17 | Late Kamakura period Tanto ——- Early Soshu-Den Tanto


The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

17 Soshu Tanto

Sugata (Style 姿)—-Three types exist as below

1. Takenoko-zori, slightly longer than the previous time (usually 10 inches long). Hirazukuri shape.  The width became a little wider than middle Kamakura period tanto.   ( Those are all described in 13|Tanto ( 短刀) Middle Kamakura Period.

2. Chukan-zori (back of the sword is straight), Hirazukuri wide Mihaba (width) with the meaty surface, Fukura kareru.

3. Saki-zori (top part bend to outward), Hirazukuri Fukura Kareru. (refer 9 Middle Kamakura – Yamashiro school)

17 Three Tanto

9 Boshi Fukura

Hi (樋)and engravings(彫刻)————-Often Hi (groove) shows on Mune side, sometimes Ken (spear) and Bonji (Sanskrit) are curved inside the wide Hi. (Refer 13 Tanto Middle Kamakura period for Hi, refer 9 Middle Kamakura- Yamashiro school).

17 Bonji Suken          17 Gomabashi Hi

Hamon (tempered line 刃文) ————- Hamon is almost same as the Late Kamakura period sword.   (refer 15 Late Kamakura Period.  Some Tanto may have wide Hamon and others may have narrow Hamon.  Often see the Tanto with the narrow Hamon at the bottom,  then wider Homon at the top.  The work of Hamon around Fukura area is the widest and most showy.

15 Late Kamakura Soshu Hamon17 Masamune Hamon

Jitetu (the area between Hamon and Shinogi 地鉄) ——-Jitetu is excellent.  Lot of Ji-nie (Nia work on Jitetu ) and Yubashiri and Chikei

17 Yubashiri, Chikei

Late Kamakura Period Early Soshu Den (style) Sword Smiths

Soshu den (school) ——————–Yukimitsu (行光), Masamune (正宗), Sadamune (貞宗) Yamashiro Den (school)———————–Rai Kunitsugu (来国次), Rai Kunimitsu (来国光) Yamato Den (shool) —————————————————- -Taema Kuniyuki (当麻国行) Ettchu Province ———————————————————-   Ettsu Norishige (越中則重) Chikuzen province————————————————-    Chikuzen Samoji (筑前左文字)


17 Enju Kuniyoshi
Enju Kuniyoshi – was family sword
17 Masamune Tanto
Masamune Tanto- Sano Museum Catalogu

16|The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)

15TimelineThe circle represents the time we are discussing in this section

Yamato province (Present Nara prefecture) is the area where sword making first started originally.  It is said that it was during the Nara period (710 to 704).  In early days, they forged swords with their primitive skills.  A large number of swordsmiths lived in the Yamato area at the beginning of the sword making but later time, they became less active.  Yamato Den style is somewhat similar to that of Yamashiro Den (School) which I described in the chapter of Late Heian to early Kamakura period.  At the end of the Kamakura period in the Yamato area, there were several powerful temples existed.  They had a strong political power and military power to control a large territory called Shoen (荘園) with their large number of worrier monks called Sohei (僧兵).  The most powerful group were called Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)*.   Nanto Sohei and other Sohei (僧兵) of the other temples demanded more and more swords to arm themselves.  This high demand of the swords from Sohei revitalized the Yamato Den (School) and led to increase in the number of the swordsmith in Yamato.   As a result, Yamato School became active again.

*Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)———Since around the 11th century, Buddhist temples became powerful under the protection of JoKo (former Emperor).  Those temples had a large number of Sohei  (low-level monks who also acted as soldiers) under them.  In the case when power struggles between the temples occurred, Sohei went to fight as a soldier in the battlefields.  Nanto Sohei were monk soldiers of Kofuku-Ji temple (興福寺).  Several large temples like Todai-Ji (東大寺) temple and other temples controlled the Yamato area.

Shape(Sugata姿) —————-1. Graceful Yamashiro style retained. 2. Shinogi is high.  3. Mune is thin.  4. Some group of Yamato school has shallow Sori (curvature).

16 Yamato sword cross section

Hamon (Tempered line)——-Narrow tempered line. Nie base (沸). Chu-suguha-hotsure (frayed medium straight 中直刃ほつれ), Ko-choji-midare (small clove-like pattern and irregular mixture 子丁子乱), Ko-midare ( fine irregular子乱), Ko-gunome-komidare (small irregular continuous half circle 小五の目小乱).  The main characteristic of Yamato school sword is Masame (straight grain), therefore, the tempered line often shows double straight line called Nijyu-ha, Hakikake (brushed sand) and Uchinoke (Crescent-shape line).

