17| Nanboku-cho Period History 1333-1392(南北朝歴史)

0-timeline - size 24 Nanboku-cho

            The red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.

After Jokyu-no-Ran (Chapter 10 Jokyu-no-Ran), the power of the Imperial Court declined significantly.  The successor, the Hojo clan with a dominant power during the Kamakura period, also began to have financial difficulty and started to lose control over the regional lords.  One of the reasons was the cost incurred by the Mongol invasion.  The Kamakura Bakufu (government) could not reward well to the Samurai who worked hard during the war.  As a result, they were very dissatisfied with the Bakufu.  Seeing this as a chance, Emperor Go-Daigo attempted to attack the Kamakura Bakufu two times but failed both times.  He was exiled to Oki island.  Meantime, Ashikaga Takauji (足利尊氏) and several groups of anti-Kamakura Samurai gathered arm forces and succeeded in destroying the Kamakura Bakufu (1333).  This war ended the Kamakura period.

Emperor Go-daigo, who had been exiled to Oki island, returned to Kyoto and attempted political reforms.  This reform was called Kenmu-no-Chuko (or Kenmu-no-Shinsei, 建武の中興).  His reform, however, 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 a member from the other branch of the Imperial family on the throne. 

Emperor Go-daigo, however, insisted upon his legitimacy, moved to Yoshino in the South of Kyoto, and established another Imperial court.  Thus began the Northern and the Southern Dynasties.  With much strife between these rival courts and their problems within each court,  more Samurai groups began moving to the Northern Dynasty.  About 60 years later, the Southern Dynasty was compelled to accept the Northern Dynasty’s proposal.  Consequently, the Northern Dynasty became the legitimate imperial court.  These 60 years are called Nanboku-cho or Yoshino-cho period. 

During the Nanboku-cho period, Samurai demanded larger and showy yet practical swords.  Soshu Den was the height of its prominence.  However, the Soshu group was not the only group that made the Soshu Den style swords.  Other schools and provinces of the different areas also made Soshu Den style swords.

Late Kamakura Period Swordsmiths (Early Soshu-Den time)

  • Tosaburo Yukimitsu (藤三郎行光)  
  • Goro Nyudo Masamune (五郎入道正宗)     
  • Hikoshiro Sadamune (彦四郎貞宗)

 17 Masamune hamon (Sano) 14 masamune1            Masamune from Sano Museum Catalog (permission granted)

Nanboku-cho Period Swordsmiths  (Middle Soshu-Den time)

  • Hiromitu (広光)   
  • Akihiro (秋広)

18 Hiromitu photo 20 Hitatsura Hiromitsu Hitatura )                  Hiromitsu from Sano Museum Catalog (permission granted)

Muromachi Period Swordsmiths (Late Soshu-Den time)

  • Hiromasa (広正)    
  • Masahiro (正広)

11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)

 
0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura
 
The circle indicates the time we discuss in this chapter.

Through the experience of the war of Jokyu-no-Ran (Chapter 10), the sword’s trend changed to a wider, sturdier, and grander style. The swords made around this time are called Ikubi-kissakiIkubi means a wild boar’s neck.  Ikubi-kissaki style swords have a stout kissaki that looks like the boar’s neck.

The middle Kamakura period was the golden age of Japanese sword making.  Many top swordsmiths created great swords during this time.  Experts agree that there is no mediocre sword among Ikubi-kissaki swords

IkubiKissakiSword  12 Ikubi Kissaki sword style

SUGATA (shape) ——–— Originally 3 feet or longer, therefore it is often shortened in later time.  Wide width, thick Kasane (thick body) with Hamaguri-ha (蛤刃).  Hamaguri-ha means the sword’s cross-section is shaped like a clam (see below).  The difference in the width between the Yokote line area and Machi is minimal.  Shinogi (鎬) is high, and shinogi width is narrow.  The cross-section of an Ikubi-kissaki sword is shown below. 

