20 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀)

18 Nanbokucho time line

The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this section

The type of Tanto during the Nanboku-Cho Period was called  Hirazukuri-Kowakizashi-Sunnobi-Tanto.  Hirazukuri means a flat sword without the Yokote line and without Shinogi.  Ko-Wakizashi means a shorter sword.  Sun-Nobi Tanto means longer than standardThis is called Enbun Jyoji Kowakizashi Tanto.  It is called this way because the majority of this type was forged around Enbun, Jyoji Imperial era.  Imperial Era is that each time the Emperor changed, Japan changed the names of the era.  Enbun was from 1356 to 1361, Jyoji was from 1362 to 1368.

20 Enbun Jyoji Kowakizashi Tanto

Shape (Sugata 姿) ——-The length of Tanto should be 1 shaku or less.  Shaku is an old Japanese measurement unit, which is very close to 1 foot.  8.5 sun (old Japanese measurement unit) which is approximately 10 inches is the standard length Tanto called Jo-Sun Tanto.  Anything longer than Jo-Sun Tanto is called Sun-Nobi Tanto.  Anything shorter than Jo-Sun is called Sun-Zumari Tanto.  Most of the Nanboku-Cho Tanto is approximately 1 foot 2 inches long, therefore they are called Hirazukuri-Kowakizashi-Sun-Nobi TantoSakizori (curved at the top.  See the illustration above).  Wide width and thin body.  Fukura Kareru (No Fukura). Shin-no-Mune.  See the illustration below.

20 Fukura20 Shin-no-Mune

Hi, Horimono (Goove and engraving 樋, 彫刻) —– Groove on Mune side.  Bonji (Sanscrit, described in 17 Bonji Suken), Koshi-bi (Short groove) and Tokko- Tsuki Ken, or Tumetuki Ken (see below) appears.  Ken (spear) was curved wide and deep in the upper part, the lower part was curved shallow and narrower.  This is called Soshu-Bori.

20 Tokko, tume Ken

Hamon (Tempered line) —– Narrow tempered area at the lower part, it gradually grows wider as it goes up toward the top then same wide Hamon goes into the Boshi area.  Hamon in Kissaki area is Kaeri Fukashi (turn back deep) as the illustration below.  Coarse Nie. O-Midare (large irregular pattern).

20 Hitatsura
From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Jitetsu or Jihada —– Loose wood grain pattern called Itame.  Yubashiri (discussed in  17 Yubashiri, Chikei.jpg), Tobiyaki (Irregular patches of tempered metal) appears.  Crowded Tobiyaki is called Hitatsura (illustration above).

Nakago (Tang) —- Short Tanago-bara.

20 Tanago Bara

Sword-smiths during Nanboku-Cho Period Soshu Den(school)

Soshu Den ———————————————————-Hiromitu( 広光) Akihiro (秋広) Yamashiro Den ————————————————–Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重)   Bizen Den ——————————————————— Kanemitu (兼光) Chogi (長義 ) Arima Province ——————————————————Hojoji Kunimitsu (法城寺国光 )

20 Hiromitu (Sano Museum)

19|Nanboku-Cho Period Sword (North and South Dynasty Sword)

18 Nanbokucho time line

                           The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

During the Nanboku-Cho period, Samurai demanded large, elaborate and practical swords. Soshu Den style — elaborate, large, and impressive  —became the most popular style. Nanboku-Cho period was the height of the Soshu Den.  Many swordsmiths moved to Kamakura and forged Soshu Den style swords.  Other schools and provinces also made Soshu Den style swords in their own places.

19 Nanboku-cho Sword shape

 

Shape (Sugata 姿)—-Originally the length of the swords was 3, 4, 5, feet long, but shortened to approximately two and a half feet at a later time.  The sword shortened       a great length is called O-Suriage.  Nanboku-Cho sword has a shallow Kyo-zori shape (also called Torii-zori, refer 6. Heian period) — the highest curvature comes around the center of the body.  Widebody, high Shinogi, and narrow Shinogi-Ji (refer 4 Names of parts) and thin bodies are the characteristics of this time.  High Gyo-no-Mune or Shin-no-Mune, sometimes Maru-Mune (round back).

