This is my Japanese room. The right side of the Yoroi ( armor) is Saya (scabbard) made by Yoshindo Yoshihara (吉原義人). I will have a picture or video of the sword made by him in the future post.
This is my Japanese room. The right side of the Yoroi ( armor) is Saya (scabbard) made by Yoshindo Yoshihara (吉原義人). I will have a picture or video of the sword made by him in the future post.
This chapter is a detailed part of chapter 14| Late Kamakura Period Sword. Please read chapter 15 before reading this section.
In Chapter 14| Late Kamakura Period Sword (鎌倉後期), the Ikubi-kissaki sword was explained. The above illustration shows a flaw when the damaged area was repaired. To compensate for this flaw, in the Late Kamakura Period, swordsmiths started to forge swords with longer Kissaki and a tip of Hi ends lower than Yokote-line. So that in case the Yokote-line was lowered after the repair, hi does not go higher than Yokote-line
The above photo is a sword by Goro Nyudo Masamune( 五郎入道正宗 ). Please look at the size and shape of Kissaki. This is definitely 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 Kamakura. They 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 )of the Bizen area. They are the origin of Soshu Den (相州伝). Eventually, Tosaburo Yukimitsu (藤三郎行光) appeared and his son is the famous Masamune (正宗). In the drawing above, Kinsuji, Inazuma is shown inside the hamon. The clear line inside the hamon is Inazuma and Kinsuji. Inazuma, Kinsuji is the collection of Nie. Masamune is famous for Inazuma, Kinsuji. Masamune lived in Kamakura, his hamon looks like an ocean wave when it is viewed sideways.
The above picture is a sword by a swordsmith of Yoshioka Ichimonji group (吉岡一文字). Kissaki is also like the one of Masamune. It is longer than the previous Ikubi-kissaki or Ko-gissaki. This is Chu-gissaki. Kissaki like this one is one of the important points to determine what period the sword was made. Hamon has Choji, Gunome, Togariba (pointed-tip), very tight Nie.
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 period. The 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 name by analyzing the characteristic of the sword without seeing the Mei. Mei may have been gone if it was shortened or never inscribed.
All the photos above are from Sano Museum Catalogue. Permission to use is granted.
This is the detailed part of chapter 13|Late Kamakura Period History （鎌倉後期. Please read chapter 14 before reading this section.
Genko (元寇): Mongolian Invasion
In Chapter 14, the Mongolian invasion was described simply. Here is the more detailed description. The Mongol Empire was a vast empire spread between present Mongol areas to Eastern Europe from 13 to 14 centuries. Grandson of Genghis Kahn, Kublai Kahn sent several official letters to Japan demanding Japan to become a dependency state of the Mongol Empire (元: Yuan) and demanded to send a tribute to them. They threatened Japan that they would invade if Japan did not accept 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 chased away by these two big typhoons. This was correct but the real story was a lot more to it.
Bunei-no-eki (文永の役 ) 1274
The first Mongolian invasion was called Bunei-no-eki. In the early part of October 1274, 40,000 Mongol troops*¹ (Mongol, Han people, and Korean) departed from the Korean peninsula on 900*² large and small ships and headed to Japan. After they arrived on the Tsushima island (対馬 ), Mongol troop 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 Hirato island (平戸 ), to Taka-Shima (鷹島 ), then to Hakata bay (博多). At each place, the disastrous sad scene was the same as everywhere. At each battlefield, Japanese soldiers and villagers were killed in large numbers. The Kamakura Bukufu (government) sent a large number of samurai troops to the battlefield. The Japanese troops sometimes won and pushed the Mongolians back, but mostly the Japanese sides lost. Many wives and children of the Japanese side were captured. Eventually, even no soldiers dared to fight against the Mongols. Mongols arrows were short and not so powerful, but they put on the poison at the tip, and they shoot the arrows all together at one time like rain. Also, this is the first time the Japanese saw the firearms. The loud sound of the explosion made the horses and samurai frightened.
