58|Part 2 of —–22| Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代) 1393 —- 1467

Chapter 58 is the detailed part of chapter 22|Muromachi Period Sword.  Please read Chapter 22 before start reading this chapter.

As described in Chapter 22, the big change in the Muromachi Period was from Tachi  (太刀 ) to Katana (刀 ).  Refer to 22|Muromachi Period Sword.   By the end of the Nanboku-Cho period, the length of the sword became shorter.  In the Muromachi time, the length of the sword became shorter to approximately 2 feet and 3 or 4 inches in length, no more long swords.  This is because,  Nanboku-Cho period,  the fighting was done mostly riding horses but after Muromachi time, changed to infantry fighting.

Oei Bizen (応永備前 )

Oei is pronounced “O as Oh”, “ei as A of ABC”.  The Muromachi period was the declining time in sword making.  The early part of the Muromachi period is called Oei Bizen time.  Osafune Morimitsu (長船盛光 ), Osafune Yasumitsu (長船康光 ), Osafune Moromitsu (長船師光) are the main Oei Bizen swordsmiths.  Soshu Hiromasa (相州広正 )、Yamashiro Nobukuni (山城信國)  were also similar to Oei Bizen stylePlease refer to 22 Muromachi Period Sword for style, Hamon, Boshi, Ji-hada.

58 Moromitsu photo 158 Moromitus Oshigata                                  Bishu Osafune Moromitsu (備州長船師光)   from Sano Museum Catalogue

Above sword is 2 feet & 5 inches long, medium Kissaki, Hamon has a small wave-like pattern with continuous Gunome (half circle).   Boshi shows irregular waviness, pointed at the tip a little.  It shows Bo Utsuri (faint shadow shaped like a strip of wood).  Bo Utsuri is a well-known characteristic among all of the Oei Bisen. 

In the Bizen area until this time, there were many groups within Bizen, but in Muromachi time, only Osafune (長船) was the active swordsmith group.  Osafune (長船) is the name of the place,  but in Muromachi time, it started to become the last name.  Two other well-known swordsmiths among Oei Bizen are Morimitsu (盛光 ) and Yasumitsu (康光).  The Hamon by Morimitsu and Yasumitsu shows more works in it than the photo above.  That is described in 22 Muromachi Period Sword under the usual characteristic of Muromachi sword.

Hirazukuri Ko-Wakizashi Tanto

58 Hirazukuri Ko-Wakizashi Tanto

         Hirazukuri Ko-Wakizashi Tanto Shape

Hirazukuri-Ko-Wakizashi Tanto was in fashion during the early Muromachi time. Different swordsmiths in other area made like the one above.  But approximately 80 % of those types were made by Oei Bizen swordsmiths.

The characteristic of the Hirazukuri Ko-Wakizashi Tanto ——— Usually 1 foot and 1 or 2 inches long.  No Yokote line, no Shinogi, and No Sori (no curvature, straight back).  Average thickness.  Narrow width.  Gyo no Mune (refer 13 Tanto Middle Kamakura period).

13 Mune drawing

Hirazukuri Kowakizashi Tanto often shows many engravings like Hi with Soe-Hi (one wide and narrow on the side), Tokkotuki-Ken, Tsumetsuki-Ken, Bohji, etc.

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji20 Tokko, tume Ken  58 tsumetukiken and Hi

*drawings from “Nihonto no Okite to Tokucho” by Honami Koson

 

57|Part 2 of —– 21|Muromachi Period History (室町時代) 1393-1467


This is the continued chapter of 21 Muromachi Periods History Please read chapter 21 before this chapter one more time.

57 Muromachi time line      The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this chapter

Until the Muromachi (室町) Period, the way to divide the political history and sword history is the same.  Please look at the above timeline.  The middle line is for sword history and the bottom line is for political history.   The style of the sword has a distinct difference between Nanboku-Cho period (南北朝時代 ), Muromachi period, and the Sengoku period (戦国時代).  Therefore, it has to be divided into three separate periods for sword study.   But school history textbook shows that Muromachi Period is from 1333 (Fall of Kamakura Bakufu ) until 1573 when Oda Nobunaga(織田信長) removed Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki (足利義昭) from Kyoto (the fall of Muromachi Bakufu).   The school history textbooks describe that the Nanboku-Cho period and the Sengoku period is a part of the Muromachi period.  For the purpose of sword study, we need to divide into three periods, Nanboku-Cho period, Muromachi period, and Sengoku period.

Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満)

The best time for the Muromachi period was when Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満, Grandson of Ashikaga Takauji) was in power.  Ashikaga Yoshimitsu moved the Bakufu to the place called Muromachi (室町), therefore Muromachi period.  By Shogun Yoshimitsu’s time, the majority of the South Dynasty Samurai went under the North dynasty.  The South Dynasty side accepted Shogun Yoshimitsu’s offer to end to oppose to the North Dynasty that completed the power of Muromachi Bakufu of the Ashikaga family.  Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu created a huge amount of profit from trade with China (Ming).  One of a famous beautiful temple in Kyoto, Golden Pavillion (Kinkakuji-temple 金閣寺) was built by Shogun Yoshimitsu*.  It is said that he created the Golden Pavillion to display his power and wealth.  The beautiful culture around this time was called Kitayama Bunka (Kitayama culture 北山文化).

*Golden Pavillion (Kinkaku-Ji 金閣寺)  —— Correct name is Rokuonji –Temple (鹿苑寺 ).  This is a Zen temple of Rinzaishu Sokoku-Ji group (臨済宗相国寺派 ).  The Kinkakuji-temple is one part of the Rokuonji-Temple.  Kinkakuji-temple is a Buddhist hall containing relics of Buddha.  This place was once owned by Saionji Kintsune (西園寺公経 ) in Kamakura period.  Shogun Yoshimitsu acquired it in 1397, and he rebuilt it as his own villa.  It is also functioned as an official guesthouse.  Kinkakuji-temple represents the height of the glory of Kitayama Bunka (Kitayama culture)After Shogun Yoshimitsu’s death, his villa was converted to a temple, called Rokuon-Ji temple.  In 1994, it was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

57 Kinkakuji trip 2019

The photo was taken in May 2019, a family trip to Kyoto

Ashikaga Yoshimasa (足利義政 )

After Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満 ) died (49 years old), the Muromachi Bakufu became financially weaker that made the military power weaker.  As a result,  Daimyo (feudal lord) became powerful.  A few generations after Shogun Yoshimitsu, Ashikaga Yohimasa became a Shogun (8th Ashikaga Shogun).  His wife is the famous Hino Tomiko (refer 21|Muromachi Period History (室町時代.  It is said that Shogun Yoshimasa was not interested in his job as a Shogun, but he was a great culture person who influenced the base of today’s Japanese art, such as Japanese garden, Shoin Zukuri (書院造り)*, Tea ceremony, Flower Arrangement, Painting, and other art forms.  His cultural attribute is called Higashiyama Bunka (Higashiyama culture (東山文化).   As it is described in Chapter, 21|Muromachi Period History (室町時代, Shogun Yoshimasa did not have a child, his brother Yoshimi (義視) was supposed to be a next Shogun.  But his wife, Hino Tomiko gave birth to a son, Yoshihisa (義尚 ).  Hino Tomiko asked Yamana Sozen (powerful family 山名宗全 ) to back up her son, and brother Yoshimi joined with Hosokawa Katsumoto (powerful family 細川勝元).   The problem was Shogun Yoshimasa was paying attention too much to all his cultural hobbies, did not pay attention to the problem he created by not being clear who should be the next Shogun.  He did not yield Shogunate to either one.  He kept enjoying his cultural hobby.   In 1467, on top of the successor problem, because of the other conflict of interest of other powerful Daimyo, “Onin-no-Run (応仁の乱 ) started.  All the Daimyo sided either Hosokawa group or Yamana group.   Eventually, the war spread to the rest of Japan and last over 10 years.  Finally at 1477, after both Hosokawa Katsumono and Yamana Sozen died, Shogun Yoshimasa decided to transfer Shogunate to his son Yoshihisa.  This war caused Kyoto to be devastated and weakened the power of Ashikaga Bakufu.  While all this is happening, people were suffering from the war, Yoshimasa still spent money to build Ginnkakuji Temple (silver Pavillion, 銀閣寺 ).  He died without seeing the completion of Ginkakuji temple.  Onin-no-Run will lead to the next Sengoku-Jidai (100-year warring States period).

*Shoin Zukuri (書院造り )———- Traditional Japanese residential architecture style.  That is with Tatami mat, an alcove on a wall and Shoji sliding screen.  Below picture.

Below Shoin Zukuri style Japanese room

57 Shoin zukuri

Public Domain   GFDL,cc-by-sa-2.5,2.0,1.0 file: Takagike CC BY-SA 3.0view terms      File: Takagike Kashihara JPN 001.jpg

 

56| Nanboku-Cho Tanto (南北朝短刀)

This is a detailed part of chapter 20.  Please read 20 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀)  first, before reading this chapter.

 

20 Enbun Jyoji Kowakizashi Tanto

The characteristic of the picture above, the shape is emphasized in the drawing.

At the end of chapter 20 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀, there is a list of swordsmith’s names.  Hiromitsu and Akihiro represent the most common characteristic of Nanboku-Cho Tanto.

