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.
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 period. Since 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.
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. MuramasaTanto 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 . Refer24|Sengoku Period Sword(戦国時代）.
Sunagashi (Brushed sand-like trace. My drawing is exaggerated)
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.
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）
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 .
This is the detailed section of Chapter 9. Please read chapter 9 one more time before reading this chapter.
During Middle Kamakura Period, there are three main groups among Yamashiro Den. They are Ayano-Koji (綾小路) group, Awataguchi (粟田口) group, and Rai (来) group.
Ayano-Koji group (綾小路 )
Names of Swordsmiths among Ayano-Koji:Ayano-KojiSadatoshi (綾小路定利) Sadanori (定則) .
When we refer to a certain group, we say, “xxxha”, “xxx ippa “, or “xxx ichimon “. We use those three words interchangeably. For example, we say Ayano-Koji ichimon, indicate Ayano-Koji group.
Sugata (shape or figure) ———- In general, gentle or graceful Kyo-zori shape. The difference between the width of the Yokote line and the width of 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 and Kinzuji.Double Ko-choji appears.
Boshi (tip area) ———- Ko-maru (small round), Yakizume (refer to the illustration below), and Kaen (flame like shape)
Jitetsu ———- Small wood grain with a little Masame (straight grain) Ji-nie
Nakago (tang) ———- Long, slight fat feeling
Awataguchi group (粟田口)
Names of Swordsmiths among Awataguchi group:Awataguchi Kunitomo (粟田口国友 ), Hisakuni (久国), Kuniyasu (国安), Kuniyasu (国安), Kunikiyo (国清)
Many swordsmiths of Awataguchi group (or Awataguchi Ichimon) received the honor as the Goban Kaji from Gotoba Joko (Emperor Gotoba 後鳥羽上皇 ). In general, their typical characteristic is as follows.
Sugata (Shape or figure) ———- 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.
Hamon———- The slightly wider tempered line at the bottom then the narrow tempered line at the top. Nie base (this is called Nie honni). Straight tempered line, straight-tempered line mixed with Ko-Choji (small clove) or Ko-Choji. Sometimes wide straight line mixed with Choji. Awataguchi Nie appearance. Awataguchi Nie means fine, deep and sharp shiny Nie around tempered line area. Fine Inazuma (lightning) and Kinsuji (golden streak) appearance.
Boshi (tip area) ———- Ko-maru (small round) or O-maru (large round) both return is sharrow. Yakizume, Nie Kuzure, and Kaen (flame).Yubashiri
Yakizume O-maru Ko-maru Yakikuzure
Jitetsu ———- Fine Ko-Mokume(wood swirls) with Ji-nie. Yubashiri, Chikei appears.
Nakago ———- Often two letter inscription
Rai group (来)
Names of swordsmiths among Rai group: 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
A general characteristic of Rai Kuniyuki and Kunitoshi is as follows. However, each sword has its own different characteristic.
Sugata (shape or figure) ———- Gracefull with dignity. Thick body. Rai madeIkubi Kissaki.
Hi and Engravings ———- Wide and shallow Hi.
Hamon ———- Nie base. Suguha (straight), wide suguha, ko-midare (small irregular), and choji (clove). Sometimes large choji at the lower part and narrow suguha at the top. Inazuma and Kinsuji appear around yokote area.
Boshi———- Komaru, Yakizume (refer to the illustration above)
Jitetsu———- Finely forged Itame (small wood grain) sometimes mixed with masame (parallel grain). Fine Nie. Rai group sporadically shows Yowai Tetsu which means weak surface. This may be the core iron.
Rai Kuniyuki (来国行）Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館) permission granted
Settu, Osaka created more Wakizashi than Katana. They tend to make slightly Sakizori ( outward curvature above halfway) and slightly stretched Boshi. Settu Osaka sword also has Yakidashi like the previous Yamashiro Kyoto sword, except the area where Suguha changes to Notare (wavy pattern) are smooth. This is called Osaka Yakidashi. Illustration below.
