Table of contents

By clicking below, it will take you to that chapter directly.  The sequence to read is 1 to 33, then to part 2.   Part 2 is a detailed part of the correspondent chapter.

1 | Preface

2 | Time line

3 | Joko-to(上古刀)

4 |Names of Parts

5 | Heian Period History(平安時代) 794 – 1192

6 |Heian Period Swords7| Kamakura Period History (1192 – 1334)

7| Kamakura Period History (1192 – 1334)

8| Overview of the Kamakura Period Swords (1192-1333)

9| Middle Kamakura Period —Yamashiro School(鎌倉中期山城伝

10 | Middle Kamakura Period — Bizen School(鎌倉中期備前伝)

11|Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221

12|Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)

13|Tanto ( 短刀) Middle Kamakura Period

14|Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期)

15|Late Kamakura Period Sword

16|The Revival of Yamato School (山城伝復活)

17 | Late Kamakura period Tanto ——- Early Soshu Tanto

18|Nanboku(Yoshino) Cho Period History—— North and South Dynasty History(1333-1393)

19|Nanboku-Cho (North and South dynasty) Period Sword

20 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀)

21|Muromachi Period History (室町時代)

22|Muromachi Period Sword

23| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代)

24|Sengoku Period Sword(戦国時代)

25|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)

26| Edo Period History (江戸時代)1603 – 1867

27|Shinto (新刀)

28| Seven Main Areas of Shin-to Sword (Part A)

29|Seven Main Areas of Sin-To Sword (partB)

30| Bakumatsu Period History (幕末)1781 – 1867

31| Shin Shin-To (Bakumatsu Period Sword 新々刀)1781-1867

32|The Process of Making a Sword

33|References

34| Background

1|«Part 2» Preface

2| «Part 2» Timeline

3| «Part 2» Jyoko-To

4|«Part 2» Names of the Parts

5|«Part 2» Heian Period History (平安時代) 794-1192

6|«Part 2» Heian Period Sword 792-1192

7«Part 2» Kamakura Period History

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

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

10|«Part 2» Middle Kamakura Period —Bizen-Den (鎌倉中期備前伝)

11|«Part 2» Jyokyu-no-Hen 1221 and Gotoba Joko

12|«Part 2» Ikubi Kissaki(猪首切先)

 

 

12|«Part 2» Ikubi Kissaki(猪首切先)

This chapter is a detailed chapter of Chapter 12.   Please read Chapter 12 before reading this section.

Middle Kamakura period was the golden age of the sword making.  We can not deny it was a great part due to the Gotoba-Joko treating the swordsmiths highly.  After Jokyu-no-HenSamurai liked grand look swords. Those are Ikubi Kissaki sword.  It is said there is no mediocre sword among Ikubi Kissaki sword.  In this chapter, we discuss the swordsmiths who are famous for Ikubi Kissaki.

Bizen Osafune Mitsutada (備前長船光忠)

Mitsutada is one of the most famous swordsmiths for Ikubi Kissaki.  His sword was the most thought after sword among sword collectors.  He was the founder of the Osafune group, then his son Nagamitsu (長光), and Nagamitsu’s son Kagemitsu (景光) and the rest continues.

Sugata (shape) —- Grand look.  Ikubi Kissaki.  The body is somewhat thick.  Often suriage (shortened).

Hi (engraving)Often with Bo-Hi (wide straight groove).  The shape of the end of Bo-Hi is kakudome (at least the one my father owned was kakudome).  Refer 9| «Part 2» Middle Kamakura Period —Yamashiro Den (鎌倉中期山城伝)

Hamon (Tempered line) —-  Yakihaba (width of the Hamon) is wide and narrow.  Mainly Nioi. Large Choji, Kawazuko-Choji (round head shape, refer to the picture below under Nagamitsu Hamon ),  Inazuma, Kinsuji, refer to 15|Late Kamakura Period Sword

Boshi  —- Yakizume.  Yakizume with a short half circle.

