Table of contents

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

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1 | Preface     –   

2 | Time line

3 | Joko-to(上古刀)

4 |Names of Parts

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

6 |Heian Period Swords

7| Kamakura Period History (1192 – 1334)

8| Overview of the Kamakura Period Swords (1192-1333)

9| Middle Kamakura Period —Yamashiro School(鎌倉中期山城伝

10 | Middle Kamakura Period — Bizen School(鎌倉中期備前伝)

11|Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221

12|Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)

13|Tanto ( 短刀) Middle Kamakura Period

14|Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期)

15|Late Kamakura Period Sword

16|The Revival of Yamato School (山城伝復活)

17 | Late Kamakura period Tanto ——- Early Soshu Tanto

18|Nanboku(Yoshino) Cho Period History—— North and South Dynasty History(1333-1393)

19|Nanboku-Cho (North and South dynasty) Period Sword

20 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀)

21|Muromachi Period History (室町時代)

22|Muromachi Period Sword

23| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代)

24|Sengoku Period Sword(戦国時代)– – – – – – – – –  – – -Mino- Den 

25|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)

26| Edo Period History (江戸時代)1603 – 1867

27|Over view of Shinto (新刀)– – – – – – – Difference between Ko-To and Shin-To

28| Seven Main Areas of Shin-to Sword (Part A)

29|Seven Main Areas of Sin-To Sword (partB)

30| Bakumatsu Period History (幕末)1781 – 1867

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

32|The Process of Making a Sword

33|References

34| Background

35|Part 2 of —– 1|Preface

36| Part 2 of —– 2|Timeline

37|Part 2 of —– 3|Jyoko-To (上古刀)

38|Part 2 of —– 4|Names of the Parts

39|Part 2 of —– 5|Heian Period History (平安時代) 794-1192

40|Part 2 of —– 6|Heian Period Sword (792-1192)

41|Part 2 of —– 7|Kamakura Period History (1192 – 1333)

42|Part 2 of —– 8|Overview of the Kamakura Period Sword 1192-1333)

43| Part 2 of —– 9| Middle Kamakura Period Yamashiro Den (鎌倉中期山城伝)

44|Part 2 of —– 10|Middle Kamakura Period Bizen-Den (鎌倉中期備前伝)

45|Part 2 of —- 11|Jyokyu-no-Hen and Gotoba Joko 後鳥羽上皇 1221

46|Part 2 of —- 12|Ikubi Kissaki(猪首切先)

47|Part 2 of —–12|Ikubi Kissaki, continued

48|Part 2 of —– 13|Middle Kamakura Period Tanto 鎌倉中期短刀

49| Part 2 of —-14|Late Kamakura Period (鎌倉後期歴史)

50|Part 2 of —– 15|Late Kamakura Period Sword

My Japanese Room

51| Part 2 of —– 16 The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)

My Yamato Sword (大和所有刀剣)

52|Part 2 of —–17|Late Kamakura Period Tanto (Early Soshu-Den Tanto)

53| Part 2 of —- 18 Nanboku-Cho(南北朝) Period History (1333 – 1393)

54|Masamune Tombstone in Honkakuji Temple (本覚寺)

55|Nanboku-Cho Period Swords (南北朝刀)

56| Nanboku-Cho Tanto (南北朝短刀) 

57|Part 2 of —– 21|Mucond Muromachi Period History (室町時代) 1393-1467  – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and Ashikaga Yoshimasa 

58|Part 2 of —–22| Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代) 1393 —- 1467

59| Part 2 of —– 23|Sengoku Period History (戦国時代) 1467 —1596 – – – – – – – – – – – –      – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Oda Nobunaga, Battle of Okehazam and Honnou-Ji Temple 

60|  Part 2 of —24|Sengoku Period Sword  (1467 – 1596) – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — –  – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – Mino-Den and Bizen-Den

61|Part 2 of — 25|Sengoku Period Tanto (1467 – 1596)  – – – – – – – -Muramasa Tanto

2019 San Francisco Sword show

62| Part 2 of – – – – – 26|Edo Period History (江戸時代】1603 – 1867 – – – – – – – – – – – – –The battle of Sekigahara and the Winter and Summer Siege of Osaka Castle.

