By clicking below, it will take you to that chapter directly. Part 2 is a detailed part of the correspondent chapter.
By clicking below, it will take you to that chapter directly. Part 2 is a detailed part of the correspondent chapter.
This is the detailed part of chapter 14|Late Kamakura Period History （鎌倉後期. Please read chapter 14 before starting this chapter.
Genko (元寇) — Mongolian Invasion
In Chapter 14, the Mongolian invasion was simply described. Here is the more detailed description. The Mongol Empire was a vast empire spread between present Mongol areas to all the way to Eastern Europe from 1206 to 1368. Grandson of Genghis Kahn, Kublai Kahn sent several official letters to Japan demanding Japan to become a dependency state of the Mongol Empire (Yuan) and demanded to send a tribute to them. They threatened Japan that they will invade if Japan did not accept their demand. Hojo Tokimune (北条時宗 ) who was in power in Kamakura Bakufu (government) then, refused and ignored the letters many times. That caused the two times invasions by the Mongol Empire. The prevailing notion is that the strong typhoon hit Japan on each invasion, Mongols were chased away by the typhoon. There were more to it to the story.
Bunnei-no-Eki (文永の役 ) 1274
The first Mongolian invasion is called Bunnei-no-Eki. The early part of October 1274, 40,000 Mongol troops (Mongol, Han people, and Korean) departed heading to Japan from Korean peninsula on 900 large and small ships. After they arrived on the Tsushima island (対馬 ), Mongol troop burnt villages and killed many people including the island people. Many people were captured and presented to the top officials of the Mongols as their slaves. It was a really miserable sad scene. The Mongols moved to Iki Island (壱岐の島), then to Hizen shore (肥前 ), Hirato Island (平戸 ), Taka-Shima (鷹島 ), then to Hakata bay (博多). At each place, the disastrous scene was the same as everywhere. At each battlefield, Japanese soldiers and villagers were killed in great numbers. Kamakura Bukufu (government) sent many Samurai to the battlefield, the Japanese side won and pushed the Mongols back here and there but mostly Japanese sides lost. Many wives and children were captured, eventually, even no soldiers dared to fight against Mongols. Mongols arrows were short and not so powerful, but they put on the poison at the tip, and they shoot the arrows like rain. Also, this is the first time the Japanese saw the firearms. Their loud sound of the explosion made horses and Samurai frightened. Japanese troops had to retreat and the situation was really bad for Japanese. But all of a sudden surprisingly, on morning of the of October 21st (today’s calendar, Nov 19th) all the ships were gone, nowhere to be seen on the shore. Mongols were all disappeared from the shore of Hakata. What happened was Mongols decided to quit the fight and went back. For Mongols, even though they were winning, they also lost many people and lost one of the major key person in the army. The different history book of Korea and Mongols had several records about the reasons to leave Japan. The Mongols realized no matter how Mongols were winning, the Japanese kept coming more and more from everywhere. The Mongols could not expect reinforcements from their country over the ocean. Also, their stocks of weapons were getting low. It was the Mongols decision to go back. Here is a twist. Around the end of October (November by the today’s calendar), the sea between Hakata (where Mongols were) and Korea was very dangerous because of the bad weather, unless the clear daytime of south wind day. This place is called Genkai Nada (玄界灘 ) famous for the rough sea. Yet Mongols decided to go back at night. They may have caught the moment of the south wind, but it did not last long. As a result, they encountered the usual severe rainstorm. Many ships hit against the cliff, ships capsized, people fell into the ocean, and several hundred broken ships were found on the shore. This is called Bunnei- no- Eki (文永の役 ). Mongols lost a large number of people, ships, troop, food, weapons, and Korea who was forced to supply all of them by the Mongols lost a great deal. Only old men and children were left to work on the farm, on top of it, they had drought and long rain.
At this Bunnei-no-Eki (文永の役), it was not a typhoon that caused the Mongols to be defeated, Mongols decided to leave but encountered usual bad weather.
