SWORDS OF THE RITSUMEIKAN TANRENJO
Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto had a small forge (tanrenjo) set up during World War II which made swords for the military and the war effort. The forge was led by Sakurai Masayuki, the second son of Sakurai (Manji) Masatsugu, a well known early gendai swordsmith. He originally signed Masatsuna. He worked in Fukuoka, Osaka, and Kyoto (Ritsumeikan University). He was an early teacher of Seiho Sumitani (Sumitani Masamine), who became a Ningen Kokuho Tosho (Living National Treasure Swordsmith) from Kanazawa.
Several swordsmiths worked and trained at the Ritsumeikan Tanrenjo. Among them were Masayuki, Masatake, Yokota Masamitsu and Kawai Yoshikazu. Yoshikazu was a Jumei Tosho (Army approved swordsmith) and won the Nyusen prize at the sword competition held by Japanese army in the prewar Japan.
Most swords made at the Ritsumeikan University Tanrenjo are signed "Oite Ritsumeikan" (made at Ritsumeikan ) with the name of the swordsmith or swordsmiths. Many of the swordsmiths working there were Jumei Tosho (Army approved swordsmiths), thus many of the Ritsumeikan blades will bear a star stamp. These blades are considered by some collectors to be true gendaito. There were several "swordsmiths in training" also working at the Ritsumeikan Tanrenjo; therefore some of the Ritsumeikan blades will vary in quality. Not all bear the Jumei Tosho star stamp. Most Ritsumeikan swords are found in shingunto koshirae.
Oite Ritsumeikan Yoshikazu saku (star stamp)
Oite Ritsumeikan Yoshikazu saku (no star stamp)
Oite Ritsumeikan Masayuki dai Yoshikazu saku (star stamp)
Oite Ritsumeikan Masatake saku (star stamp)
Ritsumeikan Masatake saku kore wo (no star stamp)
Ritsumeikan saku (no star stamp)
Thanks to S. Alexander Takeuchi, Kazushige Tsuruta of Aoi Arts, Eric Good, Wayne Erickson, Peter Bleed, Peter Richards, Bruce Stewart for contributing to the knowledge of Ritsumeikan made swords. Special thanks to Chris Bowen for the pictures of the Ritsumeikan Tanrenjo.
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