62|Part 2 of — 28 Shin-To Main 7 Region (part B)

This chapter is a continued part of chapter 28 Shin-to Main 7 Regions (part B).  Please read chapter 28 before reading this chapter.  Below are the regions 3,7.

0-timeline - size 24 Shin-to                           The red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section    

29 Map with number 7

3.Musashi (Edo)

We find many famous swordsmiths in Edo also.  They were Yasutsugu(康継), Kotetsu(虎徹), Noda Hankei (野田繁慶), Hojoji Masahiro (法成寺正弘), and their followers.

Two photos below are swordsmiths from Musashi (武蔵: Tokyo).  

               65 Yasutsugu photo  65-yasutsugu-illustration-e1567313224375.jpg                             Yasutsugu  From Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission granted to use

Characteristics of Yasutusgu (康継) ——- shallow curvature; Chu-gissaki (medium Kissaki); Hamon of wide Notare, Midare, or O-gunome (sometimes double Gunome); a trace of Soshu Den and Mino Den; and woodgrain pattern mixed with Masame on Shinogi-ji.

                         65 Kotetsu photo  65 kotetu illustration                                    Kotetsu (虎徹) from Sano Museum Catalogue, (permission granted to use)

Here is the famous Kotetsu.  His formal name was Nagasone Okisato Nyudo Kotetsu (長曽祢興里入道虎徹).   Kotetsu began to make swords after he passed 50 years old.  Before that, he was an armor maker.  

The characteristics of Kotetsu ———————– shallow curvature and wide width, wide tempered line with Nie.  Small irregular Hamon at about the Machi area, becoming wide Suguha like Notare at the upper area.  Fine Nie, Komaruboshi with a short turn back.  Ji-hada is fine wood grain and burl.  Sometimes, you see O-hada (black core iron show through) at the lower part above the Machi area.  The illustration above shows a thick tempered line with Nie, which is the typical Kotetsu’s characteristic.  Once you see it, you will remember it.    The next region is 7, skipping 4, 5, and 6.

  1. Satsuma (Kyushu)

                   65 Satsuma Masakiyo illustration65 Satsuma Masakiyo photo                  Miyahara Mondonosho Masakiyo (宮原主水正正清) from Sano Museum Catalogue, (permission granted to use).

Miyahara Mondonosho Masakiyo was highly regarded by the Shimazu family of Satsuma Han (Satsuma domain in Kyushu).  Later he was chosen to go to Edo to forge swords for Shogun Yoshimune

Mondonosho Masakiyo’s characteristics————-Well balanced sword shape, shallow curvature, and wide and narrow Hamon mixed with squarish Hamon and pointed Hamon as shown in the photo above.  He engraved the Aoi crest (the hollyhock crest of the Tokugawa family) on Nakago.

 

38|Part 2 of — 5 Heian Period Sword 794-1192 (平安太刀)

This chapter is a continued part of Chapter 5 Heian Period Sword.  Please read Chapter 5 before reading this section.  More sword terminologies will be used in the coming chapters.  They were explained between chapters 1 to 31.  For unfamiliar sword terminologies, please read chapter 1 to 31.

0-timeline - size 24 Heian                   The red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this sect         

There are several active schools of swordsmiths during the Heian period.  We use the word “Den” for school.  They are Yamashiro Den (山城伝), Yamato Den (大和伝), Bizen Den (備前伝).  Also, the following areas are other active groups during the Heian period:  Houki-no-Kuni (伯耆の国), and Oo-U (奥羽).  Oo-U is pronounced “Oh,” and “U” as uber.

 Yamashiro Den (山城伝 )

During the Heian period, among Yamashiro Den swords, the most famous sword was “Mikazuki Munechika “ (三日月宗近) by Sanjo Munechika (三条宗近).  Mikazuki means crescent.  It was named Mikazuki Munechika because the crescent-shaped Uchinoke (collection of Nie) pattern appears in Hamon.  It has a graceful shape, narrow-body, Koshi-zori, Funbari, and small Kissaki.  It shows the wood grain pattern surface and Suguha with Nie mixed with small irregular, sometimes Nijyu-ha (double Hamon: 二重刃) appears.  Sanjo Munechika lived in the Sanjo area in Kyoto.  His sword style was carried on by his sons and grandsons: Sanjo Yoshiie (三条吉家), Gojo Kanenaga (五条兼永), and Gojo Kuninaga (五条国永 ).  Gojo is also an area in Kyoto.