Koan-no-Eki (弘安の役) 1281
The second Mongolian invasion is called Koan-no-Eki in 1281. After the first attempt to invade Japan, Kublai Khan kept sending messengers to Japan to demand to become a dependency state. Kamakura Bakufu kept ignoring and they killed messengers. Kublai Kahn decided to attack Japan again in 1281. Kublai Kahn’s top advisers suggested not to attack Japan because it is too far, the ocean is too dangerous, the country is small, and nothing to gain even if Mongols win. But Kublai Kahn still insisted to attack. This time they came in two groups. They were the East-route troop, the number was 60,000 soldiers on 900 ships, and the South-route troop, the number was 100,000 soldiers on 3,500 ships. This is the largest scale forces in history. Their plan was to depart from each one’s port and join on the Iki-no-Shima island (壱岐の島 ) by June 15th, then work together. The East-route troop arrived before the South-route troop came. Instead of waiting for the South-route troop, the East-route troop started to attack the Hakata Bay (博多) on their own. But by that time, Japan already prepared to fight and built a 20 kilometer long stone wall. This stone wall was 3 meters high and 2 meters thick. The East-route troop had to give up to land on Japan from Hakata and moved to Shiga-no-Shima (志賀島 ). At this place, the fight between Mongols and Japan was even battle but at the end, East-route troop lost and retreated to the Iki-no-Shima and decided to wait for the South-route troop to arrive. The South troop never arrived there, they changed the plan. On top of that, while they were waiting for the South-route troop to come, they lost over 3,000 men over the epidemic. With difficulty like this, the East- route troop discussed the choices they can take. One opinion was going back home but in the end, they decided to wait for the South-rout troop to arrive as long as the food last. Meantime, the South-route troop changed the plan and decided to go to Hirato-Shima (平戸島 ) where it is closer to Dazaifu (太宰府). That is the final and most important place they wanted to attack. Later, the East-route troop found out the South-route troop went to Hirato Shima. Finally, two troops joined at Hirato-Shima and each group stationed nearby island called Taka-shima (鷹島 ). The problem was this island had very high tide and low tide, the ships were not easily maneuvered. Meantime, 60,000 Japanese men were marching toward where the Mongols were stationed. Before those men arrived to fight against Mongols, A big typhoon came on July 30th and Mongols were caught in a big typhoon, ships hitting each other, people fell from the ships and drowned and the majority of ships sank. July 30th was about three months after the East- route troop left Mongol on early May. That means they were on the ocean and the shore of Japan for about three months or so. Around North Kyushu area (九州 ), usually, a typhoon comes average 3.2 times between the month of July to September. Mongols were on the ocean and the shorelines of Japan for approximately three months; they were bound to be hit by a typhoon soon or later.
The Mongol Empire lost 2/3 of its naval forces. After Mongols failed two attempts to attack Japan, Kublai Khan still insisted to attack Japan the third time, no matter how much his men reasoned him. But the plan was delayed and terminated because of many rebellions, upheavals and no lumber was left to build ships. Soon, Kublai died in 1294. The record book of Mongols and Korean indicated that Mongols officials gave a high evaluation of Japanese swords. Some even say one of the reasons it was not easy to defeat Japan was because of the long sharp swords. The experience of the Mongolian invasion changed Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先) sword to a new Soshu-Den (相州伝) style sword.
The stone wall scene. Photo from Wikipedia. Public Domain
*Wikipedia was referred for the chapter 49 article.
This chapter is a continued part of Chapter 13 Tanto Middle Kamakura Period. Please read Chapter 13 before you read this section. 13|Tanto ( 短刀) Middle Kamakura Period
As Chapter 13 described, during middle Kamakura period, the shape of Tanto is called Takenoko zori . That means the tip of Tanto curves inward a little. The drawing on Chapter 13 is a little exaggerated to show the curve. Refer 13|Tanto ( 短刀) Middle Kamakura Period. But the real Tanto is not so obvious. Maybe a few millimeters. Usually, the length of the Tanto is approximately 12 inches or less. 10 inch Tanto is called Jyosun (定寸 ), longer than that is called Sun-nobi (寸延び ), and less than that is called Sun-zumari (寸詰り )
The above photo is Tanto by Shintogo Kunimitsu (新藤五国光). This style is called Kanmuri Otoshi. That means the steel of Mune side (opposite side of cutting edge) is shaved off. The length is approximately 10 inches. Wood grain surface, Nie on Ji (refer to the name of the parts 4 |Names of Parts ). Very finely forged. Hamon is medium Suguha (straight). Boshi is Ko-maru (small round). Because of the Kanmuri-Otoshi style, it may not be easy to see the Takenoko-zori, the Mune side bend inward very slightly. Among Tanto producer, Shintogo Kunimitsu is considered the top Tanto Maker.
Above photo is the same Shintogo Kunimitsu with Saya. Saya is a scabbard. The top white handle part is made with Sharkskin. Both photos are from Sano Museum Catalog. Permission granted.
Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗)
Another swordsmith needs to be mentioned in this section is Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗). In middle Kamakura period, the Hojo clan invited the top swordsmiths to Kamakura area. Awataguchi Kunitsuna (粟田口国綱) from Yamashiro Kyoto, Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) from Bizen area, Bizen Kunimune (備前国宗) from Bizen area moved to Kamakura together with his group of people. Those three groups started the Soshu Den (相州伝). Refer to 14|Late Kamakura Period History （鎌倉後期）
Sugata (shape) —– Ikubi Kissaki style. Sometimes Chu-Gissaki. Thick body. Narrow Shinogi width. Koshi-Zori
Horimono (Engravings) —– Often narrow Bo-Hi ( single groove)
Hamon (Tempered line) —– O-Choji Midare (large clove irregular) with Ashi. Or Ko-Choji Midare (small clove irregular) with Ashi. Nioi base with Ji-Nie (Nie in the Hada area). Some top of the Hamon is squarish with less Kubire ( less narrow at the bottom of the clove). Hajimi ( rough surface). Also, he did as follows — Lower part shows Choji, the upper part shows less work without Ashi.
