51| Part 2 of —– 16 The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)

This chapter is the continued part of Chapter 16|The Revival of Yamato Den.   Please read chapter 16 before reading this section.

17 red-timeline late Kamakura

51 Japan map Yamato

At the end of the Kamakura period, in the Yamato area, powerful temples expanded their territories.  See the map above for the location of the Yamato area.  The big temples used have a political and military power to control the area then, especially, the one with large territories.   Those big territories were called Shoen (荘園).  The demand for the swords increased by warrior monks called Sohei (僧兵).  That started the revival of the Yamato school.  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 Taima-Ji temple (当麻寺).  Shikkake group (尻懸) and Hosho group (保昌) were also Yamato Den sword group, as well.  Those five groups are called Yamato Goha  (Yamato five groups).

General Characteristic of Yamato Den

Yamato Den (大和伝) sword always shows Masame (柾目: straight grain-like) on somewhere on Ji-Hada, Jigane or Hamon.   Please refer to 16|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 shows a lesser amount.  Because of that, Hamon tends to show Sunagashi (brush stroke-like) or a double line like Hamon called Nijyu-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.   Shows Inazuma, Kinsuji, especially under Yokote line Inazuma appears.

Boshi ————– Often Yakizume.  Refer Yakizume on 16|The Revival of Yamato Den

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 15|Late Kamakura Period Sword

Hamon —————— Mainly Nie (we say Nie-honi).  Medium suguha frayed, mixed with small irregular and Gunome (half-circle).  Double-lined, brush stroke-like pattern.  Small Inazuma, Kinsuji.

Boshi ———– Yakizume, Hakikake (trace made by broom) and Ko-maru ( small round)

Ji-Hada ——— Small burl mixed with Masame.  Shikkake group sometimes shows Shikkake Hada.  That is,  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.

Example of Kantei process how to figure out the maker of the sword using the above photo 

  • To determine Jidai(time) by Sugata (shape) ———-  Heian (possible), Early Kamakura (possible),   Middle Kamakura (possible) Late Kamakura (possible), Nanboku-Cho (unlikely), Muromachi (possibly No), Sengoku (possibly No), Shin-To (possibly No), Shinshin-To (No)
  • To judge from Hamon(actual view shows Masame)—–  Yamashiro- Den (possible),  Yamato-Den (very possible),  Bizen- Den (unlikely but possible) Soshu-Den (unlikely but possible),  Mino- Den (No)
  • From Jihada (actual view shows a lot of Nie) —–Yamashiro Den (possible), Yamato-Den(very possible),  Soshu-Den (unlikely but possible),  Bizen-Den (unlikely ),  Mino-Den (unlikely)

By analyzing the above information, you conclude and come up with the name of the swordsmith.  In actual Kantei, the sword is right in front of you, therefore, more noticeable checkpoints are there.   Finally, guess and come up with the name.
























50|Part 2 of — 15|Late Kamakura Period Sword

This chapter is a detailed part of chapter 15| 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 History (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.

49| Part 2 of –14|Late Kamakura Period, Genko (鎌倉後期歴史)

This is the detailed part of chapter 14|Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期.  Please read chapter 14 before reading this section.

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline

                                      The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section.

Genko (元寇):  Mongolian Invasion 

In Chapter 14, the Mongolian invasion was described simply.  Here is the more detailed description.  The Mongol Empire was a vast empire spread between present Mongol areas to Eastern Europe from 13 to 14 centuries.  Grandson of Genghis Kahn, Kublai Kahn sent several official letters to Japan demanding Japan to become a dependency state of the Mongol Empire (元: Yuan) and demanded to send a tribute to them.   They threatened Japan that they would invade if Japan did not accept their demand.  Hojo Tokimune (北条時宗 ) who was in power in Kamakura Bakufu (government) at the time, refused and ignored the letters many times.  That led to the two-time invasions by the Mongol Empire.  It is often said that the strong typhoon hit Japan on each occasion and Mongols were chased away by these two big typhoons.  This was correct but the real story was a lot more to it.

