Yasuyoshi Tanto

Sword making during the Nambokucho Period is considered by many to have been at it’s pinnacle.  During this time emerged many great swordsmiths.  The most revered of these was Masamune, the student of Shintogo Kunimitsu.
It was a transitional time in sword making.  We start to see awe inspiring tachi reaching their largest sugata of any period, previous or later.  We also see Soshu Den influences taking hold, combining sugata, with masterfully forged blades and wildly artistic temper lines.
The forging method combining soft and hard materials and the expression of many beautiful chikei and kinsuji are the accomplishment of Masamune.  Then he started tempering midare-ba based on notare in a large pattern which differed from midare-ba based on choji and gunome and tempered by the smiths of the former period, also nie is more emphasized that that of Yamashiro and Yamato swords.  It seems that the combination of soft and hard materials was practiced before Masamune and such examples are seen in the works of Ko-Bizen -Kenji Meshina


Below is the famous Hocho Masamune Tanto.

Masamune and his Jutetsu lead this ‘sword renaissance’.  His Jutetsu are considered his ‘Ten Brilliant Students’.  They are: Rai Kunitsugu, Hasebe Kunishige, Osafune Kanemitsu, Shizu Saburo Kaneuji, Go Yoshihiro, Norishige, Naotsuna, Chogi (Nagayoshi), Sa (Yasuyoshi), and Kinju (Kaneshige).
Among them, Sa is considered to be one the best.  In fact, he becomes a sword making legend and is called O’Sa, or The Great Sa.  His full name is Saemon Saburo Yasuyoshi.  He is considered to have been the son of Jitsua from the Chikuzen Province in Kyushu. While his fathers work is considered masterfully executed, it is more pragmatic.
It is Sa’s work that leads the ‘Sword Renaissance’ in the Chikuzen Province.  Sa (Yasuyoshi) becomes the founder of his own School there; the Chikuzen Sa School.  His work has adopted Soshu style, but with its own distinctiveness.  Famous students of the Chikuzen Sa School include, Sa Yasuyoshi (Ni Dai), Yoshisada, Yoshihiro, Kunihiro and Sadayoshi.
Below is a signed tanto by O’Sa, courtesy of seikeido.com:



It seems that the Chikuzen Sa Den branched to Nagato in the later years of the Nambokucho Period.  Some [perhaps later] work bears the signature  Chōshū-jū Yasuyoshi“ (長州住安吉) and Chikushū-jū Yasuyoshi (筑州 安吉).

There is speculation that Sa Yasuyoshi and Nagato Yasuyoshi were different smiths.  Most nomenclature infers there is a relationship, however uncertain.

The NBTHK attributes this blade to Choshu Yasuyoshi.  Tokubetsu Hozon papers attest to its fine workmanship and justifiable attribution.  Getting an attribution to a certain smith is sort of a quality rating in itself.  An attribution to Yasuyoshi means that it is a high quality sword demonstrating the characteristics of that school.

The hirazukuri sugata is in classic Koto form with horimono & bonji.  The hamon is midare with a notare flow.  The boshi is jizu.  There is beautiful hataraki and utsuri found upon close study.  The ko itame hada shows exceptional forging skill.  This is an elegant tanto for the koto connoisseur.

Sensei Tanobe specifically attributes this blade to Nidai Yasuyoshi.  Notice the extensive commentary.

His sayagaki reads:

The workmanship is well founded,and it explicitly shows those characteristics. Blade is 7 sun, 3 bu. Ubu Nakago. Mumei. Time period is after Eiwa. Nambokuchu end of. Nidai Yasuyoshi this is.

This tanto appears in the Token To Reikishi 542, cataloging Sensei Yoshikawa’s visit to the USA.  Sensei Yoshikawa was reported as saying, seeing this tanto was the highlight of his trip.

Yasuyoshi is listed in Fujishiro as Jojo Saku, the second highest rating.

Equally impressive is the exceptional koshirae.  The harwood base is adorned with fine silver matching fittings.  The koshirae theme is represented by Hanya and Otafuku.  Hanya represents a jealous female.  Fortunately, she is balanced by Otafuku (Okame).  Otafuku represents a lovely, always smiling Japanese woman who brings happiness and good fortune to any man she marries.  She is also known as the Goddess of Mirth.  Different sides of the same; this seems like a common theme that transcends all cultures.

Click for larger Image.

Nagasa: 22.1 cm

Motohaba: 2.5 cm
Price: $15000