Chapter 57 is the detailed part of chapter 21|Muromachi Period Sword. Please read Chapter 21 before reading this section.
The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section
After the Muromachi period, swords changed to Katana(刀) from Tachi (太刀), as described in chapter 21 Muromachi Period Sword. Refer to Chapter 21 Muromachi Period Sword. By the end of the Nanboku-cho period, the swords’ length became shorter to approximately 2 feet ± a few inches. The 3-to-5 feet long swords seen in the Nanboku-cho period were no longer created. The reason was that, during the Nanboku-cho period, warriors fought mostly riding horses, but after the Muromachi time, infantry fighting became more common.
Oei Bizen (応永備前)
The pronunciation of Oei is“O as Oh” and “ei as A of ABC.” The Muromachi periodwas the declining time in sword making. The swords made during the early Muromachi period in Bizen were called Oei Bizen. Osafune Morimitsu (長船盛光), Osafune Yasumitsu (長船康光 ), Osafune Moromitsu (長船師光) were the main Oei Bizen swordsmiths. Soshu Hiromasa (相州広正 )、Yamashiro Nobukuni (山城信國) were also similar to the Oei Bizen style. Please refer to Chapter 21 Muromachi Period Sword for Muromachi sword shape, hamon, boshi, and Ji-hada.
Bishu Osafune Moromitsu (備州長船師光) from Sano Museum Catalogue
The above Osafune Moromitsu sword is 2 feet 5 inches long with medium kissaki. The hamon has a small wave-like pattern with continuous Gunome (a line of half-circles). The boshi area shows irregular waviness with a slightly pointed tip. Very faint Bo-utsuri (soft shadow shaped like a strip of wood) shows on Ji-hada. Bo-utsuri is a distinctive characteristic among all of the Oei Bizen.
Before the Muromachi period, there had been many swordsmith groups in the Bizen area, but by the time the period began, Osafune (長船) was the only remaining active group.
Osafune (長船) was the name of a region, but it became the last name of the swordsmiths during the Muromachi time. Two other well-known swordsmiths among the Oei Bizen are Osafune Morimitsu (盛光) and Yasumitsu (康光). The hamon by Morimitsu and Yasumitsu shows more works than that of the sword in the photo above. Chapter 21 Muromachi Period Sword describes the sword’s typical characteristics of the swords in the Muromachi period.
Hirazukuri Ko-Wakizashi Tanto
Hirazukuri Ko-Wakizashi Tanto Shape
Hirazukuri Ko-wakizashi Tanto was the trendy style during the early Muromachi time. Swordsmiths in different areas created the tanto 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 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 12| The Middle Kamakura Period Tanto）
Hirazukuri Ko-wakizashi Tanto often shows many engravings; hi with Soe-Hi (parallel double line, wide and narrow side by side ), Tokko-tsuki-ken, Tsume-tsuki-ken, Bonji, etc.
*drawings from “Nihonto no Okite to Tokucho” by Honami Koson