There have been six Living National Treasures designated in the area of swordsmithing. Miyairi Akihira was the second such designated toko. The school which Akihira founded has produced many fine swords and swordsmiths and continues the fine traditions of Soshu today. In order to better understand the school lets first take a closer look at the beginnings of the school and its founder.
Miyairi Ken-ichi was born on 17 March 1913. In 1938 he entered the Kurihara Hikosaburo school at the Japanese Sword Forging Center in Tokyo.
He studied for 15 years under his master Kurihara Akihide. Over the course of his training it became evident that Miyairi Ken-ichi was more than an exceptional student. He became known as Akihides prodigy. Akihide trained him thoroughly in the five traditions. From his masters name he first took the swordsmith name of Akihira and was awarded a sword-making license on 26 December 1953. In 1962 he was awarded the status of mukansa, thus no longer compelled to compete or subject to inspection. Also in that same year he was designated as the first honorable citizen of the town of Sakashiro. In April 1963, at the age of 49, he was designated as Juyo Mukei Bunkazai (Important Intangible National Treasure commonly referred to as Living National Treasure), the youngest swordsmith ever so designated. Then, in 1973, he changed his name to Yukihira (and henceforth is referred to by this name). Over the course of the next few years Yukihira continued to forge swords and train students. Then unexpectedly, Miyairi Yukihira died in 1977, at the age of 63.
In spite of Yukihira's broad training base, his main objective in sword making was Soshu-den and centered specifically on the works of Shizu Kaneuji. As a result, many of Yukihiras works exhibit the classic form of the Nambokucho Era and the emergence and zenith of the classic Soshu style. In the process of trying to reach for the Shizu style, Yukihira produced many fine reproductions of Yamamura Minamoto no Kiyomarus work. Kiyomaru had also sought to make his objective the Soshu-den and Shizu. Today, this emphasis is reflected in many of Yukihiras disciples works. While many fine examples exist of the Soshu-den, Yukihira also proved his virtuosity in Bizen-den by producing several masterpieces in this style too.
The Miyairi School of today is still quite active and continues to be a major proponent of Soshu-den. Since the death of Yukihira, Miyairi Kiyomune has taken over as head of the school. Since that time the Miyairi school s continued to be a leader in sword forging and related processes. It is also interesting to note that other smiths within the school have gone on to achieve considerable success and prestige for the school. Perhaps the most well known of the Miyairi school disciples is Amada Akitsugu. Akitsugu was recently designated as Living National Treasure as a reward for a lifetime of achievement and excellence. As recently as 1996 he won the much coveted Masamune prize. Perhaps slightly less well known is Ozumi Toshihira. He too was recently designated as a Living National Treasure. A number of other disciples have also gone on to achieve mukansa status. Miyairi disciples are regular recipients of awards as the New Sword Competition. While some smiths are winning prizes there are others that are helping restore lost technology. Miyairi smiths have also played key roles in the restoration of the Tatara process. Moreover, the Miyairi School remains active and continues to train new disciples to carry on the ancient art of swordmaking.
The geneology diagram shown below shows the smiths known to have trained in the school at one time or another. For the most part, the disciples of the school presented here performed the majority of their training with the school, or completed their training with the school. The normal Japanese convention of using the family name first has been reversed allowing the lineage to be followed more easily.
Note on swordsmith information. This information is based on two old references and two relatively new references. Unfortunately, the information on all smiths present is not complete. An explaination of awards given at the various sword competition is given: The Yushu Award (Excellence) which corresponds to a second prize, the Shorei Award (Encouragement) which also corresponds to a second prize, the Doryuko Award (Endeavor) which corresponds to a third prize. The first prize awards are varied and include the following: Prince Takamatsu Award, Bunkacho Chokan Award, NBTHK Honorary Chairmans Award, NBTHK Chairmans Award, Kunzan Award, Kanzan Award, and the All Japan Swordsmith Association Award. There is also several other awards which carry special significance. One award is the Meiichi Shinbun Award. Perhaps the most coveted award of all the Masamune Prize. This is an award which is not necessarily awarded every year but only when a significantly exceptional work is presented. Perhaps one final note should be made. The American swordsmith Keith Austin (Nobuhira/Nobuyoshi), is the only foreigner that has been accepted for and completed the lengthy apprenticeship for swordsmiths.
