28|Shinto Sword – Main Seven Regions (Part A)

29 Shinto Timeline

                                      The red circle indicates the subject we discuss in this section

There are seven main prosperous areas where a large number of swordsmiths gathered and actively made swords.  Those are Yamashiro (山城) in Kyoto, Settu (摂津) in Osaka, Musashi (武蔵 ) in Edo, Hizen (肥前) in Saga, Satsuma (薩摩) in Kagoshima, Echizen (越前) in Fukui,  and Kaga (加賀) in Kanazawa.  Swordsmiths of these areas have their local characteristics common among themselves.  Knowing each of these characteristics of their area is the easiest way to understand shin-to.  But keep in mind that even in each group, swordsmith has his way of making a sword.  The following descriptions are only in general.

Below is the map of Japan.  Hokkaido is omitted from the map because swords were not made there during the Edo period.

 29 Map with number 7 

  1. Yamashiro (山城) Kyoto

Yamashiro Shin-to sword has a solid and strong look.  Hamon at the bottom part of the blade right above machi (区) area shows suguha (straight hamon), this is called Kyo-yakidashi (京焼出), that means to start with a straight hamon.  Then it shows a sudden change to the design of O-midare (大乱).  O-midare (irregular waviness) changes to less waviness one or two inches below the yokote line, then continues into boshi with a wavy hamon.  The design inside the boshi is Komaru-boshi.   See the illustration below.  Ji-hada is somewhat rough (this depends on the swordsmith).  Masame-hada (straight grain pattern) may show on Shinogi-Ji (the area between ridgeline and back).  Among Yamashiro Shin-to, there was a group called the Mishina Group (三品).  They are Mino Den (美濃) related, therefore, often boshi is Jizo-boshi (地蔵鋩子), this is called Mishina Boshi ( 三品鋩子).  Jizo-boshi is the profile of a human head.

Well known swordsmiths in Yamashiro area: Umetada Myoju (梅忠明寿)                                                                                                   Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広)                                                                                               Dewadaijyo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)

28 Mishina-Boshi Komaru-boshi, Kyo-Yakidashi



    Iganokami Kinnmichi (伊賀守金道) previously family owned

2.Settu (摂津) Osaka (大阪)

Settu (Osaka now) created more wakizashi than katana.  They tend to make it slightly sakizori (top half curves outward) and slightly stretched boshi.  Settu sword also has yakidashi the same way as the previous Yamashiro sword, except the area where suguha changes to notare (wavy pattern) are smooth.  This is called Osaka Yakidashi.

 Osaka Boshi ——Hamon continues up to yokote line, then Komaru with a turn back.       Ji-hada————-Very fine, almost a solid like smooth surface especially shinogi-ji (the area between ridgeline and back) is solid like surface.  This is called Osaka-tetsu (iron).

29 Osaka Yakidashi Komaru Boshi

Well-known swordsmiths in Settsu area:   Osaka Tsuda Sukehiro (大阪津田助広)                                                                                 Tsuda Sukenao (津田助直)                                                                                                   Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子 忠綱)


Awataguch Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (粟田口一竿子忠綱) previously family owned

15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活)

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

It is said that the first sword making started from Yamato province (present Nara prefecture) during the Nara period (710 to 794).  In the early sword making days, their forging technique was primitive.  At that time a large number of swordsmiths lived in Yamato, yet as time passes, the sword making declined in this area.

At the end of the Kamakura period, several powerful temples had power struggles against each other in the Yamato area.  Temples had strong political power and military power to control a large territory called Shoen (荘園) with their large number of worrier monks called Sohei (僧兵).  The most powerful group were called Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)*.

The groups of Sohei demanded more swords to arm themselves.  The high demand for the swords from Sohei revitalized the Yamato Den (School) and led an increase in the number of swordsmiths in Yamato.   As a result, Yamato Den became active again. Yamato Den’s style is somewhat similar to that of Yamashiro Den.

*Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)———Since around the 11th century, Buddhistic temples became powerful under the protection of the Joko (retired Emperor).  Those temples had a large number of Sohei (low-level monks who also acted as soldiers) under them.  When the power struggles between the temples occurred, Sohei fought as a soldier in the battlefields.  Nanto Sohei were monk soldiers of Kofuku-Ji temple (興福寺).  Several large temples like Todai-Ji (東大寺) temple and other temples controlled the Yamato area.

Shape (Sugata姿) —————-1. Graceful Yamashiro style. 2. Shinogi is high.  3. Mune is thin.  4. Some group of Yamato school has shallow Sori (curvature).

16 Yamato sword cross section

Hamon (Tempered line) ——-Narrow tempered line.  Mainly Nie (沸).  Chu-Suguha-Hotsure (medium straight with frayed look中直刃ほつれ), Ko-Choji-Midare (small clove-like pattern and irregular mixture 小丁子乱), Ko-Midare ( fine irregular小乱), Ko-gunome-komidare (small irregular continuous half-circle 小五の目小乱).  The main characteristic of Yamato school is Masame (straight grain), therefore, the tempered line often shows a double straight line called Nijyu-ha, Hakikake (brushed sand), and Uchinoke (Crescent-shape line).  See the illustration below.

16 Hamon Yamato

Boshi (鋩子)———-Inside the Boshi area, straight grain pattern also appears. Yakizume, Kaen(refer 13 Tanto Middle Kamakura period), O-maru, Ko-maru, Nie-kuzure (refer 15 Late Kamakura Period)

13 Hamon and Hi15 O-maru Ko-maru Niekuzure

Jihada or Jitetsu (the area between shinogi and hamon )——Mostly Masame hada (straight grain pattern 柾目肌). Fine ji-nie, Chikei, and Yubashiri shows (refer 15 Late Kamakura Period).

16 Masame Hada

Nakago (Hilt)——————Often shows the finishing file pattern as shown below.  This is called Higaki Yasuri (檜垣).

16 Higaki Yasuri

Names of the Yamato School Sword-smiths

Taema(当麻) Group————–Taema Kuniyuki(当麻国行) Taema Tomokiyo(当麻友清) Shikkake (尻懸) Group———————————————–Shikkake Norinaga (尻懸則長) Tegai (手掻) group —————–Tegai Kanenaga (手掻包永) Tegai Kanekiyo(手掻包清) Hoshou (保昌) group——–Hosho Sadayoshi ( 保昌貞吉) Hosho Sadamune (保昌貞宗)

16 Shaya Ensou

Yamato Senjuin Shaya Enso (大和千手院沙弥円宗) was once family sword