11|Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221

 

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 The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this section.

After MinamotonoYoritomo (源頼朝) died, his son, Yoriie(頼家) succeeded in the Shogun position.  But his mother, Hojo Masako(北条政子)-Yoritomo’s wife-thought her son was too incompetent.She was afraid that the Kamakura Bakufu (Kamakura government) may be taken over by other force.  To prevent this to happen, she started a council system consisting of 13 people including herself, her father, Hojo Tokimasa(北条時政 ) and her brother, Hojo Yoshitoki(北条義時).  Soon the family of the wife of Yoriie (present Shogun) became powerful.  During the Heian and Kamakura period, the wife’s family was considered very important.  In order to suppress them,  Hojo Masako and her father, Tokimasa plotted against Shogun Yoriie and killed him.  After Yoriie’s death, Masako’s younger son Sanetomo(実朝) became the next Shogun. Now, Hojo Tokimasa’s young wife wanted her son-in-law to be the next Shogun.  Hojo-Tokimasa attempted to kill Sanetomo but failed.  Hojo Masako confined Tokimasa (her father).  Although the Shogun Sanetomo was Hojo Masako’s son,  she was very disappointed in him.  He was also very incompetent.  The Shogun Sanetomo was killed by Kugyo who was the son of the previous Shogun Yoriiee.  After all these incidents happened, Hojo Yoshitoki took control over the Kamakura Bakufu and brought a figurehead from the Fujiwara family (aristocrat from Kyoto). After all those turmoil, the Hojo family took control over the Kamakura Bakufu (government).

Meanwhile, in Kyoto, Emperor Gotoba had been planning to attack the Kamakura Bakufu.  He had built up the military power.  When Sanetomo was killed, Emperor Gotoba saw the chance to attack, he ordered local feudal lords to attack the Kamakura Bakufu but very few followed the Emperor.  Instead Hojo family captured Emperor Gotoba and he was exiled to Oki island. This is called Jokyo-no-Ran (or Jokyu-no Hen), at 1221.

Emperor Gotoba was the one who really encouraged sword making and treated sword smiths highly.  After the Jokyu-no-ran, the power of the Royal family decreased and the Kamakura Bakufu became a powerful and stable regime.  Hojo Masako was called “Ama (nun) Shogun”.  From the time her husband, Minamoto-no-Yoritomo died until the end of Jokyu-no-ran, it was the period when the KShirahaamakura Bakufu was still unstable.  Hojo Masako was the one who carried the Kamakura Bakufu to the stable regime.  She was one of the able but mean, tough, sharp politician.

Kamakura people (I am one of them) really like Hojo Masako.  Minamoto-no-Yoritomo and Hojo-Masako are both buried in Kamakura City.  Minamoto-no-Yoritomo is at Shirahata Shrine, Hojo Masako is at Jufukuji temple.  Compare to Hojo Masako’s Jufuku-Ji, Yoritomo’s Shiorahata-Jinja is quite humble.  Some say Kamakura is Hojo’s land.  Kamakura is about one hour from Tokyo by train.  Both Jufukuji temple and Shirahata shrine are walking distance from the Kamakura station.

11 Jufuku-JiJufuku-Ji (寿福寺) From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

 

11 Yoritomo GraveShirahata Jinja ( 白幡神社)  From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

There are large numbers of swordsmiths in Bizen (備前) school during the Heian period but their sword style is generally similar to Yamashiro school, called Ko-Bisen (古備前). The real Bizen school style started in the Middle Kamakura period.  Bizen province had many ideal conditions to produce swords.  It produced good quality steel and a large amount of fuel around the area and also the transportation was convenient.  Naturally, large numbers of swordsmiths gathered in this area and produced swords in quantities.  Because of that, to connoisseur Bizen sword is difficult.  In general, the Bizen sword has a higher quality standard than other schools.

Generally speaking, the next three characters are the most distinctive features of Bizen school.

  • Nioi base temper line (Nie is sand-like small dots on a tempered line, Nioi is finer dots than Nie, so small, it looks as if a line)  Technically speaking, those two are the same.  See the illustration below.
  • Jigane (sword steel) looks soft.
  • Reflection appears on the surface.

