60| Second Part of —24|Sengoku Period Sword

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

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

60-mino-map.jpg

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

Three examples of Sengoku Period sword

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

 

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

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

Common Sengoku Period characteristic that shows on the sword above.

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

60 Kanesada photo  60 kanesada illustration

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

Common Sengoku Period characteristic that shows on the sword above

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

 

60 Norimitsu photo  60-norimitsu-illustraton.jpg

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

The common Sengoku period characteristic that shows on the sword above

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

50|Part 2 of —– 15|Late Kamakura Period Sword

This chapter is the detailed part of chapter 15| Late Kamakura Period Sword.  Please read chapter 15 before this section.

14 Ikubi kissaki Damadge

As I explained in chapter 14 Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期), Ikubi Kissaki sword shows a flaw (above illustration) when the damaged area was repaired.  To compensate for this flaw, in Late Kamakura Period, swords smiths 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

15 Masamune (Sano)15 Masamune hamon (Sano)

Above photo is Goro Nyudo Masamune( 五郎入道正宗 ).  Please look at the size and shape of Kissaki.  This is definitely different than 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 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)On the illustration above, Kinsuji, Inazuma is shown inside the Hamon.  The clear line inside the Hamon is Inazuma and Kinsuji.  Kinsuji, Inazuma are the collection of Nie looks like a line.  Masamune is famous for Inazuma, Kinsuji.  Masamune lived in Kamakura, his Hamon looks like an ocean wave when it is viewed sideways.

50 part 2 of 15 吉岡.photo50 part 2 of 15 吉岡

The above picture is Yoshioka Ichimonji (吉岡一文字).  Kissaki is also like the one of Masamune.  It is longer than previous Ikubi Kissaki or Ko-Gissaki.  This is Chu-Gissaki.  Kissaki like this is the important point to determine what period the sword was made.  Hamon has Choji, Gunome, Togariba (pointed tip), very tight Nie.

 

50 part 2 of 15 運生 photo50 part 2 of 15 運生 

Above photo is Ukai Unsho (鵜飼雲生).  This is also the sword 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 earlier time than the late Kamakura period.  I chose this sword here to show that the sword does not always have the style of that period.  To Kantei*, first, look at the style and shape and give yourself some idea of the period of the time you think it was made.  But in this case, Kissaki does not indicate late Kamakura periodNext thing to do is to look at the different characteristic of the sword one by one like Hamon, Nie or Nioi, Jihada, etc,  and determine what period, which Den, which province and finally come up with a swordsmith’s name.  This process is called Kantei.

*Kantei – – – – – – to determine the name of the swordsmith by looking at the characteristic of the sword without looking at the Mei (inscription).  Mei is not always there either because it is shortened or some other reasons.

All the photos above are from Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission to use is granted.

47|Part 2.5 of —–12|Ikubi Kissaki(continued)

Continued from Chapter 46

Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗)

Another swordsmith needs to be mentioned in this section is Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗).  In middle Kamakura period, the Hojo clan invited the top swordsmiths to Kamakura area.  Awataguchi Kunitsuna (粟田口国綱) from Yamashiro 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 together with his group of people.  Those three groups started the Soshu Den (相州伝).  Refer to 14|Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期)

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 AshiNioi base with Ji-Nie (Nie in the Hada area).  Some top of the Hamon is squarish with less Kubire ( less narrow at the bottom of the clove).  Hajimi ( rough surface).  Also, he did as follows — Lower part shows Choji, the upper part shows less work without Ashi. 

12 «Part 2» 国宗刃紋 佐野

Kunimune Squarish Kawazuko Choji Hamon (Sano Museum Catalog permission granted)

 

Boshi  —– Small irregular.  Yakizume or short turn back.

Jitetsu —–Woodgrain.  Fine Jitetsu with some Ji-Nie (Nie inside Jihada).  Midare Utsuri (irregular shadow) shows.  A few Hajimi (rough surface).

12 «Part 2» 国宗  

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.

 

12 (second part 2) 照国神社

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

Above photo is the National treasure Kunimune of the Terukuni Shrine in Kagoshima prefecture.  This Kunimune sword was lost after WWII.  The chairman of the Board of Miles Laboratory in Elkhart Indiana, Dr. Compton found this sword in an antique store in Atlanta.  Alka Seltzer is one of the well-known products among many of their products.  He was deeply into the sword collection and knew a lot about the Japanese sword.  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).  It turned out to be the famous missing National treasure of Kunimune of Terukuni Shrine.  He returned the sword to Terukuni Shrine without compensation in 1963.  My father became a friend of his around this time through Dr. Homma and Dr. Sato ( leading sword experts).  Since then, the Compton family and my family became close friends.  Dr. Compton asked Dr. Honma and my father to come to the US and examine his swords in his house (he had about 400 swords)  and swords of New York Met, Philadelphia Museum and the Boston Museum.  My father wrote about this trip and the swords he examined in those museums and published the book in 1965; the title is “Katana Angya (刀行脚)”. Since then, we visited his house and they visited our house more frequently.   Around this time must be the best time of his life for Dr. Compton and for my father.  Both of them could spend time on their interest and having fun.  It was the best time of my life too.

