21 Muromachi period Timeline

The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

Long strife between North and South Dynasty ended.  Even though the government was corrupted at the latter part of the Muromachi Period, at least until the “Onin-no-Ran”, (refer 21 Muromachi period historyMuromachi period was a rather peaceful time.  Nanboku-Cho style long sword became useless and they were shortened.  This is called Suriage.  In general, the Muromachi period was a declining time for sword making.

Tachi and Katana

Until the end of the Nanboku-Cho period, the sword was suspended from the waist, cutting side faces down.  Swordsmiths inscribed their names facing out when it was worn.  That means when you see the inscription, the cutting side comes right.  This is called Tachi.  Around the Muromachi period, swords were worn inside the belt, the cutting side up, and the inscription of the name facing out when it is worn.  That means when you see the inscription, the cutting side comes left.  This is called the Katana.  Samurai usually wore one pair of swords together called Dai-Sho(大小), that means large and small.  A longer one is Katana and the shorter one is Wakizashi.  In general, Tachi is longer and Katana is shorter, Wakizashi is even shorter but longer than Tanto. The difference between Tachi and Katana comes from the way it was worn, not the length.

2b Tachi & Katana difference

O-Suriage ( shortened 磨上げ)

When the shortened (suriage) sword was appraised as a valuable one, Hon’ami family (Connoisseur family continued many generations) judged the make of the sword and wrote sword smith’s name on the front side of the hilt and signed the connoisseur’s name on the back of the hilt.  When the sword was shortened a lot, it is called O-Suriage.

 Shu-Mei (朱明 )———————————————————-name written in Vermilion Kinpun-Mei (金粉名 )———————————————-name lacquered in gold powder  Gin-Zougan (銀象嵌 )————————————————————-name inlaid in silver Kin-Zougan (金象嵌 )—————————————————————name inlaid in gold

Shape (Sugata 姿)———Usually approximately 2 feet 3 or 4 inches (71cm) long. The shape of the Muromachi period Katana is somewhat like Heian period Tachi style.  But Muromachi Katana is not as grand, not as graceful as Heian period sword.  They are Koshizori.  Koshizori shape means the highest curvature comes lower than the center of the blade.  Suitable length and shape for wearing inside the belt. The width and the thickness of the sword are well balanced with the length.  Small Kissaki.

Hirazukuri-Wakizashi———–Hirazukuri means a flat surface with no Shinogi and no Yokote line.  Usually One foot and 1 or 2inches long.  No curvature.  Hirazukuri-Wakizashi appeared During Muromachi time.

 

22 Muromachi sword shape

Hamon (tempered line 刃文) ———————- Nioi base. Tempered are is well balanced to the width of the blade.  Koshi-hiraita-midare mixed with Choji midare.

22Hamon (Koshi Hiraita midare)
from Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

 

Boshi ————– Midare-komi, short turn back. Midare is irregular wave like hamon pattern.  Look at the illustration above.

Jitetsu (地鉄)  area between the tempered line and Shinogi)————Soft look, large wood grain pattern, Jiutsuri (faint smoke or cloud-like effect) shows.

Horimono (carvings 彫物) ———- Bo-hi (single groove), Soe hi (narrow groove), Futasuji hi (double narrow groove), Sanscrit, Tokko- tsuki –ken, Tsume-tuki-Ken, Names of God, Dragon.  Carvings became elaborate.

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji20 Tokko, tume Ken

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sword Smiths during Muromachi Period

Bizen Den ———-Osafune Morimitsu (長船盛光), Yasumitsu (康光), Moromitsu (師光)      Yamashiro Den———————————————–Yamashiro Nobukuni (山城信国)

 

22 Muromachi sword from Sano
From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)Bizen Osafune Naomitu (備前長船尚光)
img057
Ise Masashige (伊勢正重) Family owned.               Classified as Juyo Token(重要刀剣)

 

8 thoughts on “22|Muromachi Period Sword

  1. Hello. I really enjoyed your paper and greatly appreciated the way that you presented it. I have been struggling with finding out who the sword smith was on a wonderful tanto that I discovered from the above mentioned period. I would greatly appreciate it if you would take a moment to view the tanto and signature. I will send the images abboone your approval.

    Regards

    Eric Sheffield

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      1. Thank you again. I have forwarded you a link through comments. Please let me know if you didn’t receive it or it does not work.

        Regards
        Eric

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  2. Thank you so much for your time. Please let me know if you have trouble with the link below. It was the only way that I could figure out how to get the image to you. It’s through IMGUR.
    Regards;
    Eric

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      1. Thank you so much for your time and translation. I will dig deeper into it over time and figure this one out. It’s so special to think that this sword was being created when so much of the rest of the world was still so crude. The Japanese culture is so special to me and yet I have never been to japan.

        Thank you again

        Eric Sheffield.

        On Tue, Feb 5, 2019 at 2:54 PM Study of Japanese Sword wrote:

        > Yurie Endo 遠藤由利江 commented: “It looks like it says, 備前長船住[?] [?] (Bizen > Osafune Jyu [?] [?] ). [?] [?] is not readable. Please don’t quote me on > this. It is only by the picture. I don’t want to take responsibility. Yurie > ” >

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  3. Good morning Yuri san
    I have recently found your paper and find it very informative and easy to digest . Please continue to write, do you have a website i can visit.
    I am a iaido practitioner and a recent member of the english Token society
    Thank you for passing on your knowledge
    Robert (london)

    Like

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