The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section
In 12| The Middle Kamakura Period: Tanto described that the shape of Tanto called Takenoko-zori had appeared during the middle Kamakura period. This style of Tanto curves inward a little at the tip. The drawing below may be a bit exaggerated to show the curve. The real Takenoko-zori curvature is not so apparent. Maybe a few millimeters inward.
Usually, the length of the Tanto is approximately 12 inches. Tantos are described as follows; a Tanto of approx. ten inches is called Josun Tanto (定寸短刀), longer than ten inches is called Sun-nobiTanto (寸延び短刀), and less than ten inches is called Sun-zumari Tanto (寸詰短刀).
Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延び) > Jyosun Tanto (定寸) > sun-zumari Tanto (寸詰り) (longer than 10 inches) (approx. 10 inches) (less than 10 inches
Shintogo Kunimitsu (新藤五国光) Sano Museum Catalogue, permission granted to use
The style above is called Kanmuri-otoshi (冠落し); the Mune side (opposite side of cutting edge) is shaved off. The length is approximately 10 inches. Woodgrain pattern surface, Nie on Ji (refer to 3 |Names of Parts). Very finely forged. Hamon is medium Suguha (straight). Boshi is Ko-maru (small round). Because of the Kanmuri-otoshi style, it may not be easy to see the Takenoko-zori; the Mune side bends inward very slightly. Among the Tanto producers, Shintogo Kunimitsu is considered as the top Tanto maker.
Above photo is also by Shintogo Kunimitsu (新藤五国光) with Saya.Saya is the scabbard. The handle of the scabbard (white part) is made with sharkskin. Both photos are from Sano Museum Catalog. Permission granted.
The red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this chapter.
Chapter 10 described how Jokyu-no-Ran (承久の乱) had started. In the end, Emperor Gotoba (or Gotoba Joko) was exiled to Oki Island (隠岐の島).
Emperor Gotoba was a very talented man in many fields. He was very good at Waka (和歌), Japanese short poem. To compose Waka, you are required to include several elements such as scenery, a season, one’s inner feeling with the refined sentiment, or the surrounding state, within the very limited number of words. It requires a literary talent. He was also good at equestrianism, Kemari (a ball game for upper-class men at that time), swimming, Sumo wrestling, music, archery, swordsmanship, calligraphy, painting, and even sword-making. His contribution toward the sword field created the golden age of Sword making in the middle Kamakura period. Surprisingly, Gotoba Joko was not just good at things in many different areas, but he mastered them to the top level. Especially his Waka (poetry) was highly regarded. He edited Shin Kokin Wakashu (新古今集), which was a collection of 1980 Waka poems.
Emperor Gotoba, Enthroned at the Age Four
Emperor Gotoba was enthroned at the age of four (some say three). The problem was Emperor Antoku had already existed at the same time. They were both about the same age. Two emperors at the same time was a big problem. How did it happen?
To have a new emperor, the head of the emperor’s family had to appoint the next emperor. While the Emperor Go-Shirakawa (後白河天皇) was in jail, Emperor Antoku was set by Taira no Kiyomori (平清盛). Though Kiyomori was the head of the Heishi, the most powerful Samurai group, he was not from the emperor’s family. That was against the tradition. This was not acceptable for Go-Shirakawa Emperor (後白河天皇). Emperor Go-Shirakawa was furious at Taira no Kiyomori and picked Emperor Gotoba and enthroned him. This is the reason why two emperors coexisted.
There was one more thing. To be an emperor, the emperor must have Sanshu-no-Jingi (三種の神器: Three imperial regalia); There are three items the emperor must have to be a legitimate emperor. They are a mirror, a sacred sword, and a Magatama (jewelry)*.
But Sanshu-no-Jingi were taken by the Heike family together with Emperor Antoku when they fled from the Genji. The Heike clan was pushed by the Genji all the way to Dan-no-Ura (壇ノ浦), and they were defeated there. Dan-no-Ura is a sea between Kyushu (九州) and Honshu (本州). When it became clear 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; however, they recovered only the Jewelry and the Mirror but not the Sword. Because of the tradition, the emperor must have Sanshu-no-Jingi; otherwise, he was not recognized as a legitimate emperor. Gotoba Joko was tormented for a long time for not having all three.
Today, the Jewelry is with the present Emperor family, and the Mirror is with Ise Jingu Shrine (伊勢神宮). The Sword is still missing somewhere in the ocean. Some say that the lost Sword down into the sea was a copy and one kept at Atsuta Jingu Shrine (熱田神宮) is the real one.