His real name is Miyairi Eizo. He was born on 1 May 1924. He currently
resides in Nagano Prefecture. He first began studying the forging
techniques under his elder brother in April 1941. In July 1948 he became
independent and on 31 January 1959, he acquired the sword making license.
In the first annual Sword Making Competition in 1965 he won the Endeavor
Prize. Since that time he has won numerous other prizes to include:
Meiichi Shinbun Prize, 2 Excellence Prizes, 12 Encouragement Prizes, and 7
additional Endeavor Prizes. He made sacred swords for the Ise Shrine in
1962 and 1985. Kiyohira has focused primarily on Soshu-den with the
specific objectives of Kiyomaru, Sadamune and Kaneuji. He changed his name
to Kiyomune in February 1989. His works are dipicted in various references
and usually show the nambokucho style tachi with o-kissaki. Tanto tend to
have a wide mihaba. Recent works under his new name of Kiyomune tend to
reflect a redirection of effort to Soshu-den which shows a more active
yakiba and open and more colorful jitetsu. In general his works tend to
typify those of the Miyairi School and his brothers work.
Inscriptions: Miyairi Kiyohira saku, Kiyohira saku, Minamoto Kiyomune.
His real name is Amada Seiichi. He was born 4 August 1927. He currently
lives in Niigata Prefecture. He enrolled in Japanese Sword Forging
Institute in Tokyo on March, 1940 and learned forging from Mr. Akihide
Kurihara. Then he studied under Mr. Miyairi Akihira and practiced for 7
years. After W.W.II, he presented his sword at the Sword Technique
Competition 3 times. He earned his swordmaking license in 1954. He won 3
consecutive second prizes awards. After the Sword Technique Competition
changed its name to the Newly-made Fine Sword Competition, he received a
promotional award and an Honorable President award. In September, 1972, he
won the first Kunzan Award with Sumitani for his research of sandsteel
manufactured Tatara. Then, after winning seven second prizes and two first
prizes he received the mukansa title in 1973. In that same year he made a
tachi for the Ise Shrine. After his designation as mukansa, he won two
Masamune prizes and became a judge of the Sword Making Competition in 1975.
In 1978 he was designated as a Important Cultural Asset of Niigata
Prefecture. He was designated Living National Treasure in 1997.
Inscriptions: Amada Akitsugu Saku Kore, Amada Akitsugu Saku
His real name is Ozumi Sadao. He was born in 23 January 1934. He is from
Gunma Prefecture. He was one of the best students in the Miyairi school.
Apart from the characteristics of his master's Soshu-den, his main goal was
set to make swords in Yamashiro-den and Aoe out of Bitchu. He is good at
making swords with the suguha temperline. He earned his swordmaking license
on 7 December 1957. He has won 7 first prizes. In addition he has won two
Masamune prizes. In 1971 he was elevated to mukansa status. In 1997 he
was elevated to Living National Treasure.
Inscriptions: Osumi Toshihira saku, Toshihira saku, Toshihira, Toshihira saku, Koozuke Kuni Arata(?) ju Osumi Toshihira saku.
His real name is Takahashi Tsuguo. He was born on 13 April 1927. He is
from Nagano Prefecture. He enrolled in the Miyairi school in May 1947. He
earned his swordmaking license on 31 January 1959. In 1959 at the 5th
Sword Technique Competition he displayed his work and won an Irrespective
Special Award (First Prize) one time. He has also won the Excellence Award
(Second Prize) two times, the Encouragement Award (Second Prize) 8 times,
and the Endeavor Award 5 times (Third Prize). He has also been awarded the
Kanzan Prize. In 1989 he was elevated to mukansa status after winning
eleven third prizes, ten second prizes, and seven first prizes in sword
competitions. He has made two swords for the Ise Shrine, one in 1972 and
one in 1985. He was designated as Important Cultural Asset by the Nagano
Prefecture in 1991.
Inscriptions: Shinano no Kuni Tsuguhira, Shinano no Kuni Sakaki Ju Takahashi Tsuguhira Saku Kore, Shinano no Kuni Ju Tsuguhira Saku.