16 Hamon Yamato

Boshi (鋩子)———-Inside the Boshi area, straight grain pattern also appears. Yakizume, Kaen(refer 13 Tanto Middle Kamakura period), O-maru, Ko-maru, Nie-kuzure (refer 15 Late Kamakura Period)

13 Hamon and Hi15 O-maru Ko-maru Niekuzure


Jihada or Jitetsu (the area between shinogi and hamon )——Mostly Masame hada (straight grain pattern 柾目肌). Fine ji-nie, Chikei, and Yubashiri shows (refer 15 Late Kamakura Period).

16 Masame Hada

Nakago (Hilt)——————Often shows the finishing file design as shown below which is called Higaki yasuri (檜垣)

16 Higaki Yasuri

Names of the Yamato School Sword-smiths

Taima(当麻) Group————–Taima Kuniyuki(当麻国行) Taima Tomokiyo(当麻友清) Shikkake (尻懸) Group———————————————–Shikkake Norinaga (尻懸則長) Tegai (手掻) group —————–Tegai Kanenaga (手掻包永) Tegai Kanekiyo(手掻包清) Hoshou (保昌) group——Hosho Sadamune (保昌貞宗)Hosho Sadayoshi ( 保昌貞吉)

16 Shaya Ensou

15|Late Kamakura Period Sword

15TimelineThe circle represents the time we are discussing in this section

Beginning of Soshu style

After the Mongolian invasion, that is the later part of the Kamakura period, a new style of sword started to emerge.  Kamakura area became prosperous under the rule of Hojo(北条).  Many swords smiths moved to Kamakura.  They are Kunituna and his group of Yamashiro and Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真), Kunimune (国宗) of Bizen.  They are the origin of Soshu school (相州).  A star sword smith, Goro-Nyudo-Masamune (五郎入道正宗) appeared during this time.

15 Soshu sword with explanation

Shape (Sugata 姿)——-long Kissaki (O-kissaki 大切先) and medium Kissaki (Chu-Gissaki 中切先).  Top of Hi ends lower.  Hamaguri- ha was eliminated (became thinner).  Original length was 3 feet or but mostly shortened later time to 2 feet and 3 or  4 inches.  This is called O-Suriage(大磨上)

15 Kissak shape of 4

15 Hi ends lower

Hamon——————–You see narrow Hamon and wide Hamon.     

Narrow Hamon ——-Suguha (straight) mixed with Ko-choji (small clove) and Ko-gumome (continuous half circle like).  Small Nie base. (left drawing below)

Wide Hamon———–Notare (wavy) midare, O-gunome.  Nie base.  Ashi-iri (short line goes inward),  Inazuma (lightning-like line), Kinsuji (a gold line like)  appears on tempered line.  But Inazuma and Kinsuji require trained eyes to detect.  It is hard to notice the Inazuma, Kinsuji, etc. for beginners. (Right drawing below)

15 Late Kamakura Soshu Hamon

Boshi —————The Hamon from the lower part of the body of the sword continues into Boshi area then turn back a little or Yakizume.  You may also see O-maru  (large round), Ko-maru (small round), Kaen (flame like) and Nie-kuzure. Refer Chapter 13 for Yakizume and Kaen.

15 three boshi name


Jihada or Jitetsu (between shinogi and Tempered line)—– Strong Ji-nie (地沸), that is a sand-like small dots appears on Ji (other than the tempered line).  Yubashiri (cluster of Ji-nie),  Kinsuji (lined Nie looks like a golden line), Inazuma  (lightning-like irregular line) and Chikei (similar to Kinsuji appears on Ji-hada).

15 Yubashiri, Chikei, Inazuma

Late Kamakura Period Soshu School Sword Smiths

From Bizen———–Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) Kunimune (国宗 )   From Yamashiro ———————————-Touroku- Sakon- Kunituna (藤六左近国綱) 

Those above three are the beginning of Kamakura swordsmiths.  Later,Tosaburo-Yukimitu and his son, famous Goro-Nyudo-Masamune appeared.

Masamune Juttetsu  

Those who made Soshu Style in the other province

From Yamashiro (山城)—— Rai Kunitsugu (来国次), Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重) From Ettshu (越中) province ———————Gou- no-Yoshihiro (郷義弘) Norishige (則重) From   Mino (美濃) province ——————————————–Kaneuji (兼氏) Kinjyu (金重) From   Chikuzen (筑前) province ————————————————–Samoji (左文字)

15 Masamune (Sano) 15 Masamune hamon (Sano)     Goro-Nyudo-Masamune(正宗)   Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館図録) Permission granted    *Because Masamune lived in Kamakura which is a beach town, he was inspired by ocean wave.  Therefore his Hamon sometimes looks like wave design.

15 Masamune, Yoshioka Ichimonji