Kunimune Squarish Kawazuko Choji Hamon (Sano Museum Catalog permission granted)
Boshi —– Small irregular. Yakizume or short turn back.
Jitetsu —–Woodgrain. Fine Jitetsu with some Ji-Nie (Nie inside Jihada). Midare Utsuri (irregular shadow) shows. A few Hajimi (rough surface).
Above photo is Kunimune (国宗 Sano Museum Catalog, permission granted) Even though Kunimune is famous for Ikubi Kissaki, and this is the chapter for Ikubi Kissaki, this one is Chu-Gissaki.
Above photo is a picture from the official site of Terukuni Shrine in Kyushu. You can go the site by clicking, http://terukunijinja.pkit.com/page222400.html
Above photo is the National treasure Kunimune of the Terukuni Shrine in Kagoshima prefecture. This Kunimune sword was lost after WWII. The chairman of the Board of Miles Laboratory in Elkhart Indiana, Dr. Compton found this sword in an antique store in Atlanta. Alka Seltzer is one of the well-known products among many of their products. He was deeply into the sword collection and knew a lot about the Japanese sword. When he saw this sword, he realized this is not just an ordinary sword. He bought it and inquired to the Nihon Bijutu token Hozon Kyokai (Sword museum). It turned out to be the famous missing National treasure of Kunimune of Terukuni Shrine. He returned the sword to Terukuni Shrine without compensation in 1963. My father became a friend of his around this time through Dr. Homma and Dr. Sato ( leading sword experts). Since then, the Compton family and my family became close friends. Dr. Compton asked Dr. Honma and my father to come to the US and examine his swords in his house (he had about 400 swords) and swords of New York Met, Philadelphia Museum and the Boston Museum. My father wrote about this trip and the swords he examined in those museums and published the book in 1965; the title is “Katana Angya (刀行脚)”. Since then, we visited his house and they visited our house more frequently. Around this time must be the best time of his life for Dr. Compton and for my father. Both of them could spend time on their interest and having fun. It was the best time of my life too.
One time when I visited his house, he showed me his swords in his basement for hours almost all day. His house was really huge and the basement he built as his study room was with fire prevention and had great lighting. It was really nicely done and functioned correctly as the storage place for his many art objects. Then his wife, Phoebe said to Compton that he cannot keep a young girl (I was a college student) in the basement all day long and looking at the swords. He agreed and then he took me to his cornfield to pick some corns for dinner. The basement to a cornfield, not much improvement? So his wife Phoebe said that she will take me shopping and lunch in Chicago. That is good, but too far. The distance between Elkhart and Chicago is about two hours by driving a car, too far just for shopping and lunch. To my surprise, we got on the company private airplane to fly to the top of the roof of the department store then do the shopping and lunch, came back with the same private airplane.
Miles Lab. and Sankyo, a Japanese large pharmaceutical company had a business tie-up as Miles-Sankyo Pharmaceutical Company then. Dr. Compton used to come to Japan quite often, officially for business purpose. But whenever he came to Japan he used to spend many days with sword people and I used to follow my father. One of the female workers of Miles-Sankyo, her job was to translate the sword book into English. My parent household was filled with Miles-Sankyo products. Miles Lab. had a big research institute in Elkhart Indiana. I visited several times there. One day I was sitting with Dr. Compton in his office, looking into the sword book with our head together. That day, a movie actor John Forsythe was visiting the research lab. He was the host of the TV program the Miles Lab was sponsoring. All the female employees were making a big fuss over him. Then he came into the Compton’s room to greet him thinking the chairman must be sitting on his big chair at his desk looking like a chairman. But he saw Compton looking into the sword book with his head against my head. The appearance of Dr. Compton was just like any chairman of the board of a big company one can imagine, and I was a college student looking like a college student. John Forsythe had a strange expression that he did not know what to think of what he was seeing.
This chapter is a detailed chapter of Chapter 12. Please read Chapter 12 before reading this section.
Middle Kamakura period was the golden age of the sword making. We can not deny it was a great part due to the Gotoba-Joko treating the swordsmiths highly. After Jokyu-no-Hen, Samurai liked grand look swords. Those are Ikubi Kissaki sword. It is said there is no mediocre sword among Ikubi Kissaki sword. In this chapter, we discuss the swordsmiths who are famous for Ikubi Kissaki.
