Table of contents

By clicking below, it will take you to that chapter directly.   Part 2 is a detailed part of the corresponding chapter.

How to order “Study of Japanese Sword”

0 | Preface     

1 | Timeline

2 | Joko-to   (上古刀)

3 |Names of Parts  (名称)

4 | Heian Period History  794 – 1192  (平安時代) 

5 | Heian Period Swords   (平安時代太刀)

6 | Kamakura Period History  1192 – 1333 (鎌倉時代歴史)

7 | Overview of the Kamakura Period Swords    (鎌倉時代太刀概要)

8 | Middle Kamakura Period  : Yamashiro Den (鎌倉中期山城伝)

9 | Middle Kamakura Period :  Bizen Den (鎌倉中期備前伝)

10 | Jokyu-no-ran  1221(承久の乱) 

11 | Ikubi Kissaki  (猪首切先)

12 | Middle Kamakura Period:Tanto   (鎌倉中短刀)

13 | Late Kamakura Period :  Genko  (鎌倉末元寇)

14 | Late Kamakura Period Sword  (鎌倉末太刀)

15 | The Revival of Yamato Den(山城伝復活)

16 | Late Kamakura period: Soshu Den Tanto (相州伝短刀)

17 | Nanboku-cho Period History  1333-1392  (南北朝歴史)

18 | Nanboku-cho Period Sword:North and South dynasty  (南北朝太刀)

19 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto (南北朝短刀)

20 | Muromachi Period History (室町時代歴史)

21 | Muromachi Period Sword   (室町時代刀)

22 | Sengoku Period History   (戦国時代)

23 | Sengoku Period Sword   (戦国時代刀)

24 | Sengoku Period Tanto   (戦国時代短刀)

25 | Edo Period History  1603 – 1867  (江戸時代歴史)

26 | Over view of Shin-to (新刀) — Ko-to & Shin-to Difference

27 | Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A : 主要7刀匠地)

28 | Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (part B : 主要7刀匠地)

29 | Bakumatsu Period History  1781 – 1868   (幕末歴史)

30 | Shin-Shin-To   1781-1867   (Bakumatsu Period Sword 新々刀)

31 | Sword Making Process

32 | Japanese swords after WWII

33 | Information on Today’s Swordsmiths

34 | Part 2 of — 1 Timeline

35 | Part 2 of — 2 Joko-To (上古刀)

36 | Part 2 of — 3 Names of the Parts

37 | Part 2of — 4 Heian Period History   794-1192   (平安時代) 

38 | Part 2 of — 5 Heian Period Sword   794-1192  (平安時代太刀)

39 | Part 2 of — 6 Kamakura Period History   192 – 1333   (鎌倉時代歴史)

40 | Part 2 of — 7 Overview of Kamakura Period Sword  (鎌倉太刀概要)

41 | Part 2 of — 8 Middle Kamakura Period : Yamashiro Den   (鎌倉中期山城伝)

42 | Part 2 of —  9 Middle Kamakura Period : Bizen Den  (鎌倉中期備前伝)

43 | Part 2 of — 10 Jyokyu-no-Ran and Gotoba-joko    (承久の乱)

44 | Part 2 of — 11 Ikubi Kissaki(猪首切先)

45 | Part 2 of — 11 Ikubi Kissaki (continued from Chapter 44)

46 | Part 2 of — 12|Middle Kamakura Period : Tanto 鎌倉中期短刀

47 | Part 2 of — 13 Late Kamakura Period :  Genko  (鎌倉末元寇)

48 | Part 2 of — 14|Late Kamakura Period Sword :  Early Soshu Den   (鎌倉末刀)

49 | Part 2 of — 15 The Revival of Yamato Den  (大和伝復活)

50 | Part 2 of — 16 Late Kamakura Period: Tanto (Early Soshu-Den 鎌倉末短刀, 正宗墓)

51 | Part 2 of — 17 Nanboku-Cho Period History  1333 – 1392  (南北朝歴史)

52 | Part 2 of — 18 Nanboku-Cho Period Swords  (南北朝太刀)

53 | Part 2 of — 19 Nanboku-Cho Tanto  (南北朝短刀)

54 | Part 2 of — 20|Muromachi Period History  (室町歴史)

