AND OTHER SWORDSMITH INDEXES
There were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of swordsmiths working from 1868 until 1945. The great majority worked during the 1930's and 1940's. Swords made during the WW II era encompass all types from totally machine made to those made in completely traditional Nihonto manner. It is sometimes quite difficult for beginners to distinquish between swords made from bar stock and oil tempered, and those made by traditional methods (gendaito, kindaito).
Rikugun Jumei Tosho are those swordsmiths approved by the Japanese Army to produce swords for military officers. This index is divided into two parts; known swords with star stamps on the nakago and a listing of Jumei Tosho smiths from literature sources. Chris Bowen has done extensive research on gendai (kindai) smiths from the Tokyo region who worked during the WW II era. He has published a list of these swordsmiths as a prelude to his book on the same subject. With his kind permission, the Tokyo Kindai Tosho Index is available here. Part of the index contains a list of the members of the Nihon To Tanren Kai; those smiths that worked at the Yasukuni Shrine. The index lists both Romanji (English) names and Kanji of swordsmiths; however, to read the Kanji a Japanese character converter such as NJWin or a Japanese word processor is needed. All the smiths in Bowen's Index made swords in the traditional manner (gendaito, kindaito).
Three other indexes of swordsmiths, the Gendai Toko Meikan, the Gendaito Meisaku Zukan and the Toko Taikan have been translated and compiled by Tony Thomas. They are available here with his permission. I have abstracted the Toko Taikan index for all listed gendai swordsmiths. All indexes give the Romanji (English) names of a large number of gendai smiths, but do not include name Kanji. Lacking the proper Kanji makes using these indexes speculative for identifying a specific smith as there are commonly several Kanji which can correspond to a given Romanji (English) translation. The complete Toko Taikan Index includes koto, shinto and shinshinto as well as gendai swordsmiths. The complete Toko Taikan Index is too large to post in text format. It is available only in ZIP format. The NTT/NTS Showa List, courtesy of Kenji Mishina, is a list of Showa era swordsmiths published in 1943 by the Nihon Token Tanren-jo and Nihon Token Shinbun-shi using the ranking system then in use for ranking sumo wrestlers. The Koto Taikan Index also lists swordsmiths of all eras was prepared by Clive Sinclaire and is likewise used here with his permission. Due to its size, the Koto Taikan Index is available only in ZIP format. The Nihonto Newsletter Index, prepared by Ron Hartmann, is for the five volume set of compiled newsletters authored by Albert Yamanaka and published by the JSSUS. Alan Bale has done an index to Token Bijutsu, the NBTHK Journal.
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MINATOGAWA SHRINE SWORDS
The Minatogawa Shrine or Minatogawa Jinja was established in 1941 by the Japanese Navy to produce swords for distribution through the Japanese Naval Academy. The head swordsmith was Kasame Moriwaka (Masataka). Masataka first signed his swords as either Michimasa or Morimitsu, but adopted the name Masataka and the kikusui mon upon the establishment of the Shrine. The Minatogawa Jinja smiths produced true gendaito. The swords of the Minatogawa Jinja are normally designated with a kiku-sui mon (chrysanthemum on water) above the swordsmith's signature. One unusual early sword of this group is signed: Oite Minatogawa Jinja Michimasa, dated 1941, and lacks the kikusui mon. That blade has received a Hozon origami from the NBTHK. It is believed that all smiths of this group used Masa as the first character of their name. The signature (mei) normally reads "Minatogawa Jinja Masa----". Some of the smiths working at the Minatogawa Jinja were Moriwaka Masataka (oshigata at right courtesy of Ron Polansky), Masahide, Ito Masakiyo, Masuda Masaaki, Murakami Michimasa Masatada, Fujiwara Masayoshi, Okada Masanao, Masamitsu (Fujita Masami) and Unshu Norimasa (Bando Norimasa). Minatogawa swords are very well made and much sought after by collectors; there being very few of them made.
There are several blades known made by Noshu Seki 23rd Generation Kanefusa which have the kiku-sui mon carved as a horimono on the blade (not on the nakago). These blades were not made at the Minatogawa Jinja Tanrensho and have no known connection with it. These swords probably were a special order from a group of Naval officers or a Naval officer's association.
Herman Wallinga's article Gendaito Made at the Minatogawa Shrine, published in the Japanese Sword Society of the United States Journal (volume 33, number 3, 2001) is the definitive English language reference for blades of the Minatogawa Shrine.
One aid in determining whether or not a blade is made in traditional manner, i.e. is a true gendaito, is the issuance of origami (papers) by either the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kai (NBTHK) or the Nihon Token Hozon Kai (NTHK). While all gendai smiths have not received origami, one can be assured that the blades by "papered" smiths are true gendaito. Most Yasukuni Shrine swords have received origami from either the NTHK or the NBTHK and are classed as gendaito. The same is true for the blades of the Gassan School.
The above listing of origami is very incomplete. It has been compiled from individuals having direct knowledge or references of papered smiths. Many thanks to all those individuals who have contributed information on gendai swordsmiths. This is an area of Japanese sword study that is still very much on-going with new information surfacing frequently.
NOTE: Origami are issued for specific blades not to the sword smith. Many sword smiths made both traditional and non-traditional blades during the WW II period. Just because one blade by a specific smith has received origami does not mean that all blades by that smith are traditionally made. Also, there may be several smiths using the same name during this period. Each blade must be judged on its own merits and not simply by the signature of the swordsmith.
CAUTION ! Gimei blades (blades with false or fake signatures) of gendai swordsmiths have been reported. With the increase in interest and hence prices of gendaito in recent years there are sure to be unscrupulous people trying to cash in by faking gendaito. While this is not yet a wide spread problem, collectors should be aware of the possibility.
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