45|Part 2 of –11 Ikubi Kissaki (continued from Chapter 44)

This chapter is a detailed part of 11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先) and continued from 44|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 red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.

Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗)

Another swordsmith that should 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 their circle of people.  Those three groups started the Soshu Den (相州伝).  Refer to13| Late Kamakura Period: Genko (鎌倉末元寇) .

  • Sugata (shape)  ——————— Ikubi-kissaki style.  Sometimes Chu-gissaki.  Thick body.  Koshi-zori. Narrow Shinogi width.                                                                                                
  • Horimono (Engravings)  —————- Often narrow Bo-hi (single groove)
  • Hamon (Tempered line) ————- O-choji Midare (irregular large clove shape) with Ashi.  Or Ko-choji Midare (irregular small clove shape) 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 Kunimune swords are as follows; the lower part shows Choji, the upper part shows less work without Ashi                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Kunimune Compton 1 Kunimune Compton 2Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗)   Photo from “Nippon-to Art Sword of Japan, ” The Walter A. Compton Collection.   National Treasure

  • Boshi  ———————— Small irregular.  Yakizume or short turn back.
  • Ji-hada —————-Wood-grain pattern.  Fine Ji-hada with some Ji-nie (Nie inside Ji-hada).  Midare-utsuri (irregular shadow) shows.  A few Hajimi (rough surface).

12 (second part 2) 照国神社Above photo is a picture from the official site of Terukuni Shrine in Kyushu.     http://terukunijinja.pkit.com/page222400.html

This is the National Treasure, Kunimune, preserved at Terukuni Jinja Shrine in Kagoshima prefecture.  See the photos on the previous page.  This Kunimune sword was lost after WWII.  Dr. Compton, the board chairman of Miles Laboratories in Elkhart, Indiana, found it in Atlanta’s antique store.  I mentioned Dr. Compton in 32| Japanese swords after WWII  .  When he saw this sword, he realized this was not just an ordinary sword.  He bought it and inquired to the Nihon Bijutu Token Hozon Kyokai (The Japanese Sword Museum) in Tokyo.  It turned out to be the famous missing National Treasure, Kunimune, from Terukuni Jinja shrineHe returned the sword to the shrine without compensation in 1963. 

My father became a good friend of 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 he kept in his house (he had about 400 swords) and swords at The Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  My father wrote about this trip and the swords he examined in those museums and published the book in 1965; the title was “Katana Angya (刀行脚).”  

For Dr. Compton and my father, those days must have been the best time of their lives.  Their businesses were doing good, and they were able to spend a lot of time on their interest and had fun.  It was the best time for me, too.  One time, while I was visiting the 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 had a fire prevention system, and the lighting system was perfect to view swords and other art objects. 

Phoebe, his wife, said to him that he shouldn’t keep a young girl (college student then) in the basement all day.  He agreed and took me to his cornfield to pick some corn for dinner.  From a basement to a cornfield, not much improvement?  So, Phoebe decided to take me shopping and lunch in Chicago.  Good idea,  but it was too far.  Compton’s house was Elkhart, Indiana.  The distance between Elkhart and Chicago was about two and a half hours by car.  It was too far just for shopping and lunch.  To my surprise, the company’s employee flew us and landed on the rooftop of a department store, then did the shopping, had lunch, and flew back.

Miles Laboratories and a well-known large Japanese 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 spent days with sword people, including my father, and I usually followed him.  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 Laboratories 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 a sword book with our heads together.  That day, a movie actor, John Forsythe, was visiting the research lab.  He was the host of a TV program Miles Laboratories was sponsoring.  All female employees were making a big fuss over him.  Then he came into Dr. 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 Dr. 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 (戦国時代短刀)

0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period                                   The red circle above 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 either inward or outward.   

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 ———————— Standard Tanto length 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) ———– Takenoko-zori Jo-sun 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)————- Some Shirake (白け: a whitish surface) sometimes appears.  Some Utsuri (a light, whitish, cloud-like effect) on Ji-hada appears.

Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延短刀)————–This type of Tanto is similar to the Sakizori Tanto of the late Soshu Den time.  You may see Hitatsura type Hamon.  (Illustration below).  Unlike the Soshu Den style, the Hitatsura shows more on the lower part and less on the upper part of the Tanto.

                                             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(彫物: Engraving) ——-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 sword with a Hamon on both cutting edges.  Often Bonji (Sanscrit) is curved.

  • Hamon (刃文: Tempered line) ——— Wide tempered line.   Nioi base.  Irregular Hamon, wide Suguha (straight tempered line), and Chu-suguha (medium straight  tempered line).  Hamon turns back deeply.
  • Ji-hada (地肌:Area between shinogi and tempered line)——- Fine and wood burl pattern.

25-moroha-tanto1 Moroha Tanto

The Swordsmith for Tanto during the Sengoku Period 

The Bizen swords during the Sengoku period are called Sue-bizenSue is pronounced “su” and “e“ as egg.   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 red circle above indicate the time we discuss in this section

The Muromachi period was a relatively peaceful and prosperous time until a little before “Onin-no-Ran,” which happened at the end of the Muromachi PeriodRefer to Chapter 20|Muromachi Period History (室町時代歴史) .  The Nanboku-cho style long sword became useless; thus, they were shortened.  The shortened blade is called Suriage.  In general, the Muromachi period was the declining time for sword making.

Tachi and Katana

Until the end of the Nanboku-cho period or the 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 inscribed his name to the side that 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 side up.  The swordsmiths inscribed his name to face 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 large and small.  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. 

