Table of contents

By clicking below, it will take you to that chapter directly.   Part 2 is a detailed part of the correspondent chapter.

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1 | Preface     –   

2 | Time line

3 | Joko-to(上古刀)

4 |Names of Parts

5 | Heian Period History(平安時代) 794 – 1192

6 |Heian Period Swords

7| Kamakura Period History (1192 – 1334)

8| Overview of the Kamakura Period Swords (1192-1333)

9| Middle Kamakura Period —Yamashiro School(鎌倉中期山城伝

10 | Middle Kamakura Period — Bizen School(鎌倉中期備前伝)

11|Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221

12|Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)

13|Tanto ( 短刀) Middle Kamakura Period

14|Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期)

15|Late Kamakura Period Sword

16|The Revival of Yamato School (山城伝復活)

17 | Late Kamakura period Tanto ——- Early Soshu Tanto

18|Nanboku(Yoshino) Cho Period History—— North and South Dynasty History(1333-1393)

19|Nanboku-Cho (North and South dynasty) Period Sword

20 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀)

21|Muromachi Period History (室町時代)

22|Muromachi Period Sword

23| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代)

24|Sengoku Period Sword(戦国時代)– – – – – – – – –  – – -Mino- Den 

25|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)

26| Edo Period History (江戸時代)1603 – 1867

27|Over view of Shinto (新刀)– – – – – – – Difference between Ko-To and Shin-To

28|Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A)

29|Seven Main Areas of Sin-To Sword (partB)

30| Bakumatsu Period History (幕末)1781 – 1867

31| Shin Shin-To (Bakumatsu Period Sword 新々刀)1781-1867

32|The Process of Making a Sword

33|References

34| Background

35|Part 2 of —– 1|Preface

36| Part 2 of —– 2|Timeline

37|Part 2 of —– 3|Jyoko-To (上古刀)

38|Part 2 of —– 4|Names of the Parts

39|Part 2 of —– 5|Heian Period History (平安時代) 794-1192

40|Part 2 of —– 6|Heian Period Sword (792-1192)

41|Part 2 of —– 7|Kamakura Period History (1192 – 1333)

42|Part 2 of —– 8|Overview of the Kamakura Period Sword 1192-1333)

43| Part 2 of —– 9| Middle Kamakura Period Yamashiro Den (鎌倉中期山城伝)

44|Part 2 of —– 10|Middle Kamakura Period Bizen-Den (鎌倉中期備前伝)

45|Part 2 of —- 11|Jyokyu-no-Hen and Gotoba Joko 後鳥羽上皇 1221

46|Part 2 of —- 12|Ikubi Kissaki(猪首切先)

47|Part 2 of —–12|Ikubi Kissaki, continued

48|Part 2 of —– 13|Middle Kamakura Period Tanto 鎌倉中期短刀

49| Part 2 of —-14|Late Kamakura Period (鎌倉後期歴史)

50|Part 2 of —– 15|Late Kamakura Period Sword

My Japanese Room

51| Part 2 of —– 16 The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)

My Yamato Sword (大和所有刀剣)

52|Part 2 of —–17|Late Kamakura Period Tanto (Early Soshu-Den Tanto)

53| Part 2 of —- 18 Nanboku-Cho(南北朝) Period History (1333 – 1393)

54|Masamune Tombstone in Honkakuji Temple (本覚寺)

55|Nanboku-Cho Period Swords (南北朝刀)

56| Nanboku-Cho Tanto (南北朝短刀) 

57|Part 2 of —– 21|Mucond Muromachi Period History (室町時代) 1393-1467  – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and Ashikaga Yoshimasa 

58|Part 2 of —–22| Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代) 1393 —- 1467

59| Part 2 of —– 23|Sengoku Period History (戦国時代) 1467 —1596 – – – – – – – – – – – –      – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Oda Nobunaga, Battle of Okehazam and Honnou-Ji Temple 

60|  Part 2 of —24|Sengoku Period Sword  (1467 – 1596) – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — –  – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – Mino-Den and Bizen-Den

61|Part 2 of — 25|Sengoku Period Tanto (1467 – 1596)  – – – – – – – -Muramasa Tanto

2019 San Francisco Sword show

62| Part 2 of – – – – – 26|Edo Period History (江戸時代】1603 – 1867 – – – – – – – – – – – – –The battle of Sekigahara and the Winter and Summer Siege of Osaka Castle.

63|Part 2 of – – – 27|Overview of Shin-To (新刀 ) – – – – — – – picturesque Hamon

64|Part 2 of — 28| Main 7 Areas Among Shin-To Sword (part A) – – – -Yamashiro area

65|Part 2 of —29 |Main 7 Areas Among Shin-To Sword (part B) – – – – Area 1,2,3,7and 8

66|Part 2 of – – -30 Bakumatsu Period History (幕末時代)  – – – – – – –Meiji Revolution

 

66|Part 2 of – – -30 Bakumatsu Period History (幕末時代)

This chapter is the detailed part of chapter 30| Bakumatsu Period History (幕末)1781 – 1867.  Please read chapter 30 before start reading this chapter.