Japanese troops had to retreat and the situation was really bad for the Japanese. But one morning, a big surprise to the Japanese! All the ships disappeared from the shore, they were all gone on the morning of October 21st (today’s calendar, Nov 19th). All Mongols disappeared from the shore of Hakata. What happened was Mongols decided to quit the fight and went back to their country. The reason was; for Mongols, even though they were winning, they also lost many soldiers and lost one of the major key persons in the army. The Mongols realized that no matter how much Mongols 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. It was the Mongols decision 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 a very dangerous sea because of the bad weather. Only a clear daytime of the south wind day is possible to sail over this 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 sea. 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 the usual severe rainstorm. Many ships hit against each other, against the cliff, ships capsized, people fell into the ocean, and several hundred broken ships were found on the Japan shore. The Mongol invasion ended here. This is called Bunei-no-eki (文永の役 ). Mongols lost a large number of people, ships, soldiers, food, weapons. Actually, it was Korea who lost a great deal, they were forced to supply all of the people, food, weapons, etc. by the Mongols. After this war, in Korea, only old men and children were left to work on the farm, on top of it, they had a drought and long rain.
Koan-no-eki (弘安の役) 1281
The second Mongolian invasion is called Koan-no-eki in 1281. After the first attempt to invade Japan, Kublai Khan kept sending messengers to Japan to demand to become a dependency state. 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 is too dangerous, the country is small, the place is too far, and nothing to gain even if the Mongols win. But Kublai Kahn still insisted to attack. This time they came in two groups. One was the East-route troop, the number was 40,000*¹ soldiers on 900 ships, and the other was South-route troop, the number was 100,000*¹ soldiers on 3,500 ships. This is the largest scale forces in history. They planned to depart from each one’s port and supposed to join on the Iki-no-shima island (壱岐の島) by June 15th, then work together. The East-route troop arrived there before the South-route troop came. Instead of waiting for the South-route troop to arrive, the East-route troop started to attack the Hakata Bay (博多) on their own. But since the previous invasion of the Binei-no-eki, Japan already 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 on Japan from Hakata and moved to Shiga-no-shima (志賀島). At this place, the fight between Mongols and Japan was even battle but at the end, East-route troop lost and retreated to the Iki-no-shima and decided to wait for the South-route troop to arrive. The South troop never came there, instead, they changed their plan. On top of that, while they were waiting for the South-route troop to arrive, they lost over 3,000 men over the epidemic. With difficulty like this, some suggested going back home but they concluded to wait for the South-rout troop to arrive as long as the food last. Meantime, the South-route troop changed their plan and decided to go to Hirato-Shima (平戸島) where it is closer to Dazaifu (太宰府). Dazaifu is the final and most important place they wanted to attack. Later, the East-route troop found out the South-route troop went to Hirato- Shima. Finally, two troops joined at Hirato-shima, and each group was stationed at a nearby island called Takashima (鷹島). The problem was that this island had very high tide and low tide, the ships were not easily maneuvered.
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, ships hitting each other, people fell from the ships and drowned and the majority of ships sank. July 30th was about three months after the East- route troop left Mongol in early May. That means they were on the ocean and the shore of Japan for about three months or so. Around the north Kyushu area (北九州), usually, a typhoon comes average 3.2 times between July to September. Mongols were on the ocean and the shorelines of Japan for approximately three months; they were bound to be hit by a typhoon soon or later.
The Mongol Empire lost 2/3 of its naval forces at Koan-no-eki. Even after the Mongols failed two attempts to attack Japan, Kublai Khan still insisted to attack Japan the third time no matter how much his advisers reasoned him not to. In the end, the plan was delayed and terminated because of many rebellions, upheavals, and no lumber was left to build ships. Soon, Kublai died in 1294. The record book of Mongols and Korean indicated that Mongols officials gave a high evaluation toward Japanese swords. Some even say one of the reasons it was not easy to defeat Japan was because of the long sharp swords. The experience of the Mongolian invasion changed Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先) sword to a new Soshu-Den (相州伝) style sword.
The stone wall scene. Photo from Wikipedia. Public Domain
*¹ Number of soldiers by https://kotobank.jp/word/元寇-60419 . Several different reference sources have a slightly different number of soldiers and ships, but they are similar numbers.
