It was Sōshū Tsunahiro (相州綱廣), who revived a lineage of swordsmiths from Sagami province followed to Sōshū Tradition from Kamakura period. According to various sources, around Tenbun (天文, 1532-1555) era, the Tsunahiro (綱廣) genealogy line was founded by the 6th generation Masahiro. Old manuscripts tells us that around the Tenbun era Masahiro was invited by Hōjō Ujitsuna (北条氏綱, 1487 – August 10, 1541) who was the lord of the Odawara (小田原) castle which was located about forty kilometres to the east of Kamakura. Masahiro and his workshop had worked exclusively for Ujitsuna producing swords to meet with increasing demands of Hōjō clan samurais. Probably Masahiro changed his name after giving him kanji "Tsuna" from the own name of his lord Ujitsuna. Thus, of existing works by Tsunahiro are, substantial, strong and massive swords and it is rare to meet the swords made with hitatsura techniques implementation. Tsunahiro is considered as one of the founders of so-called Odawara-Sōshū (小田原相州) group of the swordsmiths. Any case, one could find a strong connection between Hōjō clan and Sagami School swordsmitn. Even that Hōjō Ujitsuna is a representative of so-called Go-Hōjō clan his clan has a direct connection with old Hōjō regents family ruling the Kamakura capital during the end of Kamakura period.
Hōjō Ujitsuna was the son of Hōjō Sōun (Ise Shinkurō), who is considered as a founder of the Go-Hōjō clan. Ujitsuna changed the generic name Ise to Hōjō, appealing to the inheritance of the ancient Hōjō family, former owners of Izu province lands. Subsequently, Hōjō Ujitsuna married a representative of the ancient Hōjō clan, after which his claims to the clan name became legal. In 1522 the Uesugi clan troops attacked and burned Kamakura, which was a major loss to the Hōjō symbolically, because the earlier Hōjō clan from which they took their name fell in the siege of Kamakura in 1333. Over several years before his death in 1541, Ujitsuna oversaw the rebuilding of Kamakura, making it a symbol of the growing power of the Hōjō, along with Odawara and Edo.
Figure 1. Hōjō Ujitsuna (on the left) and Hōjō Sōun (on the right).
According to information from old manuscripts, Tsunahiro (1st generation) was the son of Shimada Yoshisuke (島田義助). Probably, this datas regards to second generation of Yoshisuke who’s activity period span years around the Meiō era (明應, 1492-1501). He was a successor of the founder of the Shimada School: Yoshisuke (1st generation). There is extant sword with signature: Sōshū-jū Yoshisuke saku (相州住義助作) and notes in old books that he lived Odawara (小田原) in Sōshū province. According to this theory, there were three brothers: Tsunaie (綱家), Yasukuni (康国) and Tsunahiro (綱廣), who were related to the Shimada family. Tsunaie (activity during Kyōroku (享禄, 1528-1532) and Tenbun [天文, 1532-1555] eras) was the elder brother who was initially studied in swordsmithing art at Shimada School and later moved in Odawara in order to study under the guidance of his own brother: Tsunahiro. Yasukuni was the middle-brother; the period of his activity is defined as the Kyōroku (享禄, 1528-1532) era. It is said that he was a student of Shimada Yoshisuke and Hōjō Ujiyasu (北条氏康, 1515-1571) granted him the kanji "Yasu" from his own name in order to form Yasukuni’s smith name.
At the Edo times, some experts tried to "slightly" correct the genealogy of the Shimada School so that it had a direct contact with the main line of the Sagami and Masamune in particular. For this, the years of creative activity of the founder of the Shimada School (Yoshisuke, 1st generation) were re-run for the Gen ́ō era (元應, 1319-1321). Despite the fact that all modern experts reject the direct connection between the Shimada School and Masamune, nevertheless, it must be recognized that among the works of the Yoshisuke 1st generation there are swords made in the Shintōgo Kunimitsu style. Among the works of the Yoshisuke 2nd generation there are swords made in the hitatsura style of Hiromitsu and Akihiro. There is no doubts only the close relationship between the Shimada and Odawara-Sōshū group in the late of the Muromachi period.
