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)

60| Second Part of —24|Sengoku Period Sword

This chapter is a detailed part of Chapter 24.  Please read Chapter 24|Sengoku Period Sword(戦国時代) before start reading this chapter.

During the Sengoku Period, MinoDen group and Bizen Osafune group was the main sword makers.  Because of almost 100 years of the Warring States period, all the Daimyo needed a large number of swords.  If a supplier is closer, that is even better.  Mino area could be reached from many Sengoku Daimyo conveniently because of its location.  Mino swords smiths existed since the Heian period and the Kamakura period.  Mino became the busiest sword making area around the Muromachi and the Sengoku period.   Shizu group and Tegai group from Yamato area, and many swordsmiths from Yamashiro (Kyoto) moved to Mino area.  Mino-Den, Shizu Kaneuji (志津兼氏) from the Kamakura period is one of the Masamune Juttetsu (正宗十哲)*.  Their swords are very practical swords for the Warring Stated period.

60-mino-map.jpg

*Masamune Juttetsu (正宗十哲) —–strictly meaning, top 10  Masamune students but often it means top swordsmiths.

Three examples of Sengoku Period sword

Every sword is different.  Even the sword made by the same swordsmith is different.  Please refer to the basic common characteristic of the sword made during the Sengoku period, 24 Sengoku Period Sword.

 

60-sukesada-photo-e1563148031935.jpg 60 Sukesada illustration

Bizen Osafune Yosozaemon Sukesada (備前国住長船与三左衛門尉祐定) from Sano Museum Catalog

Common Sengoku Period characteristic that shows on the sword above.

Hamon is Kani-no-Tsume (crab claw shape).  This type of hamon never appeared Heian, Kamakura, Nanbokucho period.  This type of Hamon is a deciding point of the Sengoku time.  Marudome-Hi (round end groove) often appear on Bizen Den sword of Sengoku period.  Wide tempered area.  Midare-komi Boshi, with turn back deep and stop sharp.  Hamon is Nioi base.  Bizen does Nioi mostly with some exception.

60 Kanesada photo  60 kanesada illustration

Izuminokami Fujiwara Kanesada (和泉守藤原兼定) from Sano Museum Catalog

Common Sengoku Period characteristic that shows on the sword above

The last letter of Kanji of this swordsmith is not ”定”, instead “宀” and “之”.  But my computer does not have one.  To distinguish from the other Kanesada (兼定), we call “宀 “ and “之 “, Nosada (のさだ) Izuminokami Fujiwara Kanesada is the top sword smith of Mino-Den at this time.  The shape of the sword is the typical Sengoku sword.  Shallow curvature, Chu-gissaki (medium Kissaki), pointed gunome Hamon.  The width of the Hamon is wide and narrow.  Often, Nosada and other Mino-Den have woodgrain on Ji-Hada with Masame mixed.  Nioi base with coarse Nie mixed.

 

60 Norimitsu photo  60-norimitsu-illustraton.jpg

Bizen Osafune NorimitsTu (備前長船法光)   from Sano Museum Catalog

The common Sengoku period characteristic that shows on the sword above

Shallow curvature.  This style of sword including the shallow curvature  (the degree in which the sword turns), the width of the blade and the sturdy look is very typical of Sengoku period.  Marudome-Hi.  Pointed Hamon called Togari-Ba ( 尖り刃).  Nioi base mixed with Nie.  Slight Masame and wood grain on Ji-Hada.

58| Second part of — 22|Sengoku Period History (戦国時代) 1467 to 1596

Chapter 58 is a detailed part of chapter 22 Sengoku Period History.  Please read chapter 22 Sengoku Period History before start reading this chapter.
0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period
        The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

The different way of dividing the time for political history and sword history was explained in 23| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代).   The middle timeline above shows the Sengoku Period (戦国時代) ends in 1596 for sword history.  This is because the Keicho (慶長) Era started in 1596.  The swords made after the Keicho Era is called Shin-to (new sword), swords before the Keicho Era is called Ko-to (old sword).  Keicho Shin-to is the swords made during Keicho Era,

Chapter 22| 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 allying with a neighboring country on and off and sometimes betraying each other.  The stronger ones took over the weaker Daimyo. Little by little, the number of Daimyo gets lesser.  The names of known powerful Daimyos 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 top political power.