63|Part 2 of – – – 27|Overview of Shin-To (新刀 ) – – – – — – – picturesque Hamon

63|Part 2 of – – – 27|Overview of Shin-To (新刀)

This chapter is the detailed chapter of  27|Over view of Shinto (新刀).  Please read chapter 27 before you start reading this chapter.

The difficulty of Shin-To Kantei

During Ko-To time, one could tell the approximate time when the sword was made by the style and the shape.  The condition of the Hamon,  how the Jigane appears indicates the approximate Gokaden (五ヶ伝) of Ko-To time.  But in Shin-To time, that can not be done.  Even though among Shin-To time, there was some difference between early Edo period that is around Keicho (慶長) era, the middle Edo period that is Kanbun (寛文) and the later part Edo period that is Genroku Era (元禄), but that differences are not much.  The same is true with Gokaden (五ヶ伝). In Ko-To time, Bizen sword smiths forged Bizen characteristic, Yamato sword smiths usually shows Yamato-Den characteristic.  But Shin-To time, a swordsmith of one area did the other area’s Den.  From those reasons, it is hard to determine the swordmaker.  For shin-To, we study the characteristics of 7 main locations.  This will follow the next chapter.

Picturesque Hamon

Around the Genroku Era (1688 – 1704), some picturesque Hamon became a trendy style.  Some swordsmiths made picturesque Hamon on wakizashi or short swords and it became very fashionable.  But many foreigners loved those swords and majority of them were exported to outside of Japan around Meiji restoration time (1868).  Very few are left in Japan today.

The swordsmiths those who made picturesque  Hamon 

From Yamashiro area, Iga-no-kami Kinmichi (伊賀守金道) and Omi-no-kami Hisamichi (近江守久道) forged picturesque Hamon.  From Settsu-no-Kuni (摂津) area,  Tanba-no-Kami Yoshimichi  (丹波守吉道),  Yamato-no-Kami Yoshimichi (大和守吉道) did picturesque Hamon.  And many more.  The below are examples.  Fuji is the Mount fuji designKikusui is chrysanthemum in the water.

63 fuji sakura hamon
 

Fuji                                                      Kikusui

 

 

 

62| Part 2 of – – – – – 26|Edo Period History (江戸時代】1603 – 1867

Chapter 62 is a detailed part of chapter 26|Edo Period History.  Please read 26 Edo Period History (1603 – 1867) before you start reading this chapter.

Battle of Sekigahara

The most powerful man during the Sengoku period, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉) died in 1598.  At that time, his heir, Hideyori was only 5 years old.  Before Hideyoshi’s death, he set up a council system consisted of top five Daimyos to take care of the job for Hideyori as his regents until his son comes of age.  At the death bed of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, all five Daimyo agreed to be a guardian of Hideyori, but little by little each of them started to oppose each other, especially Ishida Mitsunari (石田三成 ) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康).   In 1600, those two big forces broke the battle of Sekigahara.   One side is Ishida Mitsunari that was called the Seigun (the western army) and the other was Ieyasu side that was called Togun ( the eastern army).   All the Daimyos of the rest of the country took their side either Tokugawa side or Ishida Mitsunari’s side.  It is said Ishida Mitsunari side had 100,000 men and Tokugawa side had 70,000 men.  Ieyasu side had less number of soldiers but he won at the end and he became the top among Toyotomi clan that means he was the top person since Hideyori was still a child.   In 1603 Ieyasu became a Shogun.  Now Ieyasu seized control of Japan and Tokugawa Shogunate was established in Edo, and council system was eliminated.  Yet Hideyori is still there with his mother Yodo-Dono ( or Yodo-Gimi).  They lived in Osaka castle which was built by Hideyoshi before he died.  Later, Hideyori and his mother, Yodo-Dono became an awkward situation with Tokugawa Ieyasu.   Yodo-Dono was very proud and a headstrong person with good reasons.   She was a niece of Nobunaga, she was a wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and she was a mother of the head of the Toyotomi clan.  Later her pride gets them into trouble and led to the destruction of the Toyotomi clan.

