Swords by Yoshindo and Kuniiye Yoshihara
A gorgeous set of swords by both Yoshindo Yoshihara and his
brother Kuniiye (given name Shoji), two of Japan's leading contemporary
swordsmiths. This set consists of a Katana, a Tanto, and a large
Kogatana, all in meticulous polish with top quality habaki and
shirasaya, originating from the collection of Dr. Nathan Rosenbloom.
Dr. Rosenbloom began collecting swords in the 1950's
with his first purchase of a tanto, and assembled a fine array
of Japanese swords, fittings, inryo, and even a fine collection
of rare Bokuto. His collective interest is varied and he acquired
swords from all time periods and traditions of Japanese sword
history, including 20th Century works such as these.
Anyone whom has admired the swords of today's leading
swordsmiths will know the names of Yoshindo and Kuniiye (Shoji)
Yoshihara. Yoshindo has been a dramatic influence toward the proliferation
and popularity of Japanese sword crafts today through the combination
of his talents as a smith and his widely popular book The Craft
of the Japanese Sword that he co-authored with Leon and Hiroko
Kapp in 1987. Yoshindo Yoshihara is has been ranked as Mukansa
level sword smith in Japan since 1982 after having received many
awards in the annual sword making competitions held by the NBTHK.
He is still active today and remains a noted smith for his independent
nature, and willingness to stray from the straight and narrow
path to explore new interests and styles. He again joined efforts
with the Kapps and co-authored Modern Japanese Swords and Swordsmiths
in 2002. Many of Yoshido's works are typically bold and flamboyant
with a healthy and intimidating shape, but he is also quite capable
of creating subtle and quietly elegant swords with intricate activity
Kuniiye Yoshihara is also one of today's top Japanese
Mukansa level master swordsmiths, and continues to work in Tokyo
today. Kuniiye's works are less flamboyant than Yoshindos and
show a quieter more refined appearance in some aspects. His works
reflect a closer following to his grandfather's style (the first
Kuniiye) and as a former practitioner of Iaido, he is familiar
with the handling and design aspects that are important in the
function of the sword. Kuniiye made a cameo appearance in the
motion picture "The Last Samurai" when he played the
part of a swordsmith in a small village.
This Katana is a very unique sword. It is "Gassaku"
or, "Created Jointly" by both Yoshindo and Kuniiye Yoshihara.
The signature reads Yoshindo (and) Shoji (Kuniiye's given and
former signing name) Saku. The length measures 29 ½ inches
(75.0 cm), and it is a bold 1 3/8 inches (35 mm) wide at the habaki,
and 5/16 inch (7.75 mm) thick. This sword is meticulously polished
in a top-flight sashikomi finish showing a beautifully forged
jihada in a mixture of ko-itame with dispersed areas of chu-itame.
The hamon is choji-midare in nioi deki with long dripping ashi
reaching for the edge. There are a couple small tobiyaki here
and there, and yo float in the yakiba. The boshi is an extension
of the hamon remaining choji midare and turning back crisply with
a longish kaeri. There is finite ko-nie, which begins to develop
in the monouchi just before the yokote then becomes more prominent
in the ji and yakiba of the kissaki in a delicate misting of the
surface. It is mounted with an expertly crafted gold-foiled habaki,
and shirasaya. It is dated 1980, and on the ura of the nakago
it is marked in kana as having been made for the Rosenbloom family.
This sword also has yet another unique aspect in
it's provenance. The upper right portion of the signature reads
"Oite Da Ra Su". This translates to "Made in Dallas".
This sword was made in Dallas in 1980, when the Yoshihara brothers
demonstrated the making of a Japanese sword at an exhibition in
Dallas, Texas. Sword making was demonstrated for forty days and
this is one of the swords made during that exhibition. It was
this exhibition that preceded additional exhibitions in Dallas,
and purchases of his works by other museums such as the Boston
Museum and the Metropolitan. This was quite a landmark occasion
in contemporary sword history, and this sword is tangible evidence
This 10 1/8 inch tanto is forged in hirazukuri form
with a finely stranded and subtle running itame hada. The hamon
is chu-suguha with a gentle undulation and fine speckling of ko-nie,
with ko-ashi, and some kinsuji. The boshi is in komaru with a
short kaeri and a couple of faint yo. It is signed "Yoshindo
Saku", dated August of 1976, and signed on the omote of the
nakago as made for the Rosenbloom family. It is polished in the
kessho style showing all the nie structure as well as a bright
and consistent nioiguchi, and mounted with a solid gold two piece
habaki and shirasaya. This also is an example of Yoshindo's work
while still competing in the annual contests in Japan, and prior
to his elevation as a Mukansa level smith.
The Kogatana is forged in a beautiful ko-itame hada
becoming masame in the yakiba. This little blade has tons of gorgeous
hataraki for such a small canvas. The hamon is an active midare
with sunagashi, kinsuji, inazuma, and a deep, bright nioiguchi.
The ji is packed with black ji-nie and chikei. The boshi turns
back pointedly, and strands of nie pull from the turn back into
the tip. This is a magnificent little work that is so much fun
to study. It is signed simply as having been made for the Rosenbloom
family by Yoshindo's hand. It is mounted in a solid silver habaki
and a honoki shirasaya still covered in protective mulberry paper
with "Yoshindo Yoshihara" written on the outside. Date
of this work is not signed, but most likely not far from either
of the other two swords. At 5 3/8 inches, it is more oversized
than most normal Kogatana, but this is made as an example of craft
rather than a utilitarian Kogatana one would normally see accompanying
These swords comprise a fine set of the works that
Yoshindo and Kuniiye were capable of before the advent of any
books, exhibitions, Mukansa status, or current popularity. They
were working diligently to achieve great things through great
efforts. This group of swords is an incredible example of the
workmanship and provenance of the smiths, the contemporary history
of which they are part, and the unique nature of joint work by
two of todays top Japanese sword craftsman, and immediately available.
$29,500.00 for all.