12 蛤刃と鎬

KISSAKI  —— Ikubi-kissakiIkubi means the neck of a wild boar.  It is thick, short, and stout looking.  Kissaki is short and wide at the Yokote line.  The illustration below shows an exaggerated image of an Ikubi-kissaki.

12 Ikubi Kissak drawing

Hamon (刃文) —— Kawazuko-choji (tadpole-head shape pattern). O-choji (large clove- shape pattern), Ko-choji (small clove-shape pattern), a mix of O-choji and Ko-choji, or Suguha-chojiSuguha-choji has a straight line mixed with Choji pattern (clove-shape).  

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

Boshi(鋩子) ———Yakizume: the hamon ends almost at the tip of kissaki, no turn back.Sansaku Boshi: The hamon narrows at the yokote line, created by Nagamitsu (長光), Kagemitsu (景光), and Sanenaga (真長).  See the below for Yakizume and Sansaku Boshi.                                                                          

12 Yakizume
                                                                

   Yakizume       11 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)

11 nagamitsu 1    11 Nagamitsu drawing  Osafune Nagamitsu(長船長光)    From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)         

img028   img027

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.

10| Jokyu-no-ran 1221 (承久の乱)

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 The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section.

Jyokyu-no-Ran (承久の乱)

After Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (源頼朝) died, his son, Yoriie (頼家) succeeded the shogun position.  His mother, Hojo Masako (北条政子) Yoritomo‘s wife, thought her son was too incompetent.  She was afraid that others could take over the Kamakura Bakufu (Kamakura government).  To prevent this from happening, she established a council system consisting of 13 members including herself, her father, Hojo Tokimasa (北条時政) and her brother, Hojo Yoshitoki (北条義時).

In time, Shogun Yoriie‘s in-law became powerful.  During the Heian and the Kamakura period, the wife’s family was considered very important.  To suppress her son’s in-laws, Masako and her father, Tokimasa, plotted an assassination of Yoriie and killed him.

After Yoriie’s death, Masako’s younger son, Sanetomo (実朝), became the next shogun.  Now, his grandfather, Hojo Tokimasa’s second wife, wanted her son-in-law to be the next shogun.  To please his young wife, Hojo Tokimasa attempted to kill Sanetomo, bud failed.  Finding this plot, Hojo Masako imprisoned her father, Tokimasa.  Although Sanetomo was Masako’s son, she was again very disappointed in his incompetence.  In the end, Shogun  Sanetomo was killed by his nephew Kugyo, the son of the previous shogun, Yoriiee.

After all these incidents, Masako’s brother, Hojo Yoshitoki, took control of the Kamakura Bakufu and brought a figurehead from the Fujiwara family, a powerful aristocrat family in Kyoto.   After all the turmoil, the Hojo family eventually took full control of the Kamakura Bakufu (government).

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

Emperor Gotoba was the one who really encouraged sword making and treated swordsmiths respectfully.  After the Jokyu-no-Ran, the Imperial family’s power decreased, and the Kamakura Bakufu became a powerful and stable regime.  From the time of Minamoto-no-Yoritomo‘s death to the end of the Jokyu-no-Ran, the Kamakura Bakufu was still an unstable government.  It was Hojo Masako who led the Kamakura Bakufu to a stable regime.  She was called “Ama Shogun” or a “Nun Shogun.”   She was a sharp and talented but tough, critical, and often mean politician.

Kamakura people (I am one of them) like Hojo Masako very much Minamoto no Yoritomo and Hojo Masako were both buried in Kamakura City.  Minamoto no Yoritomo at Shirahata Shrine (白幡神社), and Hojo Masako at Jufukuji Temple (寿福寺).

Kamakura is about one hour from Tokyo by train on the Yokosuka line.  Both Jufuku-Ji temple and Shirahata shrine are within walking distance from Kamakura station.

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

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