Hôjôji Kunimitsu
by Jim Kurrasch
from the December 1997 Nanka Token Kai Newsletter.

Hôjôji Kunimitsu worked during the Nambôkuchô jidae. He was the only sword smith who worked in Tajima – ?? during the Kôtô period. There was also a nidai who worked in the Oei jidae. Kunimitsu has long been considered one of Sôshû Sadamune’s Santetsû – three students of Sadamune. However since their work tends to differ considerably this point is in question. His work tends to be a combination of Sôshû and Bizen. He excelled at making chôji hamon. His are called chabana chôji and they differ from Osafune Mitsutada’s Kawazuko chôji in that Mitsutada made his as singles, while Kunimitsu had his doubled.

Tachi, and naginata;

There is one Jûyô Bunkasai naginata with a ubu nakago (it’s picture is in Nihontô Kôza). There may not be any other ubu long blades of his left, or at least they are very rare. He was famous for his naginata. So there are now a number of naginata naoshi (please note that there were 4 pre-WWII Jûyô Bunkasai Hôjôji naganata naoshi, so the absolute quanity does not detract from their importance). Many of these have had a yokote added to make them katana or wakizashi. The normal tachi shape is Nambôkuchô, with a shallow torii zori. There is a long kissaki with little roundness, and shinogi is high. Hôjôji Kunimitsu blades are Ryô-wazamono.

Hamon;

The hamon of Kunimitsu is nioi deki, mixed with nie. It is mostly gunome, that resembles chôji. There is also nie clustered in the hamon. Sunagashi and large Inazuma will be seen.

Bôshi;

The bôshi is midarekomi with kaeri – turn back. But since most of the blades seen will be naginata with a reshaped bôshi, made
into ô-kissaki, so no kaeri will be seen. The reshaped bôshi will be yakizume.

Jitetsû;

The jitetsû will be ô-mokume hada with masame mixed in. Occasionally there will be ô-hada in places. And the ô-hada will have chikei. This chikei is Aoji Masso, and is a characteristic of Hôjôji blades.

Horimono;

There may be bô-hi, bô-hi with soe-hi, naginata hi, and futasuji hi. The front of the hi will be well below the kissaki. Naginata hi are the most common in the naginata naoshi.

Nakago;

All most all of Kunimitsu’s nakago will be ô-suriage mumei.

Tantô and Wakizashi;

Shape;

Hirazukuri is the most common shape, and they tend to be wide. They will also have saki zori, or uchizori, and so-no-mune or shin-no-mune. There are also unokubi kissaki.

Hamon;

The hamon may be suguba, kô-gunome, gunome-midare, or notare. There will be nie that becomes nie kuzuri,

Bôshi;

In tantô there are some pieces with a deep kaeri.

Jitetsû;

Similar to the tachi.

Horimono;

Bô-hi bô-hi with soe-hi, sûken, and gomabashi are found.

Nakago;

The nakago are short ending in kurijiri. The yasurimei are kiri or sujikai. The mei is Tanshû ju Kunimitsu, or nijimei. The nidai signed Tanshû ju Hayato no Suke Kunimitsu saku. There may be a date also.

From the Tsûchiya Ôshigata
From the Tsûchiya Ôshigata
Pre-WWII Kokuhô Hôjôji Kumimitsu wakizashi, also pictured in the Tsuchiya Ôshigata