Ryujin Swords

Katana by Den Hosokawa Masachika NTHK

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Period: Kaei era (circa 1848).

Mei: Mumei. Attributed to Den Hosokawa Masachika. The term 'den' in this instance does not mean 'school'; that would be Hosokawa Masachika Den. Den before a smith's name means that the sword is either missing something or, more commonly, has something extra, when compared to the textbook attributes of a particular smith's blades. 'Den' blades can represent the smith's finest work.

Sugata: Shinogi-zukuri, deep tori-zori, iori-mune, bo-hi, maru-dome.

Overall length: 37.09 inches (942.00 mm).

Nagasa: 29.84 inches (758.00 mm).

Nakago: Ubu, 7.24 inches (184.00 mm). Kiri yasurime, one mekugi-ana.

Kissaki: Chu-kissaki, 1.42 inches (36.10 mm), ko-maru boshi.

Moto-haba: 1.24 inches (31.50 mm). Saki-haba: 0.84 inches (21.30 mm). Moto-gasane: 0.30 inches (7.50 mm). Saki-gasane: 0.22 inches (5.80 mm).

Sori: 0.81 inches (20.60 mm).

Hamon: Suguha.

Hada: Itame.

Blade condition: Out of polish, some rust and the odd knick. However, no ware or fatal flaws. This will be a gorgeous - and intimidating - blade when polished.


Traditional buke-zukuri koshirae with a one-piece copper habaki with a 'cat scratch' design. The tsuka is 11.00 inches long and wrapped tsumami maki; the same appears to be a full wrap. The fuchi-kashira are Higo-style and made out of iron with the remains of a gilded design. The menuki appear to be shakudo and gold; the design is unclear. The tsuba is decorated with hot stamp designs.

The tsuka is in good condition, but the saya needs stripping back and relaquering.


This is a huge sword with a blade that is only just under 30 inches. Blades this length tend to be very uncommon; even more unusually, it has an ubu nakago. Despite its condition, the NTHK awarded it a 70 point kanteisho at the 2003 London Shinsa.

The shodai Masachika was a student of Hosokawa Masayoshi, a famous smith. His family name was Sakai, so he sometimes signed his sword Sakai Masachika. He was active 1830-1844; given the date on the paper of 1848, this is a slightly later work of his. He is ranked in the Toko Taikan (page 560) as two million yen.

There was a second generation Masachika who was active around the Meiji Restoration. It is reported that he was sentenced to be beheaded for making gimei blades.


Zuikan Tomei Soran, TS352

Toko Taiken, p. 560