His real name is Kanbayashi Yuji. He was born on 12 January 1949. He
currently lives in Yamagata Prefecture. He entered the Miyairi school in
1967 and studied under Miyairi Akihira. He earned his swordmaking license
in 1973. Also, in 1973 he successfully presented his work at the 9th
Shinsakuto Meito Sword Competition, where he won the Endeavor Prize. He
became an independent smith three years later in 1976. He has won numerous
prizes to include: 4 Endeavor Prizes, 2 Encouragement Prizes, the Cultural
Ministers Award 4 times, the Prince Takamatsu Prize 2 times, and the Kanzan
Prize once. He was promoted to mukansa status in 1985. In addition to the
school tradition of Soshu he also aspires to reproduce Yamashiro Rai and
Inscriptions: Tsunehira hori dosaku, Kanbayashi Tsunehira Saku.
Akimori's real name is Miyagi Shinichi. He was born on 6 December 1925.
He is from Miyagi Prefecture. In May 1940 he entered the Nihonto Tanren
Denshujo (Japanese Sword Making Institute) to study under Kurihara
Hikosaburo Akihide. At the Japanese Sword Technique Competition he won the
Golden Cup Award and the Chairman Award. He earned his swordmaking license
on 31 July 1970. Also in that same year he apprenticed himself to Miyairi
Yukihira. He successfully presented his work at the 7th Shinsakuto Meito
Sword Competition. Since then he has won no less than 3 Encouragement
Awards and 5 Endeavor Awards. He was designated Important Cultural Asset
by the Miyagi Prefecture in 1988. Akimoris objective is to reproduce the
works of the top Soshu smiths of the koto times at whom Kiyomaro aimed.
Inscriptions: Miyagi Akimori Saku Kore; Akimori Saku
His real name is Watanabe Shigemi. He was born on 2 February 1942. He is
from Niigata Prefecture. He entered the Miyairi School in 1965. He earned
his swordmaking license on 2 February 1971. He successfully competed in
the 7th Shinsakuto Meito Sword Competition. Since then he has received the
Excellence Prize, the Encouragement Prize, and is a four time recipient of
the Endeavor Prize as well as successfully competed in 7 additional sword
Inscriptions: Shigehira saku
His real is Kawachi Michio. He was born on 1 October 1941. He is
originally from Nara Prefecture. He first enrolled in the school of
Sadahiro Kita, later he enrolled in the school of Miyairi in 1966. He
earned his swordmaking license on 12 March 1971 and this was when he first
successfully presented his work at the 7th Shinsakuto Meito Sword
Competition. In 1972 he became independent and built his own forge. His
favorite hamon is based on notare. He is good at making hira-zukuri
wakizashi in the style of Yamashiro-den. When compared to the more senior
students of Miyairi, he has learned his master's characteristics well. His
goal is to make swords as close as possible to the famous Koto swords. In
a surprising turn, Kunihira apprenticed himself under Sumitani Masamine in
1984 and learned Bizen-den. His awards include: 4 Encouragement Awards, 1
Excellence Award, 1 Endeavor Award, the Honorary Chairman Award (a First
Prize), the Prince Takamatsu Prize, 2 Kunzan Prizes, the Chairman of the
All Japanese Sword Association, and several other awards. He was elevated
to mukansa level in 1987. He has made swords for the Ise and Katori
Shrines in 1984 and 1990 respectively.
Inscriptions: Kawachi Kunihira Saku, Tame Yamagishi Ryosuke Shi Kunihira Saku
His real name is Fujiyasu Masahira. He was born on 10 November 1946. He
is a resident of Fukushima Province. He apprenticed himself to the Miyairi
School in 1966 and earned his sword making license on 17 February 1972. He
first presented his work at the 8th Shinsaku Meito Sword Competition. He
then opened his own workship in 1975. He has won 3 Excellence Prizes, 6
Encouragement Prizes, and 7 Endeavor Prizes. In 1991 he won the Chairman
of the All Japan Swordsmith Association Prize. He has made a sword for the
Ise Shrine. He has spent his time trying to recreate the old Soshu style
of the Nambokucho period. When his master died he took up the the task of
teaching his son Miyairi Kei the art of swordmaking.
Inscriptions: Masahira saku, Oite Shinano no Kuni Masahira Saku, Tatsugoyama junin Masahira saku.
