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

This chapter is a 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 red 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, especially those with large territories, had political and military power to control the area at the end of the Kamakura period.  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 groups.  Those five groups are called Yamato Goha (Yamato five groups).

51 Japan map Yamato

General Characteristic of Yamato Den

Yamato Den (大和伝) sword always shows Masame (柾目: straight grain-like pattern) somewhere on Ji-hada, Jigane, or Hamon.   Refer to 15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活) for the general characteristic.  Masame is sometimes mixed with Mokume (burl like pattern) or Itame (wood-grain like).  Either way, Yamato Den shows Masame somewhere.  Some swords show Masame on the entire body, and some show less. Because of Masame, the Hamon tends to show Sunagashi (brush stroke-like pattern) 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 and Kinsuji, especially Inazuma appear under the Yokote line.
  • Boshi ————————- Often Yakizume.  Refer Yakizume on 15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活)
  • Ji-hada ——————– Small wood grain pattern and well-kneaded 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 Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀) 
  • Hamon ————————- Mainly Nie (we say Nie-hon’i).  Medium frayed Suguha, mixed with small irregular and Gunome (half-circle like pattern).  Double-lined, brush stroke-like Pattern may appear.  Small Inazuma and Kinsuji may show.      
  • Boshi ———————— Yakizume, Hakikake (bloom trace like pattern) and Ko-maru (small round)     
  • Ji-hada ———- Small burl mixed with Masame.  The Shikkake group sometimes shows Shikkake-hada, the Ha side shows Masame and the 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 and Kinsuji appears.                                                                 
  • 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 (called Oshigata) shows Notare (wave-like Hamon) and Suguha-hotsure (frayed Suguha) with kinsuji.

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

Characteristics:  Munei (shortened and no signature).  Yamato Den, Tegai-ha (Yamato school Tegai group).  Length is two shaku two sun eight &1/2 bu (27 1/4 inches): very small kissaki and funbari.

My Yamato sword

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

My Yamato sword 5

My Yamato sword 4

My Yamato sword.jpg 2

In Hamon, Sunagashi, Niju-ba shows very faintly.   My photo of Boshi is not good, but it is like Yakizume Jihada is Itame with Masame, almost Nashiji-hada (possibly because of my eyes).  Nie-hon’i.  Please ignore the cloth pattern underneath reflecting on the blade.

 

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

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

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

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

14 Ikubi kissaki Damadge

In Chapter 14| Late Kamakura Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀), the Ikubi-kissakui sword was explained.  The above illustration shows a flaw that was caused when the damaged area was repaired.  To compensate for this flaw, swordsmiths started a new sword style in the late Kamakura period.  They forged swords with a longer Kissaki and stopped the tip of Hi at a lower point than the Yokote line.   This way, if the Yokote line was lowered when it was repaired, the tip of Hi would stay lower than the 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 the Kissaki.  This is 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 KamakuraThey 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) from the Bizen area.  They were the origin of Soshu Den (相州伝)Eventually, Tosaburo Yukimitsu (藤三郎行光) and his famous son,  Masamune (正宗), appearedIn the drawing above, Kinsuji and Inazuma are shown inside the Hamon.  The shinning lines inside the Hamon are Inazuma and Kinsuji.  Inazuma and Kinsuji are a collection of Nie.  Masamune is famous for Inazuma and Kinsuji.  Masamune lived in Kamakura; his Hamon looks like ocean waves 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).  The Kissaki is also like the one of Masamune’s.  It is longer than the previous Ikubi-kissaki or Ko-gissaki.  This is Chu-gissaki.  The Kissaki like this is one of the crucial points to determine what period the sword was made.  The Hamon has Choji, Gunome, Togariba (pointed-tip), and 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’s name by analyzing the characteristic of the sword without seeing the Mei (inscribed swordsmith name). Mei may be gone if it was shortened.

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

47| Part 2 of –13 Late Kamakura Period: Genko (鎌倉末元寇)

This is a detailed part of chapter 13|Late Kamakura Period, Genko 鎌倉末元寇).  Please read chapter 13 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

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

Genko (元寇):  Mongolian Invasion 

13| Late Kamakura Period: Genko (鎌倉末元寇) described the Mongolian invasion simply.  Here is a more detailed description.  The Mongol Empire was a vast empire that spread between present Mongolia to Eastern Europe from the 13th to the 14th centuries.  The grandson of Genghis Kahn, Kublai Kahn, sent several official letters to Japan demanding Japan to become a dependent state of the Mongol Empire (元: Yuan), and ordered to send a tribute to them.  They threatened Japan that they would invade if Japan did not follow 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 pushed away by the two big typhoons.  This is correct, but the real story had a lot more to it.