Bizen Osafune Mitsutada (備前長船光忠)
Mitsutada is one of the most famous swordsmiths for Ikubi Kissaki. His sword was the most thought after sword among sword collectors. He was the founder of the Osafune group, then his son Nagamitsu (長光), and Nagamitsu’s son Kagemitsu (景光) and the rest continues.
Sugata (shape) —- Grand look. Ikubi Kissaki. The body is somewhat thick. Often suriage (shortened).
Hi (engraving) — Often with Bo-Hi (wide straight groove). The shape of the end of Bo-Hi is kakudome (at least the one my father owned was kakudome). Refer 9| «Part 2» Middle Kamakura Period —Yamashiro Den (鎌倉中期山城伝)
Hamon (Tempered line) —- Yakihaba (width of the Hamon) is wide and narrow. Mainly Nioi. Large Choji, Kawazuko-Choji (round head shape, refer to the picture below under Nagamitsu Hamon ), Inazuma, Kinsuji, refer to 15|Late Kamakura Period Sword
Boshi —- Yakizume. Yakizume with a short turn back.
Jihada —– Fine, and soft look surface. Chikei appears.
Jyuyo Bunkazai Jyuyo Bunkazai
Jyuyo Token Jyuyo Bunkazai
I displayed above four photos at the different places on this website. Those were Mitsutada, once my father’s swords. Those photos were taken by my father and the writing on the white paper are written by him. He was very proud he collected four Mitsutada and he monogrammed inside his suit jacket as Mitsutada. It is said that Oda Nobunaga (織田信長 Daimyou around 16 C ) with his wealth and political power, he collected 28 Mitsutada. I realize those photos are not wonderful pictures. In order to avoid any copyright infringement and intellectual property right, I only use father’s photos (not so wonderful though), Sano Museum Catalog photos ( permission granted) and some public domain photos from Wikipedia. Please bear with me that I don’t have good photos.
Bizen Osafune Nagamitsu (備前長船長光 )
Nagamitsu is Mitsutada’s son.
Sugata —– Shape is similar to the early Kamakura period style. That is with Funbari and narrow at the top. This is called Nagamitsu Sugata.
Hamon —– Wide tempered line. Nioi base. O-Choji Midare (large clove shape) mixed with Kawazuko Choji (see below). Many Ashi appears. Also, he does Suguha-Choji (straight with choji mixed). This looks like Rai Kuniyuki. Works of Inazuma and Kinsuji shows.
Boshi —– Yakizume or turn back a little. (see above photo)
Jitetsu —– Fine wood grain. Well known for Utsuri (shadow). Choji Utsuri (Shadow of Choji) or Botan Utsuri ( flower peony like). Choji Utsuri is shown in the above picture.
Below is a poster of the Museum of Tetsu in Sakaki in Nagano prefecture in the year of 2003. The picture is Nagamitsu’s sword and Koshirae (scabbard). This was a family sword. This sword was once owned by Takenaka Hannbei (竹半半兵衛) who was a famous strategist for Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉) around the 16th century. It was given to Takenaka Hanbei by Toyotomi Hideyoshi as a reward.
Chapter 11 (11|Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221 ) was how Jyokyu-no-Hen ( 承久の変 ) started. In the end, Emperor Gotoba （or Gotoba- Joko） was exiled to Oki Island (隠岐の島 ). He was a very talented man in many fields. He was very good at Waka (和歌 ). Waka is a short poem. It requires to express scenery, one’s inner feeling with the refined sentiment, or the surrounding state with a limited number of words. It requires literary talent. He was also good at equestrianism, Kemari (ball game for upper class at that time), a great swimmer, Sumo, good at music, archery, swordsmanship, calligrapher, painter and became a great swordsmith. His contribution toward sword made the Golden Age of sword making at the middle Kamakura period. Surprisingly, Gotoba Joko was not only good at in the different field, he really accomplished all those fields to the top level. Especially his Waka (poetry) is highly regarded. He also edited Shin-Kokin-Wakashu (新古今集). This is a collection of Waka.
