52|Part 2 of —–17|Late Kamakura Period Tanto (Early Soshu-Den Tanto)

Chapter 52 is the continued part of chapter 17 Late Kamakura period Tanto (17 | Late Kamakura period Tanto ——- Early Soshu-Den Tanto.  Please read Chapter 17 before chapter 52.

After studying the general common characteristics of the late Kamakura period Tanto style (that is early Soshu-Den Tanto) on chapter 17, what points do the next two swords fit in with the common characteristic of early Soshu-Den Tanto?

53 Masamune Tanto photo53 Masamune Tanto Oshigata

Goro Nyudo Masamune (相州伝五郎入道正宗) from Sano Museum Catalog (permission granted).

Masamune was born in Kamakura as a son of Tosaburo Yukimitu.  Masamune is a very well-known sword smith even among those who are not interested in a sword.  His tombstone is in Honkaku-Ji (本覚寺) temple near Kamakura train station, approximately 6 minutes’ walk from the station.

Characteristic—– Hira zukuri.  Very slightly sakizori (tip area curves slightly outward).  Bo-hi and Tsure-hi.  Boshi is Ko-maru.   Hamon is Notare (wavy).  From the illustration above, Sunagashi, Nijyuu-ba can be seen.  One of the important characteristics to connosseur sword is Nie or Nioi and Ji-hada.  It is not possible to see it from this photo, but Masamune does Nie and usually wood grain surface.  Nie is the Soshu-Den characteristic.  This type of Nakago is called Tanago-bara.   Masamune Tanto is often MuMei (no signature).

53 Kunisuke photo53 Kunisuke illustration

Higo Province Enju Kunisuke  From Sano Museum Catalogu (permission granted)

Enju  group lived at Kikuchi county in Higo Province (Kyushu).  The characteristic of Enju group is very similar to the one of Yamashiro style.  Because  Enju Kunimura who started the Enju group was said to be the son-in-law of Rai Kuniyuki of Yamashiro-Den. 

Characteristic—-Hamon is Hoso Suguha (straight temper line).  Boshi is Ko-maru.  Front engraving is Suken (left photo of the sword) and the engraving on the back is Gomabashi ( right photo of the sword).  Jitetsu or Jihada is tight Itame.  Nie

45|Part 2 of —- 11|Jyokyu-no-Hen and Gotoba Joko 後鳥羽上皇 1221

Chapter 11 (11|Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221 ) was how Jyokyu-no-Hen ( 承久の変 ) started.  In the end, Emperor Gotoba (or  Gotoba- Joko) was exiled to Oki Island (隠岐の島 ).  He was a very talented man in many fields.  He was very good at Waka (和歌 ).  Waka is a short poem.   It requires to express scenery, one’s inner feeling with the refined sentiment, or the surrounding state with a limited number of words.  It requires literary talent.  He was also good at equestrianism, Kemari (ball game for upper class at that time), a great swimmer, Sumo, good at music, archery, swordsmanship, calligrapher, painter and became a great swordsmith.  His contribution toward sword made the Golden Age of sword making at the middle Kamakura period.  Surprisingly, Gotoba Joko was not only good at in the different field, he really accomplished all those fields to the top level.  Especially his Waka (poetry) is highly regarded.  He also edited Shin-Kokin-Wakashu (新古今集).  This is a collection of Waka.

Emperor Gotoba was enthroned at the age of four

Emperor Gotoba was enthroned at the age of four (some say three).  The problem was the Emperor Antoku already existed at the same time.  They were both about the same age.  Two emperors at the same time is a big problem.  How did it happen? To become an Emperor, the head of the Emperor family has to appoint the next emperor.  While the Emperor Go-Shirakawa (後白河天皇) was in jail, Emperor Antoku was appointed by Taira –no- Kiyomori (平清盛), who was the head of powerful Samurai but not the Emperor family.  That is against the tradition.  Remember, Taira-no-Kiyomori was the most powerful man of the Heike clanThis was not accepted by the Go-Shirakawa Emperor (後白河天皇 ).  Go-Shirakawa Emperor was furious toward Taira-no-Kiyomori and he picked his own choice and enthroned Gotoba as the Emperor.  This is how two emperors coexisted.   One more thing, to be an Emperor, the Emperor must have Sanshu-no-Jingi (三種の神器 Three Sacred Treasures ) that is three items the Emperor must have to be a legitimate Emperor.  They are Mirror, sword, and Magatama (jewelry)*.   But Sanshu-no-Jingi was taken by the Heike family together with the Emperor Antoku when they fled from Genji.  The Heike clan was chased by the Genji all the way to Dan-no-Ura (壇ノ浦) and the Heike clan was defeated there.   Dan-no-Ura is a sea between Kyushu (九州 ) and Honshu (本州 ).  When it became obvious for the Heike family, that they were defeated,  all the Heike people including the young Emperor Antoku jumped into the sea and drowned.   They took Sanshu-no-Jingi with them into the ocean.   Later people searched for the Sanshu-no-Jingi frantically, but they could only recover jewelry, and mirror,  could not find the sword.  Because of the tradition that the Emperor must have Sanshu-no-Jingi otherwise not a legitimate Emperor, Gotoba Joko was tormented for a long time.  Today, those mirror and jewelry are with the present Emperor family.  The sword is still missing.

