54|Part 2 of — 20|Muromachi Period History (室町時代歴史)


This is a detailed part of the 20 | Muromachi Period History.  Please read chapter 20 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Nuromach & Sengoku

                      The red circleabove indicate the time we discuss in this chapter

Until the Muromachi (室町) period, the political history and the sword history are parallel in our study.  The above timelines show:  the middle line is for the sword history, and the bottom line is for the political history.  

The styles of swords were distinctively different between those in the Muromachi period and the Sengoku period (戦国時代).  Therefore, for sword study, the Muromachi period and the Sengoku period have to be separated.   Japanese history textbooks define that the Muromachi period is from 1393 (the end of Nanboku-cho) until 1573 when Oda Nobunaga (織田信長) removed Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki (足利義昭) from Kyoto (the fall of the Muromachi Bakufu).   In those textbooks, the Sengoku period is described as a part of the Muromachi period.  However, we need to divide the Muromachi period and the Sengoku period for the sword study’s purpose.

 Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満)

The best time during the Muromachi period was when Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満, Grandson of Ashikaga Takauji) was in power.  He moved the Bakufu to Muromachi (室町) in Kyoto; therefore, it is called the Muromachi period.  By the time most of the South Dynasty Samurai went under the North Dynasty, the South Dynasty accepted the Shogun Yoshimitsu’s offer to end the fight against the North Dynasty.  This acceptance established the power of the Ashikaga family in the Muromachi Bakufu

Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu created a tremendous amount of profit from trades with China (Ming).  He built a famous beautiful resort villa in Kyoko, the Golden Pavillion (Kinkaku-Ji Temple 金閣寺*).  It is said that he created the Golden Pavillion to display his power and wealth.  The beautiful culture called the Kitayama Bunka (Kitayama culture 北山文化) was created around this time.

*Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-Ji Tempe金閣寺)  —– The official name is Rokuon-ji Temple (鹿苑寺).  Saionji Kintsune (西園寺公経) built it first as his resort house in the Kamakura period.  Shogun Yoshimitsu acquired it in 1397, and he rebuilt it as his villa.  He also used it as an official guesthouse. 

After Shogun Yoshimitsu’s death, the villa was converted to Rokuon-ji Temple.  It is a part of Rinzaishu Sokoku-ji Temple, which is the head temple of a denomination of the Zen sect, Rinzaishu Sokoku-ji group(臨済宗相国寺派).  Kinkaku-ji is a reliquary hall containing relics of Buddha.  Kinkaku-ji Temple represents the glorious Kitayama Bunka (Kitayama culture).  In 1994, it was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site. https://www.shokoku-ji.jp/kinkakuji/

57 Kinkakuji trip 2019                                                               My photo  May 2019,

Ashikaga Yoshimasa (足利義政)

After Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満) died, the Muromachi Bakufu became less financially prosperous, and the military power decreased.  As a result, Daimyos (feudal lords) gained more control.  A few generations after Shogun Yoshimitsu, Ashikaga Yohimasa became the 8th Shogun).  His wife was the famous Hino Tomiko (refer  Hino tomiko Chapter 20|Muromachi Period History (室町時代歴史)

It is said that Shogun Yoshimasa was not interested in his job as a Shogun, but he was much more interested in art and culture.  He created the foundation of today’s Japanese art and culture, such as the Japanese garden, Shoin-zukuri (書院造)* interior design, tea ceremony, flower arrangements, painting, and other art forms.  His cultural attribute is called Higashiyama Bunka (Higashiyama culture (東山文化).  

As described in 20|Muromachi Period History (室町時代歴史) , Shogun Yoshimasa did not have a child.  His brother Yoshimi (義視) was supposed to be the next Shogun.  But his wife, Hino Tomiko, gave birth to a son, Yoshihisa (義尚).  Hino Tomiko asked Yamana Sozen (山名宗全; powerful family) to back up her son.  At the same time, brother, Yoshimi, tied up with Hosokawa Katsumoto (another powerful family 細川勝元).  The problem was that Shogun Yoshimasa was paying too much attention to all his cultural hobbies, and did not pay attention to the problem he created by not being clear who should be the next Shogun.  He did not yield the Shogunate to either one. 

In 1467, on top of the successor problem, because of other conflicts of interests of other powerful Daimyo, a civil war, “Onin-no-Run (応仁の乱 )” broke out.  All Daimyo were divided and sided either the Hosokawa group or the Yamana group.   Eventually, the war spread to the rest of Japan and lasted over ten years.  Finally, in 1477, after both Hosokawa Katsumoto and Yamana Sozen died, Shogun Yoshimasa decided to transfer the Shogunate to his son Yoshihisa.  Because of this war, Kyoto was devastated.  The power of the Muromachi Bakufu declined significantly. 

While all this was happening, and people were suffering, Yoshimasa was still spending money to build the Ginkaku-ji Temple (The Silver Pavillion: 銀閣寺).  He died without seeing the completion of the Ginkaku-ji Temple.  The Onin-no-Run would lead to the next Sengoku period, the 100-year-long Warring States Period).

*Shoin-zukuri (書院造)———- A traditional Japanese residential interior style with Tatami mats, a nook, and a Shoji screen, sliding door.  This style is the base of the interior of the Japanese house today.

