Very rare Onkashi-to Yasukuni Shrine tanto by Kotani Yasunori 靖憲. Yasunori (Kotani Kenzo 小谷 憲三) was born on January 7, 1909 in Hiroshima. He was a student of the of his uncle Kajiyama Yasunori. In 1935 he became a Yasukuni Shrine swordsmith and was given the name Yasunori. During the next few years, Kotani Yasunori won many awards and was renowned for his skills. Yasunori made many swords for very high level military figures as well as for members of the Imperial family. In all it is reported that he made around 1600 blades at the Yasukuni Shrine. The name Takenori 武憲 was used when he made blades outside of the Yasukuni Shrine. He passed away on March 1, 2003 at the age of 94 and was the last Yasukuni Shrine swordsmith.
This tanto is an
Onkashi-to. Onkashi-to were blades that were made as gifts from the Emperor to one of the top graduates of Army and Navy Military academies, in which they presented by Emperor Hito. So therefore it was a very high honor for a swordsmith to be selected to make an Onkashi-to. These such Onkashi-to were of superior quality and work. Being that the Nihonto Tanren Kai was founded and funded by the Army, they primarily made katana for the Onkashi-to. It was excedingly rare that any blades forged at the Yasukuni Shrine were made for the Navy. In this particular case, the official smith for making the Onkashi-to for the Imperial Naval Academy, Horii Toshihide was very ill and was not able to forge any blades. Therefore as Yasunori was a senior smith with highly regarded skills and workmanship, he was given the honor of making this tanto.
The blade is in the Bizen tradition with a suguha with slight ko-notare temperline. This shows how talented Yasunori was at making the Bizen tradition. The jigane is also well mixed ko-itame with mokume with lots of ji-nie. The blade is signed Yasunori 靖憲, note that the mei is signed under the mekugi ana, which is traditional for Onkashi-to as a sign of reverence. The nakago is beautifully finished in Yasunori's traditional kiri yasurime and a nakago-jiri of kuri-jiri. Blade is in full polish with shirasaya. It was polished in Japan by Nakamura Yutaka, who studied under the national treasure polisher, Ono Kokei. This tanto is accompanied with a very well crafted solid silver habaki. These kind of blades are very rarely ever offered for sale.