Jihada —– Fine, and soft look surface.  Chikei appears.

img027img028                                    Jyuyo Bunkazai                                         Jyuyo Bunkazai

img029img030                  Jyuyo Token                                                     Jyuyo Bunkazai

I displayed above four photos at the different places on this website.  Those were Mitsutada, once my father’s swords.  Those photos were taken by my father and the writing on the white paper are written by him.  He was very proud he collected four Mitsutada and he monogrammed inside his suit jacket as Mitsutada. It is said that Oda Nobunaga (織田信長 Daimyou around 16 C ) with his wealth and political power, he collected 28 Mitsutada.  I realize those photos are not wonderful pictures.  In order to avoid any copyright infringement and intellectual property right, I only use father’s photos (not so wonderful though), Sano Museum Catalog photos ( permission granted) and some public domain photos from Wikipedia.  Please bear with me that I don’t have good photos.

 

Bizen Osafune Nagamitsu (備前長船長光 )

Nagamitsu is Mitsutada’s son.

Sugata  —– Shape is similar to the early Kamakura period style.  That is with Funbari and narrow at the top.  This is called Nagamitsu Sugata.

Hamon —– Wide tempered line.  Nioi base.  O-Choji Midare (large clove shape) mixed with Kawazuko Choji (see below).  Many Ashi appears.  Also, he does Suguha-Choji (straight with choji mixed).  This looks like Rai Kuniyuki.  Works of Inazuma and Kinsuji shows.

12 (part 2) Kawazuko Choji)
Kawazuko-Choji   Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Boshi —– Yakizume or turn back a little. (see above photo)

Jitetsu —– Fine wood grain.  Well known for Utsuri (shadow).  Choji Utsuri (Shadow of Choji) or Botan Utsuri ( flower peony like).  Choji Utsuri is shown in the above picture.

Below is a poster of the Museum of Tetsu in Sakaki in Nagano prefecture in the year of 2003.  The picture is Nagamitsu’s sword and Koshirae (scabbard).  This was a family sword.  This sword was once owned by Takenaka Hannbei (竹半半兵衛) who was a famous strategist for Toyotomi Hideyoshi  (豊臣秀吉) around the 16th century.  It was given to Takenaka Hanbei by Toyotomi Hideyoshi as a reward.

12 «Part 2» 長光ポスター

11|«Part 2» Jyokyu-no-Hen 1221 and Gotoba Joko (後鳥羽上皇)

The first part of Chapter 11 was how Jyokyu-no-Hen ( 承久の変 ) started.  In the end, Emperor Gotoba (or  Gotoba- Joko) was exiled to Oki Island (隠岐の島 ).  He was a very talented man in many fields.  He was very good at Waka (和歌 ).  Waka is a short poem.   It requires to express scenery, one’s inner feeling with the refined sentiment, or the surrounding state with a limited number of words.  It requires literary talent.  He was also good at equestrianism, Kemari (ball game for upper class at that time), a great swimmer, Sumo, good at music, archery, swordsmanship, calligrapher, painter and became a great swordsmith.  His contribution toward sword made the Golden Age of sword making at the middle Kamakura period.  Surprisingly, Gotoba Joko was not only good at in the different field, he really accomplished all those fields to the top level.  Especially his Waka (poetry) is highly regarded.  He also edited Shin-Kokin-Wakashu (新古今集).  This is a collection of Waka.

