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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Chapter 62 is a Continued part of Chapter 26 |Over view of Shinto (新刀概要)26 Overview of Shin-to.  Please read chapter 26 before reading this chapter.

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

The difficulty of Shin-to Kantei

During Ko-to time, one could tell the approximate period when the sword was made by looking at the style and the shape.  Several conditions, like how the hamon shows, how the Jigane appears, indicate the approximate Gokaden (五ヶ伝) in Ko-to time.  But in Shin-to time, that does not work.  Even though among Shin-to time, there were some differences between the early Edo period which is around Keicho (慶長) era, the middle Edo period that is around Kanbun (寛文) era and the later part Edo period that is Genroku era (元禄), but differences are not much.  The same is true with Gokaden (五ヶ伝) during the shin-to time.  In Ko-to time, Bizen sword smiths forged Bizen characteristic, Yamato sword smiths usually shows Yamato Den characteristic.  But Shin-to time, a swordsmith of one area also forged the other area’s Den.  For those reasons, it is hard to determine who forged the particular sword.  For Shin-to, we study the characteristics of 7 main locations.  The next chapters go over them.

Picturesque Hamon

Around after the Genroku era (1688 – 1704), some picturesque hamon became a trendy style.  Some swordsmiths made picturesque hamon on wakizashi or short swords, and it became very fashionable.  Many foreigners loved those swords.   Because of that the majority 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 

From Yamashiro area, Iga-no-kami Kinmichi (伊賀守金道) and Omi-no-kami Hisamichi (近江守久道) forged picturesque Hamon. 

From Settsu-no-Kuni (摂津) area,  Tanba-no-Kami Yoshimichi  (丹波守吉道),  Yamato-no-Kami Yoshimichi (大和守吉道) did picturesque Hamon.  And many more.

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

63 fuji sakura hamon

        Fuji                                        Kikusui

50| Part 2 of —– 15 The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)

This chapter is the continued part of Chapter 15|The Revival of Yamato Den.   Please read chapter 15 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

                               The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

At the end of the Kamakura period, in the Yamato area, powerful temples expanded their territories.  See the map below for the location of the Yamato area.  Several big temples had a political and military power to control the area at the end of the Kamakura period, especially, the one with large territories.   Those big territories were called Shoen (荘園).  They employed a large number of monk soldiers called So-hei.  The demand for swords was increased by the increased number of Sohei (僧兵).  The increased demand revived the Yamato Den.

Some of the big temples had their own swordsmiths within their territory. Todaiji-temple (東大寺) backed Tegai (手掻) sword group.  The Senjuin (千手院 ) sword group lived near Senju-Do (千手堂) where Senju Kannon (千手観音) was enshrined.  The name of the sword group, Taima came from the Taima-Ji Temple (当麻寺).  Shikkake group (尻懸) and Hosho group (保昌) were also Yamato Den sword group.  Those five groups are called Yamato Goha (Yamato five group).

51 Japan map Yamato

General Characteristic of Yamato Den

Yamato Den (大和伝) sword always shows Masame (柾目: straight grain-like) somewhere on Ji-hada, Jigane, and/or hamon.   Please refer to 15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活for its general characteristic.  Masame is sometimes mixed with Mokume (burl like) or Itame (wood grain like).  Either way, Yamato Den sword shows Masame somewhere.  Some sword shows Masame entirely or some show a lesser amount. Because of Masame, the hamon tends to show Sunagashi (brush stroke-like) or a double line called Niju-ha.

Taima or Taema group (当麻)

Shape ——————— Middle Kamakura period shape and Ikubi-kissaki style              Hamon —————-Mainly medium Suguha.  Double hamonSuguha mixed with choji.  Often shows Inazuma, Kinsuji, especially under Yokote line Inazuma appeares.         Boshi —– Often Yakizume.  (Refer 15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活)        Ji-hada ———– Small wood grain and well-knead surface.  At the top part of the sword, the wood grain pattern becomes Masame.