* Sanshu-no-Jingi (三種の神器 )—– 1. The Sword; Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (草薙の剣) 2. The Mirror; Yata-no-Kagami (八咫の鏡), 3. The Magatama (Jewelry); Yasakani-no-Magatama (八尺瓊勾玉) by Token World: www.touken-world.jp/tips/32747/
Politics by Emperor Gotoba
Emperor Gotoba wanted political power back from the Kamakura Bakufu. He was a very impulsive, passionate, unpredictable quick-tempered person. He tried to revive the Chotei (朝廷) power. The Chotei is the central government controlled by the emperor and aristocrats. Emperor Gotoba decided to rely on the armed forces to achieve this goal. He set up a Saimen no Bushi (armed forces directly under Emperor Gotoba’s command).
When he saw Minamoto no Sanetomo was killed, he realized Kamakura Bakufu must have been in turmoil. Thinking this was a good chance, he sent out the emperor’s order to all the daimyos to fight against Kamakura Bakufu. He expected an easy victory, but Kamakura Bushi was united tightly and fought well under Hojo Masako’s leadership, the “Nun Shogun.” She organized one tightly united armed force, whereas the Emperor Gotoba side was not very organized. They were not used to fighting.
In the end, the Emperor Gotoba’s side lost. When he realized he had lost, he claimed it was not him, but his men did it independently. He insisted that it had nothing to do with him. Therefore, it was wrong to punish him. But of course, Hojo Masako and Kamakura Bakufu did not believe Emperor Gotoba and exiled him to Oki Island. Emperor Gotoba ended his life there. Although he was so smart and accomplished in so many different fields, he could not win against the grandma “Nun-shogun,” Hojo Masako.
Sword-Making by Gotoba Joko
Gotoba Joko had a superior ability to evaluate swords, and he became the superior swordsmith himself. He invited many top-level swordsmiths from different sword groups to his court, gave them a title, and treated them respectfully. Also, he made them his instructors and assistants. Gotoba Joko brought in skilled swordsmiths from many places in rotation. Those who were invited to the palace were called Gobankaji (御番鍛冶), an honorary title. On the Sword he created, he inscribed a Chrysanthemum with 16 petals. The present emperor still uses this design as the emperor’s crest. The Sword with the chrysanthemum design is called Kiku Gosaku (菊御作).
Today, you can visit the Emperor Gotoba Museum on Oki island, and there are a few sites that are believed to be the emperor’s sword making site. Some people say it is debatable if the sites are real. Today, Oki Island is a beautiful resort island. It can be reached by ferries from Shimane Prefecture, which takes about 2 hours by boat. Also, it can be reached by airplane directly from Osaka.
The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section
The characteristics of Yamashiro Den swords
Sugata(shape)—– In general, the blade is narrow, especially near the Yokote line. The bottom of the blade has fundari (A-line shape). Kasane is thick. The curvature type is usually Kyo-zori (the deepest curvature comes at about the middle). It has a small Kissaki with Fukura. Shinogi is thick with Gyo-no-mune or Shin-no-mune. Please see the three illustrations below for Sugata.
Horimono (Engraving)—– The tip of a Hi (樋, groove) follows the exact shape of the Ko-shinogi line. Sometimes you may see Bonj (Sanscrit) and Suken (see the illustration).
Nakago (hilt: 中心)—————Long and thin with curvature
Hamon (tempered line: 刃文) —————Mostly Suguha (straight line), Niju-Ba (double Hamon), or Suguha with an irregular wavy line. Sometimes a thin gold lightning-like line called Inazuma faintly appears. The tempered line is mostly Nie. The below is Suguha,
豊後国行平(Bungo-no-Kuni-Yukihira) Sano Museum Catalog permission granted
* Bungo-no-Kuni-Yukihira was a Yamashiro Den swordsmith from the Bungo area.
Boshi(鋩子)——– Komaru-boshi (small round) Omaru-boshi (large round) Ji-hada (地肌) ——-Well forged fine surface. Small burl pattern. Jinie (地沸) on the surface.
Names of the swordsmiths during the middle Kamakura period
Ayano-Koji group ———————————– Ayano-Koji Sadatoshi (綾小路 定利 )
Awataguchi group ————————————- Awataguchi kunituna (粟田口国綱)
Rai group ————————-Rai kuniyuki (来国行) Rai Nijikunitoshi (来ニ字国俊)
Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊) Sano Museum Catalogue, Permission granted