This chapter is a datiled part of chapter of 12| Tanto ( 短刀) Middle Kamakura Period Please read Chapter 12 before reading this section.
Chapter 12 Kamakura Period Tanto described that the shape of a tanto is 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 little exaggerated to show the curve. The real Takenoko-zori curve is not so obvious. Maybe a few millimeters inward. Usually, the length of the Tanto is approximately 12 inches or less. Tantos are described as follows; a tanto of approx. 10 inches is called Jyosun tanto (定寸短刀), longer than 10 inches is Sun-nobi tanto (寸延び短刀 ), and less than 10 inches is called Sun-zumari tanto (寸詰短刀).
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)
Tanto by Shintogo Kunimitsu (新藤五国光). This style 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 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 bend inward very slightly. Among the tanto producers, Shintogo Kunimitsu is considered the top Tanto Maker.
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.
Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗)
Another swordsmith that needs to 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 his circle of people. Those three groups started the Soshu Den (相州伝).
Sugata (shape) —– Ikubi Kissaki style. Sometimes Chu-gissaki. Thick body. Narrow Shinogi width. Koshi-zori
Horimono (Engravings) —– Often narrow Bo-hi (single groove)
Hamon (Tempered line) —– O-choji Midare (large clove irregular) with Ashi. Or Ko-Choji Midare (small clove irregular) with Ashi. Nioi 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 Kunimure swords are as follows; Lower part shows Choji, the upper part shows less work without Ashi.
Kunimune Squarish Kawazuko Choji (tadpole and clove-like)Hamon (Sano Museum Catalog, Permission granted)
Boshi —– Small irregular. Yakizume or short turn back.
Ji-hada —–Woodgrain. Fine Ji-hada with some Ji-nie (Nie inside Ji-hada). Midare Utsuri (irregular shadow) shows. A few Hajimi (rough surface).
Above photo is Kunimune (国宗 Sano Museum Catalog, permission granted) Even though Kunimune is famous for Ikubi Kissaki, and this is the chapter for Ikubi Kissaki, this one is Chu-Gissaki.
Above photo is a picture from the official site of Terukuni Shrine in Kyushu. You can go the site by clicking, http://terukunijinja.pkit.com/page222400.html
The above photo is the National treasure Kunimune of the Terukuni Jinja Shrine in Kagoshima prefecture. This Kunimune sword was lost after WWII. This is the sword Dr. Compton, the chairman of the Board of Miles Laboratory in Elkhart Indiana, found in an antique store in Atlanta. I mentioned Dr. Compton in 33| Background. When he saw this sword, he realized this is not just an ordinary sword. He bought it and inquired to the Nihon Bijutu Token Hozon Kyokai (Sword museum) in Tokyo. It turned out to be the famous missing National treasure of Kunimune from Terukuni Jinja Shrine. He returned the sword to Terukuni Jinja without compensation in 1963. My father became a good friend with him 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 which he kept in his house (he had about 400 swords) and swords of New York Met, Philadelphia Museum, and the Boston Museum. Father wrote about this trip and swords he examined in those museums and published a book in 1965; the title is “Katana Angya (刀行脚)”. For Dr. Compton and my father, around this time must be the best time of their life. The business for both of them was doing good and could spend time on their interest and having fun. It was the best time of 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 room was with fire prevention system and correct lighting for viewing swords. It was functionally correct as a storage place for his many different art objects. Then his wife, Phoebe said to him that he cannot keep a young girl (I was a college student) in the basement all day long. He agreed and then he took me to his cornfield to pick some corns for dinner. Basement to a cornfield, not much improvement? So his wife Phoebe decided to take me shopping and lunch in Chicago. Good idea, but it is too far. The distance between Elkhart and Chicago is about two hours by driving a car then, too far just for shopping and lunch. To my surprise, we took their company’s helicopter and landed on the rooftop of the department store then do the shopping and lunch came back the same way.