55 | Part 2 of — 21 Muromachi Period Sword   (室町時代刀)

56 | Part 2 of — 22 Sengoku Period History    (戦国時代歴史) 

57 | Part 2 of  — 23 Sengoku Period Sword   (戦国時代刀)

58 | Part 2 of — 24 Sengoku Period Tanto   (戦国時代短刀)

59 | Part 2 of — 25 Edo Period History  1603 – 1867  (江戸時代歴史 )

60 | Part 2 of — 26 Overview of Shin-To  (新刀概要)

61 | Part 2 of — 27 Shin-to Main 7 Regions (part A)

62 | Part 2 of — 28 Shin-To Main 7 Region (part B)

63 | Part 2 of — 29 Bakumatsu Period History  (幕末時代)

64 | Part 2 of — 30 Shin-Shin-To : Bakumatsu sword (新々刀 )

65 | The Sword Observation Process

66 | BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

2019 San Francisco Sword show

 

                                                     

My Sword made by Yoshihara Yoshindo 

 

The book is finally here – How to order

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62|Part 2 of — 28 Shin-To Main 7 Region (part B)

This chapter is a continued part of chapter 28 Shin-to Main 7 Regions (part B).  Please read chapter 28 before reading this chapter.  Below are the regions 3,7.

0-timeline - size 24 Shin-to                           The red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section    

29 Map with number 7

3.Musashi (Edo)

We find many famous swordsmiths in Edo also.  They were Yasutsugu(康継), Kotetsu(虎徹), Noda Hankei (野田繁慶), Hojoji Masahiro (法成寺正弘), and their followers.

Two photos below are swordsmiths from Musashi (武蔵: Tokyo).  

               65 Yasutsugu photo  65-yasutsugu-illustration-e1567313224375.jpg                             Yasutsugu  From Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission granted to use

Characteristics of Yasutusgu (康継) ——- shallow curvature; Chu-gissaki (medium Kissaki); Hamon of wide Notare, Midare, or O-gunome (sometimes double Gunome); a trace of Soshu Den and Mino Den; and woodgrain pattern mixed with Masame on Shinogi-ji.

                         65 Kotetsu photo  65 kotetu illustration                                    Kotetsu (虎徹) from Sano Museum Catalogue, (permission granted to use)

Here is the famous Kotetsu.  His formal name was Nagasone Okisato Nyudo Kotetsu (長曽祢興里入道虎徹).   Kotetsu began to make swords after he passed 50 years old.  Before that, he was an armor maker.  

The characteristics of Kotetsu ———————– shallow curvature and wide width, wide tempered line with Nie.  Small irregular Hamon at about the Machi area, becoming wide Suguha like Notare at the upper area.  Fine Nie, Komaruboshi with a short turn back.  Ji-hada is fine wood grain and burl.  Sometimes, you see O-hada (black core iron show through) at the lower part above the Machi area.  The illustration above shows a thick tempered line with Nie, which is the typical Kotetsu’s characteristic.  Once you see it, you will remember it.    The next region is 7, skipping 4, 5, and 6.

  1. Satsuma (Kyushu)

                   65 Satsuma Masakiyo illustration65 Satsuma Masakiyo photo                  Miyahara Mondonosho Masakiyo (宮原主水正正清) from Sano Museum Catalogue, (permission granted to use).

Miyahara Mondonosho Masakiyo was highly regarded by the Shimazu family of Satsuma Han (Satsuma domain in Kyushu).  Later he was chosen to go to Edo to forge swords for Shogun Yoshimune

Mondonosho Masakiyo’s characteristics————-Well balanced sword shape, shallow curvature, and wide and narrow Hamon mixed with squarish Hamon and pointed Hamon as shown in the photo above.  He engraved the Aoi crest (the hollyhock crest of the Tokugawa family) on Nakago.

