58|Part 2 of — 24 Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代短刀)

Chapter 58 is a Continued part of chapter 24|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代).  Please read chapter 24|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)  before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period

      The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section  

Muramasa (村正)

The discussion of this chapter is about the famous Muramasa (村正).  Usually, many well-known swordsmiths were from one of the Goka Den (五家伝:primary five schools: Yamashiro Den, Bizen Den, Soshu Den, Yamato Den, and Mino Den).  However, Muramasa was not from the Goka Den but Ise Province.  The first generation Muramasa was known as a student of He’ian-jo Nagayoshi (平安城長吉) of Yamashiro Den.  The Muramasa family lived through the mid-Muromachi periodThey had three generations from the mid-Muromachi period to the Sengoku period.

61 Ise map

Here is one of Muramasa’s Tanto that was made during the Sengoku periodSince this is the Sengoku period Tanto, the blade shows the Sengoku period sword style.  It shows Mino Den characteristics, with the Soshu Den Characteristics added.

61 Muramasa photo  61 Muramasa illustration

Muramasa (村正) from Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Sengoku Period Mino-Den Characteristic that shows on this Tanto

Muramasa’s Tantos are often 10 inches ± half inches or so.  Hirazukuri (平作り). Thin blade with a sharp look.  Nioi base with small Nie and Sunagashi (brushed sand-like, the illustration below) appears.  Boshi (the top part of Hamon) is Jizo (a side view of a human’s head).  The tempered line has wide areas and narrow areas.  Some areas are so narrow, close to the edge of the blade, while others are broad.  Hako midare (box-like shape) and Gunome (lined-up beads pattern).  O-notare (large gentle waviness) is a Muramasa’s signature characteristic.  The pointed tempered line is a typical Mino Den characteristic (Sanbon-sugi).  Refer 24Sengoku period sword.

61 Sunagashi 2

Sunagashi (Brushed sand-like trace.  My drawing is exaggerated)

41| Part 2 of —– 8 Middle Kamakura Period (Yamashiro Den) 鎌倉中期山城伝

This chapter is the detailed part of Chapter 8| Middle Kamakura Period –Yamashiro Den(鎌倉中期山城伝).   Please read Chapter 8 before reading this chapter.

13 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline

                          The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

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 haxxx 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 Kin-zuji (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, slightly 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

9 «part 2» 大小丸,焼詰,丸角止, 掻流     

                  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 kin-suji (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)9-«part-2»-大小丸焼詰丸角止-掻流-1-e1547925390685.jpg

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 ()

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 Kin-suji 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.

img017

                  Rai Kuniyuki (来国行)Once family-owned, photo taken by my father with his  writing.    
9 «part 2» Rai Kuniyuki photo.jpg       Rai Kuniyuki hamon
Rai Kuniyuki (来国行)Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館)  (permission granted)

28|Shin-to Sword — Main Seven Regions (part B 主要7刀匠地)

29 Shinto Timeline
   The red circle indicates the subject of this chapter

64Map with number with 8

3Musashi ( 武蔵 ) in Edo ( 江戸 )

The swords made in the Musashi area, katana and wakizashi, have a shallow sori (curvature).  Often the width of the upper part of the body tends to be narrow.  Usually, the Hamon starts with a small irregular pattern, gradually becomes a bigger irregular pattern, then a few inches under the yokote line, it becomes a small irregular pattern again.  The Boshi is usually Komaru-boshi.  The Ji-hada is somewhat rough.   Masame-hada shows on Shinogi-ji.

Well-known swordsmiths in Musashi ———————————-Noda Hannkei (野田繁慶)                                                      Nagasone Okisato Nyudo Kotetsu (長曽根興里入道虎徹)

img070

Nagasone Okisato Nyudo Kotetsu (長曽根興里入道虎徹) Once owned by my father.

