Yamashiro Rai Kunitoshi (山城来國俊)

Among the Rai School grand-master swordsmiths, probably the most famous is Rai Kunitoshi who is regarded as one of the first rank tantō makers.

The Rai (来) School began to enjoy great success almost from the very moment of its origin in the Yamashiro (山城) province. The Rai School was known by swordsmiths of a very high level grew up at once during a short time period. This School was formed in Kyoto in the middle of the Kamakura period (鎌倉, 1185-1333), and its founder and predecessor was Kuniyoshi (国吉). According to the legend, Kuniyoshi was born in a state called Koryo (高麗), that existed at that time on a part of the Korean peninsula. The Koto Meizukushi Taizen (1792, Volume 2, p. 2/1) provides the following information about his life: «Kuniyoshi was born in the 1st year of the Shōji era (正治, 1199), died in the 57th year of his life in the 7th year of the Kenchō era (建長, 1255)». From Korea, Kuniyoshi moved to Japan. It is believed that the name of the Rai School is a reminder of the relocation of its founder. The “Rai” (来) kanji can be translated as “come, arrive”.

However, in the most old manuscripts calls the eldest son of Kuniyoshi, Raitaro Kuniyuki (来太郎国行), as the founder of the Rai School. Such an opinion, which undoubtedly ignores information from entries in old books, has developed due to the fact that Kuniyoshi's works has not survived to our time. According to the Kotō Meizukushi Taizen (1792, Volume 2, p. 2/1), Kuniyuki was born in the 1st year of the Jōkyū era (承久, 1219) and died at the age of 79 in the 5th year Einnin era (永仁, 1297). There are conflicting accounts of both Kuniyuki's place of work and the craftsman who taught him the art of swords making. Thus, according to some sources, he was working in a settlement called Nishioka (西岡) in the vicinity of the Mukai-Miyojin Temple (向井明神), according to others, in the settlement of Chudō-ji (中堂寺), located in the immediate vicinity of the gate of the city of Kyoto with the name Shuzaku (朱雀). Old chronicles preserved information about Kuniyuki’s secret signature: Daigenki (代元鬼) which could be his Buddhist name or some other version of his so-called secret name. Regarding Kuniyuki's training in swordmithing, there is evidence that Ayanakoji Sadatoshi (綾小路定利) may have been his teacher.

In fairness, it should be noted that some old manuscripts mention the name of another legendary predecessor of the Rai School: Kuniyori (国頼), who’s period of artistic activity indicated as the Bunji era (文治, 1185-1190). Paradoxically, several works of this master have survived to this day. In particular, two swords have survived: the first one bearing the signature “Rai Sama (no) Jō Minamoto Kuniyori” (徠左馬尉源国頼) and the second one bearing the signature “Sama (no) Jō Kuniyori” (左馬徠国頼). It is noteworthy that the first version of the signature contains the kanji "Rai", written in the archaic style: 徠. If we consider that the use of this kanji was intentional and was associated with the name of the Rai School, then we must admit that the name of the School has a much more ancient origin and has nothing to do with Kuniyoshi’s migration from Korea to Japan. Thus, according to this version, the roots of the Rai School are of a completely national origin. However, modern sources rank Kuniyori among the founders of the Awataguchi School, and not Rai School at all. Modern experts prefer to interpret kanji “Rai” as “Jin” (陣) finding in this two surviving swords, mentioned above, the similarity to the Awataguchi School’s sword smithing style. There are reasons for this, as the kanji “Rai” in the signature on the Kuniyori’s tantō is read extremely poorly and can be interpreted in various ways, including as “Jin”.

 Most often, the genealogy of the Rai School’s swordsmiths is representing as follows:

In the Kokon Meizukushi Taizen (古今銘盡大全, 8-volume edition, 1778, Volume 1, pp. 3-4), the genealogy of the Rai School is presented as follows:

The Kotō Meizukushi Taizen (古刀銘全大全, by Ogi Yori Sugawara Hirokuni, 1792) contains the following information about Kunitoshi: “Kunitoshi, the son of Kuniyuki, was born in the 1st year of the Ninji era (仁治, 1240) and died in the 105th year of his life in the 3rd year of the Kōei era (康永, 1344).” It is rather difficult to assume such a long period of life for a person who lived at that time, however, this is not the only example of indicating such a long life period in this manuscript. Suffice it to recall that the life span of Ichimonji Sukezane is indicated: 113 years, and Daishinbō: a full 131 years. Most likely, this is a consequence of some errors related to the incorrect reading by the author of this edition of some kanji from old scrolls or incorrect binding to any of the reference dates. 

