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.

54|Masamune Tombstone in Honkakuji Temple (本覚寺)

I was in Japan earlier this May.  Here is the Tombstone of Masamune (正宗) in Honkakuji Temple (本覚寺) and Masamune kogei store in Kamakura .  This store is owned by Tsunahiro Yamamura who is the 24th generation of Masamune.

Here is the map of Kamakura that shows the location of the Honkakuji Temple (circle) and Masamune Kogei store marked the circle with X in it.

54 Kamakura map with circle & X

This map is from Kamakura station information center.

The direction to the Masamune Kogei store (marked circle with X on the map)

Take Yokosuka Line  from Tokyo (approximately one hour)———– Get off the train at Kamakura-Eki ————Exit from the East exit (or front exit) ———Take Komachi Dori street (narrow street toward left) ———-the first narrow street to the left ——— Cross the railroad track ——— Very short distance from the railroad track ———On your left, you see the sign of Masamune kogei store.

54 Yamamura 1

Mr. Yamamura and I

The direction to the Honkakuji Temple (本覚寺 )

Take Yokosuka line from Tokyo station (approximately one hour) ———-Get of the train at Kamakura-Eki ———-Exit from the east exit (front exit) ———-Go straight and cross the road ———-Turn right and go until you see the post office ———Turn left on the side of the post office (Honkakuji sign is at the corner of the post office) ——— Honkakuji Temple is short distance from the post office.

All of the pictures below are from Honkakuji Temple.

54 Honnkakuji 2 54 Honnkakuji 1

54 Honnkakuji 3 54 Honnkakuji 4

Below are Masamune’s tombstone.

54 large Masamune 6 54 Small Masamune 1

Both tombstones are the memorial tower erected for Masamune in Edo Period

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

This section is continued part of18|Nanboku(Yoshino) Cho Period History—— North and South Dynasty History(1333-1393) .  Please read Chapter 18 before this section.

Nanboku-Cho Period (1333 to 13930 is after the fall of Kamakura Bakufu till Muromachi Bakufu was established.  That is the time when the North dynasty and the South dynasty existed at the same time.  Right around the Mongolian Invasion, Emperor Go-Saga passed away without deciding the heir.  Because of that, from this time on, two lines of his heir, the Daigakuji-To line and the Jimyoin-To line became the emperor alternatively.  This is a very unstable situation politically.  On top of it, the inconvenient situation happened like, one Emperor was too young, the other Emperor died young while he was playing on the slippery stone and hit his head, etc.   At the time like this, Emperor Godaigo was put on the throne.  He was put on the throne as an Emperor to fill in the gap between the other young Emperors to be.  Around this time, the Emperor’s power was weakened, they were controlled by Kamakura Bakufu (government).  Also, after the Mongolian Invasion, even though typhoon chased Mongolian troops away, 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 cost and they were also in trouble financially.  All these problems piled up and people resented Kamakura Bakufu. Go-Daigo Emperor did not want to stay as a filler between the Emperors, he decided to stay as an Emperor himself, and decided to attack Kamakura Bakufu. Somehow, this plan was revealed by Kamakura Bakufu.   Emperor Godaigo managed to avoid being accused as an instigator.  After this happened, Kamakura Bakufu appointed another heir as a next Emperor.  But Go-Daigo insisted remain as an Emperor, and he planned another attack one more time.  This time around, he had carefully planned and allied with big powerful temples in Nara (Yamato), since they were not controlled by the Kamakura Bakufu. Refer, 16|The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)and 51| Part 2 of —– 16 The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)

This time again, the rebellion plot came to light.   Go-Daigo sneaked out Kyoto and fought with Kamakura army.  Go-Daigo’s army had a smaller number of soldiers than Kamakura army, but several uprising groups who were opposed to Kamakura Bakufu appeared from the different areas of Japan.  Eventually, Go-Daigo was captured and sent to the Oki island (same place where the Emperor Go-Toba was sent to). Kamakura Bakufu still had to fight with other uprising groups who were against them.  One of the famous ones is Masashige Kusunoki (楠正成 ).  Also, Go-Daigo’s son was still active fighting with Kamakura Bakufu and he went around to ally with more people to side with the Emperor.