His real name is Kawachi Bunto?. He is a resident of Nara Prefecture. He
first began his study of swordmaking under his elder brother Kawachi
Kunihira at the Japan Forging Institute in 1972. He then apprenticed
himself to Miyairi Yukihira in 1975 and by 1977 he was again studying under
his elder brother. He earned his swordmaking license in 1980 and became an
indepedent smith that same year. Also in that same year he successfully
presented his work at the 16th Shinsakuto Meito Sword Competition, where he
won the Endeavor Prize. In 1981 he won the Encouragement Prize.
Inscription: ? ju Kawachi Takahira tsukuru
His real name is Shinpo Motoharu. He was born on 4 September 1941. He is
a resident of Niigata Prefecture. He initially studied by himself from
1957 to 1962. Then he apprenticed himself to Miyairi Akihira for
swordsmithing and to Abe Akitada for carving. In 1997 and 1998 he won the
Endeavor Prize. His first name was Soshiharu but later changed it to
Inscriptions: Soshiharu, Sado no Kuni Shinpo Motohira tsukuru, Sado no Kuni oite Tatara Mine Fumoto Shinpo Motohira hori dosaku.
His real name is Okubo ?. He was born on 15 December 1943. He lives in
Kanagawa Prefecture. He apprenticed himself to Miyairi Akihira in 1961.
He earned his swordmaking license in 1967 and became independent the same
year. He sustained an injury while rough polishing a sword and was not
able to resume swordmaking until 1973. He has won several awards to
include: 9 Third Prizes, 4 Second Prizes, and finally in 1991 he received
a First Prize. In 1998 he won the Chairman of the All Japan Swordsmith
Association Prize. He learned Soshu-den but has since began to study
Inscription: Kazuhira saku
His real name is Kondo Tsutomu. He was born on 28 July 1918. He lived in
and worked in Tosa Prefecture. He initially apprenticed under Kurihara
Akihide in 1940. He then studied under Miyairi Akihira beginning in 1945.
He has won various awards. His objective was Bizen-den.
Inscription: Shikoku Saburo Akikuni. Kondo Akikuni.
His real name is Takaha Mokoto. He was born 18 February 1928. He was a
resident of Gifu Prefecture. He apprenticed for 18 years under Nakata
Kanehide who apprenticed under Watanabe Kanenaga of Mino Province. He
earned his swordmaking license on 15 February 1965. In that same year he
also successfully presented his work at the First Shinsakuto Meito Sword
Competition. In 1969 he joined with the Miyairi School. In 1970 he
established his own forge in Seki. His objective was Shizu Kaneuji and
Inscription: Seki ju Hidetada saku kore
His real name was Keith Austin. He was born on 5 July 1934. He died on 20
April 1997. He first went to Japan in 1961 to study art. However, soon
after his arrival he became deeply interested in Japanese swords. After
the appropriate introductions he was apprenticed under Takahashi Sadatsugu.
After the death of his master he then apprenticed under Miyairi Akihira
and then in the same school he completed his training under under Ozumi
Toshihira. He earned his swordmaking license on 14 March 1968. He
successfully presented his swords at the 4th, 5th, and 6th Shinsakuto Meito
Sword Competition. He first used the name Nobuyoshi and later Nobuhira.
He returned back the United States in 1970 and settled in Yuba City
California. He built his forge and began his search for American materials
to forge his Nihonto. He made swords in various traditions.
Inscriptions: Nobuyoshi, Nobuhira.
His real name is Miyairi Kei. He was born on 26 August 1957. He currently
lives in Nagano Prefecture. He first began his apprenticeship under his
father Miyairi Akihira in 1977. However, when Akihira died suddenly, his
training was completed under Fujiyasu Masahira who was the senior student
at that time in the Miyairi School. He earned his swordmaking license on
10 December 1982. In 1983 he became independent. In 1984 he successfully
presented his work at the Shinsakuto Meito Sword Competition where he won
the Endeavor Prize. Since that time he has won the Endeavor Prizes again
in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, and 1989. He has won the Excellence Prize in
1986. He also won the Kanzan prize in 1990. In 1991 he was awarded the
Meiichi Shinbun Prize. In 1993 he received the Prinze Takamatsu Prize. In
1997 he won an Encouragement Prize. In 1998 he again received the Prince
Takamatsu Prize. His objective is Soshu-den, specifically Shizu Kaneuji.
Inscriptions: Shinano ju Miyairi Kei tsukuru kore
His real name is Furukawa Nobuo. He was born on 2 January 1948. He lives
in Nagano Prefecture. He apprenticed himself to Miyairi Kiyohira in 1972.