  1. Echizen ( 越前 ) and 5. Kaga (加賀 )

Many swordsmiths from Mino (美濃) area moved to Echizen and Kaga area (#4  & 5 on the map above).  Therefore, the swords made in this area are called Echizen- seki, and Kaga-seki.  Refer to 23|Sengoku Period (戦国) Sword for Mino Den.  The style of Echizen Yasutsugu (越前康継) is similar to the one of Mino Den.

Well-known swordsmith in Echizen ————————-Echizen Yasutsugu (越前康継 )

  1. Hizen (肥前)

Both Katana and Wakizashi in Hizen have a well-balanced shape. Hizen area tends to make swords with Chu-suguha-hotsure (a medium-width straight Hamon that looks like frayed fabric.) with fine Nie (沸).  The Boshi has a regular clean line with uniform width tempered line, as shown in the illustration below.  If you see a Shinto sword which has Chu-suguha Hamon and a Boshi that looks like the one below, it is often made by Hizen Tadayoshi (肥前忠吉).  Very fine Ji-hada (surface), sometimes called Nukame-hada.

29 Hizen Tadayoshi Boshi

Well-known swordsmith in Hizen ———————————— Hizen Tadayoshi ( 肥前忠吉)

  1. Satsuma (薩摩 )

The swords made in Satsuma have a solid look for both katana and wakizashiKissaki (the top pointed area) is a little stretched.  Yakidashi (a few inches above Machi ) shows a small irregular HamonHamon is O-midare with coarse Nie called Ara-nie.  The Ara-nie forms Togari-ba (pointed pattern, see the drawing below)One of the characteristics of this region is Satsuma-nie.  That is, the Ara-nie around hamon continues and blends into the Ji-hada area.  Therefore, the border between Ha-nie and Ji-nie is unclear.  Inside the Hamon sometimes shows a thick line shaped like lightning.  This line is called Satsuma-no-imozuru (sweet potato vine)This is the most prominent feature of the Satsuma sword.  Boshi has a narrow-tempered line with a small irregular pattern.  This is called Satsuma-boshi.  On the Ji-hada surface, Chikei (a long dark line like) appears.  This is called Satsuma-gane (薩摩金).

29 Satsuma Togari-ba

Well-known swordsmiths in Satsuma ——————  Izunokami Masafusa (伊豆守正房)                                                                                                 Ichinohira Yasuyo (一平安代)                                                                                       Mondonosho Masakiyo (主水正正清)

27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地)

0-timeline - size 24 Shin-to

 

                            The red circle indicates the subject we discuss in this section

In Shinto time, there were seven main prosperous areas where many swordsmiths gathered and actively made swords.  Those are Yamashiro (山城) in Kyoto, Settsu (摂津) in Osaka, Musashi (武蔵 ) in Edo, Hizen (肥前) in Saga, Satsuma (薩摩) in Kagoshima, Echizen (越前) in Fukui,  and Kaga (加賀) in Kanazawa.  Swordsmiths of each area shared their own common regional characteristics of these places.  Knowing each of these characteristics is the easiest way to understand Shin-to.  But keep it in mind that each swordsmith in one group also has his own unique way of sword making.  The followings are general descriptions of these characteristics.

Below is a map of Japan.  Hokkaido is omitted from the map because swords were not made there at that time.

64Map with number with 8

1.  Yamashiro (山城) Kyoto

Yamashiro Shin-to sword has a solid and strong look.  Hamon at the lower part of the blade right above the Machi (区) area shows Suguha (straight hamon).  This is called Kyo-yakidashi (京焼出), which means starting with a straight Hamon.  Then it shows a sudden change to the design of O-midare (大乱).  O-midare (irregular waviness) becomes less wavy at one or two inches below the Yokote line, then continues into the Boshi as a wavy Hamon.  The design in the Boshi is Komaru-boshi.   See the illustration below. 

Ji-hada ———— Somewhat rough (this depends on the swordsmith).  Masame-hada (straight grain pattern) may show on Shinogi-Ji (the area between ridgeline and back). 

Among Yamashiro Shin-to group, there was a group called Mishina Group (三品).  They were Mino Den (美濃) related.  Therefore, their Boshi was often Jizo-boshi (地蔵鋩子).  This is called Mishina-boshi ( 三品鋩子).  Jizo-boshi is a look of the side of a man’s head.