Edo period is from 1600 to 1858 (depends on how one divides the political history).   The latter part of the Edo period is called  Bakumatsu which is around 1781 to 1868.  During this time the economy started to stagnate.   The several Tokugawa Shogun (the different Shoguns of Tokugawa government at each given time) tried to perform the financial reforms.  At each time, it succeeded somewhat, but it never solved the real fundamental financial problem.   Tokugawa Bakufu tried to reduce government spending and forced people the frugal life and banned even a small luxury.  You know this only shrinks the size of the economy and things get even worse.  On top of it, they raised the going interest rate, thinking that may solve the problem.  This is the typical non-economist solution, the interest rate should be lowered in the situation like this.   Lower level Samurai became poorer and farmers revolts occurred often and many natural disasters struck in the farming area.  The famous Kurosawa Movies, “Seven Samurai” staged around this time.  As we all know, “Magnificent Seven” was Hollywood version of “Seven Samurai” based on Japanese “Seven SamuraiThe major actors were like Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner, they were wonderful in this movie.  Even though the time was not wonderful,  little by little, small cottage (or domestic) industry began to grow and that added to their income,  led by the local leaders and feudal domains.  Marchants became affluent and town people in the city became wealthier.  The gap between rich and poor became wider.  Especially the problem of Ronin (unemployed Samurai) became severe, it was almost dangerous level to the society.

The Edo town people’s culture

During this time, novels were written for ordinary people, instead of only for upper-class people like the previous time.  In the past, the paintings were related to the religion and only for the upper class, now paintings were drawn for the common people.   This is the golden time for “Ukioe (浮世絵).  Kitagawa Utamaro (喜多川歌麿1753-1800) is well-known for a portrait of ladies, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849葛飾北斎) and Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858安藤広重) are well-known for scenery paintings.  Maruyama Okyo (円山応挙) drew a picture using European perspective method.  Also, Katsushika Hokusai’s daughter drew some of her paintings using the European method.  Her name is “Ooi, 応為“.Only a few of her works are left now, but it is said that even her genius father was surprised at her ability to draw.

Even though it was very limited, few people learned Dutch language (Dutch was the only country allowed to have a contact at Dejima in Nagasaki prefecture at this time) and translated the European medical book using French and Dutch dictionary.   It is called Kaitai Shinsho (解体新書).After this book was translated, history books, economy books, political books were translated.  New ideas emerged from those books and influenced the intellects.  In general, schooling was thriving.  Each feudal domain ran their own school for sons of their men, children of the town people went to a school called Terakoya (寺子屋a neighborhood unofficial school) to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Pressure from the outside world

Even though Japan was in Sakoku state (鎖国national seclusion policy), Japan knew what was happening outside of Japan.  Since the early 17th century, Russia came to Japan.  1792 and 1804, a messenger from Russia came to Japan to demand to trade.  1808 England ship came to Nagasaki.  In 1825, Tokugawa Bakufu ordered to fire guns at any ships come close to Japan, but in 1842, when England won the Opium War against the Qing dynasty, Bakufu decided to help Food and fuel for the foreign ships.  We were afraid to have the same fate as Qing.  In 1846, the U.S. sent Japan a fleet commander to open the diplomatic relations but Bakufu refused.  The U.S. needed Japan to open the ports for the supply of food, water, and fuel for their whaling ships in the Pacific Ocean.  In 1853, a fleet commander Perry* arrived at Uraga port of Japan with four warships displaying the military forces and demanded to open the country.  Tokugawa Bakufu did not have any clear policy on how to handle the situation and also they realized it is difficult to maintain the seclusion policy any longer.  In 1854, “the Japan-U.S. Treaty of Amity and Friendship” was signed.  After this,  Japan made a treaty with England, Russia, France, and the Netherlands.  This ended over 200 years of Sakoku (national seclusion policy) and opened several ports for foreign ships.  Those treaties caused many problems.  One is; the treaties were an unequal treaty, second is; it caused the shortage of daily necessities, as a result, the price went up.  Also, a large amount of gold flowed out of Japan because of the exchange rate between gold and silver was lesser in Japan.  The exchange rate was gold 1 to silver 5 in Japan, but in Europe, it was gold 1 to silver 15.  On top of it, there was a problem who should be the next Shogun after Shogun Tokugawa Iesada (徳川家定) since he could not have a childAt the chaotic time like this, each opposing feudal domain wanted somebody whose political idea is the same line with your own.  Many other problems caused a big battle among feudal domains who were already opposed the Bakufu for different reasonsNow the base of Tokugawa Bakufu began to fall apart.  The Choshu-Han (Choshu domain) and the Satsuma-Han (Satsuma domain) were the main big forces who were against the Tokugawa Bakufu.   In the beginning, they were opposed to each other,  after many strained relations and strained incidents, they both decided to reconcile and went after Bakufu together.  Because England realized Bakufu did not have much power any longer, they started to become closer to the Emperor side, whereas France sided with Tokugawa.  England and France almost started a war in Japan.   Choshu-Han and Satsuma-Han (domain) realized it was not the time for Japanese to fight among ourselves. The process of the Meiji Ishin (Meiji revolution) time drama is the favorite historic drama Japanese like and we see it on TV and movies quite often.  The most favorable story is about Sengoku period of Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu, then 2nd favorite story is about Meiji revolution time of Saigo Takamori (西郷隆盛), Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬), and Shinsen-Gumi (新撰組).  Though it is a fiction but the movie, “Last Samurai “ staged at this time with a real historical character of Saigo Takamori.  Also, Kido Takayoshi (木戸孝允), Ookubo Toshimichi (大久保利通), Shimazu Nariakira (島津斉彬), Hitotsubashi Yoshinobu(一橋慶喜), and many more, they played the active role and they were the driving forces to topple Tokugawa and establish a new government system center around the Emperor of the Meiji revolution.  1867, Tokugawa Yoshinobu issued “the Restoration of Imperial Rule (Taisei Hokan, 大政奉還)”, this is to return the political power back to the Emperor.  1868, Tokugawa opened the Edo-Jo (Edo Castle) to Meiji Shin Seifu (new Meiji government).   Now it is called Kokyo (Imperial Palace), the present Emperor is living there.  Edo-Jo were lost by a big fire, but the original moat (swans are floating), big massive stone wall, a beautiful bridge called Nijyu-Bashi (二重橋) are there, and big garden areas are free to walk around.    It is right in front of the Marunouchi side of Tokyo station,  a walking distance from Tokyo station.