However, it is indisputable that Kunitoshi lived a long and fruitful life and some of his extant works with signatures can be a confirmation of this:

  • the 4th year of the Shōwa era (正和,1315) at the age of 75;
  • the 1st year of the Bunpō era (文保,1317) at the age of 78.

The same manuscript indicates that Kunitoshi was a disciple and follower of a master bearing the same name and considered the first generation of a master. The followed entry one could found here: “Kunitoshi, the 2nd generation, the disciple of Kunitoshi (1st generation); during the Kenmu era (建武, 1334-1338) he was 35 years old; he was born in the 1st year of the Shōan era (正安, 1299) and died at the age of 41 in the 3rd year of the Ryakuō era (暦安, 1340).

The Kunitoshi's name is one of the most famous in the history of Japanese swordsmithing art. It can be safely put on a par with such names as Masamune, Gō Yoshihiro and Awataguchi Yoshimitsu. His name is often mentioned in various legends and epics of Japan from different periods of time.

According to the Fujishiro Yoshio (藤代義雄) rating system, Kunitoshi’s works occupy the saijō-saku (最上作) level (the superior level of workmanship). In addition, in the Nihon Tōkō Jiten, Fujishiro also indicates the rating of Kunitoshi according to the so-called Wazamono system created by Yamada Asaemon Yoshimitsu (山田浅右衛門吉睦, 1767 - 1823). Usually, masters of the Koto era, described in the Yoshimitsu book, do not contain data on assigning a Wazamono rating, but Kunitoshi has this rating: O-Wazamono (swords with great sharpness: they cut the target 90%). The rating of Kunitoshi (niji and sanji) according to the rating system of Dr. Tokuno (the Tōkō Taikan) is 2,000 man yen, which is an extremely high rating. "Man" in this case conditionally means 10,000 yen, so it is believed that the sword of Kunitoshi's work should cost at least 20 million yen. Of course, this is a very conditional assessment, which can only be applied to swords that have certification below Jūyō Bunkazai and Kokuhō, with the determination of the cost characteristics of which are the greatest difficulties. In addition, there is a very wide range of prices for signed and unsigned works, as well as for daitō and tantō.

The Kunitoshi’s name is firmly connected with the "golden age" of swordsmithing art of Japan: the Kamakura period. That is why, as is often the case, increased attention to his work has generated great debate about the personality of Kunitoshi, which does not stop to present days. The main stumbling block is the discussion about how many generations of the master actually existed.

The fact is that a relatively large number of signed works by Kunitoshi have reached to present times. It is allowing us to determine the period of his artistic activity in sufficient detail and with a high degree of reliability, as well as highlight the main characteristics and features of Kunitoshi’s works. For the swordmiths of the middle Kamakura period, which are almost 800 years behind our time, this state of affairs is quite rare. However, along with the advantages, there is a significant drawback in this matter. Several versions of the Kunitoshi signature have been preserved, which contain two main types of master’s designations of his own name: Kunitoshi (国俊) and Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊). In particular, the following signature options have been preserved:

  • Kunitoshi (国俊),
  • Rai Magotarō saku (来孫太郎作),
  • Rai Minamoto Kunitoshi (来源国俊),
  • Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊).

Various options for Kunitoshi's signatures could be found in the Tsuchiya Osigata (土屋押形, 3-volume edition, 1926, Volume 1, pp. 51-57):

Due to these circumstances, the theory of two generations of Kunitoshi was formed. It should be admitted that this theory arose a long time ago, although it was not widely disseminated among nihonto experts. Followers of the theory of two generations distinguish works with a very expressive chōji-style hamon which were signed by using only two kanji (niji) and attribute them to the 1st generation of the master, designating him as Niji Kunitoshi. Other works, performed in the style of suguba in a calmer, more elegant style and somewhat reminiscent of the swords of the Heian period, signed by using three kanji with adding the name of the school: Rai, belong to the 2nd generation, designated as Rai Kunitoshi. All shortened and unsigned works of the master are structured according to the same principle too.

