The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section
This chapter is the detailed part of chapter 9. Please read chapter 9 before reading this chapter.
During the Middle Kamakura period, there were three main groups among the Yamashiro Den. They are Ayano-koji (綾小路) group, Awataguchi (粟田口) group, and Rai (来) group.
When we refer to a certain group, we say, “xxx ha”, “xxx ippa “, or “xxx ichimon “. We use those three words interchangeably. They are basically the same meaning. For example, we say Ayano-koji ichimon, means Ayano-koji group within the Yamashiro Den.
Ayano-Koji group (綾小路 )
Sugata (shape) ———- In general, gentle or graceful Kyo-zori shape. The difference between the width of the yokote line and machi is not much. The sword is slender yet thick. Small Kissaki
Hi and Engraving ———- Bohi (one groove) or Futasuji-hi (double groove)
Hamon ———- Nie base with Ko-choji (small clove shape) and Ko-midare (small irregular). Small inazuma (lightning like line) and Kinzuji (golden streak) may show. Double Ko-choji (two Ko-choji side by side) may appears.
Boshi (tip area) ———Ko-maru (small round), Yakizume (refer to the illustration below), and Kaen (flame like pattern)
Ji-hada ———- Small wood grain with a little Masame (straight grain) Ji-nie shows.
Nakago (tang) ———- Long, slighlyt fat feeling
Names of Ayano-Koji group ——Ayano-koji Sadatoshi (綾小路定利) Sadanori (定則)
Awataguchi group (粟田口)
Many swordsmiths of Awataguchi group (or Awataguchi Ichimon) received the honor as the Goban Kaji (meaning top swordsmith) from Gotoba Joko (Emperor Gotoba 後鳥羽上皇 ). In general, their typical characteristic is as follows.
Sugata (Shape) ———- Elegant shape Torii-zori (or Kyo-zori)
Hi and Engraving ———- The tip of Hi are all the way up and fill in the Ko-shinogi. The end of the Hi can be Maru-dome (the end is round), Kakudome (the end is square) or kakinagashi
Maru-dome (rounded end) Kaku-dome (square) Kakinagashi
Hamon ———- The slightly wider tempered line at the bottom then becomes narrow tempered line at the top. Nie base (this is called Nie-honni). Straight tempered line mixed with Ko-choji (small clove) or wide straight line mixed with choji. Awataguchi-nie appears. Awataguchi-nie means fine, deep and sharp shiny nie around tempered line area. Fine inazuma (lightning like line) and kinsuji (golden streak) appears.
Boshi (tip area) ———- Ko-maru (small round) or O-maru (large round) both return is sharrow. Yakizume, Nie Kuzure, and Kaen (flame).
Yakizume O-maru Ko-maru Yakikuzure
Ji-hada ———- Fine Ko-mokume(wood swirls) with Ji-nie. Ji-nie is nie on Ji-hada. Yubashiri, Chikei appears.
Nakago ———- Often two letter inscription
Names of Awataguchi group — Awataguchi Kunitomo (粟田口国友 ), Hisakuni (久国), Kuniyasu (国安), Kuniyasu (国安), Kunikiyo (国清)
Rai group (来)
A general characteristic of Rai group is as follows. However, each swordsmith has its own different characteristics.
Sugata (shape) ———- Graceful with dignity. Thick body. Rai made Ikubi Kissaki.
Hi and Engravings ———- Wide and shallow Hi.
Hamon ———- Nie base. Suguha (straight). Wide suguha with ko-midare (small irregular) and choji (clove). Sometimes large choji at the lower part and narrow suguha at the top. Inazuma and Kinsuji appears around yokote area.
Boshi ———- Komaru, Yakizume (refer to the illustration above)
Ji-hada ———- Finely forged Itame (small wood grain) sometimes mixed with masame (parallel grain). Fine nie. Rai group sporadically shows Yowai Tetsu (weak surface) which may be a core iron.
Names of Rai group — Rai Kuniyuki (来国行), Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊) or Niji Kunitoshi (二字国俊), Ryokai (了戒 )
Rai Kunitoshi is said to be Rai Kuniyuki’s son. Ryokai is said to be Rai Kunitoshi ‘s son.
Rai Kuniyuki (来国行）Once family-owned, photo taken by my father. His writing inside the white paper
Rai Kuniyuki (来国行）Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館) permission granted