Those who want the Kamakura Bakufu to be overthrown was increasing more and more.  Even Ashikaga Takauji (足利尊氏), he was one of the Kamakura Bakufu’s top men who was sent to fight against Emperor Go-Daigo betrayed Kamakura and changed his side and became the Emperor’s ally.  Meantime, Go-Daigo escaped from Oki island.  More and more uprising against Kamakura Bakufu from different areas.  Eventually, the main political center called Rokuhara Tandai (六波羅探題 ) of Kamakura Bakufu fell.  Nitta Yoshisada (新田義貞)*, who was another uprising group attacked Kamakura and won. Kamakura Bakufu fell at 1333.  Go-Daigo started a new political system called Kennmu no Shinsei (建武の新政).  This was a disaster.  He tried to do the right thing so that he can show he is the great Emperor.  But this reform created a big commotion.  It was bad for everybody and nobody could gain.  Ashikaga Takauji 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 Go-Daigo and Ashikaga won.  Go-Daigo left the Imperial Palace and opened a new government in Yoshino, that is south of Kyoto.  Therefore called South dynasty.  Ashikaga Takauji established a new Emperor, Komyo Emperor in Kyoto, this is a North dynasty.  This is how North and South dynasty came about.  This state lasted about 60 years.  Little by little, many Samurai group went under the North dynasty and after Go-Daigo and his several top key men died, South dynasty became weaker and weaker.  The South Dynasty accepted Ashikaga Yoshimitsu’s (足利義満 ) offer and the south and the north united in 1392.  During all those fights between emperor side and Kamakura Bakufu,  the sword style changed to wider and longer.  Majority of the Nanboku-Cho style sword was shortened later.

53 Ashikaga Takauji

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

*Nitta Yoshisada (新田義貞 )

When Minamoto no Yoritomo opened Kamakura Bakufu, he chose Kamakura area as the center of Bakufu because Kamakura is surrounded by mountains on three sides, and one side facing to the ocean.  That means it is hard to be attacked and easy to protect.  And there are seven narrow steep roads called Kiri Toshi (切り通し) that connect to several different directions. This is the only way to go out and to come in.  When Nitta Yoshisada tried to attack Kamakura, first he tried to attack from land road but failed.  So he came from the ocean side but the cliff sticks out to the ocean too far, that made impossible to pass.  It is 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 could pass the place.  There are several opinions about this.  Some scholars say that is not true, some say it really happened but the date is wrong, some say unusual ebb tide happened that day and so on.   Today, Inamura Gasaki is a very beautiful place in the evening.  Sunset is the most beautiful scene from Inamura Gasaki to Enoshima direction.  This is one of the favorite places for young people to go for dating in the evening.

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

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

Chapter 52 is the continued part of chapter 17 Late Kamakura period Tanto (17 | Late Kamakura period Tanto ——- Early Soshu-Den Tanto.  Please read Chapter 17 before chapter 52.

After studying the general common characteristics of the late Kamakura period Tanto style (that is early Soshu-Den Tanto) on chapter 17, what points do the next two swords fit in with the common characteristic of early Soshu-Den Tanto?

53 Masamune Tanto photo53 Masamune Tanto Oshigata

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

Masamune was born in Kamakura as a son of Tosaburo Yukimitu.  Masamune is a very well-known sword smith even among those who are not interested in a sword.  His tombstone is in Honkaku-Ji (本覚寺) temple near Kamakura train station, approximately 6 minutes’ walk from the station.

Characteristic—– Hira zukuri.  Very slightly sakizori (tip area curves slightly outward).  Bo-hi and Tsure-hi.  Boshi is Ko-maru.   Hamon is Notare (wavy).  From the illustration above, Sunagashi, Nijyuu-ba can be seen.  One of the important characteristics to connosseur sword is Nie or Nioi and Ji-hada.  It is not possible to see it from this photo, but Masamune does Nie and usually wood grain surface.  Nie is the Soshu-Den characteristic.  This type of Nakago is called Tanago-bara.   Masamune Tanto is often MuMei (no signature).

53 Kunisuke photo53 Kunisuke illustration

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

Enju  group lived at Kikuchi county in Higo Province (Kyushu).  The characteristic of Enju group is very similar to the one of Yamashiro style.  Because  Enju Kunimura who started the Enju group was said to be the son-in-law of Rai Kuniyuki of Yamashiro-Den. 

