A Fine Wakizashi Signed Tadayoshi
The Hizen School, which prospered during the Shinto Period, is one of the most respected in all of sword making history. Shinsaemonjo, who later worked under the name Tadayoshi is credited as the founder of this school.
The Hizen school is rooted in the Yamashiro tradition, but also produced fine swords which emulated smiths of other traditions. Later Hizen works can sometimes resemble the work of Masters in the Soshu tradition; Muramasa, Masamune, Shizu, and the like.
Tadayoshi began his career working with his father Michihiro, who died at an early age. Around that time, it is thought he began training with Iyo no jo Munetsugu. He may have also learned from the nearby Dotanuki school.
Hizen smiths were very highly regarded for making excellent weapons, demonstrating exceptionally high skill level. Even then, their works were appreciated in both form, and function. Hizen swords were known to have exceptional cutting ability. Their qualities were eventually recognized by Daimyo.
In 1624 Tadayoshi received the honorary title Mushashi no Daijo and took on the Fujiwara clan name. This designation is a big honor for a swordsmith. Tadayoshi changed his name to Tadahiro, to honor his father, Michihiro, while incorporating his new titles.
During this time, the Hizen school employed many smiths and became increasingly prolific. While many of the students of this school focused on producing weapons grade swords, Tadahiro took his skill level to even greater levels. Tadahiro increased his skill level, even into his twilight years. In fact, his best works were considered to have come out of his later years, as evidenced in the higher percentage of Juyo Token swords attributed to this time. Tadahiro died, a Master Swordsmith, in 1632.
Other smiths in his clan worked under the name Tadayoshi, the most famous of which was Tadahiro’s grandson, whose works are considered to be on par with his grandfather in terms of technical ability. As a result, there is much variability in sho-shin (genuine) examples of the Tadayoshi signature. In fact, Shodai Tadayoshi changed his signature style throughout his career.
Of course, with much success comes envy. Many gimei were produced bearing the name Tadayoshi. As a result, works bearing the name Tadayoshi are closely scrutinized at Shinsa.
This wakizashi bears an undocumented form of the Tadayoshi mei. There are no extant works of Hizen Ju Tadayoshi, that I know of. As a result, I am skeptical that this signature is sho-shin. However, this sword is of exceptional quality. The dark jigane is beautifully forged in ko-mokume hada. The hamon is very active, and has areas kani-no-tsume, crab claw. The Dotanuki school was known for using this type of hamon.
This sword could benefit from a light polish to remove some very minor scratches and corrosion. It can also be greatly enjoyed as is. This sword is very healthy and without fatal flaw. This sword is fresh out of Japan and is not known to have been to Shinsa.
The koshirae is in excellent condition. It seems to have an antique tsuka-maki with fine, silver, gord menuki. The fuchi kashira are also nice. The kashira depicts a Samurai (maybe Musashi Miyamoto) standing on the bow of a skiff holding a daito. The habaki is nice shakudo. Unfortunately, It is missing the kozuka and original tsuba. However, it is quite attractive, and displays nicely.
Nagasa (blade length): 46 cm
Motohaba (width at habaki): 2.7 cm