Important Cultural Property
By Fukuoka Ichimonji
(Exterior) Total length: 104.1 (Blade) Blade length: 77.3 Curvature: 3.0
Kamakura period/13th century
Tokyo National Museum
This is a sword that Emperor Meiji obtained from Mishima Shrine (the current Mishima Taisha) in Shizuoka in 1887. It is called Hojo sword since it was said that this sword had been dedicated to the shrine by the Hojo family based on the mitsuuroko crest (Hojo's family crest) cast on the tawarabyo (a type of rivet) placed on the sheath and the hilt.
The Hyogo Kusari Dachi is a sword where a chain instead of a cloth string is used to hang the sword from the waist and was popular among court nobles and samurai from the end of the Heian period to the Kamakura period. Swords of this type were also used as ex-votos.
The hilt of this sword is covered with white shark skin and a mitsuuroko crest is engraved (katabori) on each tawarabyo. The sheath is covered with a burnished silver plate, on which the mitsuuroko crest is engraved and plated with gold. The mekugi (a bamboo peg used to secure the handle onto the tang) ground, oseppa (a pair of large metal boards) of the sword guard and the hyogo kusari (chain) have openwork of a scale pattern on the gold-plated silver ground.
The blade is in the shinogizukuri (a sword with the ridgeline near the back of the blade) style and has a marumune (the back of the blade is round) with a deep koshizori (the deepest part of the curve near the tang) and a kamasu kissaki (sharp blade tip). The jigane (the ground metal) has a close wood grain pattern with midare utsuri (an irregular white misty formation that runs parallel to the hamon in the ground metal) while the hamon (literally "blade pattern," which is a visual effect created on the blade by the hardening process) shows a pattern of small wide cloves with lots of ashi (martensite crystals) and yo (a falling leaf-like activity in the hamon). While this sword does not bear the signature of the swordsmith, it is believed that it was made by a swordsmith of the Ichimonji school in Bizen no Kuni.