64|Part 2 of — 28|Main 7 Areas Among Shin-To Sword (part A)

This chapter is the detailed part of chapter 28| Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A).  Please read chapter 28 before reading this chapter.

As it was described in chapter 28, here are the main seven areas of sword making.  They are Yamashiro (山城 in Kyoto), Settsu (摂津 today’s Osaka), Musashi (武蔵 Edo), Echizen (越前) and Kaga (加賀), Hizen (肥前), Satsuma (薩摩).

28-map-with-number-7.jpg

 

During Ko-To time, usually, if a sword has a wide Hamon line with Nie, Ji-Hada is also large wood grain or large burl grain.  Also, when you see a narrow Hamon line, usually with fine or small Ji-Hada on Ko-To.  But on Shin-To, wide Hamon with Nie with small wood grain or small burn grain on Ji-Hada.  And narrow Hamon line with a large wood grain Ji-Hada.  This is the Shin-To characteristic.  Because of that, Some people may confuse with shin-To as Ko-To.   But other features like Ji-Tetsu or other parts should indicate the Shin-To or Ko-To.

*  Early Soshu-Den during the late Kamakura period, some swordsmith did wide Hamon with Nie with small burl.  Because of that whether it was Ko-To or Shin-To was confused.  But other features like Ji-Tetsu or other parts should indicate the Shin-To or Ko-To.

  1. Yamashiro (山城 Kyoto)

64-kunihiro-sword.jpg 64 Kunihiro IllustrationHorikawa Kunihiro    From Sano Museum Catalogue

Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広) is considered a great master swordsmith of Shin-To swordsmith.  He forged his sword in different styles and different characteristic.  The types of Hamon are O-Notare, O-Gunome, Togari-Ba (pointed Hamon), Chu-Suguha with hotsure, Hiro-Suguha, with Sunagashi effect, Inazuma, Kinsuji appears.  The shape of the sword Kunihiro liked to create was the one like Nanboku-Cho time O-suriage style (shortened Nanboku-Cho long sword).  Kunihiro’s sword gives you a massive feeling.  Kunihiro did very fine carvings, like a dragon, Sanskrit letter, etc.  Since he did many different styles, there is no general characteristic on his sword other than Hamon is mainly Nie.  Very finely forged Ji-Hada

img067.jpg    img068.jpgIga-no-Kami Kinnmichi (伊賀守金道)                   Dewa Daijyo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)

Both photos were taken by my father a long time ago.  The quality of the photo is not good.  Both were once my family-owned.  Both Juyo Token

Characteristics of Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi ( 伊賀守金道)

Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi family is called Mishina group.  Refer chapter 28| Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A)Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi received the honorable Japanese Imperial Chrysanthemum crest.  The characteristic of his sword; Wide sword, Shallow curvature, Kissaki extended, Sakizori (curvature at 1/3 top).  Wide tempered line, Kyo Yakidashi (refer 28|Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A), Hiro Suguha (wide straight Hamon).  O-Notare (large wavy), Yahazu Midare, Hako-Midare (refer 25|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)Boshi is Mishina Boshi (refer 28|Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A).  Fine wood burl, Masame appears on Shinogi area.

Dewa Daijo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)

Dewa Daijo Kunimichi was the best student of Horikawa Kunihiro (The 1st photo above).  Like Kunihiro, the shape of the sword was like a shortened Nanboku-Cho sword.  Shallow curvature, wide body, somewhat stretched kissaki and Fukura kareru (less arch in Fukura).  Wide tempered line, Large Gunome, Nie, with Sunagashi, Inazuma shows.  Among large Gunome, double Gunome (two gunome side by side) appears.  Fine Ji-Tetsu.

 

55| Part 2 of — 19 Nanboku-Cho Tanto (南北朝短刀)

This is a detailed part of chapter 19.  Please read 19 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀)  first, before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Nanboku-cho

                            The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

20 Enbun Jyoji Kowakizashi Tanto

The drawing above is the shape of the Nanboku-cho time tanto.  This drawing was in chapter 19.  This drawing exaggerates the form of the Enbun Joji Kowakizashi tanto.

