30| Bakumatsu Period History (幕末)1781 – 1868

30 Bakumatsu timeline
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 center timeline above.  However, political history does not divide the Edo period and the Bakumatsu period.  It is not clear cut to divide the time.  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) at 1573 and the time when Tokugawa Iyeyasu killed Toyotomi Hideyori, (Hideyoshi’s son) at Osaka Winter War at 1614.   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, society was flourished culturally and economically.  After a long period of wartime, people could finally see the country is almost united and the peaceful society ahead.  The story of Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Iyeyasu is the most popular story for Japanese.  Often the stories around this time are depicted on TV programs and in movies.  The Edo period was the time the Tokugawa family ruled Japan.

Tokugawa’s government is called the Tokugawa Bakufu.   Throughout the Edo period, the direct line of the Tokugawa family, usually the firstborn son, became a shogun.  Yet the emperor co-existed at the same time.  They did not have political power, however, the emperor’s family had some status their own as an emperor.  During the Edo period, it was a very peaceful time.  Unlike the previous time, there were no wars.  Yet, the long last Edo period (last approximately 260 years) became stagnated, started to show the ruling structure problems and financial problems in the latter part.  This is the Bakumatsu (幕末) time, which means literally the latter part of the Edo Bakufu.  As I explained in a previous chapter (Chapter 26 Edo Period History), Japan closed the country to the outside world.  The only place Japan could contact with foreign countries was the place called Dejima in Nagasaki area (Southern part of Japan).  During the Bakumatsu period, several European ships came to Japan asking, more liked demanding us to open ports for water and other supplies for their whaling ships.  Also, some countries wanted to trade with us.   Those countries were like England, Russia, America, and France, etc.  In 1853, Commodore Perry from the U.S. appeared with four big warships at a port called Uraga (浦賀: Kanagawa prefecture now) demanding us to open the ports for water, fuel, and other supplies for the U.S. whaling ships.  At the end of the Bakumatsu time, Tokugawa Bakufu was facing the political and economic difficulty in governing the country.  Also, intellectual people were afraid that we may get into trouble like the one in China, the Opium War(1840 -42) caused by England.  Russian government sent us the messenger officially to open up for trades (1792).  The pressures to open the county were building up and surrounding us.  It became obvious that Japan could no longer continue to close the country.  The time like this, Commodore Perry appeared at Uraga and demanded us to open the country.  These four big warships scared Japanese and excelled in the big anti-Bakufu movement.  The Meiji Revolution was ready to happen, and  Perry’s warships were the last blow.

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

 

 

29|Shinto Sword – Main Seven Regions (part B)

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

 

29 Map with number 7

3Musashi ( 武蔵 ) in Edo ( 江戸 )

Both katana and wakizashi have a shallow sori (curvature).  Often the upper part width of the body tends to be narrower.  Often but not always, the hamon starts small irregular, gradually gets a little bigger irregular, then a few inches under the yokote line it becomes small irregular.  The boshi is Komaru-boshi.  The Ji-hada is somewhat rough.   Masame-hada shows on Shinogi-ji.

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

img070

Nagasone-Okisato-Nyudo-Kotetsu (長曽根興里入道虎徹) Previously family owned

  1. Echizen ( 越前 ) and 5. Kaga (加賀 )

Many swordsmiths from Mino (美濃) area moved to Echizen and Kaga area.  Therefore, the sword made in this area is called Echizen- seki, and Kaga-seki.  Refer to 24|Sengoku Period (戦国) Sword.  The style of Echizen Yasutsugu (越前康継) is similar to the one of Mino Den.

The name of the well-known swordsmith in Echizen is 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 a sword with Chu-suguha-hoture (medium width straight hamon with a frayed look) with fine nie (沸).  Boshi has a standard clean line with uniform width tempered line.  If you see a shinto sword with Chu-suguha and boshi 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

The name of the well-known swordsmith in this area is Hizen Tadayoshi ( 肥前忠吉)

  1. Satsuma (薩摩 )

The sword made in Satsuma has a solid look for both katana and wakizashiKissaki (the top point area) is stretched out a little.  Yakidashi (a few inches above machi ) shows small irregular hamonHamon is O-midare with coarse nie called Ara-nie.  The Ara-nie forms Togari-ba (pointed design, see below)One of the characteristics of this region is called Satsuma-nie.  It means that the Ara-nie around hamon continues into the Ji-hada area, therefore the border of Ha-nie and Ji-nie is unclear.  Inside hamon, sometimes shows a thick line shaped like lightning.  This is called Satsuma-no-imozuru (sweet potato vine)This is the biggest characteristic 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, a dark long line like chikei appears.  This is called Satsuma-gane (薩摩金).

29 Satsuma Togari-ba

The name of the well-known swordsmiths of this area

Izunokami Masafusa (伊豆守正房)   Ichinohira Yasuyo (一平安代 )  Mondonosho Masakiyo (主水正正清)