Osaka Boshi—– Hamon continues up to Yokote line, then Komaru with a turn. Jitetsu —–Very fine, almost no pattern, no design, flat like surface especially Shinogi-Ji (the area between ridgeline and back) is no pattern, no design flat like surface. This is called Osaka-Tetsu (iron)
Well known swordsmiths in Settsu area are Osaka-Tsuda –Sukehiro (大阪津田助広), Sukenao (助直). Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子忠綱 )
Awataguchi Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (粟田口一竿子忠綱 ) Previousely family owned
3．Musashi ( 武蔵 ) at Edo ( 江戸 )
Both Katana and Wakizashi have shallow sori (less curvature). Often top area tends to narrow down. Often but not always, unlike Settsu or Yamashiro, Hamon starts out the same design as the rest of the entire design except a little bit gentler. Boshi is the same as Kyo-Boshi. Jitetsu is almost the same as Kyoto. Masame shows on Shinogi-ji.
Well known swordsmiths in Musashi area are Nagasone-Okisato-nyudo-Kotetsu (長曽根興里入道虎徹), Noda Hannkei (野田繁慶 ).
Nagasone-Okisato-nyudo-Kotetsu (長曽根興里入道虎徹) Previously family owned
4. 5. Echizen ( 越前 ) and Kaga (加賀 )
Many sword makers of Echizen and Kaga moved from Mino (美濃 )area. Their style of Echizen Yasutsugu is similar to Mino style. Because of that, the sword made in this area are called Echizen- Seki, and Kaga-Seki. (refer to 24|Sengoku Period (戦国) Sword. )
Well known swordsmith in Echizen is Echizen Yasutsugu (越前康継 )
6. Hizen (肥前)
Both Katana and Wakizashi have well-balanced shape. Hizen area tends to make a sword with Chu-Suguha-Hoture (medium width straight Hamon with the frayed look) with fine Nie (沸). Boshi has a standard and ordinary clean line with the tempered line of uniform width. Shinto sword with Chu-Suguha is often made by Hizen Tadayoshi (肥前忠吉). Very fine Ji-tetsu (surface), sometimes called Nukame-Hada.
Well known swordsmith in this area is Hizen Tadayoshi ( 肥前忠吉)
7. Satsuma (薩摩 )
The sword made in Satsuma has a sound shape on both Katana and Wakizashi. Kissaki (the point area) is stretched. Yakidashi (a few inches of the tempered area above Machi ) is small irregular that is similar to Koto. Hamon is O-midare with coarse Nie. Togari-ba (pointed design) appears with coarse Nie. Mino school often have Togari-ba. One of the characteristics of this region is Satsuma-nie. It means that the coarse Nie around Hamon continued into Ji-hada area. Inside Hamon, sometimes shows a thick line shaped like lightning. This is called Satsuma-no-Imozuru (sweet potato vine of Satsuma). This is the biggest characteristic of Satsuma sword. Boshi has a narrow tempered line with the small irregular pattern, similar to Koto, this is called Satsuma-Boshi. On Jitetsu (surface) Satsuma-gane (薩摩金) sometimes shows that is a dark line like Chikei .
Well know swordsmiths of this area are Izunokami Masafusa (伊豆守正房 ), Ichinohira Masayoshi ( 一平安代 ), Mondonosho Masakiyo (主水正正清 )
There are seven prosperous areas where a large number of swordsmiths were living and actively making swords. Top three are Yamashiro (山城) at Kyoto, Settu ( 摂津 ) at Osaka, Musashi (武蔵 ) at Edo. Then follows Hizen (肥前 ) at Saga, Satsuma (薩摩 ) at Kagoshima, Echizen ( 越前 ) at Fukui, and Kaga ( 加賀 ) at Kanazawa. Each of these swordsmiths had its own local characteristics common among themselves. To know each of that characteristic of this area is the easiest way to understand Shinto. But keep in mind that each swordsmith had his own way of making the sword. The following descriptions are only general guidelines.
Below is the map of Japan. Since Hokkaido was a provincial area and swords were not made there during the Edo period, omitted from this map.
