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.

 

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.

21| Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代刀)

0-timeline - size 24 Muromach

       The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

The Muromachi period was a relatively peaceful and prosperous time until a little before “Onin-no Ran,”  which was the later part of the Muromachi Period.  Refer 20|Muromachi Period History(室町歴史)Nanboku-Cho style long sword became useless, as a result, they were shortened.  The shortened sword is called Suriage.  In general, the Muromachi period was a declining time for sword making.

Tachi and Katana

Until the end of the Nanboku-cho period or beginning of the Muromachi period, samurais suspended swords from one’s waist, the blade side down.  When a sword was worn this way, the swordsmith’s inscription faces outward, which means that the blade comes on your right when you see the inscription.  In this case, the sword is called tachi.  Yet, around the Muromachi period, a sword was worn between one’s belt, with the blade up.   The inscription of the swordsmiths faced outward when it was worn. Therefore, when you see the inscription, the cutting edge comes on your left.  Then it is classified as Katana.

Around the beginning of the Muromachi period, samurai started to wear a pair of swords called Dai-Sho (大小), meaning long and short.  The long one is Katana, and the short one is Wakizashi.  In general, Tachi is longer than Katana.  Katana is longer than Wakizashi, and Wakizashi is longer than tanto.  Here is the order of the length.

                                            TachiKatana  >  Wakizashi  >  Tanto        

The difference between Tachi and Katana comes from the way it was worn, not the length

22 tachi & Katana

O-Suriage ( shortened a large length, 大磨上げ)

How much the sword should be shortened depends on the sword’s original length and how much the owner wants it shortened.  O-suriage is a kind of a sword that is shortened by a great length.  Once a blade is shortened that much, the inscription of the maker’s name is gone.  When Hon’ami family (本阿弥家), a sword connoisseur family that have appraised Japanese swords for generations since the mid-Edo period till almost recent days appraised such a suriage sword.  They appraised and wrote the sword’s make and the swordsmith’s name on the front side of the hilt, and the connoisseur’s name with his Kaou (similar to signature) on the back.  There are several ranks of writings.  Which level it should be done depends on the quality of the sword and how an owner wants it.  Below are the classes (lower to highest).

Shu-Mei (朱明 )————————————————————-name written in Vermilion  Kinpun-Mei (金粉名 )———————————————–name lacquered in gold powder  Gin-Zougan (銀象嵌 )————————————————————name inlaid in silver  Kin-Zougan (金象嵌 )————————————————————-name inlaid in gold

Sugata (姿: Shape)——— length is usually approximately 2 feet and 3 to 4 inches (71cm). The shape of the Muromachi period Katana is somewhat similar to the Heian period tachi style.  However, Muromachi Katana is not as grand or graceful as the Heian period sword.  The curvature is usually the Koshizori shape.  Koshizori means the highest curvature comes at the lower part of the blade.  The length and shape are suitable for wearing between the body and the belt. The width and the thickness are well balanced with the size of the sword.  Small kissaki.

22 Muromachi sword shape

Hirazukuri-Wakizashi———–Hirazukuri means a flat surface with no Shinogi and no Yokote line.  Usually One foot and 1, 2 inches long.  No curvature.  Hirazukuri-Wakizashi appeared during the Muromachi time.

Hamon (刃文: tempered line) ———————- Nioi base. Tempered area is well balanced to the width of the blade.  Koshi-hiraita-midare mixed with Choji midare.

22Hamon (Koshi Hiraita midare)
from Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Boshi ————– Midare-komi, short turn back.  See the above illustration.  Midare is an irregular wave-like pattern.

Ji-hada (地肌) An area between the tempered line and Shinogi————Soft look, large wood grain pattern, Jiutsuri (faint smoke or cloud-like effect) shows.

Horimono (彫物Engravings) ———- Bo-hi (single groove), Soe-hi ( Hi accompanied with a thin groove), Futasuji- hi (double narrow groove), Sanskrit, Tokko-tsuki kenTsume-tsuki Ken, name of God, and dragon.  Carvings became elaborate.