Miles Lab. and a well-known Japanese large 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 used to spend days with sword people and I used to follow my father. 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 Lab. 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 the sword book with our head together. That day, a movie actor John Forsythe was visiting the research lab. He was the host of the TV program the Miles Lab was sponsoring. All the female employees were making a big fuss over him. Then he came into 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 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.
This chapter is a detailed chapter of 11|Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先). Please read Chapter 12 before reading this section.
The Middle Kamakura period was the golden age of the sword making. We cannot deny it was due to Gotoba-Joko (refer to 10| Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221 and 44|Part 2 of –10 Jyokyu-no-Ran (承久の乱1221) honored the skilled swordsmiths highly. After the Jokyu-no-ran, samurai started to prefer the grand look swords. Those are Ikubi Kissaki sword. It is said that there is no mediocre sword among the Ikubi Kissaki sword. In this chapter, we discuss the swordsmiths who are 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 sword is the most thought after sword among sword collectors. He was the founder of the Osafune group, followed by his son Nagamitsu (長光), then grand-son Kagemitsu (景光), and the rest continues.
Sugata (shape) — Grand look with Ikubi Kissaki. The body is rather thick with Hamaguri-ha (refer 11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先). Often suriage.
Hi (engraving) — Often Bo–hi (wide groove). The end of Bo-hi above machi often shows kakudome (square end).
Hamon (Tempered line) —- Yakihaba (Hamon width) is the mix of wide and narrow. Nioi base. Large choji, Kawazuko-choji (tadpole head shape, refer to the illustration second from the last), Inazuma, Kinsuji (refer to the drawing in 14| Late Kamakura Period Sword
Boshi —- Yakizume. Yakizume with a short turn back.
Ji-hada —– Fine, and soft look surface. Chikei appears.
Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Bunkazai) Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Bunkazai)
Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Token) Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Bunkazai)
I displayed the above four photos several times on different pages of this website. Those were Mitsutada swords, once my father’s sword. Those photos were taken by him and the writing on the white paper is also by him. He was very proud he collected four Mitsutada and he monogrammed the name Mitsutada inside his suit jacket. It is said that Oda Nobunaga (織田信長) with his wealth and political power, he collected 28 Mitsutada. I realize those photos are not wonderful pictures. To avoid causing any infringement of the copyright and intellectual property rights, I only use father’s photos (not so wonderful though), Sano Museum Catalog photos ( permission granted), and some public domain photos from Wikipedia. Please bear with me that I don’t have good photos.
Bizen Osafune Nagamitsu (備前長船長光)
Nagamitsu is Mitsutada’s son.
Sugata —– Shape is similar to the one of the early Kamakura period style. That is with Funbari and 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 appears. Also, he does Suguha-Choji (straight with choji mixed). Works of Inazuma and Kinsuji shows.
Kawazuko Choji on the above sword is very clear, and almost textbook like example. But often, they are not as clear as this one.
Boshi —– Yakizume or turn back a little.
Ji-hada —– Fine wood grain. Well known for Utsuri (shadow). Choji Utsuri (Shadow of Choji) or Botan Utsuri ( resembles flower peony). Choji Utsuri shows in the above picture.
Below is the poster of the Museum of Tetsu in Sakaki in Nagano prefecture in the year of 2003. The photo of the poster is Nagamitsu’s sword and Koshirae (scabbard). It was a family sword then. Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉) of the Sengoku period awarded this sword to Takenaka Hannbei (竹中半兵衛: Hideyoshi’s strategist).
This chapter is the continued part of 10| Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221. Please read Chapter 10 before reading this section.
The red circle indicates the time we discuss in this chapter.
Chapter 10 described how Jokyu-no-Ran (承久の乱) had started. In the end, Emperor Gotoba (or Gotoba- Joko) was exiled to Oki Island (隠岐の島). He was a very talented man in many fields. He was very good at waka (和歌) which is a Japanese short poem. To compose waka, it requires several elements in it, such as scenery, season, one’s inner feeling with the refined sentiment, or the surrounding state with limited numbers of words. It really requires a literary talent. He was also good at equestrianism, Kemari (ball game for the upper class at that time), a great swimmer, good at Sumo, good at music, archery, swordsmanship, calligrapher, painting and became a great swordsmith. His contribution toward the sword field created the Golden Age of sword making in the middle Kamakura period. Surprisingly, Gotoba Joko was not only good at in many different fields, he really mastered in all those fields to the top level. Especially his waka (poetry) is highly regarded. He edited Shin Kokin Wakashu (新古今集). This is a collection of waka; it contains 1980 wakas.