Shikkake Group (尻懸)

Shape ——————— Late Kamakura period shape. Refer 14| Late Kamakura SwordHamon–Mainly Nie (nie-hon’i).  Medium frayed suguha, mixed with small irregular and Gunome (half-circle).  Double-lined, brush stroke-like pattern.  Small Inazuma, KinsujiBoshi ——————Yakizume, Hakikake (swept trace like) and Ko-maru ( small round)    Ji-hada —————— Small burl mixed with Masame.  Shikkake group sometimes shows Shikkake-hada, which is, that the ha side shows Masame and mune side shows burl.

Tegai Group ( 手掻 )

Shape ——— Early Kamakura shape and thick kasane (body).  High ShinogiKoshizori. Hamon ————————- Narrow tempered line with medium suguha hotsure (frayed suguha). Mainly Nie.  Double tempered line. Inazuma, Kinsuji shows.                              Boshi ———————————————–Yakizume (no turn back), Kaen (flame like).      Ji-Hada ————————————————- Fine burl mixed with Masame.

51 Kanenaga photo Yamato51 Kanenaga ilustration Yamato

Tegai Kanenaga of Yamato.  From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted).  The illustration shows Notare (wave-like hamon) and Suguha hotsure (frayed Suguha) and Kinsuji.

Below is my Yamato sword.  I obtained this sword at an annual San Francisco swords show a few years back.

Characteristic:  Munei (cut short and no signature).  Yamato Den, Tegai-ha (Yamato school Tegai group).  Length is 2 shaku 2 sun 8 &1/2 bu (27&1/4 inches).  Very small Kissaki and funnbari.

My Yamato sword

The entire view of the sword and Kantei-sho (NBTHK Certification).  It is ranked as “Tokubetsu Hozon Token”.

My Yamato sword 5

My Yamato sword 4

My Yamato sword.jpg 2

On Hamon, Sunagashi, Niju-ba shows very faintly.   I could not take a good photo of boshi.  But it is Yakizume like.  JiHada is Itame with faint Masame, almost Nashiji-Hada (possibly because of my eyes).  Nie-hon’i. 

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

This chapter is a detailed part of chapter 14| Late Kamakura Period Sword.  Please read chapter 15 before reading this section.

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline

                                     The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section.

14 Ikubi kissaki Damadge

In Chapter 14| Late Kamakura Period Sword (鎌倉後期), the Ikubi-kissaki sword was explained.  The above illustration shows a flaw 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 after the repair, hi does not go higher than 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 Kissaki.  This is definitely 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 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 the Bizen area.  They are 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 drawing above, Kinsuji, Inazuma is shown inside the hamon.  The clear 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 a sword by a swordsmith of Yoshioka Ichimonji group (吉岡一文字).  Kissaki is also like the one of Masamune.  It is longer than the previous Ikubi-kissaki or Ko-gissaki.  This is Chu-gissakiKissaki like this one is one of the important points 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 

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 name by analyzing the characteristic of the sword without seeing the MeiMei may have been gone if it was shortened or never inscribed.

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

47|Part 2 of —– 12|Middle Kamakura Period Tanto 鎌倉中期短刀

This chapter is a datiled part of chapter of 12| Tanto ( 短刀) Middle Kamakura Period  Please read Chapter 12 before reading this section.

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

Chapter 12 Kamakura Period Tanto described that the shape of a tanto is called Takenoko-zori had appeared during the middle Kamakura period.  This style of tanto curves inward a little at the tip.  The drawing below may be a little exaggerated to show the curve.  The real Takenoko-zori curve is not so obvious.  Maybe a few millimeters inward.  Usually, the length of the Tanto is approximately 12 inches or less.  Tantos are described as follows; a tanto of approx. 10 inches is called Jyosun tanto (定寸短刀), longer than 10 inches is Sun-nobi tanto (寸延び短刀 ), and less than 10 inches is called Sun-zumari tanto (寸詰短刀).

Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延び)      >      Jyosun Tanto (定寸)      >      sun-zumari Tanto (寸詰り)(longer than 10 inches)           (approx. 10 inches)                (less than 10 inches)

13 Tanto drawing Mid Kamakur

13 «Part 2» Tanto photo

Tanto by Shintogo Kunimitsu (新藤五国光).  This style is called Kanmuri -otoshi (冠落し), the Mune side (opposite side of cutting edge) is shaved off.  The length is approximately 10 inches.  Woodgrain surface, Nie on Ji (refer to 3 |Names of Parts).  Very finely forged.  Hamon is medium Suguha (straight).  Boshi is Ko-maru (small round).  Because of the Kanmuri-otoshi style, it may not be easy to see the Takenoko-zori, the mune side bend inward very slightly.  Among the tanto producers, Shintogo Kunimitsu is considered the top Tanto Maker.

13 «Part 2»Tanto photo with Saya

Above photo is also by Shintogo Kunimitsu (新藤五国光) with Saya.  Saya is the scabbard.  The handle of the scabbard (white part) is made with sharkskin.  Both photos are from Sano Museum Catalog.  Permission granted.

46|Part 2 of –11 Ikubi Kissaki (continued from Chapter 45)

This chapter is a detailed part of 11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先) and continued from the previous 45|Part 2 of —- 11|Ikubi Kissaki(猪首切先.  Please read Chapter 11 and Chapter 45 before reading this section.

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline                    
                       The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.

Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗)

Another swordsmith that needs to be mentioned in this section is Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗).  In the middle Kamakura period, the Hojo clan invited top swordsmiths to the Kamakura area.  Awataguchi Kunitsuna (粟田口国綱) from Yamashiro of Kyoto, Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) from Bizen area, Bizen Kunimune (備前国宗 ) from Bizen area moved to Kamakura with his circle of people.  Those three groups started the Soshu Den (相州伝).

Sugata (shape)  —– Ikubi Kissaki style.  Sometimes Chu-gissaki.    Thick body.  Narrow Shinogi width.  Koshi-zori

Horimono (Engravings)  —– Often narrow Bo-hi (single groove)

Hamon (Tempered line) —– O-choji Midare (large clove irregular) with Ashi.  Or Ko-Choji Midare (small clove irregular) with AshiNioi base with Ji-nie (Nie in the Hada area).  Some Hamon is squarish with less Kubire (less narrow at the bottom of the clove).  Hajimi (刃染み rough surface) may show.  Often the Kunimure swords are as follows; Lower part shows Choji, the upper part shows less work without Ashi. 

12 «Part 2» 国宗刃紋 佐野

Kunimune Squarish Kawazuko Choji (tadpole and clove-like)Hamon                                                                                  (Sano Museum Catalog, Permission granted)

Boshi  —– Small irregular.  Yakizume or short turn back.

Ji-hada —–Woodgrain.  Fine Ji-hada with some Ji-nie (Nie inside Ji-hada).  Midare Utsuri (irregular shadow) shows.  A few Hajimi (rough surface).

12 «Part 2» 国宗  

Above photo is Kunimune   (国宗 Sano Museum Catalog, permission granted)  Even though Kunimune is famous for Ikubi Kissaki,  and this is the chapter for Ikubi Kissaki, this one is Chu-Gissaki.

12 (second part 2) 照国神社

Above photo is a picture from the official site of Terukuni Shrine in Kyushu.  You can go the site by clicking,  http://terukunijinja.pkit.com/page222400.html

The above photo is the National treasure Kunimune of the Terukuni Jinja Shrine in Kagoshima prefecture.  This Kunimune sword was lost after WWII.  This is the sword Dr. Compton, the chairman of the Board of Miles Laboratory in Elkhart Indiana, found in an antique store in Atlanta.  I mentioned Dr. Compton in 33| Background.  When he saw this sword, he realized this is not just an ordinary sword.  He bought it and inquired to the Nihon Bijutu Token Hozon Kyokai (Sword museum) in Tokyo.  It turned out to be the famous missing National treasure of Kunimune from Terukuni Jinja ShrineHe returned the sword to Terukuni Jinja without compensation in 1963.  My father became a good friend with him around this time through Dr. Homma and Dr. Sato (both were leading sword experts).  Later, Dr. Compton asked Dr. Honma and my father to examine his swords which he kept in his house (he had about 400 swords) and swords of New York Met, Philadelphia Museum, and the Boston Museum.  Father wrote about this trip and swords he examined in those museums and published a book in 1965; the title is “Katana Angya (刀行脚)”.  For Dr. Compton and my father, around this time must be the best time of their life.  The business for both of them was doing good and could spend time on their interest and having fun.  It was the best time of me too.

