13| Late Kamakura Period: Genko (鎌倉末元寇)

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

                         The circle represents the time we are discussing in this section

GENKO 元寇  (1274 and 1281)

The grandson of Genghis Kahn, Kublai Kahn attempted to invade Japan twice in 1274 and 1281.  Both times, a strong typhoon hit Japan.  Mongols sent a large number of soldiers with all kinds of supplies on a huge number of ships to Japan.  Those ships had to stay side by side and front and back very close to each other in the limited area offshore of Kyushu.   When the strong wind came, ships were swayed, hit each other and capsized.  Many people fell into the ocean, drowned and lost supplies in the water.  Even though Mongol soldiers landed and fought with the Japanese army, they did not have much choice but to leave Japan because of the typhoon and ships wrecking.   As a result of this strong wind, Japan was saved and looked as if it won.

This is the time the famous Japanese word, “Kamikaze” (divine wind) was created.  Actually, Mongols had many superior weapons than the Japanese.  They had guns, while the Japanese did not.  Their group fighting method was much more superior and effective than the Japanese one-to-one fighting method.

After the Mongolian invasion, the need for changing the style of the Ikubi Kissaki sword became obvious.  When swords were used in a war, the area most frequently damaged was the kissaki area.  Japanese soldiers used mostly Ikubi Kissaki swords in this war.  An  Ikubi Kissaki Tachi has a short Kissaki.  When a damaged area of the Kissaki was whetted out, the top part of the yakiba (tempered area) disappears and the hi (a groove) goes up too high into the boshi area (top triangle-like area).  Short Ikubi Kissaki becomes even shorter, and the hi goes up too high into the  boshi area.  Aesthetically, it is not  appealing.  Functionally, it does not work well.  To compensate for the flaw, a new style began to appear in the latter part of the Kamakura period.

14 Ikubi kissaki Damadge

During the latter part of the 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 appearance of swords.  Generally speaking, hamon and the shape of the body became showy and stronger looking.

Kamakura area became a very prosperous place under the power of the 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 (Soshu is the Kanagawa area now).  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 or 6 minutes’ walk from the Kamakura train station.  while I was attending the sword study group of Mori Sensei(teacher), one of the students I studied with was the 24th generation of direct descendants of Masamune.  Although he does not bear the name of Yamamura, he has been making  wonderful swords in Kamakura.  He also makes superb kitchen knives too.  The name of his shop is called “Masamune Kogei”, a short walk from the Kamakura train station.  To find his place, ask at the information center at the train station.

54 Yamamura 1 54 Honnkakuji 3         May 2019   Mr. Tsunahiro Yamamura and I                    Honkaku-Ji Temple

12| The Middle Kamakura Period Tanto (鎌倉中短刀)

0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura

The red circle indicates the area we discuss in this chapter 

It is very rare to see a tanto (small short sword) made during the Heian period.  During the 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 in the illustration above.  Standard tanto size is about 10 inches.  The width is well balanced to the size of Tanto that means 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).  The 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.  These may be a groov or two grooves, Sanskrit, spear (Suken), dragon, etc,.  For Sanskrit and spear, look at the illustration inside 8| Middle Kamakura Period (Yamashiro Den) 鎌倉中期山城伝

13 Hamon and Hi

Tanto group and Swordsmiths in the 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)

13 Rai kunimitsu Tanto photo 2  来国光(Rai Kunimitsu)

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA                         Creative common  Free media  Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)

12 time line
The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this chapter.

After the live experience of the war of Jokyu-no-ran (Chapter 11), 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 a wild boar neck.  Ikubi Kissaki style sword has a stout look like a wild boar neck.  This is the era of the golden time 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 swords.

12 Ikubi Kissaki sword style

SUGATA (shape) —— Originally 3 feet or longer, therefore it is often shortened at a later time.  Wide width, thick Kasane (thick body) with Hamaguri-ha (蛤刃).  Hamaguri-ha means the thickness of the sword is shaped like a clam (see below).  The width at the Yokote line area and the width at the Machi are not much different.  Shinogi (鎬) is high, and shinogi width is narrow.

12 蛤刃と鎬

KISSAKI  —— Ikubi kissaki.  Ikubi means a wild boar neck.  Wild boar looks like no neck, stout look shape.  Short Kissaki 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 a straight line and choji, 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, that is Hamon ends close to the tip, as below.  Nagamitu(長光), Kagemitu( 景光), Sanenaga(真長) created  Boshi called Sansaku Boshi(三作鋩子).  Sansaku Boshi narrows down at Yokote Line, Illustration below.

12 Yakizume
Yakizume
12 Sansaku Boshi(三作
Sansaku-Boshi

                                                  

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)

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From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)                                                                    Osafune Nagamitsu(長船長光 )

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Osafune Mitsutada(長船光忠)                          Osafune Mitsutada(長船光忠)                        *Were family sword This photo was taken by my father and writings on the white paper were written by him.