1. Yamashiro (山城 ) Kyoto
Yamashiro Shinto sword has a solid and strong look. Hamon at the bottom part of the blade, above Machi (区) area shows Suguha (straight Hamon), this is called Kyo-Yakidashi (京焼出), that means to start out with straight Hamon. Then abruptly changes to the design of O-Midare (大乱). O-Midare changes to gentle look below Yokote line about 1 or 2 inches, then continues into Boshi with a wavy Hamon. Boshi design is Komaru-Boshi.Ji-hada is somewhat rough (this depends on the swordsmith). Masame-hada (straight grain pattern) may show on Shinogi-Ji (the area between back and ridgeline). Among Yamashiro Shinto, there was a group called Mishina ( 三品) group. They were Mino (美濃) related, therefore, Boshi often is Jizo boshi (地蔵鋩子), this is called Mishina Boshi ( 三品鋩子). Therefore, they often made their Boshi,Jizo boshi (地蔵鋩子).
Well known swordsmiths in Yamashiro area are Umetada Myoju (梅忠明寿), Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広 ), Dewadaijyo Kunimichi ( 出羽大掾国路 )
Iganokami Kinnmichi (伊賀守金道) Previously Family owned
The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this section
The type of Tanto during Nanboku-Cho Period was called Hirazukuri-Kowakizashi-Sunnobi- Tanto. Hirazukuri means flat sword without Yokote line and without Shinogi. Ko-Wakizashi means shorter sword. Sunnnobi Tanto means longer Tanto. This is called Enbun Jyoji Kowakizashi Tanto. Because the majority of this type of shape was made around Enbun, Jyoji Imperial era. Each time the Emperor changed, Japan changed the names of the era. Enbun was from 1356 to 1361, Jyoji was from 1362 to 1368.
Shape (Sugata 姿) ——-Usually approximately 1 foot 1 or 1 foot 2 inches long. Sakizori (curved at the top. Look at the illustration above). Wide width and thin body. Fukura Kareru (No Fukura). Shin-no-Mune.
Hi, Horimono (Goove and engraving 樋, 彫刻) —– Groove on Mune side. Bonji (sanscrit, refer 17 Bonji Suken), Koshi-bi (Short goove) and Tokko- tsuki Ken, or Tumetuki Ken (see below). Ken (spear) was curved wide and deep at the upper part, lower part was curved shallow and narrower. This is called Soshu-bori.
Hamon (Tempered line) —– Narrow tempered area at the lower part, it gradually grows wider as it goes up higher then it becomes Bodhi design. Hamon in Kissaki area isKaeri Fukashi (turn back deep) as the illustration below. Coarse Nie.O-Midare (large irregular pattern).
Jitetsu or Jihada —– Loose wood grain pattern called Itame. Yubashiri (refer 17 Yubashiri, Chikei.jpg), Tobiyaki (Irregular patches of tempered metal) appears. Crowded Tobiyaki is called Hitatsura (illustration above).
Nakago (Tang) —- Short Tanago-bara.
Sword-smiths during Nanboku-Cho Period Soshu Den(school)
Soshu Den ———————————————————-Hiromitu( 広光) Akihiro (秋広) Yamashiro Den ————————————————–Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重) Bizen Den ——————————————————— Kanemitu (兼光) Chogi (長義 ) Arima Province ——————————————————Hojoji Kunimitsu (法城寺国光 )
The circle represents the time we are discussing in this section
Yamato province (Present Nara prefecture) is the area where sword making first started originally. It is said that it was during the Nara period (710 to 704). In early days, they forged swords with their primitive skills. A large number of swordsmiths lived in the Yamato area at the beginning of the sword making but later time, they became less active. Yamato Den style is somewhat similar to that of Yamashiro Den (School) which I described in the chapter of Late Heian to early Kamakura period. At the end of the Kamakura period in the Yamato area, there were several powerful temples existed. They had a strong political power and military power to control a large territory called Shoen (荘園) with their large number of worrier monks called Sohei (僧兵). The most powerful group were called Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)*. NantoSohei and other Sohei (僧兵) of the other temples demanded more and more swords to arm themselves. This high demand of the swords from Sohei revitalized the YamatoDen (School) and led to increase in the number of the swordsmith in Yamato. As a result, Yamato School became active again.
*Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)———Since around the 11th century, Buddhist temples became powerful under the protection of JoKo (former Emperor). Those temples had a large number of Sohei (low-level monks who also acted as soldiers) under them. In the case when power struggles between the temples occurred, Sohei went to fight as a soldier in the battlefields. Nanto Sohei were monk soldiers of Kofuku-Ji temple (興福寺). Several large temples like Todai-Ji (東大寺) temple and other temples controlled the Yamato area.
Shape(Sugata姿) —————-1. Graceful Yamashiro style retained. 2. Shinogi is high. 3. Mune is thin. 4. Some group of Yamato school has shallow Sori (curvature).
Hamon (Tempered line)——-Narrow tempered line. Nie base (沸). Chu-suguha-hotsure (frayed medium straight 中直刃ほつれ), Ko-choji-midare (small clove-like pattern and irregular mixture 子丁子乱), Ko-midare ( fine irregular子乱), Ko-gunome-komidare (small irregular continuous half circle 小五の目小乱). The main characteristic of Yamato school sword is Masame (straight grain), therefore, the tempered line often shows double straight line called Nijyu-ha, Hakikake (brushed sand) and Uchinoke (Crescent-shape line).
The circle represents the time we are discussing in this section
Beginning of the Soshu style
After the Mongolian invasion, which was the latter part of the Kamakura period, a new style of the swords started to emerge. Kamakura area became prosperous under the rule of the Hojo(北条). Many swords smiths moved to Kamakura. They are Kunituna and his group from Yamashiro area and FukuokaIchimonjiSukezane (福岡一文字助真), Kunimune (国宗) from Bizen area. They are the origin of SoshuDen ( school 相州). A star swordsmith, Goro-Nyudo-Masamune (五郎入道正宗) appeared during this time.
Shape (Sugata 姿)——-long Kissaki (O-kissaki 大切先) and medium Kissaki (Chu–Gissaki 中切先). Top of Hi ends lower. Hamaguri- ha was eliminated (became thinner). The original length was 3 feet or so but mostly shortened later time to 2 feet and 3 or 4 inches. This is called O-Suriage(大磨上)
Hamon——————–You see narrow Hamon and wide Hamon.
Narrow Hamon ——-Suguha (straight) mixed with Ko-Choji (small clove) and Ko-Gumome (continuous half-circle like). Small Nie base. (left drawing below)
Wide Hamon———–Notare (wavy) midare, O-gunome. Nie base. Ashi-Iri (short line goes inward, the right drawing below). Inazuma (lightning-like line), Kinsuji (a gold line like) appears on a tempered line. But Inazuma and Kinsuji require trained eyes to detect. It is hard to notice the Inazuma, Kinsuji, etc. for beginners.
Boshi —————The same type of Hamon from the lower part continues into Boshi area then turn back a little or Yakizume. You may also see O-maru (large round), Ko-maru (small round), Kaen (flame like) and Nie-kuzure. Refer 13|Tanto ( 短刀) Middle Kamakura Period for Yakizume and Kaen.
Jihada or Jitetsu (between Shinogi and Tempered line)–—– Strong Ji-Nie (地沸), that is a sand-like small dots appears on Ji (between tempered line and Mune). Yubashiri (cluster of Ji-Nie), Kinsuji (lined Nie looks like a golden line), Inazuma (lightning-like irregular line) and Chikei (similar to Kinsuji appears on Ji-Hada).
Late Kamakura Period Soshu School Sword Smiths
From Bizen———–Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) Kunimune (国宗 ) From Yamashiro ———————————-Toroku- Sakon- Kunituna (藤六左近国綱)
Those above three are the beginning of Kamakura swordsmiths. Later, Tosaburo-Yukimitu and his son, famous Goro-Nyudo-Masamune appeared.
Masamune Juttetsu (Main Soshu Style swordsmiths other than above)
From Yamashiro (山城)—— Rai Kunitsugu (来国次), Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重) From Ettshu (越中) province ———————Gou- no-Yoshihiro (郷義弘) Norishige (則重) From Mino (美濃) province ——————————————–Kaneuji (兼氏) Kinjyu (金重) From Chikuzen (筑前) province ————————————————–Samoji (左文字)
Goro-Nyudo-Masamune(正宗) Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館図録) Permission granted *Because Masamune lived in Kamakura that is a beach town, his Hamon style was inspired by an ocean wave. Therefore his Hamon sometimes looks like wave design.
