Original 14th-15th Century Japanese Wakizashi Short Sword Signed HIROMITSU in Resting Scabbard
Original Item: Only One Available. Wakizashi (脇差 "side inserted / companion sword") is a general term for a sword between one and two shaku long (30 cm and 60 cm). Generally it is the short blade that accompanies a katana in the traditional samurai daisho pairing of swords, but may be worn by classes other than the samurai as a single blade, also worn edge up as the katana.
As best we can tell, this example dates from the Muromachi period (室町時代 Muromachi jidai) of 1336 to 1573, most likely the latter portion. This is part of the period of Japanese swordmaking known as Kotō (古刀"old swords"), the the type of swords that later smiths treated as the goal they needed to achieve.
This example has definitely been remounted several times, as was common for Japanese blades that are several hundred years old. It had an additional hole added in the tang, and was later put into a "resting scabbard" for long term storage. Age and wear have made the file marks (yasurimi) on the tang faint, and given it a lovely patina. This has however also made the mei, or signature on the blade harder to read, and removed the tagane (chisel marks) and tagane-makura (raised area around the mei).
As best we can tell, the blade is signed 廣 光 - HIROMITSU, a legendary name in Japanese swordmaking. Based in Sagami Province (相模国, Sagami no kuni), also called Soshu (相州), there were several generations of smiths using this name, with the first being a student of Masumune (正宗), Japanese greatest swordsmith. While not one of the "Ten Famous Students", Hiromitsu worked with Akihiro to refine the Soshu style into "second period" of sword making. There were at least 4 Generations using this name, all of which were highly ranked. This blade is estimated to be from the first or second generation, and it's a great one!
The blade is really a choice example, has the following period correct features:
- Folded steel blade (fold lines are evident on the spine and body of the blade)
- holes in the tang (mekugi-ana) are punched and not drilled
- blade is signed on the tang by the maker
- blade has a temper line (hamon), which is easily visible and vibrant.
- Blade wounds (kizu) or lamination artifacts are present on the blade, only possible on traditionally made examples. These are mostly WARE (lamination lines).
- Grain (hada) is visible in the body of the blade, only possible with laminated steel blades.
The blade of this example is 14 3/8 inches long, and the overall length of this wakizashi is 24 1/4 inches in the resting handle. The polish on the blade is excellent, which allows the aspects of the blade to easily be seen. The edge is still quite sharp, with no nicks or dents that we can see. The blade shape is SHOBU-ZUKURI (菖蒲造), which means that while the blade has a SHINOGI (blade ridge), it does not have a YOKOTE separating the rest of the body from the KISSAKI (tip). It has a beautiful tapering shape, like a leaf from the Japanese iris or hanashōbu (花菖蒲). This is a shape often used on shorter Wakizashi as well as Tanto knives. Some would term this is a Ko-Wakizashi as it is shorter, and very much resembles a long tanto.
The tang (nakago) is of the futsu 普通 (regular) style, with a Haagari (asymmetrical rounded) nakago-jiri. The hamon (temper line) is clearly visible, and is a beautiful KATAOCHI-GUNOME (flat topped slanted Zig Zag) shape, with a lot of internal activity. NIE Crystals are visible, and there is NIOI cloudiness visible with lamination lines. There are also KINSUJI and SUNAGASHI in and above, which are lines of crystalization in and above the hamon, something we rarely see!
The body of the blade shows MOKUME HADA (wood burl grain), with JI-NIE (islands of nie in the blade body). The boshi is visible, and is a KOMARU (small turnback type), and there is correctly no YOKOTE on this blade. There are also some WARE lamination lines and small FUKURE carbon pits visible, only possible on traditionally made blades. With the long delay for traditional togishi polishing, blades like this that are ready to display are definitely in demand.
This sword is mounted in a "resting scabbard" or Shirasaya, which is intended for storing the blade when it is not in use. It is in excellent condition, and looks to be relatively recently made. There is just a bit of splitting along the seam on the lower portion. There are no markings that we can see. The handle is quite tight on the tang, and may require a rubber mallet to remove. It has bone fittings around the mekugi-ana (Peg holes) with a lovely mekugi cross pin made from dark hardwood.
A fantastic Muromachi period Ko-wakizashi by a famous lineage of makers in the legendary Soshu school of Sagami province, ready to display!
Blade Length: 14 3/8"
Overall length: 20 1/2“
Scabbard Length: 16 3/4"
It has been over one thousand years ago that the art of making swords appeared in Japan. The swordsmiths of the time may not have known it but they were creating a legendary sword. The Samurai sword has seen combat in many battlefields. From the early days of the Samurai warrior to the fierce battles in the South Pacific during WWII.
Each hand-made Japanese blade (日本刀 - Nihonto) is unique because it is forged from multiple pieces of folded steel stock. A tremendous amount of work is dedicated to creating these pieces. They were an instrument of war as much as a beautiful artifact to adorn a room.
The traditional Japanese blade and mountings have grown to be one of the most highly desired military antiques.
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