18|Nanboku-cho Period History 1333-1393

18 -red timeline Nanboku-cho
The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this section.

 

After Jokyu-no-Ran (11|Jokyu-no-ran ), the power of the Imperial court declined significantly.  The Hojo clan (the main power during the Kamakura period) began to have financial difficulty and started to lose control over the local lords.  One of the reasons was the cost incurred by the Mongolian invasion.  The Kamakura Bakufu (government) could not reward well to the local lords who worked hard at this war. The local lords became very dissatisfied with the Kamakura Bakufu.  Seeing this as a chance, Emperor Go-Daigo attempted to attack Kamakura Bakufu two times but failed both times.  He was exiled to Oki island.  Meantime, Ashikaga Takauji (足利尊氏) and several other groups of Samurai who were opposing the Kamakura Bakufu, gathered their power and succeeded in destroying the Kamakura Bakufu (1333).  This ends the Kamakura period.  Emperor Go-Daigo, who had been exiled to Oki island returned to Kyoto and attempted established a political reforms.  This is called Kenmu-no-Chuko (建武の中興).  But this new policy failed to satisfy most of the ruling class.  Taking advantage of this situation, Ashikaga Takauji attacked the Imperial court in Kyoto, deposed Emperor Go-Daigo and placed the other branch of the Royal family on the Imperial throne.  But the Emperor Go-Daigo insisted upon his legitimacy, moved to Yoshino (located the South of Kyoto) and established a rival Imperial court.  Thus began the North and the South dynasty.  After much strife between the North and the South, together with the problems within themselves,  eventually more Samurai groups went under the control of the North dynasty.  About 60 years later, the Southern dynasty was compelled to accept the North Dynasty’s proposal.  As a result, North Dynasty established as the legitimate imperial court.  This 60 year is the time called Nanboku-Cho or Yoshino-Cho period.  During the Nanboku-Cho period, Samurai demanded larger and showy, and practical swords.  Soshu Den was its height of their prominence.  However,  Soshu group was not the only group that made all the swords. Other schools and other provinces also made Soshu Den style swords.

Well known Early Soshu-Den swordsmith (that is late Kamakura period time)

Tosaburo Yukimitu (藤三郎行光)   Masamune (正宗)      Sadamune (貞宗)

18 Masamune photo    18 Masamune hamon (Sano)

Masamune from Sano Museum Catalog (permission granted)

Well known Middle Soshu-Den swordsmiths (North and South dynasty time )

Hiromitsu (広光)    Akihiro (秋広)

18 Hiromitu photo 20 Hitatsura Hiromitsu Hitatura )

Hiromitsu from SanoMuseum Catalog (permission granted)

 

12|Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)

12 time line
The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this chapter.

After the live experience of the war of Jokyu-no-ran (Chapter 11), people started to move toward sturdier, grander, wider swords.  The swords made around this time is called Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先).  Ikubi means a wild boar neck.  Ikubi Kissaki style sword has a stout look like a wild boar neck.  This is the era of the golden time of sword making.  Many top swords smiths created wonderful swords during this time.  It is said that there is no mediocre sword among Ikubi Kissai swords.

12 Ikubi Kissaki sword style

 

SUGATA (shape) —— Originally 3 feet or longer, therefore it is often shortened at a later time.  Wide width, thick Kasane (thick body) with Hamaguri-ha (蛤刃).  Hamaguri-ha means the thickness of the sword is shaped like a clam.  The width at the Yokote line area and the width at the Machi are not much different.  Shinogi (鎬) is high, and shinogi width is narrow.  Illustration of the Cross-section of the sword below.

12 蛤刃と鎬

 

KISSAKI  —— Ikubi kissaki.  Ikubi means a wild boar neck.  Wild boar looks like no neck, stout look shape.  Short Kissaki but wide at the yokote line.  The illustration below is exaggerated a little to show the idea

12 Ikubi Kissak drawing

Hamon (刃文) —— Kawazuko-Choji (tadpole head shape). O- Choji (clove-like shape) and Ko-Choji mixed.  Irregular waviness mixed with a straight line and choji, this is called suguha-choji.

