9| «Part 2» Middle Kamakura Period —Yamashiro Den (鎌倉中期山城伝)

This is the second (detailed) section of Chapter 9.   Please read chapter 9 one more time before reading this chapter.

During Middle Kamakura Period, there are three main groups among Yamashiro Den.  They are Ayano-Koji (綾小路) group, Awataguchi (粟田口) group, and Rai (来) group.

Ayano-Koji group (綾小路 )

Names of Swordsmiths among Ayano-Koji:  Ayano-Koji Sadatoshi (綾小路定利) Sadanori (定則) .

When we refer to a certain group, we say, “xxx haxxx ippa   “, or  “xxx ichimon “.  We use those three words interchangeably.  For example, we say Ayano-Koji ichimon, indicate Ayano-Koji group.

Sugata (shape or figure) ———- In general, gentle or graceful Kyo-zori shape.  The difference between the width of the  Yokote line and the width of Machi is not much.  The sword is slender yet thick.  Small Kissaki                                   

Hi and Engraving ———- Bohi (one groove) or Futasuji-hi (double groove)        

Hamon ———- Nie base with Ko-choji (small clove shape) and Ko-midare (small irregular).   Small Inazuma and Kinzuji.   Double Ko-choji appears.                      

Boshi (tip area) ———- Ko-maru (small round), Yakizume (refer to the illustration below), and Kaen (flame like shape)  

Jitetsu ———- Small wood grain with a little Masame (straight grain)  Ji-nie       

Nakago (tang) ———- Long, slight fat feeling

Awataguchi group (粟田口)

Names of Swordsmiths among Awataguchi group:  Awataguchi Kunitomo (粟田口国友 ),  Hisakuni (久国),  Kuniyasu (国安),  Kuniyasu (国安), Kunikiyo (国清)

Many swordsmiths of Awataguchi group (or Awataguchi Ichimon) received the honor as the Goban Kaji from Gotoba Joko (Emperor Gotoba 後鳥羽上皇 ).  In general, their typical characteristic is as follows.

Sugata (Shape or figure) ———- Elegant shape  Torii-zori (or Kyo-zori)

Hi and Engraving ———- The tip of Hi are all the way up and fill in the Ko-shinogi The end of the Hi can be Maru-dome (the end is round),  Kakudome  (the end is square) or kakinagashi.

9 «part 2» 大小丸,焼詰,丸角止, 掻流     Maru-dome (rounded end)             Kaku-dome (square)                Kakinagashi

Hamon ———- The slightly wider tempered line at the bottom then the narrow tempered line at the top.  Nie base (this is called Nie honni).    Straight tempered line, straight-tempered line mixed with Ko-Choji (small clove)  or Ko-Choji.  Sometimes wide straight line mixed with Choji.  Awataguchi Nie appearance.  Awataguchi Nie means fine, deep and sharp shiny Nie around tempered line area.   Fine Inazuma (lightning) and Kinsuji (golden streak) appearance.

Boshi (tip area) ———- Ko-maru (small round)  or O-maru (large round) both return is sharrow.  Yakizume, Nie Kuzure, and Kaen (flame).Yubashiri

 

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Yakizume       O-maru       Ko-maru     Yakikuzure

Jitetsu ———- Fine Ko-Mokume(wood swirls) with Ji-nie.  Yubashiri, Chikei appears.       

Nakago ———- Often two letter inscription

Rai group ()

Names of swordsmiths among Rai group:  Rai Kuniyuki (来国行),  Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊) or Niji Kunitoshi (二字国俊),  Ryokai (了戒 )

Rai Kunitoshi is said to be Rai Kuniyuki’s son.  Ryokai is said to be Rai Kunitoshi ‘s son

A general characteristic of Rai Kuniyuki and Kunitoshi is as follows.  However, each sword has its own different characteristic.

Sugata (shape or figure) ———- Gracefull with dignity.  Thick body.  Rai made Ikubi Kissaki.                                                                                                                 

Hi and Engravings ———- Wide and shallow Hi.                                             

Hamon ———- Nie base.  Suguha (straight), wide suguha, ko-midare (small irregular), and choji  (clove).  Sometimes large choji at the lower part and narrow suguha at the top.  Inazuma and Kinsuji appear around yokote area.

Boshi ———-  Komaru, Yakizume (refer to the illustration above)

Jitetsu ———- Finely forged Itame (small wood grain) sometimes mixed with masame (parallel grain).  Fine Nie.  Rai group sporadically shows Yowai Tetsu which means weak surface.  This may be the core iron.

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Rai Kuniyuki (来国行)Juyo Bijutsuhin   (重要美術品)Once family owned Photo taken by my father with his writing on the left

 

9 «part 2» Rai Kuniyuki photo.jpg

Rai Kuniyuki (来国行)Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館)  permission granted

 

 

8|«Part 2» Overview of the Kamakura Period Sword 1192-1333

This is the second part of chapter 8.