Winter and Summer siege of Osaka (1614 and 1615)

After the battle of Sekigahara till the siege of Osaka castle, there were 15 years.  During that time little by little a tension started to build up between Tokugawa Shogunate and Toyotomi clan.  Before the battle of Sekigahara, the Toyotomi clan ruled Japan.  After the Sekigahara, Tokugawa started to rule Japan.  Toyotomi clan lost many top advisers and vassals at Sekigahara.  As a result, all the power was centered around Yodo-Dono.  By this time Hideyori grew up to be a fine man but Yodo-Dono overprotected him and she had control over him.  She even did not allow Hideyori to practice Kendo (traditional martial art of swordsmanship) because it is too dangerous.  She insisted to act like Toyotomi is still the top power.  Tokugawa Ieyasu tried to calm the friction by the marriage between his granddaughter (Sen-Hime) and Hideyori.  A few advisors suggested Yodo-Dono yield to Tokugawa but she insisted Tokugawa has to be subordinate to Toyotomi.  A rumor began to spread that Toyotomi side started to hire and gather a large number of Ronin (Samurai without a lord) in Osaka Castle.   Several mediators tried to convince the Toyotomi side but failed.   November 1614, Osaka Winter Seige started.  Osaka (pronounced Oosaka) Castle is very difficult to attack.  It is a fortress itself.  It is said that the Toyotomi side had 100,000 soldiers.   But some of them were mercenaries.  Tokugawa attacked and fired cannon every day, but the Tokugawa side realized that the Osaka Castle is so solid and it is a waste of time.  Eventually, both sides went to a peace negotiation.   Several conditions were agreed on.   One of them was to fill in the outside moat.  But Tokugawa side filled in outside moat and even the inner moat.  That made the Toyotomi side angry and they became suspicious about the agreement.  Another requirement was the disarmament by the Toyotomi clan, yet the Toyotomi side kept soldiers inside their castle.  The last ultimatum from Tokugawa to Toyotomi was either dismiss all the soldiers or Toyotomi to move to the other location.   Yodo-Dono refused both.   After this, Osaka Summer Siege started.  This is 1615.  It is said that Toyotomi had 70,000 men and Tokugawa had 150,000 men.  Both sides had several battles here and there but the battle did not go well for both sides because of the thick fog, delayed arrival of troops, miscommunication, etc.   The last battlefield was Osaka Castle.   Toyotomi side decided to stay inside the castle, but soon a fire started inside and burned the Castle.  Yodo-Dono and Hideyori were hiding inside the storage building, waiting for the answer to the petition for their life to Ieyasu that they hoped their daughter-in-law could achieve.   But It was not accepted and they both died inside the storage place.

Yodo-Dono

The name of the lawful wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi is Nene.  She was a very smart and sensible person but not from high rank.  She was respected by everybody, including Tokugawa Ieyasu.  Even Hideyoshi often asked her opinion on political matters.   Hideyoshi was greatly helped by her to climb up his ranks.

Nene could not bear a child.  As powerful as Toyotomi Hideyoshi, he went around different women everywhere hoping to get his heir, but none of them could have any children with Hideyoshi.  Yodo-Dono was the only person who had Hideyoshi’s child.  Nobody knows exactly who was the real father, but the speculation indicated several people, one is her childhood friend and several others including 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:  from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

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

 

References

Kamurai.itspy.com/nobunaga/oosaka.html

www.thoughtco.com/toyoomi-hideyoshi-195660 

senjp.com/sekigahara

 

 

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

61|Part 2 of – – – 25|Sengoku Period Tanto (1467 – 1596)

Chapter 61 is a detailed part of chapter 25|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代).  Please read chapter 25|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)  before start reading this chapter.

Muramasa (村正)

The discussion in this section is about the famous Muramasa (村正 ).  Many well-known swordsmiths are from one of the Goka-Den (main 5 schools, that is Yamashiro- Den, Bizen- Den, Soshu- Den, Yamato- Den, Mino- Den).  Muramasa is not from Goka-Den but from Ise Province.