Well known swordsmiths in Yamashiro area: Umetada Myoju (梅忠明寿)                                                                                                   Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広)                                                                                               Dewadaijyo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)

28 Mishina-Boshi Komaru-boshi, Kyo-Yakidashi

img067 Iganokami Kinnmichi (伊賀守金道) Yamashiro Den previously owned by my family 

2.Settu (摂津) Osaka (大阪)

Settsu (Osaka) created more Wakizashi than Katana.  They tend to make it slightly Sakizori (top half curves outward) and slightly stretched Boshi.  Settsu sword also has Yakidashi the same way as the previous Yamashiro sword.  Yet, unlike Yamashiro’s sword, in the area where Suguha changes into Notare (wavy pattern), the transition is not sudden but relatively smooth.  This is called Osaka Yakidashi.

Osaka Boshi ————–Hamon continues up to the Yokote line, then Komaru with a turn.  Ji-hada————-Very fine, almost no pattern, slid surface like especially Shinogi-ji (between ridgeline and back).  This is called Osaka-tetsu (iron).

29 Osaka Yakidashi Komaru Boshi

Well-known swordsmiths in Settsu area— Osaka Tsuda Sukehiro (大阪津田助広)                                                                                 Tsuda Sukenao (津田助直)                                                                                                   Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子 忠綱)

img073

 Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子忠綱) previously my family owned

19 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀)

53-red-timeline-nanboku-cho

The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this section

During the Nanboku-cho period, a type of Tanto called Hirazukuri Ko-wakizashi Sun-nobi Tanto was made.  Hirazukuri means a flat sword without the Yokote line and Shinogi.  Ko-wakizashi means a shorter sword.  Sun-nobi Tanto means longer than standard Tanto.  This is also called Enbun Jyoji Ko-wakizashi Tanto.  It is called this way because most of this type of Tanto was forged around Enbun and Jyoji imperial era.  In Japan, a new imperial period starts when a new emperor ascends to the throne.  The Enbun era was from 1356 to 1361, and the Jyoji period was from 1362 to 1368.

20 Enbun Jyoji Kowakizashi Tanto

Sugata  (姿: shape) ——-  The length of a standard size Tanto is approx. one ShakuShaku is an old Japanese measurement unit for length and, one Shaku is very close to 1 foot.  

8.5 Sun (the Sun is another old Japanese measurement unit for length) is approximately 10 inches.  Ten inches is the standard size Tanto called Josun Tanto.  Anything longer than Josun Tanto is called Sun-nobi Tanto.  Anything shorter than Josun is called Sun-zumari Tanto. 

Most of the Nanboku-cho tantos are longer than Josun Tanto,  approximately 1 foot 2 inches long.  Therefore they are called Hirazukuri Ko-wakizashi Sun-nobi Tanto

Saki-zori (curved outward at the top.  See the illustration above).  Wide width and thin body.  Fukura Kareru (no Fukura means less arc).  Shin-no-mune.  See the drawing below.

20 Fukura           20 Shin-no-Mune

 Hi, (樋: Grooves) and Horimono (彫り物: Engraving) —- A groove or grooves on the Mune side.  Bonji (Sanscrit, described in Chapter 16 Late Kamakura Period  (Early Soshu-Den Tanto 鎌倉末短刀)Koshi-bi (Short groove),  Tumetuki Ken, Tokko-tsuki Ken (see below) appear.  Ken (dagger) is curved widely and deeply in the upper part and shallower and narrower in the lower part.  This is called Soshu-bori (Soshu stule carving).

20 Tokko, tume Ken

Hamon (: Tempered line) —– The narrowly tempered at the lower part gradually becomes wider toward the top.  Then a similar wide Hamon goes into the Boshi area.  Hamon in the Kissaki area is Kaeri-fukashi (turn back deep).  See the illustration below.  Coarse Nie.  O-midare (large irregular Hamon pattern).