 

61|Part 2 of — 27 Shin-to Main 7 Regions (part A)

This chapter is a continued part of chapter 27| Shinto Main 7 Regions  (Part A).  Please read chapter 27 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Shin-to                        The red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

Chaptern 27, Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A :主要7刀匠地) and Chapter 28, Shin-to Main Seven Regions (part B 主要7刀匠地)described an overview of the seven main regions.  This chapter and the next chapter show the representative swords from these regions.  They are Yamashiro (山城 in Kyoto), Settsu (摂津today’s Osaka), Musashi (武蔵  Edo), Satsuma (薩摩  Kyushu).  But Echizen (越前) and Kaga (加賀), Hizen (肥前) are skipped.29 Map with number 7

With the Ko-to swords, the shape, Hamon condition, Kissaki size, the length, and the shape of the Nakago, etc., indicate when the sword was forged.  In Ko-to time, the Bizen swordsmiths forged the Bizen Den swords; the Yamashiro swordsmiths forged the Yamashiro Den swords, the Mino swordsmiths forged the Mino Den sword.  But with the Shin-to-time swords, that is not the case.  The Den and the location of a swordsmith often do not match.  For Shin-to sword, we study the swordsmiths and their main seven regions and their characteristic.

Regarding the swords made in the Ko-to time, if a sword has a wide Hamon line with Nie, usually, its Ji-hada shows large wood grain or large burl grain.  Also, when you see a narrow Hamon line, it usually has a fine Ji-hada. 

However, with Shin-to swords, if a sword has a wide Hamon with Nie, it often has small wood grain or small burl grain pattern on Ji-hada.  And if it has a narrow Hamon line, it may have a large wood grain pattern Ji-hada.  That is the Shin-to characteristic.   

Here is an exception; some of the early Soshu Den swords during the late Kamakura period show wide Hamon with Nie with small burls on Ji-hada.  Because of that, whether it is Ko-to or Shin-to is confusing.  Even so, other features like Ji-hada or other parts should indicate the Shin-to or Ko-to.

  1. Yamashiro (山城: Kyoto)

64-kunihiro-sword.jpg 64 Kunihiro IllustrationHorikawa Kunihiro   (堀川国広)   From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広)

Horikawa Kunihiro was considered a great master swordsmith among Shin-to swordsmiths.  He forged his swords in many styles with different characteristics.  Hamon types are O-notare, O-gunome, Togari-ba (pointed hamon), Chu-suguha with Hotsure (frayed look), Hiro-suguha with Sunagashi effect, Inazuma, or Kinsuji appears.  Kunihiro liked to make his sword shape look like O-suriage (shortened Nanboku-Cho style long sword).  Kunihiro‘s blade gives you a massive feeling.  Kunihiro‘s swords often have beautiful carvings on them; designs include a dragon, Sanskrit letters, etc.  Since his swords are in many different styles, there is no general characteristic on his swords other than that Hamon is mainly Nie.  His Ji-hada is finely forged.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

img067.jpg  img068.jpg           Iga-no-Kami Kinnmichi (伊賀守金道)           Dewa Daijyo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)        Both Juyo Token (重要刀剣), once my family owned, photos were taken by my father.

Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi ( 伊賀守金道)

Kinmichi family is called the Mishina group.  Refer 27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地)Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi received the Japanese Imperial chrysanthemum crest. 

The characteristic of Kinmichi ——- wide sword, shallow curvature, extended Kissaki, Sakizori (curvature at 1/3 top),  wide tempered line, Kyo-yakidashi (refer 27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地), Hiro-suguha (wide straight Hamon), O-notare (large wavy), Yahazu-midare, Hako-midare (refer 24| Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代短刀)Boshi is Mishina-boshi, refer 27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地).  Fine wood burl, Masame appears on Shinog-ji area.

Dewa Daijo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)

Dewa Daijo Kunimichi was the best student of Horikawa Kunihiro.  The right photo above.  Like Kunihiro, the shape of the sword looks like a shortened Nanboku-cho sword.  Shallow curvature, wide-body, somewhat stretched Kissaki, and Fukura-kareru (less arch in fukura).  Wide tempered line, large Gunome, Nie with Sunagashi, or Inazuma shows.  Double Gunome (two Gunome side by side) appears.  Fine Ji-hada.

