16|The Revival of Yamato School

15TimelineThe circle represents the time we are discussing in this section

Yamato province (it is Nara prefecture presently) is the area where sword making started originally.  In early days, they forged swords with their primitive skills.  A large number of swordsmiths lived in this area.  Their style is similar to that of Yamashiro school. At the end of the Kamakura period, Kamakura government started to have financial problems.  Armed monks from Kofuku-Ji temple called Nanto Sohei (Armed monks who lived south side of  Kyoto)* demanded more and more swords to arm themselves.  This demand of the swords revitalized the Yamato School that led to increasing the number of the swordsmith.   As a result, Yamato School became prosperous.

*Nanto Sohei(南都僧兵)———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.  For the power struggles between the temples, Sohei went to battles fields. Nanto Sohei were monk soldiers of Kofukuji temple.  The aristocrats were afraid of the dignity of God and Buddha, and also did not have enough spirit to suppress them, they had to depend on samurai.  That gave samurai a chance to be a powerful group among the center of the ruling class.

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).

16 Yamato sword cross section

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). Yamato school forged sword mainly straight grain, therefore, the tempered line often shows double straight line called Nijyu-ha, Hakikake ( Dirt trace left by the broom) and Uchinoke (Crescent-shape line).

16 Hamon Yamato

Boshi (鋩子)———-Inside the Boshi area, straight grain pattern also appears. Yakizume, Kaen(refer 13 Tanto Middle Kamakura period), O-maru, Ko-maru, Nie-kuzure (refer 15 Late Kamakura Period)

13 Hamon and Hi15 O-maru Ko-maru Niekuzure



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).

16 Masame Hada

Nakago (Hilt)——————Often shows the finishing file design as shown below which is called Higaki yasuri (檜垣)


16 Higaki Yasuri

Names of the Yamato School Sword-smiths

Taima(当麻) Group————–Taima Kuniyuki(当麻国行) Taima 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 Sadamune (保昌貞宗)Hosho Sadayoshi ( 保昌貞吉)

16 Shaya Ensou