Characteristic—-Hamon is Hoso Suguha (straight temper line).  Boshi is Ko-maru.  Front engraving is Suken (left photo of the sword) and the engraving on the back is Gomabashi ( right photo of the sword).  Jitetsu or Jihada is tight Itame.  Nie

My Yamato Sword (大和所有刀剣)

Chapter 16|The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活)and  Chapter 51| Part 2 of —– 16 The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活) was the discussion about Yamato-Den.  It may be appropriate to show my Yamato sword here.  I obtained this sword at the yearly 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尺 (shaku) 2寸(sun) 8 1/2 分(bu) —27&1/4 inches.  Very small Kissaki and Funnbari.  This shape is typical of the end of Heian to early Kamakura period though nobody said so.

my-yamato-sword-e1555694162999.jpg

 

The Entire view of the sword and Kantei-Sho (NBTHK* Paper).  It is ranked “Tokubetsu Hozon Token”.  * Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyoukai (日本美術刀剣保存協会)

My Yamato sword 4

My Yamato sword.jpg 2

My Yamato sword 3

My Yamato sword 5

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

 

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

This chapter is the continued part of chapter 16|The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活 .   Please read chapter 16 before reading this chapter.

51 Japan map Yamato

At the end of the Kamakura period, in the Yamato area, powerful temples expanded their territory.  They had the political and military power to control the area.  Especially a few powerful temples owned a large territory.   They were called Shoen (荘園).  The demand for the Sword increased by warrior monks called Sohei (僧兵).  That started the revival of Yamato school.  Some of the big temples had their own swordsmiths within their territory.  Todaiji-temple (東大寺) backed Tegai (手掻 ) group.  Senjuin (千手院 ) group lived near Senju-Do (千手堂 ) where Senju Kannon (千手観音 ) was enshrined.  The name of the Taima group came from Taima-Ji temple (当麻寺).  Shikkake group (尻懸 ) and Hosho group (保昌 ) as well.  Those five groups are called Yamato Goha  (Yamato five groups).

General Characteristic of Yamato Den

Yamato Den (大和伝) sword always shows Masame (柾目, straight grain like) on somewhere on Ji-Hada,  Jigane or Hamon.   Please refer to the 16 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 sword shows Masame somewhere.  Some sword shows Masame entirely or some shows a lesser amount.  Because of that, Hamon tends to show Sunagashi (brush stroke like) or a double line like Hamon called Nijyu-ha.

Taima or Taema group (当麻 )

  • Shape —– Middle Kamakura period shape and Ikubi Kissaki style
  • Hamon —–Mainly  Medium Suguha.  Double Hamon.  Suguha mixed with Choji. Shows Inazuma, Kinsuji, especially under Yokote line Inazuma appears.
  • Boshi —– Often Yakizume. Refer Yakizume on 16 Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)
  • Ji-Hada Ji-Tetsu —– Small wood grain and well knead surface.  At the top part of the sword, wood grain pattern becomes Masame.

 Shiikkake Group (尻懸  )

  • Shape —– Late Kamakura period shape. Refer 15 Late Kamakura Period Sword
  • Hamon —– Mainly Nie (we say Nie Honni). Medium suguha frayed, mixed with small irregular and Gunome (half circle).  Double lined, brush stroke like pattern.  Small Inazuma, Kinsuji
  • Boshi —– Yakizume, Hakikake (swept trace by broom) and Ko-maru ( small round)
  • Ji-Hada, Ji-Gane —– Small burl mixed with Masame.  Shikkake group sometimes shows Shikkake Hada.  That is,  Ha side shows  Masame and Mune side shows burl.

Tegai Group ( 手掻 )

  • Shape —– Early Kamakura Thick Kasane (body).  High Shinogi.  Koshizori.
  • 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 Ji-Gane —– 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 Kinnsuji.

Example of Kantei process how to figure out the maker of the sword using the above photo

  • To determine Jidai (time) by Sugata (shape) —-—-Heian (possible),  Early Kamakura (possible),   Middle Kamakura (possible),  Late Kamakura (possible),  Nanboku – Cho (unlikely),  Muromachi (possibly No),   Sengoku (possibly No),  Shinto ( possibly No),  Shinshin-To (No)
  • To judge from Hamon (actual view shows Masame)——-Yamashiro-Den (possible),  Yamato-Den (very possible),  Bizen-Den (unlikely possible),  Soshu-Den (unlikely possible),  Mino- Den (No)
  • Jihada (actual view shows Nie a lot) —–Yamashiro-Den (possible),  Yamato-Den (very possible),  Shoshu-Den (unlikely possible),  Bizen-Den (unlikely ),  Mino-Den (unlikely)

By looking at the bold letter above, analyzing the above information, you conclude and come up with the name of the swordsmith.  In reality, to Kantei, bring more checkpoints and come up the name.