Table of contents

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

cropped picture

0 | Preface     

1 | Timeline

2 | Joko-to(上古刀)

3 |Names of Parts

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

5 |Heian Period Swords

6| Kamakura Period History (1192 – 1333)

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

8| Middle Kamakura Period (Yamashiro Den) 鎌倉中期山城伝

9 | Middle Kamakura Period (Bizen Den) 鎌倉中期備前伝

10| Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221

11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)

12| Middle Kamakura Period:Tanto (鎌倉中短刀)

13|Late Kamakura Period, Genko (鎌倉末元寇)

14|Late Kamakura Period Sword  (鎌倉末太刀)

15|The Revival of Yamato Den (山城伝復活)

16 | Late Kamakura period Tanto (鎌倉末短刀: Early Soshu Tanto)

17|Nanboku- cho Period History (南北朝歴史:(1333-1393)

18|Nanboku-cho Period Sword  (南北朝太刀:North and South dynasty)

19 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀)

20|Muromachi Period History (室町時代歴史)

21| Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代刀)

22| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代)

23| Sengoku Period Sword(戦国時代刀)

24|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)

25| Edo Period History (江戸時代歴史1603 – 1867)

26|Over view of Shin-to (新刀)– –  Ko-to & Shin-to Difference

27|Shinto Sword – Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地)

28|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (part B 主要7刀匠地)

29| Bakumatsu Period History (幕末歴史1781 – 1868)

30| Shin-Shin-To (Bakumatsu Period Sword 新々刀)1781-1868

32|Sword Making Process


33| Background

34|Part 2 of — Preface

35| Part 2 — 1 Timeline

36|Part 2 of — 2 Jyoko-To (上古刀)

37|Part 2 — 3 Names of the Parts

38|Part 2of — 4 Heian Period History (平安時代) 794-1192

39|Part 2 of — 5 Heian Period Sword (792-1192)

40|Part 2 of — 6 Kamakura Period History (1192 – 1333)

41|Part 2 of — 7 Overview of Kamakura Period Sword (1192-1333)

42| Part 2 of —– 8| Middle Kamakura Period Yamashiro Den (鎌倉中期山城伝)

43|Part 2 of — 9 Middle Kamakura Period (Bizen Den) 鎌倉中期備前伝

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

45|Part 2 of –11 Jyokyu-no-Ran (承久の乱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 History (鎌倉後期歴史)

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

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

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

53| Part 2 of —- 17 Nanboku-Cho Period History (南北朝歴史:1333 – 1392)

54| Part 2 of — 18 Nanboku-Cho Period Swords (南北朝刀)

55| Part 2 of — 19 Nanboku-Cho Tanto (南北朝短刀)

56|Part 2 of —– 20|Muromachi Period History (室町時代歴史)

57 |Part 2 of —–21 Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代刀)

58| Second part of — 22 Sengoku Period History (戦国時代歴史) 

59| Second Part of — 23|Sengoku Period Sword (戦国時代刀)

60|Part 2 of — 24 Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国短刀)

61| Part 2 of — 25|Edo Period History (江戸歴史 1603 – 1867)

2019 San Francisco Sword show

62|Part 2 of – – 26 Overview of Shin-To (新刀概要)

63|Part 2 of — 27 Shin-to Main 7 Regions (part A)

64|Part 2 of — 28 Shin-To Main 7 Region (part B)

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

67| Part 2 of – – – 31|Shin-Shin-To (Bakumatsu Period Sword) 1781-1867                                                           – – – Bakumatsu-To

My Sword made by Yoshihara Yoshindo 

How to handle a sword – – – Procedure to handle the sword with photos

How to handle a sword

This chapter shows basic way of handling sword.