Emperor Gotoba was enthroned at the age of four
Emperor Gotoba was enthroned at the age of four (some say three). The problem was the Emperor Antoku already existed at the same time. They were both about the same age. Two emperors at the same time is a big problem. How did it happen? To become an Emperor, the head of the Emperor family has to appoint the next emperor. While the Emperor Go-Shirakawa (後白河天皇) was in jail, Emperor Antoku was appointed by Taira –no- Kiyomori (平清盛), who was the head of powerful Samurai but not the Emperor family. That is against the tradition. Remember, Taira-no-Kiyomori was the most powerful man of the Heike clan. This was not accepted by the Go-Shirakawa Emperor (後白河天皇 ). Go-Shirakawa Emperor was furious toward Taira-no-Kiyomori and he picked his own choice and enthroned Gotoba as the Emperor. This is how two emperors coexisted. One more thing, to be an Emperor, the Emperor must have Sanshu-no-Jingi (三種の神器 Three Sacred Treasures ) that is three items the Emperor must have to be a legitimate Emperor. They are Mirror, sword, and Magatama (jewelry)*. But Sanshu-no-Jingi was taken by the Heike family together with the Emperor Antoku when they fled from Genji. The Heike clan was chased by the Genji all the way to Dan-no-Ura (壇ノ浦) and the Heike clan was defeated there. Dan-no-Ura is a sea between Kyushu (九州 ) and Honshu (本州 ). When it became obvious for the Heike family, that they were defeated, all the Heike people including the young Emperor Antoku jumped into the sea and drowned. They took Sanshu-no-Jingi with them into the ocean. Later people searched for the Sanshu-no-Jingi frantically, but they could only recover jewelry, and mirror, could not find the sword. Because of the tradition that the Emperor must have Sanshu-no-Jingi otherwise not a legitimate Emperor, Gotoba Joko was tormented for a long time. Today, those mirror and jewelry are with the present Emperor family. The sword is still missing.
* Sanshu-no-Jingi (三種の神器 )—–sword (Kusanagi no Tsurugi(草薙の剣), Mirror (Yata-no-Kagami八咫の鏡), Magatama (Yasakani-no-Magatama 八尺瓊勾玉)
Politics by Gotoba-Joko
Gotoba-Joko wanted political power back from the Kamakura Bakufu. He was a very impulsive and passionate and unpredictable quick-tempered person. He wanted to revive the politics controlled by Chotei (朝廷). Chotei is the central government controlled by the Emperor and aristocrats. Gotoba-Joko decided to rely on the armed power for this. He set up the Saimen-no-Bushi (armed forces directly under the Emperor create by Gotoba-Joko). When he saw Minamoto-no-Sanetomo was killed, he realized Kamakura Bakufu must be in a turmoil. Thinking this is a good chance, he sent out the Emperor’s order to fight against Kamakura Bakufu to all over Japan to fight against Kamakura Bakufu. He expected an easy victory, but Kamakura Bushi was united tightly and maneuvered well under Hojo Masako as a one organized armed forces. Gotoba-Joko side was not very organized. They were not used to fighting. In the end, Gotoba-Joko side lost. After he realized he has lost, he claimed it was not him, it was done by his men only, nothing to do with the Emperor. So he claimed it is wrong to punish him. But of course, Kamakura Bakufu did not believe that and exiled him to Oki Island. Gotoba-Joko ended his life on the island. As smart as he was and accomplished so many different fields, he could not win against the grandma Shogun, Hojo Masako.
Sword making by Gotoba-Joko
Gotoba Joko had a superior ability to connoisseur sword and he became the superior swordsmith himself. He invited many top-level sword smiths from different sword groups to his court and gave them the title and made them as his assistants or instructor. He invited top-class sword smiths every two months from a place like Bizen, Awataguch, and Bicchu. Those who were invited were called Gobankaji (御番鍛冶), an honorary title. On the sword he created, he did not inscribe his name; instead, he inscribed Chrithantamum with 16 petals which are still used present Emperor as the Emperor’s crest. The sword which has this Chrithantamus is called Kiku Gosaku (菊御作). Today, in Oki island you can visit Emperor Gotoba museum and there are a few sites that are believed to be the Emperor’s sword making site. Some people say the sites are debatable.
Today, Oki Island is a beautiful resort island. It can be reached by ferries from Shimane Prefecture. It is about 2 hours by boat, also by an airplane directly from Osaka.
This chapter is the detailed section of Chapter 10. Please read chapter 10 one more time before you read this chapter.
Middle Kamakura period was the height for the Bizen Den. Often, in a different region other than Bizen, swordsmiths are affected by people’s preferences and politics in their region. But Bizen was not affected by those elements as much throughout the time. The clients of Bizen-Den were from all over the country. Therefore, the swords that were created by Bizen area tends to be the kind liked by everybody.
The general style of Bizen Den
Fukuoka Ichimonji group
Names of swordsmiths among Fukuoka Ichimonji group: Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (福岡一文字則宗), Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukemune ( 福岡一文字助宗 ). Those two are the main Fukuoka Ichomnji group (福岡一文字 ).
Among Fukuoka Ichimonji group, six swordsmiths received the honor as “Gobankaji” from the Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽上皇 ), Including Norimune and Sikemune. I saw Fukuoka Ichimonji Yoshimune at Mori Sensei’s class on June 25. The year was not written. Probably, from 1971 to 1973. My note said I saw a lot of Utsuri (shadow) on the blade.
Sugata (shape or figure) ———- Graceful and classy shape. Generally well proportioned. The width difference between the top width and bottom width is not much. Sometimes stout looking Kissaki like Ikubi Kissaki.