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

Boshi(鋩子) ——— Yakizume, that is Hamon ends close to the tip, as below.  Nagamitu(長光), Kagemitu( 景光), Sanenaga(真長) created  Boshi called Sansaku Boshi(三作鋩子).  Sansaku Boshi narrows down at Yokote Line, Illustration below.

12 Yakizume
Yakizume
12 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)

 

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From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)                                                                    Osafune Nagamitsu(長船長光 )

 

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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.

 

11|Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221

 

 11-time-line-jokyu-no-ran-1.jpg
 The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this section.

After Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (源頼朝) died, his son, Yoriie(頼家) succeeded in the Shogun position.  But his mother, Hojo Masako (北条政子) Yoritomo’s wife, thought her son was too incompetent.She was afraid that the Kamakura Bakufu (Kamakura government) may be taken over by other force.  To prevent this to happen, she started a council system consisting of 13 people including herself, her father, Hojo Tokimasa (北条時政 ) and her brother, Hojo Yoshitoki (北条義時).  Soon Yoriie’s (present Shogun) in-law became powerful.  During the Heian and the Kamakura period, the wife’s family was considered very important.  To suppress them, Hojo Masako and her father, Tokimasa plotted against Shogun Yoriie and killed him.  After Yoriie’s death, Masako’s younger son Sanetomo (実朝) became the next Shogun.  Now, Hojo Tokimasa’s young wife wanted her son-in-law to be the next Shogun Hojo-Tokimasa attempted to kill Sanetomo, bud failed.  Finding this plot, Hojo Masako confined Tokimasa (her father) in prison. Although the Shogun Sanetomo was Hojo Masako’s son,  she was very disappointed in him.  He was also very incompetent.  The Shogun Sanetomo was killed by Kugyo who was the son of the previous Shogun Yoriiee.  After all these incidents happened, Hojo Yoshitoki took control over the Kamakura Bakufu and brought a figurehead from the Fujiwara family (aristocrat from Kyoto).  After all those turmoils, the Hojo family took control over the Kamakura Bakufu (government).

Meanwhile, in Kyoto, Emperor Gotoba had been planning to attack the Kamakura Bakufu.  He had built up the military power.  When Sanetomo was killed, Emperor Gotoba saw the chance to attack Kamakura, he ordered local feudal lords to attack but very few followed the Emperor.  Instead, the Hojo family captured Emperor Gotoba and exiled him to Oki island. This is called Jokyo-no-Ran (or Jokyu-no Hen), at 1221.

Emperor Gotoba was the one who really encouraged sword making and treated sword smiths highly.  After the Jokyu-no-ran, the power of the Royal family decreased and the Kamakura Bakufu became a powerful and stable regime.  Hojo Masako was called “Ama (nun) Shogun”.  From the time her husband, Minamoto-no-Yoritomo died until the end of Jokyu-no-ran, it was the period when the Kamakura Bakufu was still unstable.  Hojo Masako was the one who carried the Kamakura Bakufu to the stable regime.  She was one of the able but mean, tough, sharp politician.

Kamakura people (I am one of them) like Hojo Masako very much Minamoto-no-Yoritomo and Hojo-Masako are both buried in Kamakura City.  Minamoto-no-Yoritomo is at Shirahata Shrine (白幡神社), Hojo Masako is at Jufukuji temple (寿福寺).  Compare to the Jufuku-Ji where Hojo Masako was buried, Yoritomo’s tomb is a little humble.  Some say Kamakura is Hojo’s land.

Kamakura is about one hour from Tokyo by the train, Yokosuka line.  Both Jufukuji temple and Shirahata shrine are walking distance from the Kamakura station.

 

11 Jufuku-JiJufuku-Ji (寿福寺) From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

 

11 Yoritomo GraveFrom Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository       Minamoto-no-Yoritomo’s tomb.