Emperor Gotoba was the 82nd Emperor of Japan from 1184 to 1198. He was also an ardent student of the sword. When he retired, he summoned some of the major swordsmiths of the time to work at his palace forge and to teach him the techniques of making and tempering swords. He became a fine swordsmith in his own right. Gotoba had the top swordsmiths of the day as his teachers and they were recognized as among the top swordsmiths of the Koto era. The swordsmiths were summoned to work with the retired Emperor for one month during the year. The following list of the Goban Kaji give the month in which the smith was in attendance to the Emperor and the sword making tradition in which the smith worked. (Some references will give different months or dates as the Japanese calendar does not match that of the West.)


Month     Swordsmith     Province - Tradition
January     Norimune     Bizen - Ichimonji
February     Sadatsugu     Bitchu - Aoe
March     Nobufusa     Bizen - Ichimonji
April     Kuniyasu     Yamashiro - Awataguchi
May     Tsunetsugu     Bitchu - Aoe
June     Kunitomo     Yamashiro - Awataguchi
July     Muneyoshi     Bizen - Ichimonji
August     Tsugiie     Bitchu - Aoe
September     Sukemune     Bizen - Ichimonji
October     Yukikuni     Bizen - Ichimonji
November      Sukenari     Bizen - Ichimonji
December     Sukenobu     Bizen - Ichimonji


Masamune worked in Sagami Province during the last part of the Kamakura Era (1288 - 1328) and is undoubtedly the most reknown Japanese swordsmith of all time. All of his blades are considered National Treasures. During his career several noted swordsmiths came to study with him; they are now noted as some of the finest swordsmiths of all time. The Masamune Jittetsu were already well established swordsmiths who worked in their own tradition as well as studying the techniques of Masamune. Masamune's adopted son, Sadamune succeeded him as master of the Soshu tradition of sword making.


Smith     Tradition
Rai Kunitsugu     Yamashiro
Hasabe Kunishige     Yamashiro
Kinju     Mino
Kanemitsu     Bizen
Shizu Kaneuji     Mino
Go Yoshihiro     Etchu
Saeki Norishige     Etchu
Naotsuna     Iwami
Chogi     Bizen
Sa     Chikuzen

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