Kanchi-in-bon Mei-zukushi

TitleKanchi-in-bon Mei-zukushi
Publication TypeManuscript
Year of Publication1423

The oldest Japanese sword book in existence. It is thought to be a handwritten copy of a work of the late Kamakura Period (1192-1333): the text includes reference to the year 1316, and the imprint shows that the copy was completed in 1423.

The lineage of master-apprentice relationships from the Jindai (ca.7 c.) to the late Kamakura period is traced in the book and swordsmiths of the day are listed. In the section titled "Kokon shokoku kaji no mei (literally, "inscription on swords of all ages and countries")," 52 distinguished swordmakers are introduced. Especially about 42 swordsmiths including Awataguchi Toshiro Yoshimitsu and Nakajiro Kunimasa of Yamato, the forms of nakago (tangs) of their works are illustrated in the upper part of the pages, and below are written the smith's name, the region, his school, date, and the features of his works.

The title "Mei-zukushi" is taken from the word which appears in the page 9-cho-ura (latter half of the 9th sheet). There are 45 sheets in total excluding blank pages. Temporary binding in Japanese style. As it was once possessed by the Kanchi-in, the foremost of the small temples belonging to Toji temple in Kyoto, the book was also called "Kanchi-in-bon Mei-zukushi."

[Bad link]