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

My japanese room                                                                      My Japanese room

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

This chapter is a continued part of chapter 19.  Please read 19 |Nanboku-Cho Period Tanto(南北朝短刀), before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Nanboku-cho

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

20 Enbun Jyoji Kowakizashi Tanto

The drawing above is a typical shape of the Nanboku-cho time Tanto.  This drawing was in chapter 19.  This drawing exaggerates the form of the Enbun Joji Kowakizashi tanto.  At the end of Chapter 19 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀), there is a list of swordsmiths’ names in the period.  Hiromitsu (広光) and Akihiro (秋広) represent the most common characteristics of Nanboku-cho Tanto.

56 cropped Hiromitu photo 20 Hitatsura

Hiromitsu From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission to use granted granted)

Enbun Joji Ko-wakizashi Tanto is also called Sun-nobi Tanto (>10 inches) because the length is longer than standard size (approx. 10 inches) TantoThe top part of the Tanto bends outward slightly. This type of shape is called Sakizori.

Characteristics of Hiromitu (広光) and Akihiro (秋広)

  • Shape———————— Usually, one foot and one to two inches long (Sun-nobi).   Wide width.  The blade is thin.  Sakizori.
  • Hamon ———————-Wide Hamon and narrow Hamon are mixed.  Hamon around Yakidashi (right above Machi) area is narrow, but it gets wider gradually as it goes up.  Hamon around the Fukura area is the showiest.  Mainly Nie.  Sunagashi, Kinsuji, Gunome, Umanoha-midare (horse teeth shape Hamon), or Hitatsura appear (above drawing).
  • Boshi———–Irregular, unevenly tempered.  Hamon covers almost entire Boshi. Deep turn back.
  • Jihada ———————————————————Wood-grained pattern
  • Nakago —————–Tanago-bara shape.  Refer to 19 Nanboku-cho Period Tanto.

Nobukuni (Below is my sword)

Shodai Nobukuni (the first generation Nobukuni) was a student of Sadamune.  He was one of the Sadamune San Tetsu (貞宗三哲, Sadamune’s top three students).  Nobukuni’s characteristics were similar to those of Hiromitsu’s and Akihiro’s described above.  Nobukuni also created Sun-nobi Tanto.  The sword below has a Hoso-suguha, Ko-mokume (small burl pattern), Ko-maru Boshi (small round).

56 Nobukuni 1 Nobukuni4

56 Nobukuni 2

This is the certification of my sword.  Shodai Nobukuni (初代信國).   Juyo Token (重要刀剣)

Certification

number Juyo 3220,    Certification Juyo-Token

Wakizashi:  Nobukuni (信国),  31.4cm length,  0.3cm curvature, HirazukuriMitsumune (three-sided Mune),  Sun-nobi, Ji-hada is wood grain and Ji-nie (nie on the surface between Shinogi and Hamon),  Hamon is Chu-suguha (medium straight),  Front carving shows Bonji (Sanscrit), Sanko-ken, back engraving is Bonji and Hoko (pike).   Original Nakago.  The examination by the Nihon Bijutu Token Hozon Kyokai.  It is certified as Juyo Token.  The Chairman Moritatu HosokawaShowa 45 June 1 (1970 June 1)

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

This chapter is a continued part of 18| Nanboku-Cho Period Sword.  Please read Chapter 18 before reading this section.

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

The drawing below is the illustration from Chapter 18 Nanboku-Cho Period Sword .  Please compare this drawing to the photo on the right.  It shows the similarity of the shape.  Keep in mind this illustration is the shape of a once very long sword that was shortened at a later time.   During the Nanboku-cho time, swordsmiths created 3, 4, or even 5 feet long blades, but later, they shortened them to approximately 2 to 2.5 feet or so.

19 Nanboku-cho Sword style      55 Sa photo                                         ” Sa” from Sano Museum Catalogue “Reborn” (Permission granted)     Sa” is pronounced the first sound of “sabotage.”

Chogi* from Sano Museum Catalogue (Permission granted)

55 Chogi

55 Chogi drawing

Chogi* is pronounced: Chocho-san’s “cho” and giggle “gi.” 

Chogi‘s sword style is categorized as one of the Soden Bizen.  See, 18| Nanboku-Cho Period Sword (南北朝太刀).  Chogi (長義) was a swordsmith from Bizen Den school who created swords with Soshu Den’s characteristicsTherefore, in short, called Soden Bizen (Bizen swordsmith forged Soshu Den).

 Chogi characteristics

  • Shape ———– Originally very long. It was shortened to approximately 2 to 2.5 feet.  
  • Hamon ——–Wide showy tempered line.  Nioi, and Nie shows.  Sunagashi (砂流し brush stroke-like pattern) appears.  Notare (wavy) mixed with Gunome.  Sometimes Chogi created the double Gunome-style Hamon (connected one pair of half-circles). This shape resembles a pair of earlobes.  Therefore, it is called Chogi’s Mimigatamidare (irregular Hamon mixed with the earlobe-like pattern).                                                                                                                  
  • Boshi ——————————— Irregular Midare and sharp turn back
  • Ji-hada —————————————— Itame (a wood grain pattern)

 Aoe from Sano Museum Catalogue (Permission granted)

55 Aoe55 Aoe ilustlation                

Aoe (青江) is pronounced “A” like apple, “o” like original, and “e” like egg.  Aoe was a swordsmith from Bittchu (備中) province, which is next to Bizen.  Therefore, the characteristics of Ko-aoe (old Aoe) and Ko-bizen (old Bizen) are similar.

