On the nickname of the Ogaki-Masamune

A few weeks ago I posted an article on the Musashi-Masamune and I now would like to share some thoughts on the Ôgaki-Masamune. First of all about the blade itself. It has a rather wide mihaba, a thin kasane, a shallow sori and the tip might be classified as a just slightly elongated chû-kissaki. Of particular note is the very low suguha-chô with one major protrusion on the same area of each side and otherwise only small ups and downs. This is not the most representative style of Masamune and rather calm for him but we can see the typical sunagashi and yubashiri and the plentiful of nie which spill into the ji, especially towards the base of the blade. And in the bôshi, we can see a similar approach of the smith as at the Musashi-Masamune, i.e. it is rather wide and shows some isolated unhardened areas. So far so god. The blade was shortened to a nagasa of 63,9 cm and has today tokubetsu-jûyô papers.


Picture 1: Ôgaki-Masamune, mumei, nagasa 63,9 cm, sori 0,8 cm

In the „Kyôhô-meibutsu-chô“, it is listed with the nickname „Ôgaki-Masamune“ (大垣正宗), and the entry says that the sword was at the time of the compilation of the meibutsu-chô in the possesion of Uesugi Yoshinori (上杉吉憲, 1684-1722), the then fourth Uesugi-daimyô of the Yonezawa fief of Dewa province. It is also mentioned that apart from the present owner, the provenance of the piece is unknown. Well, so far it was assumed that the nickname goes back to Ôgaki in Mino province where the castle of the same name of the Toda family (戸田) was located. Toda Ujitetsu (戸田氏鉄, 1576-1655) presented the sword to shôgun Tokugawa Hidetada (徳川秀忠, 1579-1623) who in turn presented it to Uesugi Kagekatsu´s (上杉景勝, 1556-1623) son Sadakatsu (定勝, 1604-1625) on the occasion of the genpuku ceremony of the latter. These were the research results of Tsujimoto Tadao (辻本直男) published in his 1970-work „Zusetsu tôken-meibutsu-chô“ (図説刀剣名物帳). But in 1973 Satô Toyozô (佐藤豊三) from the Tokugawa Museum Nagoya found the Ôgaki-Masamune listed in the „Sunpu o-wakemono tôken-motochô“ (駿府御分物刀剣元帳), the protocol of the estate of Ieyasu´s swords. That means the sword must already had been in the possession of the Tokugawa in 1616, i.e. the year Ieyasu died. Apart from that, Toda Ujitetsu did not enter Ôgaki Castle before Kan´ei twelve (寛永, 1635). In 1635 in turn, Hidetada was already dead and so the assumption that the blade got its nickname on the occasion of the presentation to Hidetada can be dismissed. In short, the Ôgaki-Masamune must had got its name before the death of Ieyasu.

But when? As explained in my first volume Legends and Stories around the Japanese Sword, Ishida Mitsunari (石田三成, 1560-1600) lost two Masamune in the course of the turmoils before and during the battle of Sekigahara. One of them was the meibutsu „Hyûga-Masamune“ (日向正宗) (see picture 2). Interestingly, this blade is sometimes also referred to as „Ôgaki-Masamune“. I think that the naming of the Ôgaki-Masamune katana introduced here is directly connected to the Hyûga-Masamune but let me explain why I think so. The tantô Hyûga-Masamune was once a present of Mitsunari to  Fukuhara Naotaka (福原直高・長堯, ?-1600), the husband of his younger sister. Naotaka was a vassal of Hideyoshi and ruled a fief in Bungo province and fought of course on the side of the Western Army at Sekigahara. Together Kakemi Iezumi (垣見家純, ?-1600) and Kumagai Naomori (熊谷直盛, ?-1600) – both long-standing vassals of Hideyoshi too – he was detached to support the strategically important and aforementioned Ôgaki Castle which was then held by Itô Morimasa (伊藤盛正, ?-1623). Ôgaki was attacked by an alliance of several daimyô and Naotaka and Morimasa had to give up and surrendered the castle. Naotaka asked if he is permitted to enter priesthood but because he was via his wife a relative of Mitsunari this was not granted and he had to commit seppuku. One of the attacking generals of the Eastern Army was Mizuno Katsunari (水野勝成, 1564-1651), who made sure that he got hold of Naotaka´s Masamune-tantô at this occasion. I think it is quite possible that after the fightings, both blades – i.e. the katana and the tantô – were named for the time being after the surrendered castle. When the katana was presented to Ieyasu, it kept its nickname but the tantô was later renamed when Mizuno Katsunari, since 1601 holder of the title „Hyûga no Kami“, presented it to the Kii-Tokugawa family.


Picture 2: kokuhô Hyûga-Masamune, mumei, nagasa 24,8 cm


Picture 3: Ôgaki Castle before the main tower burned down after an air raid in 1945.

And here a link to a blade of Horikawa Kunihiro which is thought to be inspired by the Ôgaki-Masamune. We can see the narrow suguha-based hamon but the protrusions occur on other areas and the hi are different (although the hi on the Masamune might be atobori) and so it is not a 1:1 utsushimono but a faithful hommage.


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