|designation||Unpapered Tosogu Soroikanagu|
|fuchi-mei||貞疲作 · Sadahiko saku|
|bashin-mei||遠州浜松住貞疲作 · Enshu Hamamatsu ju Sadahiko saku|
|tsuba-mei||遠州住貞疲作 · Enshu ju Sadahiko saku|
|昭和壬戌二月 &mdot; February 1982 (Showa Mizunoe-inu nigatsu)|
Miyazaki Sadahiko was one of the students of Yonemitsu Tahei. He was born in 1933 and died some time recently. His master Yonemitsu was born in 1888 is the only tosogu artisan to ever attain Living National Treasure status. He had a workshop in Kumamoto city of Kyushu which corresponds to Higo in the Edo period.
Yonemitsu continued the Higo tradition and his level of skill was in keeping with the top Higo craftsmen of the old days. His initial work was mumei like his predecessors but in his later days he signed his work with the mei Mitsumasa (光正). In 1963 he co-founded an organization with Tanabe Tsuneo to preserve the Higo Zogan techniques.
Higo tosogu is usually in iron as this was the preference of the serious samurai of the region. Around 1632, the Hosokawa clan under Tadatoshi was the dominant force in Higo, having been given this province and its great wealth of 540,000 koku by Tokugawa Ieyasu. We often see their mon featured in gold inlay work on Higo tosogu as a result. Tadatoshi in particular was a major sponsor of this craftsmanship and works in this style are found in various forms (guns, tobacco pipes, etc.) Matashichi of the Hayashi school was possibly the best of the artisans working for the Hosokawa and the work of Yonemitsu recalls Matashichi's style and quality perfectly.
Yonemitsu trained some number of artisans, though none would reach his level of skill their work is still appreciated. He died in 1980 at the age of 92, working all the way.
As a successor of the Higo kinko school during the Showa period, the deceased master Yonemitsu Tahei was the only person who had the title of an intangible cultural asset (Living National treasure) in the toso kinko field. Tahei was born during Meiji 22 in Kumamoto. Master Yonemitsu was Tanabe Yasuhira’s grandson-inlaw, who inherited the prestigious Higo kinko’s Hayashi family technique, and he was active at the end of the Edo period into the Meiji period, and Yonemitsu Mitsumasa studied under him.
We could say that he was one of the Higo kinko’s main-stream masters. But during the time he was learning, and later during his career, there was not much demand for these items. This situation was also similar to that for sword smiths at the time. Thus Mitsumasa had a difficult time during most of his career. This was especially true during WWII when using gold was prohibited, and he was drafted to work in a munitions factory. During all of this time he could not work in his chosen field as a kinko craftsman.
After the war, he started working again at kinko crafts and was active until Showa 55 at age at 92. He had received the living national treasure title sometime after the war. We could say that during his entire life, he tried to re-create Hayashi Matashichi’s work and its inherent beauty. His compositions included nikudori (carving), sabizuke (a rust based patina), and zougan (inlay). Both of these tsuba remind us of Matashichi’s work, and these two tsuba shows his peak period techniques very well. NBTHK Token Bijutsu
Unpapered Miyazaki Sadahiko Soroikanagu
This is a nice and complete Higo soroikanagu (set of tosogu), including tsuba, fuchigashira, kaeritsuno, and kurigata. These feature the 8 star Hosokawa mon and an appropriate menuki to use with this would be Hosokawa mon in gold and shakudo. Sadahiko made this in 1982, shortly after his master Yonemitsu's death.
The skill of these is good, and the work is very detailed. This set was fabricated with the intention of looking like ancient Higo work in current condition and has a rustic flavor. As such it makes a very nice set for mounting a modern or a good antique katana as it is relatively easy to add modern made Hosokawa mon menuki to this for mounting purposes as they are available and popular among martial artists.
The art is characterized by the intentional use of iron rust to create a feeling of sophistication and to unveil the beauty of ferrite. The production process is extremely delicate, and takes a great deal of trouble and time. In the most advanced process — known as nunome zogan or texture inlay — the craftsperson cuts fine nicks using a chisel in four directions: longitudinally, obliquely rightward, obliquely leftward and latitudinally; to give the ferrite surface a cloth-like texture. Designed shapes and lines of gold and silver are struck in over the nicks, and unnecessary nicks are carefully smoothed out with iron bars. After that, the product is soaked in a special rust-producing liquid to achieve overall rusting. Finally, it is boiled in tea, whose tannin colors the product a distinctive black and stops the rusting. Metal One
Higo tosogu sometimes comes with a bashin (馬針) which is sometimes called an umebari or a kankyuto and was thought to have something to do with acupuncture for horses (the first character in the name is the character for horse, and in full it means a horse-needle). In this case the use is for bleeding the legs or dressing the hooves. If found it takes the place of a kozuka and is something that really ties together a Higo set. Also it served as a utility knife, possibly a thrown weapon and apparently as a kankyuto is what you would use when you are examining or displaying the head of a dead enemy. All in all, a serious piece of equipment and its unique style makes for something unusual with which to make koshirae.
Getting a complete antique Higo set like this is impossible, so it is the next best thing if you'd like to make a koshirae or appreciate it in the custom box in which it currently resides.