• Etchu Gofuku Norishige
  • Etchu Gofuku Norishige

This item is not for sale.

尚 同工ノ所伝ハ正に妥当也 珍々重々

osuriage nakago no hyouhi ni honnami mitsutada no doko kiwame no kin-zogan kore-ari
yukei naru shitai wo shimeshi ji-ba ni nie-deki no myoumi ga hakki sare tokuni ko-bizen nado no kosaku wo sanshaku seshi kan kore-ari
nao, doko no shoden ha masa ni datou nari, chin-chin cho-cho

* Kinzogan-mei by Honnami Mitsutada on both side of osuriage nakago.
* showing strong and brave shape, charm of nie-deki is exerted which is taken into consider old-master piece like a ko-bizen
* furthermore, former attribution is surely positive. rare-rare, important-important.

NBTHK Sword Museum 2012
Morikami Museum 2014

Juyo Token Nado Zufu

Surrender tag:


Ishii Kaichiro
Saga shi Higashi Matsubara-cho Dorikoji 13 Banchi   

The kinzogan mei was executed by the 13th generation mainline head Hon ́ami Kōchū (光忠). Kōchū was the head of the Hon ́ami family from the tenth year of Genroku (元禄) 1697 to the tenth year of Kyōhō (享保) 1725. He was considered to be the most respected of all the Hon ́ami and is the individual who was commissioned by the eighth Tokugawa-shōgun Yoshimune (徳川 吉宗) to compile the Kyōhō-meibutsu-chō“ (享保名物帳), a compendium of the most famous swords in Japan. The appraisals of the first 13 generations of the Hon’ami family, up to Kōchū, are held with great esteem. Another example of a Hon’ami Kochu kinzogan mei can be seen in the example below, a Juyo Bunkazai attributed to Osafune Mitsutada.


During the time Kōchū evaluated this sword the Yoshioka Inaba no Suke family (吉岡因幡介), a high- anking family of gold smiths (kinkō, 金工) who worked more or less exclusively for the bakufu and daimyō, produced kinzogan mei for the Hon ́ami family.

Norishige was well known as one of the Masamune no Jūttetsu (10 famous students of Masamune). Unlike sword smiths such as Naotsuns, Kanemitsu, Go Yoshihito, etc where there is a great doubt about their association with Masamune, Norishige is considered to undeniably have a direct connection with the great master. Rather than being a student of Masamune, current scholarship places Norishige as a fellow, possibly more senior, student under Shintogo Kunimitsu. This is believed to be the case with Yukimitsu as well. Norishige is felt to have a generally more classical workmanship than Masamune as there are extent works in sugaha which clearly show his lineage from Shintogo. There are known examples signed with the mei Sagami no kuni junin Norishige which further support the belief that he was working in Kamakura at the time of Shintogo.

In the west Norishige is mainly associated with his trademark matsukawa hada, however there are several distinct work styles Norishige exhibits. Like Masamune, Norishige pursued ko-Hoki, emulating the vibrant midare-ba of Hoki Yasutsuna. He also emulated Ko-Bizen. This sword in an excellent example of Norishige’s work in the Ko-Bizen den. Also as with Masamune, Norishige produced a brilliant nie-deki hamon rich with hataraki. The hamon, like other Soshu masterworks show a great depth of nie. This is a quote from Bob Benson’s excellent article on the Masamune exhibition which speaks to the quality of Norishige’s work and tge respect he is given by sword scholars.

“Swords number seventeen, eighteen and nineteen is what I would say is the sword smiths swordsmith. Norishige. I say this because he not only made pieces in the Shintogo Fu but he explored and made the Matsukawa hada that has become his tokucho or point of kantei. That is for his later works. It is known that Yukimitsu, Norishige and Masamune were students under Shintogo Kunimitsu. The early dated pieces of Norishige look like Shintogo and don’t exhibit the matsukawa hada of Norishige’s later examples. Norishige ranks as equal to Masamune in ability and shows a skill in metallurgy not found in other Soshu works. That is his ability to make the Matsukawa hada. It is thought that Norishige and Masamune were trying to copy Hoki Yasutsuna swords and it seems as though Norishige became the most skilled at doing that. When a blade has long intertwined chikei the appraisers will say it is either a Hoki or Norishige showing that Norishiges work looks closest to Hoki. My Ko Hoki daito was a very good example of that. It had a hamon that would be seen in the later to come Soshu School. We all new Norishige was a good sword smith because of his connection to Masamune. Actually though with in the past century it seems he has been rated as good as and not a student of Masamune but as a contemporary. In the past several years I have been gleaning all the information out of my old books about him. It is interesting to note that most if not all the authors consider his work amongst the greatest of all smiths. I keep finding interesting statements in all of the writings such as; the combination of steels creating the great chikei was a height of excellence not attained by Masamune. Fujishiro Toshio says, ‘Even though I have had second thoughts about the excellence of some of Masamune and Go Yoshihiro works I have always found Norishige’s work outstanding’. Another interesting fact is out of the past 15 Tokubetsu Juyo Token shinsas there have been 15 Norishiges sword selected and only 10 Masamune selected. Is this a statement of overall quality? Maybe a consistent quality?”

Also of interest on this sword is the niju kinmoku Umetada habaki. There have been great advances of the craft of habaki making with some wonderful work being produced today. That said, contemporary habaki-shi admit that the best of current generation cannot produce habaki that are remotely close to the quality of those made by the Umetada in Momoyama and early Edo. The habaki on the Norishige is likely contemporary with the kinzogan mei.














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