  1. Settu (摂津) Osaka (大阪 )

Settu (Osaka) has many well-known swordsmiths.  They are Kawachi-no-Kami Kunisuke (河内守国助), Tsuda Echizen-no-Kami Sukehiro (津田越前守助広), Inoue Shinkai (井上真改), Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子忠綱), etc.                                                                                                     

The Settsu (Osaka) sword’s main characteristic ———— The surface is beautiful and fine, almost like a solid look with no pattern or no designs surface.  The below two photos are of the Settsu sword.

                 62 Ikkanshi photo  62 Ikkanshi illustration                  Ikkanshi Tadatsuna from Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission granted to use.

Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子忠綱)

Ikkanshi Tadatsuna was famous for his carvings.  His father was also a well-known swordsmith, Omi-no-Kami Tadatsuna (近江守忠綱).  Ikkanshi Tadatsu was the second generation of Omi-no-kami Tadatsuna.  Therefore he was also known as Awataguchi Omi-no-Kami Fujiwara Tadatsuna (粟田口近江守藤原忠綱), as you see in the Nakago above photo.                                               

The characteristics of Ikkanshi Tadatsuna —————- longer kissaki and Sakizori (curved at a higher part of the body), wide tempered line with Nie.  Osaka Yakidashi (transition between the Suguha above Machi and Midare is smooth.  Refer to 27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地) for Osaka Yakidashi.  O-notare with Gunome, Komaru-boshi with a turn back, and very fine Ji-hada with almost no pattern on the surface.

61 Inoue Shinkai 1

 Inoue Shinkai (井上真改) from “Nippon-to Art Swords of Japan” The Walter A. Compton Collection

Inoue Shinkai (井上真改)

Inoue shinkai was the second generation of Izumi-no-Kami Kunisada (和泉守国定), who was a student of Kunihiro.                                                                                                                         

The characteristic of Inoue Shinkai’s swords ——-Osaka Yakidashi, the tempered line gradually becomes wider toward the top.  O-Notare and deep Nie.  Very fine Ji-hada with almost no design on the surface.

60|Part 2 of – – 26 Overview of Shin-To (新刀概要)

Chapter 60 is a Continued part of Chapter 26 |Over view of Shinto (新刀概要).   Please read Chapter 26 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 edo Period

                   The red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section    

The difficulty of Shin-to Kantei

Regarding the swords during Ko-to time, one can tell the approximate period when they were made by looking at the style and the shape.  Several conditions indicate what period and which Gokaden (五ヶ伝) created the particular sword by looking at several points, like how the Hamon showed or how the Ji-gane appeared.  But with the swords in the Shin-to time, that does not work. 

Even though there are some differences among the Shin-to swords made in the early Edo period, which is around the Keicho (慶長: 1596 ~) era, the middle Edo period that is around the Kanbun (寛文: 1661 ~) era, and the late Edo period that is Genroku era (元禄: 1688 ~), the differences are not much. 

The same is true about the Gokaden (五ヶ伝) during the Shin-to time.  In the Ko-to time, Bizen swordsmiths forged swords with Bizen characteristics.  The blades Yamato swordsmiths made usually showed the Yamato Den characteristics.  But in the Shin-to time, a swordsmith of one particular Den sometimes forged the style of another Den’s featuresAs a result, it is hard to determine who forged a specific sword. 

For Shin-to, we study the characteristics of seven main locations.  The following chapters will go over them.

Picturesque Hamon

In and after the Genroku era (元禄1688 – 1704), some picturesque Hamon became a trendy style.  Some swordsmiths made picturesque Hamon on Wakizashi or short swords.  Since it became very popular, especially among foreigners, most of them were exported outside of Japan around the Meiji Restoration time. Very few are left in Japan today.

The swordsmiths those who made picturesque  Hamon 

Yamashiro area ——————————————-Iga-no-kami Kinmichi (伊賀守金道),                                                                                  Omi-no-kami Hisamichi (近江守久道)

Settsu (摂津) area ———————————Tanba-no-Kami Yoshimichi  (丹波守吉道)                                                                           Yamato-no-Kami Yoshimichi (大和守吉道)

Below are examples.  Fuji is the Mount fuji designKikusui is chrysanthemum in the water.