55 Bizen Bittchu map

Characteristic of Aoe (青江)

From the middle Kamakura period to the Nanboku-cho period was the height of the Aoe group. One of the characteristics of the Aoe sword is its Aoe-zori shape.  That is to curve a lot at the lower part. 

During the Nanboku-cho time, because the Soshu Den was the trendy style, even Bizen swordsmiths did Nie, though their main characteristic was Nioi.   However, the Bittchu group stayed with Nioi. 

The tempered area tends to be wide.  Sakasa-choji, which means inverted or backward style Choji (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, the sword has a good chance of being from either the Aoe group or Katayama Ichimonji group.  Sumitetu (澄鉄:  black core metal shows through) is also Aoe’s characteristic.

 

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

Chapter 50 is a continued part of 16| Late Kamakura period Tanto (Early Soshu-Den 鎌倉末短刀).  Please read Chapter 16 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

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

In  16| Late Kamakura period: Tanto  (Early Soshu-Den  鎌倉末短刀) ,  the general characteristics of the late Kamakura period Tanto style (early Soshu Den) was described.  The next two photos fit in with the typical features of early Soshu Den Tanto.

Masamune

Goro Nyudo Masamune (五郎入道正宗) was born in Kamakura as a son of Tosaburo Yukimitu (藤三郎行光)Today, Masamune is a very well-known swordsmith, even among those who are not very familiar with the Japanese sword.  His father, Tosaburo Yukimitsu was also one of the top swordsmiths among the early Soshu DenMasamune’s tomb is in Honkaku-JI (本覚寺) Temple, approximately a 6 minutes’ walk from Kamakura station. 

Goro Nyudo Masamune (相州伝五郎入道正宗) from Sano Museum Catalog (permission granted). 

Masamune photo (above) —– Hira-zukuri (flat)Very slightly Sakizori (tip area curves slightly outward).  Bo-hi and Tsure-hi (parallel thin grooves).  Komaru-boshiItame-hada (wood grain pattern).  Hamon is Notare (wavy).  The illustration above shows Sunagashi and Niju-ba (double Hamon).  This type of Nakago is called Tanago-bara.  Masamune Tanto is often Mu-mei (no signature).  This particular tanto is called Komatsu Masamune (小松政宗).  The Sano Museum Catalog’s description stated that connoisseurs in the past had difficulty determining this is Masamune swordBecause the wide Mihaba with sori and hamon was a little different from other Masamune’s.  Judging from the clear Nie, Chikei, and Kinsuji, they determined it was a Masamune Tanto.

Enju Photo below

Higo Province Enju Kunisuke  From Sano Museum Catalog
(permission granted)

Enju (延寿) group lived in Higo (肥後) Province in Kyushu.  The characteristics of the Enju group is very similar to that of the Yamashiro Den’s.  It is because Enju Kunimura was related to Rai Kuniyuki of Yamashiro-Den.

Enju (Photo above) —-Hamon is Hoso-suguha (straight temper line).  Boshi is Komaru.  The front engraving is Suken (left photo left side), and the engraving on the back is Gomabashi (left photo right side).  Ji-hada is a tight Itame.  It is confusing to Kantei (determining who made the sword) a sword like this because even though this sword is from the late Kamakura period, it does not have the typical early Soshu Den look.

Masamune’s Tomb in Honkaku-ji Temple

Masamune’s (正宗) tomb is in the Honkakuj-Ji Temple (本覚寺) in Kamakura.  Here is a map of the Honkaku-Ji Temple and Masamune Kogei store in Kamakura.  This store is owned by Tsunahiro Yamamura, the 24th generation of MasamuneHonkaku-Ji Temple is circled in red, and Masamune Kogei store is the red circle with X.  Both are approximately a 6 to 7 minutes walking distance from Kamakura station. 

To get to Honkaku-Ji Temple from Tokyo

Take the Yokosuka line train from Tokyo station (approx. one hour)  → Get off at Kamakura Station (one stop after Kita-Kamakura) → Exit from the East Exit (front exit) → Go straight and cross the road → Turn right and go up to the post office  → Turn left at the post office (Honkaku-ji Temple sign is at the corner of the post office) →The temple is at a short distance from the post office.

52 Honkakuji map in red

From Kamakura Tourist map

52 Honnkakuji 2 54 large Masamune monument only

52 Honkakuji 54 Small Masamune tomb only

Honkakuji Temple (本覚寺) and Masamune Tomb (正宗墓 ) My trip in 2019

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

This chapter is a continued part of Chapter 15|The Revival of Yamato Den.   Please read chapter 15 before reading this section.

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

At the end of the Kamakura period, in the Yamato area, powerful temples expanded their territories.  See the map below for the location of the Yamato area.  Several big temples, especially those with large territories, had political and military power to control the area at the end of the Kamakura period.  Those big territories were called Shoen (荘園).  They employed a large number of monk soldiers called So-hei.  The demand for swords was increased by the increased number of Sohei (僧兵).  The increased demand revived the Yamato Den.  

