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.

 

28|Shinto Sword – Main Seven Regions (Part A)

29 Shinto Timeline

                                      The red circle indicates the subject we discuss in this section

There are seven main prosperous areas where a large number of swordsmiths gathered and actively made swords.  Those are Yamashiro (山城) in Kyoto, Settu (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 these areas have their local characteristics common among themselves.  Knowing each of these characteristics of their area is the easiest way to understand shin-to.  But keep in mind that even in each group, swordsmith has his way of making a sword.  The following descriptions are only in general.

Below is the map of Japan.  Hokkaido is omitted from the map because swords were not made there during the Edo period.

 29 Map with number 7 

  1. Yamashiro (山城) Kyoto

Yamashiro Shin-to sword has a solid and strong look.  Hamon at the bottom part of the blade right above machi (区) area shows suguha (straight hamon), this is called Kyo-yakidashi (京焼出), that means to start with a straight hamon.  Then it shows a sudden change to the design of O-midare (大乱).  O-midare (irregular waviness) changes to less waviness one or two inches below the yokote line, then continues into boshi with a wavy hamon.  The design inside the boshi is Komaru-boshi.   See the illustration below.  Ji-hada is 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, there was a group called the Mishina Group (三品).  They are Mino Den (美濃) related, therefore, often boshi is Jizo-boshi (地蔵鋩子), this is called Mishina Boshi ( 三品鋩子).  Jizo-boshi is the profile of a human 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) previously family owned

2.Settu (摂津) Osaka (大阪)

Settu (Osaka now) created more wakizashi than katana.  They tend to make it slightly sakizori (top half curves outward) and slightly stretched boshi.  Settu sword also has yakidashi the same way as the previous Yamashiro sword, except the area where suguha changes to notare (wavy pattern) are smooth.  This is called Osaka Yakidashi.

 Osaka Boshi ——Hamon continues up to yokote line, then Komaru with a turn back.       Ji-hada————-Very fine, almost a solid like smooth surface especially shinogi-ji (the area between ridgeline and back) is solid like surface.  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

Awataguch Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (粟田口一竿子忠綱) previously family owned

22| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代)

0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period

The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

Please look at the two red circles on the timeline above.  According to the political history, Sengoku period (戦国時代) is a part of the Muromachi (室町) period, that is on the third line.   But under the sword history, we separate the Muromachi period and the Sengoku period (Warring States period), that is on the second line.  On the sword history, we divide the time this way because in those two periods, the sword style changed and the environment of sword making also changed.

After Onin-no-Ran (応仁の乱) had started (discussed in 20|Muromachi Period), the beautiful capital city, Kyoto (京都 ) was in a devastating condition.  Shogun’s (将軍) power only reached to the very limited small area.  The rest of the country was divided into 30 or so small independent regions.  The head of those independent regions was called a Shugo Daimyo (守護大名).  They are government officials, originally appointed and sent by the central government.  Also, powerful local samurais became a head of the independent regions.  Each of those regions fought against each other to take over each other’s land.  During the Sengoku period, vassals killed his superiors and stole his domain, farmers revolted against their lords.  This is called “Gekoku-jo (lower class samurai overthrow the superior)”. This is the time of the Warring States period called the Sengoku period.  The head of the region was called Sengoku Daimyo (戦国大名: warlord).  The Sengoku period lasts about 100 years.  Little by little, after long hard battles, more powerful regions defeated less powerful regions and gained more territory.  30 individual regions became 20 then 10 and so on.  Eventually, a few powerful big Sengoku Daimyo (warlord) were left.  Each of those heads of the larger regions tried to fight his way up to Kyoto to unite the country.  The first person who almost succeeded was Oda Nobunaga (織田信長).  But he was killed by his own vassal, Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀), and Akechi was killed by his colleague, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉)

After Toyotomi Hideyoshi defeated Akechi Mitsuhide and a few more major warlords, Toyotomi Hideyoshi almost completed uniting Japan.  But one more person was left.  That is Tokugawa Iyeyasu (徳川家康).  Now, two big powerful clans were left, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu.  Both knew that their opponents are smart and able daimyo, any wrong move on your part would be a fatal mistake.  So, they decided to keep the co-existed condition amicably on the surface for a while.  Though Toyotomi Hideyoshi tried Tokugawa Ieyasu to be his vassal, Tokugawa Ieyasu somehow maneuvered well to avoid that.  In the mind of Tokugawa Iyeyasu, since he was younger than Toyotomi Hideyoshi, he knew that he could just wait until Hideyoshi‘s natural death.  And that happened eventually. After Hideyoshi’s death, Tokugawa Ieyasu fought with the vassals who used to be under Hideyoshi and won at the Battle of the Sekigahara (関ヶ原) in 1600.  Then 1615 Tokugawa won against Hideyoshi’s son, Hideyori’s army.  After this, the Toyotomi clan ended completely, then the Edo (江戸) period started.  Edo period is called the Edo period because Tokugawa Ieyasu lived in Edo, which is Tokyo (東京) now.

*The Sengoku period is often depicted on TV programs and movies.  People who lived through the Sengoku period had a very hard time but it is the most interesting time for TV shows and movies.  Stories of Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu are the most favorite stories in Japan.  Especially the success story of Toyotomi Hideyoshi is one of the most popular ones.  His background was a poor farmer who became the top ruler of Japan, this is one fascinating success story.

23 Toyotomi_hideyoshi
Toyotomi Hideyoshi by Mitsunobu Kanou, owned by Kodaiji-Temple  from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository