Article by Dr. Honma Junji


3. Munechika and his school

It is said that Munechika lived in Sanjo of Yamashiro Province around the Eien Era (987-988) and he is also called ‘Sanjo’ and ‘Ko-kaji’. He has been a very famous smith from olden times and his great reputation is substantiated by his extant works like meibutsu ‘Mikazuki Munechika’ (‘Tenka Go Ken’ or one of the five greatest swords in Japan) and a tachi of the Imperial sword collection. Meibutsu Mikazuki Munechika is a little tired after many polishes but still maintains classic elegance and dignity. The jihada of the tachi is beautiful and has dense itame-hada that does not appear to have been folded many times during forging. The jigane looks soft in comparison to that of Yasutsuna and Ko-Bizen swords and is covered with thick and fine ji-nie. The hamon is ko-midare in ko-nie-deki with a thick nioi-guchi then many uchinoke are overlapped and become niju-ba and sanju-ba, and it starts with very short yaki-otoshi. The sword somewhat reminds one of Kogarasu-maru and Shoso-in swords even though the sugata is different, and the whole workmanship looks older than that of Yasutsuna and Ko-Bizen swords. Yaki-otoshi is seen in early Japanese swords such as Yasutsuna, Ko-Bizen and Kyushu swords occasionally, therefore they should not be mistaken for sai-ha (re-tempered swords). There are few extant works of Yamato swords made in the Heian Period but a certain number of extant works of the Kamakura Period and they show fairly classic workmanship with narrow hamon in the bottom area. The Reimei-kai Museum of the Owari Tokugawa family owns a tanto with the signature of Munetsugu. The blade is hira-zukuri and has uchi-zori and hoso-sugu-ha. I suppose this is a very rare example of tanto made in the early Kamakura Period.


Yoshiie, Kanenaga, Kuninaga and Arinari are said to be sons or grandsons of Munechika and there are fine extant works by them. It is believed that Kanenaga and Kuninaga lived in Gojo in Kyoto and so they are called Gojo Kanenaga and Gojo Kuninaga. They forged a finer jihada than that of Munechika and temper ko-midare in a more artificial pattern so that they also are recognized to have been active later than Munechika. Yoshiie often tempered hamon mixed with middle-sized choji, therefore he seems to have been active in the Kamakura Period. Also there is a theory that he is a Bizen smith since he tempers fairly gorgeous choji-midare but his active age has yet to be studied.



        JUYO,       Kanenaga Tachi

        APPROX. "1000" YEARS OLD.


HEIAN ERA: Cho-gen ( period ) C-1028 AD.


THE NAKAGO (TANG): Suriage (cut down)


MEI (MAKERS SIGNATURE): Kanenaga ( only the kanji for
Kane remains )

  This is on the Ura (side worn towards the body)


JIRI (TANG END): Saki- kuri (straight cut)







STYLE:  Shinogi-Zukuri (most popular style)


MUNE (BACK RIDGE): Ihori (peaked)


NAGASA (LENGTH OF CUTTING EDGE):  67.2 cm / 26 1/2”


SORI (CURVATURE): 1.8 cm / 3/4”


Motohaba (WIDTH): 2.5 cm / 1”


BOSHI: (TEMPERING IN POINT): Straight w/ Komaru (small turn back)


KISSAKI (POINT STYLE): Ko-Kissaki (small point)



  Suguba w/ Ko-Choji and Ko-Midare; Active with Ashi, Sunagashi, Kinsuji, Yo, Nie and Nioi



  Itame w/ slight Masame; Ji Nie








POLISH: 100%




HABAKI:  Two piece gold


SHIRA SAYA; JUYO GRADE ( made of aged wood ), with Sayagaki by;  Dr. Kanzan Sato C -1970


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