Oda Nobunaga (織田信長) defeats Imagawa Yoshimoto at 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).  He was a quite powerful Sengoku Daimyo 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, Owari (尾張: Aichi prefecture today.  See map below) 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 apparent 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 the “idiot of Owari” because of his unconventional behavior (actually, he was a genius).  Not too many people had much confidence in him.  Among  Oda vassals, some insisted on staying inside the castle instead of fighting since Nobunaga could only gather 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 will take.  Imagawa side was sure to win this easy battle since the Oda clan is small, and the head of the clan is an idiot.  Imagawa troops decided to stop and rest at the place called Okehazama.   Okehazama is a long narrow road.  Knowing Imagawa troop 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 it, all of a sudden, heavy rain started to pour.  The rain was so heavy that the Imagawa troop could not even see the Oda troop were 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 not so nice things like burning the Enryaku-Ji Temple (延暦寺) and killed many people, including ordinary people,  yet his economic measure encouraged people’s commercial activity.  Things were going somewhat smoothly for Nobunaga later part of his life.  But in 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.  A few theories about why Akecdhi attacked and killed Nobunaga, but we don’t know what exactly happened. 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 opportunity.  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 don’t know the real reason; we still have a debate over it.  After this happened, the news was relayed to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a counterpart of Akechi under 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 ten 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 fought against Akechi and killed him with their limited means of transportation at the time.  Even though Hideyoshi had a 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 Hideyoshi killed Akechi, Hideyoshi maneuvered cleverly.  He ended up at the top of the power.  While he was in control, he mined a large amount of gold from the gold mine he owned.  There is a record stating that Hideyoshi buried a vast amount of gold and its location.  But we never found it yet.  Hideyoshi was a poor farmer’s son who became the top of the power.  His success story fascinates the 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 the Edo period started.

59-bicchu-map.jpg

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

Chapter 57 is the detailed part of chapter 21|Muromachi Period Sword.  Please read Chapter 21 before start 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 the chapter 21 Muromachi Period Sword.  By the end of the Nanboku-cho period, the swords’ length became shorter to approximately 2 feet.  No more 3, 4, or 5 feet long blades like the one during the Nanboku-cho period.  The reason was that, during the Nanboku-cho period, warriors fought on horseback, but after the Muromachi time, it changed to infantry fighting.

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 part of the Muromachi period 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 for shape, hamon, boshi, Ji-hada.

57 Moromitsu photo (必要分 57 Moromitus Oshigata

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

The above sword is 2 feet & 5 inches long, medium kissaki, hamon has a small wave-like pattern with continuous Gunome (lined up half-circle).  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 well-known characteristic among all of the Oei Bizen.

Before the Muromachi period, in the Bizen area, there were many groups within, but in the Muromachi time, Osafune (長船) group was the only active swordsmith group.  Osafune (長船) was the place’s name, but it became the last name during the Muromachi time.  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.  21|Muromachi Period Sword, describes the sword’s typical characteristics during the Muromachi period.

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. Swordsmiths in different other areas created the tanto 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 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 ), Tokkotuki-ken, Tsumetsuki-ken, Bonji, etc.

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

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

 

56|Part 2 of —– 20|Muromachi Period History (室町時代)


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

57 -timeline Muromachi & Sengoku Red

                                  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.  The above timeline shows:  the middle line is for a sword history and the bottom line is for political history.   The style of swords had a distinct difference between the Muromachi period, and the Sengoku period (戦国時代).  Therefore, the Muromachi period and the Sengoku period has to be divided for sword study.   School history books divide the time as follows: the Muromachi period is from 1392 (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 Muromachi Bakufu).   School history books describe that the Sengoku period was a part of the Muromachi period.  For the purpose of the sword study, we need to divide the Muromachi period and the Sengoku period separately.

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.  Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu moved the Bakufu to the place called Muromachi (室町), therefore called the Muromachi period.  By the Shogun Yoshimitsu’s time, the majority of the South Dynasty samurai went under the North Dynasty.  The South Dynasty side accepted the Shogun Yoshimitsu’s offer to end the fight against the North Dynasty.  This acceptance established the power of Muromachi Bakufu by the Ashikaga family.

Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu created a huge amount of profit from trades with China (Ming). One of a famous beautiful temple in Kyoto, the Golden Pavillion (Kinkaku-Ji 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 called Kitayama Bunka (Kitayama culture 北山文化) was created around this time.

*Golden Pavillion (Kinkaku-Ji Tempe金閣寺)  —– Correct name is Rokuon-Ji Temple (鹿苑寺).  This is a Zen temple of the Rinzaishu Sokoku-Ji group (臨済宗相国寺派 ).  The Kinkaku-ji Temple is a part of the Rokuon-Ji Temple.  This is a Buddhist hall containing relics of Buddha. This place was once owned by Saionji Kintsune (西園寺公経 ) in the Kamakura period.  Shogun Yoshimitsu acquired it in 1397, and he re-built it as his villa.  It has also functioned as an official guesthouse.  Kinkaku-Ji 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 Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満) died, the Muromachi Bakufu became less prosperous financially, and that caused the lesser military power.  As a result,  daimyos (feudal lord) gained more power.  A few generations after Shogun Yoshimitsu, Ashikaga Yohimasa became a shogun (8th Ashikaga Shogun).  His wife was the famous Hino Tomiko (refer  Chapter 20 Muromachi Period History.  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 the Japanese garden, Shoin Zukuri (書院造)*, Tea ceremony, Flower Arrangement, Painting, and other art forms.  His cultural attribute is called Higashiyama Bunka (Higashiyama culture (東山文化).   As it was described in 20|Muromachi Period History (室町時代), 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 (powerful family 山名宗全 ) to back up her son, and brother Yoshimi joined with Hosokawa Katsumoto (another 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 the 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 daimyos, “Onin-no-Run (応仁の乱 )” broke out.  All the daimyo sided either the Hosokawa group or the Yamana group.   Eventually, the war spread to the rest of Japan and last over 10 years.  Finally in 1477, after both Hosokawa Katsumono and Yamana Sozen died, Shogun Yoshimasa decided to transfer the Shogunate to his son Yoshihisa.  Because of this war, Kyoto was devastated and the power of the Muromachi Bakufu was weakened.  While all this is happening, people were suffering from the war.   Yoshimasa still spent money to build the Ginnkaku-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 (100-year Warring States period).

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

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

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

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

0-timeline - size 24 Nanboku-cho

                            The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

20 Enbun Jyoji Kowakizashi Tanto

The drawing above is the 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 swordsmith’s names of this time.  Hiromitsu and Akihiro represent the most common characteristic of Nanboku-Cho tanto.

56 cropped Hiromitu photo 20 Hitatsura

Hiromitsu From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

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

Characteristic of Hiromitu and Akihiro

Shape——-wide width.  Usually, 1foot 1, 2 inches long (Sun-nobi).  Thin body.  Sakizori

Hamon ——-Tempered line is wide and narrow.  Hamon around Yakidashi (right above machi area) area is narrow, and it becomes gradually wider.  Hamon around the Fukura area is the showiest.  Mainly Nie.  Sunagashi, Kinsuji, Gunome, Umanoha Midare (horse teeth shape hamon), Hitatsura appears (above drawing).

Boshi——–Irregular, unevenly tempered, almost entire area is hamon. Deep turn back.

Jihada ———Wood grained

Nakago ——-Tanago-Bara shape (refer 19 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀)

Nobukuni (Below is my sword)

Shodai Nobukuni (the first generation) was a student of Sadamune.  He was called one of the Sadamune San Tetsu (貞宗三哲, top three students).  Nobukuni’s characteristic was similar to the one of Hiromitsu and Akihiro above.  Nobukuni also created Sun-nobi tanto.  This sword has a Hoso-suguha, Ko-mokume (small burl), Ko-maru boshi (small round).

