Introduction Of The 5 Main Sword School (Den)
There are five main sword school (Den)s. They are Yamashiro Den (山城), Bizen Den (備前), Soshu Den (相州), Yamato Den (大和) and Mino Den (美濃). During Heian period, Yamashiro Den was the main school. There was Ko-Bizen, but their style was a little different than Bizen Den we see later. They were somewhat close to Yamashiro Den. During Heian period, Yamashiro Den was the most active sword school. Swordsmiths lived around in Kyoto area, the capital city. Early Kamakura period, Yamashiro Den continued their style similar to the one during the Heian period. Bizen Den apperared in middle Kamakura period. Soshu Den appeared in late Kamakura period in Kamakura area. Mino school appeared Muromachi period.
Early Kamakura Period (鎌倉) (1192 – 1218)
We divide Kamakura period into 3 stages. early Kamakura, middle Kamakura, late Kamakura period. Early Kamakura period, sword style is almost same as the one during the Heian period, the previous time. Yamashiro Den was the active sword school in an early part of the Kamakura period.
Middle Kamakura Period (1219 – 1277)
In middle Kamakura period, we have three different styles to talk about. Yamashiro Den style, Bizen Den style, and Ikubi kissaki style (猪首切先) sword. Ikubi Kissaki is a new style. We say there are no mediocre swords among the Ikubi-Kissaki (猪首切先) swords. As I described in the previous section, Kamakura government (鎌倉幕府) had political and military power, yet the Emperor was still in Kyoto(京都). The Emperor Gotoba raised an army and attacked Kamakura government in order to regain the political power back. This war(1221) is called Jyokyu-no-Ran (承久の乱). The live experience from this war changed the shape of the sword to sturdier looking shape, that is what we call Ikubi-kissaki style.
Late Kamakura Period (after Mongolian Invasion— (1274 and 1281)
In this section, adding to the Yamashiro Den and Bizen Den, Soshu Den started to appear. After Mongolian invasion (that is called Genkou(元寇) in 1274 and 1281), longer Kissaki and longer swords started to appear.