20 Hitatsura

                                        From Sano Museum Catalogue

Ji-hada (地肌: Area between shinogi-ji and tempered line)——— Loose wood grain pattern called Itame.  Yubashiri (refer Chapter 16| Late Kamakura period: Early Soshu-Den Tanto (鎌倉末短刀)), Tobiyaki (Irregular patchy tempered spot) appears.  Crowded (or busy) Tobiyaki is called Hitatsura (drawing above).

Nakago (: Tang) —- Short Tanago-bara.  Tanago-bara means the shape of the belly of a Japanese fish Tanago (bitterling).

20 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 )

20 Hiromitu (Sano Museum)

15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活)

 

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

        The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

It is said that the first sword-making started from Yamato province (present Nara prefecture) during the Nara period (710 to 794).  In the early sword making days, their forging techniques were primitive.  At that time, a large number of swordsmiths lived in Yamato, yet as time passes, the sword making declined in the area.

At the end of the Kamakura period, several powerful Buddhist temples in the Yamato area had power struggles against each other.  Temples had a strong political 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 was called Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)*.  The groups of sohei demanded more swords to arm themselves.  The high demand for swords from Sohei revitalized the Yamato Den (school) and increased the number of swordsmiths in the Yamato area.   As a result, Yamato Den became active again.  The Yamato Den style is somewhat similar to that of Yamashiro Den.    

*Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)———Since around the 11th century, Buddhist temples had become powerful under the protection from the JoKos (retired emperors).  Those temples had a large number of Sohei (low-level monks who also acted as soldiers). When power struggles started between the temples, Sohei fought as their soldiers on the battlefields. Nanto Sohei were such soldiers at Kofuku-Ji Temple (興福寺).  Several large temples such as Todai-Ji (東大寺) Temple controlled the Yamato area.

Sugata (姿: Shape) —————- Graceful Yamashiro style since Yamato Den at this time was greatly influenced by Yamashiro Den.   Shinogi is high.  Mune is thin.   Some types of Yamato Den have shallow sori (curvature).

16 Yamato sword cross section

Hamon (刃文Tempered line) ——————–Narrow tempered line.  Mainly Nie (沸).  Chu-suguha-hotsure (中直刃ほつれ: a medium straight line with a frayed pattern), Ko-choji-midare (小丁子: a mixture of small clove-like pattern and irregular wavy lines), Ko-midare (小乱: fine irregular wavy lines), Ko-gunome-komidare (小五の目小乱: small continuous half-circles mixed with wavy lines). 

The main characteristic of the Yamato Den style sword is Masame (straight grain).   Their tempered line often shows Nijyu-ha (double straight lines), Hakikake (tracing of a broom mark), Uchinoke (a crescent-shape line), or combinations of them.   See the illustration below.16 Hamon Yamato

Boshi (鋩子: Tempered line at Kissaki area)———-On the Boshi area, a straight grain pattern appears.  Yakizume or Kaen. (Refer Chapter 12 Middle Kamakura period: Tanto).  O-maru, Ko-maru, Nie-kuzure.  (Refer 14| Late Kamakura Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀).  See the illustration below.

15 Kaen Ykizume

15 Omaru Komaru Niekuzure

Jihada or Jitetsu (the area between shinogi and hamon )——Mostly Masame hada (straight grain pattern 柾目肌). Fine ji-nie, Chikei, and Yubashiri shows (refer 15 Late Kamakura Period).

16 Masame Hada

Nakago (Hilt)——————Often shows the finishing file pattern as shown below.  This is called Higaki Yasuri (檜垣).