Bun’ei-no-eki (文永の役)  1274

The first Mongolian invasion was called Bun’ei-no-eki.  In early October in 1274, Mongol troops (Mongols, Han people, and Koreans) of 40,000 men* departed from the Korean Peninsula on 900* large and small ships and headed to Japan.  After they arrived on Tsushima island (対馬), Mongol troops 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 Hirado island (平戸), to Taka island (鷹島), then to Hakata Bay (博多).   In each place, the disastrous sad scene was the same as everywhere.    On each battlefield, Japanese soldiers and villagers were killed in large numbers.  The Kamakura Bukufu sent a large number of Samurai troops to the battlefield.  The Japanese forces sometimes won and pushed the Mongols back, but mostly lost.  Many Japanese wives and children near the battleground were captured. 

Eventually, no soldiers dared to fight against the Mongols.  Mongols’ arrows were short and not so powerful, but they put the poison at the tip, and they shot the arrows all together at one time like rain.  Also, this was the first time when the Japanese saw firearms.  The loud sound of explosions frightened horses and Samurais.

Japanese troops had to retreat, and the situation was awful for the Japanese.  But one morning, there was a big surprise!  All the ships disappeared from the shore.  They were all gone on the morning of October 21st (on today’s calendar, November 19th).  All Mongols vanished from the shore of Hakata

What happened was that the Mongols decided to quit the fight and went back to their country.  The reason was that even though they were winning, they also lost many soldiers and one of the key person of the army.  The Mongols realized that no matter how much they 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.  The Mongols decided 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 very dangerous because of the bad weather.  Only a clear day with the south wind made it possible to sail over the 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 water.  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 a usual severe rainstorm.  Many ships hit against each other, against the cliff, capsized, and people fell into the ocean.  Several hundred broken ships were found on the shores of Japan. 

The Mongol invasion ended here.  This war is called Bun’ei-no-eki (文永の役).  The Mongols lost a large number of people, ships, soldiers, food, and weapons.  Actually, it was Korea that lost a great deal.  They were forced to supply people, food, weapons, etc., by the Mongols.  After the war, in Korea, only older men and children were left to work on the farm.  On top of it, they had a drought and prolonged rain.

Ko’an-no-eki (弘安の役) 1281

The second Mongolian invasion is called Ko’an-no-eki in 1281.  After the first attempt to invade Japan, Kublai Khan kept sending messengers to Japan to demand it to become Mongol’s dependent territory.  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 was too dangerous, the country was too small, the place was too far, and there would be nothing to gain even if they win.  But Kublai Kahn still insisted on attacking. 

This time they came in two groups.  One was the East-route troop with 40,000* soldiers on 900 ships, and the other was the South-route troop with 100,000* soldiers on 3,500 ships.  This was the enormous scale of forces in history.  They planned to depart from each designated port, and they planned to join on the Iki Island (壱岐の島) by June 15th, then work together.  The East-route troop arrived there before the South-route troop.  Instead of waiting for the South-route troop to come, the East-route troop started to attack Hakata Bay (博多) on their own.  But since the previous invasion of the Bun’ei-no-eki, Japan had 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 from Hakata and moved to Shika-no Shima Island (志賀島).  In this place, the fight between Mongols and Japan was even, but in the end, the East-route troop lost and retreated to Iki Island, and decided to wait for the South-route troop to arrive. 

The South-route troop never came. They had changed their plan.  On top of that, while the East-route troop was waiting for the South-route troop to arrive, they lost over 3,000 men over an epidemic.  Some suggested going back home with difficulty like this, but they concluded to wait for the South-route troop as long as their food would last. 

Meanwhile, the South-route troop decided to go to Hirado Island (平戸島), which was closer to Dazaifu (太宰府).  Dazaifu was the final and most important place they wanted to attack.   Later, the East-route troop found the South-route troop went to Hirado Island.  Finally, two forces joined on Hirado Island, and each group was stationed on the nearby island called Takashima Island(鷹島).  The problem was that since this island had very high tide and low tide, the ships were not easily maneuvered.

