Katana Soden-Bizen

Nanbokuchō Period (1333-1392), circa 1355

Den Kencho


NBTHK Jūyō Tōken


Nagasa [length]: 70.2 cm

Sori [curvature]: 1.1 cm

Motohaba [bottom width]: 2.8 cm

Sakihaba [top width]: 2.05 cm

Motokasane [bottom thickness]: 6.7 mm


Sugata [configuration]: Shinogi-zukuri, iori-mune, shallow sori, chu-kissaki (3.7 cm)

Kitae [forging pattern]: Mostly itame hada with jinie

Hamon [tempering pattern]: Ko-notare, gunome togari with togari-gokoro. Ko-ashi, sunagashi, deep nioi becoming ko-nie

Boshi [point]: Midarekomi with togarikokoro kaeri and hakikae

Horimono [carving]: Bo-hi on both sides, passing into nakago on omote and sweeping away on ura

Nakago [tang]: O-suriage, kirijiri, yasurime katte-sagari; three mekugi-ana, two filled, mumei

Origami [certificate]: The blade comes with a Jūyō Tōken (Important Sword) certificate issued by the Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai in 1965 (session nr. 15)

Sayagaki [certification on shirasaya]: The inscription by Living National Treasure Hon'ami Nisshū (1908–1996) reads: “Juyo Token. Bizen [no] kuni Kencho. Suriage mumei. Around Jōji period [1362–1368]. Length: 2 shaku 3 sun 2 bu. One of treasured items of Okumura family. Polished and written in early March of year Showa Hinoto-Hitsuji [1967] by Hon'ami Nisshū [+kao]”.

Koshirae [mounts]: The sword is accompanied by a good antique koshirae with shakudo and gold fuchi-kashira and an iron Higo tsuba.

Provenance: Okumura family


The Osafune group in Bizen province represents the most talented and longest-standing school of swordsmiths among all schools and traditions. The main line of Osafune was founded by Mitsutada around 1250, in the middle of the Kamakura era. A few decades later, the popularity of the Soshu tradition encouraged an increase of swordsmiths to travel to Kamakura to study Soshu methods, which they then brought back home.

Smiths coming and going to and from Kamakura lead rise to the story of the Masamune Juttetsu, the “ten great students of Masamune”. We now know that they were not all direct pupils of Masamune, but it is certainly true that in all these swordsmiths’ works we see a thread that connects back to the Soshu tradition. Among these ten masters, Kanemitsu and Chogi belong to the Osafune school in Bizen, even if it seems that it was Nagashige, the older brother of Chogi, who might have been working directly with Masamune. Both Kanemitsu and Chogi worked during the Nanbokucho period and blades forged in Bizen during this time are known as Soden-Bizen. 

Kencho is the most talented among Chogi’s students. Transliterated as Kanenaga, we pronounce his name Chinese-style for the same lost reasons as Chogi's. He is grouped with his master by his work style and generally it is difficult to tell them apart, being many blades attributed to Chogi made in fact by Kencho. Works by Chogi and Kencho show some distinct features inherited from the Soshu tradition and many of them can be found on this sword: the sugata is wide and powerful, sori is shallow and kasane is thick, with scarce hira-niku. The steel tends to be soft and worked in an itame-hada mixed with mokume. The grain is tight and dense with nie forming chikei, a very difficult feature to obtain on Bizen’s soft steel. Sometime utsuri can be seen, but it is not very common. The hamon is gorgeous, mostly in nioi deki, as common for Bizen, but with nie as well. Inside the ha there are many ashi and  and on works rich of nie like this one, these activities form sunagashiinazuma and kinsuji


Inventory Nr: 1742

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