                                       Tach   >   Katana   >   Wakizashi   >  Tanto

The difference between Tachi and Katana comes from the way it was worn, not the length.   22 tachi & Katana

O-suriage ( 大磨上: Katana shortened by great length) 

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 sword that is shortened by a great length.  Once a blade is shortened that much, the inscription of the maker’s name is cut off.  When Hon’ami family (本阿弥家, a sword connoisseur family who have appraised Japanese swords for generations since the mid-Edo period till almost recent days) appraised such a Suriage sword, they wrote the make of the sword 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 is 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 (Tempered line at Kissaki area) ————– 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, Ji-utsuri (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 ken, Tsume-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 Naomitsu (備前長船尚光)         Juyo Token(重要刀剣)                           Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)    once my family possesion

 
 

15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活)

 

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

        The red circle above 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 techniques were 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 Buddhist temples in the Yamato area had power struggles against each other.  Temples had a strong political 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 was called Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)*.  The groups of Sohei demanded more swords to arm themselves.  The high demand for swords from Sohei revitalized the Yamato Den (school) and increased the number of swordsmiths in the Yamato area.   As a result, Yamato Den became active again.  The Yamato Den style is somewhat similar to that of Yamashiro Den.    

*Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)———Since around the 11th century, Buddhist temples had become powerful under the protection from the Jokos (retired emperors).  Those temples had a large number of Sohei (low-level monks who also acted as soldiers). When power struggles started between the temples, Sohei fought as their soldiers on the battlefields. Nanto Sohei were such soldiers at Kofuku-Ji Temple (興福寺).  Several large temples such as Todai-Ji (東大寺) Temple controlled the Yamato area.

Sugata (姿: Shape) —————-  Not much difference in style at the early part of Yamato Den and Yamashiro Den.   Shinogi is high.  Mune is thin.   Some types of Yamato Den have shallow sori (curvature).

16 Yamato sword cross section

Hamon (刃文Tempered line) ——————–Narrow tempered line.  Mainly Nie (沸).  Chu-suguha-hotsure (中直刃ほつれ: a medium straight line with a frayed pattern), Ko-choji-midare (小丁子: a mixture of small clove-like pattern and irregular wavy lines), Ko-midare (小乱: fine irregular wavy lines), Ko-gunome-komidare (小五の目小乱: small continuous half-circles mixed with wavy lines). 

The main characteristic of the Yamato Den style sword is Masame (straight grain).   Their tempered line often shows Nijyu-ha (double straight lines), Hakikake (tracing of a broom mark), Uchinoke (a crescent-shape line), or combinations of them.   See the illustration below.16 Hamon Yamato

Boshi (鋩子: Tempered line at Kissaki area)———-On the Boshi area, a straight grain Hamon pattern appears.  Yakizume or Kaen. (Refer Chapter 12 Middle Kamakura period: Tanto).  O-maru, Ko-maru, Nie-kuzure.  (Refer 14| Late Kamakura Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀).  See the illustration below.

15 Kaen Ykizume

15 Omaru Komaru Niekuzure

Jihada or Jitetsu (the area between Shinogi and Hamon )——Mostly Masamehada (straight grain pattern 柾目肌). Fine ji-nie, Chikei, and Yubashiri shows (refer 14 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 Saya Enso (大和千手院沙弥円宗)  once my family sword

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

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

The red circle above indicates 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 in the latter part of the Kamakura period.  Kamakura region became prosperous under the rule of the Hojo family (北条).  Many swordsmiths moved to Kamakura.  Those people were Kunituna (国綱) group from Yamashiro area and Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) and Kunimune (国宗) from Bizen area.  They are the origin of Soshu Den (相州伝).  A star swordsmith, Goro-Nyudo-Masamune (五郎入道正宗), appeared during this time.

15 Soshu sword with explanation

Shape (Sugata 姿) ——- Okissaki (large-kissak: 大切先) and Chu-kissaki (medium kissaki: 中切先).   The tip of Hi ends lower (see below illustration).  Hamaguriha was no longer in style.  The body became thinner.  The original length was approximately 3 feet or longer, but the majority of them were shortened to 2 feet and 3 or 4 inches at 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 ——- A mix of Suguha (straight) and Ko-choji (small clove-like pattern), and Ko-gumome (small ccontinuous half-circle like pattern).  Small Nie base. (shown below)

10 Nie & Nioi

Wide Hamon———– Notare-midare (wavy), O-gunomeNie base.  Ashi-iri (short line toward the blade, the right drawing below).  Inazuma (lightning-like line) or Kinsuji (bright, radiant line) may appear on a tempered line.  However, Inazuma and Kinsuji require trained eyes to be detected.  It is hard for beginners to notice the Inazuma or Kinsuji.

15 Late Kamakura Soshu Hamon

Boshi————- The main body and Boshi has the same type of Hamon.  At the tip of the 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 the sand-like small dots appears on Ji (between tempered line and Mune).  Yubashiri (a cluster of Ji-nie), Kinsuji (bright, radiant line formed by Nie ), Inazuma (a lightning-like irregular line), or 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) 

The above three swordsmiths were the origin of the Soshu Den (school) in Kamakura.  Later, Tosaburo-Yukimitu and his son, famous Goro Nyudo Masamune appeared.

More  Soshu Den swordsmiths other than above

From Yamashiro (山城)———- Rai Kunitsugu (来国次), Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重) From Etchu (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)

14 masamune1 14 Masamune Hamon 

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 sometimes looks like ocean waves.

14 Masamune, Yoshioka Ichimonji Endo.jpg 1

Once owned by my family