1.   Wear a white glove or hold 2 handkerchiefs (for both hands).


2.  Bow lightly, then hold Tsuka (hilt) with your right hand, hold Saya (scabbard) with your left-hand.  Pull Saya out.  When the sword is pulled from Saya, hold Saya right angle so that the Mune at the bottom, Ha should be at the top.  The sword should be resting on the Mune and not let the sword touch the inside of the Saya.  This way, it does not accidentally get scratches from any grit
How to handle sword 2

3.  Set down saya on the left.  Prepare a small hammer made for the sword.

How to handle sword 3

4.  Using a sword tool, push out the mekugi (peg).

How to handle sword 4

5.   Pull tsuka and habaki out (metal piece just above the Tsuka, gold piece in the picture below) and set them down on the right.

How to handle sword 6.a  How to handle sword 6

6.  Put mekugi in the hole of Tsuka so that it sticks up.  This is to prevent Mekugi to get lost.

How to handle sword 5

7.  Hold Nakago (inside the hilt) with your right hand.  Support under the blade with  Washi (Japanese rice paper, handkerchief or tissue paper).

How to handle sword 7

8.  All the works on the blade should show with the light reflect on the surface of the sword.  To see Hamon, Ji-Hada, and Boshi etc, better, move the sword up and down, sideways to reflect the light on the right position.


9.  After finish looking at the sword, reverse the process to put it back.

How to handle sword 9

My Sword made by Yoshihara Yoshindo

This is my sword made by Yoshihara Yoshindo 2011.  Under each photo below, there are some descriptions.

IMG_1577   IMG_1578

Shape:        Koshizori   Chu-Gissaki (yet a little smaller size)  Bo-hi (one groove)


IMG_1582  IMG_1585

Boshi:         Midare-Komi and Komaru-Kaeshi (round turnback)

IMG_1589  IMG_1590

Hamon:      Komidare, Nioi                                 Hada:   Very fine Ko-Mokume almost Muji


Mei:     Kaji Yoshindo  Heisei  23 (2011)     February Kichijitu (good day)




67| Part 2 of —-31|Shin-Shin-To (Bakumatsu Period Sword) 1781-1867

Chapter 67 is the detailed chapter of 31|Shin Shin-to of Bakumatsu Period.  Please read chapter 31 before start reading this chapter.

30 Timeline (Bakumatsu)

The circled area is the subject of this chapter.

Swords made after Tenmei Era (天明 1781) till the end of Keio Era (慶應) is called shin-shin-To (1781).  This is the time the society was moving toward the Meiji Restoration, called Bakumatsu time.  During Bakumatu time, sword making became active again.  Below are the well-known sword smiths during this time from several main areas.

Musashi no Kuni  武蔵 (Tokyo today)

Suishinshi Masahide 水心子正秀----When he made Yamashiro-Den style, the shape is like the one of the Ko-To time; Funbari, elegant shape, Chu-Suguha (medium straight), Komaru boshi, fine wood grain.  When he made Bizen style, Koshizori shape, just like Ko-To Bizen Osafune, Nioi with Ko-choji.  It shows katai-Ha (Refer to  31|Shin Shin-to of Bakumatsu Period.   I saw Suishinshi on Nov/1970 and Oct/1971.

Taikei Naotane   大慶直胤 ーーーーThough Taikei Naotane was under Suishinshi group, he was the among the top swordsmith.  He had an amazing ability to forge all kinds of different styles of sword wonderfully.  When he made Bizen-Den style, it looks like Nagamitsu of Ko-To time with Nioi.  Also did Sakasa-Choji like Katayama Ichimonji.  Katai-Ha appears.  I saw Naotane in August/1971.

67 Naotane photo

Taikei Naotane (大慶直胤)   Photo is from “Token no Mikata (The way to look at swords)” written by Koichi Hiroi,  Published 1971

Minamoto Kiyomaro     源清麿---- Kiyomaro intended to work as a Samurai for Meiji Restoration movement, his supporter realized Kiyomaro’s ability as a great swordsmith,  he helped him to be a swordsmith.  But Kiyomaro drank a lot and he only forged a few swords.  At the age of 42 years old, he committed SeppukuKiyomaro was called Yotsuya Masamune because he was said to be as good as Masamune who lived in Yotsuya (part of Shinjuku today).  His sword has wide width, shallow curvature, stretched Kissaki, Fukura Kareru.   Boshi has Komaru Boshi.  Fine wood grain Jigane.

