A Hizen Masahiro Katana in koshirae

Early Edo Period (1615-1867), circa 1650

Signed 肥前國河内大掾藤原正廣

Hizen kuni kawachi daijō Fujiwara Masahiro

NBTHK Hozon Tōken


Nagasa [length]: 72 cm

Sori [curvature]: 1.4 cm

Motohaba [bottom width]: 2.9 cm

Sakihaba [top width]: 2.1 cm

Motokasane [bottom thickness]: 5.5 mm


Sugata [configuration]: Shinogi-zukuri, iori-mune, koshi-zori, chu-kissaki

Kitae [forging pattern]: Ko-itame hada and konuka hada typical of Hizen. Jinie.

Hamon [tempering pattern]: Gunome midare in nie-deki with thick nioiguchi. Ashi, , long sunagashi and kinsuji.

Boshi [point]: Round at the end with hakikake kaeri

Nakago [tang]: Ubu, iriyamagata-jiri, ō-sujikai yasurime; two mekugi-ana, mei: “Hizen kuni Kawachi Daijō Fujiwara Masahiro


Origami [paper]: The blade comes with a Hozon Tōken (Sword Worth of Preserving) certificate issued by the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai. 

Koshirae [mounts]: The sword in an antique shirasaya and accompanied by a good antique koshirae with high level fittings and lacquer.


The Hizen school was one of the glorious successes of the Shintō period. It was founded by Tadayoshi, under the sponsorship of the daimyō Nabeshima Naoshige. The Tadayoshi style is based on the work of Yamashiro Rai, and swiftly gained and maintained a reputation for high quality swords, both beautiful and with an excellent cutting ability. 

Born in 1607, Hashimoto Sadenji was Tadayoshi’s grandson and student. He is recorded signing his early works with the art name “Masanaga” but there are none existing and, according to the dai-mei tradition, he was probably using more often his master’s name, which in the meantime had changed from Tadayoshi to Tadahiro. In 1624 he made a sword in front of the feudal lord Nabeshima Katsushige, who granted him the smith-name “Masahiro” with a stipend of 20 koku, which could support 20 people, and the possibility to sign his works and to start his own lineage. It is important to note that the daimyō Nabeshima engaged Masahiro directly, due to his superior ability. In 1628 Masahiro is documented to be entitled to use the qualification “Kawachi Daijo” but it seems that for some reasons he chose not to add it to his signature until 1641. 

Even if the main style of the Hashimoto family was based on suguha hamon, Masahiro worked mainly in midare, as seen on this blade. The reason might be that the daimyō Nabeshima, who commissioned the work, was very fond of Soshu Gō’s style, who used a midareba with strong nie.

Due to the great success of this style, numerous generations of swordsmiths signed Masahiro throughout the Edo Period.

The sword shows the typical konuka-hada, thought to be the result of Hizen smiths attempting to replicate the nashiji-hada of the great Yamashiro masterpieces. The name comes from the fact that this type of hada resembles rice bran (konuka).


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