One time while I was visiting Compton’s house, he showed me his swords in his basement for hours almost all day.  His house was huge and the basement he built as his study room was with fire prevention system and correct lighting for viewing swords.   It was functionally correct as a storage place for his many different art objects.  Then his wife, Phoebe said to him that he cannot keep a young girl (I was a college student) in the basement all day long.  He agreed and then he took me to his cornfield to pick some corns for dinner.  Basement to a cornfield, not much improvement?  So his wife Phoebe decided to take me shopping and lunch in Chicago.  Good idea,  but it is too far.   The distance between Elkhart and Chicago is about two hours by driving a car then, too far just for shopping and lunch.  To my surprise, we took their company’s helicopter and landed on the rooftop of the department store then do the shopping and lunch came back  the same way.

Miles Lab. and a well-known Japanese large pharmaceutical company had a business tie-up then.  Dr. Compton used to come to Japan quite often, officially for business purposes.  But whenever he came to Japan he used to spend days with sword people and I used to follow my father.  One of the female workers of this pharmaceutical company, her job description was to translate the sword book into English.  My parents’ house was filled with Miles products.  Miles Lab. had a big research institute in Elkhart Indiana.  I visited there several times.  One day I was sitting with Dr. Compton in his office, looking into the sword book with our head together.  That day, a movie actor John Forsythe was visiting the research lab.  He was the host of the TV program the Miles Lab was sponsoring.  All the female employees were making a big fuss over him.  Then he came into Compton’s room to greet him thinking the chairman must be sitting in his big chair at his desk looking like a chairman.  But he saw Compton looking into the sword book with his head against my head.  The appearance of Dr. Compton was just like any chairman of the board of a big company one can imagine, and I was a Japanese college student looking like a college student.   John Forsythe showed a strange expression on his face that he did not know what to think.

 

28|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (part B 主要7刀匠地)

29 Shinto Timeline
   The red circle indicates the subject of this chapter

64Map with number with 8

3Musashi ( 武蔵 ) in Edo ( 江戸 )

The swords made in the Musashi area, katana and wakizashi, have a shallow sori (curvature).  Often the width of the upper part of the body tends to be narrow.  Usually, the hamon starts with a small irregular pattern, gradually becomes a bigger irregular, then a few inches under the yokote line, it becomes a small irregular again.  The boshi is usually Komaru-boshi.  The Ji-hada is somewhat rough.   Masame-hada shows on Shinogi-ji.

Well-known swordsmiths in Musashi area —- Nagasone Okisato Nyudo Kotetsu (長曽根興里入道虎徹), Noda Hannkei (野田繁慶).

img070

Nagasone Okisato Nyudo Kotetsu (長曽根興里入道虎徹) Once owned by my father.

  1. Echizen ( 越前 ) and 5. Kaga (加賀 )

Many swordsmiths from Mino (美濃) area moved to Echizen and Kaga area.  Therefore, the sword made in this area is called Echizen- seki, and Kaga-seki.  Refer to 23|Sengoku Period (戦国) Sword.  The style of Echizen Yasutsugu (越前康継) is similar to the one of Mino Den.

Well-known swordsmith in Echizen ————————-Echizen Yasutsugu (越前康継 )

  1. Hizen (肥前)

Both katana and wakizashi in Hizen have a well-balanced shape. Hizen area tends to make swords with Chu-suguha-hotsure (a medium-width straight hamon that looks like frayed fabric.) with fine nie (沸).  The boshi has a regular clean line with uniform width tempered line, as shown in the illustration below.  If you see a shinto sword which has Chu-suguha hamon and a boshi that looks like the one below, it is often made by Hizen Tadayoshi (肥前忠吉).  Very fine Ji-hada (surface), sometimes called Nukame-hada.

