67| Part 2 of —-31|Shin-Shin-To (Bakumatsu Period Sword) 1781-1867

Chapter 67 is the detailed chapter of 31|Shin Shin-to of Bakumatsu Period.  Please read chapter 31 before start reading this chapter.

30 Timeline (Bakumatsu)

The circled area is the subject of this chapter.

Swords made after Tenmei Era (天明 1781) till the end of Keio Era (慶應) is called shin-shin-To (1781).  This is the time the society was moving toward the Meiji Restoration, called Bakumatsu time.  During Bakumatu time, sword making became active again.  Below are the well-known sword smiths during this time from several main areas.

Musashi no Kuni  武蔵 (Tokyo today)

Suishinshi Masahide 水心子正秀----When he made Yamashiro-Den style, the shape is like the one of the Ko-To time; Funbari, elegant shape, Chu-Suguha (medium straight), Komaru boshi, fine wood grain.  When he made Bizen style, Koshizori shape, just like Ko-To Bizen Osafune, Nioi with Ko-choji.  It shows katai-Ha (Refer to  31|Shin Shin-to of Bakumatsu Period.   I saw Suishinshi on Nov/1970 and Oct/1971.

Taikei Naotane   大慶直胤 ーーーーThough Taikei Naotane was under Suishinshi group, he was the among the top swordsmith.  He had an amazing ability to forge all kinds of different styles of sword wonderfully.  When he made Bizen-Den style, it looks like Nagamitsu of Ko-To time with Nioi.  Also did Sakasa-Choji like Katayama Ichimonji.  Katai-Ha appears.  I saw Naotane in August/1971.

67 Naotane photo

Taikei Naotane (大慶直胤)   Photo is from “Token no Mikata (The way to look at swords)” written by Koichi Hiroi,  Published 1971

Minamoto Kiyomaro     源清麿---- Kiyomaro intended to work as a Samurai for Meiji Restoration movement, his supporter realized Kiyomaro’s ability as a great swordsmith,  he helped him to be a swordsmith.  But Kiyomaro drank a lot and he only forged a few swords.  At the age of 42 years old, he committed SeppukuKiyomaro was called Yotsuya Masamune because he was said to be as good as Masamune who lived in Yotsuya (part of Shinjuku today).  His sword has wide width, shallow curvature, stretched Kissaki, Fukura Kareru.   Boshi has Komaru Boshi.  Fine wood grain Jigane.

67 Kiyomaro photo

Minamoto no Kiyomaro (源清麿)   Photo is from “Token no Mikata ( The way to look at swords)”, written by Koichi Hiroi, published 1971

 

Settsu no Kuni    摂津の国   (Osaka today )

Gassan Sadakazu    月山貞一 ーーーーGassan was good at Soshu-Den style and Bizen-Den style, but he could make any kinds of style.  He was as genius as Taikei Naotane.  Because of his ability, when he made Ko-To style sword, it is hard to distinguish his sword and real Ko-To sword.   One needs to distinguish with the Ko-To like a sword made by Gassan and real Ko-To. He also had an amazing ability in carving.  His Hirazukuri-Kowakizashi forged in Shoshu style looks just like Masamune or Yukimitsu.  He forged Yamashiro style Takenoko-zori with Hoso-Suguha or Chu-Suguha in Nie.  He also forged Yamato-Den, Masame -Hada sword.

67 Gassan photo

Minamoto no Kiyomaro (源清麿)   Photo is from “Token no Mikata ( The way to look at swords)”, written by Koichi Hiroi, published 1971

 

 

 

 

63|Part 2 of — 27 Shin-to Main 7 Regions (part A)

This chapter is a continued part of chapter 27| Shinto Main 7 Regions  (Part A).  Please read chapter 27 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Shin-to

The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

In Chapter 27, Shinto Main 7 Regions (part A 主要7刀匠地) and Chapter 28, Shinto Sword Main 7 Regions (part B 主要7刀匠地) described an overview of the seven main regions.  This chapter and next chapter shows the photos of the representative swordsmiths from those regions.  They are Yamashiro (山城 in Kyoto), Settsu (摂津 today’s Osaka), Musashi (武蔵 Edo), Satsuma (薩摩).  But Echizen (越前) and Kaga (加賀), Hizen (肥前) are skipped.

29 Map with number 7

During the Ko-to time, a sword shape, hamon condition, Kissaki size, and the length and the shape of the nakago, etc., indicates when the sword was forged.  Also, Bizen swordsmith forged Bizen Den sword, Yamashiro swordsmith forged Yamashiro Den sword, Yamato swordsmith forged Yamato Den sword.  But during the Shinto time, that is not the case.  Den and the location of the swordsmith do not match.  For Shin-to sword, we study the swordsmiths of the seven central regions and their characteristic.