Kamakura period was the golden age of sword making.  Approximately, half of the well-known swords at present time was made during the Kamakura period.  Probably because of the war between Genji and Heishi demanded large number of swords, and had a live experience to improve the sword.  Also, Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽) invited many able swordsmiths to his palace and treated them highly and encouraged them to create a good sword by giving them the ranks.  During the Kamakura period, the technique of sword making improved greatly.

Middle Kamakura Period —- Yamashiro Den (山城伝)

Middle Kamakura period was the height for the Yamashiro Den.  Among Yamashiro Den, there are three major groups (or families).  They are Ayano-koji group (綾小路 ) Awataguchi group (粟田口), and Rai group (来).  Among the  Awataguchi group, six swordsmiths received the honor of the “Goban-kaji “ from the Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽上皇 ).  Awataguchi is the name of the area in Kyoto.  Ayanokoji ( 綾小路 ) group lived at Ayanokoji area in Kyoto.  My sword textbook had a note that I saw Ayanokoji Sadatoshi (綾小路定利 ) on March 22nd, 1972.  The note said O-Suriage, Funbari, narrow body and jinie.  I should have written more in detail then, had I known I am writing the website in the future.  Rai group started from Rai Kuniyuki (来国行 ).  Rai Kuniyuki and Ayanokoji Sadatoshi are said to have a close friendship.  Rai Kuniyuki created many noted swords.  His famous Fudo Kuniyu (不動国行) was owned by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru (将軍足利義輝 ) then changed hand to Matsunaga Danjo (松永弾正)  then to Oda Nobunaga ( 織田信長 ) to Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀 ), then to Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉).  This sword was held by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s arm for the memorial service of Oda Nobunaga.  Rai Kuniyuki’s son is Niji Kunitoshi.  He also created noted swords.

Middle Kamakura Period —– Bizen Den (備前 )

Bizen Den in Heian period is called Ko-Bizen.  They are similar to the one to Yamashiro-Den style.  The height for the Bizen-Den was Middle Kamakura period.  Bizen (Okayama prefecture now) has many ideal aspects of sword making.  The weather is good, produced good steel, abundant fuel nearby, and conveniently situated.  Naturally many swordsmiths moved there and became the main place to produce swords.  Bizen made a large number of swords, their quality level is higher than any other places, and more famous swordsmiths came out.  Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (則宗) and his son Sukemune (助宗 ) received the honor from the Emperor Gotoba.  Among the Osafune group(長船), famous Mitsutada (光忠) and Nagamitsu (長光)appeared.  My father owned four Mitsutada.  Three Tachi and one Tanto.  He was so proud that he owned four Mitsutada, he made his tailor monogrammed inside of his suite as Mitsutada.  From Hatakeda group (畠田), Hatakeda Moriie (畠田守家), from Ugai (鵜飼) group, Unsho (雲生 ), Unji (雲次), and Kunimune (国宗) appeared.  Because of a large number of the swordsmiths in Bizen, a large number of swords exists, also, each swordsmith has its own characteristic, Kantei for Bizen can be a very complex process.  This is the time Ikubi Kissaki started to appear.

The below are my father’s four Bizen Osafune Mitsutada.  My father took those pictures many years ago at home by himself.  You can see he is not much of a photographer.  The writing on the square white paper is written by him.  He wrote the name of the swordsmith, the period it was made, which Daimyo owned in the past and classification.

The classification of the sword from the top

1. National treasure     2.Juyo Bunkazai      3.Juyo Bijutu Hin       4.Juyo Token                        The rest is omitted

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Bizen Osafune Mitsutada  (Juyo Bunkazai)      Bizen Osafune Mitsutada  (Juyo Bunkazai)

 

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Bizen Osafune Mitsutada  (Juyo Token)           Bizen Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Bunkazai )

 

Late Kamakura Period —– Soshu Den (相州伝 )

At the end of the Kamakura Period, Yamashiro Den started declining.  At this time, many swordsmiths moved to Kamakura area under the new power of Kamakura Bakufu (鎌倉幕府) by the Hojo clan.  The new group, Soshu Den (相州伝 ) started to emerge.  From Bizen, Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) and Kunimune (国宗) moved to Kamakura.  From Yamashiro Den Awataguchi, Kunitsuna (国綱) moved to Kamakura.  Those are the one who originated the Soshu Den in Kamakura area.  Kunitsuna’s son is Tosaburo Yukimitsu, then his son is famous Masamune ( 正宗 )Other than Kamakura area, Rai Kunitsugu (来国次), Go-no-Yoshihiro  (郷義弘) from Ettshu (越中) province, Samoji  (左文字) from Chikuzen province (筑前) were the active swordsmiths.

 

 

7|«Part 2» Kamakura Period History 1192 – 1333

This section is a little detail of the first part of Chapter 7.