29 Hizen Tadayoshi Boshi

Well-known swordsmith in Hizen ———————————— Hizen Tadayoshi ( 肥前忠吉)

  1. Satsuma (薩摩 )

The swords made in Satsuma have a solid look for both katana and wakizashiKissaki (the top pointed area) is a little stretched.  Yakidashi (a few inches above machi ) shows small irregular hamonHamon is O-midare with coarse nie called Ara-nie.  The Ara-nie forms Togari-ba (pointed pattern, see the drawing below)One of the characteristics of this region is Satsuma-nie.  That is, the Ara-nie around hamon continues into and blends into the Ji-hada area. Therefore the border of Ha-nie and Ji-nie is unclear.  Inside the hamon, sometimes shows a thick line shaped like lightning.  This line is called Satsuma-no-imozuru (sweet potato vine)This is the most prominent feature of the Satsuma sword.  Boshi has a narrow-tempered line with a small irregular pattern.  This is called Satsuma-boshi.  On the Ji-hada surface, a long dark line like chikei appears.  This is called Satsuma-gane (薩摩金).

29 Satsuma Togari-ba

Well-known swordsmiths in Satsuma ———————-  Izunokami Masafusa (伊豆守正房) Ichinohira Yasuyo (一平安代)  Mondonosho Masakiyo (主水正正清)

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.

19 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀)

53-red-timeline-nanboku-cho

The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this section

During the Nanboku-Cho Period, a type of Tanto called Hirazukuri-Kowakizashi-Sunnobi-Tanto was made.  Hirazukuri means a flat sword without the Yokote line and without Shinogi.  Ko-Wakizashi means a shorter sword.  Sun-Nobi Tanto means longer than standardThis is also called Enbun Jyoji Kowakizashi Tanto.  It is called this way because the majority of this type Tanto was forged around Enbun, Jyoji Imperial era.  In Japan, a new imperial period starts when a new emperor ascends to the throne.  The Enbun era was from 1356 to 1361, and the Jyoji period was from 1362 to 1368.

20 Enbun Jyoji Kowakizashi Tanto

Shape (Sugata 姿) ——- The length of a standard size tanto is approx. one shaku.   Shaku is an old Japanese measurement unit for length and, one shaku is very close to 1 foot.

8.5 sun (the sun is another old Japanese measurement unit for length) is approximately 10 inches.  This is the standard size tanto called Josun Tanto.  Anything longer than Josun Tanto is called Sun-nobi Tanto.  Anything shorter than Josun is called Sun-zumari Tanto.

Most of the Nanboku-cho tantos are longer than Josun Tanto,  approximately 1 foot 2 inches long.  Therefore they are called Hirazukuri Ko-wakizashi Sun-nobi Tanto.

Saki-zori (curved outward at the top.  See the illustration above).  Wide width and thin body.  Fukura Kareru (no Fukura means less arc).  Shin-no-mune.  See the drawing below.

20 Fukura           20 Shin-no-Mune

Hi, Horimono (Goove and engraving , 彫刻) —– A groove or grooves on the mune side.  Bonji (Sanscrit, described in Chapter 16 Late Kamakura Period  (Early Soshu-Den Tanto 鎌倉末短刀)Koshi-bi (Short groove),  Tumetuki Ken, Tokko-tsuki Ken (see below) appear.  Ken (dagger) is curved widely and deeply in the upper part and shallower and narrower in the lower part.  This is called Soshu-Bori (Soshu carving).

20 Tokko, tume Ken

Hamon (Tempered line) —– The narrowly tempered at the lower part gradually becomes wider toward the top.  Then a similar wide hamon goes into the Boshi area.  Hamon in the kissaki area is Kaeri-fukashi (turn back deep).  See the illustration below shows.  Coarse Nie. O-midare (large irregular hamon pattern).

