27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地)

0-timeline - size 24 Shin-to

 

                            The red circle indicates the subject we discuss in this section

In Shinto time, there were seven main prosperous areas where many swordsmiths gathered and actively made swords.  Those are Yamashiro (山城) in Kyoto, Settsu (摂津) in Osaka, Musashi (武蔵 ) in Edo, Hizen (肥前) in Saga, Satsuma (薩摩) in Kagoshima, Echizen (越前) in Fukui,  and Kaga (加賀) in Kanazawa.  Swordsmiths of each area shared their own common regional characteristics of these places.  Knowing each of these characteristics is the easiest way to understand Shin-to.  But keep it in mind that each swordsmith in one group also has his own unique way of sword making.  The followings are general descriptions of these characteristics.

Below is a map of Japan.  Hokkaido is omitted from the map because swords were not made there at that time.

64Map with number with 8

1.  Yamashiro (山城) Kyoto

Yamashiro Shin-to sword has a solid and strong look.  Hamon at the lower part of the blade right above the Machi (区) area shows Suguha (straight hamon).  This is called Kyo-yakidashi (京焼出), which means starting with a straight Hamon.  Then it shows a sudden change to the design of O-midare (大乱).  O-midare (irregular waviness) becomes less wavy at one or two inches below the Yokote line, then continues into the Boshi as a wavy Hamon.  The design in the Boshi is Komaru-boshi.   See the illustration below. 

Ji-hada ———— Somewhat rough (this depends on the swordsmith).  Masame-hada (straight grain pattern) may show on Shinogi-Ji (the area between ridgeline and back). 

Among Yamashiro Shin-to group, there was a group called Mishina Group (三品).  They were Mino Den (美濃) related.  Therefore, their Boshi was often Jizo-boshi (地蔵鋩子).  This is called Mishina-boshi ( 三品鋩子).  Jizo-boshi is a look of the side of a man’s head.

Well known swordsmiths in Yamashiro area: Umetada Myoju (梅忠明寿)                                                                                                   Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広)                                                                                               Dewadaijyo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)

28 Mishina-Boshi Komaru-boshi, Kyo-Yakidashi

img067 Iganokami Kinnmichi (伊賀守金道) Yamashiro Den previously owned by my family 

2.Settu (摂津) Osaka (大阪)

Settsu (Osaka) created more Wakizashi than Katana.  They tend to make it slightly Sakizori (top half curves outward) and slightly stretched Boshi.  Settsu sword also has Yakidashi the same way as the previous Yamashiro sword.  Yet, unlike Yamashiro’s sword, in the area where Suguha changes into Notare (wavy pattern), the transition is not sudden but relatively smooth.  This is called Osaka Yakidashi.

Osaka Boshi ————–Hamon continues up to the Yokote line, then Komaru with a turn.  Ji-hada————-Very fine, almost no pattern, slid surface like especially Shinogi-ji (between ridgeline and back).  This is called Osaka-tetsu (iron).

29 Osaka Yakidashi Komaru Boshi

Well-known swordsmiths in Settsu area— Osaka Tsuda Sukehiro (大阪津田助広)                                                                                 Tsuda Sukenao (津田助直)                                                                                                   Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子 忠綱)

img073

 Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子忠綱) previously my family owned

26 |Over view of Shinto (新刀概要)

27 Shinto time line                                    The circle indicates the subject discussed here

The previous chapter 25 stated that the Edo period is from 1603 to 1868.  This is according to political history.  Also, when you look at the diagram above, the Azuchi Momoyama period overlaps into the Edo Period.  Some people think the Azuchi Momoyama period is from 1575 to 1600.   Around this time, the division of the period has several opinions as regards to political history.   For sword history, it is more clear cut.  Sword made from around 1596 (Keicho Era, 慶長) to 1781 (Tenmei Era, 天明) is called Shinto.  The sword made after that until the Meiji period is called Shin-Shinto. 

After Toyotomi Hideyoshi almost united the country, people could enjoy a peaceful society.  This peaceful time changed the geographic distribution where swords smiths lived.  There are three major areas where sword forging took place.  Those are Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo area.  Then the rest of the swordsmiths were gathered around each big Daimyo‘s (大名 feudal lord ) territory near their castles.

KyotoUmetada Myoju (梅忠明寿) group thrived.  Followed by the swordsmiths like, Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広 ), Kunimichi (国路 ), Kunisada (国貞), and Kunisuke (国助).

Osaka— Osaka became a commercial city and became the center of commerce.  They made swords and distributed them to the local area.  Swordsmiths in Osaka : Tsuda Sukehiro ( 津田助広 ), Inoue Shinkai ( 井上真改 ).