According to another records, Tsunahiro (1st generation) was an adopted son of Sōshū Hirotsugu (廣次) 4th generation. Hirotsugu (4th generation) was active around Tenbun era (天文, 1532-1555) and lived in Suruga province. Historically, there have been relationships between Shimada and Hirotsugu since the Hirotsugu 2nd generation, who lived in Shimada, according to records in old books.
The genealogical lines of Masahiro (Sue-Sōshū) and Tsunahiro (Odawara-Sōshū) could be presented as followed:
Thus, it can be noted that the Tsunahiro line originates from Masamune through Masahiro and continues until the present day. Perhaps there were some minor corrections of the genealogical line that took place most likely during the Edo period. However, this genealogy line looks very logical and corresponds to the information that can be found in old books. It is most likely that the workshop of the descendants of the founders of Sōshū Traditions is still located in Kamakura.
The Masamune Sword and Blade Workshop (http://www.sword-masamune.com) speaks of itself as a workshop that: «carrying on the Sōshū Tradition of blade making that extends back over 700 years to its founder, Goro Nyudo Masamune. Tsunahiro Yamamura, the son of swordsmith Tsunahiro (Masamune XXIII), the previous master of Masamune Sword and Blade Workshop. At the age of 23, he became the apprentice of a swordsmith with experience in swordmaking at Yasukuni Shrine. He continued his training in Chigasaki, Kanagawa. At the age of 29, he passed his swordsmith examination and received permission to produce swords, and became the successor to the name Tsunahiro at Masamune Sword and Blade Workshop. He continues work there to this day (13-29 Onari, Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture).»
Figure 2. Tsunahiro Yamamura (17th generation, 24th generation of Masamune).
It is quite possible that after Odawara castle was destroyed in 1590, group of the Odawara swordsmiths moved to Kamakura area called Ōgigayatsu (扇ケ谷). This place is located near Genjiyama (源氏山) and bear the name Masamune Well at the present day. According to Fukunaga Suiken (福永酔剣), old manuscripts from the 2nd year of the Eiroku era (永禄, 1559) tells us that Tsunahiro family owned a plot valued at 19 Kan and 83 Mon. This plot was located in Kamakura near the foot of Genji mountain. It is unclear, this plot was inherited ownership of the Sagami swordsmiths direct line or was bought sometime after but the Meikan books contains notes that Tsunahiro (3d generation) lived in Ōgigayatsu. Yet it is necessary to note one interesting detail: there is extant signature of the Tsunahiro 3d generation ( Sagami no Kuni-jūnin Tsurugaoka ni oite Tsunahiro kore o tsukuru (相模国住人於鶴岡綱広造之). It means that this sword was made by Tsunahiro from Sagami province in a place beside by the most of important shrine Tsurugaoka Hachimangū (鶴岡八幡宮) located on the east part of Kamakura. This fact can not be considered as confirmation of not finished migration of the Tsunahiro line smiths (since the place of this shrine could be deliberately chosen as the place for forging of some special-ordered sword). Nonetheless, starting from the 5th generation Tsunahiro only, who added to his signature the area name: Ōgigayatsu (Sōshū Ōgigayatsu-jū Minamoto Tsunahiro saku 相州扇ケ谷住源綱広作) we can conclude that this place became a constant for location the new generation of Sōshū swordsmiths.
The tomb of Masamune is located today in the Honkaku-Ji (本覚寺) of Kamakura and the tombstone of Sadamune burial is also near with this. It is widely known that this temple is also the family temple of the Yamamura family and of the Tsunahiro line successors too.
Sōshū Tsunahiro lineage summary
There is one theory which places one more smith before the Tsunahiro 1st generation (he was active around Tenbun era 天文, 1532-1555). This theory considers so-called "Zero Generation" smith as the founder and predecessor of the Tsunahiro and Odawara smiths lines. Some experts indicates the creative period of "zero" generation of Tsunahiro as Eishō era (永正, 1504-1521).
Activity period: Tenbun (天文, 1532-1555).
Signature variants: Sōshū-jū Masahiro (相州住正廣), „Masahiro“ (正廣); Sagami (no) Kuni-jūnin Masahiro (相模国住人正廣); Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro (相州住綱廣), Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro saku (相州住綱廣作).
Name: family name Yamamura (山村).