66 koukyo

Imperial Palace (From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository ).  The copyright holder of this work hereby publishes it under the following license:Creative Commons attribution share-alike.

*Perry

Commodore M.C. Perry came to Jaspan two times.  In 1853, he brought the sovereign diplomatic document from the president of the U.S.  Next year he came back to demand the answer for the letter.  They wanted Japan to open 5 ports, Japan only wanted to open one port.  Perry studied Japan beforehand and realized the Japanese enjoy parties a lot.  He brought skilled chefs and loaded livestock on his way to Japan for the party.  He wined and dined the Japanese with whiskey, wine, beer, etc.  The Japanese side also did elaborate banquets for them.   Perry displayed the model train, the Japanese had a Sumo match and so on.  The biggest hit was, Perry served at the end of the dinner, a dessert (cake) with a small flag with each Japanese guest’s family crest printed on it.  Both sides came to an agreement to open three ports.  After Perry went back to the U.S. he wrote a book about his expedition, “Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan,  Under the command of Commodore M.C. Perry, United States Navy by order of the Government of the United States”.   In his book, he wrote about Japan very favorably, the beautiful scenery and people’s ingenuities, and lively female.

65|Part 2 of —29 |Main 7 Area Among Shin-To Sword (part B)

 

This chapter is the detailed part of chapter 29|Main 7 Areas Among Sin-To Sword (part B).  In Chapter 29, the location 1 to 7 was discussed but here the location 1,2,3,7 and 8 will be discussed.  Please read chapter 29 before reading this chapter.

65 Map with number with 8

  1. Settu (摂津) at Osaka (大阪 )

Settu Osaka has many well-known swordsmiths, like Kawachi-no-Kami Kunisuke (河内守国助), Tsuda Echizen -no-Kami Sukehiro (津田越前守助広), Inoue Shinkai (井上真改), Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子忠綱), etc.  The main characteristic of Settsu Osaka sword is very pretty fine Jitetsu (surface), almost no pattern, no design flat like surface.  The below two photos are Settsu sword.

65 Ikkanshi illustration 65 Ikkanshi photo

Ikkanshi Tadatsuna from Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission granted to use.

Ikkanshi Tadatsuna is famous for his carvings.  His father was Omi-no-Kami Tadatsuna.  Ikkanshi Tadatsu is the second generation of Omi-no-kami Tadatsuna.  Therefore he is also known as Awataguchi Omi-no-Kami Fujiwara Tadatsuna as you see on the Nakago above photo. The characteristics of his sword are:  Longer Kissaki and Sakiziri.  Wide tempered line with Nie.  Osaka Yakidashi.  O-Notare with Gunome.  On the illustration above, one Gunome between Notare shows.  Boshi Komaru (turn back)Very fine Ji-Hada almost no pattern on the surface.

 

 65-inoue-shinkai-photo-.jpg  65 inoue Shinkai illustration

Inoue Shinkai (井上真改) from Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission granted to use.

Inoue Shinkai is the second generation of Izumi-no-Kami Kunisada who was the student of Kunihiro.  The characteristics of his sword are:  Osaka Yakidashi, gradually wider tempered line toward the top, O- Notare, Deep Nie, Fine Ji-Hada is so fine almost no design on the surface.

3. Musashi (Edo)

We find many famous swordsmiths in Edo also.  They are 1st, 2nd,  3rd generations of Yasutsugu(康継), Kotetsu(虎徹), Noda Hankei (野田繁慶), Hojoji Masahiro (法成寺正弘), etc.  Two photos below are swordsmiths from Musashi.

65 Yasutsugu photo 65-yasutsugu-illustration-e1567313224375.jpg

Yasutsugu  From Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission granted to use

Characteristics of Yasutusgu:  Shallow curvature.  Chu-Gissaki (medium Kissaki). Hamon is wide Notare, Midare, O-Gunome (sometimes same shape Gunome line up side by side).  The trace of Soshu-Den and Mino-Den shows in his work.  Woodgrain mixed with Masame on Shinogi-Ji.

 

65 Kotetsu photo    65 kotetu illustration

Kotetsu From Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission granted to use.