16 Higaki Yasuri

Names of the Yamato School Sword-smiths

Taema(当麻) Group————–Taema Kuniyuki(当麻国行) Taema Tomokiyo(当麻友清) Shikkake (尻懸) Group———————————————–Shikkake Norinaga (尻懸則長) Tegai (手掻) group —————–Tegai Kanenaga (手掻包永) Tegai Kanekiyo(手掻包清) Hoshou (保昌) group——–Hosho Sadayoshi ( 保昌貞吉) Hosho Sadamune (保昌貞宗)

16 Shaya Ensou

Yamato Senjuin Shaya Enso (大和千手院沙弥円宗) was once family sword

14| Late Kamakura Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀)

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

The circle represents the time we discuss in this section

The beginning of the Soshu style

A new sword style called Soshu Den emerged after the Mongolian invasion in the latter part of the Kamakura period.  Kamakura region became prosperous under the rule of the Hojo family (北条).  Many swordsmiths moved to Kamakura.  Those people were Kunituna (国綱) group from Yamashiro area and Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) and Kunimune (国宗) from Bizen area.  They are the origin of Soshu Den (school 相州).  A star swordsmith, Goro-Nyudo-Masamune (五郎入道正宗), appeared during this time.

15 Soshu sword with explanation

Shape (Sugata 姿) ——- Okissaki (large-kissak: 大切先) and Chu-kissaki (medium kissaki: 中切先).   The tip of Hi ends lower (see below illustration).  Hamaguriha was no longer in style.  The body became thinner.  The original length was approximately 3 feet or longer, but the majority of the long swords were shortened to 2 feet and 3 or 4 inches at a later time.  The shortened sword is called O-suriage (大磨上).15 Kissak shape of 4

14 Hi end lower

Hamon——————–Narrow Hamon and wide Hamon.     

Narrow Hamon ——- A mix of Suguha (straight) and Ko-choji (small clove-like pattern), and Ko-gumome (small half-circle like pattern).  Small Nie base. (shown below)

10 Nie & Nioi

Wide Hamon———– Notaremidare (wavy), O-gunome. Nie base.  Ashi-iri (short line toward blade, the right drawing below). Inazuma (lightning-like line) or Kinsuji (bright radiant line) may appear on a tempered line.  However, Inazuma and Kinsuji require trained eyes to be detected.  It is hard for beginners to notice the Inazuma or Kinsuji.

15 Late Kamakura Soshu Hamon

Boshi————- The main body and Boshi has the same type of Hamon.  At the tip of the Kissaki, turn back a little or Yakizume.  You may also see O-maru (large round), Ko-maru (small round), Kaen (flame like), or Nie-kuzure.  See “Chapter 12 Middle Kamakura period: Tanto” for Yakizume and Kaen.

15 three boshi name

Jihada or Jitetsu (between Shinogi and Tempered line)—– Strong Ji-nie (地沸) that is the sand-like small dots appears on Ji (between tempered line and Mune).  Yubashiri (a cluster of Ji-nie), Kinsuji (bright, radiant line formed by Nie ), Inazuma (a lightning-like irregular line), or Chikei (similar to Kinsuji) appears on Ji-hada.

15 Yubashiri, Chikei, Inazuma

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) 

The above three swordsmiths were the origin of the Soshu Den (school) in Kamakura.  Later, Tosaburo-Yukimitu and his son, famous Goro Nyudo Masamune appeared.

Masamune Juttetsu  (Main Soshu Cen swordsmiths other than above)

From Yamashiro (山城)———- Rai Kunitsugu (来国次), Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重) From Etchu (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)

14 masamune1 14 Masamune Hamon 

Goro-Nyudo-Masamune(正宗)   Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館図録) Permission granted  Since Masamune lived in a beach town, Kamakura, his hamon style was inspired by  ocean waves.  Therefore, his hamon sometimes looks like ocean waves.

14 Masamune, Yoshioka Ichimonji Endo.jpg 1

Once owned by my family

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

13| Late Kamakura Period: Genko (鎌倉末元寇)

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

                         The circle represents the time we are discussing in this section

GENKO 元寇  (1274 and 1281)

The grandson of Genghis Kahn, Kublai Kahn, attempted to invade Japan twice in 1274 and 1281.  Both times, a strong typhoon hit Japan.  Mongols sent a large number of soldiers with all kinds of supplies on a huge number of ships to Japan.  Those ships had to stay side by side and front and back very close to each other in the limited area of Kyushu‘s shore.   When the strong wind came, ships were swayed, hit each other, and capsized.  Many people fell into the ocean, drowned, and lost supplies in the water. Even though Mongol soldiers landed and fought with the Japanese army, they did not have much choice but to leave Japan because of the typhoon and ships wrecking.   As a result of this strong wind, Japan was saved and looked as if Japan won. 

