This chapter is a detailed part of Chapter 12 and continued from the previous chapter 46. Please read Chapter 12 and Chapter 46 before reading this section.
The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.
Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗)
Another swordsmith that needs to be mentioned in this section is Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗). In the middle Kamakura period, the Hojo clan invited top swordsmiths to the Kamakura area. Awataguchi Kunitsuna (粟田口国綱) from Yamashiro of 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 with his circle 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 Ashi. Nioi base with Ji-nie (Nie in the Hada area). Some Hamon is squarish with less Kubire (less narrow at the bottom of the clove). Hajimi (刃染み rough surface) may show. Often the Kunimure swords are as follows; Lower part shows Choji, the upper part shows less work without Ashi.
Kunimune Squarish Kawazuko Choji (tadpole and clove-like)Hamon (Sano Museum Catalog, Permission granted)
Boshi —– Small irregular. Yakizume or short turn back.
Ji-hada —–Woodgrain. Fine Ji-hada with some Ji-nie (Nie inside Ji-hada). Midare Utsuri (irregular shadow) shows. A few Hajimi (rough surface).
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.
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
The above photo is the National treasure Kunimune of the Terukuni Jinja Shrine in Kagoshima prefecture. This Kunimune sword was lost after WWII. This is the sword Dr. Compton, the chairman of the Board of Miles Laboratory in Elkhart Indiana, found in an antique store in Atlanta. I mentioned Dr. Compton in Chapter 34. 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) in Tokyo. It turned out to be the famous missing National treasure of Kunimune from Terukuni Jinja Shrine. He returned the sword to Terukuni Jinja without compensation in 1963. My father became a good friend with him around this time through Dr. Homma and Dr. Sato (both were leading sword experts). Later, Dr. Compton asked Dr. Honma and my father to examine his swords which he kept in his house (he had about 400 swords) and swords of New York Met, Philadelphia Museum, and the Boston Museum. Father wrote about this trip and swords he examined in those museums and published a book in 1965; the title is “Katana Angya (刀行脚)”. For Dr. Compton and my father, around this time must be the best time of their life. The business for both of them was doing good and could spend time on their interest and having fun. It was the best time of me too.
One time while I was visiting Compton’s house, he showed me his swords in his basement for hours almost all day. His house was huge and the basement he built as his study room was with fire prevention system and correct lighting for viewing swords. It was functionally correct as a storage place for his many different art objects. Then his wife, Phoebe said to him that he cannot keep a young girl (I was a college student) in the basement all day long. He agreed and then he took me to his cornfield to pick some corns for dinner. Basement to a cornfield, not much improvement? So his wife Phoebe decided to take me shopping and lunch in Chicago. Good idea, but it is too far. The distance between Elkhart and Chicago is about two hours by driving a car then, too far just for shopping and lunch. To my surprise, we took their company private airplane to fly to the roof of the department store then do the shopping and lunch came back with the same private airplane.
Miles Lab. and a well-known Japanese large pharmaceutical company had a business tie-up then. Dr. Compton used to come to Japan quite often, officially for business purposes. But whenever he came to Japan he used to spend days with sword people and I used to follow my father. One of the female workers of this pharmaceutical company, her job description was to translate the sword book into English. My parents’ house was filled with Miles products. Miles Lab. had a big research institute in Elkhart Indiana. I visited there several times. 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 Compton’s room to greet him thinking the chairman must be sitting in 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 Japanese college student looking like a college student. John Forsythe showed a strange expression on his face that he did not know what to think.