Here is the famous Kotetsu.  The formal name is Nagasone Okisato Nyudo Kotetsu (長曽祢興里入道虎徹).   Kotetsu started to make sword around 50 years old, until then, he was an armor maker.   The characteristics of Kotetsu: Shallow curvature and wide width.  Wide tempered line with Nie.  Around Machi area, the Hamon is small Irregular, the upper part becomes wide Suguha like Notare.  Fine Nie.  Boshi is Komaru with short turn back.  Ji-Hada is fine wood grain, burl.  Sometimes,  O-Hada (black iron show through) shows at the lower part (right above Machi) of the sword.  The illustration above shows the thick (or wide) borderline between Ha and Ji consisted of Nie ( in other words, wide hazy not clear line).  This is Kotetsu’s characteristic.  Once you see it you will remember.

7. Satsuma (Kyushu)

65 Satsuma Masakiyo illustration 65 Satsuma Masakiyo photo

Miyahara Mondonosho Masakiyo (宮原主水正正清) From Sano Museum Catalogue, permission granted to use.

Miyahara Mondonosho Masakiyo was highly regarded by Shimazu family of Satsuma Han (Satsuma domain).  Later he was chosen to go to Edo by Shogun Yoshimune to forge Shogun’s sword.  The characteristics of Mondonosho Masakiyo: Well balanced sword shape.  Shallow curvature.  Wide and narrow Hamon with squarish Hamon and pointed Hamon mixed as in the photo above.  He engraved Aoi crest (the hollyhock crest of the Tokugawa family) on Nakago.
8. Sendai

65 仙台山城大掾藤原国包photo 65 仙台山城大掾藤原国包

Yamashiro Daijo Fujiwara Kunikane (山城大掾藤原国包 ) From Sano Museum Catalogue, Permission granted to use.

Fujiwara Kunikane is from Sendai.  He was favored by Date Masanune (伊達政宗) and was sent to Kyoto to study sword making.   It is said he was the descendant of the Yamato Hosho group.   Characteristics of Fujiwara Kunikane:  The shape of the sword is like Ko-To with Funbari (refer 6 |Heian Period Swords)Narrow width with high Shinogi.  Narrow tempered line with Chu-Suguha Hotsure (frayed medium straight tempered line).  Niju-Ha and Uchinoke shows.   Boshi is Yakizume (10 | Middle Kamakura Period — Bizen School(鎌倉中期備前伝)).  Ji-Hada shows neatly arranged Masame.  Sometimes mistaken as the Yamato Hosho (大和保昌) of Ko-To Yamato-Den.

 

 

 

64|Part 2 of — 28|Main 7 Areas Among Shin-To Sword (part A)

This chapter is the detailed part of chapter 28| Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A).  Please read chapter 28 before reading this chapter.

As it was described in chapter 28, here are the main seven areas of sword making.  They are Yamashiro (山城 in Kyoto), Settsu (摂津 today’s Osaka), Musashi (武蔵 Edo), Echizen (越前) and Kaga (加賀), Hizen (肥前), Satsuma (薩摩).

28-map-with-number-7.jpg

 

During Ko-To time, usually, if a sword has a wide Hamon line with Nie, Ji-Hada is also large wood grain or large burl grain.  Also, when you see a narrow Hamon line, usually with fine or small Ji-Hada on Ko-To.  But on Shin-To, wide Hamon with Nie with small wood grain or small burn grain on Ji-Hada.  And narrow Hamon line with a large wood grain Ji-Hada.  This is the Shin-To characteristic.  Because of that, Some people may confuse with shin-To as Ko-To.   But other features like Ji-Tetsu or other parts should indicate the Shin-To or Ko-To.

*  Early Soshu-Den during the late Kamakura period, some swordsmith did wide Hamon with Nie with small burl.  Because of that whether it was Ko-To or Shin-To was confused.  But other features like Ji-Tetsu or other parts should indicate the Shin-To or Ko-To.

  1. Yamashiro (山城 Kyoto)

64-kunihiro-sword.jpg 64 Kunihiro IllustrationHorikawa Kunihiro    From Sano Museum Catalogue

Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広) is considered a great master swordsmith of Shin-To swordsmith.  He forged his sword in different styles and different characteristic.  The types of Hamon are O-Notare, O-Gunome, Togari-Ba (pointed Hamon), Chu-Suguha with hotsure, Hiro-Suguha, with Sunagashi effect, Inazuma, Kinsuji appears.  The shape of the sword Kunihiro liked to create was the one like Nanboku-Cho time O-suriage style (shortened Nanboku-Cho long sword).  Kunihiro’s sword gives you a massive feeling.  Kunihiro did very fine carvings, like a dragon, Sanskrit letter, etc.  Since he did many different styles, there is no general characteristic on his sword other than Hamon is mainly Nie.  Very finely forged Ji-Hada

img067.jpg    img068.jpgIga-no-Kami Kinnmichi (伊賀守金道)                   Dewa Daijyo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)

Both photos were taken by my father a long time ago.  The quality of the photo is not good.  Both were once my family-owned.  Both Juyo Token

Characteristics of Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi ( 伊賀守金道)

Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi family is called Mishina group.  Refer chapter 28| Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A)Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi received the honorable Japanese Imperial Chrysanthemum crest.  The characteristic of his sword; Wide sword, Shallow curvature, Kissaki extended, Sakizori (curvature at 1/3 top).  Wide tempered line, Kyo Yakidashi (refer 28|Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A), Hiro Suguha (wide straight Hamon).  O-Notare (large wavy), Yahazu Midare, Hako-Midare (refer 25|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)Boshi is Mishina Boshi (refer 28|Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A).  Fine wood burl, Masame appears on Shinogi area.

