Ryujin Swords

Mumei katana, atributed to Hizen Tadakiyo, in koshirae, NBTHK Tokubetsu Kicho

Click on any picture for more detail.


Period: Edo, Kanbun era (1661-1673).

Mei: None, due to shortening.

Sugata: Shinogi-zukuri, tori-zori and iori-mune.

Overall length: 32.57 inches (827.28 mm).

Nagasa: 25.82 inches (656 mm).

Nakago: 6.75 inches (171.45 mm). O-suriage, two mekugi-ana. The yasurime have almost vanished, due to patination, but may be kiri.

Kissaki: Chu-kissaki, 1.22 inches (31.00 mm). Komaru boshi.

Moto-haba: 1.01 inches (25.6 mm). Saki-haba: 0.74 inches (18.9 mm). Moto-gasane: 0.26 inches (6.6 mm). Saki-gasane: 0.19 inches (4.9 mm).

Sori: 0.47 inches (12.00 mm).

Hamon: Gunome choji with ko-ashi, sunagashi, kinsuji and yo.

Hada: Itame. There is nie-utsuri and chikei in the jigane.

Blade condition:

Excellent condition. No grain openings, no observable flaws.


Buke-zukuri, apparently contemporary with the blade. They may, for all I know, be the original koshirae.

The kurikata on the lacquered saya has a shitodome. The habaki is silver-washed habaki, and the seppa are wrapped in gold foil. The seppa are a little loose for my liking, but I'm loathe to replace them, given that they are original. I shall therefore ship the sword with its original seppa, but include a new set for free.

The tsuka is bound with black ito; the same is in very good condition and appears to be a full wrap. The tsuba has a pawlonia and bird design. The fuchi-kashira, which is made of copper, shakudo and gold, features a bird and waves. The kashira has gold shitodome; the fuchi is signed, as shown in the pictures below.


The NBTHK Tokubetsu Kicho paper, dated August 1976, attributes the sword to "Hizen Tadakiyo", a branch of the Hizen Tadayoshi. The sword was therefore made by one of two smiths, both of whom are described as Jo-saku by Fujiwara (Hawley references TAD 69 and TAD 70). The NBTHK hasn't attributed the blade to either Tadakiyo, but both are extremely good smiths. Whilst the first generation Tadakiyo is rated fractionally higher than the second generation (3.5 million yen, as opposed to 3 million yen), the latter is also very highly regarded, and his swords were listed as Wazamono in Kokon Kaji Biko (1830).

It would probably be worth submitting this sword to a Juyo shinsa; it would noticeably increase its value if it passed. It may also be worth submitting the tosugo (fittings) for shinsa.

All in all, an extremely nice sword in excellent condition in what are probably its original koshirae.