Kuwana Uchi

by Jim Kurrasch

Well finding out the following was just one of those projects that one steps in every once in a while. It started about 10 years ago when I purchased a wakizashi in poor polish. It was signed Bishu Osafune Norimitsu . It has bô hi with soe hi on both sides. A shakudo foil habaki , and hamon in ito suguha with activity. There was mokume hada visible along the hamon. It had been a ko-katana but was suriage. And is now a ô-wakizashi. The price was not too bad and there was enough of interest so it was worthy of further study. Since purchase this sword has been at the back of my gun safe. In fact it was so far back that I knew that I did not have a Bizen blade for study.

As we were about to finish up the study on Bizen I re-found this blade and brought it in. Sam offered to clean it up since he wanted to study the steel on a Norimitsu. Well the next time we talked he told me that it had masame grain, and was a evil blade (it had cut him for no reason). But the steel felt like Sue Koto.

This started me thinking of information that I had read recently about kuwana uchi. Near the end of the Koto period, as the sword making conditions of Bizen were worsening, some of the swordsmiths left for other parts of Japan. And a group went to the town of Kuwana, in Ise Province. Ise was the province that Muramasa (another evil sword maker) was from. Kuwana was the town where the Ise family lived in the 16th. Century.

Some of the names these smiths signed with were; Norimitsu, Sukemitsu, and Sukesada. One of the hints for blades that are out of polish is that they lack niku (Oh-Oh). In polish they tend to lack visible grain, with the exception of occasional ô-hada (that’s better). But Ise is right between Yamato and Mino provinces, which means masame kitae is pretty common (another Oh-Oh). The katana tend to be on the short side (and another Oh-Oh). Carvings tend to be what-ever the swordsmith used (and Norimitsu carved bô-hi with soe-hi). This was definitely becoming a Oh S*%$.

So what are my thoughts at this time? Well it is not a bad blade. It is Koto, pretty tight, has kinsuji, and Sam will tell the world that it cuts well (and might even be evil). Actually there are plenty of persons around that would improve their collections with blades such as this. And some love a sword with a evil reputation (maybe I should keep it as a Burglar Slicer). But if I send it in for shinza, I am taking a hammer and chisel along in case it is called gi-mei. I am sure it is not kuwana uchi because it has nice visible hada, and a clearutsuri has started to show. The clear utsuri is a characteristic that the Norimitsu kept up to their last swordsmiths. But if it is called kuwana uchi , well then it is what it is.