Dewa Daijo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)

Dewa Daijo Kunimichi was the best student of Horikawa Kunihiro (The 1st photo above).  Like Kunihiro, the shape of the sword was like a shortened Nanboku-Cho sword.  Shallow curvature, wide body, somewhat stretched kissaki and Fukura kareru (less arch in Fukura).  Wide tempered line, Large Gunome, Nie, with Sunagashi, Inazuma shows.  Among large Gunome, double Gunome (two gunome side by side) appears.  Fine Ji-Tetsu.

 

63|Part 2 of – – – 27|Overview of Shin-To (新刀)

This chapter is the detailed chapter of  27|Over view of Shinto (新刀).  Please read chapter 27 before you start reading this chapter.

The difficulty of Shin-To Kantei

During Ko-To time, one could tell the approximate time when the sword was made by the style and the shape.  The condition of the Hamon,  how the Jigane appears indicates the approximate Gokaden (五ヶ伝) of Ko-To time.  But in Shin-To time, that can not be done.  Even though among Shin-To time, there was some difference between early Edo period that is around Keicho (慶長) era, the middle Edo period that is Kanbun (寛文) and the later part Edo period that is Genroku Era (元禄), but that differences are not much.  The same is true with Gokaden (五ヶ伝). In Ko-To time, Bizen sword smiths forged Bizen characteristic, Yamato sword smiths usually shows Yamato-Den characteristic.  But Shin-To time, a swordsmith of one area did the other area’s Den.  From those reasons, it is hard to determine the swordmaker.  For shin-To, we study the characteristics of 7 main locations.  This will follow the next chapter.

Picturesque Hamon

Around the Genroku Era (1688 – 1704), some picturesque Hamon became a trendy style.  Some swordsmiths made picturesque Hamon on wakizashi or short swords and it became very fashionable.  But many foreigners loved those swords and majority of them were exported to outside of Japan around Meiji restoration time (1868).  Very few are left in Japan today.

The swordsmiths those who made picturesque  Hamon 

From Yamashiro area, Iga-no-kami Kinmichi (伊賀守金道) and Omi-no-kami Hisamichi (近江守久道) forged picturesque Hamon.  From Settsu-no-Kuni (摂津) area,  Tanba-no-Kami Yoshimichi  (丹波守吉道),  Yamato-no-Kami Yoshimichi (大和守吉道) did picturesque Hamon.  And many more.  The below are examples.  Fuji is the Mount fuji designKikusui is chrysanthemum in the water.

63 fuji sakura hamon
 

Fuji                                                      Kikusui

 

 

 

62| Part 2 of – – – – – 26|Edo Period History (江戸時代】1603 – 1867

Chapter 62 is a detailed part of chapter 26|Edo Period History.  Please read 26 Edo Period History (1603 – 1867) before you start reading this chapter.

Battle of Sekigahara

The most powerful man during the Sengoku period, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉) died in 1598.  At that time, his heir, Hideyori was only 5 years old.  Before Hideyoshi’s death, he set up a council system consisted of top five Daimyos to take care of the job for Hideyori as his regents until his son comes of age.  At the death bed of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, all five Daimyo agreed to be a guardian of Hideyori, but little by little each of them started to oppose each other, especially Ishida Mitsunari (石田三成 ) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康).   In 1600, those two big forces broke the battle of Sekigahara.   One side is Ishida Mitsunari that was called the Seigun (the western army) and the other was Ieyasu side that was called Togun ( the eastern army).   All the Daimyos of the rest of the country took their side either Tokugawa side or Ishida Mitsunari’s side.  It is said Ishida Mitsunari side had 100,000 men and Tokugawa side had 70,000 men.  Ieyasu side had less number of soldiers but he won at the end and he became the top among Toyotomi clan that means he was the top person since Hideyori was still a child.   In 1603 Ieyasu became a Shogun.  Now Ieyasu seized control of Japan and Tokugawa Shogunate was established in Edo, and council system was eliminated.  Yet Hideyori is still there with his mother Yodo-Dono ( or Yodo-Gimi).  They lived in Osaka castle which was built by Hideyoshi before he died.  Later, Hideyori and his mother, Yodo-Dono became an awkward situation with Tokugawa Ieyasu.   Yodo-Dono was very proud and a headstrong person with good reasons.   She was a niece of Nobunaga, she was a wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and she was a mother of the head of the Toyotomi clan.  Later her pride gets them into trouble and led to the destruction of the Toyotomi clan.