Some of the prominent temples had their own swordsmiths within their territory. Todaiji Temple (東大寺) backed Tegai (手掻) sword group.  The Senjuin (千手院 ) sword group lived near Senju-do (千手堂) where Senju Kannon (千手観音) was enshrined.  The name of the sword group, Taima came from the Taima-ji Temple (当麻寺).  Shikkake group (尻懸) and Hosho group (保昌) were also Yamato Den sword groups.  Those five groups are called Yamato Goha (Yamato five groups).

51 Japan map Yamato

General Characteristic of Yamato Den

Yamato Den (大和伝) sword always shows Masame (柾目: straight grain-like pattern) somewhere on Ji-hada, Jigane, or Hamon.   Refer to 15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活) for the general characteristic.  Masame is sometimes mixed with Mokume (burl like pattern) or Itame (wood-grain like).  Either way, Yamato Den shows Masame somewhere.  Some swords show Masame on the entire body, and some show less.  Because of Masame, the Hamon tends to show Sunagashi (brush stroke-like pattern) or a double line called Niju-ha.

Taima (or Taema) group (当麻)

  • Shape ———————– Middle Kamakura period shape and Ikubi-kissaki style    
  • Hamon ———–Mainly medium Suguha.  Double HamonSuguha mixed with Choji.  Often shows Inazuma and Kinsuji, especially Inazuma appear under the Yokote line.
  • Boshi ————————- Often Yakizume.  Refer Yakizume on 15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活)
  • Ji-hada ——————– Small wood grain pattern and well-kneaded surface.  At the top part of the sword, the wood grain pattern becomes Masame.

Shikkake Group (尻懸 

  • Shape —————- Late Kamakura period shape. Refer 14| Late Kamakura Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀) 
  • Hamon ————————- Mainly Nie (we say Nie-hon’i).  Medium frayed Suguha, mixed with small irregular and Gunome (half-circle like pattern).  Double-lined, brush stroke-like Pattern may appear.  Small Inazuma and Kinsuji may show.      
  • Boshi ———————— Yakizume, Hakikake (bloom trace like pattern) and Ko-maru (small round)     
  • Ji-hada ———- Small burl mixed with Masame.  The Shikkake group sometimes shows Shikkake-hada, the Ha side shows Masame and the mune side shows burl.

Tegai Group ( 手掻 )

  • Shape —— Early Kamakura shape and thick Kasane (body).  High ShinogiKoshizori.
  • Hamon ————- Narrow tempered line with medium Suguha hotsure (frayed Suguha).   Mainly Nie.   Double tempered line.  Inazuma and Kinsuji appears.                                                                 
  • Boshi ————————————— Yakizume (no turn back), Kaen (flame like).   
  • Ji-Hada ————————————————— Fine burl mixed with Masame. 

51 Kanenaga photo Yamato51 Kanenaga ilustration Yamato

Tegai Kanenaga of Yamato.  From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted).  The illustration (called Oshigata) shows Notare (wave-like Hamon) and Suguha-hotsure (frayed Suguha) with kinsuji.

Below is my Yamato sword.  I obtained this sword at an Annual San Francisco swords show a few years back. 

Characteristics:  Munei (shortened and no signature).  Yamato Den, Tegai-ha (Yamato school Tegai group).  Length is two shaku two sun eight &1/2 bu (27 1/4 inches): very small kissaki and funbari.

My Yamato sword

The entire view of the sword and Kantei-sho (NBTHK Certification).  The ranking is “Tokubetsu Hozon Token”.

My Yamato sword 5

My Yamato sword 4

My Yamato sword.jpg 2

In Hamon, Sunagashi, Niju-ba shows very faintly.   My photo of Boshi is not good, but it looks like Yakizume Jihada is Itame with Masame, almost Nashiji-hada (possibly because of my eyes).  Nie-hon’i.  Please ignore the cloth pattern underneath reflecting on the blade.

 

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

This chapter is a detailed part of chapter 14| Late Kamakura Period Sword.  Please read chapter 14 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

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

14 Ikubi kissaki Damadge

In Chapter 14| Late Kamakura Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀), the Ikubi-kissakui sword was explained.  The above illustration shows a flaw that was caused when the damaged area was repaired.  To compensate for this flaw, swordsmiths started a new sword style in the late Kamakura period.  They forged swords with a longer Kissaki and stopped the tip of Hi at a lower point than the Yokote line.   This way, if the Yokote line was lowered when it was repaired, the tip of Hi would stay lower than the Yokote-line.

15 Masamune (Sano)   15 Masamune hamon (Sano)

The above photo is a sword by Goro Nyudo Masamune (五郎入道正宗 ).  Please look at the size and shape of the Kissaki.  This is different from previous Ikubi-kissaki, or Ko-gissaki.  This is a typical late Kamakura period Kissaki style.  This is O-suriage (largely shortened). 

