Sadakatsu himself. It is signed "Osaka ju Gassan Sadakatsu kitau saku" and dated 1940 and has the unusual round shaped mune or spine called maru-mune.

Soooooo what's a kogarasu-maru sword you ask (yes you did I heard you) and why is it so special?  The unusual shape of the blade is called kissaki moro ha zukuri and  is thought to be a transition or evolution between the straight double edged Chinese style ken blades used by the Japanese in early times and the curved single edged tachi developed around 1200 years ago.  It is curved like a tachi sword but the sharp double edge goes down the back of the blade from the tip only about a third of the way.  The tip of the blade still has the symmetrical double edged point of a ken
not the chisel shaped kissaki we are more familiar with in Japanese swords.  The most famous sword with this shape is the Kogarasu-maru which translates to "Little Crow" and is owned by the Emperor of Japan.  It is thought to have been made by a legendary sword smith named Amakuni in the early part of the 8th century who is credited with developing curved Japanese blades.  It is generally accepted that the sword was passed down in a convoluted way as a family treasure of the Taira clan although the ties to the Taira by some of the owners were a bit tenuous.  The sword ended up in the Ise family and was purchased by Count So Shigemasa (who also claims a tenuous linkage to the Taira) in the late 1800s and presented to Emperor Meji in 1882.  There are a bunch of stories and legends as to how the sword got the name "Little Crow".  The most down to earth and believable to me is that the original furniture or koshirae of the blade were adorned with crows.  There you have it!  You've just been learned by Sabaku Samurai University (SSU) and by Dr. Sabaku himself who has a P.H.D. in B.S which we all know is a B.F.D so be our B.F.F and tune in again for our next cool post.  A.M.F!  Don't forget to check out our site

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