61 Ise map

It is said that Muramasa was a student of Heian-Jo Nagayoshi (平安城長吉) of Yamashiro-Den.  Muramasa has three generations through Mid Muromachi periodSince Muramasa lived through the Sengoku Period, his sword shows the characteristic of Sengoku period sword style that is Mino-Den characteristic with  Soshu-Den characteristic added.

61 Muramasa photo  61 Muramasa illustration

Muramasa from Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Mino-Den Characteristic of the Sengoku period that shows on this Tanto

Muramasa’s Tanto is often 10 inches ± half inches or so.  Hirazukuri (平作り). Thin blade.  Muramasa Tanto gives a sharp look.  Nioi base with small Nie and Sunagashi (brushed sand like, the illustration below) appears.  Boshi (Top part of Hamon) is Jizo (side view of the head shape).  Tempered line has a wide area and narrow area, that is some area of tempered line is close to the edge of the blade and another area is a wide tempered line.  See the illustration above.  Hako-Midare (box like shape) and Gunome (line up beads like shape).  O-Notare (large gentle waviness) is Muramasa’s characteristic.  The pointed tempered line that is the typical Mino-Den characteristic (Sanbon Sugi) shows .  Refer 24|Sengoku Period Sword(戦国時代).

61 Sunagashi 2

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

59| Second part of —– 23|Sengoku Period History (戦国時代) 1467 —1596

23 Sengoku period  Time Line.jpg        The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

Chapter 59 is a detailed part of chapter 23 Sengoku Period History.  Please read chapter 23 Sengoku Period History before start reading this chapter.

The different way of dividing the time for political history and sword history was explained in Chapter 23| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代).  The timeline above shows the Sengoku Period (戦国時代) ends in 1597 for sword history.  This is because the Keicho (慶長) Era starts in 1597.  The swords made after the Keicho Era is called Shinto (new sword), swords before the Keicho Era is called Ko-To (old sword).  Keicho Shinto is the swords made during Keicho Era.

Chapter 23| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代) described the overview of the Sengoku Period.  At the beginning of the Sengoku Period, 30 or so small Sengoku Daimyo fought fiercely each other by forming an alliance with a neighboring country on and off and sometimes betraying each other.  The weaker Daimyo were taken over by the stronger ones, Little by little the number of Daimyo gets 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 is to defeat others and advance to Kyoto (京都) to be the top of political power.

Oda Nobunaga (織田信長) defeats Imagawa Yoshimoto at Okehazama (桶狭間編)