63 fuji sakura hamon

        Fuji                                      Kikusui

59| Part 2 of — 25 Edo Period History (江戸時代歴史)

This chapter is a detailed part of Chapter 25 Edo Period History (江戸時代歴史).  Please read Chapter 25 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 edo Period                            The red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

Battle of Sekigahara  (関ヶ原合戦)

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉), the most powerful man during the Sengoku period (and Momoyama period), died in 1598.  At that time, his heir, Hideyori (秀頼), was only five years old.  Before Hideyoshi’s death, he set up a council system that consisted of the top five Daimyos to take care of the jobs for Hideyori as his regents until he grew up to be an adult.  

At Hideyoshi’s death bed, all the five Daimyo agreed to be the guardians of Hideyori.  But, little by little, Ishida Mitsunari (石田三成) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康) began disagreeing with each other.  In 1600, finally, those two main Daimyo clashed, and the Battle of Sekigahara broke outOne side is called Seigun (the western army), led by Ishida Mitsunari, and the other, Togun (the eastern army) by Tokugawa Ieyasu.   All the Daimyos in the country took either Tokugawa or Ishida Mitsunari’s side.  It is said that the Mitsunari’s Seigun had 100,000 men, while the Tokugawa’s Togun, 70,000 men.   Ieyasu had fewer soldiers, but he won in the end.  Ieyasu became the Toyotomi clan’s chief retainer, which means that he was virtually the top person because Hideyori was still a child.   

In 1603 Ieyasu became the Shogun.  Now Ieyasu seized control of Japan, and he established the Tokugawa Bakufu (government) in Edo and eliminated the council system. 

Toyotomi Hideyori was still there with his mother, Yodo-gimi (淀君or Yodo-dono淀殿), in Osaka Castle, which Hideyoshi built before he died.  After a while, the relationship between Hideyori-Yodogimi, the Osaka side, and Ieyasu, the Edo side, became awkward.  Yodo-gimi was a very proud and headstrong person with good reasons.  She was a niece of Oda Nobunaga, the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the mother of Hideyori, the head of the Toyotomi clan.  Later, her pride got her into trouble and led to the destruction of the Toyotomi clan. 

Siege of Osaka: Winter (1614) and Summer ( 1615) Campaigns

During the 15 years between the Battle of Sekigahara and Osaka Castle’s Siege, the tension between the Tokugawa Bakufu and Toyotomi clan built up little by little.  Before the Battle of Sekigahara, the Toyotomi clan ruled Japan.  After the Sekigahara, the Tokugawa Bakufu began to rule Japan.  The Toyotomi clan lost many top advisers and vassals in the battle.  As a result, all the power of the Toyotomi’s centered around Yodo-gimi

By the time of the siege, Hideyori grew up to be a fine man, but Yodo-gimi had overprotected her son and controlled him.  She even did not allow Hideyori to practice Kendo (Japanese traditional martial art of swordsmanship), saying it was too dangerous. 

She persistently acted as if the Toyotomi clan was still in supreme power.  Tokugawa Ieyasu tried to calm the friction by having his grand-daughter, Sen-hime, married to Hideyori.  A few advisors suggested Yodo-gimi yield to Tokugawa, but she insisted that Tokugawa had to subordinate himself to Toyotomi.   A rumor began to spread that the Toyotomi side started to hire and gather many Ronin (Samurai without a lord) inside the Osaka Castle.  Several key persons tried to mediate the Toyotomi clan and the Tokugawa but failed. 

Finally, Ieyasu led his army to Osaka, and in November 1614, began a campaign to siege the Osaka Castle (the Winter Campaign)It is said that the Toyotomi side had 100,000 soldiers, but some of them were just mercenariesHowever, Osaka Castle was built almost like a fortress itself, very hard to attack.  The Tokugawa army attacked hard and fired cannon every day, but they realized that the castle was so solid that it was a waste of time to continue. 

Eventually, both sides went to a peace negotiation.  They agreed on several items of the treaty.  One of them was to fill the outer moat of the Osaka Castle.  But the Tokugawa side filled both the outer and the inner moats.  That made the Toyotomi side angry, and they became suspicious that the Tokugawa might not keep the agreement.   

Another agreement was the disarmament of the Toyotomi clan.  Yet the Toyotomi side kept having their soldiers inside the castle.  Tokugawa gave the last ultimatum to Toyotomi’s side to dismiss all soldiers from the castle or move out from the castle.  Yodo-gimi refused both. 

