My Yamato Sword (大和所有刀剣)

Chapter 16|The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活)and  Chapter 51| Part 2 of —– 16 The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活) was the discussion about Yamato-Den.  It may be appropriate to show my Yamato sword here.  I obtained this sword at the yearly San Francisco swords show a few years back.

Characteristic:  Munei (cut short and no signature).  Yamato Den, Tegai-ha (Yamato school Tegai group).  Length is 2尺 (shaku) 2寸(sun) 8 1/2 分(bu) —27&1/4 inches.  Very small Kissaki and Funnbari.  This shape is typical of the end of Heian to early Kamakura period though nobody said so.

my-yamato-sword-e1555694162999.jpg

 

The Entire view of the sword and Kantei-Sho (NBTHK* Paper).  It is ranked “Tokubetsu Hozon Token”.  * Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyoukai (日本美術刀剣保存協会)

My Yamato sword 4

My Yamato sword.jpg 2

My Yamato sword 3

My Yamato sword 5

On Hamon, Sunagashi, Nijyu-ba shows very faintly.   I could not take a good photo of boshi.  But it is Yakizume like.  Ji-Hada is Itame with faint Masame, almost Nashiji-Hada (possibly because of my eyes).  Nie-Honni . 

 

51| Part 2 of —– 16 The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)

This chapter is the continued part of Chapter 16|The Revival of Yamato Den.   Please read chapter 16 before reading this section.

17 red-timeline late Kamakura

51 Japan map Yamato

At the end of the Kamakura period, in the Yamato area, powerful temples expanded their territories.  See the map above for the location of the Yamato area.  The big temples used have a political and military power to control the area then, especially, the one with large territories.   Those big territories were called Shoen (荘園).  The demand for the swords increased by warrior monks called Sohei (僧兵).  That started the revival of the Yamato school.  Some of the big temples had their own swordsmiths within their territory.  Todaiji-temple (東大寺) backed Tegai (手掻) sword group.  The Senjuin (千手院 ) sword group lived near Senju-Do (千手堂 ) where Senju Kannon (千手観音) was enshrined.  The name of the sword group, Taima came from Taima-Ji temple (当麻寺).  Shikkake group (尻懸) and Hosho group (保昌) were also Yamato Den sword group, as well.  Those five groups are called Yamato Goha  (Yamato five groups).

General Characteristic of Yamato Den

Yamato Den (大和伝) sword always shows Masame (柾目: straight grain-like) on somewhere on Ji-Hada, Jigane or Hamon.   Please refer to 16|The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活) for its general characteristic.  Masame is sometimes mixed with Mokume (burl like) or Itame (wood grain like).  Either way, Yamato Den sword shows Masame somewhere. Some sword shows Masame entirely or some shows a lesser amount.  Because of that, Hamon tends to show Sunagashi (brush stroke-like) or a double line like Hamon called Nijyu-ha.

Taima or Taema group (当麻 )

Shape —————— Middle Kamakura period shape and Ikubi Kissaki style

Hamon ————-Mainly medium Suguha.  Double HamonSuguha mixed with choji.   Shows Inazuma, Kinsuji, especially under Yokote line Inazuma appears.

Boshi ————– Often Yakizume.  Refer Yakizume on 16|The Revival of Yamato Den

Ji-Hada ———- Small wood grain and well knead surface.  At the top part of the sword, the wood grain pattern becomes Masame.

Shikkake Group (尻懸)

Shape ———- Late Kamakura period shape. Refer 15|Late Kamakura Period Sword

Hamon —————— Mainly Nie (we say Nie-honi).  Medium suguha frayed, mixed with small irregular and Gunome (half-circle).  Double-lined, brush stroke-like pattern.  Small Inazuma, Kinsuji.

Boshi ———– Yakizume, Hakikake (trace made by broom) and Ko-maru ( small round)

Ji-Hada ——— Small burl mixed with Masame.  Shikkake group sometimes shows Shikkake Hada.  That is,  Ha side shows  Masame and Mune side shows burl.

Tegai Group ( 手掻 )

Shape ———– Early Kamakura shape and thick Kasane (body).  High ShinogiKoshizori.

Hamon ————— Narrow tempered line with medium suguha hotsure (frayed suguha).  Mainly Nie.  Double tempered line. Inazuma, Kinsuji shows.

Boshi ———————– Yakizume (no turn back ), Kaen (flame like).

Ji-Hada ———————————— Fine burl mixed with Masame.  

51 Kanenaga photo Yamato51 Kanenaga ilustration Yamato

Tegai Kanenaga of Yamato.  From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted).  The illustration shows Notare (wave-like Hamon) and Suguha Hotsure (frayed Suguha) and Kinsuji.

Example of Kantei process how to figure out the maker of the sword using the above photo 

  • To determine Jidai(time) by Sugata (shape) ———-  Heian (possible), Early Kamakura (possible),   Middle Kamakura (possible) Late Kamakura (possible), Nanboku-Cho (unlikely), Muromachi (possibly No), Sengoku (possibly No), Shin-To (possibly No), Shinshin-To (No)
  • To judge from Hamon(actual view shows Masame)—–  Yamashiro- Den (possible),  Yamato-Den (very possible),  Bizen- Den (unlikely but possible) Soshu-Den (unlikely but possible),  Mino- Den (No)
  • From Jihada (actual view shows a lot of Nie) —–Yamashiro Den (possible), Yamato-Den(very possible),  Soshu-Den (unlikely but possible),  Bizen-Den (unlikely ),  Mino-Den (unlikely)

By analyzing the above information, you conclude and come up with the name of the swordsmith.  In actual Kantei, the sword is right in front of you, therefore, more noticeable checkpoints are there.   Finally, guess and come up with the name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

47|Part 2 of –12 Ikubi Kissaki(continuedfrom Chapter 46)

This chapter is a detailed part of Chapter 12 and continued from the previous chapter 46.  Please read Chapter 12 and Chapter 46 before reading this section.

