Unsigned, den Rai Kuninaga
Late Kamakura, early Nanbokucho period, Circa 1332
NBTHK Juyō Tōken
Nagasa [lenght]: 71.5 cm
Motohaba: 2.7 cm, sakihaba: 1.9 cm
Sori [curvature]: 2.3 cm
Sugata [configuration]: shinogi-zukuri, koshi-zori, iori-mune, chu-kissaki (3,2 cm)
Kitae [forging pattern]: bright itame mixed with mokume and nagare, plenty of jinie and chikei,
Hamon [tempering pattern]: suguha mixed to ko-choji and ko-gunome; ashi, yō, hotsure, yubashiri, kinsuji and sunagashi
Bōshi [point]: many hakikake forming kaen
Nakago [tang]: o-suriage, kirijiri yasurime; three mekugi-ana
Origami: the blade comes with a Juyō token (Important sword) certificate issued by the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai (Session nr. 59)
Sayagaki: the shirasaya has been inscribed by Tanobe Michiro sensei in 2013; he states the sword is a masterpiece by Rai Kuninaga, and “chinchin-chocho”, meaning “very rare and very precious”.
Koshirae: The sword is accompanied by a good old koshirae with high level fittings. The two piece habaki, part of which is solid gold, features a version of the Aoi mon of the Tokugawa house used by the Moriyama Matsudaira daimyō branch.
Rai Kunitoshi, one of the top Japanese sword makers of all time, had many fine students, but only three smiths produced swords then signed for the master (daimei): Kuninaga, Kunimitsu e Kunitsugu.
Kuninaga was then one of the best makers from the Rai school, working between the late Kamakura period and into the Nanbokucho period. Around 1329 Kuninaga moved to Nakajima, where he founded the Nakajima-Rai school; he himself is often referred to with this name. There are only few blades remaining to us that Rai Kuninaga signed for himself and there are probably more daimei for Rai Kunitoshi than existing zaimei blades of his own, which probably says something about the role he played in the school (likely working for Rai Kunitoshi exclusively before he moved off to Nakajima to found his line, and at this point sign his own blades.
This blade is of exceptional quality, with strong activities both in the hamon and in the jihada. The shape is typical of the late Kamakura period, so it is probably from the time when he moved to Nakajima.
The sword had been used in battle and carries a very nice kirimoni on the mune.
This sword bears an extensive inscription (sayagaki) by Tanobe Michihiro sensei that reads:
Designated as jûyō-tōken in course of the 43rd jûyō-tōken shinsa
Jōshû Rai Kuninaga
Ō-suriage mumei. This smith was a student of Rai Kunitoshi, but as he moved later to Nakajima in Settsu province and made swords there, he is usually referred to as Nakajima-Rai. This blade is a masterwork whose jiba shows the characteristic features of the smith very well.
Very rare, very precious.
Blade length: 2 shaku, 3 sun e 6 bu
Written by Tanzan Hendō in October of the year of the snake of this era (2013)
The sword photographs here are provided by Darcy Brockbank of Yuhindo, for which I owe a debt of thanks.
Katana in vendita. Prezzo su richiesta. Numero di inventario: tok-1410