10| Jokyu-no-ran 1221 (承久の乱)

0-timeline - size 24 jyokyuu no ran
 The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section.

Jyokyu-no-Ran (承久の乱)

After Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (源頼朝) died, his son, Yoriie (頼家) succeeded the shogun position.  His mother, Hojo Masako (北条政子) Yoritomo‘s wife, thought her son was too incompetent.  She was afraid that others could take over the Kamakura Bakufu (Kamakura government).  To prevent this from happening, she established a council system consisting of 13 members including herself, her father, Hojo Tokimasa (北条時政) and her brother, Hojo Yoshitoki (北条義時).

In time, Shogun Yoriie‘s in-law became powerful.  During the Heian and the Kamakura period, the wife’s family was considered very important.  To suppress her son’s in-laws, Masako and her father, Tokimasa, plotted an assassination of Yoriie and killed him.

After Yoriie’s death, Masako’s younger son, Sanetomo (実朝), became the next shogun.  Now, his grandfather, Hojo Tokimasa’s second wife, wanted her son-in-law to be the next shogun.  To please his young wife, Hojo Tokimasa attempted to kill Sanetomo, bud failed.  Finding this plot, Hojo Masako imprisoned her father, Tokimasa.  Although Sanetomo was Masako’s son, she was again very disappointed in his incompetence.  In the end, Shogun  Sanetomo was killed by his nephew Kugyo, the son of the previous shogun, Yoriiee.

After all these incidents, Masako’s brother, Hojo Yoshitoki, took control of the Kamakura Bakufu and brought a figurehead from the Fujiwara family, a powerful aristocrat family in Kyoto.   After all the turmoil, the Hojo family eventually took full control of the Kamakura Bakufu (government).

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

Emperor Gotoba was the one who really encouraged sword making and treated swordsmiths respectfully.  After the Jokyu-no-Ran, the Imperial family’s power decreased, and the Kamakura Bakufu became a powerful and stable regime.  From the time of Minamoto-no-Yoritomo‘s death to the end of the Jokyu-no-Ran, the Kamakura Bakufu was still an unstable government.  It was Hojo Masako who led the Kamakura Bakufu to a stable regime.  She was called “Ama Shogun” or a “Nun Shogun.”   She was a sharp and talented but tough, critical, and often mean politician.

Kamakura people (I am one of them) like Hojo Masako very much Minamoto no Yoritomo and Hojo Masako were both buried in Kamakura City.  Minamoto no Yoritomo at Shirahata Shrine (白幡神社), and Hojo Masako at Jufukuji Temple (寿福寺).

Kamakura is about one hour from Tokyo by train on the Yokosuka line.  Both Jufuku-Ji temple and Shirahata shrine are within walking distance from Kamakura station.

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

11 Yoritomo GraveFrom Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository       Minamoto-no-Yoritomo’s tomb.

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

0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura
The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section 

 

There are many swordsmiths in the Bizen (備前) school during the early Kamakura period.  However, their sword style is usually somewhat similar to that of the Yamashiro school. Therefore, they are called Ko-bizen (古備前), which means old Bizen.

The true Bizen school style emerged in the Middle Kamakura period.  Bizen province had many advantages to produce great swords.  The area produced high-quality iron and a large amount of firewood for fuel.  Also, its location was conveniently situated to come from different places.  Naturally, many swordsmiths came to the place and produced swords in quantities.  Due to the competition among those swordsmiths, Bizen swords’ quality is generally higher than that of other schools.   Thus, it is not easy to appraise Bizen swords since they had many subtle variations among the many swordsmiths.

Generally speaking, the following three features are the most distinctive characteristics of Bizen school.

  • Nioi-base tempered line. Nioi-base tempered line is finer dots than Nie-base.  Dots are so small that they look almost like a line. Technically, the tempering processes of these two are the same.  See the illustration below. 
  • Ji-hada (surface of the body) looks soft.  
  •  Reflection (Utsuri) appears on the surface.

10 Nie & Nioi

Sugata (shape) —The length is about 33 inches ± a few inches. The blade is slightly wide and looks stout. The curvature of the blade is Koshizori (腰反), which means the deepest curvature comes at a 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 Nakago is rounded and looks like a shape of the bottom of a chestnut (kuri).  This shape is called Kurijiri.  See 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 wavy tempered pattern) is uniform.

Boshi — The same tempered pattern continues to go up to the Boshi area, and it often  shows Choj- midare (clove-shape waves pattern) or Yakizume.

10 Boshi --- Bizen

Ji-hada — Fine and well forged.  Steel looks soft.  The small wood grain pattern and the large wood grain pattern are mixed together on the steel surface.  Chikei (condensation of Nie) and Utsuri (cloud-like reflection) appear.

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)

              9 Middle Kamakura Bizen Fukuoka ichimonji 

Fukuoka Ichimonji (一文字) from “Nippon-to Art Swords of Japan”                                     The Walter A. Compton Collection

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

        

0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura                          The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

The characteristics of Yamashiro Den swords

Sugata(shape)—– In general, the blade is narrow, especially near the Yokote line.  The bottom of the blade has fundari (A-line shape).  Kasane is thick.  The curvature type is usually Kyo-zori (the deepest curvature comes at about the middle).  It has a small Kissaki with Fukura.   Shinogi is thick with Gyo-no-mune or Shin-no-mune.  Please see the three illustrations below for Sugata.

13 Mune drawing

9 鎌倉中期刀姿

8 Fukura

Horimono (Engraving)—– The tip of a Hi (樋, groove) follows the exact shape of the Ko-shinogi line.  Sometimes you may see Bonj (Sanscrit) and Suken (see the illustration).

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji

Nakago (hilt: 中心)—————Long and thin with curvature

Hamon (tempered line: 刃文) —————Mostly Suguha (straight line), Niju-Ba (double Hamon), or Suguha with an irregular wavy line.  Sometimes a thin gold lightning-like line called Inazuma faintly appears.  The tempered line is mostly Nie.  The below is Suguha,

picture for 8
豊後国行平(Bungo-no-Kuni-Yukihira)  Sano Museum Catalog permission granted

   * Bungo-no-Kuni-Yukihira was a Yamashiro Den swordsmith from the Bungo area.

Boshi(鋩子)——– Komaru-boshi (small round)   Omaru-boshi (large round)                    Ji-hada (地肌) ——-Well forged fine surface.  Small burl pattern.  Jinie (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)

8 Rai Kunitoshi

Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊)       Sano Museum Catalogue, Permission granted