47|Part 2.5 of —–12|Ikubi Kissaki(continued)

Continued from Chapter 46

Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗)

Another swordsmith needs to be mentioned in this section is Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗).  In middle Kamakura period, the Hojo clan invited the top swordsmiths to Kamakura area.  Awataguchi Kunitsuna (粟田口国綱) from Yamashiro 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 together with his group of people.  Those three groups started the Soshu Den (相州伝).  Refer to 14|Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期)

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 top of the Hamon is squarish with less Kubire ( less narrow at the bottom of the clove).  Hajimi ( rough surface).  Also, he did 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 Hamon (Sano Museum Catalog permission granted)

 

Boshi  —– Small irregular.  Yakizume or short turn back.

Jitetsu —–Woodgrain.  Fine Jitetsu with some Ji-Nie (Nie inside Jihada).  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

Above photo is the National treasure Kunimune of the Terukuni Shrine in Kagoshima prefecture.  This Kunimune sword was lost after WWII.  The chairman of the Board of Miles Laboratory in Elkhart Indiana, Dr. Compton found this sword in an antique store in Atlanta.  Alka Seltzer is one of the well-known products among many of its products.  He was deeply into the sword collection and knew a lot about the Japanese sword.  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).  It turned out to be the famous missing National treasure of Kunimune of Terukuni Shrine.  He returned the sword to Terukuni Shrine without compensation in 1963.  My father became a friend of his around this time through Dr. Homma and Dr. Sato ( leading sword experts).  Since then, the Compton family and my family became close friends.  Dr. Compton asked Dr. Honma and my father to come to the US and examine his swords in his house (he had about 400 swords)  and swords of New York Met, Philadelphia Museum and the Boston Museum.  My father wrote a book about this trip and the swords he examined in those museums and published the book in 1965; the title is “Katana Angya (刀行脚)”.  Since then, my father and I visited his house and they visited our house more frequently.   Around this time, it must be the best time for Dr. Compton and for my father.  Both of them could spend time on their interest and having fun.  It was the best time of my life too.

One time when I visited his house, he showed me his swords in his basement for hours almost all day.  His house was really huge and the basement he built as his study room was built with fireproof and had a great lighting system.   It was really nicely done and functioned correctly as the storage place for his many art objects.   Then his wife, Phoebe said to Compton that he cannot keep a young girl (I was a college student then) in the basement all day long and looking at the swords.  He agreed and then he took me to his cornfield to pick some corns for dinner.  The basement to a cornfield, not much improvement?  So his wife Phoebe said that she will take me shopping and lunch in Chicago.   That is good,  but too far.   The distance between Elkhart and Chicago is about two hours by driving a car, too far just for shopping and lunch.  To my surprise, we got on the company private airplane to fly to the top of the roof of the department store then do the shopping and lunch, came back with the same private airplane.

Miles Lab. and Sankyo, a Japanese large pharmaceutical company had a business tie-up as Miles-Sankyo Pharmaceutical Company then.   Dr. Compton used to come to Japan quite often, officially for business purposes.  But whenever he came to Japan he used to spend many days with sword people and I used to follow my father when he went to meet Dr. Comptopn at a sword meeting.  Even though Miles-Sankyo was a pharmaceutical company, they even hired a female worker just to translate the sword book into English.  My parent household was filled with Miles-Sankyo products.  Miles Lab. had a big research institute in Elkhart Indiana.  I visited several times there.  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 on 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 who obviously look like a college student.  The appearance of Dr. Compton was just like any chairman of the board of a big company one can imagine, and I was a college student looking like a college student.   John Forsythe had a strange expression that he did not know what to think of what he was seeing.

25|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)

 

25 Sengoku period Time line red

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 up to one shaku* (approx. 12 inches, 30.5cm).  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  >  Sun-zumari Tanto

*Shaku is a Japanese old measurement unit for length.

Takenoko-zori Jo-sun Tanto (筍反定寸) ———– This type of tanto was made during the Sengoku period.  This type of sword resembles the sword made by Rai Kunimitsu of Yamashiro Den.  (Below illustration)

Hamon (刃文)———–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 faint 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 the one from the late Soshu Den style.  You may see hitatsura (see below illustration).   But 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 for the Sengoku period.   Hirazukuri means a flat surface sword without a shinogi, no yokote line, or no obvious kissaki.   Takenoko-zori means the shape of a bamboo shoot (back of the sword curves inward).   Sun-zumari means shorter than 10 inches long (shorter than 8.5 shaku, 25.7 cm).  The width of the lower part of the blade is wide and thick, the width of the tip is narrow and thin.  It has a 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 deep.
  • Ji-hada (地肌)———–fine and wood burl.