Around 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto (今川義元 ) controlled a big area of  Suruga (today’s Shizuoka prefecture.  See the map below).  He was the most powerful Sengoku Daimyo at that time who could be the top ruler of the country.  He 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, there lies Owari (愛知 Aichi prefecture today.  See map below) that is Oda Nobunaga’s territory.   Oda Nobunaga (織田信長 ) was still a young man with much lesser means than Imagawa Yoshimoto.  It was quite obvious that no chance for Oda Nobunaga to win.  He just became the head of Owari after his father’s death.  Also, at that time, Nobunaga was called “idiot of Owari” because of his strange unconventional behavior (actually he was a genius),  not too many people had much confidence in him.  Among  Oda vassals, some insisted to hold the castle instead of fighting since Nobunaga could only gather 3,000 men.  But in the end, to everyone’s surprise, Oda side won.  Here is how it happened.  While Imagawa Yoshimoto was advancing, Nobunaga scouted which route Imagawa will take.  Imagawa side was sure to win this easy battle since Oda clan is small and their top person is supposed to an idiot.  Imagawa troop decided to stop and rest at the place called Okehazama.   Okehazama is a long narrow road.  Knowing Imagawa troop came to this route, Nobunaga sent out his men disguised as farmers and offered food and sake to Imagawa soldiers.  Oda Nobunaga made a surprise attack on Imagawa troop.  When Oda troop attacked them, all of a sudden, heavy rain started to pour.    The rain was so heavy that Imagawa troop could not even see the Oda troop were coming.  In the end, Imagawa Yoshimoto was killed by Oda troop 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, Oda clan grew bigger rapidly.  Oda Nobunaga became the major power.  While his reign, he did several not so wonderful things like the burning of the Enryakuji Temple (延暦寺) that killed many people,  yet his economic measure encouraged people’s commercial activity.  Things were going somewhat smoothly for Nobunaga later part of his life.  On 1582 Nobunaga was killed by his own top vassal Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀) at Honnou-Ji (本能寺) temple.  He was 49 years old.  There are a few theories why Akecdhi attacked Nobunaga but we don’t know what really happened behind.  One theory is Akechi had a grudge against Nobunaga.  There were many incidents Nobunaga mistreated Akechi.  Another theory is just simply Akechi saw a chance to attack Nobunaga (Nobunaga was with very few men that day) and took the chance.  Another one is Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki (足利義昭) ordered Akechi to kill Nobunaga since Akechi once worked under Shogun Yoshiaki and Shogun Yoshiaki was afraid that Nobunaga became too powerful.  More theories go on.  We really don’t know the real reason.  After this happened, the news was relayed to Toyotomi Hideyoshi who was another top vassal of Nobunaga who happened to be a place called Bicchu (備中, Okayama prefecture today), that is about 230 KM (143 miles) away from Kyoto. See the map below.   Hideyoshi quickly returned to Kyoto with his troop to fight 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 10 days.  Hideyoshi was 230 KM (143 miles) away.  That means in 10 days, Hideyoshi received the information of Nobunaga’s death, hurried back 230 KM (143 miles) to Kyoto and fight against Akechi and kill him.  Even though Hideyoshi had communication route established between Nobunaga’s inner circle all the time,  it is an amazing speed.  So there is another theory that Akechi and Hideyoshi both were behind together.  After Akechi was killed by Hideyoshi, Hideyoshi maneuvered cleverly, he ended up the top of the power.  While he was in power, he mined a large amount of gold from the gold mine he owned.  An old document was found stating that Hideyoshi buried a huge amount of gold and its location.  Many people looked for this buried gold but no one has found it yet.  Hideyoshi was a poor farmer’s son who became the top of the power, his success story fascinates Japanese.  Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu is the three most depicted subject on TV programs and movies.  After Hideyoshi’s natural death, Tokugawa Ieyasu became Shogun and Edo period started.  Ninja had existed since the Heian period but during the Sengoku period, they really played an active part in gathering information.  Ninja is known for its fancy ability and method of fighting, but their actual main role was to gather information of the enemies.

59-bicchu-map.jpg

58|Part 2 of —–22| Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代) 1393 —- 1467

Chapter 58 is the detailed part of chapter 22|Muromachi Period Sword.  Please read Chapter 22 before start reading this chapter.

As described in Chapter 22, the big change in the Muromachi Period was from Tachi  (太刀 ) to Katana (刀 ).  Refer to 22|Muromachi Period Sword.   By the end of the Nanboku-Cho period, the length of the sword became shorter.  In the Muromachi time, the length of the sword became shorter to approximately 2 feet and 3 or 4 inches in length, no more long swords.  This is because,  Nanboku-Cho period,  the fighting was done mostly riding horses but after Muromachi time, changed to infantry fighting.

Oei Bizen (応永備前 )

Oei is pronounced “O as Oh”, “ei as A of ABC”.  The Muromachi period was the declining time in sword making.  The early part of the Muromachi period is called Oei Bizen time.  Osafune Morimitsu (長船盛光 ), Osafune Yasumitsu (長船康光 ), Osafune Moromitsu (長船師光) are the main Oei Bizen swordsmiths.  Soshu Hiromasa (相州広正 )、Yamashiro Nobukuni (山城信國)  were also similar to Oei Bizen stylePlease refer to 22 Muromachi Period Sword for style, Hamon, Boshi, Ji-hada.