Emperor Gotoba was enthroned at the age of four
Emperor Gotoba was enthroned at the age of four (some say three). The problem was Emperor Antoku had already existed at the same time. They were both about the same age. Two emperors at the same time was a big problem. How did it happen?
To become an emperor, the head of the emperor’s family has to appoint the next emperor. While Emperor Go-Shirakawa (後白河天皇) was in a jail, Emperor Antoku was appointed by Taira no Kiyomori (平清盛). Though Kiyomori was the head of the most powerful Samurai group, the Heishi but not the emperor family. That is against the tradition. This was not acceptable for Go Shirakawa Emperor (後白河天皇). Go Shirakawa Emperor was furious toward Taira no Kiyomori and the emperor picked his own choice and enthroned Emperor Gotoba. This is the reason two emperors coexisted. One more thing, to be an emperor, the emperor must have Sanshu-no-Jingi (三種の神器: Three Sacred Treasures); that is three items the emperor must have to be a legitimate emperor. They are the Mirror, the sacred sword, and the Magatama (jewelry)*. But Sanshu-no-Jingi was taken by the Heike family together with Emperor Antoku when they fled from Genji. The Heike clan was chased by the Genji all the way to Dan-no-Ura (壇ノ浦) and they were defeated there. Dan-no-Ura is a sea between Kyushu (九州) and Honshu (本州). When it became clear for the Heike family, that they were defeated, all the Heike people including the young Emperor Antoku jumped into the sea and drowned. They took Sanshu-no-Jingi with them into the ocean. Later, people searched for the Sanshu-no-Jingi frantically, however, they only recovered the jewelry, and the mirror, but not the sword. Because of the tradition that the emperor must have Sanshu-no-Jingi otherwise not a legitimate emperor, Gotoba Joko was tormented for a long time for not having all three. Today, jewelry is with the present Emperor family and the Mirror is with Ise-Jingu (伊勢神宮: Ise Shrine). The sword is still missing somewhere in the ocean. Some say that the lost sword down in the ocean was a copy and the one with at Atsuta-Jingu (熱田神宮) is the real one.
* Sanshu-no-Jingi (三種の神器 )—–the sword is Kusanagi no Tsurugi (草薙の剣), the Mirror is Yata-no-Kagami (八咫の鏡), the Magatama is Yasakani-no-Magatama (八尺瓊勾玉) by Token world: www.touken-world.jp/tips/32747/
Politics by Gotoba-Joko
Gotoba-Joko wanted political power back from Kamakura Bakufu. He was a very impulsive and passionate and unpredictable quick-tempered person. He wanted to revive Chotei (朝廷) power. The Chotei was the central government controlled by an emperor and aristocrats. Gotoba-Joko decided to rely on the armed forces to achieve this. He set up the Saimen-no-Bushi (西面の武士: armed forces directly under the Emperor Gotoba). When he saw Minamoto no Sanetomo was killed, he realized Kamakura Bakufu must be in a turmoil. Thinking this is a good chance, he sent out the emperor’s order to all daimyos to fight against Kamakura Bakufu. He expected an easy victory, but Kamakura Bushi was united tightly and maneuvered well under the leader of Hojo Masako, the nun shogun. She organized one tightly united armed forces. Whereas the Gotoba-Joko side was not very organized. They were not used to fight. In the end, the Gotoba-Joko side lost. When he realized he had lost, he claimed it was not him, but it was done by his men only. He insisted it was nothing to do with the emperor, therefore it is wrong to punish him. But of course, Hojo Masako and Kamakura Bakufu did not believe that and exiled Gotoba-Joko to Oki Island. Gotoba-Joko ends his life there. As smart as he was and accomplished so many different fields, he could not win the grandma nun-shogun Hojo Masako.