He earned the swordmaking license 1 March 1978 and became independent
in1981. He first presented his work at the 14th Shinsakuto Meito Sword
Competition. He has won the Endeavor Prize in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984,
1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994 and 1993. He has was won the Excellence Award
in 1985, 1986, and 1989. In 1984 he also won the Kanzan Prize. In 1997 he
won the Kunzan Prize. In 1998 he won the NBTHK Chairmans Prize. His
objective is Soshu-den.
Inscriptions: Kiyoyuki tsukuru, Shinano no Kuni Kiyoyuki
Kiyotoshi Izumi -( Kiyohira's student)
His real name is Izumi Hideaki. He was born 15 June 1959. He lives in
Nagano Prefecture. He apprenticed himself to Miyairi Kiyomune in 1982. He
earned his swordmaking license in 1988. In 1989 he successfully presented
his work at the 26th Shinsakuto Meito Sword Competition. In the same year
he became an independent smith.
Inscription: Shinano no Kuni Kiyotoshi
His real name is Matsuda Shuji. He was born 27 July 1958. He lives in
Chiba Prefecture. He apprenticed himself to Takahashi Tsuguhira in 1974.
He earned his swordmaking license in 1979. The following year he
successfully presented his work at the 16th Shinsakuto Meito Sword
Competition. Then, in 1981 he became an independent smith. Since then he
has won the Endeavor Prize 6 times and the Excellence Prize twice.
Inscription: Tsuguyasu saku
His real name is Yoshida Morimitsu. He was born 28 July 1930. He is a
resident of Toyama Prefecture. He earned the swordmaking license in 1972.
He successfully presented his work at the 20th Shinsakuto Meito Sword
Competition in 1974. He has studied under Onishi Sadanari, Takahashi
Tsuguhira, and Miyairi Yukihira.
Inscription: Etchu Shi Namaatari Norinari saku
Hiromune Takaha - (Hidetada's son/student)
His real name is Takaha Hiro. He was born on 5 October 1944. He currently
lives in Gifu Prefecture. He first studied swordmaking from his father
Takaha Hidetada in 1973 and earned his swordmaking license in 1978. In
that same year he successfully presented his work at the 14th Shinsakuto
Meito Sword Competition. Since that time he has been awarded the Endeavor
Prize two times. He followed his father and later joined with the Miyairi
School in 1991. His objective has been Shizu Kaneuji and Minamoto
Inscription: Takaha Hiromune saku
His real name is Watanabe Tetsu?. He was born on 1949. He is a resident
of ?. He apprenticed himself to Miyairi Yukihira in 1974. He completed
his apprenticeship under Watanabe Shigehira. He earned his swordmaking
license on 16 March 1979. Also in 1979 he successfully presented his work
at the 15th Shinaskuto Meito Sword Competition and he also became an
independent smith. Since then he has presented his work at the Shinsakuto
Meito Sword Competition 10 times and he has won the Endeavor Prize twice.
Inscription: Watanabe Korehira saku
His real name is Akiba Masami. He was born on 24 March 1944. He is a
resident of Hyogo Prefecture. He apprenticed himself to Miyairi Yukihira
in 1974. He completed his apprenticeship under the direction of Takahashi
Tsuguhira beginning in 1977 when Yukihira died. He earned his swordmaking
license in 1979 and became an independent smith the following year. In
1980 he also successfully presented his work at the 16th Shinsakuto Meito
Sword Competition. In 1989 he was awarded the Endeavor Prize. In 1997 he
won the Encouragement Prize.
Inscription: Tajima no Kuni Kanehira
His real name is Manabe Kazunari?. He was born on 3 October 1953. He is a
resident of Hyogo Prefecture. He apprenticed himself to Miyairi Yukihira
in 1975. He completed his apprenticeship under Kawachi Kunihira. He
earned his swordmaking license on 15 July 1980. In 1981 he successfully
presented his work at the 17th Shinsakuto Meito Sword Competition. He then
became an independent smith in 1982. Since that time he have won three
Excellence Prizes, and 9 Endeavor Prizes.
Inscription: Sumihira saku
His real name is Kato Masanari?. He was born on 28 January 1957. He is a
resident of Tochigi Prefecture. He apprenticed himself to Miyairi Yukihira
in 1975. However, he had to complete his apprenticeship under Kanbayashi
Tsunehira in 1977. He earned his swordmaking license on 8 November 1980.
