61|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 red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

Chaptern 27, Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A :主要7刀匠地) and Chapter 28, Shin-to Main Seven Regions (part B 主要7刀匠地)described an overview of the seven main regions.  This chapter and the next chapter show the representative swords from these regions.  They are Yamashiro (山城 in Kyoto), Settsu (摂津today’s Osaka), Musashi (武蔵  Edo), Satsuma (薩摩  Kyushu).  But Echizen (越前) and Kaga (加賀), Hizen (肥前) are skipped.29 Map with number 7

With the Ko-to swords, the shape, Hamon condition, Kissaki size, the length, and the shape of the Nakago, etc., indicate when the sword was forged.  In Ko-to time, the Bizen swordsmiths forged the Bizen Den swords; the Yamashiro swordsmiths forged the Yamashiro Den swords, the Mino swordsmiths forged the Mino Den sword.  But with the Shin-to-time swords, that is not the case.  The Den and the location of a swordsmith often do not match.  For Shin-to sword, we study the swordsmiths and their main seven regions and their characteristic.

Regarding the swords made in the Ko-to time, if a sword has a wide Hamon line with Nie, usually, its Ji-hada shows large wood grain or large burl grain.  Also, when you see a narrow Hamon line, it usually has a fine Ji-hada. 

However, with Shin-to swords, if a sword has a wide Hamon with Nie, it often has small wood grain or small burl grain pattern on Ji-hada.  And if it has a narrow Hamon line, it may have a large wood grain pattern Ji-hada.  That is the Shin-to characteristic.   

Here is an exception; some of the early Soshu Den swords during the late Kamakura period show wide Hamon with Nie with small burls on Ji-hada.  Because of that, whether it is Ko-to or Shin-to is confusing.  Even so, other features like Ji-hada or other parts should indicate the Shin-to or Ko-to.

  1. Yamashiro (山城: Kyoto)

64-kunihiro-sword.jpg 64 Kunihiro IllustrationHorikawa Kunihiro   (堀川国広)   From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広)

Horikawa Kunihiro was considered a great master swordsmith among Shin-to swordsmiths.  He forged his swords in many styles with different characteristics.  Hamon types are O-notare, O-gunome, Togari-ba (pointed hamon), Chu-suguha with Hotsure (frayed look), Hiro-suguha with Sunagashi effect, Inazuma, or 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 them; designs include a dragon, Sanskrit letters, etc.  Since his swords are in many different styles, there is no general characteristic on his swords other than that Hamon is mainly Nie.  His Ji-hada is finely forged.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

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, photos were taken by my father.

Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi ( 伊賀守金道)

Kinmichi family is called the Mishina group.  Refer 27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地)Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi received the Japanese Imperial chrysanthemum crest. 

The characteristic of Kinmichi ——- wide sword, shallow curvature, extended Kissaki, Sakizori (curvature at 1/3 top),  wide tempered line, Kyo-yakidashi (refer 27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地), Hiro-suguha (wide straight Hamon), O-notare (large wavy), Yahazu-midare, Hako-midare (refer 24| Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代短刀)Boshi is Mishina-boshi, refer 27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地).  Fine wood burl, Masame appears on Shinog-ji area.

Dewa Daijo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)

Dewa Daijo Kunimichi was the best student of Horikawa Kunihiro.  The right photo above.  Like Kunihiro, the shape of the sword looks 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, or Inazuma shows.  Double Gunome (two Gunome side by side) appears.  Fine Ji-hada.

  1. Settu (摂津) Osaka (大阪 )

Settu (Osaka) has many well-known swordsmiths.  They are Kawachi-no-Kami Kunisuke (河内守国助), Tsuda Echizen-no-Kami Sukehiro (津田越前守助広), Inoue Shinkai (井上真改), Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子忠綱), etc.                                                                                                     

The Settsu (Osaka) sword’s main characteristic ———— The surface is beautiful and fine, almost like a solid look with no pattern or no designs surface.  The below two photos are of the Settsu sword.

                 62 Ikkanshi photo  62 Ikkanshi illustration                  Ikkanshi Tadatsuna from Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission granted to use.

Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子忠綱)

Ikkanshi Tadatsuna was famous for his carvings.  His father was also a well-known swordsmith, Omi-no-Kami Tadatsuna (近江守忠綱).  Ikkanshi Tadatsu was the second generation of Omi-no-kami Tadatsuna.  Therefore he was also known as Awataguchi Omi-no-Kami Fujiwara Tadatsuna (粟田口近江守藤原忠綱), as you see in the Nakago above photo.                                               

The characteristics of Ikkanshi Tadatsuna —————- longer kissaki and Sakizori (curved at a higher part of the body), wide tempered line with Nie.  Osaka Yakidashi (transition between the Suguha above Machi and Midare is smooth.  Refer to 27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地) for Osaka Yakidashi.  O-notare with Gunome, Komaru-boshi with a turn back, and very fine Ji-hada with almost no pattern on the surface.

61 Inoue Shinkai 1

 Inoue Shinkai (井上真改) from “Nippon-to Art Swords of Japan” The Walter A. Compton Collection

Inoue Shinkai (井上真改)

Inoue shinkai was the second generation of Izumi-no-Kami Kunisada (和泉守国定), who was a student of Kunihiro.                                                                                                                         

The characteristic of Inoue Shinkai’s swords ——-Osaka Yakidashi, the tempered line gradually becomes wider toward the top.  O-Notare and deep Nie.  Very fine Ji-hada with almost no design on the surface.

56| Part 2 of — 22 Sengoku Period History (戦国時代歴史) 

Chapter 56 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 above indicate the time we discuss in this section

22| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代歴史) 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 are called Shin-to (new sword), and swords before the Keicho era are 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 specially 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 Daimyo (warlord) fought fiercely with each other.  They allied with a neighboring territory on and off and sometimes betrayed each other.  The stronger Daimyo took over weaker ones’ territories.  Little by little, the number of Daimyo became lesser.  The names of known powerful Daimyo 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) defeated 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 needed 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 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 could not even 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. 

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 where 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:  Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki (足利義昭) and his surroundings ordered Akechi to kill Nobunaga since Akechi had once worked under him.  Shogun Yoshiaki was afraid that Nobunaga would become 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, Hideyoshi 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 avenge his master against Akechi and killed him. 

Here is another mystery.  The time between Nobunaga was killed, and the time Akechi was killed by Hideyoshi was only ten days.  Hideyoshi was 230 KM (143 miles) away.  There were many mountains and rivers in between.  That means in 10 days, Hideyoshi received the information of Nobunaga’s death, packed up hurried back 230 KM (143 miles) to Kyoto with his large number of soldiers and fought against Akechi and killed him.   Their means of transportation at the time were 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 speculations that Akechi and Hideyoshi were behind together (?) or some other secret plot behind the incidents. 

59-bicchu-map.jpg

After Hideyoshi killed Akechi, Hideyoshi cleverly maneuvered his way up to the top of the power.  While Hideyoshi 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 have never found it yet. 

Hideyoshi was a poor farmer’s son who became the most powerful 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 of natural causes, Tokugawa Ieyasu became Shogun, and the Edo period started.

The reference source                                                                                                      *Rekijin.com/?p=31448-キャッシュ                                                                                    *Bushoojapan.com/scandal/2019/06/02/51145-キャッシュ            

30| Shin-Shin-To 1781-1867 (Bakumatsu Period Sword 新々刀)

0-timeline - size 24 BakumatsuThe red 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 shape.
  • Many swords often have Hi or detailed engravings.
  • One swordsmith would make more than one style swords like Soshu Den, Bizen Den, and Shin-to style together.
  • Often shows Katai-ha.

30 katai-ha

                                                                  Katai-ha

  • Weak (not tight) Nioi.
  • Yakidashi (2 to 3 inches above Machi) is often Suguha (straight line Hamon), 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)    Once my family possession

  • 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 swords.  Both are famous historical characters during the Meiji Restoration, called Meiji Ishin (明治維新).  Both of them were a part of the Kin’no-to (勤皇党) group which supported the Emperor and renewed the political system.