Sword making by Gotoba-Joko
Gotoba Joko had a superior ability to connoisseur sword and he became a superior swordsmith himself. He invited many top-level swordsmiths from different sword groups to his court and gave them the title and treated them respectfully. Also, he made them his instructor and assistants. Gotoba-Joko brought in skilled swordsmiths from places like Bizen, Awataguch, and Bicchu every two months alternately. Those who were invited to the palace were called Gobankaji (御番鍛冶), an honorary title. On the sword he created, he inscribed the Chrithantamum with 16 petals. This is still used by the present emperor as the emperor’s crest. The sword with the Chrithantamus is called Kiku Gosaku (菊御作). Today, on Oki island you can visit the Emperor Gotoba museum and there are a few sites that are believed to be the Emperor’s sword making site. Some people say it is debatable if the sites are real.
Today, Oki Island is a beautiful resort island. It can be reached by ferries from Shimane Prefecture, which takes about 2 hours by boat. Also can be reached by airplane directly from Osaka.
This chapter is a detailed part of Chapter 9. Please read 9 | Middle Kamakura Period (Bizen Den) 鎌倉中期備前伝 before reading this chapter.
The Middle Kamakura period was the height for the Bizen Den. In a different region other than Bizen, swords style was often affected by people’s preferences and politics in each region. But Bizen was not affected as much by those elements throughout the time. The clients of Bizen swords were from all over the area. Therefore, the swords created by Bizen tends to be the kind liked by everybody.
The general style of Bizen Den
Fukuoka Ichimonji group
Names of swordsmiths among Fukuoka Ichimonji group——————-Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (福岡一文字則宗), Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukemune ( 福岡一文字助宗 ). Those two are the main smiths among the Fukuoka Ichomnji group (福岡一文字 ).
Among the Fukuoka Ichimonji group, six swordsmiths received the honor as the “Gobankaji” from Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽上皇 ), Including Norimune and Sukemune. I saw Fukuoka Ichimonji Muneyoshi (福岡一文字宗吉) at Mori Sensei’s class on June 25 1972 or 1973. My note said I saw a lot of utsuri (shadow) on the blade.
Sugata (shape or figure) ————– Graceful and classy shape. Generally, well proportioned. The difference between the top width and bottom width is not much. Sometimes stout looking Kissaki like Ikubi Kissak (refer Chapter 11) appears.
Hi and Engraving ———-The tip of Hi may follow the Ko-shinogi line. See below. The end of Hi goes under machi area with a square, or kakinagashi (refer to 42| Part 2 of —– 8| Middle Kamakura Period Yamashiro Den (鎌倉中期山城伝)
Hamon ———- Wide Ichimonnji-Choji tempered line. From the bottom to the top, same width temper line. The same Hamon front and back . O-Choji –midare (large clove shape), Jyuka-Choji (overwrapped look choji). Nie base. Inazuma, Kinsuji appears.
Boshi ———- Hamon continues into Boshi area and end with Yakizume or turn slightly. Sometimes O-maru.
Jihada ———- Fine and soft look. Woodgrain. Lots of utsuri (cloud-like shadow or reflection)
Ichimonji Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館) Permission granted ＊Above sword is O-suriage. The end of hi is lower than mekugi-ana inside nakago.
This chapter is the detailed part of Chapter 8| Middle Kamakura Period –Yamashiro Den（鎌倉中期山城伝). Please read Chapter 9 before reading this chapter.
During the Middle Kamakura period, there were three main groups among the Yamashiro Den. They are Ayano-koji (綾小路) group, Awataguchi (粟田口) group, and Rai (来) group.
When we refer to a certain group, we say, “xxx ha”, “xxx ippa “, or “xxx ichimon “. We use those three words interchangeably. They all basically mean a “group”. For example, we say Ayano-koji Ippa, means Ayano-koji group.
