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.
Kyoto— Umetada 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 lived. The 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.