48|Part 2 of — 14|Late Kamakura Period Sword : Early Soshu Den (鎌倉末刀)

This chapter is a detailed part of chapter 14| Late Kamakura Period Sword.  Please read chapter 14 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

                         The red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.

14 Ikubi kissaki Damadge

In Chapter 14| Late Kamakura Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀), the Ikubi-kissakui sword was explained.  The above illustration shows a flaw that was caused when the damaged area was repaired.  To compensate for this flaw, swordsmiths started a new sword style in the late Kamakura period.  They forged swords with a longer Kissaki and stopped the tip of Hi at a lower point than the Yokote line.   This way, if the Yokote line was lowered when it was repaired, the tip of Hi would stay lower than the Yokote-line.

15 Masamune (Sano)   15 Masamune hamon (Sano)

The above photo is a sword by Goro Nyudo Masamune (五郎入道正宗 ).  Please look at the size and shape of the Kissaki.  This is different from 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 KamakuraThey 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) from the Bizen area.  They were the origin of Soshu Den (相州伝)Eventually, Tosaburo Yukimitsu (藤三郎行光) and his famous son,  Masamune (正宗), appearedIn the drawing above, Kinsuji and Inazuma are shown inside the Hamon.  The shinning lines inside the Hamon are Inazuma and Kinsuji.  Inazuma and Kinsuji are a collection of Nie.  Masamune is famous for Inazuma and Kinsuji.  Masamune lived in Kamakura; his Hamon looks like ocean waves when it is viewed sideways.

50 part 2 of 15 吉岡.photo 50 part 2 of 15 吉岡

The above picture is a sword by a swordsmith of Yoshioka Ichimonji group (吉岡一文字).  The Kissaki is also like the one of Masamune’s.  It is longer than the previous Ikubi-kissaki or Ko-gissaki.  This is Chu-gissaki.  The Kissaki like this is one of the crucial points to determine what period the sword was made.  The Hamon has Choji, Gunome, Togariba (pointed-tip), and very tight Nie.

50 part 2 of 15 運生 photo 50 part 2 of 15 運生 

The above photo is a sword by Ukai Unsho (鵜飼雲生) of Bizen Den.  This sword is also 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 an earlier time than the late Kamakura period.  This sword indicates that the sword does not always have the style of that period.  To Kantei*, first, look at the style and shape then give yourself some idea of the period of the time it was made.  But in this case, Kissaki does not indicate the late Kamakura periodThe next thing is to look at the different characteristics of the sword one by one like Hamon, Nie or Nioi, Jihada, etc.,  and determine what period, which Den, which province and then come up with the name. This process is called Kantei.

*Kantei —  to determine the swordsmith’s name by analyzing the characteristic of the sword without seeing the Mei (inscribed swordsmith name). Mei may be gone if it was shortened.

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

42|Part 2 of — 9 Middle Kamakura Period : Bizen Den (鎌倉中期備前伝)

This chapter is a detailed part of Chapter 9.  Please read 9 | Middle Kamakura Period (Bizen Den) 鎌倉中期備前伝  before reading this chapter.

0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura

 
                         The red circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

The middle Kamakura period was the height of the Bizen Den.  In different regions other than Bizen, swords styles often reflected people’s preferences and politics in particular areas.  But the Bizen sword had its own style and was not affected much by those elements throughout the time.  The clients of Bizen swords came from all over the country.  Therefore, the Bizen swordsmiths created the swords liked by everybody. 

The general style of Bizen Den

  • In general, their style is likable by everybody.
  • The shape, the width of the blade, the thickness of the body, and the tempered line are a standard size or usual design, seldom out of the ordinary.
  • Nioi base
  • Soft feeling Ji-gane (steel)
  • Utsuri (cloud-like shadow) apperars.
  • The tempered line tends to have the same width, not too wide, not too narrow.

Fukuoka Ichimonji group

 Names of swordsmiths among Fukuoka Ichimonji group————Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (福岡一文字則宗),  Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukemune ( 福岡一文字助宗  )Those two were the main swordsmiths among the Fukuoka Ichomonji group (福岡一文字 ).  From this group, six swordsmiths including  Norimune and Sukemune, received the honor as the “Gobankaji” from Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽上皇 ).   I saw Fukuoka Ichimonji Muneyoshi (福岡一文字宗吉) at Mori Sensei’s class on June 25, 1972.  My note pointed out a lot of Utsuri (shadow) on the blade.

 Sugata (shape) ————– Graceful and classy shape.  Generally, well- proportioned shape.  The difference between the top width and bottom width is not much.  Sometimes stout-looking Kissaki like Ikubi-kissak (refer 11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)  appears.

Hi and Engraving ———-The tip of Hi may follow the Ko-shinogi line.  See below.  The end of Hi goes under Machi ending with square, or Kakinagashi  (refer to 41| Part 2 of —– 8 Middle Kamakura Period (Yamashiro Den) 鎌倉中期山城伝 )

44 hisaki agaru

Hamon  ———- Wide Ichimonji-choji tempered line.  It means the same width tempered line from the bottom to the top.  The same Hamon front and back.  O-choji-midare  (large clove-like pattern), Juka-choji (overwrapped-looking Choji).  Nie base.  Inazuma and/or Kinsuji appear.

Boshi ————– Same Hamon continues into the Boshi area and ends with Yakizume or turn slightly.  Sometimes O-maru.

Jihada ———– Fine and a soft look.  Itame (Woodgrain pattern).   Lots of Utsuri (cloud-like shadow or reflection)

10«part 2» ichimonji photo

44 Ichimonjio hamon

Ichimonji  Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館) Permission granted  Above sword is O-suriage.  The end of Hi is lower than Mekugi-ana inside Nakago.

 

           

11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)

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

Through the experience of the war of Jokyu-no-Ran (Chapter 10), the sword’s trend changed to a wider, sturdier, and grander style. The swords made around this time are called Ikubi-kissakiIkubi means a wild boar’s neck.  Ikubi-kissaki style swords have a stout kissaki that looks like the boar’s neck.

The middle Kamakura period was the golden age of Japanese sword making.  Many top swordsmiths created great swords during this time.  Experts agree that there is no mediocre sword among Ikubi-kissaki swords

IkubiKissakiSword  12 Ikubi Kissaki sword style

SUGATA (shape) —— Originally 3 feet or longer, therefore it is often shortened in later time.  Wide width, thick Kasane (thick body) with Hamaguri-ha (蛤刃).  Hamaguri-ha means the sword’s cross-section is shaped like a clam (see below).  The difference in the width between the Yokote line area and Machi is minimal.  Shinogi (鎬) is high, and shinogi width is narrow.  The cross-section of an Ikubi-kissaki sword is shown below. 

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)

 
 
0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura
The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section 

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.  Also, its location was conveniently situated from different places.  Naturally, many swordsmiths came to the place and produced swords in quantities.  Due to the competition among those swordsmiths, Bizen swords’ quality is generally higher than that of other schools.   Thus, it is not easy to appraise Bizen swords since they had many subtle variations among the many swordsmiths.

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

  • 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 (kuri).  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, and it 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)

              9 Middle Kamakura Bizen Fukuoka ichimonji 

Fukuoka Ichimonji (一文字) from “Nippon-to Art Swords of Japan”                                     The Walter A. Compton Collection