In the 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.  Their ships were hitting each other, and many sank.  People fell from the boats and drowned.

By this time, it had been about three months after the East-route troop left Mongol in early May.  That means they were on the ocean for about three months or so.  In the northern Kyushu area (九州), typhoons usually come, on average, 3.2 times between July and September.  The Mongols were on the ocean and Japan’s shorelines for about three months.  They were bound to be hit by a typhoon sooner or later.

The Mongol Empire lost 2/3 of its naval forces in the event of Ko’an-no-eki.   Even after the Mongols failed the two invasions, Kublai Khan still insisted on attacking Japan again, no matter how his advisers reasoned him not to.  In the end, the plan was delayed and terminated because of many rebellions and upheavals, and no lumber was left to build ships.  Soon later, Kublai died in 1294.  The historical record of Mongols indicated that Mongolian officials highly praised Japanese swords.  Some even say one of the reasons why it was not easy to defeat Japan was their long sharp swords.  The experience of the Mongolian invasion changed the Ikubi kissaki (猪首切先) sword to the new Soshu-Den (相州伝) style sword.  The next chapter describes a new style of sword, Soshu-Den swords.

49 Photo of part 2 of 14 Late KamakuraThe stone wall scene.  Photo from Wikipedia.  Public Domain

* 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.

42|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.

0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura

 
                         The red circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

The middle Kamakura period was the height of the Bizen Den.  In different regions other than Bizen, swords styles often reflected people’s preferences and politics in particular areas.  But the Bizen sword had its own style and was not affected much by those elements throughout the time.  The clients of Bizen swords came from all over the country.  Therefore, the Bizen swordsmiths created the swords liked by everybody. 

The general style of Bizen Den

  • In general, their style is likable by everybody.
  • The shape, the width of the blade, the thickness of the body, and the tempered line are a standard size or usual design, seldom out of the ordinary.
  • Nioi base
  • Soft feeling Ji-gane (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 were the main swordsmiths among the Fukuoka Ichomonji group (福岡一文字 ).  From this group, six swordsmiths including  Norimune and Sukemune, received the honor as the “Gobankaji” from Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽上皇 ).   I saw Fukuoka Ichimonji Muneyoshi (福岡一文字宗吉) at Mori Sensei’s class on June 25, 1972.  My note pointed out a lot of Utsuri (shadow) on the blade.

 Sugata (shape) ————– Graceful and classy shape.  Generally, well- proportioned shape.  The difference between the top width and bottom width is not much.  Sometimes stout-looking Kissaki like Ikubi-kissak (refer 11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)  appears.

Hi and Engraving ———-The tip of Hi may follow the Ko-shinogi line.  See below.  The end of Hi goes under Machi ending with square, or Kakinagashi  (refer to 41| Part 2 of —– 8 Middle Kamakura Period (Yamashiro Den) 鎌倉中期山城伝 )

44 hisaki agaru

Hamon  ———- Wide Ichimonji-choji tempered line.  It means the same width tempered line from the bottom to the top.  The same Hamon front and back.  O-choji-midare  (large clove-like pattern), Juka-choji (overwrapped-looking Choji).  Nie base.  Inazuma and/or Kinsuji appear.

Boshi ————– Same Hamon continues into the Boshi area and ends with Yakizume or turn slightly.  Sometimes O-maru.

Jihada ———– Fine and a soft look.  Itame (Woodgrain pattern).   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.

 

           

41| Part 2 of — 8 Middle Kamakura Period: Yamashiro Den 鎌倉中期山城伝

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

0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura

      The red 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 Kin-zuji (golden streak) may show.  Double Ko-choji (two Ko-choji side by side) may appears.                                     
  • Boshi (tempered line at 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 (hilt) ————————– Long, slightly fat feeling
  • Ayano-Koji  swordsmiths——Ayano-koji Sadatoshi (綾小路定利), Sadanori (定則)

Awataguchi Ichimon (粟田口)

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

  • Sugata (Shape) ——————————————– Elegant shape Torii-zori (or Kyo-zori)
  • Hi and Engraving ————– The tip of Hi comes 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 (tempered line at the tip area) ————- Ko-maru (small round)  or O-maru (large round).   The return is sharrow.  Yakizume, Nie Kuzure, and Kaen (flame)9-«part-2»-大小丸焼詰丸角止-掻流-1-e1547925390685.jpg