Buddhist name: Renkō (連向), hōmyō Renkō (法名連向と号 - Fujishiro san)
Official title: Taima no Kami (対馬守 - Fujishiro san, variant of transcription by Harry Afu Watson) .
Important dates & facts: year of death is said to be in the Kōji era (弘治, 1555-1558).
Rating: Ryōwazamono, jō-saku.
Sugata: mihaba is wide, a shallow sakizori and the kissaki has a tendency to be elongated, there are hira-zukuri ko-wakizashi or sunnobi-tantō with a wide mihaba and with dimensions the same as in the Muromachi period are the most common.
Kitae: tight itame hada with ji-nie.
Hamon: ō-midare hitatsura style or gunome-midare; tempered in nioi-deki, i.e. it does not show more the abundance of nie as classical Sōshū works; besides of round tobiyaki also peculiar crescent-shaped tobiyaki appear.
Bōshi: wide midare-komi with a long kaeri or ichimai.
Horimono: horimono is the most common: shin no kurikara, sō no kurikara, bonji, suken, and futasuji-hi.
As of today, 11 swords are known (Jūyō and above) to be 1st generation Tsunahiro’s work: one sword (tachi) have Jūyō Bunkazai status; one sword (ko-wakizashi) is Jūyō Bijutsuhin, and 9 swords are Jūyō Tōken (2 tachi and 7 ko-wakizashi).
Figure 3. Nihon Tōkō Jitten by Fujishiro Yoshio, 1987, Volume "Kotō", p. 210, signature: Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro, dated: in the 10th month, the year of the Wood Goat, 1535 (on the left). Ko-wakizashi signed Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro (相州住綱廣), Jūyō Tōken #52, Dai Tōken Ichi Сatalogue of 2011, p 56 (on the right).
Activity period: Eiroku (永禄, 1558-1570), Genki (元亀, 1570-1573).
Signature variants: Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro (相州住綱廣).
Name: Yamamura Tsushima (山村対馬), Taima (対馬 - Fujishiro san, variant of transcription by Harry Afu Watson).
Buddhist name: Sōdai (宗台); hōmyō Sōdai (法名宗台と号 - Fujishiro san).
Important dates & facts: according to a genealogy chart of the house of Yamamura and old documents, a border line between the 1st and 2nd generations can be seen around 1538-1541.
Main features: hitatsura and gunome midare in style of the 1st generation; suguha and notare with ashi in addition; he made mostly ko-wakizashi with different types of horimono.
Figure 4. Nihon Tōkō Jitten by Fujishiro Yoshio, 1987, Volume "Kotō", p. 211 (on the left). Catalogue of the special exhibition. Masamune: A Genius Swordsmith and His Lineage, Mishima city 2002, p. 108 (on the right).
This sword (Jūyō Tōken #5) is signed: Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro and dated: in the 2nd month, the year of the Earth Monkey, 1548. Fujishiro san indicates that this sword was made by 2nd generation Tsunahiro but NBTHK attributed it to the 1st generation Tsunahiro.
Fujishiro san notes: «According to a genealogy chart of the house of Yamamura and old documents, a change of ownership between the first and second generations can be seen between Tenmon 7 to 10 [1538-1541] and there is a theory that these old documents are not accurate, and that the first and second generation are the same person, but they are written according to an outline of Yamamura family documents.» The Nihon Tōkō Jitten translated by Harry Afu Watson, New Mexico 1990, p. 92. Thus, swords dated after 1538 year could be attributed to the 2nd generation of Tsunahiro.
There is very fortunate that another one rare and valuable sword has survived to our time in excellent condition. This sword could be attributed as very late work of the 2nd generation of Tsunahiro. In the first place, an unusual manner of signing and dating this work attracts itself. Signature was produced by the master on the sashi-omote side in the following way: "on a day in the 2nd month of the 4th year of the Genki era (元亀, 1573), Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro" (元亀四年二月日相州住綱廣). It is very unusual way for signing a sword by the swordsmith when signature and date are located in the same side of the tang. It can be compared with Samonji's practice of signing his own works. According to old oshigata books there is extant sword signature made by the one of Samonji’s disciple: "Sa, on the May 20 of the 17th year of the Ōei era (應永, 1410)" i.e. smith name and date was made on the same side of the nakago (it is most likely that on the sashi-omote side). This is so-called kaki-kudashi-mei (書下し銘), when smith inscribed his name, residence and date of production on the same side of the sword’s nakago.