67 Kiyomaro photo

Minamoto no Kiyomaro (源清麿)   Photo is from “Token no Mikata ( The way to look at swords)”, written by Koichi Hiroi, published 1971


Settsu no Kuni    摂津の国   (Osaka today )

Gassan Sadakazu    月山貞一 ーーーーGassan was good at Soshu-Den style and Bizen-Den style, but he could make any kinds of style.  He was as genius as Taikei Naotane.  Because of his ability, when he made Ko-To style sword, it is hard to distinguish his sword and real Ko-To sword.   One needs to distinguish with the Ko-To like a sword made by Gassan and real Ko-To. He also had an amazing ability in carving.  His Hirazukuri-Kowakizashi forged in Shoshu style looks just like Masamune or Yukimitsu.  He forged Yamashiro style Takenoko-zori with Hoso-Suguha or Chu-Suguha in Nie.  He also forged Yamato-Den, Masame -Hada sword.

67 Gassan photo

Minamoto no Kiyomaro (源清麿)   Photo is from “Token no Mikata ( The way to look at swords)”, written by Koichi Hiroi, published 1971





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

This chapter is a continued part of chapter 29| Bakumatsu Period History (幕末)1781 – 1867.  Please read chapter 29 before start reading this chapter.

0-timeline - size 24 Bakumatsu

                                 The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

The latter part of the Edo period is called  Bakumatsu time, around the Tennmei era (天明), 1781 to 1868.  During this time, the economy started to stagnate.   The several Tokugawa shoguns of different generations tried to perform the financial reforms.  At each time, it succeeded somewhat, but it never solved the real fundamental financial problem.   Tokugawa Bakufu tried mostly the fiscal restraint themselves, forced people to lead a 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 prevailing interest rate, thinking that may solve the problem.  This is the typical non-economist solution.  The interest rate should be lowered in a situation like this.  Lower level Samurais became poorer, and farmers revolts occurred often, and many natural disasters struck in the farming area.  The famous Kurosawa Movies, “Seven Samurai,” were staged around this time.  As we all know, “Magnificent Seven” was a Hollywood version of “Seven Samurai” based on Japanese “Seven Samurai.”  The movie “Magnificient Seven” played by actors like Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner, is one of my favorite films.

Yet little by little, small cottage (or domestic) industry began to grow, together with the farming led by the local leaders.  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 an almost dangerous level to society.

The Edo town people’s culture

During this time, novels were written for ordinary people, instead of only for the upper-class.  In the past, the paintings were related to religion, and only for the upper class, they became for ordinary 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) were famous for scenery paintings.  Maruyama Okyo (円山応挙) drew a picture using the European perspective method.  Also, Katsushika Hokusai’s daughter drew some of her paintings in perspective.  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 a small number of people, few people learned the Dutch language (Dutch was the only country allowed to have contact with Japan then).  They translated the European medical book using French and Dutch dictionaries.   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 its school for the sons of their men.  Children of the town people went to a school called Terakoya (寺子屋: an unofficial neighborhood school) to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Pressure from the outside world

Even though Japan was in Sakoku state(鎖国: national isolation policy), we knew what was happening outside of Japan.  Since the early 17th century, messengers from Russia came to Japan to demand a trade in 1792 and 1804.  In 1808, English ships came to Nagasaki.  In 1825, Tokugawa Bakufu ordered to fire guns at any ships came 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 diplomatic relations, but Bakufu refused.  The U.S. needed Japan to open the ports to supply Food, water, and fuel for their whaling ships in the Pacific Ocean.  In 1853, a fleet commander Perry arrived at Uraga (a port of Japan) with four warships displaying the military forces and opening the country.  Tokugawa Bakufu did not have any clear policy on handling the situation and realized it is difficult to maintain the isolation 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 isolation policy) and opened several foreign ships ports.  Those treaties caused many problems.  The treaties were unequal.  It caused a shortage of daily necessities; as a result, the price went up.  Also, a large amount of gold flowed out of Japan because the exchange rate between gold and silver was different 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 Yesada (徳川家定) since he did not have a child.