58 Moromitsu photo 158 Moromitus Oshigata                                  Bishu Osafune Moromitsu (備州長船師光)   from Sano Museum Catalogue

Above sword is 2 feet & 5 inches long, medium Kissaki, Hamon has a small wave-like pattern with continuous Gunome (half circle).   Boshi shows irregular waviness, pointed at the tip a little.  It shows Bo Utsuri (faint shadow shaped like a strip of wood).  Bo Utsuri is a well-known characteristic among all of the Oei Bisen. 

In the Bizen area until this time, there were many groups within Bizen, but in Muromachi time, only Osafune (長船) was the active swordsmith group.  Osafune (長船) is the name of the place,  but in Muromachi time, it started to become the last name.  Two other well-known swordsmiths among Oei Bizen are Morimitsu (盛光 ) and Yasumitsu (康光).  The Hamon by Morimitsu and Yasumitsu shows more works in it than the photo above.  That is described in 22 Muromachi Period Sword under the usual characteristic of Muromachi sword.

Hirazukuri Ko-Wakizashi Tanto

58 Hirazukuri Ko-Wakizashi Tanto

         Hirazukuri Ko-Wakizashi Tanto Shape

Hirazukuri-Ko-Wakizashi Tanto was in fashion during the early Muromachi time. Different swordsmiths in other area made 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 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 13 Tanto Middle Kamakura period).

13 Mune drawing

Hirazukuri Kowakizashi Tanto often shows many engravings like Hi with Soe-Hi (one wide and narrow on the side), Tokkotuki-Ken, Tsumetsuki-Ken, Bohji, etc.

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

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

 

57|Part 2 of —– 21|Muromachi Period History (室町時代) 1393-1467


This is the continued chapter of 21 Muromachi Periods History Please read chapter 21 before this chapter one more time.

57 Muromachi time line      The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this chapter

Until the Muromachi (室町) Period, the way to divide the political history and sword history is the same.  Please look at the above timeline.  The middle line is for sword history and the bottom line is for political history.   The style of the sword has a distinct difference between Nanboku-Cho period (南北朝時代 ), Muromachi period, and the Sengoku period (戦国時代).  Therefore, it has to be divided into three separate periods for sword study.   But school history textbook shows that Muromachi Period is from 1333 (Fall of Kamakura Bakufu ) until 1573 when Oda Nobunaga(織田信長) removed Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki (足利義昭) from Kyoto (the fall of Muromachi Bakufu).   The school history textbooks describe that the Nanboku-Cho period and the Sengoku period is a part of the Muromachi period.  For the purpose of sword study, we need to divide into three periods, Nanboku-Cho period, Muromachi period, and Sengoku period.

Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満)

The best time for the Muromachi period was when Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満, Grandson of Ashikaga Takauji) was in power.  Ashikaga Yoshimitsu moved the Bakufu to the place called Muromachi (室町), therefore Muromachi period.  By Shogun Yoshimitsu’s time, the majority of the South Dynasty Samurai went under the North dynasty.  The South Dynasty side accepted Shogun Yoshimitsu’s offer to end to oppose to the North Dynasty that completed the power of Muromachi Bakufu of the Ashikaga family.  Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu created a huge amount of profit from trade with China (Ming).  One of a famous beautiful temple in Kyoto, Golden Pavillion (Kinkakuji-temple 金閣寺) was built by Shogun Yoshimitsu*.  It is said that he created the Golden Pavillion to display his power and wealth.  The beautiful culture around this time was called Kitayama Bunka (Kitayama culture 北山文化).

*Golden Pavillion (Kinkaku-Ji 金閣寺)  —— Correct name is Rokuonji –Temple (鹿苑寺 ).  This is a Zen temple of Rinzaishu Sokoku-Ji group (臨済宗相国寺派 ).  The Kinkakuji-temple is one part of the Rokuonji-Temple.  Kinkakuji-temple is a Buddhist hall containing relics of Buddha.  This place was once owned by Saionji Kintsune (西園寺公経 ) in Kamakura period.  Shogun Yoshimitsu acquired it in 1397, and he rebuilt it as his own villa.  It is also functioned as an official guesthouse.  Kinkakuji-temple represents the height of the glory of Kitayama Bunka (Kitayama culture)After Shogun Yoshimitsu’s death, his villa was converted to a temple, called Rokuon-Ji temple.  In 1994, it was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

