14|Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期)

 

14 Timeline The circle represents the time we are discussing in this section

 

GENKO 元寇  (1274 and 1281)

The grandson of Genghis Kahn, Khubilai Kahn attempted to invade Japan two times in 1274 and 1281.  Both times, a strong typhoon hit Japan.  Mongol sent a large number of soldiers with all kinds of supplies on their huge numbers of ships.  Those ships had to dock side by side and front and back very closely at the limited area of shore.   When the strong wind came, ships were swayed, hit each other and capsized.  Many people were drowned and lost supplies in the water.  Even though they landed and attacked Japan, because of the typhoon and ships wrecking, they left Japan.  As a result Japan won.   Actually, Mongol had much superior weapons than Japanese.  They had guns, Japanese did not.  Their group fighting method was much more superior and effective than Japanese individual  fighting method.  This is the time the word “Kamikaze” (God wind)  was created.

After the Mongolian invasion, the need for the changing the style of the Ikubi Kissaki became obvious.  When swords were used in a war, the most frequently damaged area was a Kissaki area.  Japanese soldiers used mostly Ikubi Kissaki swords in this war.  The Ikubi Kissaki Tachi has a short Kissaki, therefore, when the damaged area of the Kissaki was polished down for repairing, the top part of the Yakiba (tempered area) disappeared and the Hi (groove) goes up too high in the Boshi area (top triangle-like area).  Functionally, short Ikubi Kissaki becomes even shorter, and Hi goes up too high into a Boshi area became a flaw.  To compensate for this flaw, a new style began to appear in later part of Kamakura period

14 Ikubi kissaki Damadge

 

During later part of Kamakura period, the swordsmiths began to create a new style of swords to compensate for this fault.  Also, people’s enthusiasm (that was raised by driving back Mongolian) reflected on the surface of swords.  Generally speaking, Hamon and a shape of the body became showy and stronger looking.

Kamakura became a very prosperous place under the power of Hojo family.  A large number of swordsmiths moved to Kamakura from Bizen, Kyoto and other places during this time and created a new style.  This is the beginning of Soshu school (presently Kanagawa area).  Many famous top swordsmiths appeared during this time.  One of the famous swordsmiths is Masamune.  Masamune’s tomb is in Honkaku-Ji temple that is about 5 minutes walk from the Kamakura train station.  When I was attending the sword study group of Mori Sensei(teacher), one of the students I studied with was the 23rd generation of direct descendants of Masamune.  He still makes swords in Kamakura.  He also makes wonderful kitchen knives.

 

13|Tanto ( 短刀) Middle Kamakura Period

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It is very rare to see a tanto (small short sword) made during the Heian period.  Middle Kamakura period, a large number of wonderful tanto were made.  They were called takenoko-zori shape.  Takenoko means bamboo shoot.  The back of the dagger curves inward slightly.

13 Middle Kamakura Period Tanto

Sugata (shape)———-Hirazukuri , it means no shinogi, no yokote line, as you see above illustration.  Standard tanto size is about 10 inches.  The width is not too wide not too narrow.  The Body is slightly thick.  High Gyo-no-mune (行の棟) and Shin-no-mune (真の棟)

13 Mune drawing

Hamon (刃文) —————- Tempered area is narrow.  Nioi base.  Irregular straight line(suguha midare) or straight line with small choji (suguha-choji).  Tempered edge line may show a frayed look.

Boshi(tempered line at Kissaki area) ———Yakizume.   Kaen.   Niekuzure

13 Hamon and Hi

Engravings (彫刻 ) ———- Often different kinds of engravings are done at the lower part of the body of Tanto.  They are groove (double or single), Sanskrit, spear(Suken), dragon, etc,.  For Sanskrit and spear, look at the illustration inside Chapter 9.

13 Hamon and Hi

Tanto Swords Smiths during Middle Kamakura Period

Awataguchi group(粟田口)———————————–Awataguchi Yoshimitu (粟田口吉光 )Rai group (来) ——————————————————————–Rai Kunitoshi(来国俊)Soushu Group (相州) ——————————————-Shintougo Kunimitu (新藤五国光)Bizen group (備前) ———————————————————Bien Kagemitu (備前景光)Bungo no Kuni Group (豊後の国) ———————-Bungo-no-kuni Yukihira (豊後の国行平)

12|Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)

12 time line

After the live experience of the war of Jokyu-no-ran, people started to move toward sturdier, grander, wider swords.  The swords made around this time is called Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先).  Ikubi means wild boar.  Ikubi Kissaki style sword has a style of stout look like a wild boar.  This is the era of the height of sword making.  Many top swords smiths created wonderful swords during this time.  It is said that there is no mediocre sword among Ikubi Kissai.

12 Ikubi Kissaki sword style

SUGATA(shape) —— Originally 3 feet or longer, therefore it is often shortened at the later time.  Wide width, thick Kasane (thick body) with Hamaguri-ha (蛤刃).  Hamaguri-ha means the thickness is shaped like a clam The width at the top and at the bottom is not much difference. Shinogi (鎬)is high, and shinogi width is narrow.  Illustration of Cross section  below.

12 蛤刃と鎬

KISSAKI  —— Ikubi kissaki. Ikubi means wild boar neck.  Wild boar looks like no neck, stout look shape.  Short Kissakii but wide at the yokote line.  The illustration below is exaggerated a little to show the idea.12 Ikubi Kissak drawing

Hamon (刃文) —— Kawazuko-choji(tadpole head shape). O- choji(clove like shape) and Ko-choji mixed.  Irregular waviness mixed with choji and straight, this is called suguha-choji.

12 Hamon Kawazuko-choji                     O-choji                          Ko-choji                  Suguha-choji     (tadpole head)                   (large clove)                (small clove)      (straight and clove)

 

Boshi(鋩子) ——— Yakizume as below.  Nagamitu(長光), Kagemitu( 景光), Sanenaga(真長) created Boshi called Sansaku Boshi(三作鋩子). Illustration below.

Yakizume                                                                      Sansaku-Boshi   12 Sansaku Boshi(三作

12 Yakizume

 

Ikubi Kissaki Sword Smiths

Fukuoka Ichimonji Group (福岡一文字) ———  Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (則宗)Kamakura Ichimonji Group(鎌倉一文字) ———- Kamakura Ichimonji Sukezane (助真)Soshu Bizen Kunimune Group(相州備前国宗)—- Soshu Bizen Kunimune (国宗)Bizen Osafune Group(長船)——————Bizen Osafune Mitutada(長船光忠) Nagamitsu(長光)   Ugai Group—————————————————– Ugai Unji (鵜飼雲次)

 

Sano Museum Catalogue (permitted)                                                                                   Osafune Nagamitsu(長船長光 )

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Osafune Mitsutada(長船光忠)                          Osafune Mitsutada(長船光忠)                        *was family sword

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