At the end of chapter 19 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀), there is a list of swordsmith’s names of this time.  Hiromitsu and Akihiro represent the most common characteristic of Nanboku-Cho tanto.

56 cropped Hiromitu photo 20 Hitatsura

Hiromitsu From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Enbun Joji Ko-wakizashi tanto is also called Sun-nobi tanto (>10 inches) because the length is longer than standard size tanto (approx. 10 inches)The top part of the tanto bends outward slightly. This type of shape is called Sakizori.

Characteristic of Hiromitu and Akihiro

Shape——-wide width.  Usually, 1foot 1, 2 inches long (Sun-nobi).  Thin body.  Sakizori

Hamon ——-Tempered line is wide and narrow.  Hamon around Yakidashi (right above machi area) area is narrow, and it becomes gradually wider.  Hamon around the Fukura area is the showiest.  Mainly Nie.  Sunagashi, Kinsuji, Gunome, Umanoha Midare (horse teeth shape hamon), Hitatsura appears (above drawing).

Boshi——–Irregular, unevenly tempered, almost entire area is hamon. Deep turn back.

Jihada ———Wood grained

Nakago ——-Tanago-Bara shape (refer 19 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀)

Nobukuni (Below is my sword)

Shodai Nobukuni (the first generation) was a student of Sadamune.  He was called one of the Sadamune San Tetsu (貞宗三哲, top three students).  Nobukuni’s characteristic was similar to the one of Hiromitsu and Akihiro above.  Nobukuni also created Sun-nobi tanto.  This sword has a Hoso-suguha, Ko-mokume (small burl), Ko-maru boshi (small round).

56 Nobukuni 1 Nobukuni4

56 Nobukuni 2

This is my sword.  Shodai Nobukuni (初代信國).   Juyo Token (重要刀剣)

Certification

number Juyo 3220,    Certification Juyo-Token

Wakizashi :  Nobukuni (信国),   31.4cm length, 0.3cm curvature, HirazukuriMitsumune (three-sided mune),  Sun-nobi, Ji-hada is wood grain and Ji-nie (nie on the surface between shinogi and hamon),  Hamon is Chu-suguha (medium straight),  Front carving shows Bonji (sanscrit), Sanko-ken, back engraving is Bonji and Hoko (pike).   Original nakago.  The examination by the Nihon Bijutu Token Hozon Kyokai, it is certified as Jyuyo Token.  The Chairman Moritatu Hosokawa.  Showa 45 June 1 (1970 June 1)

25| Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)

 

25 Sengoku period Time line red

The red circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

25 Chukanzori Tanto

Chukan-zori (中間反り) ————— Chukan-zori tanto has a straight mune(back), its back does not curve forward or outward unlike Takenoko-zori, Chukan-zoridoes.   

Hamon (刃文: Tempered line) ———–Sanbon-sugi (三本杉), O-notare (大湾), Yahazu-midare (矢筈乱), Hako-midare (箱乱),  Gunome-choji (互の目丁子),  Chu-suguha (中直刃)  See below.

24 Sannbon sugi,hako, yahazu, O-midare)

Horimono (彫り物: Carving) —————Often hi (grooves) is curved

Tanto Length ———————— The length of a tanto should be up to one shaku* (approx. 12 inches, 30.5cm).  Standard size tanto is called Jo-sun Tanto, which is 8.5 shaku (approx. 10 inches, 25.7cm).  Longer than Jo-sun is called Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延)Shorter than Jo-sun is called Sun-zumari Tanto (寸詰).

                             Sun-nobi Tanto  >  Jo-sun Tanto  >  Sun-zumari Tanto

*Shaku is a Japanese old measurement unit for length.

Takenoko-zori Jo-sun Tanto (筍反定寸) ———– This type of tanto was made during the Sengoku period.  This type of sword resembles the sword made by Rai Kunimitsu of Yamashiro Den.  (Below illustration)

Hamon (刃文)———–Hoso-suguha (細直刃: Narrow straight hamon).  Katai-ha (illustration below) shows somewhere on the blade.  Masamehada (Straight grain pattern) may appear on the mune side.