56 Nobukuni 1 Nobukuni4

56 Nobukuni 2

This is 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 Jyuyo Token.  The Chairman Moritatu Hosokawa.  Showa 45 June 1 (1970 June 1)

54| Part 2 of — 18 Nanboku-Cho Period Swords (南北朝刀)

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

 

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

The drawing below is the illustration from chapter 18.  Please compare this illustration to the photo on the right.  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 the Nanboku-cho time, swordsmiths created   3, 4, 5 feet long swords.  Later shortened to 2 to 2.5 feet or so length.

19 Nanboku-cho Sword style                55 Sa photo                                                                             From Sano Museum Catalogue “Reborn”                                                                                                              (Permission granted)

55 Chogi

55 Chogi drawing

                     Chogi from Sano Museum Catalogue (Permission granted)

Chogi’s style is categorized as one of the So-den Bizen.  See, 18| Nanboku-Cho Period Sword (North and South Dynasty Sword).  Chogi (長義) was a swordsmith from Bizen Den school who created swords with a characteristic of Soshu Den.  Therefore called So-den Bizen.

 Chogi characteristic

Shape ——— Originally very long.  Shortened to approximately around 2 to 2.5 feet.        Hamon ——–Wide showy tempered line.  Mostly Nioi, but Nie shows also.  Sunagashi (砂流 brush mark like) appears.  Notare (wavy) mixed with Gunome.  Sometimes Chogi’s created one pair of ear robe shape hamon 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” like an egg.  Aoe is a swordsmith from Bittchu province which is next to Bizen.  Therefore the characteristic of the sword, Ko-Aoe (old Aoe), and Ko-Bizen (old Aoe) are similar.

55 Bizen Bittchu map

For the Aoe group, from the middle Kamakura period to the Nanboku-Cho period was the height of their time.

Characteristic of Aoe (青江)

One of the characteristics of the Aoe sword is their 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 where their main characteristic was nioi.   Yet, the Bittchu group stayed with 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, the sword has a good chance of being either the Aoe group or Katayama Ichimonji group.  Sumitetu (澄鉄:  black core metal shows through) is also Aoe’s characteristic.

 

53| Part 2 of —- 17 Nanboku-Cho Period History (南北朝:1333 – 1392)

This section is a continued part of 17|Nanboku(Yoshino) Cho Period History (1333-1392) .  Please read Chapter 17 before this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Nanboku-cho

                                The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

The Nanboku-Cho Period (1333 – 1392) was between the fall of Kamakura Bakufu untill the beginning of the Muromachi Bakufu.  It was the time when the North dynasty and the South dynasty co-existed at the same time.  Right around the Mongolian Invasion time, Emperor Go-Saga passed away without deciding the next emperor.  Because of that, two lines of his heir, the Daigakuji-to (大覚寺統) line and the Jimyoin-to (持明院統) line became the emperor alternatively after Go Saga emperor passed away.  This system was a very unstable situation politically.  On top of it, many times, inconvenient problems happened; for example, while one emperor was still very young, the other emperor died young while he was playing on the slippery stones and hit his head.   At the time like this,  Godaigo became the Emperor.  He was put on the throne as a filler until the young emperors to get older.  Around this time, the  power of the Emperor declined.  They were controlled by the Kamakura Bakufu (government).  Also, after the Mongolian Invasion, even though typhoons chased Mongolian troops away, the Kamakura Bakufu was in financial trouble because of the cost of the war.  A large number of Samurai who fought during the Mongolian Invasion were never rewarded nor paid for the expense they incurred themselves.  They were also in trouble financially.  All these problems piled up and people resented Kamakura Bakufu. 

Emperor Go-Daigo did not want to stay as a filler emperor.  He decided to remain as an emperor himself and chose to attack the Kamakura Bakufu.  For some reason, the Kamakura Bakufu found out this plan.  Emperor Go-Daigo somehow managed to avoid being accused as an instigator.  After this happened, the Kamakura Bakufu appointed another heir as the next Emperor.  But Go-Daigo insisted on remaining as an emperor, and he planned another attack one more time.  This time, he had carefully planned and allied with prominent, powerful temples in Yamato (Nara today) since the Kamakura Bakufu did not control themRefer, 15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活)  and 51| Part 2 of —– 15 The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)

This time again, the rebellion plot came to light.  Go-Daigo sneaked out of Kyoto and fought against the Kamakura army.   Go-Daigo’s army had fewer soldiers than the Kamakura army, but several groups of troops opposed to the Kamakura Bakufu rose from different places in Japan.  Eventually, Go-Daigo was captured and sent to the Oki island (the same place where Emperor Go-Toba was sent).   The Kamakura Bakufu still had to fight against other uprising groups who were against them.  One of the famous ones is Kusunoki Masashige (楠正成).  Also, Go-Daigo’s son was still actively fighting against the Kamakura Bakufu and managing to ally with more groups.

