Ichigo Hitofuri Tōshirō / 一期一振藤四郎

Sword ID 0000-0961  
Type Tachi Tsukurikomi Shinogi-zukuri
Nagasa (cm) 69.08 Sori (cm) 2.61
Moto-haba (cm) Saki-haba (cm)
Moto-kasane (cm) Saki-kasane (cm)
Mekugi 1 Nakago Ōsuriage


Smith Yoshimitsu School Awataguchi
Period Kamakura (1184-1336) Year
References[?] NZK-192-2, NN-4-6-21, NN-5-6-25, TANOBE09-GNT-10, SJS-775
Certificate Type Certificate ID  


This blade was also called Okatana Yoshimitsu (御刀吉光) [1]. This is the only recorded tachi made by Yoshimitsu.

Ichigo Hitofuri originally belonged to Asakura family of Echizen province [2]. When the family was destroyed in the course of Oda Nobunaga's seizure of power in the first year of Tenshō (1573), it was handed-over to the Mōri family. On 18th of September of Tenshō 18 (1590) Toyotomi Hideyoshi visited Mōri estate and the sword was given to him by Mōri Terumoto (毛利輝元).

There are two interpretations of the sword's name, ichigo, 一期 ('once in a lifetime') and hitofuri, 一振 ('one blade'). One theory says that this was the only tachi ever made by Yoshimitsu, hence 'one sword in a lifetime'. Another theory is connected to Toyotomi Hideyoshi who didn't have an opportunity to ever use this sword and named it 'one sword [use] in a lifetime'.

After the death of Hideyoshi and subsequent battle between Hideyoshi's son and Tokugawa forces, the sword went to Owari Tokugawa. It suffered fire damage during the fall of Osaka castle (1615) and then it was re-tempered by Echizen Yasutsugu. Yamanaka and other authors praise the quality of his yakinaoshi [1].

It is also said that the blade was shortened during the time of re-tempering. Original length was recorded as 2 shaku 8 sun 3 bu (85.75 cm). However the true story is uncertain. Tanobe states that the theory of fire damage during the fall of Osaka comes from analysis of 2 copies of Honami Kōtoku's "Kōtoku-katanaezu" (光徳刀絵図) (1594-1595) and also Umetada's oshigata (12th month of Genna 1, 1615, seven months after the fall of Osaka castle) [3]. Umetada's oshigata mentions fire damage and shows an already shortened blade while older copies present the blade in unshortened form (see [3] for oshigata).

Honma Kunzan has an alternative theory that Toyotomi Hideyoshi wanted to wear one of the rare long swords of Yoshimitsu by all means and ordered the blade to be shortened to the current length before the fall of Osaka to match his rather short height [3].

Yamanaka [1] states that Ichigo Hitofuri was damaged in the Great Fire of Meireki (1657) in Edo castle. And then it was re-tempered by Yasutsugu. He also tells a story of Priest Tenkai who advised Tokugawa Ieyasu to avoid sending Hideyoshi's swords to Edo. It raises some questions because 1657 would be too late for Shodai Echizen Yasutsugu to carry out yakinaoshi.

The sword remained in possession of the Owari branch of the Tokugawa until Tokugawa Mochinaga (徳川茂徳, 1831-1884) presented it to Emperor Kōmei (孝明天皇, r. 1846-1866) in Bunkyū 3 (1863), and it has been a Gyobutsu (Imperial treasure) since that time.

Workmanship and style


Signature is a gaku-mei.


  1. Kyōhō Meibutsu Chō, Yamanaka, Albert , Nihonto Newsletter, Volume I-V, (1968)
  2. Legends and Stories around the Japanese Sword, Sesko, Markus , p.186, (2011)
  3. Gokaden No Tabi. A Journey to the Gokaden, Tanobe, Michihiro , Menome, 12/2009, Issue 399, (2009)