57 Kinkakuji trip 2019

The photo was taken in May 2019, a family trip to Kyoto

Ashikaga Yoshimasa (足利義政 )

After Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満 ) died (49 years old), the Muromachi Bakufu became financially weaker that made the military power weaker.  As a result,  Daimyo (feudal lord) became powerful.  A few generations after Shogun Yoshimitsu, Ashikaga Yohimasa became a Shogun (8th Ashikaga Shogun).  His wife is the famous Hino Tomiko (refer 21|Muromachi Period History (室町時代.  It is said that Shogun Yoshimasa was not interested in his job as a Shogun, but he was a great culture person who influenced the base of today’s Japanese art, such as Japanese garden, Shoin Zukuri (書院造り)*, Tea ceremony, Flower Arrangement, Painting, and other art forms.  His cultural attribute is called Higashiyama Bunka (Higashiyama culture (東山文化).   As it is described in Chapter, 21|Muromachi Period History (室町時代, Shogun Yoshimasa did not have a child, his brother Yoshimi (義視) was supposed to be a next Shogun.  But his wife, Hino Tomiko gave birth to a son, Yoshihisa (義尚 ).  Hino Tomiko asked Yamana Sozen (powerful family 山名宗全 ) to back up her son, and brother Yoshimi joined with Hosokawa Katsumoto (powerful family 細川勝元).   The problem was Shogun Yoshimasa was paying attention too much to all his cultural hobbies, did not pay attention to the problem he created by not being clear who should be the next Shogun.  He did not yield Shogunate to either one.  He kept enjoying his cultural hobby.   In 1467, on top of the successor problem, because of the other conflict of interest of other powerful Daimyo, “Onin-no-Run (応仁の乱 ) started.  All the Daimyo sided either Hosokawa group or Yamana group.   Eventually, the war spread to the rest of Japan and last over 10 years.  Finally at 1477, after both Hosokawa Katsumono and Yamana Sozen died, Shogun Yoshimasa decided to transfer Shogunate to his son Yoshihisa.  This war caused Kyoto to be devastated and weakened the power of Ashikaga Bakufu.  While all this is happening, people were suffering from the war, Yoshimasa still spent money to build Ginnkakuji Temple (silver Pavillion, 銀閣寺 ).  He died without seeing the completion of Ginkakuji temple.  Onin-no-Run will lead to the next Sengoku-Jidai (100-year warring States period).

*Shoin Zukuri (書院造り )———- Traditional Japanese residential architecture style.  That is with Tatami mat, an alcove on a wall and Shoji sliding screen.  Below picture.

Below Shoin Zukuri style Japanese room

57 Shoin zukuri

Public Domain   GFDL,cc-by-sa-2.5,2.0,1.0 file: Takagike CC BY-SA 3.0view terms      File: Takagike Kashihara JPN 001.jpg

 

56| Nanboku-Cho Tanto (南北朝短刀)

This is a detailed part of chapter 20.  Please read 20 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀)  first, before reading this chapter.

 

20 Enbun Jyoji Kowakizashi Tanto

The characteristic of the picture above, the shape is emphasized in the drawing.

At the end of chapter 20 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀, there is a list of swordsmith’s names.  Hiromitsu and Akihiro represent the most common characteristic of Nanboku-Cho Tanto.

56 cropped Hiromitu photo 20 HitatsuraHiromitsu From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

 

Enbun Jyoji Ko-wakizashi Tanto is also called Sun-Nobi Tanto.  The top part of the Tanto bends outward slightly, this is called Sakizori.

Hiromitu and Akihiro Characteristic

Shape———-wide width.  Usually 1 foot and 1, 2 inches long.  Thin body.  Sakizori

Hamon ——-Tempered line can be wide and narrow.  Yakidashi (1, 2 inches above a Machi area) is narrowly tempered and wider tempered line above.  Hamon around Fukura area is showy.  Mainly Nie.  Sunagashi, Kinsuji, Gunome, Umanoha-Midare (shape like horse teeth), Hitatsura appears (see above drawing).

