47|Part 2 of —–12|Ikubi Kissaki, continued

Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗)

Another swordsmith needs to be mentioned in this section is Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗).  In middle Kamakura period, the Hojo clan invited the top swordsmiths to Kamakura area.  Awataguchi Kunitsuna (粟田口国綱) from Yamashiro Kyoto, Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane  (福岡一文字助真) from Bizen area, Bizen Kunimune (備前国宗) from Bizen area moved to Kamakura together with his group of people.  Those three groups started the Soshu Den (相州伝).  Refer to 14|Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期)

Sugata (shape)  —– Ikubi Kissaki style.  Sometimes Chu-Gissaki.    Thick body.  Narrow Shinogi width.  Koshi-Zori

Horimono (Engravings)  —– Often narrow Bo-Hi ( single groove)

Hamon (Tempered line) —– O-Choji Midare (large clove irregular) with Ashi.  Or Ko-Choji Midare (small clove irregular) with AshiNioi base with Ji-Nie (Nie in the Hada area).  Some top of the Hamon is squarish with less Kubire ( less narrow at the bottom of the clove).  Hajimi ( rough surface).  Also, he did as follows — Lower part shows Choji, the upper part shows less work without Ashi. 

12 «Part 2» 国宗刃紋 佐野

Kunimune Squarish Kawazuko Choji Hamon (Sano Museum Catalog permission granted)

 

Boshi  —– Small irregular.  Yakizume or short turn back.

Jitetsu —–Woodgrain.  Fine Jitetsu with some Ji-Nie (Nie inside Jihada).  Midare Utsuri (irregular shadow) shows.  A few Hajimi (rough surface).

12 «Part 2» 国宗  

Above photo is Kunimune   (国宗 Sano Museum Catalog, permission granted)  Even though Kunimune is famous for Ikubi Kissaki,  and this is the chapter for Ikubi Kissaki, this one is Chu-Gissaki.

 

12 (second part 2) 照国神社

Above photo is a picture from the official site of Terukuni Shrine in Kyushu.  You can go the site by clicking,  http://terukunijinja.pkit.com/page222400.html

Above photo is the National treasure Kunimune of the Terukuni Shrine in Kagoshima prefecture.  This Kunimune sword was lost after WWII.  The chairman of the Board of Miles Laboratory in Elkhart Indiana, Dr. Compton found this sword in an antique store in Atlanta.  Alka Seltzer is one of the well-known products among many of their products.  He was deeply into the sword collection and knew a lot about the Japanese sword.  When he saw this sword, he realized this is not just an ordinary sword.   He bought it and inquired to the Nihon Bijutu token Hozon Kyokai (Sword museum).  It turned out to be the famous missing National treasure of Kunimune of Terukuni Shrine.  He returned the sword to Terukuni Shrine without compensation in 1963.  My father became a friend of his around this time through Dr. Homma and Dr. Sato ( leading sword experts).  Since then, the Compton family and my family became close friends.  Dr. Compton asked Dr. Honma and my father to come to the US and examine his swords in his house (he had about 400 swords)  and swords of New York Met, Philadelphia Museum and the Boston Museum.  My father wrote about this trip and the swords he examined in those museums and published the book in 1965; the title is “Katana Angya (刀行脚)”. Since then, we visited his house and they visited our house more frequently.   Around this time must be the best time of his life for Dr. Compton and for my father.  Both of them could spend time on their interest and having fun.  It was the best time of my life too.

One time when I visited his house, he showed me his swords in his basement for hours almost all day.  His house was really huge and the basement he built as his study room was with fire prevention and had great lighting.   It was really nicely done and functioned correctly as the storage place for his many art objects.   Then his wife, Phoebe said to Compton that he cannot keep a young girl (I was a college student) in the basement all day long and looking at the swords.  He agreed and then he took me to his cornfield to pick some corns for dinner.  The basement to a cornfield, not much improvement?  So his wife Phoebe said that she will take me shopping and lunch in Chicago.   That is good,  but too far.   The distance between Elkhart and Chicago is about two hours by driving a car, too far just for shopping and lunch.  To my surprise, we got on the company private airplane to fly to the top of the roof of the department store then do the shopping and lunch, came back with the same private airplane.

Miles Lab. and Sankyo, a Japanese large pharmaceutical company had a business tie-up as Miles-Sankyo Pharmaceutical Company then.   Dr. Compton used to come to Japan quite often, officially for business purpose.  But whenever he came to Japan he used to spend many days with sword people and I used to follow my father.  One of the female workers of Miles-Sankyo, her job was to translate the sword book into English.  My parent household was filled with Miles-Sankyo products.  Miles Lab. had a big research institute in Elkhart Indiana.  I visited several times there.  One day I was sitting with Dr. Compton in his office, looking into the sword book with our head together.  That day, a movie actor John Forsythe was visiting the research lab.  He was the host of the TV program the Miles Lab was sponsoring.  All the female employees were making a big fuss over him.  Then he came into the Compton’s room to greet him thinking the chairman must be sitting on his big chair at his desk looking like a chairman.  But he saw Compton looking into the sword book with his head against my head.  The appearance of Dr. Compton was just like any chairman of the board of a big company one can imagine, and I was a college student looking like a college student.   John Forsythe had a strange expression that he did not know what to think of what he was seeing.

46|Part 2 of —- 12|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 turn back.

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

45|Part 2 of —- 11|Jyokyu-no-Hen and Gotoba Joko 後鳥羽上皇 1221

Chapter 11 (11|Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221 ) 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 of 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, 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