48|Part 2 of — 14|Late Kamakura Period Sword : Early Soshu Den (鎌倉末刀)

This chapter is a detailed part of chapter 14| Late Kamakura Period Sword.  Please read chapter 14 before reading this section.

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline

                              The red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.

14 Ikubi kissaki Damadge

In Chapter 14| Late Kamakura Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀), the Ikubi-kissakui sword was explained.  The above illustration shows a flaw that was caused when the damaged area was repaired.  To compensate for this flaw, swordsmiths started a new sword style in the late Kamakura period.  They forged swords with a longer Kissaki and stop the tip of Hi at a lower point than the Yokote line.   This way, if the Yokote line was lowered when it was repaired, the tip of Hi would stay lower than the Yokote-line.

15 Masamune (Sano)   15 Masamune hamon (Sano)

The above photo is a sword by Goro Nyudo Masamune (五郎入道正宗 ).  Please look at the size and shape of the Kissaki.  This is different from previous Ikubi-kissaki, or Ko-gissaki.  This is a typical late Kamakura period Kissaki style.  This is O-suriage (largely shortened). 

Under Kamakura Bakufu, many swordsmiths moved to KamakuraThey were Toroku Sakon Kunituna (藤六左近国綱) of Yamashiro Awataguchi group (山城粟田口),  Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真), and Kunimune (国宗) from the Bizen area.  They were the origin of Soshu Den (相州伝)Eventually, Tosaburo Yukimitsu (藤三郎行光) and his famous son,  Masamune (正宗), appearedIn the drawing above, Kinsuji and Inazuma are shown inside the Hamon.  The shinning lines inside the Hamon are Inazuma and Kinsuji.  Inazuma and Kinsuji are a collection of Nie.  Masamune is famous for Inazuma and Kinsuji.  Masamune lived in Kamakura; his Hamon looks like ocean waves when it is viewed sideways.

50 part 2 of 15 吉岡.photo 50 part 2 of 15 吉岡

The above picture is a sword by a swordsmith of Yoshioka Ichimonji group (吉岡一文字).  The Kissaki is also like the one of Masamune’s.  It is longer than the previous Ikubi-kissaki or Ko-gissaki.  This is Chu-gissaki.  The Kissaki like this is one of the crucial points to determine what period the sword was made.  The Hamon has Choji, Gunome, Togariba (pointed-tip), and very tight Nie.

50 part 2 of 15 運生 photo 50 part 2 of 15 運生 

The above photo is a sword by Ukai Unsho (鵜飼雲生) of Bizen Den.  This sword is also from the late Kamakura period.  But it has Ko-gissaki.  This sword does not have the late Kamakura period Chu-gissaki style.  Narrow Hoso-suguha is somewhat like an earlier time than the late Kamakura period.  This sword indicates that the sword does not always have the style of that period.  To Kantei*, first, look at the style and shape then give yourself some idea of the period of the time it was made.  But in this case, Kissaki does not indicate the late Kamakura periodThe next thing is to look at the different characteristics of the sword one by one like Hamon, Nie or Nioi, Jihada, etc.,  and determine what period, which Den, which province and then come up with the name. This process is called Kantei.

*Kantei —  to determine the swordsmith’s name by analyzing the characteristic of the sword without seeing the Mei (inscribed swordsmith name). Mei may be gone if it was shortened.

All the photos above are from Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission to use is granted.

47| Part 2 of –13 Late Kamakura Period: Genko (鎌倉末元寇)

This is a detailed part of chapter 13|Late Kamakura Period, Genko 鎌倉末元寇).  Please read chapter 13 before reading this section.

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline

                      The red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.

Genko (元寇):  Mongolian Invasion 

13| Late Kamakura Period: Genko (鎌倉末元寇) described the Mongolian invasion simply.  Here is a more detailed description.  The Mongol Empire was a vast empire that spread between present Mongolia to Eastern Europe from the 13th to the 14th centuries.  The grandson of Genghis Kahn, Kublai Kahn, sent several official letters to Japan demanding Japan to become a dependent state of the Mongol Empire (元: Yuan), and ordered to send a tribute to them.  They threatened Japan that they would invade if Japan did not follow their demand.  Hojo Tokimune (北条時宗), who was in power in Kamakura Bakufu (government) at the time, refused and ignored the letters many times.  That led to the two-time invasions by the Mongol Empire.  It is often said that the strong typhoon hit Japan on each occasion, and Mongols were pushed away by the two big typhoons.  This is correct, but the real story had a lot more to it.