In 1981 he successfully presented his work at the 17th Shinsakuto Meito
Sword Competition and also won an Endeavor Prize. Two years later he
became an independent smith in 1983. He has since won another Endeavor
Inscription: Geya ju Shinpei saku
His real name is Matsukawa Takashi. He was
born on 9 August 1955. He is a resident of Nagano Prefecture. He
apprenticed himself to Miyairi Kiyomune in 1972. He earned his swordmaking
license in 1979. In that same year he successfully presented his work at
the 15th Shinsakuto Meito Sword Competition. In 1982 he became an
independent swordsmith. Since that time he has successfully competed 8
times and has received the Endeavor Prize three times. In 1998 he received
the Encouragement Prize.
Inscription: Kiyonao saku
Kiyochika Kanehama - (Kiyohira's student)
His real name is Kanehama Noboru. He was born on 15 December 1951. He
lives on Okinawa. In 1974 he apprenticed himself to Miyairi Kiyomune. He
received his swordmaking license in January of 1980 and also successfully
presented his work at the 16th Shinsakuto Meito Sword Competition. In 1983
he became an independent swordsmith. He has won the Endeavor Prize.
Inscription: Ryukyu Ori ju Kiyochika saku
His real name is Sato Tomokichi. He was born on 25 May 1907. He lived in
Tochigi Prefecture. He apprenticed himself to Miyairi Akihira. He has
used two names: Yoshifusa and Yoshihisa.
Inscription: Shimotsuke ju Sato Yoshifusa, Kawamura Yoshihisa, Yoshihisa.
His real name is Shimpo Motoharu. He was born on 4 September 1941. He
resides on Sado Island. He apprenticed under Miyairi Akihira. He earned
his swordmaking license in 26 December 1961. His objectives include:
Sukezane and Chogi of Bizen and Shintogo, Kunimitsu of Soshu, and
Inscription: Yoshiharu saku, Sado Fuku-ura junin Shinpo Yoshiharu saku.
Over the course of the years, several of the smiths listed in the geneology have either ceased production of swords due to ill health or death. Several smiths have received titles or Mukansa status, to include: Ozumi Toshihira, Amada Akitsugu, Takahashi Tsuguhira, Kanbyashi Tsunehira, Kawachi Kunihira, and newly designated Mukansa includes Miyairi Norihiro who is the son of Miyairi Kiyomune. Interestingly enough. While Miyairi Norihiro is shown as falling under Miyairi Kiyomune's disciples this not entirely accurate. It is unknown if Norihiro formally apprenticed under his father. It is known that he served an apprenticeship under Sumitani Masamine, the current Living National Treasure and whose objective is currently the pursuit of the Bizen-den.. There is much speculation about the possibilities of combining the potential of two very exceptional schools in one person and there are great expectations on Miyairi Kiyomune's son in any event. It is also interesting to note that Miyairi Kei, son of Miyairi Yukihira, was only beginning his training when his father, Yukihira died unexpectedly. At that time, Fujiyasu Masahira, one of the senior students in the Miyairi school at that time took the responsibility to complete Miyairi Kei's apprenticeship. It is unclear why Miyairi Kiyohira did not assumed this responsibility when he became the head of the Miyairi school. Perhaps this can be explored at some other time. In any event, Miyairi Kei has become a fine swordsmith in his own right and recently changed his name to that of his father's name Yukihira.
Miyairi Eizo was born on 1 May 1924. He currently resides in Nagano prefecture. He first began studying the forging techniques under his elder brother in April 1941. In July 1948 he became independent and on 31 January 1959, he acquired the sword making license. In the Sword Making Competition held annually he has won six third prizes, and 15 first and second prizes. He made sacred swords for the Ise Shrine in 1962 and 1985. Kiyomune has focused primarily on Soshu-den with the specific objectives of Kiyomaru, Sadamune and Kaneuji. The two sword examples discussed here exhibit the Nambokucho style, namely broad, untapered shallow sori suguta with large kissaki. Both swords are presumed copies of Kiyomaru works which themselves are presumed copies of earlier works. The tanto however tends to reveal Kiyomune's fully matured style and mastery of Soshu-den. Sadly, shortly after acquiring the tanto in August 1996, the owner was informed that Mr. Miyairi Kiyomune had become ill from a kidney affliction and was not planning to return to the forge for the foreseeable future. We all hope this is not the case and pray for his speedy recovery and return to the forge.
