|period||Mid Muromachi (ca. 1490)|
|designation||NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Token|
Heianjo Nagayoshi is a descendant of the Yamashiro Sanjo school, and is the fourth of his name. He lived in Kyoto, and mostly signed Heianjo Nagayoshi but sometimes used Sanjo in his signature. The earlier generations work are mostly or entirely lost at this point in time. The Nagayoshi we know of worked around Bunmei or so in the late 1400s of the Muromachi period, but the works of this school were popular in their own time time and so this name handed down over several generations.
Heianjo Nagayoshi forges finer jihada than that of Muramasa and Masazane also his nioi-guchi is bright and jigane is clear. There is a katana with horimono similar to this one by Muramasa and it is designated as Juyo Bijutsu Hin. It is speculated that Masazane copied the one by Muramasa. Inferring from the workmanship of this katana, it seems that there was technical exchange between Heianjo Nagayoshi, Muramasa and Masazane. Incidentally there is an extant work of gassaku (collaboration) by Nagayoshi and Masazane.
Heianjo Nagayoshi who is said to be Muramasa’s teacher forges dense ko-itame-hada and clear jigane, meanwhile the Sengo school forges standing-out itame-hada and black jigane and often shirake-utsuri appears on it. NBTHK Token Bijutsu
Nagayoshi's Yamashiro inheritance can be seen in the jihada and hamon, which follow traits that look more like Nobukuni than anything else. He is known for being talented with horimono and the horimono he makes are very similar to those of Muramasa. When Muramasa is considered, it is this Nagayoshi that is generally thought to be the teacher of the Sengo line of smiths that starts with the first generation of Muramasa. He also made joint works that are signed with Masazane, who is a Muramasa student, so it's not just the work style that ties him to Muramasa. Some of his work though is similar to Hasebe and we can see that in the shape as well as the hitatsura that he employs from time to time. We know that Muramasa also made hitatsura so this probably explains that there is some handing down of this technique from the Hasebe smiths in Nanbokucho through the Heianjo Nagayoshi line and so on to Muramasa.
Fujishiro ranks Nagayoshi very highly at Jo-jo saku.
The shin-no-kurikara on the obverse of this blade displays the influences of Nobukuni, his predecessor in the Yamashiro style swordmaking. The so-no-kurikara on the reverse, being Nagayoshi's great specialty, is done most admirably and fully exhibits his uniqueness. The appearance of hitatsura on this blade shows some similarity with the style of the Hasebe school. The compact steel texture is of fine and dense nie structure, bearing the superior quality of the steel forged in the Kyo tradition. This is one of the rare works in hitatsura made by Nagayoshi, but is at the same time a very tasteful, refined piece of tanto blade. NBTHK English Token Bijutsu
Tokubetsu Hozon Nagayoshi Katana
Very long middle Muromachi katana by the well known smith Heianjo Nagayoshi, thought to be the teacher of the first generation Muramasa. Their work styles are quite similar. This smith has passed Juyo 17 times so he is of a high level of skill.
This sword was bought from a Japanese dealer by one of my clients some years ago. It is very large sized and intact, and is a representative middle Muromachi katana. The jigane looks good though there are some flaws. The hamon is quite nice actually and is on a par with good Rai work which I think was his target when making this blade as it is entirely in Yamashiro style.
I believe it was subject to some spot rusting and the dealer saved some money by doing a quick and dirty uchiko job to rub the rust out. This caused some damage to the finish on the polish, this damage actually is some brightening of the steel, which during the photographic process makes it more subject to reflect light instead of scatter it, and ends up looking dark black. In the hand it is less noticeable, but this polish was not great to begin with.
The kissaki shows some impact of the poor polishing job. This sword needs a new polish and I think will be quite nice when done. In construction it resembles a Juyo work that passed in session 46. This one though with some small condition issues I think is not a Juyo candidate.
I think after proper polishing this blade will turn out pretty well. Where the jigane is clear it shows his forging technique very nicely, and the hamon is bright and beautiful though there are some condition compromises in the jihada.
It's accompanied by a red lacquered mid grade koshirae with some silver elements, and actually pretty nice menuki of boars.