Bun’ei-no-eki (文永の役)  1274

The first Mongolian invasion was called Bun’ei-no-eki.  In early October in 1274, Mongol troops (Mongols, Han people, and Koreans) of 40,000 men* departed from the Korean Peninsula on 900* large and small ships and headed to Japan.  After they arrived on Tsushima island (対馬), Mongol troops burnt villages and killed many people, including the island people.  Village people were captured and sent to the top officials of the Mongols as their slaves.  It was a very sad scene. 

The Mongols moved to Iki island (壱岐の島), to Hizen shore (肥前),  to Hirado island (平戸), to Taka island (鷹島), then to Hakata Bay (博多).   In each place, the disastrous sad scene was the same as everywhere.    On each battlefield, Japanese soldiers and villagers were killed in large numbers.  The Kamakura Bukufu sent a large number of Samurai troops to the battlefield.  The Japanese forces sometimes won and pushed the Mongols back, but mostly lost.  Many Japanese wives and children near the battleground were captured. 

Eventually, no soldiers dared to fight against the Mongols.  Mongols’ arrows were short and not so powerful, but they put the poison at the tip, and they shot the arrows all together at one time like rain.  Also, this was the first time when the Japanese saw firearms.  The loud sound of explosions frightened horses and Samurais.

Japanese troops had to retreat, and the situation was awful for the Japanese.  But one morning, there was a big surprise!  All the ships disappeared from the shore.  They were all gone on the morning of October 21st (on today’s calendar, November 19th).  All Mongols vanished from the shore of Hakata

What happened was that the Mongols decided to quit the fight and went back to their country.  The reason was that even though they were winning, they also lost many soldiers and one of the key person of the army.  The Mongols realized that no matter how much they won, the Japanese kept coming more and more from everywhere.  Also, the Mongols realized that they could not expect reinforcements from their country across the ocean.  Their stocks of weapons were getting low.  The Mongols decided to go back.  Here was a twist.  Around the end of October (November by today’s calendar), the sea between Hakata (where Mongols were stationed) and Korea was very dangerous because of the bad weather.  Only a clear day with the south wind made it possible to sail over the sea.  The name of the sea where the Mongol soldiers had to sail back is called Genkai Nada (玄界灘), very famous for the rough water.  For some reason, the Mongols decided to head back during the night.  That was a mistake.  They may have caught a moment of the south wind, but it did not last long.  As a result, they encountered a usual severe rainstorm.  Many ships hit against each other, against the cliff, capsized, and people fell into the ocean.  Several hundred broken ships were found on the shores of Japan. 

The Mongol invasion ended here.  This war is called Bun’ei-no-eki (文永の役).  The Mongols lost a large number of people, ships, soldiers, food, and weapons.  Actually, it was Korea that lost a great deal.  They were forced to supply people, food, weapons, etc., by the Mongols.  After the war, in Korea, only older men and children were left to work on the farm.  On top of it, they had a drought and prolonged rain.

Ko’an-no-eki (弘安の役) 1281

The second Mongolian invasion is called Ko’an-no-eki in 1281.  After the first attempt to invade Japan, Kublai Khan kept sending messengers to Japan to demand it to become Mongol’s dependent territory.  The Kamakura Bakufu kept ignoring and killed messengers.  Kublai Kahn decided to attack Japan again in 1281.  The top advisers of Kublai Kahn tried to convince him not to do it because the ocean was too dangerous, the country was too small, the place was too far, and there would be nothing to gain even if they win.  But Kublai Kahn still insisted on attacking. 

This time they came in two groups.  One was the East-route troop with 40,000* soldiers on 900 ships, and the other was the South-route troop with 100,000* soldiers on 3,500 ships.  This was the enormous scale of forces in history.  They planned to depart from each designated port, and they planned to join on the Iki Island (壱岐の島) by June 15th, then work together.  The East-route troop arrived there before the South-route troop.  Instead of waiting for the South-route troop to come, the East-route troop started to attack Hakata Bay (博多) on their own.  But since the previous invasion of the Bun’ei-no-eki, Japan had prepared to fight and built a 20-kilometer-long stone wall.  This stone wall was 3 meters high and 2 meters thick.  The East-route troop had to give up to land from Hakata and moved to Shika-no Shima Island (志賀島).  In this place, the fight between Mongols and Japan was even, but in the end, the East-route troop lost and retreated to Iki Island, and decided to wait for the South-route troop to arrive. 