Winter and Summer siege of Osaka (1614 and 1615)

After the battle of Sekigahara till the siege of Osaka castle, there were 15 years.  During that time little by little a tension started to build up between Tokugawa Shogunate and Toyotomi clan.  Before the battle of Sekigahara, the Toyotomi clan ruled Japan.  After the Sekigahara, Tokugawa started to rule Japan.  Toyotomi clan lost many top advisers and vassals at Sekigahara.  As a result, all the power was centered around Yodo-Dono.  By this time Hideyori grew up to be a fine man but Yodo-Dono overprotected him and she had control over him.  She even did not allow Hideyori to practice Kendo (traditional martial art of swordsmanship) because it is too dangerous.  She insisted to act like Toyotomi is still the top power.  Tokugawa Ieyasu tried to calm the friction by the marriage between his granddaughter (Sen-Hime) and Hideyori.  A few advisors suggested Yodo-Dono yield to Tokugawa but she insisted Tokugawa has to be subordinate to Toyotomi.  A rumor began to spread that Toyotomi side started to hire and gather a large number of Ronin (Samurai without a lord) in Osaka Castle.   Several mediators tried to convince the Toyotomi side but failed.   November 1614, Osaka Winter Seige started.  Osaka (pronounced Oosaka) Castle is very difficult to attack.  It is a fortress itself.  It is said that the Toyotomi side had 100,000 soldiers.   But some of them were mercenaries.  Tokugawa attacked and fired cannon every day, but the Tokugawa side realized that the Osaka Castle is so solid and it is a waste of time.  Eventually, both sides went to a peace negotiation.   Several conditions were agreed on.   One of them was to fill in the outside moat.  But Tokugawa side filled in outside moat and even the inner moat.  That made the Toyotomi side angry and they became suspicious about the agreement.  Another requirement was the disarmament by the Toyotomi clan, yet the Toyotomi side kept soldiers inside their castle.  The last ultimatum from Tokugawa to Toyotomi was either dismiss all the soldiers or Toyotomi to move to the other location.   Yodo-Dono refused both.   After this, Osaka Summer Siege started.  This is 1615.  It is said that Toyotomi had 70,000 men and Tokugawa had 150,000 men.  Both sides had several battles here and there but the battle did not go well for both sides because of the thick fog, delayed arrival of troops, miscommunication, etc.   The last battlefield was Osaka Castle.   Toyotomi side decided to stay inside the castle, but soon a fire started inside and burned the Castle.  Yodo-Dono and Hideyori were hiding inside the storage building, waiting for the answer to the petition for their life to Ieyasu that they hoped their daughter-in-law could achieve.   But It was not accepted and they both died inside the storage place.

Yodo-Dono

The name of the lawful wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi is Nene.  She was a very smart and sensible person but not from high rank.  She was respected by everybody, including Tokugawa Ieyasu.  Even Hideyoshi often asked her opinion on political matters.   Hideyoshi was greatly helped by her to climb up his ranks.

Nene could not bear a child.  As powerful as Toyotomi Hideyoshi, he went around different women everywhere hoping to get his heir, but none of them could have any children with Hideyoshi.  Yodo-Dono was the only person who had Hideyoshi’s child.  Nobody knows exactly who was the real father, but the speculation indicated several people, one is her childhood friend and several others including Ishida Mitsunari. 

 

62 Yodo Gimi

伝 淀殿画像(It is said to be a portrait of Yodo-Dono but no evidence), owned by Nara Museum of Art         Drawn in 17th-century     public Domain:  from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

62 Kodai-in_Nene_cropped
Nene (Kodai-In), Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s lawful wife.  Public domain from Wikimedia, owned by Kodai-Ji

 

References

Kamurai.itspy.com/nobunaga/oosaka.html

www.thoughtco.com/toyoomi-hideyoshi-195660 

senjp.com/sekigahara

 

 

2019 San Francisco Sword show

Here are several pictures of 2019 San Francisco Sword Show that I attended last weekend.  It was a such a pleasure meeting several of you guys.  Mr. Yoshihara brought his grandson to this meeting as debut as a new sword maker. It is nice to see a next generation of sword maker.

IMG_1423
This is the 2019 San Francisco Sword Show
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Mr. Yoshindo Yoshihara (left), Me (middle), Mrs. Kapp (right)
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They also had entertainment, such as singing and dancing.
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Yoshindo and his grand-son (2019 Sword Show is his debut as a sword maker)
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Yoshindo is a very good cook.  He had after party at Kapp’s house.

61|Part 2 of – – – 25|Sengoku Period Tanto (1467 – 1596)

Chapter 61 is a detailed part of chapter 25|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代).  Please read chapter 25|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)  before start reading this chapter.

Muramasa (村正)

The discussion in this section is about the famous Muramasa (村正 ).  Many well-known swordsmiths are from one of the Goka-Den (main 5 schools, that is Yamashiro- Den, Bizen- Den, Soshu- Den, Yamato- Den, Mino- Den).  Muramasa is not from Goka-Den but from Ise Province.

61 Ise map

It is said that Muramasa was a student of Heian-Jo Nagayoshi (平安城長吉) of Yamashiro-Den.  Muramasa has three generations through Mid Muromachi periodSince Muramasa lived through the Sengoku Period, his sword shows the characteristic of Sengoku period sword style that is Mino-Den characteristic with  Soshu-Den characteristic added.

