63|Part 2 of — 27 Shin-to Main 7 Regions (part A)

This chapter is a continued part of chapter 27| Shinto Main 7 Regions  (Part A).  Please read chapter 27 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Shin-to

The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

In Chapter 27, Shinto Main 7 Regions (part A 主要7刀匠地) and Chapter 28, Shinto Sword Main 7 Regions (part B 主要7刀匠地) described an overview of the seven main regions.  This chapter and next chapter shows the photos of the representative swordsmiths from those regions.  They are Yamashiro (山城 in Kyoto), Settsu (摂津 today’s Osaka), Musashi (武蔵 Edo), Satsuma (薩摩).  But Echizen (越前) and Kaga (加賀), Hizen (肥前) are skipped.

29 Map with number 7

During the Ko-to time, a sword shape, hamon condition, Kissaki size, and the length and the shape of the nakago, etc., indicates when the sword was forged.  Also, Bizen swordsmith forged Bizen Den sword, Yamashiro swordsmith forged Yamashiro Den sword, Yamato swordsmith forged Yamato Den sword.  But during the Shinto time, that is not the case.  Den and the location of the swordsmith do not match.  For Shin-to sword, we study the swordsmiths of the seven central regions and their characteristic.

During Ko-to time, usually, if a sword has a wide hamon line with nie, Ji-hada shows large wood grain or large burl grain.  Also, when you see a narrow hamon line, it usually shows with fine Ji-hada during Ko-to timeBut on Shin-to, wide Hamon with nie with small wood grain or small burl grain on Ji-hada.  And narrow Hamon line with a large wood grain Ji-hada.  This is the Shin-to characteristic.   Yet some of the early Soshu Den sword during the late Kamakura period shows wide hamon with nie with small burl on Ji-hada.  Because of that, whether it is Ko-to or Shin-to is confusing.  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) was considered as a great master swordsmith among Shin-to swordsmiths.  He forged his swords in different styles and different characteristics.  The types of hamon are O-notare, O-gunome, Togari-ba (pointed hamon), Chu-suguha with hotsure (frayed look), Hiro-suguha, with Sunagashi effect, Inazuma, Kinsuji appears.  Kunihiro liked to make his sword shape look like O-suriage (shortened Nanboku-Cho style long sword).  Kunihiro’s blade gives you a massive feeling.  Kunihiro’s swords often have beautiful carvings on it; designs are such as 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.jpg            Iga-no-Kami Kinnmichi (伊賀守金道)           Dewa Daijyo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)        Both Juyo Token (重要刀剣), once my family owned swords, photos were taken by my father.

Characteristics of Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi ( 伊賀守金道)

Kinmichi family is called Mishina group.  Refer 27 Shinto Main 7 Regions  AIga-no-Kami Kinmichi received the 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 27 Shinto Main 7 Regions  A ), hiro suguha (wide straight hamon), O-notare (large wavy), Yahazu-midare, Hako-midare (refer 25 Sengoku Period Tanto).  Boshi is Mishina boshi, refer 27 Shinto Main 7 Regions 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 looks like a shortened Nanboku-cho sword.  Shallow curvature, widebody, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

60|Part 2 of — 24 Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国短刀)

Chapter 60 is a Continued part of chapter 24|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代).  Please read chapter 24|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)  before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period

       The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section  

Muramasa (村正)

The discussion of this chapter is about the famous Muramasa (村正).  Usually, many well-known swordsmiths were from one of the Goka Den (五家伝:primary five schools: Yamashiro Den, Bizen Den, Soshu Den, Yamato Den, and Mino Den).  However, Muramasa was not from the Goka Den but Ise Province.  The first generation Muramasa was known as a student of He’ian-jo Nagayoshi (平安城長吉) of Yamashiro Den who lived the mid Muromachi period.  Muramasa has three generations from the mid Muromachi period to the Sengoku period.

61 Ise map

Here is one of Muramasa’s tanto that was made during the Sengoku periodSince this is the Sengoku period tanto, the blade shows the Sengoku period sword style.  It shows Mino Den Characteristics, with the Soshu Den Characteristics added.

61 Muramasa photo  61 Muramasa illustration

Muramasa (村正) from Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Mino-Den Characteristic of the Sengoku period that shows on this Tanto

Muramasa’s tantos are often 10 inches ± half inches or so.  Hirazukuri (平作り). Thin blade with a sharp look.  Nioi base with small Nie and Sunagashi (brushed sand-like, the illustration below) appears.  Boshi (the top part of hamon) is Jizo (a side view of a human’s head).  The tempered line has wide areas and narrow areas.  Some areas are so narrow, close to the edge of the blade, while others are broad.  Hako midare (box-like shape) and Gunome (lined-up beads pattern).  O-notare (large gentle waviness) is a Muramasa’s signature characteristic.  The pointed tempered line is a typical Mino Den characteristic (Sanbon-sugi).  Refer 24Sengoku period sword.