Figure 5. Photos were made by Francesco Marinelli in the Tokyo National Museum (東京国立博物館).
Activity period: Bunroku (文禄, 1592-1596).
Signature variants: Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro (相州住綱廣); Tsunahiro (綱廣); Sagami (no) Kuni-jūnin Tsurugaoka ni oite Tsunahiro kore o tsukuru“ (相模国住人於鶴岡綱廣造之); one of 300 swords were made by Sōshū Tsunahiro on the order of Tamenobu, the lord of Tsugaru (津軽主為信相州綱廣呼下作之三百腰之内).
Name: Yamamura Sō ́emon (no) jō (山村宗右衛門尉).
Buddhist name: Gyokuyū (玉祐).
Important dates & facts: In the 10th year of the Keichō era (慶長, 1605), he moved in Tsugaru accompanied by several smiths and made for Tsugaru Ujinobu (津軽為信, 1550-1608), the daimyō of the Tsugaru fief, 300 daishō katana. It is said that in this work Tsunahiro was helped by Tsunashige (網重) and Morimune (盛宗). Tsunahiro finished his work in the 11th year of the Keichō era (慶長, 1606) and returned to his home in Kamakura Ōgigayatsu (鎌倉扇ケ谷). He died in the 27th day of the second month of 15th year of Kan’ei era (寛永, 1638), at the age of 91.
Kitae: jigane is hard and does not differ significantly from the Sōshū-Den of the earlier periods. The Itame hada mixed with mokume hada, which is inclined to become a coarse ō-hada.
Hamon: midare-ba, hitatsura, suguba, ko-midare, and gunome midare; compact nioiguchi line; generally a lot of nie will not be found, in case of scanty nie, they tend to were separated and uneven.
Bōshi: midare-komi with a long kaeri.
Horimono: horimono is widely common: various types of kurikara, bonji, kuwagata and rendai.
Nakago: katana yasurime is kurijiri; tantō with the typical Sōshū-style tang.
Figure 6. NBTHK, Jūyō Tōken Nado Zufu, Volume 17 (on the left), dated 1605; Jūyō Tōken #17 published in the Dai Tōken Ichi Сatalogue of 2018, p. 36 (in the middle); NBTHK, Jūyō Tōken Nado Zufu, Volume 61, dated 1605 (on the right). These two swords are two surviving specimens of the 300 swords were made by Sōshū Tsunahiro on the order of Tamenobu, the lord of Tsugaru.
Activity period: Kan ́ei (寛永, 1624-1644).
Signature variants: Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro (相州住綱廣); Minamoto Tsunahiro (源綱廣).
Name: Yamamoto Kan ́emon (no) jō (山村勘右衛門尉).
Buddhist name: Eichin (永珍).
Official title: Jinbei (no) jō (甚兵衛尉)
Important dates & facts: He died in the 3rd year of Jōō era (承応, 1654).
Main features: suguha mixed with gunome and ashi; gunome midare.
Activity period: Manji (万治, 1658-1661).
Signature variants: Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro (相州住綱廣); Sōshū Ise (no) Daijō Minamoto Tsunahiro (相州伊勢大掾源綱廣); Sōshū Ōgigayatsu-jū Minamoto Tsunahiro saku (相州扇ケ谷住源綱廣作); Ise no Kami Tsunahiro (伊勢守綱廣).
Buddhist name: Jōryoku (常緑).
Official title: Ise (no) Daijō (伊勢大掾, 1660); Ise (no) Kami (伊勢守, towards the end of the Enpō era [延宝, 1673-1681]).
Important dates & facts: He died in the 13th day of the 3rd month of the Genroku 11 (元禄, 1698) at the age of 83). He was engraving a 16-petal chrysanthemum kiku-mon onto the tangs of his swords. According to Fujishiro san Tsunahiro (5th generation) was the teacher of Nagasone Okisato.
Rating: Wazamono, jō-saku.
