60|Part 2 of – – 26 Overview of Shin-To (新刀概要)

Chapter 60 is a Continued part of Chapter 26 |Over view of Shinto (新刀概要).   Please read Chapter 26 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 edo Period

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

The difficulty of Shin-to Kantei

Regarding the swords during Ko-to time, one can tell the approximate period when they were made by looking at the style and the shape.  Several conditions indicate what period and which Gokaden (五ヶ伝) created the particular sword by looking at several points, like how the Hamon showed or how the Ji-gane appeared.  But with the swords in the Shin-to time, that does not work. 

Even though there are some differences among the Shin-to swords made in the early Edo period, which is around the Keicho (慶長: 1596 ~) era, the middle Edo period that is around the Kanbun (寛文: 1661 ~) era, and the late Edo period that is Genroku era (元禄: 1688 ~), the differences are not much. 

The same is true about the Gokaden (五ヶ伝) during the Shin-to time.  In the Ko-to time, Bizen swordsmiths forged swords with Bizen characteristics.  The blades Yamato swordsmiths made usually showed the Yamato Den characteristics.  But in the Shin-to time, a swordsmith of one particular Den sometimes forged the style of another Den’s featuresAs a result, it is hard to determine who forged a specific sword. 

For Shin-to, we study the characteristics of seven main locations.  The following chapters will go over them.

Picturesque Hamon

In and after the Genroku era (元禄1688 – 1704), some picturesque Hamon became a trendy style.  Some swordsmiths made picturesque Hamon on Wakizashi or short swords.  Since it became very popular, especially among foreigners, most of them were exported outside of Japan around the Meiji Restoration time. Very few are left in Japan today.

The swordsmiths those who made picturesque  Hamon 

Yamashiro area ——————————————-Iga-no-kami Kinmichi (伊賀守金道),                                                                                  Omi-no-kami Hisamichi (近江守久道)

Settsu (摂津) area ———————————Tanba-no-Kami Yoshimichi  (丹波守吉道)                                                                           Yamato-no-Kami Yoshimichi (大和守吉道)

Below are examples.  Fuji is the Mount fuji designKikusui is chrysanthemum in the water.

63 fuji sakura hamon

        Fuji                                      Kikusui

26 |Over view of Shinto (新刀概要)

                                   
0-timeline - size 24 Shin-to
                           The circle indicates the subject discuss in this section 

The previous chapter 25 stated that the Edo period was from 1603 to 1868.  This is for political history.  As seen in the third timeline above, the Momoyama period overlaps the Edo period.  Some people think the Momoyama period was from 1573 to 1600.   In terms of general history, there are several opinions on how to divide these transitional periods.  For sword history, it is clear cut.  The swords made between approximate 1596 (慶長: Keicho era) and 1781 (天明: Tenmei era) are called Shin-to.  The swords made between the Tenmei era and the Meiji is called Shin-Shinto. 

After Toyotomi Hideyoshi almost completed to unite the country, people could enjoy a peaceful time.  This quiet time changed the geographic distribution of swordsmiths where they lived.  There were three major areas where the sword forging took place.  Those were Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo (Tokyo today) areas.  The rest of the swordsmiths gathered around near major Daimyos’ (大名: feudal lord ) castles.

Kyoto—- Umetada Myoju (梅忠明寿) group thrived, followed by the swordsmiths like Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広), Kunimichi (国路 ), Kunisada (国貞), and Kunisuke (国助).

OsakaOsaka was established as a commercial city and became the center of commerce.  They produced swords and distributed them to the other regions in the country.  Swordsmiths in Osaka : Tsuda Sukehiro (津田助広), Inoue Shinkai (井上真改).

Edo—-Many swordsmiths gathered in Edo (江戸: current Tokyo) where Shogun Tokugawa Iyeyasu livedThe well-known swordsmiths in Edo at that time :  Nagasone Kotetsu (長曽祢虎徹), Yasutsugu (康継), Noda Hannkei (野田繁慶).

By the time the grandson of Tokugawa Iyeyasu, Tokugawa Iyemitsu, became the shogun (寛永:Kan’ei era 1624 – 1643), swordsmiths spread out to other provinces than three areas mentioned above.  In each significant Daimyo’s territory, swordsmiths had their shops near the castle and fulfilled the demand for daimyo and subjects.  By the Genroku era (元禄: 1695), the swords-making declined, and people demanded more picturesque Hamon designs, such as Kikusui (菊水: flower design) and Fujimi (富士見: Mount Fuji).

 

63 fuji sakura hamon
 Fujimi                           Kikusui

Difference between Koto  and Shinto 

The next section describes the difference between Ko-to and Shin-to.   But keep in mind, there are always exceptions to this rule.

1.  The length of the Shinto Katana is usually about 2 feet and 3 inches ± a little.   Wakizashi is 1 foot and 6 inches ± a little.   Shallow curvature.  Wide width.  Thick body.   Gyo-no-Mune.  Chu-Gissaki with a slightly stretched look.13 Mune drawing

2.  Koto sword feels light.  Shinto feels heavy.

3.  For Shinto, Bo-hi ends a little below the Yokote line.  The Bottom of Hi rounded at above Machi.

27. Hisaki & marudome

4. In general, for Shin-to, carvings are less common. Except, some swordsmith are famous for its carving.  The design is refined and in detail.  Umetada Myoju (埋忠明寿) is famous for its carvings.

5.  For Shin-to, if it is mainly made with Nie, it is coarse Nie

6.  Around the Machi area, Hamon starts with a straight tempered line (the bottom part of the blade in the illustration below), then Midare, or different types of Hamon comes in the middle, and it finishes with Suguha (straight hamon) in the Boshi area (the top part). In general, this is the standard Hamon style of Shin-to, but there are always exceptions. 

27 Keshou Yasuri & suguha

7.  For Shin-to, the blade had the same kind of iron throughout Japan.  Not much variations of iron were used throughout Japan. Very hard, dark color, and glossy look.

8.  The Nakago has a properly balanced shape.  The bottom of Nakago narrows down gradually.  The type of Yasurime (file mark) is Kesho-yasuri.  Engraved inscriptions show the swordsmith’s name, the location, and the province, with the year it was made..

27 Keshou Yasuri & suguha