The blade was rated a Juyo Token (Important Work) by the NBTHK in 2001 and listed in the Juyo Zufu #47 on page 145. The sayagaki on the shirasaya was made by Michihiro Tanobe, former senior managing director and the head judge at the time, attesting to the quality and status of this sword. It states that this extremely precious and rare sword has the finest ko-itame jigane of all Enju blades submitted for shinsa (examination) in ten years!
Shinogi-zukuri with iori mune. The mune is wide and thick, producing a very healthy blade with a lot of hira niku. The kissaki is ikubi (“boar’s neck”) in the style of the late Kamakura period. The blade shows excellent bo-hi and soe-hi carving. The jigane (surface of the steel) is a tight ko-itame (wood grain) pattern with tendencies toward nagare-hada, a flowing pattern. The hiraji hada, or skin of the blade, shows much ji nie as well as fine chikei, appearing wet or oily on the surface. The nie-utsuri, shadowing the hamon within the hiraji showing martensite crystals, is a prominent feature of this blade and a common one for the Rai school and its affiliates, like the Enju. The hamon is chu suguha, a straight and elegant temper line in nie deki with predominantly martensite formations. The tang is o-suriage, mumei (unsigned). The blade is attributed to Ko-Enju, the earliest period of this swordsmith school, by the NBTHK. The blade is stored in a fine inscribed shirasaya and the mounting is separate.
The handachi koshirae is from the mid-Edo period (c. 1650-1700), the saya has a matte black lacquer finish with cloud motifs, the fuchi-kashira and handachi fittings are shibuichi with an ishime finish. Interestingly, the tsuka is made from shakudo instead of the regular same but with the same ray skin texture. The waki goto menuki are finely carved dragons in shakudo and gold of excellent quality. The excquisite kyo-sukashi tsuba complements the cloud theme of the saya.
NAGASA 67.6 cm, MOTOHABA 3.05 cm, SAKIHABA 1.95 cm
Condition: The blade and koshirae are in superb condition.
Provenance: Important samurai art from an Austrian private collection – Lots (31 – 39) are from an Austrian private collection, assembled with great knowledge and care, as all the objects are in a superior state of preservation. The collection most prominently features three Koto swords, no. 31 is listed as a Juyo Token (= important work).