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Osafune


Osafune is a town in the ancient Japan's Bizen province and was the center of swordmaking in that province. It was the home of one of the oldest schools of swordsmithing and there are thousands of swords named Osafune of varying quality. The Osafune school was founded by Bizen Osafune Nagamitsu, the son of Bizen Mitsutada who was a swordsmith in the 13th century. Nagamitsu is believed to have been active between 1264 and 1319, and worked with three San-Saku known as the "Three makers".

  • Osafune Chikakage (known to be active in 1319)
  • Osafune Kagemitsu (known to be active in 1321)
  • Osafune Sanenaga

    One of Masamune's students also hails from this period:
  • Osafune Nagayoshi - (known to be active from 1324-1362. Ranked "ryowazamono" for good quality swords)

    At the beginning of the Muromachi period right at the end of the 14th century, the Osafune school absorbed the majority of the other schools in the Bizen province. While it had long been the most prominent school, at this point in history the other schools began to lose their own distinctive characteristics and began to take on those of the Osafune school. The smiths who worked in the Oei era (1394 - 1428) are called Oei-Bizen and they include the "Oei no san mitsu" or three mitsu of the Oei era.

  • Osafune Morimitsu
  • Osafune Moromitsu
  • Osafune Yasumitsu

    Smiths that worked in the Muromachi period between 1429 and 1465 are called Eikyo-Bizen smiths. This was a transitionary period between Oei-Bizen and the more popular Sue Bizen and famous smiths include:

  • Osafune Norimitsu
  • Osafune Sukemitsu (Ranked "ryowazamono" in the Kaihokenshaku)
  • Osafune Toshimitsu (Ranked "mixed quality" in the Kaihokenshaku)

    Smiths from the later Muromachi period (1490 - 1600) are called Sue Bizen. While a lot of mass produced blades of generally lower quality came from Bizen during this time, there were also high quality blades from smiths of this period.

  • Osafune Harumitsu
  • Osafune Katsumitsu
  • Osafune Munemitsu
  • Osafune Sukesada (known to be active in 1515)
  • Osafune Tadamitsu (Ranked "ryowazamono" in the Kaihokenshaku)
  • Osafune Yoshimitsu
  • Osafune Yukimitsu

    The Kaihokenshaku published in 1805 compares the quality of 228 swordsmiths and lists many swords made from the Osafune school. They are ranked accordingly:

    Saijo O-wazamono - Best cutting ability of all swords tested
    O-wazamono - Significant swords
    Ryowazamono - Good swords
    Wazamono - Swords
    Mixed - Swords of mixed quality

    Here is a list of Osafune smiths from the Kaihokenshaku who were most likely active between the 17th and 19th centuries. (Note there are a few smiths already listed above):

  • Osafune Hidemitsu - Saijo Owazamono
  • Osafune Motoshige - Saijo Owazamono
  • Osafune Hidesuke - Ryowazamono
  • Osafune Nidai Iesuke - Ryowazamono
  • Osafune Shodai Norimitsu - Ryowazamono
  • Osafune Shonidai Norimitsu - Ryowazamono
  • Osafune Arimitsu - Mixed
  • Osafune Hiromitsu - Mixed
  • Osafune Shonidai Tuneie - Mixed

    There is a museum in Osafune today with many fine swords on display.

    CE 13th Century, CE 14th Century, CE 15th Century, CE 16th Century, CE 17th Century, CE 18th Century, CE 19th Century, General Term, History, Japan, Sword, Weapon


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