38Sanjo Munechika

    三日月宗近    Mikazuki Munechika  東京国立博物館蔵 Tokyo National Museum           Photo from “Showa Dai Mei-to Zufu 昭和大名刀図譜” published by NBTHK

Houki -no-Kuni (伯耆の国)

Houki-no-Kuni is today’s Tottori Prefecture.  It is known as the place to produce good iron.  The sword, “Doujigiri Yasutsuna”  (童子切安綱) made by Houki-no-Yasutsuna (伯耆の安綱) was one of the famous swords during the time.   

The characteristics of Yasutsuna’s sword———-It has a graceful shape with small Kissaki, narrow Hamon (often Suguha with Ko-choji), coarse Nie on Hamon area, large wood grain pattern mixed with Masame on Ji-hada Hamon area often shows Inazuma and Kinsuji.  Boshi area is Yakizume, Kaen (pronounced ka as a calf, en as engineer) with a small turn back. 

6 Sano Hoki Yasutuna

   伯耆の安綱 (Hoki no Yasutsuna) 佐野美術館図録 (Sano Musem Catalogue)                     Permission to use granted 

Bizen Den (備前伝 )

Bizen is today’s Okayama Prefecture.  It is known as the place to produce good iron.  From the Heian period until now, Bizen has been famous for the sword-making tradition.  The sword-making group in this area during the Heian period was called the Ko-bizen group.  The most famous swordsmith in the Ko-bizen group was Bizen Tomonari (備前友成), Bizen Masatsune (備前正恒), and Bizen Kanehira (備前包平).                                                                      

Ko-bizen group’s characteristics ——-  A graceful narrow body, small Kissaki, narrow tempered line with Ko-choji (small irregular) with Inazuma and Kin-sujiJi-hada is a small wood grain pattern.

6 Sano Kanehira

   Bizen Kanehira (備前包平) Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館図録)                          (Permission to use granted)

I saw Ko-Bizen Sanetsune (真恒) at Mori Sensei’s house.  That was one of the Kantei-to of that day.  I received Douzen*ᴵ.  The book written by Hon’ami Koson was used as our textbook.  Each time I saw a sword at Mori Sensei’s house, I noted the date on the swordsmith’s name in the book we used.  It was Nov. 22, 1970.  It had a narrow body line, small kissaki (that was Ko-bizen Komaru), Kamasu*2  (no fukura), and SuguhaKamasu is the condition where the fukura (arc) is much lesser than usual.  Thinking back then, it is amazing we could see famous swords like this as our study materials.

Kantei-Kai

Kantei-kai is a study meeting.  Usually, several swords are displayed, with the Nakago part being covered.  The attendees guess the name of the sword maker and hand in the answer sheet to the judge.  Below are the grades.

Atari —– If the answer is right on the exact name, you get Atari.  That is the best answer.

Dozen  —- The second best is dozen.  It means almost the right answer. The subject sword was made by the family or the clan of the right Den.   Dozen is considered very good.  It indicates the student has a good knowledge of the particular group.

Kaido Yoshi —– This means correct about the line, but not about the family.

Jidai Yoshi——- It means the time or period is right. Each Kantei-kai has different grading systems.  Some may not have “Jidai Yoshi” grade.

Hazure—– the wrong answer. 

After all the answer sheets are handed in, the answer sheets are graded and returned.  The judge reveals the correct answer and explains why.

*1 Dozen:  Almost the same as the correct answer. 

 *2 Kamasu:  The name of a fishIt has a narrow and pointed head.

 

 

 

8| Middle Kamakura Period: Yamashiro Den (鎌倉中期山城伝)

        

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

The characteristics of Yamashiro Den swords

Sugata(shape)—– In general, the blade is narrow, especially near the Yokote line.  The bottom of the blade has fundari (A-line shape).  Kasane is thick.  The curvature type is usually Kyo-zori (the deepest curvature comes at about the middle).  It has a small Kissaki with Fukura.   Shinogi is thick with Gyo-no-mune or Shin-no-mune.  Please see the three illustrations below for Sugata.

13 Mune drawing

9 鎌倉中期刀姿

8 Fukura

Horimono (Engraving)—– The tip of a Hi (樋, groove) follows the exact shape of the Ko-shinogi line.  Sometimes you may see Bonj (Sanscrit) and Suken (see the illustration).