Edo—-Many swords smiths gathered to Edo (Tokyo now, 東京) where the Shogun Tokugawa Iyeyasu livedThe well-known swords smiths in Edo at this time:  Nagasone Kotetsu (長曽祢虎徹), Yasutsugu (康継), Noda Hannkei (野田繁慶).

By the time the grandson of Tokugawa Iyeyasu,  Tokugawa Iyemitsu became Shogun (around Kan’ei era, 寛永1624 – 1643), swordsmiths spread to the other provinces.  In each big Daimyo territory, swordsmiths had their shop near the castle, and they fulfilled the demand by the Daimyo nearby and his followers.  By the Genroku (元禄, 1695) era, swords making declined and people demanded picturesque designs of Hamon, like Kikusui (菊水, flower design) and Fujimi (富士見, Mount Fuji).

63 fuji sakura hamon
Fujimi                                   Kikusui

Difference between Koto  and Shinto 

The next part describes the difference between Ko-to and Shin-to.   But keep in mind, there are always exceptions to this rule.

1.  The length of the Shinto Katana is usually about 2 feet and 3 inches ± a little.   Wakizashi is 1 foot and 6 inches ± a little.   Shallow curvature.  Wide width.  Thick body.   Gyo-no-Mune.  Chu-Gissaki with a slightly stretched look.13 Mune drawing

2.  Koto sword feels light.  Shinto feels heavy.

3.  For Shinto, Bo-hi ends around the Yokote line. The Bottom of Hi ends round above Machi.

27. Hisaki & marudome

4. In general, for Shinto, carvings are less common. Except, some swordsmith is famous for its carving.  The design is fine and in detail.  Umetada Myoju (埋忠明寿) is famous for its carvings.

5.  For Shinto, if it is mainly made with Nie, it is coarse Nie

6.  Around the Machi area (the bottom part of the blade in the illustration below), Hamon starts with a straight tempered line, then Midare, or different types of Hamon comes in the middle, and it finishes with Suguha (straight Hamon) in the Boshi area (the top part). In general, this is the standard pattern of Hamon style of Shin-to, but there are always exceptions.

27 Keshou Yasuri & suguha

7.  For Shin-to, the blade had the same kind of iron throughout Japan.  Not many variations of iron were used in a different area.  Very hard, dark color, and glossy.

8.  The Nakago has a properly balanced shape.  The bottom of Nakago narrows down gradually.  The type of Yasurime (file mark) is Kesho-yasuri.  Engraved inscriptions show name, location, and province, with the year of an imperial era.

27 Keshou Yasuri & suguha

25| Edo Period History (江戸時代歴史1603 – 1867)

0-timeline - size 24 edo Period        The circle indicates where we are discussing in this chapter.

Between the Sengoku period (戦国時代) and the Edo period (江戸時代) on political history, there was the time called the Azuchi Momoyama period (安土桃山).  It was from around 1573 to 1614, as shown in the third (bottom) timeline above.  This was the time when Oda Nobunaga (織田信長), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉), and Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康) played central roles in politics.

After Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康) won the battle of Sekigahara (関ヶ原の戦い) in 1600 and defeated Toyotomi’s vassals (Toyotomi Hideyoshi had already been deceased by then), Tokugawa Iyeyasu became the Shogun (将軍) in 1603.  This is the beginning of the Edo Period (江戸).  In sword history, as you see in the middle timeline above, the Edo period comes right after the Sengoku period.

At the end of the Sengoku period and during the Azuchi Momoyama period, the economy grew a lot, and new culture flourished.  The gorgeous and spectacular art, such as paintings, architecture, interior decorations, and handicrafts, were created.  The tea ceremony was developed by Sen No Rikyu (千の利休), and Kabuki also began to be performed around this time.  It was somewhat similar to the European Renaissance.  Strangely, this new art emergence happened at the same time in Japan and Europe.

Around this time, many Europeans came to Japan.  That was the time of the exploration of the East by Europeans.  They were from England, Spain, Holland, and Portugal.  The novel “Shogun” by James Clavell was based on the real people’s stories, William Adams, and Jan Joosten Van Londersteyn*¹ at the time.   You can see Jan Joosten’s statue in Tokyo Station today.  On my yearly visit to Japan, I stay at a hotel near Tokyo Station.  I often pass in front of “Yan Yoosten’s” statue.   It is located inside the Tokyo Station, underground in the middle of the bustling shopping area.  It can be very easily missed unless you look for it.  There is another statue of him outside the Station.