Under Kamakura Bakufu, many swordsmiths moved to KamakuraThey were Toroku Sakon Kunituna (藤六左近国綱) of Yamashiro Awataguchi group (山城粟田口),  Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真), and Kunimune (国宗) from the Bizen area.  They were the origin of Soshu Den (相州伝)Eventually, Tosaburo Yukimitsu (藤三郎行光) and his famous son,  Masamune (正宗), appearedIn the drawing above, Kinsuji and Inazuma are shown inside the Hamon.  The shinning lines inside the Hamon are Inazuma and Kinsuji.  Inazuma and Kinsuji are a collection of Nie.  Masamune is famous for Inazuma and Kinsuji.  Masamune lived in Kamakura; his Hamon looks like ocean waves when it is viewed sideways.

50 part 2 of 15 吉岡.photo 50 part 2 of 15 吉岡

The above picture is a sword by a swordsmith of Yoshioka Ichimonji group (吉岡一文字).  The Kissaki is also like the one of Masamune’s.  It is longer than the previous Ikubi-kissaki or Ko-gissaki.  This is Chu-gissaki.  The Kissaki like this is one of the crucial points to determine what period the sword was made.  The Hamon has Choji, Gunome, Togariba (pointed-tip), and very tight Nie.

50 part 2 of 15 運生 photo 50 part 2 of 15 運生 

The above photo is a sword by Ukai Unsho (鵜飼雲生) of Bizen Den.  This sword is also from the late Kamakura period.  But it has Ko-gissaki.  This sword does not have the late Kamakura period Chu-gissaki style.  Narrow Hoso-suguha is somewhat like an earlier time than the late Kamakura period.  This sword indicates that the sword does not always have the style of that period.  To Kantei*, first, look at the style and shape then give yourself some idea of the period of the time it was made.  But in this case, Kissaki does not indicate the late Kamakura periodThe next thing is to look at the different characteristics of the sword one by one like Hamon, Nie or Nioi, Jihada, etc.,  and determine what period, which Den, which province and then come up with the name. This process is called Kantei.

*Kantei —  to determine the swordsmith’s name by analyzing the  sword characteristic without seeing the Mei (inscribed swordsmith name). Mei may be gone if it was shortened.

All the photos above are from Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission to use is granted.

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

This is a detailed part of chapter 13|Late Kamakura Period, Genko 鎌倉末元寇).  Please read chapter 13 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

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

Genko (元寇):  Mongolian Invasion 

Chapter 13 described the Mongolian invasion simply.  Here is a more detailed description.  The Mongol Empire was a vast empire that spread between present Mongolia to Eastern Europe from the 13th to the 14th centuries.  The grandson of Genghis Kahn, Kublai Kahn, sent several official letters to Japan demanding Japan to become a dependent state of the Mongol Empire (元: Yuan), and ordered to send a tribute to them.  They threatened Japan that they would invade if Japan did not follow their demand.  Hojo Tokimune (北条時宗), who was in power in Kamakura Bakufu (government) at the time, refused and ignored the letters many times.  That led to the two-time invasions by the Mongol Empire.  It is often said that the strong typhoon hit Japan on each occasion, and Mongols were pushed away by the two big typhoons.  This is correct, but the real story had a lot more to it.

Bun’ei-no-eki (文永の役)  1274

The first Mongolian invasion was called Bun’ei-no-eki.  In early October in 1274, Mongol troops (Mongols, Han people, and Koreans) of 40,000 men* departed from the Korean Peninsula on 900* large and small ships and headed to Japan.  After they arrived on Tsushima Island (対馬), Mongol troops burnt villages and killed many people, including the island people.  Village people were captured and sent to the top officials of the Mongols as their slaves.  It was a very sad scene. 

The Mongols moved to Iki Island (壱岐の島), to Hizen shore (肥前),  to Hirado Island (平戸), to Taka Island (鷹島), then to Hakata Bay (博多).   In each place, the disastrous sad scene was the same as everywhere.    On each battlefield, Japanese soldiers and villagers were killed in large numbers.  The Kamakura Bukufu sent a large number of Samurai troops to the battlefield.  The Japanese forces sometimes won and pushed the Mongols back, but mostly lost.  Many Japanese wives and children near the battleground were captured. 

Eventually, no soldiers dared to fight against the Mongols.  Mongols’ arrows were short and not so powerful, but they put the poison at the tip, and they shot the arrows all together at one time like rain.  Also, this was the first time the Japanese saw firearms.  The loud sound of explosions frightened horses and Samurai.

Japanese troops had to retreat, and the situation was awful for the Japanese.  But one morning, there was a big surprise!  All the ships disappeared from the shore.  They were all gone on the morning of October 21st (on today’s calendar, November 19th).  All Mongols vanished from the shore of Hakata

What happened was that the Mongols decided to quit the fight and went back to their country.  The reason was that even though they were winning, they also lost many soldiers and one of the key person of the army.  The Mongols realized that no matter how much they won, the Japanese kept coming more and more from everywhere.  Also, the Mongols realized that they could not expect reinforcements from their country across the ocean.  Their stocks of weapons were getting low.  The Mongols decided to go back.  Here was a twist.  Around the end of October (November by today’s calendar), the sea between Hakata (where Mongols were stationed) and Korea was very dangerous because of the bad weather.  Only a clear day with the south wind made it possible to sail over the sea.  The name of the sea where the Mongol soldiers had to sail back is called Genkai Nada (玄界灘), very famous for the rough water.  For some reason, the Mongols decided to head back during the night.  That was a mistake.  They may have caught a moment of the south wind, but it did not last long.  As a result, they encountered a usual severe rainstorm.  Many ships hit against each other, against the cliff, capsized, and people fell into the ocean.  Several hundred broken ships were found on the shores of Japan. 