At a chaotic time like this, each opposing feudal domain wanted somebody as a shogun whose political idea is on their side.  Many other problems caused a big battle among feudal domains, who 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 the Bakufu together.  Because England realized Bakufu did not have much power any longer, they started to be closer to the Emperor’s side, whereas France sided with Tokugawa.  England and France almost started a war in Japan.   

Japanese like the historical drama of the Meiji Ishin (Meiji revolution) time, and we see them on TV and in movies quite often.  For Japanese, the most favorite story is about the Sengoku period (Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu story), then 2nd favorite story is about Meiji revolution time (Saigo Takamori (西郷隆盛), Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬), and Shinnsen-Gumi (新撰組) story)Though it was fiction, the movie “Last Samurai ” was staged at this time with a real historical character of Saigo Takamori.  Many well-known political figures were the driving forces and played an active role in toppling the Tokugawa Bakufu.  They were People like Ito Hirobumi (伊藤博文), Ookubo Toshimichi (大久保利通), Shimazu Nariakira (島津斉彬),  Hitotsubashi Yoshinobu (一橋慶喜) and many more.   Those were the charactors who established a new government system, center around the Emperor, the Meiji Shin Seifu (明治新政府)

1867, Tokugawa Yoshinobu issued “the Restoration of Imperial Rule (Taisei Hokan, 大政奉還).”  1868, the Tokugawa left the Edo-Jo (Edo Castle), and the Meiji emperor moved in the Edo-Jo.  It is called Kokyo (皇居: Imperial Palace).  The present Emperor is living in there.  But the original Edo-Jo was lost by the big fire, yet the original moat (you can see several swans), massive stone wall, a beautiful bridge called Nijyu-Bashi (二重橋) are still there, and big garden areas are free to walk around.  This area is famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms.  It is in front of the Marunouchi side of Tokyo station,  a walking distance from the 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.

64|Part 2 of — 28 Shin-To Main 7 Region (part B)


This chapter is a continued part of chapter 28 Shin-to Main 7 Regions (part B).  Please read chapter 28 before reading this chapter.  Below are the regions 2,3,7, skipped 4,5,6.

0-timeline - size 24 Shin-to

The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section    

29 Map with number 7


2. Settu (摂津) at Osaka (大阪 )

Settu Osaka has many well-known swordsmiths.  They are 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 the Settsu Osaka sword is: The surface is beautiful and fine, almost no pattern, no design like a flat surface.  The below two photos are Settsu’s sword.

65 Ikkanshi illustration 65 Ikkanshi photo 

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

Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子忠綱) is famous for his carvings.  His father was also a well-known swordsmith, Omi-no-Kami Tadatsuna (近江守忠綱).  Ikkanshi Tadatsu is the second generation of Omi-no-kami Tadatsuna.  Therefore he is also known as Awataguchi Omi-no-Kami Fujiwara Tadatsuna (粟田口近江守藤原忠綱), as you see on the Nakago above photo.  The characteristics of Ikkanshi Tadatsuna: Longer Kissaki and Sakiziri (curved at a higher part of the body)The wide tempered line with Nie.  Osaka Yakidashi (transition between the sugu-ha above machi and midare is smooth ).   Refer to 27 Shinto Sword –  Main 7 Regions(part A) for Osaka Yakidashi.  O-notare with Gunome.  Komaru boshi with turn backVery 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 was the second generation of Izumi-no-Kami Kunisada (和泉守国定), he was the student of Kunihiro.  The characteristic of his sword:  Osaka Yakidashi.   The tempered line gets wider gradually toward the top.  O-Notare and deep Nie.  His Ji-hada is very fine, almost no design on the surface.

3. Musashi (武蔵: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), and more. 

 Two photos below are swordsmiths from Musashi (武蔵:Tokyo).   