61 Muramasa photo  61 Muramasa illustration

Muramasa from Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Mino-Den Characteristic of the Sengoku period that shows on this Tanto

Muramasa’s Tanto is often 10 inches ± half inches or so.  Hirazukuri (平作り). Thin blade.  Muramasa Tanto gives a sharp look.  Nioi base with small Nie and Sunagashi (brushed sand like, the illustration below) appears.  Boshi (Top part of Hamon) is Jizo (side view of the head shape).  Tempered line has a wide area and narrow area, that is some area of tempered line is close to the edge of the blade and another area is a wide tempered line.  See the illustration above.  Hako-Midare (box like shape) and Gunome (line up beads like shape).  O-Notare (large gentle waviness) is Muramasa’s characteristic.  The pointed tempered line that is the typical Mino-Den characteristic (Sanbon Sugi) shows .  Refer 24|Sengoku Period Sword(戦国時代).

61 Sunagashi 2

Sunagashi (Brushed sand-like trace.  My drawing is exaggerated)

60| Second Part of —24|Sengoku Period Sword

This chapter is a detailed part of Chapter 24.  Please read Chapter 24|Sengoku Period Sword(戦国時代) before start reading this chapter.

During the Sengoku Period, MinoDen group and Bizen Osafune group was the main sword makers.  Because of almost 100 years of the Warring States period, all the Daimyo needed a large number of swords.  If a supplier is closer, that is even better.  Mino area could be reached from many Sengoku Daimyo conveniently because of its location.  Mino swords smiths existed since the Heian period and the Kamakura period.  Mino became the busiest sword making area around the Muromachi and the Sengoku period.   Shizu group and Tegai group from Yamato area, and many swordsmiths from Yamashiro (Kyoto) moved to Mino area.  Mino-Den, Shizu Kaneuji (志津兼氏) from the Kamakura period is one of the Masamune Juttetsu (正宗十哲)*.  Their swords are very practical swords for the Warring Stated period.

60-mino-map.jpg

*Masamune Juttetsu (正宗十哲) —–strictly meaning, top 10  Masamune students but often it means top swordsmiths.

Three examples of Sengoku Period sword

Every sword is different.  Even the sword made by the same swordsmith is different.  Please refer to the basic common characteristic of the sword made during the Sengoku period, 24 Sengoku Period Sword.

 

60-sukesada-photo-e1563148031935.jpg 60 Sukesada illustration

Bizen Osafune Yosozaemon Sukesada (備前国住長船与三左衛門尉祐定) from Sano Museum Catalog

Common Sengoku Period characteristic that shows on the sword above.

Hamon is Kani-no-Tsume (crab claw shape).  This type of hamon never appeared Heian, Kamakura, Nanbokucho period.  This type of Hamon is a deciding point of the Sengoku time.  Marudome-Hi (round end groove) often appear on Bizen Den sword of Sengoku period.  Wide tempered area.  Midare-komi Boshi, with turn back deep and stop sharp.  Hamon is Nioi base.  Bizen does Nioi mostly with some exception.

60 Kanesada photo  60 kanesada illustration

Izuminokami Fujiwara Kanesada (和泉守藤原兼定) from Sano Museum Catalog

Common Sengoku Period characteristic that shows on the sword above

The last letter of Kanji of this swordsmith is not ”定”, instead “宀” and “之”.  But my computer does not have one.  To distinguish from the other Kanesada (兼定), we call “宀 “ and “之 “, Nosada (のさだ) Izuminokami Fujiwara Kanesada is the top sword smith of Mino-Den at this time.  The shape of the sword is the typical Sengoku sword.  Shallow curvature, Chu-gissaki (medium Kissaki), pointed gunome Hamon.  The width of the Hamon is wide and narrow.  Often, Nosada and other Mino-Den have woodgrain on Ji-Hada with Masame mixed.  Nioi base with coarse Nie mixed.

 

60 Norimitsu photo  60-norimitsu-illustraton.jpg

Bizen Osafune NorimitsTu (備前長船法光)   from Sano Museum Catalog

The common Sengoku period characteristic that shows on the sword above

Shallow curvature.  This style of sword including the shallow curvature  (the degree in which the sword turns), the width of the blade and the sturdy look is very typical of Sengoku period.  Marudome-Hi.  Pointed Hamon called Togari-Ba ( 尖り刃).  Nioi base mixed with Nie.  Slight Masame and wood grain on Ji-Hada.

59| Second part of —– 23|Sengoku Period History (戦国時代) 1467 —1596

23 Sengoku period  Time Line.jpg        The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

Chapter 59 is a detailed part of chapter 23 Sengoku Period History.  Please read chapter 23 Sengoku Period History before start reading this chapter.

The different way of dividing the time for political history and sword history was explained in Chapter 23| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代).  The timeline above shows the Sengoku Period (戦国時代) ends in 1597 for sword history.  This is because the Keicho (慶長) Era starts in 1597.  The swords made after the Keicho Era is called Shinto (new sword), swords before the Keicho Era is called Ko-To (old sword).  Keicho Shinto is the swords made during Keicho Era.

