64|Part 2 of — 28|Main 7 Areas Among Shin-To Sword (part A)

This chapter is the detailed part of chapter 28| Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A).  Please read chapter 28 before reading this chapter.

As it was described in chapter 28, here are the main seven areas of sword making.  They are Yamashiro (山城 in Kyoto), Settsu (摂津 today’s Osaka), Musashi (武蔵 Edo), Echizen (越前) and Kaga (加賀), Hizen (肥前), Satsuma (薩摩).

28-map-with-number-7.jpg

 

During Ko-To time, usually, if a sword has a wide Hamon line with Nie, Ji-Hada is also large wood grain or large burl grain.  Also, when you see a narrow Hamon line, usually with fine or small Ji-Hada on Ko-To.  But on Shin-To, wide Hamon with Nie with small wood grain or small burn grain on Ji-Hada.  And narrow Hamon line with a large wood grain Ji-Hada.  This is the Shin-To characteristic.  Because of that, Some people may confuse with shin-To as Ko-To.   But other features like Ji-Tetsu or other parts should indicate the Shin-To or Ko-To.

*  Early Soshu-Den during the late Kamakura period, some swordsmith did wide Hamon with Nie with small burl.  Because of that whether it was Ko-To or Shin-To was confused.  But other features like Ji-Tetsu or other parts should indicate the Shin-To or Ko-To.

  1. Yamashiro (山城 Kyoto)

64-kunihiro-sword.jpg 64 Kunihiro IllustrationHorikawa Kunihiro    From Sano Museum Catalogue

Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広) is considered a great master swordsmith of Shin-To swordsmith.  He forged his sword in different styles and different characteristic.  The types of Hamon are O-Notare, O-Gunome, Togari-Ba (pointed Hamon), Chu-Suguha with hotsure, Hiro-Suguha, with Sunagashi effect, Inazuma, Kinsuji appears.  The shape of the sword Kunihiro liked to create was the one like Nanboku-Cho time O-suriage style (shortened Nanboku-Cho long sword).  Kunihiro’s sword gives you a massive feeling.  Kunihiro did very fine carvings, like a dragon, Sanskrit letter, etc.  Since he did many different styles, there is no general characteristic on his sword other than Hamon is mainly Nie.  Very finely forged Ji-Hada

img067.jpg    img068.jpgIga-no-Kami Kinnmichi (伊賀守金道)                   Dewa Daijyo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)

Both photos were taken by my father a long time ago.  The quality of the photo is not good.  Both were once my family-owned.  Both Juyo Token

Characteristics of Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi ( 伊賀守金道)

Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi family is called Mishina group.  Refer chapter 28| Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A)Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi received the honorable Japanese Imperial Chrysanthemum crest.  The characteristic of his sword; Wide sword, Shallow curvature, Kissaki extended, Sakizori (curvature at 1/3 top).  Wide tempered line, Kyo Yakidashi (refer 28|Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A), Hiro Suguha (wide straight Hamon).  O-Notare (large wavy), Yahazu Midare, Hako-Midare (refer 25|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)Boshi is Mishina Boshi (refer 28|Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A).  Fine wood burl, Masame appears on Shinogi area.

Dewa Daijo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)

Dewa Daijo Kunimichi was the best student of Horikawa Kunihiro (The 1st photo above).  Like Kunihiro, the shape of the sword was like a shortened Nanboku-Cho sword.  Shallow curvature, wide body, somewhat stretched kissaki and Fukura kareru (less arch in Fukura).  Wide tempered line, Large Gunome, Nie, with Sunagashi, Inazuma shows.  Among large Gunome, double Gunome (two gunome side by side) appears.  Fine Ji-Tetsu.

 

41|Part 2 of — 7 Overview of Kamakura Period Sword (1192-1333)

This is the detailed part of 7| Overview of the Kamakura Period Swords (1192-1333).   Please read chapter 8 before reading this section.

7 Kamakura timeline

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

The Kamakura period was the golden age of sword making.  Approximately, half of the well-known swords at present were made during the Kamakura period.  Probably because of the war between the Genji and the Heishi demanded large numbers of swords, and they had a live experience to improve the sword.  Also, Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽) invited many skilled swordsmiths to his palace and treated them highly and encouraged them to create a good sword by giving them high ranks.  During the Kamakura period, the technic of sword making improved greatly.