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

Yasutsugu  From Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission granted to use

Characteristics of Yasutusgu (康継):  Shallow curvature.  Chu-Gissaki (medium Kissaki). Hamon is wide Notare, Midare, O-gunome (sometimes double gunome).  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 (虎徹) 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 began to make swords after he passed 50 years old.  Before that, he was an armor maker.   The characteristics of Kotetsu: Shallow curvature and wide width.  The wide tempered line with Nie.  Around the Machi area, the hamon is small Irregular, then the upper part of the blade becomes wide Suguha like Notare.  Fine Nie.  Boshi has Komaru with a short turn back.  Ji-hada is fine wood grain and burl.  Sometimes, you see O-hada (black core iron show through) at the lower part above the Machi area.  The illustration above shows the thick (or wide? Which should I use) tempered line between Ha and Ji consisted of Nie.  This is Kotetsu’s characteristic.  Once you see it, you will remember.  The next region is 7; skip the regions 4,5,6.

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 the Shimazu family of Satsuma Han (Satsuma domain).  Later he was chosen to go to Edo to forge swords for Shogun Yoshimune.  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 the Aoi crest (the hollyhock crest of the Tokugawa family) on Nakago.





63|Part 2 of — 27 Shin-to Main 7 Regions (part A)

This chapter is a continued part of chapter 27| Shinto Main 7 Regions  (Part A).  Please read chapter 27 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Shin-to

The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

In Chapter 27, Shinto Main 7 Regions (part A 主要7刀匠地) and Chapter 28, Shinto Sword Main 7 Regions (part B 主要7刀匠地) described an overview of the seven main regions.  This chapter and next chapter shows the photos of the representative swordsmiths from those regions.  They are Yamashiro (山城 in Kyoto), Settsu (摂津 today’s Osaka), Musashi (武蔵 Edo), Satsuma (薩摩).  But Echizen (越前) and Kaga (加賀), Hizen (肥前) are skipped.

29 Map with number 7

During the Ko-to time, a sword shape, hamon condition, Kissaki size, and the length and the shape of the nakago, etc., indicates when the sword was forged.  Also, Bizen swordsmith forged Bizen Den sword, Yamashiro swordsmith forged Yamashiro Den sword, Yamato swordsmith forged Yamato Den sword.  But during the Shinto time, that is not the case.  Den and the location of the swordsmith do not match.  For Shin-to sword, we study the swordsmiths of the seven central regions and their characteristic.

During Ko-to time, usually, if a sword has a wide hamon line with nie, Ji-hada shows large wood grain or large burl grain.  Also, when you see a narrow hamon line, it usually shows with fine Ji-hada during Ko-to timeBut on Shin-to, wide Hamon with nie with small wood grain or small burl grain on Ji-hada.  And narrow Hamon line with a large wood grain Ji-hada.  This is the Shin-to characteristic.   Yet some of the early Soshu Den sword during the late Kamakura period shows wide hamon with nie with small burl on Ji-hada.  Because of that, whether it is Ko-to or Shin-to is confusing.  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) was considered as a great master swordsmith among Shin-to swordsmiths.  He forged his swords in different styles and different characteristics.  The types of hamon are O-notare, O-gunome, Togari-ba (pointed hamon), Chu-suguha with hotsure (frayed look), Hiro-suguha, with Sunagashi effect, Inazuma, Kinsuji appears.  Kunihiro liked to make his sword shape look like O-suriage (shortened Nanboku-Cho style long sword).  Kunihiro’s blade gives you a massive feeling.  Kunihiro’s swords often have beautiful carvings on it; designs are such as 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.jpg            Iga-no-Kami Kinnmichi (伊賀守金道)           Dewa Daijyo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)        Both Juyo Token (重要刀剣), once my family owned swords, photos were taken by my father.

