Sword ID 0000-0160  
kanei gan sadatoshi gyoenbo chikugo ju
odoributsu asahina genzaemon shoji
Type Wakizashi Tsukurikomi Shinogi-zukuri
Nagasa (cm) 48.9 Sori (cm) 1.4
Moto-haba (cm) 2.75 Saki-haba (cm) 1.95
Moto-kasane (cm) Saki-kasane (cm)
Mekugi 3 Nakago Uncertain


Smith Sadatoshi School
Period Shinto (1596-1781) Year 1624
Location Private
Certificate Type Certificate ID  

Workmanship and style

Shape and construction

Made in torii-zori.


Omote: So no kurikara made shallow in the style of Hizen Munenaga
Ura: Goma hashi, then rendai (lotus)


Togari-gunome made of ko-nie in nioi with lots of activity. Numerous kakikake mixed with sunagashi, kinsuji are seen.


Ko-maru with hakikake.

Jitetsu and hada

O-mokume with running masame tendency in the ha. Some ayasugi is visible.


Length: 13.9 cm. Nakago has 3 mekugi-ana, the one in the middle being larger than the others.
Nakagojiri is of kiri type, but it looks like ubu.


Shinto wakizashi in good polish.

Blade is kept in old shirasaya of high quality. Mekugi is made of deep horn, mekugi-ana - ivory.

Signature can be translated as: Made in 1624 (first year on Kanei era) by Sadatoshi, lay priest of Gyōen, resident of Chikugo province. Owned by 'Odoribu' Asahina Genzaemon.


According to Meikan (thanks to Harry Watson for providing this information), there is a Sadatoshi with a Gō of GYŌEN NYŪDŌ. That means that his name as a lay priest is Gyōen. However, it says that both the time he worked and where he lived is unknown, but he is placed in the Shintō period.

If the mei is original, it tells exactly when and where Sadatoshi lived and worked: 1624, Chikugo province.

'Dancing Buddha'

The word written above the owner's name is 踊佛 - odoribu, or odoribotoke, which can be translated as 'dancing Buddha'. There could be few versions what that word means:

  • As it appears right above the name of the owner, it could be a clerical title, or a nick name, or something else related to the owner.
  • As mentioned by Guido Schiller, unshortened swords sometimes have more than one Mekugi-ana ... for "decorative purposes" (for lack of a better expression). For instance, a large Mekugi-ana with a smaller one above and below is called "Odoribotoke" (dancing Buddha), kind of a word-play refering to "three bodies". It may be somehow related to a cutting test (see below).
  • Odoribotoke was a popular term during Early Edo for a cutting test than goes diagonally down from one shoulder. It might be related to the owner as if e.g. he was proficient in performing this cut. Or it might be related to the sword and a cutting test.

I'm leaving it to the reader to decide which version sounds more plausible.

Special thanks to Kimiyo Kuroya and Harry Watson for all their great help with reading the mei.

Meikan page 259 wrote:

Gyouen nyudo (priest of Gyouen). Era and province is unknown. (References: Soran)


A general comment on this part:
Would it be possible that it could state ownership?
Genzaemon shoji - Genzaemon owner

Asahina - Asahina clan

Asahina Genzaemon owner

To further elaborate the first part "踊佛".
This was translated by Nobuo Nakahara (at the Amsterdam session 2019-10-12) as "Dancing Monk" or "The Dancing Monk".
踊佛 could mean "Monk Warrior".
Monk warriors did appear in the mid 1700th century. As the blade also has a date "Kanei gan"/ 1624 this is a possible solution.

Was Genzamon a warrior monk of the Asahina clan?
Was the blade handed over to Genzaemon as a gift for his services for the Asahina clan and inscribed as such "所持"/Shoji/Owner?

/Martin Einarsson 2019-10-16




I found almost identical horimono in Dai Token Ichi catalog for 2010, page 14 (katana by Yukihira).