The South-route troop never came. They had changed their plan.  On top of that, while the East-route troop was waiting for the South-route troop to arrive, they lost over 3,000 men over an epidemic.  Some suggested going back home with difficulty like this, but they concluded to wait for the South-route troop as long as their food would last. 

Meanwhile, the South-route troop decided to go to Hirado Island (平戸島), which was closer to Dazaifu (太宰府).  Dazaifu was the final and most important place they wanted to attack.   Later, the East-route troop found the South-route troop went to Hirado Island.  Finally, two forces joined on Hirado Island, and each group was stationed on the nearby island called Takashima Island(鷹島).  The problem was that since this island had very high tide and low tide, the ships were not easily maneuvered.

In the meantime, 60,000 Japanese men were marching toward the place where the Mongols were stationed.   Before Japanese soldiers arrived to fight against the Mongols, a big typhoon came on July 30th, and Mongols were caught in a big typhoon.  Their ships were hitting each other, and many sank.  People fell from the boats and drowned.

By this time, it had been about three months after the East-route troop left Mongol in early May.  That means they were on the ocean for about three months or so.  In the northern Kyushu area (九州), typhoons usually come, on average, 3.2 times between July and September.  The Mongols were on the ocean and Japan’s shorelines for about three months.  They were bound to be hit by a typhoon sooner or later.

The Mongol Empire lost 2/3 of its naval forces in the event of Ko’an-no-eki.   Even after the Mongols failed the two invasions, Kublai Khan still insisted on attacking Japan again, no matter how his advisers reasoned him not to.  In the end, the plan was delayed and terminated because of many rebellions and upheavals, and no lumber was left to build ships.  Soon later, Kublai died in 1294.  The historical record of Mongols indicated that Mongolian officials highly praised Japanese swords.  Some even say one of the reasons why it was not easy to defeat Japan was their long sharp swords.  The experience of the Mongolian invasion changed the Ikubi kissaki (猪首切先) sword to the new Soshu-Den (相州伝) style sword.  The next chapter describes a new style of sword, Soshu-Den swords.

49 Photo of part 2 of 14 Late KamakuraThe stone wall scene.  Photo from Wikipedia.  Public Domain

* Number of soldiers by https://kotobank.jp/word/元寇-60419 .  Several different reference sources have a slightly different number of soldiers and ships, but they are similar numbers.

46|Part 2 of — 12|Middle Kamakura Period: Tanto 鎌倉中期短刀

This chapter is a datiled part of chapter of 12| Middle Kamakura Period Tanto ( 短刀) .  Please read Chapter 12 before reading this section.

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline
                   The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

In 12| The Middle Kamakura Period: Tanto  described that the shape of Tanto called Takenoko-zori had appeared during the middle Kamakura period.  This style of Tanto curves inward a little at the tip.  The drawing below may be a bit exaggerated to show the curve.  The real Takenoko-zori curvature is not so apparent.  Maybe a few millimeters inward. 

Usually, the length of the Tanto is approximately 12 inches.  Tantos are described as follows; a Tanto of approx. Ten inches is called Josun Tanto (定寸短刀), longer than Ten inches is called Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延び短刀), and less than Ten inches is called Sun-zumari Tanto (寸詰短刀).

12Tanto drawing Mid Kamakur

 

Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延び)   >   Jyosun Tanto (定寸)   >  sun-zumari Tanto (寸詰り)  (longer than 10 inches)           (approx. 10 inches)                (less than 10 inches

13 «Part 2» Tanto photo

 46 Shintogo Kunimitsu Oshigata

Shintogo Kunimitsu (新藤五国光)  Sano Museum Catalogue, permission granted to use

The style above is called Kanmuri-otoshi (冠落し); the Mune side (opposite side of cutting edge) is shaved off.  The length is approximately 10 inches.  Woodgrain pattern surface, Nie on Ji (refer to 3 |Names of Parts).   Very finely forged.  Hamon is medium Suguha (straight).  Boshi is Ko-maru (small round).  Because of the Kanmuri-otoshi style, it may not be easy to see the Takenoko-zori; the Mune side bends inward very slightly.  Among the Tanto producers, Shintogo Kunimitsu is considered as the top Tanto maker.

13 «Part 2»Tanto photo with Saya

Above photo is also by Shintogo Kunimitsu (新藤五国光) with Saya.  Saya is the scabbard.  The handle of the scabbard (white part) is made with sharkskin.  Both photos are from Sano Museum Catalog.  Permission granted.