Shogun Tokugawa Iyeyasu hired William Adams and Jan Joosten (Japanese call him Jan Joosten, not his full name) as his advisers, and he acquired information on Europe from them.  Shogun Tokugawa Iyeyasu  treated them well.  The area where Jan Joosten lived is now called Yaesu (八重洲) after his name, Jan Joosten.  William Adams changed his name to Miura Anjin and lived in the Miura area, approximately one hour and a half south by train from Tokyo today.  The records of these two people are well kept and can be found easily.

Europeans brought many European goods and ideas.  Although Christianity became popular and widely spread in the early Azuchi Momoyama period, Toyotomi Hideyoshi banned it later.  After the Meiji Era (1868), religious restriction was lifted.

The Edo period began when Tokugawa Iyeyasu became the Shogun (1603).  It last until the Meiji (明治) Restoration in 1868.  During the Edo period, Tokugawa Bakufu (Tokugawa government) is the only entity that governed the country.  The emperors existed, but the political power was shifted to the Tokugawa Bakufu.

Gradually, ports for the European ships were limited.  Eventually, Spaniards were not allowed to come to Japan, then Portuguese.  Japanese were forbidden to travel abroad.  By around 1640, a port town called Dejima in Hirato in Nagasaki prefecture was the only place in Japan that opened for foreigners to do business with the Japanese.  From Europe, only the Dutch were allowed to come.  Japan closed the country to the outside world until the Meiji Restoration (1868).

During the Azuchi Momoyama period and the early part of the Edo period, many European ships visited Japan.  Strangely, many of them shipwrecked near the shores around Japan.  One of the reasons is that Japan is a volcanic island.  Even if the sea’s surface does not show anything sticking up from the water, there are many obstacles underneath, such as underwater mountains and massive hidden reefs.  The Europeans did not have the waterway information that was common to the Japanese seamen.

Additional stories to share just for a fun

Another reason why many ships were wrecked was that those ships were looking for gold.  When Marco Polo traveled to China, he heard from Chinese people that there was a small island country further to the east.  This country was wealthy, and the emperors’ palace was made of gold and silver.  After Marco Polo went back to Italy, he wrote a book (in late 1300) about his journey and published it.  In his book, he mentioned what he heard in China about the island country, Japan, even though he never visited Japan himself.  The book was widely read in many countries in Europe.  When traveling to the East became possible for Europeans, they came to Japan to find gold.

Yes, Japan produced a large amount of gold.  But for the Europeans, it was too late.  By then, most of the gold was mined by the Fujiwara family in the Oh-shu area (奥州 Northern part of Japan).  The area includes today’s Aomori, Akita, Fukushima, and Miyagi prefectures, where the big Tsunami hit a few years back.  Toyotomi Hideyoshi also owned many gold mines but already mined as much as possible with the skills they had then.  Japan used to have many gold and silver mines all over the country.  Those mines were already exhausted, and only a few were left for mining today.

Throughout history, there have been facts and rumors about “Maizo-kin: 埋蔵金.”  Maizo-kin is gold buried or hidden by the people like Tokugawa Shogun, Hideyoshi, and wealthy daimyos and merchants.  Without having today’s banks’ vault, burying in a secret places is the only way to store gold then.  Several Maizo-kins have been found, including one in the middle of Tokyo, Ginza.  There are still several big ones that haven’t been found yet.  Those are said to be Hideyoshi Maizo Kin, Tokugawa Bakufu Maizo-kin, and a few more big onesAlthough several maps indicated the locations of the Maizo-kin, those maps were fake, of course.  Today, whenever the ground is dug to build a big building structure, people start talking about a possible discovery of big Maizo-kin.

Gold flowed out to outside Japan little by little over the centuries until the Meiji Restoration time.  Because the exchange rate between gold and silver was much cheaper in Japan compare to the rest of the world.  Today, we still mine gold only on a small scale because mining cost is too high.

It is said that the name of the country, Japan, comes from Marco Polo’s book.  He called our country “Chipangu,” which means “gold country” in his book.*²   “From “Chipangu” to “Zipang” to “Jipang,” it eventually evolved to “Japan.”  Japanese don’t call the country Japan but “Nihon” or “Nippon” (日本).

ヤン ヨーステン Jan Joosten van Lodenstijn https://www.weblio.jp    Or Jan Joosten van Londensteyn 

 *² Wikipedia “Names of Japan” or  Jipangu

26 map of Cipangu1492

Cipangu described in the 1492 Martin Beham glove.  From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository (Names of Japan)