The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section
Long strife between the 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”, (discussed in 21 Muromachi period history). Muromachi period was a rather peaceful time. Nanboku-Cho style long sword became useless, as a result, 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 one’s belt, the cutting side up, and the inscription of the name faces 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), which means large and small. A longer one is called Katana and the shorter one is called Wakizashi. In general, Tachi is longer and Katana is shorter, Wakizashi is even shorter but longer than Tanto. Here is the order of the length. Tachi > Katana > Wakizashi > Tanto The difference between Tachi and Katana comes from the way it was worn, not the length.
O-Suriage ( shortened a lot, 大磨上げ)
When the shortened sword (suriage) was appraised as a valuable one, the 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 and 3, 4 inches (71cm) long. The shape of the Muromachi period Katana is somewhat like the 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, 2 inches long. No curvature. Hirazukuri-Wakizashi appeared During Muromachi time.
Hamon (tempered line 刃文) ———————- Nioi base. Tempered area is well balanced to the width of the blade. Koshi-hiraita-midare mixed with Choji midare.
Boshi ————– Midare-komi, short turn back. See the above illustration. Midare is an irregular wave-like pattern.
Jitetsu (地鉄) An 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 ( accompanied thin groove), Futasuji hi (double narrow groove), Sanscrit, Tokko- Tsuki –ken, Tsume-Tsuki-Ken, Names of God, Dragon. Carvings became elaborate.
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)