During the period of his creative activity, Kunitoshi really changed his style quite a lot. The changes that occurred, were mainly related to the hardening style, which the master at one time began to use for his work. However, the main problem is that not every sword that preserved to present times contains a date, moreover, dated works are extremely rare. In this regard, the assertion that a change in the style of the master’s works occurred during a certain period of his activity is based only on the existence of several dated works made in one style and several (also dated) made in another. Of course, such a statement seems conditional, given that the dated works do not exceed a few percent of the total number of swords preserved. It cannot be argued that Kunitoshi did not apply a different method of hardening during another, "uncharacteristic” for him period of creative activity. It is quite possible that unsigned works attributed, for example, to a later period, were actually produced much earlier.

Kunitoshi’s signatures examples presented in the Kokon Meizukushi Taizen (古今銘盡大全, Volume 5, p. 8).

More information on the evolution of Kunitoshi's signature can be found in Darcy Brockbank's article: www.yuhindo.com.

Kunitoshi's works, conditionally related to an earlier period, have the following main distinguishing characteristics: 

Sugata: daitō swords characterized by a deep sori; kasane is quite thick; the height of iori mune is average; chū-kissaki.

Kitae: ko-itame hada, abundance of ji-nie; the steel’s hue is blackish.

Hamon: mainly ko-midare and chōji-midare (in the Bizen-Ichimonji style) or a mixture of these two types of hamon; there are works with hamon based on chōji. Sometimes a chōji hamon  design resembles a fern grains. Hamon has nie-deki at its core, and some works are in nioi-deki. Throughout the hardening line, you can see the activity in the form of yo and ashi.

Bōsi: most often the hardening is in the form of yakizume (almost without kaeri), rarely - in the form of midare-komi with a small kaeri.

Nakago: nakago often has a niku in the direction of nakago mune; yasurime is yoko (horizontal file lines). The signature was made by two kanji (niji), chiseled below the first mekugi-ana. Perhaps some of the works signed in the style of niji-mei were made by disciples under the master’s supervision, and such a signature was called daisaku-mei (代作).

Rai Kunitoshi’s works, conditionally related to a later period of creativity, have the following main distinguishing characteristics.

Sugata: tachi sugata looks more “slender”; toriizori; shinogi is relatively wide; iori mune is relatively low. Tantō is characterized by short-length nagasa, as well as the presence of takenoko sori or without sori at all.

Kitae: ko-itame hada or nasi-ji hada; in general, a higher quality of hada is observed, compared with Kuniyuki and Kunitoshi, although in those places where there are areas of ji-nie, the tetsu quality is weaker.

Hamon: suguba is the most common; rarely seen variations of ko-midare and chōji-midare; even less common is gounome midare; nioiguchi is wide with integrations of ko-nie; the presence of ashi is noted.

Bōsi: ko-maru with kaeri ; tantō is characterized sometimes a slight togari, and in this case, kaeri is quite deep.

Horimono: bo-hi (coming on a tang by kakinagashi type); tantō has ken, bonji, gomabashi.

Nakago: the nakago mune is made in the kaku mune form; yasurime is yoko. The signature in most cases was made by three kanji (sanmei) in which a rather peculiar spelling of kanji "rai" can be noted. The upper inclined strokes of the radical were depicted as a parallel line - “ichi”. That is, kanji 来 or 徠 turned into 耒. Sometimes there is a signature using the master’s official title: "Rai Minamoto Kunitoshi," which is believed to have been used by Kunitoshi already in his old age.

In general, it can be noted that among the Kunitoshi’s works of different time periods there were both weak and impressive works, and in this issue rare generalizations that recognize one of the Kunitoshi's generation as characterized by lower quality works are completely incorrect. In this case, we can only indicate of a change in style and, to some extent, in the technology of making swords used in forging process. Of course, the result of this was a slightly different product at the output, but the comparison of these two different styles, in this case is more about taste and individual preference.

The most famous old manuscripts, describing the work of Kunitoshi, are presenting the information about his activity in the following form: there is a description of the master with the name Kunitoshi, indicating his disciples and followers, and then next is indicated another name: Rai Kunitoshi, the name given to him at birth is Magotarō (孫太郎) and a list of dated works known to the author of the manuscript is provided. That is, in this case, one swordsmith is described with the same years of life, without separation into the first and second generations.

Thus, most of the old manuscripts adhere to the so-called version of one generation of Kunitoshi, while indicating different versions of signature and highlighting two main methods: niji (two kanji) and sanji (three kanji). The same opinion is shared by one of the most respected contemporary experts, Dr. Honma Junji. Tanobe-sensei (Tanobe Michihiro) also holds the opinion of one generation of the master and considers the division into Niji Kunitoshi and Rai Kunitoshi conditional, made only to indicate the early (niji) and late (Rai) periods of his long swordsmith career.

