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. Mongols sent to Japan a large number of soldiers with all kinds of supplies on their huge numbers of ships. Those ships had to stay at a shore side by side and front and back very closely in the limited area of the shore of Kyushu. When the strong wind came, ships were swayed, hit each other and capsized. Many people fell, drowned and lost supplies in the water. Even though Mongol soldiers landed and fought with the Japanese army, because of the typhoon and ships wrecking, they did not have much choice but to leave Japan. As a result, Japan won. Actually, Mongols had many superior weapons than the Japanese. They had guns, the Japanese did not. Their group fighting method was much more superior and effective than the Japanese individual fighting method. This is the time the famous Japanese expression, “Kamikaze” (divine wind) was created.
After the Mongolian invasion, the need for 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). Short Ikubi Kissaki becomes even shorter, and Hi goes up too high into a Boshi area. Aesthetically, it is not an appealing look, functionally does not work. To compensate for this flaw, a new style began to appear in the latter part of the Kamakura period
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 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. His last name is Yamamura, he still makes 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.