Mounted Katana by Kawano Sadashige
Kawano Sadashige was born in 1912, and was a student of the illustrious smith Gassan Sadakatsu. He started making swords as a smith for the Osaka Army Arsenal in 1942. Sadashige is listed in Slough’s book as having made medium to high quality Gendaito, and rated at 1 million yen. He is also listed in the Gendai Toko Meikan (see image below).
The quality of this sword is very good as one would expect from a Gassan school trained smith. The wartime polish obscures the true nature of the hada and hamon, but the sword is very robust and healthy with good shape that would be much more appreciable in new polish. The hada is a very fine running itame. There are some small ware near the shinogi line that look like a seam or juncture in the construction. A skilled polisher can likely close or minimize these, and yet as is, they do not significantly detract from the work. The hamon is suguha in bright nioi deki with fine ashi inserted throughout the length. There are also some fine yo and uchinoke. The boshi is sugu with komaru and a long kaeri. Some strings of very fine nie form faint hakkake. All these characteristics point to a work inspired by Yamashiro schools such as Rai and Awataguchi.
This is a hefty sword of very unusual length for a military blade at over 28 inches nagasa. Even longer arsenal accepted swords rarely exceed 27 or 27 ½ inches. It also has the kao (monogram) of Sadashige which is unusual for an arsenal destined work. Both examples in Slough’s book lack a kao, have two mekugiana to accommodate Model 44 mounts, and are dated 1944 as this one. My feeling is that this sword was custom ordered through the Osaka Administration.
Nagasa: 71.6 cm (28 1/8" )
Motohaba: 3.4 cm (11/32")
Kasane: 8 mm (5/16")
Sakihaba: 2.3 cm (7/8")
Length of Kissaki: 4.5 cm (1 3/4")
The nakago displays finishing work faithful to the Gassan School with precisely rendered signature, and meticulously placed yasurimei.
Signed Tachimei: Osaka Rikugun Zoheisho, Kawano Sadashige, with monogram and arsenal acceptance stamp (five point star)
Uramei: Showa Ju Ku Nen Ju Ichi Gatsu Kichi Jitsu (a fortunate day in December, 1944)
This sword was remounted several years ago utilizing very nice kanagu. The tsuba is accompanied by NBTHK Hozon papers listing it as a work of the Aizu Shoami school. The plate is sculpted iron, with inlays of gold, copper, and silver. The scene shows a man (priest?) attempting to pull another from a torrent of water while a woman (or Goddess) holding a Lotus looks down on them. I’m sure there’s a story illustrated, but I have been unable to find any reference to it. The Aizu Shoami are but one group of the many in the Shoami lineages. Their works are abundant and range widely in quality. This particular piece is skillfully made using good materials and is a respectable effort.
The fuchi and kashira are also excellent work in shakudo, gold, silver, and copper sculpted and inlayed in high relief with Chinese sages among trees, rocks, flowers, and water. The fuchi is signed Kaneishi Nomura Kanenori. They are accompanied by NTHK Kanteisho origami verifying they are original works. Nomura Kanenori was a top member of the Soten School. He was born in the region where Soten settled, Hikone, and Kanenori later moved to Edo. There is at least one tsuba by him that has been awarded Juyo Tosogu. Chinese sages and Bushi were favored subject matter in their school and they worked in both iron and soft metals with great skill. Their works were so popular that many contemporary fakes of much poorer quality were knocked off, with numbers that tended to drag the Soten name down in reputation. However when one sees a genuine skilled Soten school work compared to the rugged and ugly counterfeits of the times, the difference is night and day. The carving and inlays on this set are complex and highly detailed for their scale.
The menuki are also shakudo with gold in the image of Daikokuten, the God of fortune, agriculture, farmers, rice, and the kitchen. His image is that of a cheerful man with a sack of treasure over his shoulder leaning on, or standing on bales of rice. Since rice was the hard base currency of feudal Japan, the duality of invocation is pretty obvious.
The tsuka and saya are in excellent condition and sound integrity. The ito is navy blue silk. A brocade bag and fushihimo are provided with the sword.
Given the sum of parts, this is a great package and would be a nice addition to any collection.
Offered on Consignment: ON HOLD
More Photos below.