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline                    
                       The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.

Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗)

Another swordsmith that needs to 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 his circle 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 Hamon is squarish with less Kubire (less narrow at the bottom of the clove).  Hajimi (刃染み rough surface) may show.  Often the Kunimure swords are 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 (tadpole and clove-like)Hamon                                                                                  (Sano Museum Catalog, Permission granted)

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

Ji-hada —–Woodgrain.  Fine Ji-hada with some Ji-nie (Nie inside Ji-hada).  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

The above photo is the National treasure Kunimune of the Terukuni Jinja Shrine in Kagoshima prefecture.  This Kunimune sword was lost after WWII.  This is the sword Dr. Compton, the chairman of the Board of Miles Laboratory in Elkhart Indiana, found in an antique store in Atlanta.  I mentioned Dr. Compton in Chapter 34.  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) in Tokyo.  It turned out to be the famous missing National treasure of Kunimune from Terukuni Jinja ShrineHe returned the sword to Terukuni Jinja without compensation in 1963.  My father became a good friend with 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 which he kept in his house (he had about 400 swords) and swords of New York Met, Philadelphia Museum, and the Boston Museum.  Father wrote about this trip and swords he examined in those museums and published a book in 1965; the title is “Katana Angya (刀行脚)”.  For Dr. Compton and my father, around this time must be the best time of their life.  The business for both of them was doing good and could spend time on their interest and having fun.  It was the best time of me too.

One time while I was visiting 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 room was with fire prevention system and correct lighting for viewing swords.   It was functionally correct as a storage place for his many different art objects.  Then his wife, Phoebe said to him that he cannot keep a young girl (I was a college student) in the basement all day long.  He agreed and then he took me to his cornfield to pick some corns for dinner.  Basement to a cornfield, not much improvement?  So his wife Phoebe decided to take me shopping and lunch in Chicago.  Good idea,  but it is too far.   The distance between Elkhart and Chicago is about two hours by driving a car then, too far just for shopping and lunch.  To my surprise, we took their company private airplane to fly to the roof of the department store then do the shopping and lunch came back with the same private airplane.

Miles Lab. and a well-known Japanese large 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 used to spend days with sword people and I used to follow my father.  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 Lab. 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 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 in 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.  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.

 

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)

 

7| Overview of the Kamakura Period Swords (1192-1333)

7 Kamakura timeline
The circle indicates  the time we are discussing in this section

Introduction Of The 5 Main Sword School (Den)

There are five main sword schools (Den).   They are Yamashiro Den (山城), Bizen Den (備前), Soshu Den (相州), Yamato Den (大和) and Mino Den (美濃).  During the Heian period, Yamashiro Den was the main school.  Also, there was a school called Ko-Bizen (means old Bizen) that is a part of Bezen Den but we treat them separately.   Their style was a little different than Bizen Den we see later.  They were somewhat close to Yamashiro Den.  During the Heian period, Yamashiro Den was the most active sword school.  Swordsmiths lived around the Kyoto area, the capital city of Japan then.  In the early Kamakura period, Yamashiro Den continued their style similar to the one during the Heian period.  Bizen Den appeared in the middle Kamakura period.  Soshu Den appeared in the late Kamakura period in the Kamakura area.  Mino school appeared Muromachi period

Early Kamakura Period (鎌倉) (1192 – 1218)

We divide the Kamakura period into 3 stages. early Kamakura, middle Kamakura, late Kamakura period.  In the early Kamakura period, the sword style is almost the same as the one during the Heian period, the previous time.   Yamashiro Den was the active sword school in the early part of the Kamakura period.

Middle Kamakura Period (1219 – 1277)

In the middle Kamakura period, we have three different styles to talk about. Yamashiro Den style, Bizen Den style, and Ikubi kissaki style (猪首切先) sword.  Ikubi Kissaki is a new style.  We say there are no mediocre swords among the Ikubi-Kissaki (猪首切先) swords.  As I described in the previous section, the Kamakura government (鎌倉幕府) had political and military power, yet the Emperor still existed in Kyoto(京都).  Emperor Gotoba raised an army and attacked the Kamakura government in order to regain the political power back. This war (1221) is called Jyokyu-no-Ran (承久の乱). The live experience from this war changed the shape of the sword to sturdier-looking shape, that is what we call Ikubi-kissaki style.

Late Kamakura Period (after Mongolian Invasion— (1274 and 1281)

In this section, adding to the Yamashiro Den and Bizen Den, Soshu Den started to appear.  After the Mongolian invasion (that is called Genko (元寇) in 1274 and 1281), a longer Kissaki and a longer in length and wider sword started to appear.  Soshu Den swordsmiths forged this type of swords.

Engravings on Sword

Carvings have three meanings in Ko-To time.  One is to reduce the weight of the sword.  They are Hi, Bohi (single groove), Gomabashi (wide, narrow, short or long grooves).  The second is for religious purposes.  For that reason, swordsmiths often carve the Buddhistic figures.  The third is for decoration.  In shin-To time, carvings became mainly decoration purposes.

8 Hi, Suken, Bonji                    8 gomabashi            8 Hi

Suken                       Bonji (sanskrit)                 Gomabashi                     Hi