 

                  13 Middle Kamakura Period Tanto                 24 Suguha katai-ha

 

Ji-hada (地肌: Area between shinogi and tempered line)——— Shirake (白け) whitish surface) sometimes appears.  Uturi (the whitish faint cloud-like effect) on Ji-hada  appears.

Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延短刀)———Tanto of this type is similar to the Sakizori tanto which is the one from the late Soshu Den style.  You may see hitatsura (see below illustration).   But unlike Soshu Den, the hitatsura type hamon shows more on the lower part of the tanto, less on the upper part.

 

                                             25 Sun-Nobi Tanto      25 Hitatsura

Hirazukuri Takenokozori Sunzumari Tanto (平造筍反寸延短刀)

This is a unique tanto for the Sengoku period.   Hirazukuri means a flat surface sword without a shinogi, no yokote line, or no obvious kissaki.   Takenoko-zori means the shape of a bamboo shoot (back of the sword curves inward).   Sun-zumari means shorter than 10 inches long (shorter than 8.5 shaku, 25.7 cm).  The width of the lower part of the blade is wide and thick, the width of the tip is narrow and thin.  It has a sharp look.

  •  Horimono(彫り物: Carving) ——-Deeply carved Ken-maki-ryu (a dragon wrapped around a spear).
  • Hamon (刃文: Tempered line)———Wide tempered line, nioi base.  Irregular hamon, wide suguha (straight) and Chu-suguha (medium straight).  The hamon in the boshi area turns back deep.
  • Ji-hada (地肌)———–fine and wood burl.

Moroha-Tanto (諸刃短刀: double-edged sword)

Double-edged blade with a hamon on both edges. Often bonji (sanscrit) is curved.

  • Hamon (刃文) ——— Wide tempered line.   Nioi base.  Irregular hamon, wide suguha (straight) and Chu-suguha (medium straight).  Hamon turns back deep.
  • Ji-hada (地鉄)——- Fine and wood burl.

 

25-moroha-tanto1 Moroha Tanto

Name of swordsmith during the Sengoku Period (Tanto maker)

Swords during the Sengoku period are called the Sue-bizen sword.  Bizen Osafune Yoso Zaemon Sukesada (与三左衛門祐定) is the representative swordsmith during the Sengoku period.  He also forged tantos.  One thing to point out is that there were many swordsmiths called Sukesada.  Yoso-Zaemon Sukesada is the most representative swordsmith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 technique was primitive.  At that time a large number of swordsmiths lived in Yamato, yet as time passes, the sword making declined in this area.

At the end of the Kamakura period, several powerful temples had power struggles against each other in the Yamato area.  Temples had 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)*.

The groups of Sohei demanded more swords to arm themselves.  The high demand for the swords from Sohei revitalized the Yamato Den (School) and led an increase in the number of swordsmiths in Yamato.   As a result, Yamato Den became active again. Yamato Den’s style is somewhat similar to that of Yamashiro Den.

*Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)———Since around the 11th century, Buddhistic temples became powerful under the protection of the Joko (retired Emperor).  Those temples had a large number of Sohei (low-level monks who also acted as soldiers) under them.  When the power struggles between the temples occurred, Sohei fought 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. 2. Shinogi is high.  3. Mune is thin.  4. Some group of Yamato school has shallow Sori (curvature).

16 Yamato sword cross section

Hamon (Tempered line) ——-Narrow tempered line.  Mainly Nie (沸).  Chu-Suguha-Hotsure (medium straight with frayed look中直刃ほつれ), Ko-Choji-Midare (small clove-like pattern and irregular mixture 小丁子乱), Ko-Midare ( fine irregular小乱), Ko-gunome-komidare (small irregular continuous half-circle 小五の目小乱).  The main characteristic of Yamato school is Masame (straight grain), therefore, the tempered line often shows a double straight line called Nijyu-ha, Hakikake (brushed sand), and Uchinoke (Crescent-shape line).  See the illustration below.

16 Hamon Yamato

Boshi (鋩子)———-Inside the Boshi area, straight grain pattern also appears. Yakizume, Kaen(refer 13 Tanto Middle Kamakura period), O-maru, Ko-maru, Nie-kuzure (refer 15 Late Kamakura Period)

13 Hamon and Hi15 O-maru Ko-maru 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