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.

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline

                                     The circle indicates the time we discuss in 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 the Late Kamakura Period, swordsmiths 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 for repairing, 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 were 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)In the illustration above, Kinsuji, Inazuma is shown inside the Hamon.  The string-like line inside the Hamon is Inazuma and Kinsuji.  Inazuma, kinsuji is the collection of nie.  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.photo 50 part 2 of 15 吉岡
The above picture is Yoshioka Ichimonji (吉岡一文字).  Kissaki is longer than the previous Ikubi-kissaki or Ko-gissaki.  This is Chu-gissakiKissaki like this one 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 photo 50 part 2 of 15 運生 

Above sword 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 an earlier time than the late Kamakura PeriodThis sword shows that the sword does not always follow 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 to do is to look at the different characteristics of the sword one by one like Hamon, Nie or Nioi, Ji-hada, etc. and determine which period, which Den, which province and come up with the name.  This process is called Kantei.

*Kantei – – – – – – to determine the name of the swordsmith by looking at the characteristic of the sword.  The judge hides 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.

43|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.

13 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline
                                          The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

The Middle Kamakura period was the height for the Bizen Den.  In a different region other than Bizen, swords style was often affected by people’s preferences and politics in each region.  But Bizen was not affected as much by those elements throughout the time.  The clients of Bizen swords were from all over the area.  Therefore, the swords created by Bizen tends to be the kind liked by everybody.

The general style of Bizen Den

  • In general, their style tends to be likable by everybody.
  • Shape, the width of the blade, the thickness of the body, and tempered line are usual style or usual design, seldom out of ordinary.
  • Nioi base
  • Soft feeling Jigane (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 are the main smiths among the Fukuoka Ichomnji group (福岡一文字 ).

Among the Fukuoka Ichimonji group, six swordsmiths received the honor as the “Gobankaji” from Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽上皇 ), Including  Norimune and Sukemune.    I saw Fukuoka Ichimonji Muneyoshi (福岡一文字宗吉) at Mori Sensei’s class on June 25 1972 or 1973.  My note said I saw a lot of utsuri (shadow) on the blade.

 Sugata (shape or figure) ————– Graceful and classy shape.  Generally, well proportioned.  The difference between the top width and bottom width is not much.  Sometimes stout looking Kissaki like Ikubi Kissak (refer Chapter 11) appears.

Hi and Engraving ———-The tip of Hi may follow the Ko-shinogi line.  See below.  The end of Hi goes under machi area with a square, or kakinagashi  (refer to 42| Part 2 of —– 8| Middle Kamakura Period Yamashiro Den (鎌倉中期山城伝)

44 hisaki agaru

Hamon  ———- Wide Ichimonnji-Choji tempered line.  From the bottom to the top, same width temper line.  The same Hamon front and back .  O-Choji –midare (large clove shape), Jyuka-Choji (overwrapped look choji).  Nie base.  Inazuma, Kinsuji appears.

Boshi ———- Hamon continues into Boshi area and end with Yakizume or turn slightly.  Sometimes O-maru.

 Jihada ———- Fine and soft look.  Woodgrain.   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.



12| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)

12 time line
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 kissaki.  Ikubi means a wild boar neck.  Wild boar looks like no neck, stout look shape.  Short Kissaki but wide at the yokote line.  The illustration below is exaggerated a little to show the idea

12 Ikubi Kissak drawing

Hamon (刃文) —— Kawazuko-Choji (tadpole head shape). O- Choji (clove-like shape) and Ko-Choji mixed.  Irregular waviness mixed with a straight line and choji, this is called suguha-choji.

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

Boshi(鋩子) ——— Yakizume, that is Hamon ends close to the tip, as below.  Nagamitu(長光), Kagemitu( 景光), Sanenaga(真長) created  Boshi called Sansaku Boshi(三作鋩子).  Sansaku Boshi narrows down at Yokote Line, Illustration below.

12 Yakizume
12 Sansaku Boshi(三作


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)



From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)                                                                    Osafune Nagamitsu(長船長光 )

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 large numbers of swordsmiths in Bizen (備前) school during the Heian period but their sword style is generally similar to Yamashiro school, called Ko-Bisen (古備前). The real Bizen school style started in the Middle Kamakura period.  Bizen province had many ideal conditions to produce swords.  It produced good quality steel and a large amount of fuel around the area and also the transportation was convenient.  Naturally, large numbers of swordsmiths gathered in this area and produced swords in quantities.  Because of that, to connoisseur Bizen sword is difficult.  In general, the Bizen sword has a higher quality standard than other schools.

Generally speaking, the next three characters are the most distinctive features of Bizen school.

  • Nioi base temper line (Nie is sand-like small dots on a tempered line, Nioi is finer dots than Nie, so small, it looks as if a line)  Technically speaking, those two are the same.  See the illustration below.
  • Jigane (sword steel) looks soft.
  • Reflection appears on the surface.

10 Nie & Nioi

Sugata (shape) — The length of the sword is about 33 inches ± a few inches. The width of the blade is slightly wide and it has a stout look.  The curvature of the blade is Koshizori (腰反)  means the highest curvature comes 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 the Nakago is rounded which has the shape of chestnut’s bottom.  This is called KurijiriSee 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 tempered line ) is uniform.

Boshi — The same tempered pattern continues to go up to the Boshi area.  You can see Choji midare (clove-like pattern) or Yakizume.

10 Boshi --- Bizen

Jitetu — Fine well forged, and soft look steel.  The surface of the steel has small wood grain pattern mixed with the large grain pattern.  Chikei (condensation of Nie) and cloud-like reflection appears.

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)

10, Ichimonji Photo

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