8 Hi, Suken, Bonji                  21 Tsume-tuki-ken tokko with caption

Sword Smiths during Muromachi Period

Bizen Den ————Osafune Morimitsu (長船盛光), Yasumitsu (康光), Moromitsu (師光)      Yamashiro Den———————————————–Yamashiro Nobukuni (山城信国)

img057 21Masashige      21 Muromachi sword from Sano

Ise Masashige (伊勢正重),                    Bizen Osafune Norimitsu (備前長船尚光)        Juyo Token(重要刀剣)                           Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)     once owned by my family.

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

14| Late Kamakura Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀)

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

The circle represents the time we discuss in this section

The beginning of the Soshu style

A new sword style called Soshu Den emerged after the Mongolian invasion of the latter part of the Kamakura period.  Kamakura area became prosperous under the rule of the Hojo (北条).  Many swords smiths moved to Kamakura.  Those people are Kunituna (国綱 )and his group from Yamashiro area and Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真), Kunimune (国宗) from Bizen area.  They are the origin of Soshu Den (school 相州).  A star swordsmith, Goro-Nyudo-Masamune (五郎入道正宗) appeared during this time.

15 Soshu sword with explanation

Shape (Sugata 姿) ——- O-Kissaki (large-Kissaki 大切先) and Chu-Kissaki (medium kissaki 中切先).   Tip of Hi ends lower (see below illustration).  HamaguriHa was eliminated, instead, it became a thinner body.  The original length was approximately 3 feet or so but the majority of them were shortened to 2 feet and 3 or 4 inches in a later time.  The shortened sword is called O-Suriage(大磨上).

15 Kissak shape of 4

14 Hi end lower

Hamon——————–Narrow Hamon and wide Hamon.     

Narrow Hamon ——-Suguha (straight) mixed with Ko-Choji (small clove) and Ko-Gumome (continuous half-circle like).  Small Nie base. (left drawing below)

10 Nie & Nioi

Wide Hamon———–Notare (wavy) midare, O-gunome.  Nie base.  Ashi-Iri (short line goes inward, the right drawing below).  Inazuma (lightning-like line), Kinsuji (a gold line like) appears on a tempered line.  But Inazuma and Kinsuji require trained eyes to detect.  It is hard to notice the Inazuma, Kinsuji, etc. for beginners.

15 Late Kamakura Soshu Hamon

Boshi————-The main body and Boshi has the same type of Hamon.  At the top of Kissaki, turn back a little or Yakizume.  You may also see O-maru (large round), Ko-maru (small round), Kaen (flame like) or Nie-kuzure.  See “Chapter 12 Middle Kamakura period: Tanto” for Yakizume and Kaen.

15 three boshi name

Jihada or Jitetsu (between Shinogi and Tempered line)—– Strong Ji-Nie (地沸), that is a sand-like small dots appears on Ji (between tempered line and Mune).  Yubashiri (cluster of Ji-Nie),  Kinsuji (lined Nie looks like a golden line), Inazuma  (lightning-like irregular line) and Chikei (similar to Kinsuji appears on Ji-Hada).

15 Yubashiri, Chikei, Inazuma

Late Kamakura Period Soshu School Sword Smiths

From Bizen———–Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) Kunimune (国宗 )   From Yamashiro ————————————–Toroku- Sakon- Kunituna (藤六左近国綱) 

Those above three are the beginning of Kamakura swordsmiths.  Later, Tosaburo-Yukimitu and his son, famous Goro-Nyudo-Masamune appeared.

Masamune Juttetsu  (Main Soshu Style swordsmiths other than above)

From Yamashiro (山城)—— Rai Kunitsugu (来国次), Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重) From Ettshu (越中) province ———————Gou- no-Yoshihiro (郷義弘) Norishige (則重) From   Mino (美濃) province ——————————————–Kaneuji (兼氏) Kinjyu (金重) From   Chikuzen (筑前) province —————————————————-Samoji (左文字)

15 Masamune (Sano) 15 Masamune hamon (Sano)

Goro-Nyudo-Masamune(正宗)   Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館図録) Permission granted  Since Masamune lived in a beach town, Kamakura, his hamon style was inspired by  ocean waves.  Therefore, his hamon sometimes looks like ocean waves.

15 Masamune, Yoshioka Ichimonji Endo