The Mongol invasion ended here.  This war is called Bun’ei-no-eki (文永の役).  The Mongols lost a large number of people, ships, soldiers, food, and weapons.  Actually, it was Korea that lost a great deal.  They were forced to supply people, food, weapons, etc., by the Mongols.  After the war, in Korea, only older men and children were left to work on the farm.  On top of it, they had a drought and prolonged rain.

Ko’an-no-eki (弘安の役) 1281

The second Mongolian invasion is called Ko’an-no-eki in 1281.  After the first attempt to invade Japan, Kublai Khan kept sending messengers to Japan to demand it to become Mongol’s dependent territory.  The Kamakura Bakufu kept ignoring and killed messengers.  Kublai Kahn decided to attack Japan again in 1281.  The top advisers of Kublai Kahn tried to convince him not to do it because the ocean was too dangerous, the country was too small, the place was too far, and there would be nothing to gain even if they win.  But Kublai Kahn still insisted on attacking. 

This time they came in two groups.  One was the East-route troop with 40,000* soldiers on 900 ships, and the other was the South-route troop with 100,000* soldiers on 3,500 ships.  This was the enormous scale of forces in history.  They planned to depart from each designated port, and they planned to join on the Iki Island (壱岐の島) by June 15th, then work together.  The East-route troop arrived there before the South-route troop.  Instead of waiting for the South-route troop to come, the East-route troop started to attack Hakata Bay (博多) on their own.  But since the previous invasion of the Bun’ei-no-eki, Japan had prepared to fight and built a 20-kilometer-long stone wall.  This stone wall was 3 meters high and 2 meters thick.  The East-route troop had to give up to land from Hakata and moved to Shika-no Shima Island (志賀島).  In this place, the fight between Mongols and Japan was even, but in the end, the East-route troop lost and retreated to Iki Island, and decided to wait for the South-route troop to arrive. 

The South-route troop never came. They had changed their plan.  On top of that, while the East-route troop was waiting for the South-route troop to arrive, they lost over 3,000 men over an epidemic.  Some suggested going back home with difficulty like this, but they concluded to wait for the South-route troop as long as their food would last. 

Meanwhile, the South-route troop decided to go to Hirado Island (平戸島), which was closer to Dazaifu (太宰府).  Dazaifu was the final and most important place they wanted to attack.   Later, the East-route troop found the South-route troop went to Hirado Island.  Finally, two forces joined on Hirado Island, and each group was stationed on the nearby island called Takashima Island (鷹島).  The problem was that since this island had very high tide and low tide, the ships were not easily maneuvered.

In the meantime, 60,000 Japanese men were marching toward the place where the Mongols were stationed.   Before Japanese soldiers arrived to fight against the Mongols, a big typhoon came on July 30th, and Mongols were caught in a big typhoon.  Their ships were hitting each other, and many sank.  People fell from the boats and drowned.

By this time, it had been about three months after the East-route troop left Mongol in early May.  That means they were on the ocean for about three months or so.  In the northern Kyushu area (九州), typhoons usually come, on average, 3.2 times between July and September.  The Mongols were on the ocean and Japan’s shorelines for about three months.  They were bound to be hit by a typhoon sooner or later.

The Mongol Empire lost 2/3 of its naval forces in the event of Ko’an-no-eki.   Even after the Mongols failed the two invasions, Kublai Khan still insisted on attacking Japan again, no matter how his advisers reasoned him not to.  In the end, the plan was delayed and terminated because of many rebellions and upheavals, and no lumber was left to build ships.  Soon later, Kublai died in 1294.  The historical record of Mongols indicated that Mongolian officials highly praised Japanese swords.  Some even say one of the reasons why it was not easy to defeat Japan was their long sharp swords.  The experience of the Mongolian invasion changed the Ikubi kissaki (猪首切先) sword to the new Soshu-Den (相州伝) style sword.  The next chapter describes a new style of sword, Soshu-Den swords.

49 Photo of part 2 of 14 Late KamakuraThe stone wall scene.  Photo from Wikipedia.  Public Domain

* Number of soldiers by https://kotobank.jp/word/元寇-60419 .  Referred to several different reference sources.  They all have a similar number of soldiers and ships.

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

This chapter is a datiled part of chapter of 12| Middle Kamakura Period Tanto ( 短刀) .  Please read Chapter 12 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura

                   The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

In 12| The Middle Kamakura Period: Tanto  described that the shape of Tanto called Takenoko-zori had appeared during the middle Kamakura period.  This style of Tanto curves inward a little at the tip.  The drawing below may be a bit exaggerated to show the curve.  The real Takenoko-zori curvature is not so apparent.  Maybe a few millimeters inward. 

Usually, the length of the Tanto is approximately 12 inches.  Tantos are described as follows; a Tanto of approx. ten inches is called Josun Tanto (定寸短刀), longer than ten inches is called Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延び短刀), and less than ten inches is called Sun-zumari Tanto (寸詰短刀).