One time when I visited his house, he showed me his swords in his basement for hours almost all day.  His house was really huge and the basement he built as his study room was with fire prevention and had great lighting.   It was really nicely done and functioned correctly as the storage place for his many art objects.   Then his wife, Phoebe said to Compton that he cannot keep a young girl (I was a college student) in the basement all day long and looking at the swords.  He agreed and then he took me to his cornfield to pick some corns for dinner.  The basement to a cornfield, not much improvement?  So his wife Phoebe said that she will take me shopping and lunch in Chicago.   That is good,  but too far.   The distance between Elkhart and Chicago is about two hours by driving a car, too far just for shopping and lunch.  To my surprise, we got on the company private airplane to fly to the top of the roof of the department store then do the shopping and lunch, came back with the same private airplane.

Miles Lab. and Sankyo, a Japanese large pharmaceutical company had a business tie-up as Miles-Sankyo Pharmaceutical Company then.   Dr. Compton used to come to Japan quite often, officially for business purpose.  But whenever he came to Japan he used to spend many days with sword people and I used to follow my father.  One of the female workers of Miles-Sankyo, her job was to translate the sword book into English.  My parent household was filled with Miles-Sankyo products.  Miles Lab. had a big research institute in Elkhart Indiana.  I visited several times there.  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 the Compton’s room to greet him thinking the chairman must be sitting on 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 college student looking like a college student.   John Forsythe had a strange expression that he did not know what to think of what he was seeing.

27|Shinto Histoy(新刀)

27 Shinto time line

The circle indicates the subject discussed here

The last chapter 26, stated that the Edo period is from 1603 to 1868.  This is according to the political history.  Also, when you look at the diagram above, Azuchi Momoyama period overlaps into Edo Period.  Some people think Azuchi Momoyama period is from 1575 to 1600.   Around this time, the division of the period has several opinions.  Sword made from around 1596 (Keicho Era, 慶長) to 1781 (Tennmei Era, 天明) is called Shinto.  The sword made after that until the Meiji period is called Shin-Shinto. 

After Toyotomi Hideyoshi almost united the country, the country could enjoy somewhat of a peaceful society.  This peaceful time changed the geographic distribution where swords smiths lived.  There are three major area where sword making took place.  Those are Kyoto, Osaka and Edo area.  Then the rest of swordsmiths were gathered around each big Daimyo’s (大名 feudal lord ) territory near their castles.

KyotoUmetada Myoju (梅忠明寿) group thrived.  Followed by people like, Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広 ), Kunimichi (国路 ), Kunisada (国貞), and Kunisuke (国助).

Osaka— Osaka became a commercial city and became the center of the commerce.  They made swords and distributed to the local area.  They produced swords like Tsuda Sukehiro ( 津田助広 ), Inoue Shinkai ( 井上真改 ).

Edo—-Tokugawa Iyeyasu is the shogun, many swords smiths gathered to Edo (Tokyo now, 東京).  Well know swords smiths are; Nagasone Kotetsu (長曽祢虎徹), Yasutsugu (康継), Noda Hannkei (野田繁慶).

By the time the grandson of Tokugawa Iyeyasu became Shogun (Tokygawa Iyemisu, around Kannei era 寛永1624 – 1643), swords smith’s geographical distribution spread to the other provinces.  In each big Daimyo territory, swordsmiths had their shop near their castle, and they fulfilled each Daimyo‘s demand.  By the Genroku (元禄, 1695) era, swords making technic declined and people demanded picturesque designs like Kikusui (菊水, flower design) and Fujimi (富士見, Mount Fuji).

Difference between Koto (before 1596) and Shinto (after 1596)  

Next part is about the difference between Koto and Shinto.   But keep in mind, there is always exceptions to this rule.

  1. The length of Shinto Katana is usually about 2 feet and 3 inches ±.   Wakizashi is 1 foot and 6 inches ±.   Shallow curvature.  Wide width.  Thick body.   Gyo-no-Mune. Chu-gissaki with a little bit stretched look.13 Mune drawing
  2. Koto sword feels light. Shinto feels heavy.
  3. Bo-hi ends around Yokote line. The Bottom of Hi ends round above Machi.27. Hisaki & marudome
  4. In general, carvings are less common. Yet some swordsmith is famous for its carving.  The design is fine and in detail.
  5. If it is mainly made with Nie, coarse Nie.
  6. Around Machi area (the bottom part of the illustration below), starts out with the straight tempered line, then Midare or different types of Hamon, then finish with Suguha (straight Hamon)  around Boshi (the top part of the illustration below). This type of Hamon is done in general, there is always an exception.  27 Keshou Yasuri & suguha
  7. All the area in Japan, sword material (iron) is the same kind.  Very hard, dark color, and glossy.
  8. The Nakago has a properly balanced shape.  The tip of Nakago it gradually  narrows  down.  The type of the Yasurime (file mark) is Kesho-Yasuri.  Engraved inscriptions shows name, area, and province, with an imperial era.27 Keshou Yasuri & suguha