The circle represents the time we are discussing in this section
GENKO 元寇 (1274 and 1281)
The grandson of Genghis Kahn, Khubilai Kahn attempted to invade Japan two times in 1274 and 1281. Both times, a strong typhoon hit Japan. Mongols sent to Japan a large number of soldiers with all kinds of supplies on their huge numbers of ships. Those ships had to stay at a shore side by side and front and back very closely in the limited area of the shore of Kyushu. When the strong wind came, ships were swayed, hit each other and capsized. Many people fell, drowned and lost supplies in the water. Even though Mongol soldiers landed and fought with the Japanese army, because of the typhoon and ships wrecking, they did not have much choice but to leave Japan. As a result, Japan won. Actually, Mongols had many superior weapons than the Japanese. They had guns, the Japanese did not. Their group fighting method was much more superior and effective than the Japanese individual fighting method. This is the time the famous Japanese expression, “Kamikaze” (divine wind) was created.
After the Mongolian invasion, the need for changing the style of the Ikubi Kissaki became obvious. When swords were used in a war, the most frequently damaged area was a Kissaki area. Japanese soldiers used mostly Ikubi Kissaki swords in this war. The Ikubi KissakiTachi has a short Kissaki, therefore, when the damaged area of the Kissaki was polished down for repairing, the top part of the Yakiba (tempered area) disappeared and the Hi (groove) goes up too high in the Boshi area (top triangle-like area). Short Ikubi Kissaki becomes even shorter, and Hi goes up too high into a Boshi area. Aesthetically, it is not an appealing look, functionally does not work. To compensate for this flaw, a new style began to appear in the latter part of the Kamakura period
During the latter part of the Kamakura period, the swordsmiths began to create a new style of swords to compensate for this fault. Also, people’s enthusiasm that was raised by driving back Mongolian reflected on the appearance of swords. Generally speaking, Hamon and the shape of the body became showy and stronger looking.
Kamakura became a very prosperous place under the power of the Hojo family. A large number of swordsmiths moved to Kamakura from Bizen, Kyoto and other places during this time and created a new style. This is the beginning of Soshu school (Soshu is the Kanagawa area now). Many famous top swordsmiths appeared during this time. One of the famous swordsmiths is Masamune. Masamune’s tomb is in Honkaku-Ji temple that is about 5 or 6 minutes’ walk from the Kamakura train station. while I was attending the sword study group of Mori Sensei(teacher), one of the students I studied with was the 24th generation of direct descendants of Masamune. His last name is Yamamura, he still makes wonderful swords in Kamakura. He also makes superb kitchen knives too. The name of his shop is called “Masamune Kogei”, a short walk from the Kamakura train station. To find his place, ask at the information center at the train station.
May 2019 Mr. Tsunahiro Yamamura and I Honkaku-Ji Temple
The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this chapter.
After the live experience of the war of Jokyu-no-ran, people started to move toward sturdier, grander, wider swords. The swords made around this time is called Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先). Ikubi means a wild boar neck. Ikubi Kissaki style sword has a style of stout look like a wild boar neck. This is the era of the golden time of sword making. Many top swords smiths created wonderful swords during this time. It is said that there is no mediocre sword among Ikubi Kissai swords.
SUGATA(shape) —— Originally 3 feet or longer, therefore it is often shortened at a later time. Wide width, thick Kasane (thick body) with Hamaguri-ha (蛤刃). Hamaguri-ha means the thickness is shaped like a clam. The width at the top and at the bottom is not much different. Shinogi (鎬)is high, and shinogi width is narrow. Illustration of Cross-section below.
KISSAKI —— Ikubi kissaki. Ikubi means a wild boar neck. Wild boar looks like no neck, stout look shape. Short Kissakii but wide at the yokote line. The illustration below is exaggerated a little to show the idea.
Hamon (刃文) —— Kawazuko-Choji(tadpole head shape). O- Choji(clove-like shape) and Ko-Choji mixed. Irregular waviness mixed with a straight line and choji this is called suguha-choji.