I’m Koryuu Kagemitsu. A Bizen Osafune school tachi, my best feature is my dragon engraving. Originally the engraving was larger, but after I was shortened it got small. But it’s cute in its own way, don’t you agree?
I’m Koryuu Kagemitsu. A wandering traveller roaming about in search of a master… I wonder, are you my master this time?
Koryuu Kagemitsu was forged by Bizen Osafune Kagemitsu (備前国長船景光) around 1322 CE with a 74cm long blade, he has a dragon engraving which refers to his name that literally means “little dragon”.
The tang of the blade has the inscription “Kagemitsu, master of the Osafune of Bizen Province; fifth month of Genkô 2 (1322).”
Active in the latter part of the Kamakura period (1185-1333), Kagemitsu was the third-generation master of the Osafune School of swordsmiths, which was established in Bizen (present-day southeastern Okayama prefecture) by his grandfather Mitsutada.
The flamboyance of Kagemitsu’s style sets him apart from his father Nagamitsu, and the skill displayed in the finish of the metal surface (jigane) is superb.
His extant works include tachi blades, daggers (tantô), curved halberds (naginata), and ken blades (double-edged, symmetrical sword).
The groove on the face of the blade bears a relief image of Kurikara, a dragon entwined around a sword that represents the Buddhist deity Fudô (अचलनाथ “immovable”, is a dharmapala (a wrathful god) primarily revered in Vajrayana Buddhism.
He is seen as a protective deity particularly in Shingon traditions of Japan where he is known as Fudō Myō-ō, in Tangmi traditions China, in Nepal and Tibet as Candarosana, and elsewhere in Tantric Buddhism).
A Sanskrit letter rises out of the trough on the other side. Since it appears as though the dragon is peering out from the groove, the sword is also called “Peeking Dragon Kagemitsu” (Nozoki ryû Kagemitsu).
An alternative name is “Southern duke Kagemitsu,” (Nankou Kagemitsu)
from the story that he was once owned by Kusonoki Masashige (楠木 正成,
1294 – 1336, a samurai who fought for Emperor Go-Daigo in
the Genkō War, and is remembered as the ideal of samurai loyalty), who held the name of “Great Southern Duke” (大楠公).
At the end of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1867, the sword became the property of Yamada Asaemon (named after the head of the Yamada family who was
serving as a sword tester for the emperor in the Edo period. He
also served as the executioner.)
and was later presented to Emperor Meiji (1852-1912, r. 1867-1912), he is currently kept at Tokyo National Museum.