Ayano-Koji Ippa (綾小路 )
Sugata (shape) ————- In general, gentle or graceful Kyo-zori shape. The difference between the width of the yokote line and machi is not much. The sword is slender yet thick. Small Kissaki
Hi and Engraving ——————— Bohi (one groove) or Futasuji-hi (double groove)
Hamon ———————- Nie base with Ko-choji (small clove shape) and Ko-midare (small irregular). Small inazuma (lightning like line) and Kinzuji (golden streak) may show. Double Ko-choji (two Ko-choji side by side) may appears.
Boshi (tip area) ——————Ko-maru (small round), Yakizume (refer to the illustration below), and Kaen (flame like pattern)
Ji-hada ———- Small wood grain with a little Masame (straight grain) Ji-nie shows.
Nakago (tang) ———- Long, slighlyt fat feeling
Names of Ayano-Koji group ——Ayano-koji Sadatoshi (綾小路定利) Sadanori (定則)
Awataguchi Ichimon (粟田口)
Many swordsmiths of Awataguchi Ichimon (group) received the honor of the Goban Kaji (meaning top swordsmith) from Gotoba Joko (Emperor Gotoba 後鳥羽上皇 ). In general, their typical characteristic is as follows.
Sugata (Shape) ——————————————– Elegant shape Torii-zori (or Kyo-zori)
Hi and Engraving ————– The tip of Hi are all the way up and fill in the Ko-shinogi. The end of the Hi can be Maru-dome (the end is round), Kakudome (the end is square) or –kakinagashi
Maru-dome (rounded end) Kaku-dome (square) Kakinagashi
Hamon ————— The slightly wider tempered line at the bottom then becomes narrow tempered line at the top. Nie base (this is called Nie-hon’i). Straight tempered line mixed with Ko-choji (small clove) or wide straight line mixed with choji. Awataguchi-nie appears. Awataguchi-nie means fine, deep and sharp shiny nie around tempered line area. Fine inazuma (lightning-like line) and kinsuji (golden streak) appears.
Boshi (tip area) ————- Ko-maru (small round) or O-maru (large round) both return is sharrow. Yakizume, Nie Kuzure, and Kaen (flame).
Yakizume O-maru Ko-maru Yakikuzure
Ji-hada ————- Fine Ko-mokume(wood swirls) with Ji-nie. Ji-nie is nie on Ji-hada. Yubashiri, Chikei appears.
Nakago ——————— Often two letter inscription
Names of Awataguchi group ————– Awataguchi Kunitomo (粟田口国友 ), Hisakuni (久国), Kuniyasu (国安), Kuniyasu (国安), Kunikiyo (国清)
Rai Ha (来)
A general characteristic of Rai group is as follows. However, each swordsmith has own characteristics.
Sugata (shape) ————— Graceful with dignity. Thick body. Rai made Ikubi Kissaki.
Hi and Engravings ————– Wide and shallow Hi.
Hamon —————— Nie base. Suguha (straight). Wide suguha with ko-midare (small irregular) and choji (clove). Sometimes large choji at the lower part and narrow suguha at the top. Inazuma and Kinsuji appears around yokote area.
Boshi ———————- Komaru, Yakizume (refer to the illustration above)
Ji-hada ———— Finely forged Itame (small wood grain) sometimes mixed with masame (parallel grain). Fine nie. Rai group sporadically shows Yowai Tetsu (weak surface) which may be a core iron.
Names of Rai Ha — Rai Kuniyuki (来国行), Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊) or Niji Kunitoshi (二字国俊), Ryokai (了戒 )
Rai Kunitoshi is said to be Rai Kuniyuki’s son. Ryokai is said to be Rai Kunitoshi ‘s son.
This is the detailed part of 7| Overview of the Kamakura Period Swords (1192-1333). Please read chapter 8 before reading this section.
The Kamakura period was the golden age of sword making. Approximately, half of the well-known swords at present were made during the Kamakura period. Probably because of the war between the Genji and the Heishi demanded large numbers of swords, and they had a live experience to improve the sword. Also, Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽) invited many skilled swordsmiths to his palace and treated them highly and encouraged them to create a good sword by giving them high ranks. During the Kamakura period, the technic of sword making improved greatly.