After that, another siege started in the summer of 1615 (the Summer Campaign).  It is said that the Toyotomi had 70,000 men, and the Tokugawa had 150,000 men.  Both sides had several battles here and there, but the fights did not go well for both sides in the beginning because of the thick fog, delayed arrival of troops, miscommunications, etc.   The last battlefield was in Osaka Castle. The Toyotomi decided to stay inside the castle, but soon a fire broke out from inside and burned the castle.  Yodo-dono and Hideyori hid inside the storage building, waiting for Ieyasu’s answer to the plea for their lives.  They hoped their daughter-in-law could achieve the bargain.  But It was not accepted, and they both died inside the storage building.

Nene and Yodo-gimi

Nene was the lawful wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.  She was a brilliant and sensible person but not a high born.  Everybody respected her, including Tokugawa Ieyasu.  Even Hideyoshi often followed her opinions on political matters.   She helped Hideyoshi to climb up his ranks.  However, Nene could not bear a child.  Toyotomi Hideyoshi went around other women everywhere, hoping to get his heir, but nobody could have his child except Yodo-gimi.  Naturally, a rumor went around about who the true birth father was.  The speculation indicated several men, and one of them was Ishida Mitsunari.   

62 Yodo Gimi

伝 淀殿画像(It is said to be a portrait of Yodo-dono but no evidence.)Owned by Nara Museum of Art    Drawn in 17th century  Public Domain:  Yodo-dono cropped.jpg from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Nene (Kodai-In), Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s lawful wife.  Public domain from Wikimedia, owned by Kodai-Ji

2019 San Francisco Sword show

Here are several pictures of 2019 San Francisco Sword Show that I attended last weekend.  It was a such a pleasure meeting several of you guys.  Mr. Yoshihara brought his grandson to this meeting as debut as a new sword maker. It is nice to see a next generation of sword maker.

IMG_1423
This is the 2019 San Francisco Sword Show

IMG_1418
Mr. Yoshindo Yoshihara (left), Me (middle), Mrs. Kapp (right)

IMG_1422
They also had entertainment, such as singing and dancing.

IMG_1426
Yoshindo and his grand-son (2019 Sword Show is his debut as a sword maker)

IMG_1425
Yoshindo is a very good cook.  He had after party at Kapp’s house.

58|Part 2 of — 24 Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代短刀)

Chapter 58 is a Continued part of chapter 24|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代).  Please read chapter 24|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)  before reading this section.

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           The red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section  

Muramasa (村正)

The discussion of this chapter is about the famous Muramasa (村正).  Usually, many well-known swordsmiths were from one of the Goka Den (五家伝: The primary five schools: Yamashiro Den, Bizen Den, Soshu Den, Yamato Den, and Mino Den).  However, Muramasa was not from the Goka Den but Ise Province.  The first generation Muramasa was known as a student of He’ian-jo Nagayoshi (平安城長吉) of Yamashiro Den.  The Muramasa family lived through the mid-Muromachi period.  They had three generations from the mid-Muromachi period to the Sengoku period

61 Ise map

Here is one of Muramasa’s Tanto that was made during the Sengoku periodSince this is the Sengoku period Tanto, the blade shows the Sengoku period sword style.  It shows Mino Den characteristics, with the Soshu Den Characteristics added. 

61 Muramasa photo  61 Muramasa illustration                                                                                                                                                            Muramasa (村正) from Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Characteristics  on this Tanto

Muramasa’s Tantos are often 10 inches ± half inches or so.  Hirazukuri (平作り). Thin blade with a sharp look.  Nioi base with small Nie and Sunagashi (brushed sand-like patterns, the illustration below) appears.  Boshi (the top part of Hamon) is Jizo (a side view of a human’s head).  The tempered line has wide areas and narrow areas.  Some areas are so narrow, close to the edge of the blade, while others are broad.  Hako midare (box-like shape) and Gunome (lined-up beads pattern) appear.  O-notare (large gentle waviness) is a Muramasa’s signature characteristic.  The pointed tempered line is a typical Mino Den characteristic (Sanbon-sugi).  Refer to 23| Sengoku Period Sword(戦国時代刀)and 24| Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代短刀).

