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 Ashi. Nioi 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.
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).
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
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.