Sugata: wide mihaba, sakizori with characteristics the same as in the end of Muromachi period, very strong shape with lacking of hiraniku; there are examples of suzumari (寸詰り) katana, i.e. with nagasa 61-62 cm; maru-mune (round) is widely common; mistu-mune (three-surface) is more rare. The ko-wakizashi is hirazukuri with nagasa of about 1 shaku 2 sun; with thick kasane and mitsu-mune.
Kitae: mokume hada mixed with ō-hada or ko-mokume hada; the color of steel in the ji area is blackish.
Hamon: gunome midare or ō-midare made in nie-deki; ha area has a prominent steel grains and rough surface; nioiguchi line is wide; in the case of hitatsura, it is looks greatly differ those of Hiromitsu and Akihiro examples.
Bōshi: midare-komi with a long kaeri; tip area is in form of togari with hakikake.
Nakago: short nakago made in tanagobara style with the absence of niku, yasurime is kiri, tip of nakago is kengyō.
Horimono: he was an excellent horimono engraver and the best of all Tsunahiro line swordsmiths of the Shintō period.
Figure 7. Nihon Tōkō Jitten by Fujishiro Yoshio, 1987, Volume "Shinto", p. 155 (on the left); Nihon Tōkō Jitten by Fujishiro Yoshio, 1987, Volume "Shinto", p. 156 (on the right).
Activity period: Genroku (元禄, 1688-1704).
Signature variants: Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro saku (相州住綱廣作).
Name: Yamamura Ya ́emon (no) jō (山村弥右衛門尉); Uemon (no) Jō (右衛門尉).
Official title: Bungo no Daijō (豊後大掾)
Buddhist name: Kansei (観成).
Important dates & facts: He died in the 3rd year of the Genbun era (元文, 1738). He lived in Kamakura Ōgigayatsu (鎌倉扇ケ谷). He was a son of Ise no Daijō (伊勢大掾). According to Yamamura family entries of the Enpō era (延宝, 1673-1681) he possessed a land plot in Suruga Ōigawa (駿河大井川).
Activity period: Kyōhō (享保, 1716-1736).
Signature variants: Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro (相州住綱廣).
Name: Yamamura Kanbei (no) Jō (山村勘兵衛尉).
Buddhist name: Sōkan (宗観).
Activity period: Kan ́en (寛延, 1748-1751).
Signature variants: Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro (相州住綱廣); Sōshū Tsunahiro (相州綱廣), Tsunahiro (綱廣).
Name: Yamamura Uhei (no) Jō (山村宇兵衛尉).
Important dates & facts: He lived in Kamakura Ōgigayatsu (鎌倉扇ケ谷). He worked in Shitaya (下谷) when he was 65 years old.
Activity period: Kan ́en (寛延, 1748-1751).
Signature variants: Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro (相州住綱廣); Sagami (no) Kuni Tsunahiro (相模国綱廣).
Name: Yamamura Uhei (no) Jō (山村宇兵衛尉).
Important dates & facts: He died in the 9th day of the 6th month of the Hōreki 2 (1752). He was adopted from Bushū Shitahara (武州下原) by Suruga Shimada clan smith.
Activity period: Tenmei (天明, 1781-1789).
Signature variants: Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro (相州住綱廣).
Name: Yamamura Uhei (山村宇兵衛); Masamune, the 17th generation. Yamamura Jinzaburō (山村甚三郎).
Important dates & facts: He died on the 22nd day of the 7th month of the Kansei 3 (寛政, 1791). According to Fujishiro san he was in the Suishinshi Masahide (水心子正秀) mon or probably, was the teacher of Masahide (正秀). [According to a legend, Masahide swore to Tsunahiro that he will keep received Sōshū techniques in secret. Another theory one can find in the Nihonto Koza: initially, Masahide tried to collect bit by bit Sōshū-Den smithing techniques and asked Tsunahiro to teach him. Later, Masahide was disappointed in the level of Tsunahiro’s Sōshū-Den knowledges. He sent his disciple Motooki (元興) to Mitsunaga (光長), who was working in Satsuma, trying to find more Sōshū-Den secret techniques here.] Tsunahiro trained Mitsumura Masanao (松村昌直) in Sōshū-Den style.
Activity period: Kansei (寛政, 1789-1801).