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)

Swords during the Sengoku period are called the Sue-bizen sword.  Bizen Osafune Yoso Zaemon Sukesada (与三左衛門祐定) is the representative 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 the most representative swordsmith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22|Muromachi Period Sword

21 Muromachi period Timeline

The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

The Muromachi period was a rather peaceful and prosperous time until a little before “Onin-no Ran”, which was the later part of the Muromachi Period, (Refer Chapter 21 Muromachi Period History).  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, the sword was suspended from one’s waist, the blade side down.  When a sword was worn this way, swordsmith’s inscription faces outsite.  That means when you see the inscription, the cutting side comes right.  This is called Tachi.  Yet, around

the Muromachi period, swords were worn between one’s belt, the blade up.   The inscription of the swordsmiths faces outside when it is worn.  That means when you see the inscription, the cutting edge comes your left.  This is called the Katana.  Around the beginning of the Muromachi period samurai started to wear one pair of swords together called Dai-Sho(大小), which means large and small.  A longer one is called Katana and the shorter one is called Wakizashi.  In general, Tachi is longer and Katana is shorter, Wakizashi is even shorter but 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 long a sword should be shortened is depends on the original length of the sword and how long an owner want it shortened.  O-suriage is when a sword is shortened a great length.  Once a sword is shortened, the inscription is cut off.  When a suriage sword was appraised by the Hon’ami family (本阿弥家:Connoisseur family continued since mid Edo period till almost recent day), if he  appraised it as a valuable one,  he writes the make of the sword and sword smith’s name on the front side of the hilt and writes the connoisseur’s name and his Kaou (similar to signature) on the back of the hilt.  There are several ranks.  Which rank it should be done is depending on the quality of the sword and how an owner wants it.  Below are the ranks (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)———Usually approximately 2 feet and 3, 4 inches (71cm) long. The shape of the Muromachi period Katana is somewhat like the Heian period Tachi style.  But Muromachi Katana is not as grand, not as graceful as Heian period sword.  They are Koshizori.  Koshizori shape means the highest curvature comes lower than the center of the blade.  Suitable length and shape for wearing inside the belt. The width and the thickness of the sword are well balanced with the length.  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 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 (carvings 彫物) ———- Bo-hi (single groove), Soe hi ( accompanied thin groove), Futasuji hi (double narrow groove), Sanscrit, Tokko- Tsuki –ken, Tsume-Tsuki-Ken, Names of God, Dragon.  Carvings became elaborate.

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji20 Tokko, tume Ken

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

 

22 Muromachi sword from Sano
From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)Bizen Osafune Naomitsu (備前長船尚光)
img057
Ise Masashige (伊勢正重) Once Family-owned   Classified as Juyo Token(重要刀剣)

16|The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)

 

14 Late Kamakura Period timeline

The circle represents the time we are discussing in this section

It is said that the first sword making started from Yamato province (present Nara prefecture) during the Nara period (710 to 704).  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 Yamato area.  Temples had a 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 of the swords from Sohei revitalized the Yamato Den (School) and led to increase the number of the swordsmiths in Yamato.   As a result, Yamato Denl became active again. Yamato Den style is somewhat similar to that of Yamashiro Den.  See chapter 6.

 

*Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)———Since around the 11th century, Buddhistic temples became powerful under the protection of 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 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

15|Late Kamakura Period Sword

14 Late Kamakura Period timeline                      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.  This is called O-Suriage(大磨上).

15 Kissak shape of 4

15 Hi ends 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 same type of Hamon into Boshi area then turn back a little or Yakizume.  You may also see O-maru  (large round), Ko-maru (small round), Kaen (flame like), and Nie-kuzure.  Refer chapter 13 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    *Because Masamune lived in Kamakura that is a beach town, his Hamon style was inspired by an ocean wave.  Therefore his Hamon sometimes looks like wave design.

15 Masamune, Yoshioka Ichimonji Endo

 

15 Masamune, Yoshioka IchimonjiOnce family-owned swords