Katana Sword, Known as "Osafune Motoshige"

Attributed to MotoshigeNanbokucho period, 14th century

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo, Japan

This sword had been handed down to the Matsudaira family in Echizen as a sword for Yuki Hideyasu, the second son of Tokugawa Ieyasu.  Although the blade has been shortened and the signature has been erased due to later grinding, it is believed to have been made by Motoshige of the Osafune school in Bizen no Kuni. Motoshige was a swordsmith who actively produced swords from the late Kamakura period to the Northern and Southern Courts period and is considered to have a different style from that of Kanemitsu and Nagayoshi of the same school. The blade is wide with a shallow curve and a long straight kissaki (the tip of the blade), a blade shape that was popular in the Northern and Southern Courts period. The jigane (ground metal) has a close small wood grain pattern with clear utsuri (a white misty formation that runs parallel to the hamon in the ground metal). The hamon (blade pattern) is in the suguha (straight) style with a horizontally extended kataochigunomeba pattern, which clearly demonstrates Motoshige's unique characteristics. For the koshirae (outer fittings), the sheath is brightly lacquered in red and silver is used for the kashira, kurigata, origane and kojiri. It is a colorful sheath. The tsuba (handguard) is round, over which a pattern of a pair of oxen is applied in rotation via openwork and sukibori (a carving technique) to give it a 3D effect.


  • Title: Katana Sword, Known as "Osafune Motoshige"
  • Creator: Attributed to Motoshige
  • Date Created: Nanbokucho period, 14th century
  • Object Title: 刀 無銘 元重
  • Object Notes(Japanese): 徳川家康の次男である結城秀康の指料(さしりょう)として、越前松平家に伝来したものである。 刀身は、後世磨上(すりあ)げられて寸法が短くなり無銘であるが、備前国長船(おさふね)派の元重の作と伝える。元重は、鎌倉時代末期から南北朝時代に活躍した刀工で、同派の兼光や長義とは別系統の刀工と考えられている。身幅が広く、反りが浅くつき、鋒(きっさき)が大きく延びて南北朝時代に流行した姿を示す。地鉄(じがね)は、小板目肌がよく約(つ)んで映りが鮮明に立っている。直刃(すぐは)調に、横に延びた片落ち互の目刃(かたおちぐのめば)を焼き、元重の特色がよく示されている。 拵は、鞘を朱塗とした鮮やかなもので、頭(かしら)、栗形(くりがた)、折金(おりがね)、鐺(こじり)に銀の金具を用い、色彩的に鮮やかである。鐔(つば)は二頭の牛を回転的に丸い形に配し、透彫と鋤彫の手法で立体感をつけている。
  • Object Date: 南北朝時代・14世紀
  • Artist Name: 長船元重
  • Type: Arms & Armor
  • External Link: http://www.emuseum.jp/detail/100491/001

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