Tachi Sword, Known as "Koryu Kagemitsu"

KagemitsuKamakura period, dated 1322 (Genko 2)

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo, Japan

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 (J. jigane) is superb. His extant works include tachi blades (curved swords worn with the blade down), daggers (J. tantô), curved halberds (J. naginata), and ken (double-edged, symmetrical sword) blades.The tang of the blade is inscribed "Kagemitsu, master of the Osafune of Bizen Province; fifth month of Genkô 2 (1322)." The groove on the face of the blade bears a relief image of Kulika (J. Kurikara), a dragon entwined around a sword that represents the Buddhist deity Fudô (Skt. Acalanatha). 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" (J. Nozoki ryû Kagemitsu). At the end of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1867, the sword became the property of Yamada Asaemon and was later presented to Emperor Meiji (1852-1912, r. 1867-1912).


  • Title: Tachi Sword, Known as "Koryu Kagemitsu"
  • Creator: Kagemitsu
  • Date Created: Kamakura period, dated 1322 (Genko 2)
  • Object Title: 太刀
  • Object Notes(Japanese): 景光は、光忠に始まる備前(岡山県東南部)長船(おさふね)派の三代目を継いだ名工で、鎌倉時代末期に活躍した。作風の華やかさの点では父長光(ながみつ)と異なるが、地鉄(じがね)の冴えが優れている。太刀、短刀、薙刀(なぎなた)や剣の作品も現存している。 表の樋(ひ)の中には倶利伽羅龍(くりからりゅう)を、裏には梵字を浮彫としている。刀身の元から龍がのぞいているように見えるので「のぞき龍景光」ともいわれた。 幕末に山田浅右衛門家の所有となり、明治天皇に献上された。
  • Object Date: 鎌倉時代・元亨2年(1322)
  • Artist Name: 長船景光 (号 小龍景光)
  • Type: Arms & Armor
  • External Link: http://www.emuseum.jp/detail/100178

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