61 Sunagashi 2

Sunagashi (Brushed sand-like trace.  My drawing is exaggerated)

24| Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国短刀)

0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period                                   The red circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

25 Chukanzori Tanto

Chukan-zori (中間反り) ————— Chukan-zori tanto has a straight Mune(back), its back does not curve forward or outward unlike Takenoko-zori,  Chukan-zoridoes.   

Hamon (刃文: Tempered line) ———–Sanbon-sugi (三本杉), O-notare (大湾), Yahazu-midare (矢筈乱), Hako-midare (箱乱),  Gunome-choji (互の目丁子),  Chu-suguha (中直刃)  See below.

24 Sannbon sugi,hako, yahazu, O-midare)

Horimono (彫り物: Carving) —————Often hi (grooves) is curved

Tanto Length ———————— The length of a tanto should be no longer than one shaku*¹ (approx. 12 inches, 30.5cm).  The standard size tanto is called Jo-sun Tanto, which is 8.5 shaku (approx. 10 inches, 25.7cm).  Longer than Jo-sun is called Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延)Shorter than Jo-sun is called Sun-zumari Tanto (寸詰).

               Sun-nobi Tanto  >  Jo-sun Tanto (approx. 10 inches) >  Sun-zumari Tanto

*¹ Shaku is a Japanese old measurement unit for length.

Takenoko-zori Jo-sun Tanto (筍反定寸短刀) ———– This type of tanto was made during the Sengoku period.  It resembles the swords made by Rai Kunimitsu of Yamashiro Den.  (Illustration below)

Hamon (刃文: Tempered line)———–Hoso-suguha (細直刃: Narrow straight hamon).  Katai-ha (illustration below) shows somewhere on the blade.  Masamehada (Straight grain pattern) may appear on the mune side

                  13 Middle Kamakura Period Tanto                 24 Suguha katai-ha

Ji-hada (地肌: Area between shinogi and tempered line)——— Shirake (白け) whitish surface) sometimes appears.  Uturi (the whitish light cloud-like effect) on Ji-hada  appears.

Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延短刀)———Tanto of this type is similar to the Sakizori tanto which is from the late Soshu Den style.  You may see hitatsura (see below illustration).   Unlike Soshu Den, the Hitatsura type hamon shows more on the lower part of the tanto, less on the upper part.

                                             25 Sun-Nobi Tanto      25 Hitatsura

Hirazukuri Takenokozori Sunzumari Tanto (平造筍反寸延短刀)

This is a unique tanto in the Sengoku period.   Hirazukuri means a flat surface sword without shinogi, yokote line, or obvious kissaki.   Takenoko-zori means bamboo shoot shape (back of the sword curves inward).   Sun-zumari means shorter than 10 inches long (shorter than 8.5 shaku, or 25.7 cm).  The lower part of the blade is wide and thick, and the tip is narrow and thin.  It has a piercing sharp look.

  •  Horimono(彫り物: Carving) ——-Deeply carved Ken-maki Ryu (a dragon wrapped around a spear).
  • Hamon (刃文: Tempered line)———Wide tempered line, nioi base.  Irregular hamon, wide suguha (straight) and Chu-suguha (medium straight).  The hamon in the boshi area turns back long.
  • Ji-hada (地肌)———–fine and wood burl pattern.

Moroha-Tanto (諸刃短刀: double-edged sword)

Double-edged blade with a hamon on both edges. Often bonji (Sanscrit) is curved.

  • Hamon (刃文) ——— Wide tempered line.   Nioi base.  Irregular hamon, wide suguha (straight) and Chu-suguha (medium straight).  Hamon turns back deep.
  • Ji-hada (地鉄)——- Fine and wood burl.

25-moroha-tanto1 Moroha Tanto

Name of swordsmith during the Sengoku Period (Tanto maker)

The swords during the Sengoku period are called Sue-bizen sword.  Bizen Osafune Yoso Zaemon Sukesada (与三左衛門祐定) is the most regarded swordsmith during the Sengoku period.  He also forged tantos.  One thing to point out is that there were many swordsmiths called Sukesada.  Yoso-Zaemon Sukesada is, however, the one who represents the era.