Boshi———-Irregular, uneven temper line, the almost entire area. Deep turn back.

Jihada ———Wood grained

Nakago ——-Tanago-Bara shape (refer 20 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀).

Nobukuni

The first generation Shodai Nobukuni is the top three students of Sadamune.  He is called Sadamune San Tetsu (貞宗三哲).     The characteristic of Nobukuni is almost the same as the characteristic of Hiromitsu and Akihiro.  Nobukuni also created Sun-nobi  Tanto like the one below which has a Hoso-suguha (narrow straight tempered line), Ko-Mokume (fine small burl),  Ko-maru Boshi (small round)

56 Nobukuni 1 Nobukuni4 56 Nobukuni 2

This is my sword.  Shodai Nobukuni (初代信國).  This is Juyo Token

Certification

number Juyo 3220,    Certification Juyo-Token

Wakizashi  Nobukuni,    31.4cm length, 0.3cm curvature, HirazukuriMitsumune (three-sided Mune ),  Sunnobi, Ji-hada is Wood grain and Jinie (Nie on the surface)Hamon is Chu-Suguha ( medium straight),  Front carving shows Bonji (Sanscrit), Sanko-Ken. The back side of the sword, engraving is Sanscrit and Hoko (pike).   Original Nakago.    The examination by the Nihon Bijutu Token Hozon Kyokai.  It is certified as Juyo-Token.  The Chairman Moritatu Hosokawa

 

 

55|Nanboku-Cho Period Swords (南北朝刀)

This chapter is more detailed part of Chapter 19.  Please read Chapter 19 before this chapter.

The drawing below is the illustration from chapter 19.  Compare this illustration and the photos underneath of it.  It shows the similarity of the shape.  Keep in mind this illustration is the shape of a very long sword that was shortened at a  later time.   At Nanboku-Cho time, swords smiths created 3, 4, 5 feet long swords.  Later shortened to 2.5 feet or so.

19 Nanboku-cho Sword style.jpg

 

55 Sa photo

From Sano Museum Catalogue “Reborn”  Permission granted

 

55 Chogi

 

55 Chogi drawing

“Chogi” from Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

 

The style of Chogi is categorized as So-den Bizen.  19 Nanboku-Cho Period Sword. Chogi (長義 ) was a swordsmith from Bizen-Den school who created swords with a characteristic of Soshu-Den.

 Characteristic of Chogi (長義)

Shape ——— Originally very long.  Shortened to approximately around 2.5 feet.

Hamon ——–Wide showy tempered line.  Basically Nioi, but Nie shows a lot.  Sunagashi (砂流し) appears.  Notare  (wavy) mixed with Gunome.  Sometimes Chogi’s created one pair of ear robe shape called Chogi’s earlobe shape midare.    

Boshi ———  Irregular Midare and sharp turn back   Ji–Hada ——- Itame ( a wood grain)

55 Aoe55 Aoe ilustlation

Aoe from Sano Museum Catalogue (Permission granted)

Aoe is pronounced “A” as apple, “o” as original, and “e” as edge.  Aoe is a swordsmith from Bittchu province that is next to Bizen.  Therefore the characteristic of the sword, Ko-Aoe, and Ko-Bizen are similar.

55 Bizen Bittchu map

From middle Kamakura period to Nanboku-Cho period was the best time for Aoe group.   

Characteristic of Aoe (青江)

Aoe sword has Aoe-Zori shape that is to curve a lot at the lower part.  During Nanboku-Cho time, because of the Soshu-Den was the trendy style, even Bizen sword smiths did Nie.   Yet, Bittchu stayed Nioi.  The tempered area tends to be wide.  Sakasa-Choji (means inverted or backward, see the illustration above) is the Aoe’s most notable characteristic.  Also, Boshi often has pointed hamon.  It is often said that if you see sakasa-choji, it should be either Aoe group or Katayama Ichimonji group.  Sumitetu (澄鉄  black Jigane from the inside shows through) is also Aoe’s characteristic.