Hi and Engraving ———- The tip of Hi maybe a little bit higher. Machi area finishes with a square end, or kakinagashi (refer to chapter 9 «part 2» Middle Kamakura Period –Yamashiro-Den
Hamon ———- So-called wide Ichimonnji-Choji tempered line. From the bottom to the top, same width temper line. Front and back is the same type of Hamon. O-Choji –Midare (large clove shape), Jyuka-Choji Midare (looks like overwrapped). Nie base. Inazuma, Kinsuji appears.
Boshi ———- Hamon continues into Boshi area and end with Yakizume or turn slightly. Sometimes O-maru.
Jihada or Jitetsu ———- Fine and soft look, with woodgrain, lots of Utsuri (cloud-like shadow or reflection)
This is the detailed section of Chapter 9. Please read chapter 9 one more time before reading this chapter.
During Middle Kamakura Period, there are three main groups among Yamashiro Den. They are Ayano-Koji (綾小路) group, Awataguchi (粟田口) group, and Rai (来) group.
Ayano-Koji group (綾小路 )
Names of Swordsmiths among Ayano-Koji: Ayano-Koji Sadatoshi (綾小路定利) Sadanori (定則) .
When we refer to a certain group, we say, “xxx ha”, “xxx ippa “, or “xxx ichimon “. We use those three words interchangeably. For example, we say Ayano-Koji ichimon, indicate Ayano-Koji group.
Sugata (shape or figure) ———- In general, gentle or graceful Kyo-zori shape. The difference between the width of the Yokote line and the width of Machi is not much. The sword is slender yet thick. Small Kissaki
Hi and Engraving ———- Bohi (one groove) or Futasuji-hi (double groove)
Hamon ———- Nie base with Ko-choji (small clove shape) and Ko-midare (small irregular). Small Inazuma and Kinzuji. Double Ko-choji appears.
Boshi (tip area) ———- Ko-maru (small round), Yakizume (refer to the illustration below), and Kaen (flame like shape)
Jitetsu ———- Small wood grain with a little Masame (straight grain) Ji-nie
Nakago (tang) ———- Long, slight fat feeling
Awataguchi group (粟田口)
Names of Swordsmiths among Awataguchi group: Awataguchi Kunitomo (粟田口国友 ), Hisakuni (久国), Kuniyasu (国安), Kuniyasu (国安), Kunikiyo (国清)
Many swordsmiths of Awataguchi group (or Awataguchi Ichimon) received the honor as the Goban Kaji from Gotoba Joko (Emperor Gotoba 後鳥羽上皇 ). In general, their typical characteristic is as follows.
Sugata (Shape or figure) ———- Elegant shape Torii-zori (or Kyo-zori)
Hi and Engraving ———- The tip of Hi are all the way up and fill in the Ko-shinogi The end of the Hi can be Maru-dome (the end is round), Kakudome (the end is square) or kakinagashi.
Maru-dome (rounded end) Kaku-dome (square) Kakinagashi
Hamon ———- The slightly wider tempered line at the bottom then the narrow tempered line at the top. Nie base (this is called Nie honni). Straight tempered line, straight-tempered line mixed with Ko-Choji (small clove) or Ko-Choji. Sometimes wide straight line mixed with Choji. Awataguchi Nie appearance. Awataguchi Nie means fine, deep and sharp shiny Nie around tempered line area. Fine Inazuma (lightning) and Kinsuji (golden streak) appearance.
Boshi (tip area) ———- Ko-maru (small round) or O-maru (large round) both return is sharrow. Yakizume, Nie Kuzure, and Kaen (flame).Yubashiri
Yakizume O-maru Ko-maru Yakikuzure
Jitetsu ———- Fine Ko-Mokume(wood swirls) with Ji-nie. Yubashiri, Chikei appears.
Nakago ———- Often two letter inscription
Rai group (来)
Names of swordsmiths among Rai group: Rai Kuniyuki (来国行), Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊) or Niji Kunitoshi (二字国俊), Ryokai (了戒 )
Rai Kunitoshi is said to be Rai Kuniyuki’s son. Ryokai is said to be Rai Kunitoshi ‘s son
A general characteristic of Rai Kuniyuki and Kunitoshi is as follows. However, each sword has its own different characteristic.
Sugata (shape or figure) ———- Gracefull with dignity. Thick body. Rai made Ikubi Kissaki.
Hi and Engravings ———- Wide and shallow Hi.
Hamon ———- Nie base. Suguha (straight), wide suguha, ko-midare (small irregular), and choji (clove). Sometimes large choji at the lower part and narrow suguha at the top. Inazuma and Kinsuji appear around yokote area.
Boshi ———- Komaru, Yakizume (refer to the illustration above)
Jitetsu ———- Finely forged Itame (small wood grain) sometimes mixed with masame (parallel grain). Fine Nie. Rai group sporadically shows Yowai Tetsu which means weak surface. This may be the core iron.
