This chapter is the continued part of chapter 6. Please read Chapter 6 before reading this section. I will be using more technical terms which were explained between chapter 1 to 33. For those who are not familiar with sword terms, any of part 2 should be read after chapter 1 to 33.
There are several schools (called Den 伝 ) of swordsmith during the Heian period. I will start using the word Den instead of school. They are Yamashiro Den (山城伝 ), Yamato Den (大和伝), Bizen Den ( 備前伝 )、Hoki-no-Kuni (伯耆 )、Buzen group (豊前 ), and Satsuma-no-Kuni (薩摩).
Yamashiro Den (山城伝 )
Among Yamashiro Den, the name of the sword, Mikazuki Munechika (三日月宗近 ) by Sanjo Munechika (三条宗近 ) is the most famous. Mikaduki means crescent. Because Mikaduki shape Uchinoke (collection of Nie) pattern appears on Hamon, it is named Mikazuki Munechika. It has graceful shape, narrow body, Koshizori, Funbari, and small Kissaki. It shows wood grain surface, Suguha with Nie mixed with small irregular, sometimes nijyu-ha (double libe二重刃 ) appears. Sanjo Munechika lived Sanjo area in Kyoto. His sword style was followed by his sons and grandsons, Sanjo Yoshiie (三条吉家 ), Gojo Kanenaga (五条兼永), Gojo Kuninaga (五条国永 ). Gojo is the area in Kyoto.
三日月宗近 東京国立博物館蔵 “刀剣のみかた” 広井雄一 Mikaduki Munechika Tokyo National Museum “Token no mikata” by Yuichi Hiroi
Houki -no-Kuni (伯耆の国 )
Houki-no-Kuni is today’s Tottori prefecture. This place is known for the place producing good steel. The sword name, Doujigiri Yasutsuna (童子切安綱 ) by Houki-no-Yasutsuna is the most famous one.
The characteristics of Yasutsuna’s sword———-It has a graceful shape with small Kissaki, narrow Hamon (often sugu-ha with ko-choji), course Nie on Hamon area, large wood grain mixed with masame on Ji-hada. Hamon area often shows Inazuma and Kinsuji. Boshi area is Yakizume, Kaen with small turn back.
伯耆の安綱 (Hoki no Yasutsuna) 佐野美術館図録 (Sano Musem Catalogue)
Bizen Den (備前伝 )
Bizen is Okayama prefecture today. Bizen is known for producing good steel. Since Heian period until now, Bizen has been famous for the sword making tradition. The sword making group in this area during the Heian period were called Ko-Bizen group. The most famous sword smith in Ko-Bizen group is Bizen Tomonari (備前友成 ) and Bizen Masatsune (備前正恒) and Bizen Kanehira (備前包平)
The characteristics of Ko-Bizen group———-graceful narrow-body, small Kissaki, narrow tempered line with ko-choji (small irregular) with Inazuma and Kin-suji. Ji-Hada is small wood grain pattern.
Bizen Kanehira (備前包平) Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館図録)
I saw Ko-Bizen Sanetsune (真恒 ) at Mori Sensei’s house. That was the one of the Kantei-To of the day. I received Douzen*ᴵ. The book written by Honami Koson was used as our textbook. Each time I saw a sword at Mori Sensei’s house, I put down the date on the swordsmith’s name in this book where the author explains about the smiths. It was Nov. 22, 1970. The deciding point was a narrow-body line, small Kissaki (that is Ko-Bizen Komaru), Kamasu and Suguha. Kamasu is the condition where the fukura of Boshi is much less, less rounded. When I think back, it is amazing we could see the sword like those for our study materials. Today, I forget things happened a week ago, but I can remember each sword I saw in those days.
Kantei-Kai is the study meeting. Usually, several swords were displayed hiding the Nakago. The attendees guess the name of the sword maker and hand in the answer sheet to the judge. The below is the grade.
Atari—–If the answer is the right on the exact name, you get Atari, that is the best answer.
Douzen*ᴵ—-The second one is Dozen, that is the subject sword made by the family, clan or within the group. It means almost right. Dozen is considered very good.
Kaido-Yoshi—– This means the same line, but not within the family.
Jidai Yoshi—-Each Kanntei-Kai has different grading systems. Some have Jidai Yoshi, that means the time or period is correct.
After all the answer is handed in and answer sheet is returned to the attendee, the judge reveals the right answer and explains about each sword.