12Tanto drawing Mid Kamakur

 

Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延び)   >   Jyosun Tanto (定寸)   >  sun-zumari Tanto (寸詰り)  (longer than 10 inches)           (approx. 10 inches)                (less than 10 inches

13 «Part 2» Tanto photo

 46 Shintogo Kunimitsu Oshigata

Shintogo Kunimitsu (新藤五国光)  Sano Museum Catalogue, permission granted to use

The style above is called Kanmuri-otoshi (冠落し); the Mune side (opposite side of cutting edge) is shaved off.  The length is approximately 10 inches.  Woodgrain pattern surface, Nie on Ji (refer to 3 |Names of Parts).   Very finely forged.  Hamon is medium Suguha (straight).  Boshi is Ko-maru (small round).  Because of the Kanmuri-otoshi style, it may not be easy to see the Takenoko-zori; the Mune side bends inward very slightly.  Among the Tanto producers, Shintogo Kunimitsu is considered as the top Tanto maker.

13 «Part 2»Tanto photo with Saya

Above photo is also by Shintogo Kunimitsu (新藤五国光) with Saya.  Saya is the scabbard.  The handle of the scabbard (white part) is made with sharkskin.  Both photos are from Sano Museum Catalog.  Permission granted.

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

This chapter is a detailed part of 11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先) and continued from 44|Part 2 of —- 11|Ikubi Kissaki(猪首切先.  Please read Chapter 11 and Chapter 45 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura

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

Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗)

Another swordsmith that should be mentioned in this section is Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗).  In the middle Kamakura period, the Hojo clan invited top swordsmiths to the Kamakura area.  Awataguchi Kunitsuna (粟田口国綱) from Yamashiro of Kyoto, Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) from Bizen area, Bizen Kunimune (備前国宗) from Bizen area moved to Kamakura with their circle of people.  Those three groups started the Soshu Den (相州伝).  Refer to13| Late Kamakura Period: Genko (鎌倉末元寇) .

  • Sugata (shape)  ——————— Ikubi-kissaki style.  Sometimes Chu-gissaki.  Thick body.  Koshi-zori. Narrow Shinogi width.                                                                                                
  • Horimono (Engravings)  —————- Often narrow Bo-hi (single groove)
  • Hamon (Tempered line) ————- O-choji Midare (irregular large clove shape) with Ashi.  Or Ko-choji Midare (irregular small clove shape) with AshiNioi base with Ji-nie (Nie in the Hada area).  Some Hamon is squarish with less Kubire (less narrow at the bottom of the clove).   Hajimi (刃染み rough surface) may show.  Often the Kunimune swords are as follows; the lower part shows Choji, the upper part shows less work without Ashi                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Kunimune Compton 1 Kunimune Compton 2Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗)   Photo from “Nippon-to Art Sword of Japan, ” The Walter A. Compton Collection.   National Treasure

  • Boshi  ———————— Small irregular.  Yakizume or short turn back.
  • Ji-hada —————-Wood-grain pattern.  Fine Ji-hada with some Ji-nie (Nie inside Ji-hada).  Midare-utsuri (irregular shadow) shows.  A few Hajimi (rough surface).

12 (second part 2) 照国神社Above photo is a picture from the official site of Terukuni Shrine in Kyushu.     http://terukunijinja.pkit.com/page222400.html

This is the National Treasure, Kunimune, preserved at Terukuni Jinja Shrine in Kagoshima prefecture.  See the photos on the previous page.  This Kunimune sword was lost after WWII.  Dr. Compton, the board chairman of Miles Laboratories in Elkhart, Indiana, found it in Atlanta’s antique store.  I mentioned Dr. Compton in 32| Japanese swords after WWII  .  When he saw this sword, he realized this was not just an ordinary sword.  He bought it and inquired to the Nihon Bijutu Token Hozon Kyokai (The Japanese Sword Museum) in Tokyo.  It turned out to be the famous missing National Treasure, Kunimune, from Terukuni Jinja shrineHe returned the sword to the shrine without compensation in 1963. 

My father became a good friend of his around this time through Dr. Homma and Dr. Sato (both were leading sword experts).  Later, Dr. Compton asked Dr. Honma and my father to examine his swords he kept in his house (he had many swords) and swords at The Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  My father wrote about this trip and the swords he examined in those museums and published the book in 1965; the title was “Katana Angya (刀行脚).”  

For Dr. Compton and my father, those days must have been the best time of their lives.  Their businesses were doing well, and they were able to spend a lot of time on their interests and had fun.  It was the best time for me, too.  One time, while I was visiting Compton’s house, he showed me his swords in his basement for hours, almost all day.  His house was huge, and the basement he built as his study had a fire prevention system, and the lighting system was perfect to view swords and other art objects. 

Phoebe, his wife, said to him that he shouldn’t keep a young girl (college student then) in the basement all day.  He agreed and took me to his cornfield to pick some corn for dinner.  From a basement to a cornfield, not much improvement?  So, Phoebe decided to take me shopping and lunch in Chicago.  Good idea,  but it was too far.  Compton’s house was Elkhart, Indiana.  The distance between Elkhart and Chicago was about two and a half hours by car.  It was too far just for shopping and lunch.  To my surprise, the company’s employee flew us and landed on the rooftop of a department store, then did the shopping, had lunch, and flew back.