Bunei-no-eki (文永の役  )  1274

The first Mongolian invasion was called Bunei-no-eki.  In the early part of October 1274, 40,000 Mongol troops*¹ (Mongol, Han people, and Korean) departed from the Korean peninsula on 900*² large and small ships and headed to Japan.  After they arrived on the Tsushima island (対馬 ), Mongol troop burnt villages and killed many people including the island people.  Village people were captured and sent to the top officials of the Mongols as their slaves.  It was a very sad scene.  The Mongols moved to Iki island (壱岐の島), to Hizen shore (肥前 ),  to Hirato island (平戸 ), to Taka-Shima (鷹島 ), then to Hakata bay (博多).   At each place, the disastrous sad scene was the same as everywhere.   At each battlefield, Japanese soldiers and villagers were killed in large numbers.  The Kamakura Bukufu (government) sent a large number of samurai troops to the battlefield.  The Japanese troops sometimes won and pushed the Mongolians back, but mostly the Japanese sides lost.  Many wives and children of the Japanese side were captured.  Eventually, even no soldiers dared to fight against the Mongols.  Mongols arrows were short and not so powerful, but they put on the poison at the tip, and they shoot the arrows all together at one time like rain.  Also, this is the first time the Japanese saw the firearms.  The loud sound of the explosion made the horses and samurai frightened.

Japanese troops had to retreat and the situation was really bad for the Japanese.  But one morning, a big surprise to the Japanese!  All the ships disappeared from the shore, they were all gone on the morning of October 21st (today’s calendar, Nov 19th).   All Mongols disappeared from the shore of Hakata.  What happened was Mongols decided to quit the fight and went back to their country.  The reason was; for Mongols, even though they were winning, they also lost many soldiers and lost one of the major key persons in the army.  The Mongols realized that no matter how much Mongols won, the Japanese kept coming more and more from everywhere.  Also, the Mongols realized that they could not expect reinforcements from their country across the ocean.  Their stocks of weapons were getting low.  It was the Mongols decision to go back.  Here was a twist.  Around the end of October (November by today’s calendar), the sea between Hakata (where Mongols were stationed) and Korea was a very dangerous sea because of the bad weather.  Only a clear daytime of the south wind day is possible to sail over this sea.  The name of the sea where the Mongol soldiers had to sail back is called Genkai Nada (玄界灘), very famous for the rough sea.  For some reason, the Mongols decided to head back during the night.  That was a mistake.  They may have caught a moment of the south wind, but it did not last long.  As a result, they encountered the usual severe rainstorm.  Many ships hit against each other, against the cliff, ships capsized, people fell into the ocean, and several hundred broken ships were found on the Japan shore.  The Mongol invasion ended here.  This is called Bunei-no-eki (文永の役 ).  Mongols lost a large number of people, ships, soldiers, food, weapons.  Actually, it was Korea who lost a great deal,  they were forced to supply all of the people, food, weapons, etc. by the Mongols.  After this war, in Korea, only old men and children were left to work on the farm, on top of it, they had a drought and long rain.

Koan-no-eki (弘安の役) 1281

The second Mongolian invasion is called Koan-no-eki in 1281.  After the first attempt to invade Japan, Kublai Khan kept sending messengers to Japan to demand to become a dependency state.  The Kamakura Bakufu kept ignoring and killed messengers.  Kublai Kahn decided to attack Japan again in 1281.  The top advisers of Kublai Kahn tried to convince him not to do it because the ocean is too dangerous, the country is small, the place is too far, and nothing to gain even if the Mongols win.  But Kublai Kahn still insisted to attack.  This time they came in two groups.  One was the East-route troop, the number was 40,000*¹ soldiers on 900 ships, and the other was South-route troop, the number was 100,000*¹ soldiers on 3,500 ships.  This is the largest scale forces in history.  They planned to depart from each one’s port and supposed  to join on the Iki-no-shima island (壱岐の島) by June 15th, then work together.  The East-route troop arrived there before the South-route troop came.  Instead of waiting for the South-route troop to arrive, the East-route troop started to attack the Hakata Bay (博多) on their own.  But since the previous invasion of the Binei-no-eki, Japan already prepared to fight and built a 20 kilometer long stone wall.  This stone wall was 3 meters high and 2 meters thick.  The East-route troop had to give up to land on Japan from Hakata and moved to Shiga-no-shima (志賀島).  At this place, the fight between Mongols and Japan was even battle but at the end, East-route troop lost and retreated to the Iki-no-shima and decided to wait for the South-route troop to arrive.  The South troop never came there, instead, they changed their plan.  On top of that, while they were waiting for the South-route troop to arrive, they lost over 3,000 men over the epidemic.  With difficulty like this, some suggested going back home but they concluded to wait for the South-rout troop to arrive as long as the food last.  Meantime, the South-route troop changed their plan and decided to go to Hirato-Shima (平戸島) where it is closer to Dazaifu (太宰府).  Dazaifu is the final and most important place they wanted to attack.   Later, the East-route troop found out the South-route troop went to Hirato- Shima.   Finally, two troops joined at Hirato-shima, and each group was stationed at a nearby island called Takashima (鷹島).  The problem was that this island had very high tide and low tide, the ships were not easily maneuvered.