The two works, by the same artist, are separated by a period of more than 25 years. One might expect to see an almost completely different style or level of skill. One might even expect some decrease in the level of skill of Kiyomune at the grand age of 72. However, no such diminution in performance is seen. Instead, the level of skill between both works is consistently high with the exception that the later work exhibits considerable maturity. Moreover, there is a much bolder look to the tanto. The jitetsu of both are well forged, yet the tanto is much more full of expression, color, and a variety of texture with profuse chikei. The hamon explodes with activity, not just in areas to tease us, as in the case of the tachi, but rather from top to bottom, from ha to mune. Both show considerable skill, but the later one clearly demonstrates even more confidence and maturity. In contrast, the tachi seems designed for a more purposeful existence. The tachi shows restraint, and the quality of the tachi's polish tends to reinforce this impression. The polish of the tachi does not bring out all the detail in the tachi to the extent of the tanto. In summary the two blades, in general, are similar yet one can somehow sense a definite maturation in the later piece.
Signature: Miyairi Kiyohira saku / A day in February 1971
Ha Watari: 79.5 cm Sori: 1.8 cm
Moto Haba: 2.1 cm Saki Haba:2.4 cm
Moto Kasane: .65 cm Saki Kasane: .60 cm
Suguta: Tachi, shinogi-zukuri, iori-mune, o-kissaki, shallow tori-sori.
Jitetsu: Very tight mokume with some masame mixed in along the ha
Hamon: O-gunome-midare, streaming sunagashi especially towards the ha-machi, chikei and utsuri.
Boshi: Midare with hakikake, sharp medium turnback
Nakago: Kuri-juri, suji-chigai yasuri, one mekugi ana
Comments: This style of tachi represents a typical Nambokucho suguta being broad from top to bottom, no funbari, shallow tori-i-sori, o-kissaki, no hiraniku, very thick dimensions over-all, giving the impression of being a very powerful blade.
Signature: Minamoto Kiyomune / A day in August 1996
Ha Watari: 29.6 cm Sori: .40 cm
Moto Haba: 29.0 cm Saki Haba: 27.0 cm
Moto Kasane: .60 cm Saki Kasane: .60 cm
Suguta: Sunobi, hira-zukuri, iori-mune, slight sori.
Jitetsu: Large itame with mokume and masame along the mune, much chikei, especially along the forward portion. Hada stands out, accentuated by the contrasting patterns and colors of light and dark steel layers.
Hamon: Gunome-midare, profuse streaming sunagashi, kinsuji, ashi reaching close to the ha, much ji-nie.
Boshi: Jizo with some hakikake
Horimono: Bo-hi on both sides that is chiseled halfway through the tang and 2/3 the way to the kissaki
Nakago: Shallow kuri-jiri, suji-chigai yasuri, one mekugi-ana
Comments: This tanto is a fairly typical style for the Nambokucho Era, and one which Kiyomaru also made. The style is a long and broad hira-zukuri known as the sunobi style. This style tanto would eventually evolve into the wakizashi in later years.
1. Gendaito Meisaku Zukan, by Kazuo Iida. This book provided some of the biographical data for some Miyairi smiths. Japanese text.
2. The Beauty of the Shinsakuto, by Onishi Bijutsu Token and the 21st Century Committee of the Japanese Sword Culture, Japanese text w/English translation by Kenji Mishina. This book provides one of the most recent biographical updates on gendai smiths to include Miyairi Kiyomune and other Miyairi school disciples.
3. The Disciples of Living National Treasure Miyairi Yukihira, by Takayama Takeshi. This small booklet provides a short history of Miyairi Yukihira and several examples of his work. It also contains brief biographical information of current living Miyairi school students, oshigata, brief description of smith works and a geneology chart of disciples. Japanese text. Printed by the Meiichi Shinbun Publishing, 1994.
4. Gendai Toko Meikan, by Sato Kanzan. This small book lists short biographies on many of the known, active smiths from the Gendai period. The book list smiths in order of precedence of most important to least important. It also lists s which smiths had died as of the printing of the book in 1970.
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