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

Kinmichi family is called Mishina group.  Refer 27 Shinto Main 7 Regions  AIga-no-Kami Kinmichi received the 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 27 Shinto Main 7 Regions  A ), hiro suguha (wide straight hamon), O-notare (large wavy), Yahazu-midare, Hako-midare (refer 25 Sengoku Period Tanto).  Boshi is Mishina boshi, refer 27 Shinto Main 7 Regions 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 looks like a shortened Nanboku-cho sword.  Shallow curvature, widebody, 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.







62|Part 2 of – – 26 Overview of Shin-To (新刀概要)

Chapter 62 is a Continued part of Chapter 26 |Over view of Shinto (新刀概要).   Please read Chapter 26 before reading this section.

  0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period                       The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section    

The difficulty of Shin-to Kantei

During Ko-to time, one could tell the approximate period when the sword was made by looking at the style and the shape.  Several conditions, like how the hamon shows, how the Jigane appears, indicate the approximate Gokaden (五ヶ伝) in Ko-to time.  But in Shin-to time, that does not work.  Even though among Shin-to time, there were some differences between the early Edo period which is around Keicho (慶長) era, the middle Edo period that is around Kanbun (寛文) era and the later part Edo period that is Genroku era (元禄), but differences are not much.  The same is true with Gokaden (五ヶ伝) during the shin-to time.  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 also forged the other area’s Den.  For those reasons, it is hard to determine who forged the particular sword.  For Shin-to, we study the characteristics of 7 main locations.  The next chapters go over them.

Picturesque Hamon

Around after 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.  Many foreigners loved those swords.   Because of that the majority of them were exported outside of Japan around the Meiji restoration time. Very few are left in Japan today.

The swordsmiths those who made picturesque  Hamon 

Yamashiro area ——————————————-Iga-no-kami Kinmichi (伊賀守金道),                                                                                  Omi-no-kami Hisamichi (近江守久道)

Settsu (摂津) area ———————————Tanba-no-Kami Yoshimichi  (丹波守吉道)                                                                           Yamato-no-Kami Yoshimichi (大和守吉道)

Below are examples.  Fuji is the Mount fuji designKikusui is chrysanthemum in the water.

63 fuji sakura hamon

        Fuji                                        Kikusui

61| Part 2 of — 25|Edo Period History (江戸歴史 1603 – 1867)

This chapter is a detailed part of Chapter 25 Edo Period History (江戸時代歴史).  Please read Chapter 25 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 edo Period                        The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

Battle of Sekigahara  (関ヶ原合戦)

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉), the most powerful man during the Sengoku period (and Momoyama period), died in 1598.  At that time, his heir, Hideyori (秀頼), was only five years old.  Before Hideyoshi’s death, he set up a council system which consisted of the top five daimyos to take care of the jobs for Hideyori as his regents until he came

of age.   At Hideyoshi’s death bed, all the five daimyos agreed to be the guardians of Hideyori.  But, little by little, Ishida Mitsunari (石田三成) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康) began disagreeing with each other.  In 1600, finally, those two main daimyos clashed, and the Battle of Sekigahara broke outOne side is called Seigun (the western army), led by Ishida Mitsunari, and the other, Togun (the eastern army) by Tokugawa Ieyasu.  

All the daimyos in the country took either Tokugawa or Ishida Mitsunari’s side.  It is said that the Mitsunari’s Seigun had 100,000 men, while the Tokugawa’s Togun, 70,000 men.   Ieyasu had fewer soldiers, but he won in the end.  Ieyasu became the Toyotomi clan’s chief retainer, which means that he was virtually the top person because Hideyori was still a child.    

In 1603 Ieyasu became the shogun.  Now Ieyasu seized control of Japan, and he established the Tokugawa Bakufu(government) in Edo and eliminated the council system. 

Toyotomi Hideyori was still there with his mother, Yodogimi (淀君or Yodo-dono淀殿)、  in Osaka Castle, which was built by Hideyoshi before he died.  After a while, the relationship between the Osaka side Hideyori and his mother, Yodogimi, and Edo’s side, Ieyasu, became awkward.  Yodogimi was a very proud and headstrong person with good reasons.  She was a niece of Oda Nobunaga, the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the mother of the head of the Toyotomi clan.  Later, her pride got her into trouble and led to the destruction of the Toyotomi clan. 