During Ko-to time, usually, if a sword has a wide hamon line with nie, Ji-hada shows large wood grain or large burl grain.  Also, when you see a narrow hamon line, it usually shows with fine Ji-hada during Ko-to timeBut on Shin-to, wide Hamon with nie with small wood grain or small burl grain on Ji-hada.  And narrow Hamon line with a large wood grain Ji-hada.  This is the Shin-to characteristic.   Yet some of the early Soshu Den sword during the late Kamakura period shows wide hamon with nie with small burl on Ji-hada.  Because of that, whether it is Ko-to or Shin-to is confusing.  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) was considered as a great master swordsmith among Shin-to swordsmiths.  He forged his swords in different styles and different characteristics.  The types of hamon are O-notare, O-gunome, Togari-ba (pointed hamon), Chu-suguha with hotsure (frayed look), Hiro-suguha, with Sunagashi effect, Inazuma, Kinsuji appears.  Kunihiro liked to make his sword shape look like O-suriage (shortened Nanboku-Cho style long sword).  Kunihiro’s blade gives you a massive feeling.  Kunihiro’s swords often have beautiful carvings on it; designs are such as 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.jpg            Iga-no-Kami Kinnmichi (伊賀守金道)           Dewa Daijyo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)        Both Juyo Token (重要刀剣), once my family owned swords, photos were taken by my father.

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

Kinmichi family is called Mishina group.  Refer 27 Shinto Main 7 Regions  AIga-no-Kami Kinmichi received the 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 27 Shinto Main 7 Regions  A ), hiro suguha (wide straight hamon), O-notare (large wavy), Yahazu-midare, Hako-midare (refer 25 Sengoku Period Tanto).  Boshi is Mishina boshi, refer 27 Shinto Main 7 Regions 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 looks like a shortened Nanboku-cho sword.  Shallow curvature, widebody, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

58| Second part of — 22 Sengoku Period History (戦国時代歴史) 

Chapter 58 is a detailed part of chapter 22 Sengoku Period History.  Please read chapter 22 Sengoku Period History before reading this chapter.

0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period
        The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

Chapter 22 Sengoku Period History explained how we separated the timeline based on political history and sword history.  The center timeline above shows the Sengoku Period (戦国時代) ends in 1596 for sword history.

1596 is the beginning of the Keicho (慶長) era.  The swords made in and after the Keicho era is called Shin-to (new sword), and swords before the Keicho era is called Ko-to (old sword).  Therefore, the beginning of the Keicho era is the dividing line.  The swords made during the Keicho time is technically Shin-To, but they are sepecially called Keicho Shin-To.                                                                                                                                                                                        22| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代歴史) described the overview of the Sengoku Period.  At the beginning of the Sengoku Period, 30 or so small Sengoku Daimyos fought fiercely with each other.   They allied with a neighboring territory on and off and sometimes betrayed each other.  The stronger daimyos took over  weaker one’s territories.  Little by little, the number of daimyos became smaller.  The names of known powerful daimyos are Imagawa Yoshimoto (今川義元), Takeda Shingen (武田信玄), Uesugi Kenshin (上杉謙信), Hojo Soun (北条早雲), Oda Nobunaga (織田信長),  Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉).  Their final goal was to defeat others and advance to Kyoto (京都) to be the supreme political power.

Oda Nobunaga (織田信長) defeats Imagawa Yoshimoto in Okehazama (桶狭間)

Around 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto (今川義元) controlled a significant part of  Suruga (today’s Shizuoka prefecture.  See the map below for the location).  He was a powerful Sengoku Daimyo who was big enough to be the top ruler of the country.

Imagawa clan decided to advance his army toward Kyoto to take over the governmentHe took 25,000 men troop with him.  On his way up to Kyoto, they need to pass Owari (尾張: Aichi prefecture today.  See map below for the location), Oda Nobunaga’s territory.

Oda Nobunaga (織田信長 ) was still a young man who had much less means than Imagawa Yoshimoto.  It was quite apparent that there was no chance for Oda Nobunaga to beat Imagawa.  He had just become the head of Owari after his father’s death.  Also, at that time, Nobunaga was called the “The idiot of Owari” because of his eccentric behaviors (he was actually a genius).

Not too many people had much confidence in him.  Among  Oda vassals, some insisted on just staying inside the castle instead of going out and fighting since Nobunaga managed to gather only 3,000 men.  But in the end, to everyone’s surprise, the Oda side won.  Here is how it happened.

While Imagawa Yoshimoto was advancing, Nobunaga scouted which route Imagawa would take.  Imagawa’s side was sure to win this easy battle since the Oda clan was small, and the head of the clan was an idiot.  Imagawa troops decided to stop and rest in a place called Okehazama.   The road going through Okehazama was long and narrow.  Knowing Imagawa troop would come this way, Nobunaga sent out his men disguised as farmers and offered food and sake to Imagawa soldiersWhile they were having a good time, Oda Nobunaga made a surprise attack on the Imagawa troop.  On top of that, all of a sudden, it began raining heavily.  The rain was so heavy that the Imagawa troop even could not  see the Oda troop was coming.  In the end, Imagawa Yoshimoto was killed by the Oda side in the battle.  After this, the Imagawa clan declined.