56 cropped Hiromitu photo 20 HitatsuraHiromitsu From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

 

Enbun Jyoji Ko-wakizashi Tanto is also called Sun-Nobi Tanto.  The top part of the Tanto bends outward slightly, this is called Sakizori.

Hiromitu and Akihiro Characteristic

Shape———-wide width.  Usually 1 foot and 1, 2 inches long.  Thin body.  Sakizori

Hamon ——-Tempered line can be wide and narrow.  Yakidashi (1, 2 inches above a Machi area) is narrowly tempered and wider tempered line above.  Hamon around Fukura area is showy.  Mainly Nie.  Sunagashi, Kinsuji, Gunome, Umanoha-Midare (shape like horse teeth), Hitatsura appears (see above drawing).

Boshi———-Irregular, uneven temper line, the almost entire area. Deep turn back.

Jihada ———Wood grained

Nakago ——-Tanago-Bara shape (refer 20 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀).

Nobukuni

The first generation Shodai Nobukuni is the top three students of Sadamune.  He is called Sadamune San Tetsu (貞宗三哲).     The characteristic of Nobukuni is almost the same as the characteristic of Hiromitsu and Akihiro.  Nobukuni also created Sun-nobi  Tanto like the one below which has a Hoso-suguha (narrow straight tempered line), Ko-Mokume (fine small burl),  Ko-maru Boshi (small round)

56 Nobukuni 1 Nobukuni4 56 Nobukuni 2

This is my sword.  Shodai Nobukuni (初代信國).  This is Juyo Token

Certification

number Juyo 3220,    Certification Juyo-Token

Wakizashi  Nobukuni,    31.4cm length, 0.3cm curvature, HirazukuriMitsumune (three-sided Mune ),  Sunnobi, Ji-hada is Wood grain and Jinie (Nie on the surface)Hamon is Chu-Suguha ( medium straight),  Front carving shows Bonji (Sanscrit), Sanko-Ken. The back side of the sword, engraving is Sanscrit and Hoko (pike).   Original Nakago.    The examination by the Nihon Bijutu Token Hozon Kyokai.  It is certified as Juyo-Token.  The Chairman Moritatu Hosokawa

 

 

55|Nanboku-Cho Period Swords (南北朝刀)

This chapter is more detailed part of Chapter 19.  Please read Chapter 19 before this chapter.

The drawing below is the illustration from chapter 19.  Compare this illustration and the photos underneath of it.  It shows the similarity of the shape.  Keep in mind this illustration is the shape of a very long sword that was shortened at a  later time.   At Nanboku-Cho time, swords smiths created 3, 4, 5 feet long swords.  Later shortened to 2.5 feet or so.

19 Nanboku-cho Sword style.jpg

 

55 Sa photo

From Sano Museum Catalogue “Reborn”  Permission granted

 

55 Chogi

 

55 Chogi drawing

“Chogi” from Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

 

The style of Chogi is categorized as So-den Bizen.  19 Nanboku-Cho Period Sword. Chogi (長義 ) was a swordsmith from Bizen-Den school who created swords with a characteristic of Soshu-Den.

 Characteristic of Chogi (長義)

Shape ——— Originally very long.  Shortened to approximately around 2.5 feet.

Hamon ——–Wide showy tempered line.  Basically Nioi, but Nie shows a lot.  Sunagashi (砂流し) appears.  Notare  (wavy) mixed with Gunome.  Sometimes Chogi’s created one pair of ear robe shape called Chogi’s earlobe shape midare.    

Boshi ———  Irregular Midare and sharp turn back   Ji–Hada ——- Itame ( a wood grain)

55 Aoe55 Aoe ilustlation

Aoe from Sano Museum Catalogue (Permission granted)

Aoe is pronounced “A” as apple, “o” as original, and “e” as edge.  Aoe is a swordsmith from Bittchu province that is next to Bizen.  Therefore the characteristic of the sword, Ko-Aoe, and Ko-Bizen are similar.

55 Bizen Bittchu map

From middle Kamakura period to Nanboku-Cho period was the best time for Aoe group.   

Characteristic of Aoe (青江)

Aoe sword has Aoe-Zori shape that is to curve a lot at the lower part.  During Nanboku-Cho time, because of the Soshu-Den was the trendy style, even Bizen sword smiths did Nie.   Yet, Bittchu stayed Nioi.  The tempered area tends to be wide.  Sakasa-Choji (means inverted or backward, see the illustration above) is the Aoe’s most notable characteristic.  Also, Boshi often has pointed hamon.  It is often said that if you see sakasa-choji, it should be either Aoe group or Katayama Ichimonji group.  Sumitetu (澄鉄  black Jigane from the inside shows through) is also Aoe’s characteristic.