 Middle Kamakura Period —- Yamashiro Den (山城伝)

The Middle Kamakura period was the height for the Yamashiro Den.  Among Yamashiro Den, there were three major groups (or families).  They are Ayanokoji group (綾小路 ) Awataguchi group (粟田口)、and Rai group (来).  Among the Awataguchi group, 6 swordsmiths received the honor as the “Goban-kaji “ from the Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽上皇).  Awataguchi is the name of the area in Kyoto.  Ayanokoji ( 綾小路 ) group lived in the Ayanokoji area in KyotoMy sword textbook had a note that I saw Ayanokoji Sadatoshi (綾小路定利 ) on March 22nd, 1972.  The note said O-suriage, Funbari, narrowbody, and Ji-nie.  I should have written more in detail then, had I known I am writing the website in the future.  Rai group started from Rai Kuniyuki (来国行 ).  Rai Kuniyuki and Ayanokoji Sadatoshi are said to have a close friendship.  Rai Kuniyuki created many well-known swords.  His famous Fudo Kuniyu (不動国行) was owned by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru (足利義輝 ) then changed hand to Matsunaga Danjo (松永弾正) then to Oda Nobunaga ( 織田信長 ) to Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀 ), then to Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉).  They are all historically well-known powerful daimyos.  It is said that this sword was held by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s arm for the memorial service of Oda Nobunaga.  Rai Kuniyuki’s son is Niji Kunitoshi.  He also created well-known swords.

Middle Kamakura Period —– Bizen Den (備前)

During the Heian period, Bizen Den called Ko-Bizen existed.  They are similar to the one to Yamashiro-Den style.  The true Bizen Den and also the height for the Bizen-Den was the Middle Kamakura period.  Bizen area (Okayama prefecture now) has many ideal aspects of sword making.  The weather is good, produced good iron, abundant wood for fuel nearby, and the location is conveniently situated.  Naturally many swordsmiths moved there and became the main place to produce swords.

Bizen made a large number of swords, their quality level is higher than other sword groups, and more famous swordsmiths appeared.  Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (則宗) and his son Sukemune (助宗 ) received the honor of the Goban-kaji from the Emperor Gotoba.  Among the Osafune group (長船), famous Mitsutada (光忠) and Nagamitsu (長光) appeared.  My father owned four Mitsutada.  Three Tachi and one Tanto.  He was so proud that he owned four Mitsutada, he asked his tailor to monogram Mitsutada on the inside pocket of his suit jacket.  From Hatakeda group (畠田), Hatakeda Moriie (畠田守家), from Ugai (鵜飼) group, Unsho (雲生 ), Unji (雲次) appeared.  The famous Kunimune (国宗) also appeared around this time.  Because of a large number of swordsmiths in Bizen Den, a large number of bizen swords exist.  Each swordsmith showed his own characteristics on their swords.  Therefore kantei can be complex.  This is the time Ikubi Kissaki started to appear.

The classification of the sword from the top

  1. Kokuho (国宝: National treasure)
  2. Jyuyo Bunkazai (重要文化財: Important Cultural Property)
  3. Jyuyo Bijutu Hin (重要美術品: Important Artwork)
  4. Juyo Token (重要刀剣: Important Sword)

The rest is omitted

Below is my father’s four Bizen Osafune Mitsutada.  My father took those pictures many years ago at home by himself.  You can see he is not much of a photographer.  The writing on the square white paper is written by him.  He wrote the name of the swordsmith, the period the sword was made, which Daimyo owned it in the past and classification

Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Bunkazai)             Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo bunkazai)

img027               img028

Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Token)                   Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Bunakzai)

img029 img030

Late Kamakura Period —– Soshu Den (相州伝 )

Yamashiro Den started to decline at the later part of the Kamakura Period.  At this time, many swordsmiths moved to Kamakura area under the new power of Kamakura Bakufu (鎌倉幕府) by the Hojo clan.  The new group, Soshu Den (相州伝 ) started to emerge.  Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) and Kunimune (国宗) from Bizen moved to KamakuraToroku Sakon Kunitsuna (藤六左近国綱) from Awataguchi group of Yamashiro Den moved to KamakuraThose three are the ones who originated the Soshu Den in Kamakura.  Kunitsuna’s son is Tosaburo Yukimitsu, then his son is the famous Masamune (正宗)Outside of Kamakura, Yamashiro Rai Kunitsugu (来国次), Go-no-Yoshihiro (郷義弘) from Ettshu (越中) province, Samoji  (左文字) from Chikuzen province (筑前) were the active swordsmiths.

21|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)
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Ise Masashige (伊勢正重) Once Family-owned   Classified as Juyo Token(重要刀剣)