20 Hitatsura
From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Jihada —– Loose wood grain pattern called Itame.  Yubashiri (discussed in  17 Yubashiri, Chikei.jpg), Tobiyaki (Irregular patches of tempered metal) appears.  Crowded (busy) Tobiyaki is called Hitatsura (illustration above).

Nakago (Tang) —-—- Short Tanago-bara.  Tanago-bara means the shape of the belly of a Japanese fish Tanago (bitterling).20 Tanago Bara

Sword-smiths during Nanboku-Cho Period Soshu Den(school)

Soshu Den ———————————————————-Hiromitu( 広光) Akihiro (秋広) Yamashiro Den ————————————————–Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重)   Bizen Den ——————————————————— Kanemitu (兼光) Chogi (長義 )

20 Hiromitu (Sano Museum)

18| Nanboku-Cho Period Sword (南北朝太刀) (North and South Dynasty Sword)

0-timeline - size 24 Nanboku-cho

                           The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

During the Nanboku-Cho period, Samurais demanded large, elaborate, and impressive, yet practical sword.  The Soshu-Den style sword in Nanbochi-Cho time was just that.  This type was the most popular style then.  The Nanboku-Cho period was the height of the Soshu Den.  Many swordsmiths moved from other provinces to the Kamakura area and forged the Soshu-Den style swords.   Other schools and regions outside the Kamakura area also made the SoshuDen style swords in their own places.

19 Nanboku-cho Sword style

Sugata (姿: Shape)———-The original length of swords was 3, 4, or 5 feet long, but shortened to approximately two and a half feet long at a later time.  A significantly shortened blade is called O-Suriage.

The Nanboku-Cho style sword has a shallow Kyo-zori (also called Torii-zori).  Refer Chapter 5 Heian Period Sword.  The highest curvature comes around the middle of the body: a wide-body, high Shinogi, narrow Shinogi-Ji.  Refer to Chapter 3, Names of parts.   The thin Kasane (Kasane is the body) is a distinctive feature for the Nanboku-cho style.  High Gyo-no-mune or Shin-no-mune, sometimes Maru-Mune (round back).

19 Nanboku-cho 3 kinds Mune

Hi (樋: groove) and Horimono (彫刻: engraving) —  Often, a single hi (Bo-hi), double hi, Suken (dagger), Bonji (Sanscrit), Dragon are engraved on the Shinogi-Ji area.  Refer to Chapter 3 Names of  parts

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji

Hamon (刃: Tempered line) —- The lower part of the body shows a narrow tempered line; gradually, the tempered line becomes a wider and showy.  Course Nie.                              O-midare (large irregular hamon), Notare-midare (wavy irregular hamon), Gunome-midare (a mix of repeated half-circular and irregular hamon).  Inazuma, Kinsuji (refer to Chapter 14 Late Kamakura Period Sword) also sometimes appears.

19 Hamon Notare 319 Mamon choji gunome19 Hitatsura Hamon Hiromitsu

*From Sano Museum Catalogue ( Permission granted).

Jihada (地肌: Area between shinogi and tempered line)  Refer to Chapter 3 Names of parts——Woodgrain pattern (Itame 板目). Sometimes Tobiyaki (a patchy tempered spots) appears on jihada.

 

Kissaki (切っ先) and Boshi (Tempered line at Kissaki area) —– O-Kissaki (long and large kissaki). Fukura kareru (less arc).  Midare-komi (body and boshi have a similar tempered line), with kaeri fukashi (hamon deeply turns back), sometimes Hitatsura (entirely tempered).  See the above illustration.

Sword-smiths during Nanboku-Cho Period Soshu Den (school)

From Soshu———————————————————Hiromitsu (広光)  Akihiro (秋広)  From Yamashiro ————————————————–Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重)  From Bizen (called So-den Bizen)————-Chogi (長儀 )group  Kanemitsu (兼光 ) group  From Chikuzen —————————————————————-Samoji (左文字 ) group

19 Chogi photo from Sano book

The distinctive characteristics of the Nanboku-Cho period sword on the photo above      

  • The engraving trace of Suken on the nakago indicates this area was once a part of the main body.
  • Large and Long kissak