Meantime, 60,000 Japanese men were marching toward the place where the Mongols were stationed.   Before Japanese soldiers arrived to fight against the Mongols, a big typhoon came on July 30th, and Mongols were caught in a big typhoon, ships hitting each other,  people fell from the ships and drowned and the majority of ships sank.   July 30th was about three months after the East- route troop left Mongol in early May.  That means they were on the ocean and the shore of Japan for about three months or so.  Around the north Kyushu area (北九州), usually, a typhoon comes average 3.2 times between July to September.   Mongols were on the ocean and the shorelines of Japan for approximately three months; they were bound to be hit by a typhoon soon or later.

The Mongol Empire lost 2/3 of its naval forces at Koan-no-eki.   Even after the Mongols failed two attempts to attack Japan, Kublai Khan still insisted to attack Japan the third time no matter how much his advisers reasoned him not to.  In the end, the plan was delayed and terminated because of many rebellions, upheavals, and no lumber was left to build ships.  Soon, Kublai died in 1294. The record book of Mongols and Korean indicated that Mongols officials gave a high evaluation toward Japanese swords.  Some even say one of the reasons it was not easy to defeat Japan was because of the long sharp swords.  The experience of the Mongolian invasion changed Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先) sword to a new Soshu-Den (相州伝) style sword.

49 Photo of part 2 of 14 Late Kamakura

The stone wall scene.  Photo from Wikipedia.  Public Domain

*¹ Number of soldiers by https://kotobank.jp/word/元寇-60419 .  Several different reference sources have a slightly different number of soldiers and ships, but they are similar numbers.

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.



42| Part 2 of —– 8 Middle Kamakura Period (Yamashiro Den) 鎌倉中期山城伝

This chapter is the detailed part of Chapter 8| Middle Kamakura Period –Yamashiro Den(鎌倉中期山城伝).   Please read Chapter 9 before reading this chapter.

13 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline

                          The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

During the Middle Kamakura period, there were three main groups among the Yamashiro Den.  They are Ayano-koji (綾小路) group, Awataguchi (粟田口) group, and Rai (来) group.

When we refer to a certain group, we say, “xxx haxxx ippa   “, or  “xxx ichimon “.  We use those three words interchangeably.  They all basically mean a “group”.  For example, we say Ayano-koji Ippa, means Ayano-koji group.

Ayano-Koji Ippa (綾小路 )

Sugata (shape) ————- In general, gentle or graceful Kyo-zori shape.  The difference between the width of the yokote line and machi is not much.  The sword is slender yet thick.  Small Kissaki                                                                                                           

Hi and Engraving ——————— Bohi (one groove) or Futasuji-hi (double groove)   

Hamon ———————- Nie base with Ko-choji (small clove shape) and Ko-midare (small irregular).  Small inazuma (lightning like line) and Kinzuji (golden streak) may show.  Double Ko-choji (two Ko-choji side by side) may appears.                                     

Boshi (tip area) ——————Ko-maru (small round), Yakizume (refer to the illustration below), and Kaen (flame like pattern)                                           

Ji-hada ———- Small wood grain with a little Masame (straight grain)  Ji-nie shows.   

Nakago (tang) ———- Long, slighlyt fat feeling

Names of Ayano-Koji group ——Ayano-koji Sadatoshi (綾小路定利) Sadanori (定則)

Awataguchi Ichimon (粟田口)

Many swordsmiths of Awataguchi Ichimon (group) received the honor of the Goban Kaji (meaning top swordsmith) from Gotoba Joko (Emperor Gotoba 後鳥羽上皇 ).  In general, their typical characteristic is as follows.

