The circle indicates the subject discussed here
The last chapter 26, stated that the Edo period is from 1603 to 1868. This is according to political history. Also, when you look at the diagram above, 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 swords, it is more clear cut. Sword made from around 1596 (Keicho Era, 慶長) to 1781 (Tennmei 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, the country could enjoy a peaceful society. This peaceful time changed the geographic distribution where swords smiths lived. There are three major areas where sword making took place. Those are Kyoto, Osaka and Edo area. Then the rest of 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 people 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 to the local area. They produced swords like Tsuda Sukehiro ( 津田助広 ), Inoue Shinkai ( 井上真改 ).
Edo—-Because Tokugawa Iyeyasu was the shogun, many swords smiths gathered to Edo (Tokyo now, 東京). Here are 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、that is Tokugawa Iyemitsu, became Shogun (around Kanei era, 寛永1624 – 1643), swords smith’s geographical distribution spread to the other provinces. In each big Daimyo territory, swordsmiths had their shop near the castle, and they fulfilled the demand by daimyo and his followers. By the Genroku (元禄, 1695) era, swords making technic declined and people demanded picturesque designs like Kikusui (菊水, flower design) and Fujimi (富士見, Mount Fuji).
Difference between Koto (before 1596) and Shinto (after 1596)
Next part is about the difference between Ko-to and Shin-to. But keep in mind, there are always exceptions to this rule.
- 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 slightly stretched look.
- Koto sword feels light. Shinto feels heavy.
- Bo-hi ends around Yokote line. The Bottom of Hi ends round above Machi.
- In general, carvings are less common. Yet some swordsmith is famous for its carving. The design is fine and in detail.
- If it is mainly made with Nie, coarse Nie.
- Around Machi area (the bottom part of the illustration below), starts out with the straight tempered line, then Midare or different types of Hamon, then finish with Suguha (straight Hamon) around Boshi (the top part of the illustration below). This type of Hamon is done in general, there is always an exception.
- All the area in Japan, sword material (iron) is the same kind. Very hard, dark color, and glossy.
- The Nakago has a properly balanced shape. The tip of Nakago it gradually narrows down. The type of Yasurime (file mark) is Kesho-Yasuri. Engraved inscriptions show name, area, and province, with an imperial era.