This blade was produced in
Hizen province, by 1st. Generation Masahiro, c - 1624 AD. (average working
date). He was a contemporary of Hizen Tadahiro, and one of the finest makers of
the Tadayoshi school, both he and Tadahiro were sword makers to the famous
"NABESHIMA DAIMYO FAMILY". He is rated "upper class" (Jo - Saku). The first
name he used as a sword smith was Masanaga, his given name was Sadenjiro, he
received this from his father Yoshinobu. His rather short, but prolific career
ended in Kan-bun the 5th. Year, or 1665 ad., at the age of "59" years. His works
are seldom seen, and quite scarce. Nidai Masahiro, the son of Shodai Masahiro,
was born in 1627 and also began his career using the mei Masanaga. The two
Masahiro smiths are known best for their use of midare-ba.
In the late 16th century, the feudal lord Nabeshima Naoshige would write a set of wall inscriptions for his followers. Historians describe the wall inscriptions as "Everyday wisdom, rather than house laws proper" Lord Nabeshima's written works also include a mention of bushido:
- "Bushido is in being crazy to die. Fifty or more could not kill one such a man"
In 1584, Nabeshima Naoshige was the chief retainer for the Lord of Hizen until he was killed in battle by the forces of the powerful Shimazu Clan. After his lord's death, Nabeshima became the true leader of the fiefdom and fought against the Shimazu again in 1587. A Sengoku era warlord, Nabeshima distinguished himself in battle by killing hundreds of men. He was later sent on Hideyoshi's Korean campaigns where he struck up a friendship with Kato Kiyomasa and upon his return to Hizen, Tokugawa Ieyasu.
At Sekigahara, Lord Nabeshima's son, Katsushige, was convinced to take sides against Tokugawa Ieyasu. Nabeshima wisely recalled him to attack Tokugawa's enemies in Kyushu, thus saving the clan from disaster. Historians describe Nabeshima as "a survivor and a man of quick intelligence" who saved his domain from invasion several times. His actions and sayings are immortalized in the third chapter of the Hagakure by writer Tsunetomo Yamamoto, a close attendant of Nabeshima Naoshige's grandson, Mitsushige.
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