Sugata (Shape) ——————————————– Elegant shape Torii-zori (or Kyo-zori)

Hi and Engraving ————– The tip of Hi are all the way up and fill in the Ko-shinogi.  The end of the Hi can be Maru-dome (the end is round), Kakudome (the end is square) or –kakinagashi

9 «part 2» 大小丸,焼詰,丸角止, 掻流     

Maru-dome (rounded end)             Kaku-dome (square)                Kakinagashi

Hamon ————— The slightly wider tempered line at the bottom then becomes narrow tempered line at the top.  Nie base (this is called Nie-hon’i).  Straight tempered line mixed with Ko-choji (small clove) or wide straight line mixed with choji.  Awataguchi-nie appears.  Awataguchi-nie means fine, deep and sharp shiny nie around tempered line area.   Fine inazuma (lightning-like line) and kinsuji (golden streak) appears.

Boshi (tip area) ————- Ko-maru (small round)  or O-maru (large round) both return is sharrow.  Yakizume, Nie Kuzure, and Kaen (flame).


Yakizume      O-maru     Ko-maru         Yakikuzure

Ji-hada ————- Fine Ko-mokume(wood swirls) with Ji-nie.  Ji-nie is nie on Ji-hada. Yubashiri, Chikei appears.                                                                                                     

Nakago ——————— Often two letter inscription

Names of Awataguchi group ————– Awataguchi Kunitomo (粟田口国友 ),  Hisakuni (久国), Kuniyasu (国安),  Kuniyasu (国安), Kunikiyo (国清)

 Rai Ha ()

A general characteristic of Rai group is as follows.  However, each swordsmith has own characteristics.

Sugata (shape) ————— Graceful with dignity.  Thick body.  Rai made Ikubi Kissaki.   

Hi and Engravings ————– Wide and shallow Hi.                                                       

Hamon —————— Nie base.  Suguha (straight).  Wide suguha with ko-midare (small irregular) and choji (clove).  Sometimes large choji at the lower part and narrow suguha at the top.  Inazuma and Kinsuji appears around yokote area.

Boshi ———————-  Komaru, Yakizume (refer to the illustration above)

Ji-hada ———— Finely forged Itame (small wood grain) sometimes mixed with masame (parallel grain).  Fine nie.  Rai group sporadically shows Yowai Tetsu (weak surface) which may be a core iron.

Names of Rai Ha —  Rai Kuniyuki (来国行),  Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊) or Niji Kunitoshi (二字国俊),  Ryokai (了戒 )

Rai Kunitoshi is said to be Rai Kuniyuki’s son.  Ryokai is said to be Rai Kunitoshi ‘s son.


                  Rai Kuniyuki (来国行)Once family-owned, photo taken by my father with his  writing.    
9 «part 2» Rai Kuniyuki photo.jpg       Rai Kuniyuki hamon
Rai Kuniyuki (来国行)Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館)  (permission granted)

14| Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期元寇)

14 Late Kamakura Period timeline

                         The circle represents the time we are discussing in this section

GENKO 元寇  (1274 and 1281)

The grandson of Genghis Kahn, Khubilai Kahn attempted to invade Japan two times in 1274 and 1281.  Both times, a strong typhoon hit Japan.  Mongols sent to Japan a large number of soldiers with all kinds of supplies on their huge numbers of ships.  Those ships had to stay at a shore side by side and front and back very closely in the limited area of the shore of Kyushu.   When the strong wind came, ships were swayed, hit each other and capsized.  Many people fell, drowned and lost supplies in the water.  Even though Mongol soldiers landed and fought with the Japanese army, because of the typhoon and ships wrecking, they did not have much choice but to leave Japan.  As a result, Japan won.   Actually, Mongols had many superior weapons than the Japanese.  They had guns, the Japanese did not.  Their group fighting method was much more superior and effective than the Japanese individual fighting method.  This is the time the famous Japanese expression, “Kamikaze” (divine wind)  was created.

After the Mongolian invasion, the need for changing the style of the Ikubi Kissaki became obvious.  When swords were used in a war, the most frequently damaged area was a Kissaki area.  Japanese soldiers used mostly Ikubi Kissaki swords in this war.  The Ikubi Kissaki Tachi has a short Kissaki, therefore, when the damaged area of the Kissaki was polished down for repairing, the top part of the Yakiba (tempered area) disappeared and the Hi (groove) goes up too high in the Boshi area (top triangle-like area).  Short Ikubi Kissaki becomes even shorter, and Hi goes up too high into a Boshi area.  Aesthetically, it is not an appealing look, functionally does not work.  To compensate for this flaw, a new style began to appear in the latter part of the Kamakura period

14 Ikubi kissaki Damadge

During the latter part of the Kamakura period, the swordsmiths began to create a new style of swords to compensate for this fault.  Also, people’s enthusiasm that was raised by driving back Mongolian reflected on the appearance of swords.  Generally speaking, Hamon and the shape of the body became showy and stronger looking.

