The circle represents the time we are discussing in this section
Yamato province (Present Nara prefecture) is the area where sword making first started originally. It is said that it was during the Nara period (710 to 704). In early days, they forged swords with their primitive skills. A large number of swordsmiths lived in the Yamato area at the beginning of the sword making but later time, they became less active. Yamato Den style is somewhat similar to that of Yamashiro Den (School) which I described in the chapter of Late Heian to early Kamakura period. At the end of the Kamakura period in the Yamato area, there were several powerful temples existed. They had a strong political power and military power to control a large territory called Shoen (荘園) with their large number of worrier monks called Sohei (僧兵). The most powerful group were called Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)*. Nanto Sohei and other Sohei (僧兵) of the other temples demanded more and more swords to arm themselves. This high demand of the swords from Sohei revitalized the Yamato Den (School) and led to increase in the number of the swordsmith in Yamato. As a result, Yamato School became active again.
*Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)———Since around the 11th century, Buddhist temples became powerful under the protection of JoKo (former Emperor). Those temples had a large number of Sohei (low-level monks who also acted as soldiers) under them. In the case when power struggles between the temples occurred, Sohei went to fight as a soldier in the battlefields. Nanto Sohei were monk soldiers of Kofuku-Ji temple (興福寺). Several large temples like Todai-Ji (東大寺) temple and other temples controlled the Yamato area.
Shape(Sugata姿) —————-1. Graceful Yamashiro style retained. 2. Shinogi is high. 3. Mune is thin. 4. Some group of Yamato school has shallow Sori (curvature).
Hamon (Tempered line)——-Narrow tempered line. Nie base (沸). Chu-suguha-hotsure (frayed medium straight 中直刃ほつれ), Ko-choji-midare (small clove-like pattern and irregular mixture 子丁子乱), Ko-midare ( fine irregular子乱), Ko-gunome-komidare (small irregular continuous half circle 小五の目小乱). The main characteristic of Yamato school sword is Masame (straight grain), therefore, the tempered line often shows double straight line called Nijyu-ha, Hakikake (brushed sand) and Uchinoke (Crescent-shape line).
Jihada or Jitetsu (the area between shinogi and hamon )——Mostly Masame hada (straight grain pattern 柾目肌). Fine ji-nie, Chikei, and Yubashiri shows (refer 15 Late Kamakura Period).
Nakago (Hilt)——————Often shows the finishing file design as shown below which is called Higaki yasuri (檜垣)
Names of the Yamato School Sword-smiths
Taema(当麻) Group————–Taema Kuniyuki(当麻国行) Taema Tomokiyo(当麻友清) Shikkake (尻懸) Group———————————————–Shikkake Norinaga (尻懸則長) Tegai (手掻) group —————–Tegai Kanenaga (手掻包永) Tegai Kanekiyo(手掻包清) Hoshou (保昌) group——–Hosho Sadayoshi ( 保昌貞吉) Hosho Sadamune (保昌貞宗)
Yamato Senjuin Shaya Enso (大和千手院沙弥円宗) was once family sword