Rai Kuniyuki (来国行）Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館) permission granted
This is the second part of chapter 8.
Kamakura period was the golden age of sword making. Approximately, half of the well-known swords at present time was made during the Kamakura period. Probably because of the war between Genji and Heishi demanded large number of swords, and had a live experience to improve the sword. Also, Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽) invited many able swordsmiths to his palace and treated them highly and encouraged them to create a good sword by giving them the ranks. During the Kamakura period, the technique of sword making improved greatly.
Middle Kamakura Period —- Yamashiro Den (山城伝)
Middle Kamakura period was the height for the Yamashiro Den. Among Yamashiro Den, there are three major groups (or families). They are Ayano-koji group (綾小路 ) Awataguchi group (粟田口), and Rai group (来). Among the Awataguchi group, six swordsmiths received the honor of the “Goban-kaji “ from the Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽上皇 ). Awataguchi is the name of the area in Kyoto. Ayanokoji ( 綾小路 ) group lived at Ayanokoji area in Kyoto. My sword textbook had a note that I saw Ayanokoji Sadatoshi (綾小路定利 ) on March 22nd, 1972. The note said O-Suriage, Funbari, narrow body and jinie. I should have written more in detail then, had I known I am writing the website in the future. Rai group started from Rai Kuniyuki (来国行 ). Rai Kuniyuki and Ayanokoji Sadatoshi are said to have a close friendship. Rai Kuniyuki created many noted swords. His famous Fudo Kuniyu (不動国行) was owned by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru (将軍足利義輝 ) then changed hand to Matsunaga Danjo (松永弾正) then to Oda Nobunaga ( 織田信長 ) to Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀 ), then to Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉). This sword was held by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s arm for the memorial service of Oda Nobunaga. Rai Kuniyuki’s son is Niji Kunitoshi. He also created noted swords.
Middle Kamakura Period —– Bizen Den (備前 伝)
Bizen Den in Heian period is called Ko-Bizen. They are similar to the one to Yamashiro-Den style. The height for the Bizen-Den was Middle Kamakura period. Bizen (Okayama prefecture now) has many ideal aspects of sword making. The weather is good, produced good steel, abundant fuel nearby, and conveniently situated. Naturally many swordsmiths moved there and became the main place to produce swords. Bizen made a large number of swords, their quality level is higher than any other places, and more famous swordsmiths came out. Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (則宗) and his son Sukemune (助宗 ) received the honor from the Emperor Gotoba. Among the Osafune group(長船), famous Mitsutada (光忠) and Nagamitsu (長光)appeared. My father owned four Mitsutada. Three Tachi and one Tanto. He was so proud that he owned four Mitsutada, he made his tailor monogrammed inside of his suite as Mitsutada. From Hatakeda group (畠田), Hatakeda Moriie (畠田守家), from Ugai (鵜飼) group, Unsho (雲生 ), Unji (雲次), and Kunimune (国宗) appeared. Because of a large number of the swordsmiths in Bizen, a large number of swords exists, also, each swordsmith has its own characteristic, Kantei for Bizen can be a very complex process. This is the time Ikubi Kissaki started to appear.
The below are my father’s four Bizen Osafune Mitsutada. My father took those pictures many years ago at home by himself. You can see he is not much of a photographer. The writing on the square white paper is written by him. He wrote the name of the swordsmith, the period it was made, which Daimyo owned in the past and classification.
The classification of the sword from the top
1. National treasure 2.Juyo Bunkazai 3.Juyo Bijutu Hin 4.Juyo Token The rest is omitted
Bizen Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Bunkazai) Bizen Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Bunkazai)
Bizen Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Token) Bizen Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Bunkazai )
Late Kamakura Period —– Soshu Den (相州伝 )
At the end of the Kamakura Period, Yamashiro Den started declining. At this time, many swordsmiths moved to Kamakura area under the new power of Kamakura Bakufu (鎌倉幕府) by the Hojo clan. The new group, Soshu Den (相州伝 ) started to emerge. From Bizen, Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) and Kunimune (国宗) moved to Kamakura. From Yamashiro Den Awataguchi, Kunitsuna (国綱) moved to Kamakura. Those are the one who originated the Soshu Den in Kamakura area. Kunitsuna’s son is Tosaburo Yukimitsu, then his son is famous Masamune ( 正宗 ). Other than Kamakura area, Rai Kunitsugu (来国次), Go-no-Yoshihiro (郷義弘) from Ettshu (越中) province, Samoji (左文字) from Chikuzen province (筑前) were the active swordsmiths.
This section is a little detail of Chapter 7.