Kamakura became a very prosperous place under the power of the Hojo family.  A large number of swordsmiths moved to Kamakura from Bizen, Kyoto and other places during this time and created a new style.  This is the beginning of Soshu school (Soshu is the Kanagawa area now).  Many famous top swordsmiths appeared during this time.  One of the famous swordsmiths is Masamune.  Masamune’s tomb is in Honkaku-Ji temple that is about 5 or 6 minutes’ walk from the Kamakura train station.  while I was attending the sword study group of Mori Sensei(teacher), one of the students I studied with was the 24th generation of direct descendants of Masamune.  His last name is Yamamura, he still makes wonderful swords in Kamakura.  He also makes superb kitchen knives too.  The name of his shop is called “Masamune Kogei”, a short walk from the Kamakura train station.  To find his place, ask at the information center at the train station.

54 Yamamura 1 54 Honnkakuji 3         May 2019   Mr. Tsunahiro Yamamura and I                    Honkaku-Ji Temple

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.

7| Overview of the Kamakura Period Swords (1192-1333)

7 Kamakura timeline
The circle indicates  the time we are discussing in this section

Introduction Of The 5 Main Sword School (Den)

There are five main sword schools (Den).   They are Yamashiro Den (山城), Bizen Den (備前), Soshu Den (相州), Yamato Den (大和) and Mino Den (美濃).  During the Heian period, Yamashiro Den was the main school.  Also, there was a school called Ko-Bizen (means old Bizen) that is a part of Bezen Den but we treat them separately.   Their style was a little different than Bizen Den we see later.  They were somewhat close to Yamashiro Den.  During the Heian period, Yamashiro Den was the most active sword school.  Swordsmiths lived around the Kyoto area, the capital city of Japan then.  In the early Kamakura period, Yamashiro Den continued their style similar to the one during the Heian period.  Bizen Den appeared in the middle Kamakura period.  Soshu Den appeared in the late Kamakura period in the Kamakura area.  Mino school appeared Muromachi period

Early Kamakura Period (鎌倉) (1192 – 1218)

We divide the Kamakura period into 3 stages. early Kamakura, middle Kamakura, late Kamakura period.  In the early Kamakura period, the sword style is almost the same as the one during the Heian period, the previous time.   Yamashiro Den was the active sword school in the early part of the Kamakura period.

Middle Kamakura Period (1219 – 1277)

In the middle Kamakura period, we have three different styles to talk about. Yamashiro Den style, Bizen Den style, and Ikubi kissaki style (猪首切先) sword.  Ikubi Kissaki is a new style.  We say there are no mediocre swords among the Ikubi-Kissaki (猪首切先) swords.  As I described in the previous section, the Kamakura government (鎌倉幕府) had political and military power, yet the Emperor still existed in Kyoto(京都).  Emperor Gotoba raised an army and attacked the Kamakura government in order to regain the political power back. This war (1221) is called Jyokyu-no-Ran (承久の乱). The live experience from this war changed the shape of the sword to sturdier-looking shape, that is what we call Ikubi-kissaki style.

Late Kamakura Period (after Mongolian Invasion— (1274 and 1281)

In this section, adding to the Yamashiro Den and Bizen Den, Soshu Den started to appear.  After the Mongolian invasion (that is called Genko (元寇) in 1274 and 1281), a longer Kissaki and a longer in length and wider sword started to appear.  Soshu Den swordsmiths forged this type of swords.

Engravings on Sword

Carvings have three meanings in Ko-To time.  One is to reduce the weight of the sword.  They are Hi, Bohi (single groove), Gomabashi (wide, narrow, short or long grooves).  The second is for religious purposes.  For that reason, swordsmiths often carve the Buddhistic figures.  The third is for decoration.  In shin-To time, carvings became mainly decoration purposes.

8 Hi, Suken, Bonji                    8 gomabashi            8 Hi

Suken                       Bonji (sanskrit)                 Gomabashi                     Hi