Taira-No-Kiyomori (平清盛)

As I described in Chapter 7, at the end of the Heian period, two major Samurai groups, the Genji (源氏) and the Heishi (平氏) existed.  The head of the Genji is Minamoto-no-Yoshitomo (源義朝) and the head of the Heishi is Taira-no-Kiyomori.  They were childhood friends.  Because of the political situation, they became enemy.  The Genji side lost.  After the Heishi won, Taira-noKiyomori became very powerful.  He gave his men high positions, and his daughter marries to the emperor.  His power even went beyond the Emperor.  This is the time it is said that if  “you are not a part of the Heishi family, you are not a human being”.   The situation like this created too many opponents.  Eventually, the Genji and other Samurai group raised the army, fought against the Heishi and the Heishi lost.  While Taira-no-Kiyomori was in power, he started the active trading with China and that contributed to the economic prosperity tremendously.  The picture below is the Itsukushima Shrine built by Taira-no-Kiyomori.  It is registered at the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

shutterstock_252533968-600x375

From Wikipedia   Photo is a public Domain        Author: Rdsmith4                File Itsukushima Floating Shrine.jpg 8 /05/04

Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune (源頼朝 )

Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (源頼朝) is a son of Minamoto-no-Yoshitomo(源義朝).  After Yoshitomo was defeated by Taira-no-Kiyomori (平清盛 ),  the direct line of Genji, Minamoto-no-Yoritomo was sent to Izu Island.  He was in his early teens.  Yoritomo grew to be a young man in Izu island, eventually, he met Hojo Masako (北条政子) who was a daughter of Hojo Tokimasa (北条時政).  He was a local government official.  While Tokimasa was on a business trip to Kyoto, Yoritomo and Masaki had a baby.  Tokimasa was afraid if Heike finds out about his daughter and Yoritomo, the Hojo family may get into trouble.  So, he planned Masako to marry somebody else.  But she escaped a night before the wedding day eloped with Yoritomo.  This story was written in the Japanese history book called  “Azuma Kagami (吾妻鏡)” and a few other books, but some historian says this story may not be exactly how it happened.  Meantime In Kyoto, the Heishi became very powerful and tyrannical in the central government (called Chotei) and suppressed the opponents.  All the angry dissatisfied groups raised an army to attack the Heishi.  Minamoto-no-Yoritomo was the center of those opponents and his army grew bigger and stronger with the help of Masako ’s father, Hojo Tokimasa.  By this time Hojo Tokimasa realized he has a better chance to side with Yoritomo, the Genji.  The Genji power pushed the Heike power all the way to the Southern part of Japan.  The Heike was defeated at the place called Dan-no-Ura (壇ノ浦 ) near Kyushu (九州 ) area at 1185.  Yoritomo set up the Kamakura Bakufu (Kamakura government) in Kamakura.  His wife Masako later found out to be a very capable politician and she saved Kamakura Bakufu when they got into trouble from the central government after Yoritomo’s death.  Here is one famous story about her.  When Yoritomo went around for different women in the town of Kamakura, Masako sent her men to follow her husband and set the fire of the woman’s house her husband was after.  Masako is known as a jealous wife in Japanese history.  But in her mind, the Hojo is one who made Yoritomo the head of the Kamakura Bakufu.  Without the help from the Hojo, Yoritomo could not be what he became.

1024px-Kaguraden-Hachimangu_Kamakura

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu  in Kamakura     Author: Urashimataro                               From Wikipedia    Photo is public domain

Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune (源義経 )

Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (源頼朝 ) had several half brothersTaira-no-Kiyomori (平清盛) saved the lives of those young boys only if they became a monk when they grew up.  One of them was Ushiwaka-Maru (牛若),later Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune (源義経) who lived with Taira-no-Kiyomori while he was an infant, believing Kiyomori was his father.  Later Yoshitsune was sent to Kurama-Yama temple.  He spent there until mid-teens.  After that, he made a flight to live with O-Shu Fujiwara (奥州藤原).   They were in the northern part of Japan, quite some distance from KyotoO-Shu Fujiwara was a very wealthy clan and they had a luxurious culture.  Because of the distance from Chotei (central government), they could almost be like an independent county.   They created quite a wealth by the gold mining nearby.  When Yoshitsune heard his half-brother Yoritomo raised an army to attack Heike, he joined with his brother.  Yoshitsune was a quite a strategist, he won many well-known battles that were very critical battlefield for Genji to win the war. That made Yoritomo fear Yoshitsune.  Eventually, Yoshitsune became popular among people, fearful Yoritomo decided to get rid of Yoshitsune.  Yoshitsune fled to O-Shu Fujiwara.  In the beginning, O-Shu Fujiwara protected Yoshitsune but could not hold.  Yoritomo destroyed O-Shu Fujiwara entirely at the end

Chinese knew about the wealth of O-Shu Fujiwara.  Later, Marco Polo heard about the small wealthy country further into the East from Chinese.  He never visited Japan, but he mentioned about this small wealthy island in his book, “The travels of Marco Polo”.  The famous quote “all the houses are made of gold”.  This is O-Shu Fujiwara.  Of course, all the houses are not made of gold.  Marco Polo introduced Japan as “Zipangu” in his book.  It means the golden country.  That evolved into Japan.  However, we Japanese don’t call Japan as Japan.  We call our country “Nihon” or “Nippon”, either one is correct.