19 Nanboku-cho 3 kinds Mune

Hi, Horimono (groove and engraving 樋, 彫刻)—– On Shinogi-Ji area (refer 4 Names of parts), often appears Bo-hi (one groove), double hi, Bonji (Sanscrit), spear, Dragon engraved

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji

Hamon (Tempered line) —– Lower area of the body shows a narrow tempered line, a higher area of the body shows a wider showy tempered line.  Course Nie.  O- Midare (large irregular),  Hitatsura, Notare-Midare (wavy irregular), Gunome-Midare (repeating pattern of half-circular and irregular mix) are the common Hamon.  Inazuma, Kinsuji (refer 15 Late Kamakura Period sword) action appears

 

19 Hamon Notare 319 Mamon choji gunome19 Hitatsura Hamon Hiromitsu

*From Sano Museum Catalogue ( Permission granted).

 

Jitetsu or Jihada (between tempered line and Shinogi) (4 Names of parts)——Wood grain pattern (Itame 板目). Tobiyaki (patchy tempered spot in jihada) appears.

Boshi, Kissaki —– O-Kissaki (Stretched long Kissaki). Fukura kareru (no Fukura). Midare-Komi (tempered line continues into Boshi), with kaeri fukashi (look at the illustration above, deep turn back),  sometimes Ichimai (tempered entire Boshi).  Look at the above illustration.

Sword-smiths during Nanboku-Cho Period Soshu Den (school)

From Soshu————————————————————Hiromitu (広光) Akihiro (秋広  ) From Yamashiro ————————————————–Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重)  From Bizen (called So-den Bizen)————-Chogi (長儀 )group, Kanemitu (兼光 ) group From Chikuzen —————————————————————Samoji (左文字 ) 19 Chogi photo from Sano book

            The characteristics of the Nanboku-Cho time sword on the photo above                        *      The trace of Suken on Nakago indicates this sword was shortened a lot.                    *       Long Kissaki

18|Nanboku Cho Time History (North and South Dynasty History) 1333-1393

 

18-timelineThe circle indicates the time we are discussing in this section.

After Jokyu-no-Ran (11|Jokyu-no-ran ), the power of the Imperial court declined significantly.  The Hojo clan who were the main power during the Kamakura period began to have financial difficulty and started to lose control over the local lords.  One of the reasons was that the cost incurred by the Mongolian invasion.  The Kamakura Bakufu (government) could not reward the local lords who worked hard at this war. The local lords became very dissatisfied with the Kamakura Bakufu.  Seeing this as a chance, Emperor Go-Daigo twice attempted to attack Kamakura Bakufu but failed both times and he was exiled to Oki island.  Meantime, Ashikaga Takauji (足利尊氏) and several other groups of Samurai who were opposing the Kamakura Bakufu, gathered their power and succeeded in destroying the Kamakura Bakufu (1333). This ends the Kamakura period. Emperor Go-Daigo, who had been exiled to Oki island returned to Kyoto and attempted established political reforms.  This is called Kenmu-no-Chuko (建武の中興).  This new policy failed to satisfy most of the ruling class.  Taking advantage of this situation, Ashikaga Takauji attacked the Imperial court in Kyoto, deposed Emperor Go-Daigo and placed the other branch of the Royal family on the imperial throne.  But the Emperor Go-Daigo insisted upon his legitimacy, moved to Yoshino (located the South of Kyoto) and established a rival Imperial court.  Thus began the North and the South dynasty.  Much strife between the North and the South and also, both side had their own problems within themselves,  eventually, more Samurai groups went under the control of the North dynasty.  About 60 years later, the Southern dynasty was compelled and accepted the Ashikaga clan’s proposal.  Thus, established the North Dynasty as the legitimate imperial court.  This 60 year is the time called Nanboku-Cho or Yoshino-Cho period.  During the Nanboku-Cho period, Samurai demanded larger and showy, and practical swords.  Soshu Den was its height of their prominence.  That does not mean only the Soshu group made all the swords.  Other schools and other provinces also made Soshu Den style swords.

Well known Early Soshu-Den swordsmith (that is late Kamakura period time)

Tosaburo Yukimitu (藤三郎行光)   Masamune (正宗)      Sadamune (貞宗)

18 Masamune photo    18 Masamune hamon (Sano)

Masamune from Sano Museum Catalog (permission granted)

 

Well known Middle Soshu-Den swordsmiths (North and South dynasty time )

Hiromitsu (広光)    Akihiro (秋広)

18 Hiromitu photo 20 Hitatsura Hiromitsu Hitatura )

Hiromitsu from SanoMuseum Catalog (permission granted)

 

Well known Late Soshu-Den time  swordsmiths    (that is Muromachi period)

Hiromasa (広正)     Masahiro (正広)