High End Gendaito by Miyaguchi Yasuhiro
nicknamed “Dragon God”
A Yasukuni Shrine Smith
With Mint Gunto mounts
This is a fine high end gendaito by Miyaguchi Yasuhiro, also known as Toshihiro (real name: Miyaguchi Shigeru), A Yasukuni shrine smith. The approx measurements are nagasa (length): 25 1/2″ ~ 64.7 cm, Sori (curvature): 5.5 bu & Motohaba (width) 1 3/16″ ~ 3 cm. The hamon is a wide hiro suguha. The nakago is signed “Ryūjin Miyaguchi Yasuhiro”. It is very unusual for a gendaito to be named “Ryujin”* which translates as “Dragon God”. It is dated “Showa ni-ju-nen go-gatsu kitsu-jitsu” which translates as “A lucky day in May 1945” The kabuto-gane bears a silver mon of a kikyo (Chinese bellflower) which, among others, is the mon of the Matsudaira family. With mint gunto mounts including tassel One side of the tsuka is bound with the usual triple kiku menuki whilst the other bears a shakudo and gold menuki of a minogane (turtle). Miyaguchi Yasuhiro is listed in: An Oshigata Book of Modern Japanese Swordsmiths 1868-1945 by John Scott Slough, Japanese sword smiths revised by Hawley, Nihon Toko Jiten – Shinto-Hen by Fujishiro, Toko Taikan by Tokuno Kazuo, & Yasukuni Tosho – Japanese Version by Kishida. Read on below for more details…
Miyaguchi Toshihiro / Yasuhiro, (1897-1956) also signed Kunimori, was the 3rd generation of Miyaguchi Ikkansai, grandson of Miyaguchi Shigetoshi (see Genealogy chart). He is of the Ikkansai Mon (school), “MINAMOTO KIYOMARO”, was the greatest master of the Shinshinto period and was also of this school. On December 23, 1932 the board of directors of the Yasukuni Shrine (Yasukuni shrine is devoted to the protection, and Memory of “SAMURAI, AND MILITARY WARRIORS”) approved the establishment of the “Nihon To Tanren Kaji”. Toshihiro was summoned and given the smith name Yasuhiro July 8th, 1933 by the war minister “Araki Sadao”! He was then appointed in charge of the Yasukuni Tanren Kai Foundation, he is also listed as one of the Founders. In 1933 he began producing swords at this well known, and prolific school of sword smiths. He worked at the Yasukuni shrine until 1936, where he produced approximately 500 swords. He was also given the the War Minister award at the Nihonto Tanren Kai held by the Dai Nippon Tosho Kyokai. Yasuhiro was skilled at horimono, which he learned from his cousin Kasama Ikkansai Shigetsugu. He also used the mei of “Miyaguchi Toshihiro” and “Miyaguchi Ikkansai Toshihiro”.
In 1936 he was transferred to become the chief instructor, and Sensei of sword making at the Okura Tanrensho Dojo, founder by Baron Okura Kihachiro (where fine Military blades were produced). He remained there through out the WW II period.
When the art of sword making was allowed to re-commence in 1954, Toshihiro obtained a license to produce art swords. His skill of sword making, along with his skill in horimono (blade engravings) and gold inlay work are considered superb. Some of his most significant works include: a sword to Emperor Hirohito (He produced the Emperor’s Military sword), a sword donated to the festival commemorating the 700th anniversary of the retired Emperor Gotoba, a Tachi (ceremonial sword) to the Ise Shrine, and the tachi made for the Yasukuni shrine. This blade (as noted above) is believed to have been made at the Okura Tanrensho, was made when he was 58 years old; he then passed away 1 year later.
On another sword by Toshihiro / Yoshihiro, possibly one of his last works he inscribed “Shukusai Jitsu”, indicating that he is beginning his holiday (retirement). He also inscribed his age “58” years old. He passed from his very prolific life the following year at age “59” due to poor health.
Below – Courtesy of Wikipedia
*- Ryūjin or Ryōjin (龍神 “dragon god”), also known as Ōwatatsumi, was the tutelary deity of the sea in Japanese mythology. This Japanese dragon symbolized the power of the ocean, had a large mouth, and was able to transform into a human shape. Ryūjin lived in Ryūgū-jō, his palace under the sea built out of red and white coral, from where he controlled the tides with magical tide jewels. Sea turtles, fish and jellyfish are often depicted as Ryūjin’s servants.
Ryūjin was the father of the beautiful goddess Otohime who married the hunter prince Hoori. The first Emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu, is said to have been a grandson of Otohime and Hoori’s. Thus, Ryūjin is said to be one of the ancestors of the Japanese imperial dynasty.
According to legend, the Empress Jingū was able to carry out her attack into Korea with the help of Ryūjin’s tide jewels. Upon confronting the Korean navy, Jingū threw the kanju (干珠 “tide-ebbing jewel”) into the sea, and the tide receded. The Korean fleet was stranded, and the men got out of their ships. Jingū then threw down the manju (満珠 “tide-flowing jewel”) and the water rose, drowning the Korean soldiers. An annual festival, called Gion Matsuri, at Yasaka Shrine celebrates this legend.
Another legend involving Ryūjin is the story about how the jellyfish lost its bones. According to this story, Ryūjin wanted to eat monkey’s liver (in some versions of the story, to heal an incurable rash), and sent the jellyfish to get him a monkey. The monkey managed to sneak away from the jellyfish by telling him that he had put his liver in a jar in the forest and offered to go and get it. As the jellyfish came back and told Ryūjin what had happened, Ryūjin became so angry that he beat the jellyfish until its bones were crushed.