As noted above, two works, signed by three kanji and dated, are preserved: the first one is dated in the 1315th year, the other one dated in the 1317th year. These swords made by the master, respectively at 75 and 78 years old. The earliest known dated work by Rai Kunitoshi dates back to 1289 (made at the age of about 49). Niji Kunitoshi's earliest dated work dates back to the 12th month of 1278, that is, the sword was made by a craftsman at the age of 38. It can be notice that in this case there is an overlap of these time periods on each other. Thus, this fact can be considered as one of the confirmations of the existence of only one generation of the master. It is hard to imagine that there were two masters at the same time and about the same age, who worked in a similar style and signed almost the same way. It is much easier to imagine a swordsmith at the peak of his creative abilities in middle age, who is actively experimenting. As a result of these swordsmithing experiments, the master for a period of time uses both various types of hardening and various signature options.

Kunitoshi made a significant contribution to the formation of the Rai School traditions, and the School itself, during its heyday, boasted a rather impressive list of famous smith names. Nevertheless, it should be recognized that it is Kunitoshi who is the most famous representative of the Rai School and is rightfully considered the most skillful master of this School. Kunitoshi made both long swords (tachi and katana) and short swords (tantō). He is considered one of the best tantō masters in the history of swordsmithing in Japan. His level of workmanship in this area was so high that can be put on a par with such recognized giants as Shintōgo Kunimitsu, Awataguchi Yoshimitsu, Etchū Norishige and Samonji.

The exceptional quality of Niji Kunitoshi's work was highly appreciated by representatives of the military class and nobility. His works was often used as gifts during official ceremonies. Examples of such events can be found in the records of the “Tokugawa Chronicles” (Albert Yamanaka’s Nihontō Newsletter, Volume 4, San Francisco, 1994–2004). The most characteristic such episodes are presented below.

On April 1, 1611, Owari Yoshinao and Yorinobu arrived to Osaka to meet Hideyori and apologise for having had him to go Nijo Castle, the year before. They gives him tachi and other gifts…Hideyori presented in return … to Yorinobu tachi made by Niji Kunitoshi.

On February 6, 1624, Hidetada visits Mito Yorifusa at his mansion and gives him …. tachi by Niji Kunitoshi. 

On April 29, 1629 года Hidetada visits the Maeda Toshitsune’s mansion and gives …. to Mitsutaka a katana by Niji Kunitoshi (Mitsutaka: is one of the representatives of Maeda clan attended at the ceremony).

On December 13, 1632, Iemitsu gives Sakai Tadamasa a wakizashi by Kagemitsu. Tadamasa presents a katana by Niji Kunitoshi.

On December 22, 1648, Nabeshima Okisuke, also has his coming-of-age ceremony receives the title of Jyu Yon I Shita and сhanges his name to Matsudaira Tango no Kami Mitsushige and presents a katana by Kuniyuki, cash for a horse and silver. In return receives a katana by Niji Kunitoshi.

On November 11, 1692, Hinomotosho Inaba no Kami Munesuke receives an unexpected visit from the shogun and Inaba no Kami receives a katana by Sa Sadayoshi…in return Munesuke gives to shogun a tachi by Niji Kunitoshi.


Nagasa          69.6 cm

Motohaba         2.8 cm

Sakihaba         1.8 cm

Sori             1.8 cm

No. 43 Jūyō Tōken, October 30th, 1997; the sword has been shortened, unsigned, attributed to Niji Kunitoshi. The old shirasaya with a sayagaki by Hon’ami Ringa; a new shirasaya with a sayagaki by Tanzan (Tanobe Michihiro) dated December 2003 Provenance: Ueda (上田) clan, Ueda Yasuhiro (上田泰弘), Nick Kolick (US nihonto collector). 

Koshirae: authentic, made in the Meiji period using tosogu elements made in the Edo period with the family mon of the Ueda clan. Perhaps the koshirae was made at the same time as the old shirasaya.

Certificate translation by Markus Sesko:

Jūyō No 10085 


katana, mumei: Den Niji Kunitoshi (伝二字国俊); measurements: nagasa 69.6 cm, sori 1.8 cm. 

Shape: shinogi-zukuri, iori-mune, deep sori, chū-kissaki.

Kitae: itame mixed with some nagare, in addition plentiful of ji-nie. 