More and more people wanted the Kamakura Bakufu to be overthrown.  Even Ashikaga Takauji (足利尊氏), he was one of the Kamakura Bakufu’s top men who fought against Emperor Go-Daigo betrayed the Kamakura and changed his side and became the Emperor’s ally.  Meantime, Go-Daigo escaped from Oki island.  More and more uprisings against the Kamakura Bakufu emerged from everywhere.  Eventually, the main political center called Rokuhara Tandai (六波羅探題 ) of the Kamakura Bakufu fell.  Nitta Yoshisada (新田義貞)*, who was another uprising group attacked Kamakura and won.  The Kamakura Bakufu fell in 1333.  Go-Daigo started a new political system called Kennmu no Shinsei (建武の新政).  This new system was a disaster.  He made a great effort to make things right and wanted to show how great he was.  But this reform created a big commotion.

It was not good for anybody and nobody gain.   Ashikaga Takauji (one of the prominent people of merit) and his men did not receive any high-rank job.  Noble men’s income was stopped.   His new policy only invited chaos and corruption.   Now Ashikaga Takauji turned against to Go-Daigo and won.  Go-Daigo left the Imperial Palace and opened a new government in Yoshino, that is the south of Kyoto.  Therefore it was called the Southern dynasty.

Ashikaga Takauji established a new emperor, Emperor Komyo (光明), in Kyoto; this is the North dynasty.  This process is how the North and South dynasty came about.  Two dynasties co-existed for about 60 years.  Little by little, many samurai groups went under the North dynasty, and after Go-Daigo and his several top key men passed away, the South dynasty became weaker and weaker.  The South Dynasty accepted the  Ashikaga side’s offer, and the North and the South united in 1392.  During all those fights between the Emperor and Kamakura Bakufu,  the sword style changed to broader and longer, 3, 4, or 5 feet long.  Later time, the majority of the Nanboku-cho style long sword was shortened.

53 Ashikaga Takauji

Kibamusha (騎馬武者蔵)    It once believed this is a portrait of Ashikaga Takauji, now several other opinions that this is somebody else.   “Public Domain” owned by Kyoto National Museum

*Nitta Yoshisada (新田義貞 )

When Minamoto no Yoritomo opened the Kamakura Bakufu, he chose the Kamakura area as the center of the Bakufu because mountains surround Kamakura on three sides, and one side faces the ocean.  That means it was hard to be attacked and easy to protect.  And they made seven narrow, steep roads through mountains called Kiri Toshi (切り通し) that connect to several major cities.  Those seven roads were the only way to go out and to come in.  When Nitta Yoshisada tried to attack Kamakura, he first tried to attack through the land road but failed.  So he went from the ocean side, but the cliff sticks out to the ocean too far, making it impossible to pass.  The legend said that when Nitta Yoshisada came to the place called Inamura Gasaki (稲村ヶ崎), he threw his golden sword into the ocean and prayed.  Then the tide went out, and all the soldiers were able to go around the cliff on foot.  They charged into Kamakura, and the Kamakura Bakufu fell.  There are several opinions about this.  Some scholars say that is not true, some say it happened, but the date is wrong, some say unusual ebb tide occurred that day, and so on.

Today, Inamura  Gasaki, a part of the Shonan area.  This is one of the favorite dating spots for young people in the evening.  The evening scene of Inamura Gasaki is wonderful.  The Sunset view from Inamura Gasaki toward Enoshima (江の島;small island, a shrine a top) direction is the most beautiful.   My parents’ house was in the vicinity above the cliff.