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji

Nakago (hilt: 中心)—————Long and thin with curvature

Hamon (tempered line: 刃文) —————Mostly Suguha (straight line), Niju-Ba (double Hamon), or Suguha with an irregular wavy line.  Sometimes a thin gold lightning-like line called Inazuma faintly appears.  The tempered line is mostly Nie.  The below is Suguha,

picture for 8
豊後国行平(Bungo-no-Kuni-Yukihira)  Sano Museum Catalog permission granted

   * Bungo-no-Kuni-Yukihira was a Yamashiro Den swordsmith from the Bungo area.

Boshi(鋩子)——– Komaru-boshi (small round)   Omaru-boshi (large round)                    Ji-hada (地肌) ——-Well forged fine surface.  Small burl pattern.  Jinie (地沸) on the surface.

Names of the swordsmiths during the middle Kamakura period

  • Ayano-Koji group ———————————– Ayano-Koji Sadatoshi (綾小路 定利 )
  • Awataguchi group ————————————- Awataguchi kunituna (粟田口国綱)
  • Rai group ————————-Rai kuniyuki (来国行) Rai Nijikunitoshi (来ニ字国俊)

8 Rai Kunitoshi

Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊)       Sano Museum Catalogue, Permission granted

 

 

5 |Heian Period Swords  (平安時代太刀)

0-timeline - size 24 Heian

                       
                                      The circle indicate the time we discuss in this section

The Heian period is the time when the shape of the swords changed to the present curved shape.  Until then, swords were straight.   It is a commonly accepted idea that the study of swords begins from the Heian period.   Swords before the Heian period are in the category of archaeology.  The main reason for that is the sword-making technique saw a significant improvement after the Heian period.

The elegant, graceful lifestyle and the Heian culture then were reflected upon the swords’ style.  A group of swordsmiths in the Kyoto region created a particular sword style called Yamashiro Den (Yamashiro School).  The shape of their swords shows a graceful line.  The most famous sword of this time is Sanjo-Munechika (三条宗近, Previous chapter), a national treasure today.  The style of Yamashiro Den represents Heian period swords.                                                                                                                                  6a Heian period sword style

General Heian period sword style

Shape———- The length of a sword is approximately 30 inches ± a few inches.  It has an elegant and graceful form with a narrow blade and a small kissaki(小切先).  The curvature is deep.  This style is called Kyo-zori (京反り) or Torii-zori (鳥居ぞり).  With the Kyo-zori style, the deepest part of the curvature comes around the halfway of the blade.  The lower part of the sword flares out, making an A-line shape like the lower part of the Eiffel Tower.  This flaring shape is called funbari (踏ん張り).

 

6b A line bottom

Hamon(刃文)———- Hamon is the line that was created when the sword was tempered.  The Hamon on the Heian period swords is narrow and usually Suguha (直刃).  Suguha means a straight line.  The Hamon is also Nie-base.  Nie(沸) is a tiny particle in the Hamon.   As shown below, if you look closely, you will see fine sand-like particles in the Hamon line.

6 Straigh tempered line(Suguha)

10 Nie & Nioi

Ji-hada (地鉄) ——– Fine wood-grained pattern.  The location of Ji-hada (or Ji-tetsu) is between Hamon and Shinogi (see 3 |Names of Parts)

Nakago (中心)———- Nakago is a hilt area.  Sword makers inscribe his names here.  The shape of the Nakago during the Heian period is often Kijimomo shape(雉腿), which means pheasant thigh shape.

6 Kijimomo-nakago

Hi and engrave ———- Hi (樋) means an engraved straight line.  Hi and other engraved designs are rare during the Heian period.  These became more common later time.

Kissaki (切先)———– The Heian sword’s kissaki is Ko-gissaki, meaning small kissaki. The Hamon line on the Kissaki is called Boshi.  In this period, the type of Boshi design is called Komaru, meaning small, round, and wrapping the tip.6c Boshi HamonNames of the Heian period swordsmiths

  • Yamashiro school——–  Sanjo Munechika(三条宗近) Sanjo Yoshiie(三条吉家)                                                Gojo Kanenaga(五条兼長) Gojo Kuninaga (五条国永)
  • Yamato school ————-Senju-in (千手院)
  • Bizen school ————— Bizen Tomonari(備前友成) Bizen Masatsune(備前正恒)                                                 Bizen Kanehira (備前包平)
  • Hoki (伯耆) —————–Yasutsuna (安綱) Sanemori (真守)
  • Buzen (豊前) ————– Cho-en (長円) Sinsoku (神息)
  • Satsuma (薩摩) ————Naminohira (波平)