Object Title

Sword (wakizashi)

Sword (wakizashi)



Object Number



Presented by a private donor, 10 July 2002. Formerly part of the collection of her husband.

Physical Description

The blade is hirazukuri with a shallow even curve and iori mune. The hada is ayasugi becoming almost perfect circles in the undulations towards the monouchi, but itame elsewhere. Near the habaki the steel towards the edge is a distinctly different colour bounded by a white almost saw-tooth line. The hamon is suguba of ko nie terminating in a kaen boshi with a short kaeri. Wide fat tang with one hole and ha agari kurijiri. There is a shallow two character inscription whilst the tang has a granular pocked surface. There is an oxidised silver ni ju habaki


Dimensions: The length of the blade is 348 mm, the sori is 6 mm the width at the machi is 2.6 mm. The length of the scabbard is 398 mm, the length of the hilt being 138 mm. Weight: The weight of the blade is 0.246 kg, the weight of the shirasaya is 0.138kg.

Inscriptions and Marks

Signed 'Gassan'


Places Japan


Deryk Ingham described this blade as 'ko Gassan', although there has been debate over whether this is indeed Gassan work.

The group were based on a mountain of that name and seem to have started about the mid 14th century according to 'Nihon To Koza' (translated by Afu Watson, Volume III, Koto part II, p.170) . Many of the group did not use personal names and simply signed with the name 'Gassan'. The wide fat tang seems to be a characteristic of the Gassan but its rather granular patination and rather scratchy signature is at first glance rather suspicious. However, a comparison with a sword exhibited at the Tokyo National Museum in 1998 (see catalogue item 226, p.197) stands comparison in that the aysugi hada is confined to the region near the hamon, becoming a regular mokume towards the shinogi. The exhibited sword also has a very poor signature exactly like this one. The sword exhibited in the Tokyo National was dated to the 16th century, and there seems no immediate reason to suspect that this blade is any older.

The saw-toothed undulation near the habaki would seem to be inserted metal forming the cutting edge. This would imply that if this blade is Gassan work, then the Gassan used wari ba, or some form of san mai kitae, in the construction of their blades.