Awataguchi Yoshimitsu (粟田口吉光)

Yoshimitsu AWATAGUCHI (around 13th century) was a sword craftsman in the middle of Kamakura period. He was a master who is comparable to Masamune, and is especially known to have been thoroughly accomplished at making short swords.


There had been skillful sword craftsmen in Awataguchi, Kyoto since ancient times. Yoshimitsu, commonly called Toshiro, is considered to be a master who can match Masamue OKAZAKI of Kamakura. From ancient times, his swords have had neat inscriptions, most of which have the two characters of 'Yoshimitsu' inscribed on them. But since none of his works showed a year of manufacture, he is regarded as a sword craftsman of the mid-Kamakura period only judging by his parent and brother's works. He was named 'Sansaku' (Three Masters) by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, along with Masamune and Yoshihiro GONO.

Many of his extant works are short swords, mostly of normal width and form. They have a flecked texture called 'nashiji' that looks like the grains of a board, featuring a thick surface patterns and misty lines on it. Many of them have mostly straight but slightly shaky lines, with outstanding grains on the surface and wavy patterns near its sword guard. They also include short swords of relatively large size like famous Goto Toshiro and Hirano Toshiro, and those that feature a mixture of different wavy patterns. The famous short sword Atsushi Toshiro is a work known as 'yoroi doshi' that features especially thick layers, with its initial layer exceeding one centimeters in thickness. Mumei Toshiro, a short sword with no inscription, also has a thick initial layer that measures over seven millimeters.

Since they had long been highly valued and were collected into the hands of powerful figures such as Nobunaga ODA and Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, many were burned in the Honnoji Incident and Osaka Natsu no Jin (Summer Siege of Osaka). Ieyasu TOKUGAWA had people look for noted swords including Yoshimitsu and Masamune which were burned or lost in Osaka Natsu no Jin. These burned noted swords were quenched again by Yasutsugu ECHIZEN the first, many of which are in existence today. Some of the major quenched Yoshimitsu include the famous sword Ichigo Hitofuri Toshiro, made from a cut sword, and the famous short sword Namazu Toshiro, made from a cut short pole sword. A remake from a pole sword, the famous short sword Honebami Toshiro which was collected intact from a moat in Osaka Natsu no Jin, was also burned in Edo Castle in the Great Fire of Meireki and was quenched again by the later Yasutsugu.

National Treasures

Atushi Toshiro, short sword, owned by Tokyo National Museum
Goto Toshiro, short sword, owned by the Tokugawa Art Museum, Aichi Prefecture
Short sword owned by Ohana Co., Ltd., Fukuoka Prefecture
Sword owned by Shirayamahime-jinja Shrine, Ishikawa Prefecture
All of the above have the two characters of 'Yoshimitsu' inscribed on them.

Important Cultural Properties

Shinano Toshiro, short sword, owned by Chido Museum, Yamagata Prefecture
Maeda Toshiro, short sword, owned by Maeda-Ikutokukai, Tokyo
Akita Toshiro, short sword, owned privately
Hakata Toshiro, short sword, owned privately
Short sword, owned by Tokyo National Museum
Short sword, owned by Yomei Bunko, Kyoto
Short sword, owned by Aguchi-jinja Shrine, Osaka
Sword owned by Atsuta-jingu Shrine, Aichi Prefecture
Honebami Toshiro, Yoshimitsu with no inscription which was a remake from a pole sword and had been burned, owned by Kyoto Toyokuni-jinja Shrine, in Kyoto

All of the above, except 'Honebami Toshiro,' have the two characters of 'Yoshimitsu' inscribed on them.


Hirano Toshiro, short sword, Yoshimitsu with an inscription, owned by the Imperial House

[Original Japanese]