Signature variants: Tsunahiro tsukuru (綱廣造); Sagami (no) Kuni Tsunahiro“ (相模国綱廣); Sagami (no) Kuni-jū Tsunahiro (相模国住綱廣); Tōdaijō no kenkō Minamoto Tsunahiro (東大城之剣工源綱廣).
Name: Yamamura Kanzaei (山村勘左衛); Uhei (宇兵衛).
Important dates & facts: He died in the 29th day of the 7th month of the Kyōwa 1 (享和, 1801). According to Fujishiro san he was in the Suishinshi Masahide (水心子正秀) mon too. He was engraving horimono himself. Matsumura Masanao (松村昌直), Tegarayama Masashige (手柄山正繁) and Sendai Kunikane (仙台国包) was trained by Tsunahiro.
Main features: hitatsura and midareba, ara-nie in the pure Sōshū-Den style; ō-itame hada with chikei; strong influence of shinshintō features in ji and ha.
Activity period: Bunsei (文政, 1818-1830).
Signature variants: Tsunahiro (綱廣); Masamune-masson Sagami (no) Kuni Tsunahiro (正宗末孫相模国綱廣); Sagami (no) Kuni Tsunahiro“ (相模国綱廣); Sagami (no) Kuni Tsunahiro Bukō ni oite kore o tsukuru (相模国網廣於武江造之).
Name: Kanzaemon (勘左衛門); Masamune, the 18th generation; name at birth Tadasaburō (直三郎).
Important dates & facts: He died in the 17th day of the 10th month of the Tenpō 1 (天保, 1830).
Figure 8. Nihon Tōkō Jitten by Fujishiro Yoshio, 1987, Volume "Shintō", p. 157, dated 1809 (on the left); Dai Tōken Ichi Сatalogue of 2004, p. 52, dated 1825.
Activity period: Kōka (弘化, 1844-1848)
Signature variants: Sōshū Masamune jūkyū-daison Tsunahiro (相州正宗十九代孫綱廣, Tsunahiro, 19th generation of Sōshū Masamune); Sōshū Kamakura-jū Tsunahiro (相州鎌倉住綱廣); Sagami (no) Kuni Tsunahiro (相模国綱廣); Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro (相州住綱廣).
Name: Yamamura Sōzaburō (山村宗三郎).
Important dates & facts: He lived in Sagami ́s Ochiai (落合); he died in the 29th day of the 3rd month of the Meiji 19 (明治, 1886). Probably, he was a disciple of Masahide (正秀).
Figure 9. Nihon Tōkō Jitten by Fujishiro Yoshio, 1987, Volume "Shintō", p. 158, dated 1863.
Activity period: Genji (元治, 1864-1865); Keiō (慶応, 1865-1868).
Signature variants: Tsunahiro (綱廣); Masamune nijū-daison Sagami (no) Kuni Tsunahiro (正宗廿代孫相模国綱廣, Inhabitant of Sagami Tsunahiro, 20th generation of Masamune); Masamune nijū-daison Sōshū Tsunahiro (正宗廿代孫相州綱廣).
Name: Yamamura Shigenosuke (山村繁之丞); Yamamura Shigenojō (山村繁之亟 - according to Fujishiro san).
Important dates & facts: He died in the 15th day of the 12th month of the Taishō 1 (大正, 1912).
Activity period: Meiji (明治, 1868-1912).
Signature variants: Tsunahiro“ (綱廣); Masamune nijūichi-daison Tsunahiro (正宗廿一代孫綱廣, Tsunahiro, 21st generation of Masamune).
Name: Yamamura Yoshinosuke (山村喜之助).
Important dates & facts: He died in the 12th day of the 11th month of the Meiji 38 (明治, 1905).
Activity period: Taishō (大正, 1912-1926).
Signature variants: Tsunahiro“ (綱廣).
Name: Yamamura Fukutarō (山村福太郎).
Activity period: Heisei (平成, 1989- ).
Signature variants: Masamune nijūyon-daison Sōshū-jū Tsunahiro (正宗廿四代孫相州住綱廣, Sōshū Tsunahiro, 24th generation of Masamune).
Name: Yamamura Gō (山村剛).
Original content Copyright © 2020 Dmitry Pechalov