53 Inamura gasaki

Inamura Gasaki      Photo is “Creative Commons” CC 表示-継承 3.0 File: Inamuragasaki tottanbu.jpg 作成: 2008年6月25日 メディア ビューアーについて | 議論 | ヘルプ              Public domain

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

Chapter 52 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 circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.

In  16| Late Kamakura period Tanto (Early Soshu-Den 鎌倉末短刀)Den), a general common characteristic of the late Kamakura period tanto style (early Soshu Den) was described.  Next two photos fit in with the typical characteristics 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 swordsmith among the early Soshu DenMasamune’s tomb is in Honkaku-JI (本覚寺) Temple near Kamakura train station, approximately 6 minutes’ walk from the 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 groove).  Ko-maru boshiItame-hada (wood grain).  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 description of the Sano Museum Catalog stated that connoisseurs in the past had difficulty determining whether this sword had been made by Masamune because of the wide mihaba with sori and hamon is a little different for usual Masamune but by judging from the clear nie, chikei, and kinsuji, this sword should be judged as Masamune.

Enju Photo below

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

Enju group lived Higo Province in Kyushu.  The characteristic of the Enju group is very similar to that of the Yamashiro Den’s.  Because Enju Kunimura was related to Rai Kuniyuki of Yamashiro-Den. 

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

MasamuneTomb in Honkaku-ji Temple

Masamune (正宗) tomb is at Honkakuj-Ji Temple (本覚寺) in Kamakura.  Here is a map of Honkakuji temple and Masamune kogei store in Kamakura.  This store is owned by Tsunahiro Yamamura who is the 24th generation of MasamuneHonkaku-ji Temple is circled in red  and Masamune Kogei store is red circle with X.  Both are in approx. 6 to 7 minutes walking distance from the Kamakura station. 

Take Yokosuka line from Tokyo station (approx. one hour) — Get off at Kamakura Station (don’t get off 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 sign is at the corner of the post office) — Honkaku-ji Temple is a short distance from the post office.

52 Honkakuji map in red

52 Honnkakuji 2 54 large Masamune monument only

52 Honkakuji 54 Small Masamune tomb only

2019 family trip to Kamakura

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

This chapter is the 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 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 had a political and military power to control the area at the end of the Kamakura period, especially, the one with large territories.   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 big 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 group.  Those five groups are called Yamato Goha (Yamato five group).

51 Japan map Yamato

General Characteristic of Yamato Den

Yamato Den (大和伝) sword always shows Masame (柾目: straight grain-like) somewhere on Ji-hada, Jigane, and/or hamon.   Please refer to 15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活for its general characteristic.  Masame is sometimes mixed with Mokume (burl like) or Itame (wood grain like).  Either way, Yamato Den sword shows Masame somewhere.  Some sword shows Masame entirely or some show a lesser amount. Because of Masame, the hamon tends to show Sunagashi (brush stroke-like) 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, Kinsuji, especially under Yokote line Inazuma appeares.         Boshi —– Often Yakizume.  (Refer 15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活)        Ji-hada ———– Small wood grain and well-knead 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 SwordHamon–Mainly Nie (nie-hon’i).  Medium frayed suguha, mixed with small irregular and Gunome (half-circle).  Double-lined, brush stroke-like pattern.  Small Inazuma, KinsujiBoshi ——————Yakizume, Hakikake (swept trace like) and Ko-maru ( small round)    Ji-hada —————— Small burl mixed with Masame.  Shikkake group sometimes shows Shikkake-hada, which is, that the ha side shows Masame and 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, Kinsuji shows.                              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 shows Notare (wave-like hamon) and Suguha hotsure (frayed Suguha) and Kinsuji.

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

Characteristic:  Munei (cut short and no signature).  Yamato Den, Tegai-ha (Yamato school Tegai group).  Length is 2 shaku 2 sun 8 &1/2 bu (27&1/4 inches).  Very small Kissaki and funnbari.

My Yamato sword

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

My Yamato sword 5

My Yamato sword 4

My Yamato sword.jpg 2

On Hamon, Sunagashi, Niju-ba shows very faintly.   I could not take a good photo of boshi.  But it is Yakizume like.  JiHada is Itame with faint Masame, almost Nashiji-Hada (possibly because of my eyes).  Nie-hon’i.