* Sanshu-no-Jingi (三種の神器 )—–sword (Kusanagi no Tsurugi(草薙の剣),   Mirror (Yata-no-Kagami八咫の鏡),  Magatama (Yasakani-no-Magatama  八尺瓊勾玉)

Politics by  Gotoba-Joko

 Gotoba-Joko wanted political power back from the Kamakura Bakufu.  He was a very impulsive and passionate and unpredictable quick-tempered person.   He wanted to revive the politics controlled by Chotei (朝廷).  Chotei is the central government controlled by the Emperor and aristocrats.  Gotoba-Joko decided to rely on the armed power for this.  He set up the Saimen-no-Bushi (armed forces directly under the Emperor create by Gotoba-Joko).  When he saw Minamoto-no-Sanetomo was killed, he realized Kamakura Bakufu must be in a turmoil.  Thinking this is a good chance, he sent out the Emperor’s order to fight against Kamakura Bakufu to all over Japan to fight against Kamakura Bakufu.  He expected an easy victory, but Kamakura Bushi was united tightly and maneuvered well under Hojo Masako as a one organized armed forces.  Gotoba-Joko side was not very organized.  They were not used to fighting.  In the end, Gotoba-Joko side lost.  After he realized he has lost, he claimed it was not him, it was done by his men only, nothing to do with the Emperor.  So he claimed it is wrong to punish him.  But of course, Kamakura Bakufu did not believe that and exiled him to Oki Island.  Gotoba-Joko ended his life on the island.  As smart as he was and accomplished so many different fields, he could not win against the grandma Shogun,  Hojo Masako.

Sword making by Gotoba-Joko

Gotoba Joko had a superior ability to connoisseur sword and he became the superior swordsmith himself.   He invited many top-level sword smiths from different sword groups to his court and gave them the title and made them as his assistants or instructor.  He invited top-class sword smiths every two months from a place like Bizen, Awataguch, and Bicchu.  Those who were invited were called Gobankaji (御番鍛冶), an honorary title.  On the sword he created, he did not inscribe his name; instead, he inscribed Chrithantamum with 16 petals which are still used present Emperor as the Emperor’s crest.  The sword which has this Chrithantamus is called Kiku Gosaku (菊御作).  Today, in Oki island you can visit Emperor Gotoba museum and there are a few sites that are believed to be the Emperor’s sword making site.  Some people say the sites are debatable.

Today, Oki Island is a beautiful resort island.  It can be reached by ferries from Shimane Prefecture.  It is about 2 hours by boat, also by an airplane directly from Osaka.

11 «part 2» Gotoba Joko photo
Gotoba Joko (owned by Minase Shrine) This picture is public domain

11 «part 2» .Oki-no-Shima map

41|Part 2 of —7 Kamakura Period History (1192 – 1333)

This chapter is the continued part of Chapter 7. Kamakura Period History 1192 – 1333.  Please read chapter 7 before reading this section.  Some of the information here may overlaps with chapter 7 since this is the continued part.

 

7 Kamakura timeline

                           The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

Taira-no-Kiyomori (平清盛)

Chapter 7 described there were two major samurai groups, the Genji (源氏) and the Heishi (平氏) at the end of the Heian period.  The head of the Genji was Minamoto-no-Yoshitomo (源義朝) and the head of the Heishi (or Heike) was Taira-no-Kiyomori(平清盛).  They were childhood friends.  As they grew up, they became enemies because of the political situation.  After their several power struggle, the Genji side lost, and Taira-no-Kiyomori became very powerful.  He gave his men high positions, and his daughter marries the emperor.  As a result, Kiyomori’s power went even beyond the emperor.  This is the time it was said that “if you are not a part of the Heishi family, you are not a human being”.   The situation like this created too many opponents.                    Eventually, suppressed Genji and other samurai groups gathered together and raised an army, fought against the Heishi, and defeated them.  While Taira-no-Kiyomori was in power, he started active trading with China which contributed to economic prosperity tremendously.  The picture below is the Itsukushima Jinja (厳島神社) built by Taira-no-Kiyomori.  It is registered at the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

shutterstock_252533968-600x375

From Wikipedia   Photo is a public Domain.  Author: Rdsmith4       File Itsukushima Floating Shrine.jpg 8 /05/04

*The Itsukushima Floating Shrine is a very beautiful place.  Below is the site for the tour information.      Miyajima Sightseeing  Official site Ad page: http://www.miyajima-wch.jp

Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune (源頼朝)

Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (源頼朝) was a son of Minamoto-no-Yoshitomo(源義朝).  After Yoshitomo was defeated by Taira-no-Kiyomori (平清盛 ),  the direct line of Genji, Minamoto-no-Yoritomo was sent to Izu Island.  He was in his early teens.  Yoritomo grew to be a young man in Izu island, eventually, he met Hojo Masako (北条政子) who was a daughter of Hojo Tokimasa (北条時政).  He was a local government official.  While Tokimasa was on a business trip to Kyoto, Yoritomo and Masako had a baby.  Tokimasa was afraid if the Heike finds out about his daughter and Yoritomo, the Hojo family may get into trouble.  So, he planned Masako to marry somebody else.  But she escaped a night before the wedding day eloped with Yoritomo.  This story was written in the famous Japanese history book called  “Azuma Kagami:吾妻鏡” and a few other books, and also TV shows depict the story this way.  However, some say this story may not be exactly how it happened.  Meantime In Kyoto, the Heishi became very powerful and tyrannical in the central government, called Chotei (朝廷), and suppressed the opponents.  All the angry dissatisfied groups raised an army to attack the Heishi.  Minamoto-no-Yoritomo was the head of those opponents and his army grew bigger and stronger with the help of Masako ’s father, Hojo Tokimasa.  By this time Hojo Tokimasa realized he has a better chance to side with the son-in-law.

The Genji power pushed the Heike all the way to the Southern part of Japan.  The Heike was defeated at the place called Dan-no-Ura (壇ノ浦 ) near Kyushu area (九州 ) at 1185.  Yoritomo set up the Kamakura Bakufu (Kamakura government) in Kamakura.  After Yoritomo’s death, his wife Masako proved herself as a very able politician and she saved Kamakura Bakufu when they were attacked by the central government.  Here is one famous story about her.  When Yoritomo went around for different women in the town of Kamakura, Masako sent her men to follow her husband and set the fire of the woman’s house her husband was after.  Masako is well-known as a jealous wife in Japanese history.  But in her mind, the Hojo is one who made Yoritomo the head of the Kamakura Bakufu.  Without the aid of the Hojo, Yoritomo could not be what he became.

1024px-Kaguraden-Hachimangu_Kamakura

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu  in Kamakura  Author: Urashimataro      From Wikipedia  Photo is public domain

*Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu is one of the major shrines in Kamakura.  It is a walking distance from the Kamakura train station.  On top of the long steps into the hill, there is a big shrine.  Every year on Dec 31, a large number of people come to here to listen to the Joya-no-Kane(除夜の鐘:the New Year’s  bell-ringing)

Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune (源義経)

Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (源頼朝) had several half brothers.  Taira-no-Kiyomori (平清盛) saved the lives of those young boys with the condition of they become a monk when they grew up.  One of them was Ushiwaka-Maru (牛若丸: later Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune源義経) who was raised by Taira-no-Kiyomori while he was an infant, believing Kiyomori is his father.  Later Yoshitsune was raised in Kurama-Yama temple.  He spent his life there until he became mid-teens.  After that, he made a flight to live with O-shu Fujiwara(奥州藤原).   They were in the northern part of Japan, quite some distance from Kyoto.  O-Shu Fujiwara was a very wealthy clan and they had a luxurious culture there. Because of the long-distance from Chotei (central government), they could behave almost like an independent county.   They created grand wealth by mining the gold nearby and the trade with the outside of Japan.  Yoshitsune was living there rather happily for a while, but when he heard his half-brother Yoritomo raised an army to attack the Heike, he decided to join this war.  Yoshitsune was quite skillful at the battle, he won many well-known battles which was a very critical battle for Genji to win the war.  For Yoritome’s mind, he had a big political plan on how to proceed to take over the Heike’s power.  Yet Yoshitusune really could not understand this.  That made Yoritomo angry at his brother.  On top of it, Yoshitsune became very popular among people in Kyoto.  That made Yoritomo fearful and he decided to get rid of Yoshitsune Yoshitsune fled to O-Shu Fujiwara.  In the beginning, O-Shu Fujiwara protected Yoshitsune but could not hold it.  Yoritomo destroyed O-Shu Fujiwara entirely at the end.

Chinese knew about the wealth of O-Shu Fujiwara.  Later, Marco Polo heard about the small wealthy country further into the East.  He mentioned this small wealthy island in his book, “The travels of Marco Polo”.  The famous quote “all the houses are made of gold”.  This is O-Shu Fujiwara.  Of course, all the houses were not made of gold.  Marco Polo introduced Japan as “Zipangu” in his book.  It means the golden country.  That evolved into Japan.  However, we Japanese don’t call Japan as Japan.  We call our country “Nihon” or “Nippon”, both are correct.