61 Sunagashi 2

Sunagashi (Brushed sand-like trace.  My drawing is exaggerated)

56| Part 2 of — 22 Sengoku Period History (戦国時代歴史) 

Chapter 56 is a detailed part of chapter 22 Sengoku Period History.  Please read chapter 22 Sengoku Period History before reading this chapter.

0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period                               
                               The circle above indicate the time we discuss in this section

22| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代歴史) explained how we separated the timeline based on political history and sword history.  The center timeline above shows the Sengoku Period (戦国時代) ends in 1596 for sword history. 

1596 is the beginning of the Keicho (慶長) era.  The swords made in and after the Keicho era are called Shin-to (new sword), and swords before the Keicho era are called Ko-to (old sword).  Therefore, the beginning of the Keicho era is the dividing line.  The swords made during the Keicho time is technically Shin-to, but they are specially called Keicho Shin-to.                                                                                                                         

22| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代歴史) described the overview of the Sengoku Period.  At the beginning of the Sengoku Period, 30 or so small Sengoku Daimyo (warlord) fought fiercely with each other.  They allied with a neighboring territory on and off and sometimes betrayed each other.  The stronger Daimyo took over weaker ones’ territories.  Little by little, the number of Daimyo became lesser.  The names of known powerful Daimyo are Imagawa Yoshimoto (今川義元), Takeda Shingen (武田信玄), Uesugi Kenshin (上杉謙信), Hojo Soun (北条早雲), Oda Nobunaga (織田信長),  Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉).  Their final goal was to defeat others and advance to Kyoto (京都) to be the supreme political power. 

Oda Nobunaga (織田信長) defeated Imagawa Yoshimoto in Okehazama (桶狭間)

Around 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto (今川義元) controlled a significant part of  Suruga (today’s Shizuoka prefecture.  See the map below for the location).  He was a powerful Sengoku Daimyo who was big enough to be the top ruler of the country. 

Imagawa clan decided to advance his army toward Kyoto to take over the governmentHe took 25,000 men troop with him.  On his way up to Kyoto, they needed to pass Owari (尾張: Aichi prefecture today.  See map below for the location), Oda Nobunaga’s territory.  

Oda Nobunaga (織田信長) was still a young man who had much less means than Imagawa Yoshimoto.  It was quite apparent that there was no chance for Oda Nobunaga to beat Imagawa.  He had just become the head of Owari after his father’s death.  Also, at that time, Nobunaga was called “The idiot of Owari” because of his eccentric behaviors (he was actually a genius). 

Not too many people had much confidence in him.  Among  Oda vassals, some insisted on just staying inside the castle instead of going out and fighting since Nobunaga managed to gather only 3,000 men.  But in the end, to everyone’s surprise, the Oda side won.  Here is how it happened. 

While Imagawa Yoshimoto was advancing, Nobunaga scouted which route Imagawa would take. Imagawa’s side was sure to win this easy battle since the Oda clan was small, and the head of the clan was an idiot.  Imagawa troops decided to stop and rest in a place called Okehazama.   The road going through Okehazama was long and narrow.  Knowing Imagawa troop would come this way, Nobunaga sent out his men disguised as farmers and offered food and sake to Imagawa soldiersWhile they were having a good time, Oda Nobunaga made a surprise attack on the Imagawa troop.

On top of that, all of a sudden, it began raining heavily.  The rain was so heavy that the Imagawa troop could not even see the Oda troop was coming.  In the end, Imagawa Yoshimoto was killed by the Oda side in the battle.  After this, the Imagawa clan declined.

59 Okehazama drawing

Bishu Okehazama Gassen (備州桶狭間合戦) by Utagawa Toyonobu (歌川豊信)   Public Domain (http://morimiya.net/online/ukiyoe-big-files/U896.html)

59-imagawa-and-oda-map.jpg

Oda Nobunaga(織田信長) and Akechi Mitsuhide(明智光秀)

After the battle of Okehazama, the Oda clan grew bigger rapidly.  Oda Nobunaga became the primary power.  While his reign, he did several cruel things like burning Enryaku-ji Temple (延暦寺) and killing many people, including ordinary people,  yet his economic measures encouraged commercial activities. 