Chapter 23| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代) described the overview of the Sengoku Period.  At the beginning of the Sengoku Period, 30 or so small Sengoku Daimyo fought fiercely each other by forming an alliance with a neighboring country on and off and sometimes betraying each other.  The weaker Daimyo were taken over by the stronger ones, Little by little the number of Daimyo gets lesser.  The names of known powerful Daimyo are Imagawa Yoshimoto (今川義元), Takeda Shingen (武田信玄), Uesugi Kenshin (上杉謙信), Hojo Soun (北条早雲), Oda Nobunaga (織田信長),  Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉).  Their final goal is to defeat others and advance to Kyoto (京都) to be the top of political power.

Oda Nobunaga (織田信長) defeats Imagawa Yoshimoto at Okehazama (桶狭間編)

Around 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto (今川義元 ) controlled a big area of  Suruga (today’s Shizuoka prefecture.  See the map below).  He was the most powerful Sengoku Daimyo at that time who could be the top ruler of the country.  He decided to advance his army toward Kyoto to take over the governmentHe took 25,000 men troop with him.  On his way up to Kyoto, there lies Owari (愛知 Aichi prefecture today.  See map below) that is Oda Nobunaga’s territory.   Oda Nobunaga (織田信長 ) was still a young man with much lesser means than Imagawa Yoshimoto.  It was quite obvious that no chance for Oda Nobunaga to win.  He just became the head of Owari after his father’s death.  Also, at that time, Nobunaga was called “idiot of Owari” because of his strange unconventional behavior (actually he was a genius),  not too many people had much confidence in him.  Among  Oda vassals, some insisted to hold the castle instead of fighting since Nobunaga could only gather 3,000 men.  But in the end, to everyone’s surprise, Oda side won.  Here is how it happened.  While Imagawa Yoshimoto was advancing, Nobunaga scouted which route Imagawa will take.  Imagawa side was sure to win this easy battle since Oda clan is small and their top person is supposed to an idiot.  Imagawa troop decided to stop and rest at the place called Okehazama.   Okehazama is a long narrow road.  Knowing Imagawa troop came to this route, Nobunaga sent out his men disguised as farmers and offered food and sake to Imagawa soldiers.  Oda Nobunaga made a surprise attack on Imagawa troop.  When Oda troop attacked them, all of a sudden, heavy rain started to pour.    The rain was so heavy that Imagawa troop could not even see the Oda troop were coming.  In the end, Imagawa Yoshimoto was killed by Oda troop in the battle.  After this, the Imagawa clan declined.

59 Okehazama drawing

Bishu Okehazama Gassen (備州桶狭間合戦) by Utagawa Toyonobu (歌川豊信)

Public Domain (http://morimiya.net/online/ukiyoe-big-files/U896.html)

 

59-imagawa-and-oda-map.jpg

 

Oda Nobunaga(織田信長) and Akechi Mitsuhide(明智光秀)

After the battle of Okehazama, Oda clan grew bigger rapidly.  Oda Nobunaga became the major power.  While his reign, he did several not so wonderful things like the burning of the Enryakuji Temple (延暦寺) that killed many people,  yet his economic measure encouraged people’s commercial activity.  Things were going somewhat smoothly for Nobunaga later part of his life.  On 1582 Nobunaga was killed by his own top vassal Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀) at Honnou-Ji (本能寺) temple.  He was 49 years old.  There are a few theories why Akecdhi attacked Nobunaga but we don’t know what really happened behind.  One theory is Akechi had a grudge against Nobunaga.  There were many incidents Nobunaga mistreated Akechi.  Another theory is just simply Akechi saw a chance to attack Nobunaga (Nobunaga was with very few men that day) and took the chance.  Another one is Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki (足利義昭) ordered Akechi to kill Nobunaga since Akechi once worked under Shogun Yoshiaki and Shogun Yoshiaki was afraid that Nobunaga became too powerful.  More theories go on.  We really don’t know the real reason.  After this happened, the news was relayed to Toyotomi Hideyoshi who was another top vassal of Nobunaga who happened to be a place called Bicchu (備中, Okayama prefecture today), that is about 230 KM (143 miles) away from Kyoto. See the map below.   Hideyoshi quickly returned to Kyoto with his troop to fight against Akechi and killed him.  Here is another mystery.  The time between Nobunaga was killed and the time Akechi was killed by Hideyoshi was only 10 days.  Hideyoshi was 230 KM (143 miles) away.  That means in 10 days, Hideyoshi received the information of Nobunaga’s death, hurried back 230 KM (143 miles) to Kyoto and fight against Akechi and kill him.  Even though Hideyoshi had communication route established between Nobunaga’s inner circle all the time,  it is an amazing speed.  So there is another theory that Akechi and Hideyoshi both were behind together.  After Akechi was killed by Hideyoshi, Hideyoshi maneuvered cleverly, he ended up the top of the power.  While he was in power, he mined a large amount of gold from the gold mine he owned.  An old document was found stating that Hideyoshi buried a huge amount of gold and its location.  Many people looked for this buried gold but no one has found it yet.  Hideyoshi was a poor farmer’s son who became the top of the power, his success story fascinates Japanese.  Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu is the three most depicted subject on TV programs and movies.  After Hideyoshi’s natural death, Tokugawa Ieyasu became Shogun and Edo period started.  Ninja had existed since the Heian period but during the Sengoku period, they really played an active part in gathering information.  Ninja is known for its fancy ability and method of fighting, but their actual main role was to gather information of the enemies.

59-bicchu-map.jpg