As I described in Chapter 7, at the end of the Heian period, two major Samurai groups, the Genji (源氏) and the Heishi (平氏) existed. The head of the Genji is Minamoto-no-Yoshitomo (源義朝) and the head of the Heishi is Taira-no-Kiyomori. They were childhood friends. Because of the political situation, they became enemy. The Genji side lost. After the Heishi won, Taira-no–Kiyomori became very powerful. He gave his men high positions, and his daughter marries to the emperor. His power even went beyond the Emperor. This is the time it is said that if “you are not a part of the Heishi family, you are not a human being”. The situation like this created too many opponents. Eventually, the Genji and other Samurai group raised the army, fought against the Heishi and the Heishi lost. While Taira-no-Kiyomori was in power, he started the active trading with China and that contributed to the economic prosperity tremendously. The picture below is the Itsukushima Shrine built by Taira-no-Kiyomori. It is registered at the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From Wikipedia Photo is a public Domain Author: Rdsmith4 File Itsukushima Floating Shrine.jpg 8 /05/04
Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune (源頼朝 )
Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (源頼朝) is a son of Minamoto-no-Yoshitomo(源義朝). After Yoshitomo was defeated by Taira-no-Kiyomori (平清盛 ), the direct line of Genji, Minamoto-no-Yoritomo was sent to Izu Island. He was in his early teens. Yoritomo grew to be a young man in Izu island, eventually, he met Hojo Masako (北条政子) who was a daughter of Hojo Tokimasa (北条時政). He was a local government official. While Tokimasa was on a business trip to Kyoto, Yoritomo and Masaki had a baby. Tokimasa was afraid if Heike finds out about his daughter and Yoritomo, the Hojo family may get into trouble. So, he planned Masako to marry somebody else. But she escaped a night before the wedding day eloped with Yoritomo. This story was written in the Japanese history book called “Azuma Kagami (吾妻鏡)” and a few other books, but some historian says this story may not be exactly how it happened. Meantime In Kyoto, the Heishi became very powerful and tyrannical in the central government (called Chotei) and suppressed the opponents. All the angry dissatisfied groups raised an army to attack the Heishi. Minamoto-no-Yoritomo was the center of those opponents and his army grew bigger and stronger with the help of Masako ’s father, Hojo Tokimasa. By this time Hojo Tokimasa realized he has a better chance to side with Yoritomo, the Genji. The Genji power pushed the Heike power all the way to the Southern part of Japan. The Heike was defeated at the place called Dan-no-Ura (壇ノ浦 ) near Kyushu (九州 ) area at 1185. Yoritomo set up the Kamakura Bakufu (Kamakura government) in Kamakura. His wife Masako later found out to be a very capable politician and she saved Kamakura Bakufu when they got into trouble from the central government after Yoritomo’s death. Here is one famous story about her. When Yoritomo went around for different women in the town of Kamakura, Masako sent her men to follow her husband and set the fire of the woman’s house her husband was after. Masako is known as a jealous wife in Japanese history. But in her mind, the Hojo is one who made Yoritomo the head of the Kamakura Bakufu. Without the help from the Hojo, Yoritomo could not be what he became.
Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu in Kamakura Author: Urashimataro From Wikipedia Photo is public domain
Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune (源義経 )
Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (源頼朝 ) had several half brothers. Taira-no-Kiyomori (平清盛) saved the lives of those young boys only if they became a monk when they grew up. One of them was Ushiwaka-Maru (牛若)，later Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune (源義経) who lived with Taira-no-Kiyomori while he was an infant, believing Kiyomori was his father. Later Yoshitsune was sent to Kurama-Yama temple. He spent there until mid-teens. After that, he made a flight to live with O-Shu Fujiwara (奥州藤原). They were in the northern part of Japan, quite some distance from Kyoto. O-Shu Fujiwara was a very wealthy clan and they had a luxurious culture. Because of the distance from Chotei (central government), they could almost be like an independent county. They created quite a wealth by the gold mining nearby. When Yoshitsune heard his half-brother Yoritomo raised an army to attack Heike, he joined with his brother. Yoshitsune was a quite a strategist, he won many well-known battles that were very critical battlefield for Genji to win the war. That made Yoritomo fear Yoshitsune. Eventually, Yoshitsune became popular among people, fearful Yoritomo decided to get rid of Yoshitsune. Yoshitsune fled to O-Shu Fujiwara. In the beginning, O-Shu Fujiwara protected Yoshitsune but could not hold. Yoritomo destroyed O-Shu Fujiwara entirely at the end.
Chinese knew about the wealth of O-Shu Fujiwara. Later, Marco Polo heard about the small wealthy country further into the East from Chinese. He never visited Japan, but he mentioned about this small wealthy island in his book, “The travels of Marco Polo”. The famous quote “all the houses are made of gold”. This is O-Shu Fujiwara. Of course, all the houses are not made of gold. Marco Polo introduced Japan as “Zipangu” in his book. It means the golden country. That evolved into Japan. However, we Japanese don’t call Japan as Japan. We call our country “Nihon” or “Nippon”, either one is correct.