10 Nie & Nioi

Sugata (shape) — The length of the sword is about 33 inches ± a few inches. The width of the blade is slightly wide and it has a stout look.  The curvature of the blade is Koshizori (腰反)  means the highest curvature comes lower part.  The body has an average thickness.  Small kissaki.

10 Middle Kamakura ---備前刀姿

 

Horimono(engraving) — Engravings are rare. The shape of the tip of Hi is all the way up to Ko-Shinogi and fill up the whole area.

8 Hi

 

Nakago — Long and thin with curvature.  The end of the Nakago is rounded which has the shape of chestnut’s bottom.  This is called KurijiriSee the illustration of the sword above.

Hamon (tempered area pattern)— Nioi base. The tempered area is wide and the width is even, also the size of midare (irregular tempered line ) is uniform.

Boshi — The same tempered pattern continues to go up to the Boshi area.  You can see Choji midare (clove-like pattern) or Yakizume.

10 Boshi --- Bizen

Jitetu — Fine well forged, and soft look steel.  The surface of the steel has small wood grain pattern mixed with the large grain pattern.  Chikei (condensation of Nie) and cloud-like reflection appears.

Bizen School Sword Smiths during Middle Kamakura Period

Fukuoka Ichimonji (福岡一文字) group ———-Norimune (則宗)  Sukemune (助宗 )  Yoshioka Ichimonji (吉岡一文字) group ———-Sukeyoshi (助吉)   Sukemitsu (助光)         Sho-chu Ichimonji (正中一文字) group ———   Yoshiuji (吉氏)   Yoshimori (吉守)      Osafune (長船) group ———-Mitsutada (光忠)  Nagamitu (長光) Kagemitsu (景光)   Hatakeda(畠田) group ————————————-Moriie (守家)  Sanemori  (真守)          Ugai (鵜飼) group —————————————————— Unsho (雲生) Unji (雲次)

10, Ichimonji Photo

Ichimonji from Sano Museum Catalogue (permission to use is granted)

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

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                              The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this section

Yamashiro school swords have the characteristics as below.

Sugata(shape)—–Generally the width of the blade is narrow, especially around yokote line.  The bottom of the blade has funbari (A-line shape or flares out like the lower part of Eiffel Tower).  Thick Kasane. The type of the curvature is kyo-zori (highest curvature comes around the middle of the sword) or Koshi-zori (lower curvature).  Small Kissaki with fukura (rounded).  Shinogi is high with Gyo-no-Mune (行の棟) or Sin-no-Mune ( 真の棟).

13 Mune drawing

 

9 鎌倉中期刀姿

Horimono(Engraving)—–The tip of a Hi (樋, groove) is the exact proper shape.  Sometimes you may see Bonj (Sanscrit) and suken (sword illustration).

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji

Nakago(中心)—–Long and thin with curvature

Hamon(刃文)—– Mostly suguha (straight line), double straight line, straight line with the irregular line.  Sometimes thin gold line shape like the lightning in the sky appears.  The temper line is Nie Base.  Nie and Nioi will be explained in the next chapter.

 

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佐野美術館図録1 豊後国行平(Bungo-no-Kuni-Yukihira  Sano Museum Catalog) permission granted

 

Boshi(鋩子)—–   Small round and large round.

9 Fukura

Jitetu(地鉄)—–     Well forged fine surface.  Small burl pattern and wood grain pattern.  Lots of Ji-Nie(地沸) on the surface.

Names of the swordsmiths during the middle Kamakura period

Ayano-Koji group —— Ayano-Koji Sadatoshi (綾小路 定利 )

Awataguchi group —– Awataguchi kunituna (粟田口国綱)

Rai group —————-Rai kuniyuki (来国行) Rai Nijikunitoshi (来ニ字国俊)

Other provinces who made Yamashiro style at this time

Sagami-no-kuni-Yamanouchi-Kunituna (相模国山内国綱)

Bungo-no-kuni-Yukihira (豊後国行平)

Higo-no-Enjyu (肥後の延寿)

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佐野美術館図録1 来国俊 ( Sano Museum Catalogue Rai-Kunitoshi) permission granted