Middle Kamakura Period —- Yamashiro Den (山城伝)
The Middle Kamakura period was the height for the Yamashiro Den. Among Yamashiro Den, there were three major groups (or families). They are Ayanokoji group (綾小路 ) Awataguchi group (粟田口)、and Rai group (来). Among the Awataguchi group, 6 swordsmiths received the honor as the “Goban-kaji “ from the Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽上皇). Awataguchi is the name of the area in Kyoto. Ayanokoji ( 綾小路 ) group lived in the Ayanokoji area in Kyoto. My sword textbook had a note that I saw Ayanokoji Sadatoshi (綾小路定利 ) on March 22nd, 1972. The note said O-suriage, Funbari, narrow–body, and Ji-nie. I should have written more in detail then, had I known I am writing the website in the future. Rai group started from Rai Kuniyuki (来国行 ). Rai Kuniyuki and Ayanokoji Sadatoshi are said to have a close friendship. Rai Kuniyuki created many well-known swords. His famous Fudo Kuniyu (不動国行) was owned by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru (足利義輝 ) then changed hand to Matsunaga Danjo (松永弾正) then to Oda Nobunaga ( 織田信長 ) to Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀 ), then to Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉). They are all historically well-known powerful daimyos. It is said that this sword was held by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s arm for the memorial service of Oda Nobunaga. Rai Kuniyuki’s son is Niji Kunitoshi. He also created well-known swords.
Middle Kamakura Period —– Bizen Den (備前伝)
During the Heian period, Bizen Den called Ko-Bizen existed. They are similar to the one to Yamashiro-Den style. The true Bizen Den and also the height for the Bizen-Den was the Middle Kamakura period. Bizen area (Okayama prefecture now) has many ideal aspects of sword making. The weather is good, produced good iron, abundant wood for fuel nearby, and the location is conveniently situated. Naturally many swordsmiths moved there and became the main place to produce swords.
Bizen made a large number of swords, their quality level is higher than other sword groups, and more famous swordsmiths appeared. Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (則宗) and his son Sukemune (助宗 ) received the honor of the Goban-kaji from the Emperor Gotoba. Among the Osafune group (長船), famous Mitsutada (光忠) and Nagamitsu (長光) appeared. My father owned four Mitsutada. Three Tachi and one Tanto. He was so proud that he owned four Mitsutada, he asked his tailor to monogram Mitsutada on the inside pocket of his suit jacket. From Hatakeda group (畠田), Hatakeda Moriie (畠田守家), from Ugai (鵜飼) group, Unsho (雲生 ), Unji (雲次) appeared. The famous Kunimune (国宗) also appeared around this time. Because of a large number of swordsmiths in Bizen Den, a large number of bizen swords exist. Each swordsmith showed his own characteristics on their swords. Therefore kantei can be complex. This is the time Ikubi Kissaki started to appear.
The classification of the sword from the top
The rest is omitted
Below is my father’s four Bizen Osafune Mitsutada. My father took those pictures many years ago at home by himself. You can see he is not much of a photographer. The writing on the square white paper is written by him. He wrote the name of the swordsmith, the period the sword was made, which Daimyo owned it in the past and classification
Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Bunkazai) Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo bunkazai)
Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Token) Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Bunakzai)
Late Kamakura Period —– Soshu Den (相州伝 )
Yamashiro Den started to decline at the later part of the Kamakura Period. At this time, many swordsmiths moved to Kamakura area under the new power of Kamakura Bakufu (鎌倉幕府) by the Hojo clan. The new group, Soshu Den (相州伝 ) started to emerge. Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) and Kunimune (国宗) from Bizen moved to Kamakura. Toroku Sakon Kunitsuna (藤六左近国綱) from Awataguchi group of Yamashiro Den moved to Kamakura. Those three are the ones who originated the Soshu Den in Kamakura. Kunitsuna’s son is Tosaburo Yukimitsu, then his son is the famous Masamune (正宗). Outside of Kamakura, Yamashiro Rai Kunitsugu (来国次), Go-no-Yoshihiro (郷義弘) from Ettshu (越中) province, Samoji (左文字) from Chikuzen province (筑前) were the active swordsmiths.