Things were going somewhat smoothly for Nobunaga late in his life.  But in 1582, Nobunaga was killed by his own top vassal, Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀), at Hon’nou-ji (本能寺) Temple in KyotoNobunaga was 49 years old. 

A few theories about why Akecdhi attacked and killed Nobunaga, but we don’t know what exactly happened.  One speculation is Akechi had a grudge against Nobunaga. There were many incidents where Nobunaga mistreated Akechi.  Another is that Akechi saw a chance to attack Nobunaga (Nobunaga was with a very few men on that day) and took the opportunity.  The other is:  Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki (足利義昭) and his surroundings ordered Akechi to kill Nobunaga since Akechi had once worked under him.  Shogun Yoshiaki was afraid that Nobunaga would become too powerful.  More theories go on.  We don’t know the real reason; we still debate over it.  It is one big mystery of Japanese history.  

After this happened, the news was relayed to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a counterpart of Akechi under Nobunaga.  At that time, Hideyoshi happened to be in  Bicchu (備中, Okayama prefecture today), which was about 230 KM (143 miles) away from Kyoto (See the map below).   Hideyoshi quickly returned to Kyoto with his troop to avenge his master against Akechi and killed him. 

Here is another mystery.  The time between Nobunaga was killed, and the time Akechi was killed by Hideyoshi was only ten days.  Hideyoshi was 230 KM (143 miles) away.  There were many mountains and rivers in between.  That means in 10 days, Hideyoshi received the information of Nobunaga’s death, packed up hurried back 230 KM (143 miles) to Kyoto with his large number of soldiers and fought against Akechi and killed him.   Their means of transportation at the time were minimal.  Even though Hideyoshi had a communication route established between Nobunaga’s inner circle all the time, it is an amazing speed.  There are also speculations that Akechi and Hideyoshi were behind together (?) or some other secret plot behind the incidents. 

59-bicchu-map.jpg

After Hideyoshi killed Akechi, Hideyoshi cleverly maneuvered his way up to the top of the power.  While Hideyoshi was in charge, he mined a large amount of gold from the gold mines he possessed.  There is a record stating that Hideyoshi buried a vast amount of gold somewhere.  But we have never found it yet. 

Hideyoshi was a poor farmer’s son who became the most powerful man in the country.  His success story fascinates the Japanese.  Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu are the three most depicted subjects on TV programs and movies.  After Hideyoshi died of natural causes, Tokugawa Ieyasu became Shogun, and the Edo period started.

The reference source                                                                                                      *Rekijin.com/?p=31448-キャッシュ                                                                                    *Bushoojapan.com/scandal/2019/06/02/51145-キャッシュ            

55 |Part 2 of —–21 Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代刀)

Chapter 55 is the detailed part of chapter 21|Muromachi Period Sword.  Please read Chapter 21 before reading this section.

57 Muromach-timeline size 22

                         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 21| Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代刀)  .  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 period was the declining time in sword making.  The swords made during the early Muromachi period in the Bizen area were called Oei BizenOsafune 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 21| Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代刀) for Muromachi sword shape, Hamon, Boshi, and Ji-hada.

57 Moromitsu photo (必要分 57 Moromitus Oshigata

Bishu Osafune Moromitsu (備州長船師光)   from Sano Museum Catalogue ((permission granted)

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 lined 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-hadaBo-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 Muromachi time began, Osafune (長船) was the only remaining active group.

Osafune (長船) is 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 were Osafune Morimitsu (盛光) and Osafune Yasumitsu (康光).  The Hamon by Morimitsu and Yasumitsu shows more work than that of the sword in the photo above.  Chapter 21| Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代刀) shows the Hamon by Morimitsu and Yasumitsu, also describes typical characteristics of the swords in the Muromachi period.

Hirazukuri Ko-Wakizashi Tanto

58 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 Tantos like the one above.  But majorities of this types were made by Oei Bizen swordsmiths.

The characteristic of the Hirazukuri ko-wakizashi Tanto ——— Usually 1 foot and 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

13 Mune drawing

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.

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji20 Tokko, tume Ken  58 tsumetukiken and Hi

*drawings from “Nihonto no Okite to Tokucho” by Honami Koson