11|Jokyu-no-ran  (1221 承久の乱)

11 time line --- Jokyu-no-ran

After MinamotonoYoritomo (源頼朝) died, his son, Yoriie(頼家)became second Shogun.  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 the 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 second Shogun Yoriie’s wife’s family became powerful.  During Heian and Kamakura period, wife’s family were considered very important.  In order to suppress them,  Hojo Masako and her father Tokimasa plotted against second Shogun Yoriie and killed him.  After Yoriie’s death,  Masako’s  younger son Sanetomo(実朝) became next Shogun. Now, Hojo- Tokimasa’s  young wife wanted her son-in-law to be a next Shogun.  Hojo-Tokimasa attempted to kill Sanetomo, bud failed.  Hojo Masako confined Tokimasa.  Although third Shogun Sanetomo was Hojo Masako’son,  she was very  disappointed in him.  He was also very incompetent.  The third Shogun Sanetomo was killed by Kugyo who was the son of second Shogun.  Now Hojo Yoshitoki took control over the Kamakura Bakufu and brought a figurehead from Fujiwara family ( aristocratic family in Kyoto). After all those turmoil, Hojo family took control over the Kamakura Bakufu(government).

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

The Emperor Gotoba was the one who really encouraged sword making and treated sword smiths highly.  After the Jokyu-no-ran, the power of Royal family decreased and the Kamakura Bakufu became powerful and stable regime.  Hojo Masako was called “Ama (nun) Shogun”. After her husband, Minamoto-no-Yoritomo died until the end of Jokyu-no-ran, it was the period when the Kamakura Bakufu was still unstable.  Hojo Masako was the one who carried the Kamakura Bakufu to the stable regime.  She was one of the 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.  Shirahata shrine for Minamoto-no-Yoritomo is a very humble shrine, it is just a tombstone, no building surrounding it.  Whereas Jufukuji for Hojo Masako is a very elaborate temple.  Kamakura was a land of the Hojo family, is still now.

Kamakura is about one hour from Tokyo by a train.  Both Jufukuji temple and Shirahata shrine are walking distance from the Kamakura station.




10 | Middle Kamakura Period — Bizen School

There are large numbers sword smiths 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 from Middle Kamakura period.  Bizen province had many ideal conditions to produces 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.  Bizen sword has a higher standard.

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

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

10 Nie & Nioi

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

9 Hi --- groove

Nakago — Long and thin with curvature. The end of the Nakago is rounded which has the shape of chestnut’s bottom.  This is called Kurijiri. Look at 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 — Same tempered pattern continue to go up to Boshi area.  You can see Choji midare (clove-like pattern) or Yakizume.

10 Boshi --- Bizen

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) Junkei Nagamitu (順慶長光) Kagemitsu (景光)Hatakeda hatakeda(畠田) group —————-Moriie (守家)  Sanemori  (真守)                Ugai (鵜飼) group —————————————-   Unsho (雲生) Unji (雲次)



9| Middle Kamakura Period —Yamashiro School

Yamashiro school swords have the characteristic 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).  Thick Kasane. The type of the curvature is usually kyo-zori (highest curvature comes around the center).  Small Kissaki with fukura (rounded).  Shinogi is high with gyo-no-me or sin-no-me.

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 like lightning shape faintly appears.  The temper line is Nie Base.

picture for 8佐野美術館図録1 豊後国行平(Bungo-no-kuni-Yukihira  Sano Museum Catalogue)*


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

9 Fukura


Jitetu(地鉄)—–     Well forged fine surface.  Small burl pattern.  Lots of Jinie(地沸) on the surface.

Names of the swordsmiths during the middle Kamakura period

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

Ayanokouji group —–Ayanokouji sadatoshi (綾小路定利)

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)

img009佐野美術館図録1 来国俊2 (Sano Museum Catalogue  Rai-kunitoshi)*

*許可済み(received permission)