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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.
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)
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).
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)