Hamon: suguha-chō mixed with ko-chōji, ko-gunome, ko-midare, ashi, and , tempered in ko-nie-deki.

Bōshi: sugu with a ko-maru-kaeri with plentiful of hakikake. 

Horimono: on both sides a bō-hi which runs with kaki-nagashi into the tang. 

Nakago: ō-suriage, kirijiri, three mekugi-ana (one plugged).

According to the result of the shinsa committee of our society we judged this work as authentic and rate it as jūyō-tōken

On October 30, 1997. Nihon Bijutsu Tōken Hozon Kyōkai, NBTHK. Yamanada Sadanori (山中貞則) 

Back of the jūyō certificate:

Owner: Ueda Yasuhiro (上田泰弘) 

Address: Kanagawa Prefecture, Zama City, Midorigaoka 3-48-9 

Date of issue: on December 25, 1998.

Setsumei by NBTHK translation (previous version of this translation could be found on www.yuhindo.com):

Appointed on October 30, 1997 - Session 43, katana, mumei, Den Niji Kunitoshi, Yasuhiro Ueda, Kanagawa.

Sugata: shinogi-zukuri, iori mune, normal mihaba, with some difference in the width of motosaki, deep sori, chū-kissaki.

Hamon: suguha-chō at its base, mixed with ko-chōji, ko-gunome and ko-midare gokoro. Yaki is one level lower somewhere in the upper middle. Overall, it has well displayed ashi and , ko-nie, fine sunagashi and kinsuji.

Kitae: itame, nagare here and there, well displayed ji-nie.

Bōshi: straight with komaru gokoro, active hakikake making a nie-kuzure tone.

Nakago: ō-suriage, saki type is kurijiri, yasurime type is kiri, 3 mekugi-ana holes, one of them is filled, mumei.

Kunitoshi is said to be a son of Rai Kuniyuki. There are two [smiths named] Kunitoshi. One is so called Niji Kunitoshi without Rai and the other is Rai Kunitoshi with three kanji (sanji). Niji Kunitoshi and Rai Kunitoshi can be the same person considering the years those existing swords were made. However there is quite a difference in the two styles. Some say they are the same person while others say they are different, but there is no unified theory yet. In general Niji Kunitoshi has wide mihaba, bold ikubi kissaki, fancy chōji-midare that reminds one of Fukuoka Ichimonji, and well displayed ko-nie.

This ō-suriage mumei sword is said to be created by Niji Kunitoshi. The sword shows an old style and is quieter than typical swords made by him. However, there are common characteristics that are found in the greatest sword by Niji Kunitoshi, the Jūyō Bijutsuhin heirloom of the Tachibana Family. It is affirmed then that this sword, which shows distinctive taste overall, is one of his works.

This sword is without exaggeration one of the most beautiful works of Niji Kunitoshi. The so-called "old style" can be seen in many elements, starting with the sugata of this sword. Slender and swift forms make it easy and very manoeuvrable.

Of course, it is not suitable for fighting against a warrior in heavy armour, but is perfect for use for fighting against a warrior in a kimono. The wide groove (bō-hi) was made very skillfully and was carved in the process of making the characterized sword, and not added later, as it often happened. The groove is quite deep (for most swords, the hi is not so deep) and this somewhat uncharacteristic depth creates a very clear and strong whistling sound when the sword make a stroke move. This groove depth makes the sword lighter than usual and creates greater elasticity due to the so-called I-beam effect.

The manufacture of such a deep groove is possible only in exceptional cases - for this the master needs to be absolutely sure of the perfect quality of forging all layers of metal: internal and external. In addition, it is necessary to be sure that these layers are welded together by forge welding uniformly throughout the blade and without defects. Otherwise, these defects would certainly come out in the form of cracks or shells. This would certainly affect the combat properties and aesthetic characteristics of the sword.

The sword is characterized by a very beautiful and expressive ji-hada pattern and a hamon pattern contrasting with it. That is, a calm hamon drawing is adjacent to a bright and expressive metal ji pattern.

However, the most important characteristic of this sword is documentary proved of its provenance. This sword was the family legacy of the Higo Ueda clan (肥後上田), since the time of Edo. Confirmation is contained in three documents:

  • an inscription made by Hon’ami Ringa on an old shirasya (most likely in the process of polishing and evaluating this sword in the Hon’ami Ringa workshop),
  • a record made at NBTHK’s setsumei, indicating that the sword is owned by Ueda Yasuhiro and is also represented by him to shinsa,
  • a record on the back of the NBTHK certificate about the owner: Ueda Yasuhiro.