Osaka Winter and Summer siege (1614 and 1615)

During the 15 years between the Battle of Sekigahara and the Siege of Osaka Castle, the tension between the Tokugawa Bakufu and Toyotomi clan built up little by little.  Before the Battle of Sekigahara, the Toyotomi clan ruled Japan.  After the Sekigahara, the Tokugawa Bakufu began to rule Japan.  The Toyotomi clan lost many top advisers and vassals in the battle.  As a result, all the power of the Toyotomi’s centered around Yodogimi.  By the time of the siege, Hideyori grew up to be a fine man, but Yodogimi had overprotected, and she controlled him.  She even did not allow Hideyori to practice kendo (Japanese traditional martial art of swordsmanship), saying it was too dangerous. 

She persistently acted as if the Toyotomi clan was still in the supreme power.  Tokugawa Ieyasu tried to calm the friction by having his grand-daughter, Senhime, married to Hideyori.  A few advisors suggested Yodogimi yield to Tokugawa, but she insisted that Tokugawa subordinate himself to Toyotomi.   A rumor began to spread that the Toyotomi side started to hire and gather a large number of ronins (samurai without a lord) inside the Osaka Castle.  Several vital persons tried to mediate the Toyotomi clan and the Tokugawa but failed. 

Finally, Ieyasu led his army to Osaka, and in November 1614, began a campaign to siege the Osaka Castle (the Winter Campaign)It is said that the Toyotomi side had 100,000 soldiers, but some of them were just mercenariesHowever, Osaka Castle was built almost like a fortress itself, very hard to attack.  The Tokugawa army attacked hard and fired cannon every day, but they realized that the castle was so solid that it was a waste of time to continue. 

Eventually, both sides went to a peace negotiation.  Several items of the treaty were agreed on.  One of them was to fill the outer moat of the Osaka Castle.  But the Tokugawa side filled both the outer and the inner moats.  That made the Toyotomi side angry, and they became suspicious that the Tokugawa side might not keep the agreement.    

Another agreement was the disarmament of the Toyotomi clan.  Yet the Toyotomi side kept having their soldiers inside the castle.  Tokugawa gave the last ultimatum to the Toyotomis to either dismiss all soldiers from the castle or move out.  Yodo-gimi refused both. 

After that, another siege started in the summer of 1615 (the Summer Campaign).  It is said that the Toyotomi had 70,000 men, and the Tokugawa had 150,000 men.  Both sides had several battles here and there, but the fights did not go well for both sides in the beginning because of the thick fog, delayed arrival of troops, miscommunications, etc.   The last battlefield was in the Osaka Castle. The Toyotomis decided to stay inside the castle, but soon a fire broke out from inside and burned the castle.  Yodo-dono and Hideyori hid inside the storage building, waiting for Ieyasu’s answer to the plea for their lives.  They hoped their daughter-in-law could achieve the bargain.  But It was not accepted, and they both died inside the building.

Nene and Yodogimi

 Nene was the lawful wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.  She was a brilliant and sensible person but not a high born.  Everybody respected her, including Tokugawa Ieyasu.  Even Hideyoshi often followed her opinions on political matters.  She much helped Hideyoshi to climb up his ranks.  However, Nene could not bear a child.  Toyotomi Hideyoshi went around other women everywhere, hoping to get his heir, but Yodogim was the only one who could have a child with him.  Naturally, a rumor went around about who the true birth father of Hideyori was.  The speculation indicated several men, and one of them was 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:  Yodo-dono cropped.jpg from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

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

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.

This is the 2019 San Francisco Sword Show

Mr. Yoshindo Yoshihara (left), Me (middle), Mrs. Kapp (right)

They also had entertainment, such as singing and dancing.

Yoshindo and his grand-son (2019 Sword Show is his debut as a sword maker)

Yoshindo is a very good cook.  He had after party at Kapp’s house.