This is the time the famous Japanese word, “Kamikaze” (divine wind) was created. Actually, Mongols had many more superior weapons than the Japanese.  They had guns, while the Japanese did not.  Their group fighting method was much more superior and effective than the Japanese one-to-one fighting method. 

After the Mongolian invasion, the need for changing the style of the Ikubi Kissaki sword became obvious.  When swords were used in a war, the area most frequently damaged was the Kissaki area.  Japanese soldiers used mostly Ikubi-kissaki swords in this war.  An  Ikubi-kissaki Tachi has a short Kissaki.  When a damaged area of the Kissaki was whetted out, the top part of the Yakiba (tempered area) disappears, and the Hi (a groove) goes up too high into the Boshi area (top triangle-like area).  Short Ikubi-kissaki becomes even shorter, and the Hi goes up too high into the Boshi area.  Aesthetically, it is not appealing.  Functionally, it does not work well.  To compensate for the flaw, a new style began to appear in the latter part of the Kamakura period.

14 Ikubi kissaki Damadge

During the latter part of the Kamakura period, the swordsmiths began to create a new swords style to compensate for this fault.  Also, the pride and confidence had grown among people after driving the Mongols away, reflected on the swords’ appearance. Generally speaking, the Hamon and the shape of the body became stronger and showier.

Kamakura area 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 the Soshu Den (Soshu is the Kanagawa area now).  Many famous top swordsmiths appeared during this time.

One of the famous swordsmiths is Goro-Nyudo Masamune (五郎入道正宗).  The Masamune’s tomb is in the Honkaku-Ji temple in Kamakura.  That is about a 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 the direct descendants of Masamune.  Although he does not bear the name of Masamune, he has been making great swords in Kamakura.  He also makes superb kitchen knives.  The name of his shop is “Masamune Kogei (正宗工芸),and it is located a short walk from  Kamakura station.  To find his place, ask at the information center in the train station.

54 Yamamura 1 54 Honnkakuji 3         May 2019   Mr. Tsunahiro Yamamura and I                    Honkaku-Ji Temple

11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)

 
0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura
The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this chapter.

After the live experience of the war of Jokyu-no-ran (Chapter 11), 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 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.

12 Ikubi Kissaki sword style

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 of the sword is shaped like a clam (see below).  The width at the Yokote line area and the width at the Machi are not much different.  Shinogi (鎬) is high, and shinogi width is narrow.

12 蛤刃と鎬

KISSAKI  —— Ikubi-kissakiIkubi means the neck of a wild boar.  It is thick, short, and stout looking.  Kissaki is short and wide at the Yokote line.  The illustration below shows an exaggerated image of an Ikubi-kissaki.

12 Ikubi Kissak drawing

Hamon (刃文) —— Kawazuko-choji (tadpole-head shape pattern). O-choji (large clove- shape pattern), Ko-choji (small clove-shape pattern), a mix of O-choji and Ko-choji, or Suguha-chojiSuguha-choji has a straight line mixed with Choji pattern (clove-shape).  

12 Hamon Kawazuko-choji                     O-choji                          Ko-choji                  Suguha-choji     (tadpole head)                   (large clove)                (small clove)      (straight and clove)

Boshi(鋩子) ———Yakizume: the hamon ends almost at the tip of kissaki, no turn back. Sansaku Boshi: created by Nagamitsu (長光), Kagemitsu (景光), and Sanenaga (真長), the hamon narrows at the yokote line.  See the below for Yakizume and Sansaku Boshi.                                     

