This is the second part of chapter 8.
Kamakura period was the golden age of sword making. Approximately, half of the well-known swords at present time was made during the Kamakura period. Probably because of the war between Genji and Heishi demanded large number of swords, and had a live experience to improve the sword. Also, Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽) invited many able swordsmiths to his palace and treated them highly and encouraged them to create a good sword by giving them the ranks. During the Kamakura period, the technique of sword making improved greatly.
Middle Kamakura Period —- Yamashiro Den (山城伝)
Middle Kamakura period was the height for the Yamashiro Den. Among Yamashiro Den, there are three major groups (or families). They are Ayano-koji group (綾小路 ) Awataguchi group (粟田口), and Rai group (来). Among the Awataguchi group, six swordsmiths received the honor of the “Goban-kaji “ from the Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽上皇 ). Awataguchi is the name of the area in Kyoto. Ayanokoji ( 綾小路 ) group lived at Ayanokoji area in Kyoto. My sword textbook had a note that I saw Ayanokoji Sadatoshi (綾小路定利 ) on March 22nd, 1972. The note said O-Suriage, Funbari, narrow body and jinie. I should have written more in detail then, had I known I am writing the website in the future. Rai group started from Rai Kuniyuki (来国行 ). Rai Kuniyuki and Ayanokoji Sadatoshi are said to have a close friendship. Rai Kuniyuki created many noted swords. His famous Fudo Kuniyu (不動国行) was owned by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru (将軍足利義輝 ) then changed hand to Matsunaga Danjo (松永弾正) then to Oda Nobunaga ( 織田信長 ) to Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀 ), then to Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉). This sword was held by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s arm for the memorial service of Oda Nobunaga. Rai Kuniyuki’s son is Niji Kunitoshi. He also created noted swords.
Middle Kamakura Period —– Bizen Den (備前 伝)
Bizen Den in Heian period is called Ko-Bizen. They are similar to the one to Yamashiro-Den style. The height for the Bizen-Den was Middle Kamakura period. Bizen (Okayama prefecture now) has many ideal aspects of sword making. The weather is good, produced good steel, abundant fuel nearby, and conveniently situated. Naturally many swordsmiths moved there and became the main place to produce swords. Bizen made a large number of swords, their quality level is higher than any other places, and more famous swordsmiths came out. Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (則宗) and his son Sukemune (助宗 ) received the honor from the Emperor Gotoba. Among the Osafune group(長船), famous Mitsutada (光忠) and Nagamitsu (長光)appeared. My father owned four Mitsutada. Three Tachi and one Tanto. He was so proud that he owned four Mitsutada, he made his tailor monogrammed inside of his suite as Mitsutada. From Hatakeda group (畠田), Hatakeda Moriie (畠田守家), from Ugai (鵜飼) group, Unsho (雲生 ), Unji (雲次), and Kunimune (国宗) appeared. Because of a large number of the swordsmiths in Bizen, a large number of swords exists, also, each swordsmith has its own characteristic, Kantei for Bizen can be a very complex process. This is the time Ikubi Kissaki started to appear.
The below are my father’s four Bizen Osafune Mitsutada. My father took those pictures many years ago at home by himself. You can see he is not much of a photographer. The writing on the square white paper is written by him. He wrote the name of the swordsmith, the period it was made, which Daimyo owned in the past and classification.
The classification of the sword from the top
1. National treasure 2.Juyo Bunkazai 3.Juyo Bijutu Hin 4.Juyo Token The rest is omitted
Bizen Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Bunkazai) Bizen Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Bunkazai)
Bizen Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Token) Bizen Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Bunkazai )
Late Kamakura Period —– Soshu Den (相州伝 )
At the end of the Kamakura Period, Yamashiro Den started declining. At this time, many swordsmiths moved to Kamakura area under the new power of Kamakura Bakufu (鎌倉幕府) by the Hojo clan. The new group, Soshu Den (相州伝 ) started to emerge. From Bizen, Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) and Kunimune (国宗) moved to Kamakura. From Yamashiro Den Awataguchi, Kunitsuna (国綱) moved to Kamakura. Those are the one who originated the Soshu Den in Kamakura area. Kunitsuna’s son is Tosaburo Yukimitsu, then his son is famous Masamune ( 正宗 ). Other than Kamakura area, Rai Kunitsugu (来国次), Go-no-Yoshihiro (郷義弘) from Ettshu (越中) province, Samoji (左文字) from Chikuzen province (筑前) were the active swordsmiths.