Yakizume      O-maru     Ko-maru         Yakikuzure

  • Ji-hada ————- Fine Ko-mokume(wood swirls) with Ji-nie. Nie on Ji-hada. Yubashiri, Chikei appears.                                                                                                     
  • Nakago ——————————– Often two letter inscription
  • Names of Awataguchi swordsmiths —– 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 Kin-suji 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.
  • Swordsmiths of Rai Ha —— Rai Kuniyuki (来国行), Ryokai (了戒 ) ,Kunitoshi (国俊)

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

img017

    Rai Kuniyuki (来国行)Once my family sword, 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)

13| Late Kamakura Period: Genko (鎌倉末元寇)

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

                       The circle represents the time we are discussing in this section

GENKO 元寇  (1274 and 1281)

The grandson of Genghis Kahn, Kublai Kahn, attempted to invade Japan twice in 1274 and 1281.  Both times, a strong typhoon hit Japan.  Mongols sent a large number of soldiers with all kinds of supplies on a huge number of ships to Japan.  Those ships had to stay side by side and front and back very close to each other in the limited area of Kyushu‘s shore.   When the strong wind came, ships were swayed, hit each other, and capsized.  Many people fell into the ocean, drowned, and lost supplies in the water. Even though Mongol soldiers landed and fought with the Japanese army, they did not have much choice but to leave Japan because of the typhoon and ships wrecking.   As a result of this strong wind, Japan was saved and looked as if Japan won. 

This is the time the famous Japanese word, “Kamikaze” (divine wind) was created. Actually, Mongols had many  superior weapons than the Japanese.  They had guns, while the Japanese did not.  Their group fighting method was much more superior and effective than the Japanese one-to-one fighting method. 

After the Mongolian invasion, the need for changing the style of the Ikubi Kissaki sword became obvious.  When swords were used in a war, the area most frequently damaged was the Kissaki area.  Japanese soldiers used mostly Ikubi-kissaki swords in this war.  An  Ikubi-kissaki Tachi has a short Kissaki.  When a damaged area of the Kissaki was whetted out, the top part of the Yakiba (tempered area) disappears, and the Hi (a groove) goes up too high into the Boshi area (top triangle-like area).  Short Ikubi-kissaki becomes even shorter, and the Hi goes up too high into the Boshi area.  Aesthetically, it is not appealing.  Functionally, it does not work well.  To compensate for the 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 swords style to compensate for this fault.  Also, the pride and confidence had grown among people after driving the Mongols away, which reflected on the swords’ appearance. Generally speaking, the Hamon and the shape of the body became stronger and showier.

Kamakura area 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 the Soshu Den (Soshu is the Kanagawa area now).  Many famous top swordsmiths appeared during this time.

One of the famous swordsmiths is Goro-Nyudo Masamune (五郎入道正宗).  The Masamune’s tomb is in the Honkaku-Ji temple in Kamakura.  That is about a 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 the direct descendants of Masamune.  Although he does not bear the name of Masamune, he has been making wonderful swords in Kamakura.  He also makes superb kitchen knives.  The name of his shop is “Masamune Kogei (正宗工芸),and it is located a short walk from  Kamakura station.  To find his place, ask at the information center in the train station.

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

11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)

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

Through the experience of the war of Jokyu-no-Ran (Chapter 10), the sword’s trend changed to a wider, sturdier, and grander style. The swords made around this time are called Ikubi-kissakiIkubi means a wild boar’s neck.  Ikubi-kissaki style swords have a stout kissaki that looks like the boar’s neck.

The middle Kamakura period was the golden age of Japanese sword making.  Many top swordsmiths created great swords during this time.  Experts agree that there is no mediocre sword among Ikubi-kissaki swords

IkubiKissakiSword  12 Ikubi Kissaki sword style

SUGATA (shape) —— Originally 3 feet or longer, therefore it is often shortened in later time.  Wide width, thick Kasane (thick body) with Hamaguri-ha (蛤刃).  Hamaguri-ha means the sword’s cross-section is shaped like a clam (see below).  The difference in the width between the Yokote line area and Machi is minimal.  Shinogi (鎬) is high, and shinogi width is narrow.  The cross-section of an Ikubi-kissaki sword is shown below. 