12 Yakizume
                                                                

   Yakizume       11 Sansaku Boshi(三作Sansaku-boshi

 

Ikubi Kissaki Sword Smiths

Fukuoka Ichimonji Group (福岡一文字) ————–Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (則宗) Kamakura Ichimonji Group(鎌倉一文字) ———— Kamakura Ichimonji Sukezane (助真) Soshu Bizen Kunimune Group(相州備前国宗)——– Soshu Bizen Kunimune (国宗)Bizen Osafune Group(長船)——————Bizen Osafune Mitutada(長船光忠) Nagamitsu(長光)   Ugai Group————————————————————————- Ugai Unji (鵜飼雲次)

 

11 nagamitsu 1    11 Nagamitsu drawing  Osafune Nagamitsu(長船長光)    From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)         

img028   img027

Osafune Mitsutada(長船光忠)                          Osafune Mitsutada(長船光忠)                        *Were family sword This photo was taken by my father and writings on the white paper were written by him.

9 | Middle Kamakura Period: Bizen Den 鎌倉中期備前伝

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline
The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this chapter 

There are many swordsmiths in the Bizen (備前) school during the early Kamakura period.  However, their sword style is usually somewhat similar to that of the Yamashiro school. Therefore, they are called Ko-bizen (古備前), which means old Bizen.

The true Bizen school style emerged in the Middle Kamakura period.  Bizen Province had many advantages to produce great swords.  The area produced high-quality iron and a large amount of firewood for fuel.  Its location was also convenient for transportation.  Naturally, many swordsmiths came to the place and produced swords in quantities.  Due to many swordsmiths (probably more competitions among them), Bizen swords’ quality is generally higher than that of other schools’.  It is also not easy to appraise Bizen swords because of the many variations among the many swordsmiths.

Generally speaking, the following three features are the most distinctive characteristics of the Bizen school swords.

  • Nioi-base tempered line. Nioi-base tempered line is finer dots than Nie-base.  Dots are so small that they look almost like a line. Technically, the tempering processes of these two are the same.  See the illustration below. 
  • Ji-hada (surface of the body) looks soft.  
  •  Reflection (Utsuri) appears on the surface.

10 Nie & Nioi

Sugata (shape) —The length is about 33 inches ± a few inches. The blade is slightly wide and looks stout. The curvature of the blade is Koshizori (腰反), which means the deepest curvature comes at a lower part.  The body has an average thickness.  Small Kissaki.

10 Middle Kamakura ---備前刀姿

Horimono(engraving) — Engravings are rare. The shape of the tip of Hi is all the way up to Ko-shinogi and fill up the whole area.

8 Hi

Nakago ——– Long and thin with curvature. The end of Nakago is rounded and looks like a shape of the bottom of a chestnut.  This shape is called Kurijiri.  See the illustration of the sword above.

Hamon (tempered area pattern)—— Nioi base. The tempered area is wide, and the width is even.  Also, the size of Midare (irregular wavy tempered pattern) is uniform.

Boshi — The same tempered pattern continues to go up to the Boshi area.  Often shows Choj- midare (clove-shape waves pattern) or Yakizume.

10 Boshi --- Bizen

Ji-hada — Fine and well forged.  Steel looks soft.  The small wood grain pattern and the large wood grain pattern are mixed together on the steel surface.  Chikei (condensation of Nie) and Utsuri (cloud-like reflection) appear.

Bizen School Sword Smiths during Middle Kamakura Period

Fukuoka Ichimonji (福岡一文字) group ———-Norimune (則宗)  Sukemune (助宗 )  Yoshioka Ichimonji (吉岡一文字) group ———-Sukeyoshi (助吉)   Sukemitsu (助光)         Sho-chu Ichimonji (正中一文字) group ———   Yoshiuji (吉氏)   Yoshimori (吉守)      Osafune (長船) group ———-Mitsutada (光忠)  Nagamitu (長光) Kagemitsu (景光)   Hatakeda(畠田) group ————————————-Moriie (守家)  Sanemori  (真守)          Ugai (鵜飼) group —————————————————— Unsho (雲生) Unji (雲次)

ichimonji 3

Ichimonji from Sano Museum Catalog (permission to use is granted)