Miles Laboratories and a well-known large Japanese pharmaceutical company, had a business tie-up then.  Dr. Compton used to come to Japan quite often, officially, for business purposes.  But whenever he came to Japan, he spent days with sword people, including my father, and I usually followed him.  One of the female workers of this pharmaceutical company, her job description was to translate the sword book into English. 

My parents’ house was filled with Miles products.  Miles Laboratories had a big research institute in Elkhart, Indiana.  I visited there several times.  One day, I was sitting with Dr. Compton in his office, looking into a sword book with our heads together.  That day, a movie actor, John Forsythe, was visiting the research lab.  He was the host of a TV program Miles Laboratories was sponsoring.  All female employees were making a big fuss over him.  Then he came into Dr. Compton’s room to greet him, thinking the chairman must be sitting in his big chair at his desk looking like a chairman.  But he saw Dr. Compton looking into the sword book with his head against my head.  The appearance of Dr. Compton was just like any chairman of the board of a big company one can imagine, and I was a Japanese college student looking like a college student. John Forsythe showed a strange expression on his face that he did not know what to think.

 

44|Part 2 of —11 Ikubi Kissaki(猪首切先)

This chapter is a detailed chapter of 11|Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)  Please read Chapter 11 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura

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

The middle Kamakura period was the golden age of sword making.  We cannot deny it was because Gotoba Joko (refer to 10| Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221  and 43|Part 2 of –10 Jyokyu-no-Ran (承久の乱1221)) honored the skilled swordsmiths highly.  After the Jokyu-no-ran, Samurai began to prefer grand-looking swords. Those were Ikubi-kissaki swords.  It is said that there were no mediocre swords among the Ikubi -kissaki swords.  In this chapter, we discuss the swordsmiths who were famous for Ikubi Kissaki.

Bizen Osafune Mitsutada (備前長船光忠)

Bizen Osafune Mitsutada is one of the most famous swordsmiths for Ikubi-kissaki.  His swords are the most sought-after swords among sword collectors.  He was the founder of the Osafune group, followed by his son Nagamitsu (長光), then grandson Kagemitsu (景光), and the rest of the descendants.

  • Sugata (shape) ———— Grand look with Ikubi-kissaki.  The body is relatively thick with Hamaguri-ha (refer to 11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先).  Often suriage.
  • Hi (engraving) ———- Often Bohi (wide groove).  The end of Bo-hi above Machi often shows Kakudome (square end).
  • Hamon (Tempered line) ————- Yakihaba (the Hamon width) is a mixture of wide and narrow Hamon.   Nioi base.  Large Choji, Kawazuko-choji (tadpole head shape, refer to the illustration below second from the last), Inazuma, and Kinsuji (refer to the drawing in 14| Late Kamakura Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀) .
  • Boshi  ————————— Yakizume.  Yakizume with a short turn back.
  • Ji-hada ————————- Fine and soft look surface.  Chikei appears.

img028   img028                             Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Bunkazai)       Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Bunkazai)

img029   img030

Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Token)  Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Bunkazai)  Above 4, once my family sword

I displayed the above four photos several times on other pages.  Those were Mitsutada swords that my father used to own.  My father did the calligraphy and took these pictures for himself.  He was very proud that he had collected four Mitsutada swords, and he had the name, “Mitsutada,” monogrammed on the pocket inside his suit jacket.  It is said that Oda Nobunaga (織田信長), with his wealth and political power, collected 28 Mitsutada swords.

I know those photos are not so good.  To avoid any possible infringement on copyrights or intellectual property rights, photos are limited to my father’s photographs (not so wonderful, though), Sano Museum Catalog photos (permission granted), some public domain photos from Wikipedia, and a few sources.  Please bear with me that I don’t have good pictures.

Bizen Osafune Nagamitsu (備前長船長光)

Nagamitsu is Mitsutada’s son.

  • Sugata  ——————– Shape is similar to the early Kamakura period style, which is with Funbari and is narrow at the top.  This is called Nagamitsu Sugata.
  • Hamon ——————- Wide tempered line.  Nioi base.  O-choji Midare (large clove shape) mixed with Kawazuko-choji (see below).  Many Ashi appear.  Also, he does Suguha-choji (straight with Choji mixed).  Works of Inazuma and Kinsuji shows.

12 (part 2) Kawazuko Choji)

Kawazuko Choji (tadpole head like)  Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted) Kawazuko Choji on the sword above is very clear that it is almost a textbook-like example.  But usually, they are not as apparent as this.

  • Boshi —————————— Yakizume or turn back a little.
  • Ji-hada ——————— Fine wood grain pattern.  Well known for Utsuri (shadow).   Choji Utsuri (Shadow of Choji) or Botan Utsuri ( resembles flower peony).  Choji Utsuri shows in the above picture.

The next poster is for an exhibit of swords at the Museum of Tetsu (iron) in Sakaki, Nagano, in  2003.  The center objects in the poster are Nagamitsu’s sword, and its Koshirae (scabbard).  It was our family sword then.  Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉), a great Daimyo in the Sengoku period, awarded this sword to his famous war strategist,  Takenaka Hannbei (竹中半兵衛).

12 «Part 2» 長光ポスター