29| Bakumatsu Period History (幕末歴史)

 

0-timeline - size 24 Bakumatsu

The red circle above  indicate the time we discuss in this chapter

The Bakumatsu period is the last part of the Edo period on sword history.  See the red circle on the middle timeline above.  However, the Bakumatsu period is within the Edo period by political history.  There is not a clear-cut date when the Bakumatsu time starts from.

The AzuchiMomoyam period (安土桃山) is between the time when Oda Nobunaga (織田信長) deposed Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (将軍足利義昭) in 1573 and the time when Tokugawa Iyeyasu killed Toyotomi Hideyori (Hideyoshi’s son) at Osaka Winter Campaign in 1614 or when Tokugawa Iyeyasu became the shogun in 1603.  The Azuchi-Momoyama period was a short period when Oda Nobunaga(織田信長), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉), and Tokugawa Iyeyasu (徳川家康) were maneuvering the intricate political struggles.  During this time, the country flourished culturally and economically.  After a long wartime period, people finally saw the country getting reunited and the peaceful life waiting ahead. 

The stories of Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Iyeyasu have been the most popular stories for the Japanese.  Often the stories around this time are depicted on TV programs and in movies.  The Edo period was the time when the Tokugawa family ruled Japan. 

The Tokugawa government was called the Tokugawa Bakufu.   Throughout the Edo period, the Tokugawa family’s direct line, usually the firstborn sons, became the shogun.  Yet, the emperors co-existed at the same time.  Even though they did not have political power, the emperor’s family still held imperial status.

During the Edo period, it was a very peaceful time.  Unlike the previous period, there were no wars.  Yet, later in the period, the long-last Edo period (last approximately 260 years) became stagnated and began showing structural and financial problems in the ruling.  This is the Bakumatsu (幕末) time, which means the last part of the Edo Bakufu

In the previous chapter, Chapter 25, Edo Period History explained that the Edo Bakufu closed the country to the outside world for most of the era.  The only place in Japan with access to foreign countries was Dejima in Nagasaki (Southern part of Japan).  During the Bakumatsu period, several European ships came to Japan asking (more like demanding) Japan to open ports for water and other whaling ships’ supplies.  Also, some countries wanted to trade with Japan.   Those countries were England, Russia, America, and France, etc.

In 1792, the Russian government sent an official messenger to Japan demanding it to open up for trades.  In 1853, Commodore Perry from the U.S. appeared with four massive warships at a port called Uraga (浦賀: Kanagawa prefecture now) and demanded Japan to open ports for water, fuel, and other supplies for the U.S. whaling ships. 

At the end of the Bakumatsu time, the Tokugawa Bakufu faced political and financial difficulties governing the country.  Also, intellectual people were afraid that Japan might get into trouble like China, the Opium War(1840 -42), caused by England.  The pressures to open the county were building up.  It became apparent that Japan could no longer continue to close the country.  In such a time, Commodore Perry appeared at Uraga with four huge black warships that demanded Japan to open the country.  These warships scared the Japanese and excelled the big wave of anti-Bakufu movement.    The Meiji Revolution was ready to happen, and Perry’s warships were the last blow.

Tokugawa Bakufu made treaties with several foreign countries and opened a few ports for trades.   The Bakufu’s authority was lost, and Japan was divided into several different political groups.  While they fought chaotically, the Meiji Restoration movement continued.  In 1868, the Tokugawa Bafuku moved out of the Edo Castle in Edo (now Tokyo), and the Meiji Emperor moved in.  The Meiji Shin Seifu (Meiji new government) was established centering the Meiji Emperor, and the Tokugawa Bakufu ended. 

Commodore-Perry-Visit-Kanagawa-1854       File:Commodore-Perry-Visit-Kanagawa-1854.jpg      From ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/黒船 Public Domain

Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s visit of Kanagawa, near the site of present-day Yokohama on March 8, 1854. Lithography. New York: E. Brown, Jr.

28|Shin-to Sword — Main Seven Regions (part B 主要7刀匠地)

29 Shinto Timeline
   The red circle indicates the subject of this chapter

64Map with number with 8

3Musashi ( 武蔵 ) in Edo ( 江戸 )

The swords made in the Musashi area, katana and wakizashi, have a shallow sori (curvature).  Often the width of the upper part of the body tends to be narrow.  Usually, the Hamon starts with a small irregular pattern, gradually becomes a bigger irregular pattern, then a few inches under the yokote line, it becomes a small irregular pattern again.  The Boshi is usually Komaru-boshi.  The Ji-hada is somewhat rough.   Masame-hada shows on Shinogi-ji.

Well-known swordsmiths in Musashi ———————————-Noda Hannkei (野田繁慶)                                                      Nagasone Okisato Nyudo Kotetsu (長曽根興里入道虎徹)

img070

Nagasone Okisato Nyudo Kotetsu (長曽根興里入道虎徹) Once owned by my father.

  1. Echizen ( 越前 ) and 5. Kaga (加賀 )

Many swordsmiths from Mino (美濃) area moved to Echizen and Kaga area (#4  & 5 on the map above).  Therefore, the swords made in this area are called Echizen- seki, and Kaga-seki.  Refer to 23|Sengoku Period (戦国) Sword for Mino Den.  The style of Echizen Yasutsugu (越前康継) is similar to the one of Mino Den.

Well-known swordsmith in Echizen ————————-Echizen Yasutsugu (越前康継 )

  1. Hizen (肥前)

Both Katana and Wakizashi in Hizen have a well-balanced shape. Hizen area tends to make swords with Chu-suguha-hotsure (a medium-width straight Hamon that looks like frayed fabric.) with fine Nie (沸).  The Boshi has a regular clean line with uniform width tempered line, as shown in the illustration below.  If you see a Shinto sword which has Chu-suguha Hamon and a Boshi that looks like the one below, it is often made by Hizen Tadayoshi (肥前忠吉).  Very fine Ji-hada (surface), sometimes called Nukame-hada.

29 Hizen Tadayoshi Boshi

Well-known swordsmith in Hizen ———————————— Hizen Tadayoshi ( 肥前忠吉)

  1. Satsuma (薩摩 )

The swords made in Satsuma have a solid look for both katana and wakizashiKissaki (the top pointed area) is a little stretched.  Yakidashi (a few inches above Machi ) shows a small irregular HamonHamon is O-midare with coarse Nie called Ara-nie.  The Ara-nie forms Togari-ba (pointed pattern, see the drawing below)One of the characteristics of this region is Satsuma-nie.  That is, the Ara-nie around hamon continues and blends into the Ji-hada area.  Therefore, the border between Ha-nie and Ji-nie is unclear.  Inside the Hamon sometimes shows a thick line shaped like lightning.  This line is called Satsuma-no-imozuru (sweet potato vine)This is the most prominent feature of the Satsuma sword.  Boshi has a narrow-tempered line with a small irregular pattern.  This is called Satsuma-boshi.  On the Ji-hada surface, Chikei (a long dark line like) appears.  This is called Satsuma-gane (薩摩金).

29 Satsuma Togari-ba

Well-known swordsmiths in Satsuma ——————  Izunokami Masafusa (伊豆守正房)                                                                                                 Ichinohira Yasuyo (一平安代)                                                                                       Mondonosho Masakiyo (主水正正清)