This is one of the very rare cases when possession of a sword by the daimyō clan can be documented. Moreover, it is also confirmed that representatives of the direct line of the Ueda clan owned this sword, not only in the time of Edo and Meiji, but also at the present time. That is, at least until the very end of 1998 (the date of issuance of the certificate of the jūyō-tōken to the owner), the sword was the family heirloom of the Ueda clan. The sword was submitted to the shinsa in order to obtain the status of Jūyō Tōken personally by the owner - Ueda Yasuhiro. The fact that NBTHK documents retained the name of the owner is a unique event in itself, indicating that the sale of this sword by the representatives of the clan was not planned. Otherwise, a sword for shinsa would have been presented on behalf of the dealer or information about the owner would have been carefully removed from the back of the certificate (this is a very common practice).

It is not known exactly what events led to the sale of this rare piece of art by representatives of the clan, however, the knowledge of the names involved in this process opens up great opportunities for further research, which promise to be unusually interesting.

Sayagaki by Tanobe-sensei, literary translation:

重要刀剣指定品 Important Sword Designated Article.

山城國二字國俊 Yamashiro no Kuni Niji Kunitoshi.

但大磨上無銘也時代鎌倉中期 Although shortened and unsigned the era is the middle Kamakura period.

同エ極ノ優品而 This is an excellent example authenticated to Niji Kunitoshi.

同作中穏雅ナル This work is among those by this smith that are calm and elegant…

作域ヲ示シ格調頗高 … and show extremely high nobility.

珍々重々 It is held in great esteem. 

刃長貳尺ニ寸九分五厘有之 The nagasa is 2 shaku 2 sun 9 bu and some (69.8cm).

平成拾五癸未暦極月下浣佳日 on December 2003

探山観并誌(花押)Tanzan appraised and ascribed (kaō).

 Sayagaki by Hon’ami Ringa, literary translation:

大磨上 Greatly shortened.

 伝来國俊 Den Rai Kunitoshi (attribution is somewhat different from the opinion of modern experts).

肥後上田家伝来 An heirloom of the Higo Ueda family.

本阿弥琳雅先生添書有 Hon’ami Ringa sensei wrote this.

Hon’ami Ringa, inscribed this sayagaki at the the Meiji period times.

Hon'ami Ringa’s personal monogram (kaō).

Hon'ami Ringa (Seizen) was born in 1859 and named Yamomoto Naonojō (山本直之丞) at birth. He was a representative of the Kōi Hon'ami branch in the 16th generation. In 1911, he changed his name to Ringa. It is believed that this name was given to him by Sugiyama Shigemaru (杉山茂丸, 1846-1935) Hon'ami Ringa died in September 23, 1927. Ringa's wife, bearing the name of Koine (小稲), was once a geisha. Later, she opened her own house, called Horii (堀井), located in Edo, where the services of a geisha were provided. Due to the specifics of his work, his wife had extensive connections among high-ranking officials of Japan at that time.

An interesting legend has survived. Once, Koine acquired a very valuable sword by Inoue Shinkai (井上真改), which was subsequently decided to sell to a famous politician, and later to the Prime Minister of Japan: Baron Kuroda Kiyotaka (黒田清隆, 1840-1900). Kiyotaka was considered a great master of tameshigiri (test cutting) and devoted a lot of time to appropriate practices and exercises with the sword. After Ringa introduced the Inoue Shinkai sword to him, Kiyotaka examined him and said that he looked fragile and could easily break in his opinion. Ringo, realizing that his reputation as an appraiser of swords was questioned, said that Kiyotaka could experience this sword right now. I must admit that such a proposal, in view of the very high cost of the sword, carried a serious risk for the Ringa. Kiyotaka drew his sword, raised it to a jōdan position, and with all his might struck a bronze flower vase in his yard. The sword cut the vase without any damage to itself. Kiyotaka was very confused.

This famous antique photograph depicts the samurai of the Ueda clan. This photo dates back to 1868 and is one of the very famous photographs describing the everyday life of the samurai of Japan during the Meiji period. More information about the history of the Ueda clan can be obtained from open sources.

The No. 43 Jūyō Tōken Niji Kunitoshi katana photos, made by Darcy Brockbank:

Original content Copyright © 2020 Dmitry Pechalov