Emperor Gotoba was enthroned at the age four

Emperor Gotoba was enthroned at the age of four (some say three).  The problem was the Emperor Antoku already existed at the same time.  They were both about the same age.  Two emperors at the same time is a big problem.  How did it happen? To become an Emperor, the head of the Emperor family has to appoint the next emperor.  While the Emperor Go-Shirakawa (後白河天皇) was in jail,  the Emperor Antoku was appointed by Taira –no- Kiyomori (平清盛), who was the head of powerful Samurai but not the Emperor family.  That is against the tradition.  Remember, Taira-no-Kiyomori was the most powerful man of the Heike clanThis was not accepted by the Go-Shirakawa Emperor (後白河天皇 ).  Go-Shirakawa Emperor was furious toward Taira-no-Kiyomori and he picked his own choice and enthroned Gotoba as the Emperor.  This is how two emperors coexisted.   One more thing, to be an Emperor, the Emperor must have Sanshu-no-Jingi (三種の神器 Three Sacred Treasures ) that is three items the Emperor must have to be a legitimate Emperor.  They are Mirror, sword, and Magatama (jewelry)*.   But Sanshu-no-Jingi was taken by the Heike family together with the Emperor Antoku when they fled from Genji.  The Heike clan was chased by the Genji all the way to Dan-no-Ura (壇ノ浦) and the Heike clan was defeated there.   Dan-no-Ura is a sea between Kyushu (九州 ) and Honshu (本州 ).  When it became obvious for the Heike family, that they were defeated,  all the Heike people including the young Emperor Antoku jumped into the sea and drowned.   They took Sanshu-no-Jingi with them into the ocean.   Later people searched for the Sanshu-no-Jingi frantically, but they could only recover jewelry, and mirror,  could not find the sword.  Because of the tradition that the Emperor must have Sanshu-no-Jingi otherwise not a legitimate Emperor, Gotoba Joko was tormented for a long time.  Today, those mirror and jewelry are with the present Emperor family.  The sword is still missing.

* Sanshu-no-Jingi (三種の神器 )—–sword (Kusanagi no Tsurugi(草薙の剣),   Mirror (Yata-no-Kagami八咫の鏡),  Magatama (Yasakani-no-Magatama  八尺瓊勾玉)

Politics by  Gotoba-Joko

 Gotoba-Joko wanted political power back from the Kamakura Bakufu.  He was a very impulsive and passionate and unpredictable quick-tempered person.   He wanted to revive the politics controlled by Chotei (朝廷).  Chotei is the central government controlled by the Emperor and aristocrats.  Gotoba-Joko decided to rely on the armed power for this.  He set up the Saimen-no-Bushi (armed forces directly under the Emperor create by Gotoba-Joko).  When he saw Minamoto-no-Sanetomo was killed, he realized Kamakura Bakufu must be in a turmoil.  Thinking this is a good chance, he sent out the Emperor’s order to fight against Kamakura Bakufu to all over Japan to fight against Kamakura Bakufu.  He expected an easy victory, but Kamakura Bushi was united tightly and maneuvered well under Hojo Masako as a one organized armed forces.  Gotoba-Joko side was not very organized.  They were not used to fighting.  In the end, Gotoba-Joko side lost.  After he realized he has lost, he claimed it was not him, it was done by his men only, nothing to do with the Emperor.  So he claimed it is wrong to punish him.  But of course, Kamakura Bakufu did not believe that and exiled him to Oki Island.  Gotoba-Joko ended his life on the island.  As smart as he was and accomplished so many different fields, he could not win against the grandma Shogun,  Hojo Masako.

Sword making by Gotoba-Joko

Gotoba Joko had a superior ability to connoisseur sword and he became the superior swordsmith himself.   He invited many top-level sword smiths from different sword groups to his court and gave them the title and made them as his assistants or instructor.  He invited top-class sword smiths every two months from a place like Bizen, Awataguch, and Bicchu.  Those who were invited were called Gobankaji (御番鍛冶), an honorary title.  On the sword he created, he did not inscribe his name; instead, he inscribed Chrithantamum with 16 petals which are still used present Emperor as the Emperor’s crest.  The sword which has this Chrithantamus is called Kiku Gosaku (菊御作).  Today, in Oki island you can visit Emperor Gotoba museum and there are a few sites that are believed to be the Emperor’s sword making site.  Some people say the sites are debatable.

Today, Oki Island is a beautiful resort island.  It can be reached by ferries from Shimane Prefecture.  It is about 2 hours by boat, also by an airplane directly from Osaka.

11 «part 2» Gotoba Joko photo
Gotoba Joko (owned by Minase Shrine) This picture is public domain

11 «part 2» .Oki-no-Shima map