12 蛤刃と鎬

KISSAKI  —— Ikubi-kissakiIkubi means the neck of a wild boar.  It is thick, short, and stout looking.  Kissaki is short and wide at the Yokote line.  The illustration below shows an exaggerated image of an Ikubi-kissaki.

12 Ikubi Kissak drawing

Hamon (刃文) —— Kawazuko-choji (tadpole-head shape pattern). O-choji (large clove- shape pattern), Ko-choji (small clove-shape pattern), a mix of O-choji and Ko-choji, or Suguha-chojiSuguha-choji has a straight line mixed with Choji pattern (clove-shape).  

12 Hamon Kawazuko-choji                     O-choji                          Ko-choji                  Suguha-choji     (tadpole head)                   (large clove)                (small clove)      (straight and clove)

Boshi(鋩子) ———Yakizume: the hamon ends almost at the tip of kissaki, no turn back. Sansaku Boshi: created by Nagamitsu (長光), Kagemitsu (景光), and Sanenaga (真長), the hamon narrows at the yokote line.  See the below for Yakizume and Sansaku Boshi.                                     

12 Yakizume
                                                                

   Yakizume       11 Sansaku Boshi(三作Sansaku-boshi

 

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)

 

11 nagamitsu 1    11 Nagamitsu drawing  Osafune Nagamitsu(長船長光)    From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)         

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 (鎌倉時代刀概要)

 
 

0-timeline - size 24 Kamakura Period

The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

Introduction Of  The Five Main Sword School (Den)

There are five major sword schools (Den): 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 and most active school.  A school called Ko-bizen (meaning Old Bizen) during the Heian period is a part of Bizen Den.   However, we take the Ko-bizen separately since their style is slightly different from the later Bizen Den but somewhat close to the Yamashiro Den as we see it later.

During the Heian period, the swordsmiths of Yamashiro Den lived around Kyoto, Japan’s capital then.  In the early Kamakura period, Yamashiro Den maintained a similar sword style as in the Heian period.  Bizen Den appeared in the middle Kamakura period.  Soshu Den appeared in the late Kamakura period in the Kamakura area.  Mino Den appeared in the Muromachi period, which comes after the Kamakura period.

The Early Kamakura Period (鎌倉) (1184 – 1218)

We divide the Kamakura period into three stages: the early, the middle, and the late Kamakura period. The sword style in the early Kamakura period was almost the same as in the previous Heian period.  Yamashiro Den was continuously the most active school through the early Kamakura period.

The Middle Kamakura Period (1219 – 1277)

In the middle Kamakura period, we have three different styles of the sword to discuss: the Yamashiro Den style, the Bizen Den style, and the Ikubi-kissaki (猪首切先) style, which was new at that time.  We can say that among the Ikubi-kissaki swords, seldom sees the mediocre sword.

The previous section described the Kamakura Bakufu (鎌倉幕府: government) had political and military power, yet the emperor was still on the throne in Kyoto.  Emperor Gotoba raised an army and attacked the Kamakura government to regain political control.  This war (1221) is called Jyokyu-no-Ran (承久の乱).  The war changed the look of swords to a sturdier shape.  This style is what we call the Ikubi-kissaki.

The Late Kamakura Period (after the Mongolian Invasion – 1278 and 1333)

During the late Kamakura Period, Soshu Den emerged in addition to Yamashiro Den and Bizen Den.  After the two Mongolian Invasions called Genko (元寇) in 1274 and 1281, longer and broader swords with longer Kissaki began to appear.  The Soshu Den swordsmiths forged this type of sword

Engravings on Sword

Engravings on a sword in the Ko-to era (Heian to Keicho era) has three purposes.  One is to reduce the weight of the sword.  Hi, Bohi, Gomabashi (wide, narrow, short, or long grooves) are examples.  The second is for religious purposes, for which swordsmiths often carved Buddhistic figures.  The third is for decoration.  In the Shin-to era (from Keicho time and after), it became mainly for decoration purposes.

 

The figures below are examples of the engravings.

8 Hi, Suken, Bonji                    8 gomabashi            8 Hi

Suken                           Bonji (sanskrit)             Gomabashi                          Hi