59 Okehazama drawing

Bishu Okehazama Gassen (備州桶狭間合戦) by Utagawa Toyonobu (歌川豊信)   Public Domain (http://morimiya.net/online/ukiyoe-big-files/U896.html)

59-imagawa-and-oda-map.jpg

Oda Nobunaga(織田信長) and Akechi Mitsuhide(明智光秀)

After the battle of Okehazama, the Oda clan grew bigger rapidly.  Oda Nobunaga became the primary power.  While his reign he did several cruel things like burning Enryaku-ji Temple (延暦寺) and killing many people, including ordinary people,  yet his economic measures encouraged commercial activities.

Things were going somewhat smoothly for Nobunaga late in his life.  But in 1582, Nobunaga was killed by his own top vassal, Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀), at Hon’nou-ji (本能寺) Temple in KyotoNobunaga was 49 years old.

There are a few theories about why Akecdhi attacked and killed Nobunaga, but we don’t know what exactly happened. One speculation is Akechi had a grudge against Nobunaga.  There were many incidents Nobunaga mistreated Akechi.  Another is that Akechi saw a chance to attack Nobunaga (Nobunaga was with a very few men on that day) and took the opportunity.  The other is then Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki (足利義昭) ordered Akechi to kill Nobunaga since Akechi had once worked under him.  Shogun Yoshiaki was afraid that Nobunaga became too powerful.  More theories go on.  We don’t know the real reason; we still debate over it.  It is one big mystery of Japanese history.

After this happened, the news was relayed to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a counterpart of Akechi under Nobunaga.  At that time, he happened to be in  Bicchu (備中, Okayama prefecture today), which was about 230 KM (143 miles) away from Kyoto (See the map below).   Hideyoshi quickly returned to Kyoto with his troop to fight against Akechi and killed him.

Here is another mystery.  The time between Nobunaga was dead, and the time Akechi was killed by Hideyoshi was only ten days.  Hideyoshi was 230 KM (143 miles) away.  That means in 10 days, Hideyoshi received the information of Nobunaga’s death, hurried back 230 KM (143 miles) to Kyoto with his troop, and fought against Akechi and killed him.   Their means of transportation at the time was minimal.  Even though Hideyoshi had a communication route established between Nobunaga’s inner circle all the time, it is an amazing speed.  There are  also speculatiions that Akechi and Hideyoshi were behind together or some other secret plot behind the incidents..

After Hideyoshi killed Akechi, Hideyoshi cleverly maneuvered his way up to the top of the power.  While he was in charge, he mined a large amount of gold from the gold mines he possessed.  There is a record stating that Hideyoshi buried a vast amount of gold somewhere.  But we never found it yet.

Hideyoshi was a poor farmer’s son who became the most perwerful man in the country.  His success story fascinates the Japanese.  Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu are the three most depicted subjects on TV programs and movies.  After Hideyoshi died naturally, Tokugawa Ieyasu became Shogun, and the Edo period started.

59-bicchu-map.jpg

30| Shin-Shin-To (Bakumatsu Period Sword 新々刀)1781-1868

0-timeline - size 24 BakumatsuThe circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

The later part of the Edo period is called Bakumatsu.  See the circled area of the timeline above.  Swords made during this time are called Shin Shin-to.   They are also called Fukko-to (復古刀: revived sword).  Fukko-to copied the shape, hamon, boshi, and other features of the Ko-to and Shin-to swords.  The characteristics of Shin Shin-to (新々刀) and well-known swordsmiths are those below.

The Characteristics of Shin Shin-to

  • Katana, Wakizashi, and Tanto, all tend to be similar to or copy of the Ko-to and Shin-to in
  • Many swords often have hi or detailed
  • One swordsmith would make more than one style swords like Soshu Den, Bizen Den, and Shin-to style together.
  •  Often shows Katai-ha. Refer to Chapter 24 Sengoku Period Sword.

30 katai-ha

                                                                                     Katai-ha

  • Weak (not tight)
  • Yakidashi (2to 3 inches above machi) is often Suguha(straight line), even though the rest is irregular    Boshi is often irregular Midare.
  • Detailed engravings, but more realistic than the previous times.

Well known swordsmiths of Shin Shin-to

  • Settsu (Osaka area) ————Gassan Sadayoshi (月山貞吉) Gassan Sadakazu (月山貞一) Gassan family is famous for detailed carvings.
  • Musashi no Kuni (Tokyo area) ——Suishinshi Masahide (水心子正秀)  Minamoto Kiyomaro (源 清麿)  Taikei Naotane (大慶直胤)  Taikei Yoshitane (大慶義胤) is famous for his carvings.

30 Kiyomaro entire

Minamoto Kiyomaro(源清麿)    Previously owned by my family

  • Tosa (四国: Shikoku area) ———————————————— Sa Yukohide (左行秀)
  • Satsuma (鹿児島: Kagoshima) ———- Oku Moptohira (奥元平) Namino Hira (波平)

Meiji Ishin-To

Right before the Meiji Restoration, long swords (approx. 3 feet) with no curvature were made.  Sa Yukihide (from Tosa) forged this type of sword.  Saigo Takamori (西郷隆盛)、 Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) owned this type of blades.  Both are famous historical characters during the Meiji Restoration, called Meiji Ishin.  Both of them were a part of the Kin’no-to group which supported the Emperor and renewed the political system.