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

 

 

 

 

41|Part 2 of — 7 Overview of Kamakura Period Sword (1192-1333)

This is the detailed part of 7| Overview of the Kamakura Period Swords (1192-1333).   Please read chapter 8 before reading this section.

7 Kamakura timeline

                                   The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.

The Kamakura period was the golden age of sword making.  Approximately, half of the well-known swords at present were made during the Kamakura period.  Probably because of the war between the Genji and the Heishi demanded large numbers of swords, and they had a live experience to improve the sword.  Also, Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽) invited many skilled swordsmiths to his palace and treated them highly and encouraged them to create a good sword by giving them high ranks.  During the Kamakura period, the technic of sword making improved greatly.

 Middle Kamakura Period —- Yamashiro Den (山城伝)

The Middle Kamakura period was the height for the Yamashiro Den.  Among Yamashiro Den, there were three major groups (or families).  They are Ayanokoji group (綾小路 ) Awataguchi group (粟田口)、and Rai group (来).  Among the Awataguchi group, 6 swordsmiths received the honor as the “Goban-kaji “ from the Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽上皇).  Awataguchi is the name of the area in Kyoto.  Ayanokoji ( 綾小路 ) group lived in the Ayanokoji area in KyotoMy sword textbook had a note that I saw Ayanokoji Sadatoshi (綾小路定利 ) on March 22nd, 1972.  The note said O-suriage, Funbari, narrowbody, and Ji-nie.  I should have written more in detail then, had I known I am writing the website in the future.  Rai group started from Rai Kuniyuki (来国行 ).  Rai Kuniyuki and Ayanokoji Sadatoshi are said to have a close friendship.  Rai Kuniyuki created many well-known swords.  His famous Fudo Kuniyu (不動国行) was owned by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru (足利義輝 ) then changed hand to Matsunaga Danjo (松永弾正) then to Oda Nobunaga ( 織田信長 ) to Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀 ), then to Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉).  They are all historically well-known powerful daimyos.  It is said that this sword was held by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s arm for the memorial service of Oda Nobunaga.  Rai Kuniyuki’s son is Niji Kunitoshi.  He also created well-known swords.

Middle Kamakura Period —– Bizen Den (備前)

During the Heian period, Bizen Den called Ko-Bizen existed.  They are similar to the one to Yamashiro-Den style.  The true Bizen Den and also the height for the Bizen-Den was the Middle Kamakura period.  Bizen area (Okayama prefecture now) has many ideal aspects of sword making.  The weather is good, produced good iron, abundant wood for fuel nearby, and the location is conveniently situated.  Naturally many swordsmiths moved there and became the main place to produce swords.

Bizen made a large number of swords, their quality level is higher than other sword groups, and more famous swordsmiths appeared.  Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (則宗) and his son Sukemune (助宗 ) received the honor of the Goban-kaji from the Emperor Gotoba.  Among the Osafune group (長船), famous Mitsutada (光忠) and Nagamitsu (長光) appeared.  My father owned four Mitsutada.  Three Tachi and one Tanto.  He was so proud that he owned four Mitsutada, he asked his tailor to monogram Mitsutada on the inside pocket of his suit jacket.  From Hatakeda group (畠田), Hatakeda Moriie (畠田守家), from Ugai (鵜飼) group, Unsho (雲生 ), Unji (雲次) appeared.  The famous Kunimune (国宗) also appeared around this time.  Because of a large number of swordsmiths in Bizen Den, a large number of bizen swords exist.  Each swordsmith showed his own characteristics on their swords.  Therefore kantei can be complex.  This is the time Ikubi Kissaki started to appear.

The classification of the sword from the top

  1. Kokuho (国宝: National treasure)
  2. Jyuyo Bunkazai (重要文化財: Important Cultural Property)
  3. Jyuyo Bijutu Hin (重要美術品: Important Artwork)
  4. Juyo Token (重要刀剣: Important Sword)

The rest is omitted

Below is my father’s four Bizen Osafune Mitsutada.  My father took those pictures many years ago at home by himself.  You can see he is not much of a photographer.  The writing on the square white paper is written by him.  He wrote the name of the swordsmith, the period the sword was made, which Daimyo owned it in the past and classification

Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Bunkazai)             Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo bunkazai)

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Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Token)                   Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Bunakzai)

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Late Kamakura Period —– Soshu Den (相州伝 )

Yamashiro Den started to decline at the later part of the Kamakura Period.  At this time, many swordsmiths moved to Kamakura area under the new power of Kamakura Bakufu (鎌倉幕府) by the Hojo clan.  The new group, Soshu Den (相州伝 ) started to emerge.  Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) and Kunimune (国宗) from Bizen moved to KamakuraToroku Sakon Kunitsuna (藤六左近国綱) from Awataguchi group of Yamashiro Den moved to KamakuraThose three are the ones who originated the Soshu Den in Kamakura.  Kunitsuna’s son is Tosaburo Yukimitsu, then his son is the famous Masamune (正宗)Outside of Kamakura, Yamashiro Rai Kunitsugu (来国次), Go-no-Yoshihiro (郷義弘) from Ettshu (越中) province, Samoji  (左文字) from Chikuzen province (筑前) were the active swordsmiths.

12| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先)

12 time line
The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this chapter.

After the live experience of the war of Jokyu-no-ran (Chapter 11), people started to move toward sturdier, grander, wider swords.  The swords made around this time is called Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先).  Ikubi means a wild boar neck.  Ikubi Kissaki style sword has a stout look like a wild boar neck.  This is the era of the golden time of sword making.  Many top swords smiths created wonderful swords during this time.  It is said that there is no mediocre sword among Ikubi Kissai swords.

12 Ikubi Kissaki sword style

SUGATA (shape) —— Originally 3 feet or longer, therefore it is often shortened at a later time.  Wide width, thick Kasane (thick body) with Hamaguri-ha (蛤刃).  Hamaguri-ha means the thickness of the sword is shaped like a clam (see below).  The width at the Yokote line area and the width at the Machi are not much different.  Shinogi (鎬) is high, and shinogi width is narrow.

12 蛤刃と鎬

KISSAKI  —— Ikubi kissaki.  Ikubi means a wild boar neck.  Wild boar looks like no neck, stout look shape.  Short Kissaki but wide at the yokote line.  The illustration below is exaggerated a little to show the idea

12 Ikubi Kissak drawing

Hamon (刃文) —— Kawazuko-Choji (tadpole head shape). O- Choji (clove-like shape) and Ko-Choji mixed.  Irregular waviness mixed with a straight line and choji, this is called suguha-choji.

12 Hamon Kawazuko-choji                     O-choji                          Ko-choji                  Suguha-choji     (tadpole head)                   (large clove)                (small clove)      (straight and clove)

Boshi(鋩子) ——— Yakizume, that is Hamon ends close to the tip, as below.  Nagamitu(長光), Kagemitu( 景光), Sanenaga(真長) created  Boshi called Sansaku Boshi(三作鋩子).  Sansaku Boshi narrows down at Yokote Line, Illustration below.

12 Yakizume
Yakizume
12 Sansaku Boshi(三作
Sansaku-Boshi

                                                  

Ikubi Kissaki Sword Smiths

Fukuoka Ichimonji Group (福岡一文字) ————–Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (則宗) Kamakura Ichimonji Group(鎌倉一文字) ———— Kamakura Ichimonji Sukezane (助真) Soshu Bizen Kunimune Group(相州備前国宗)——– Soshu Bizen Kunimune (国宗)Bizen Osafune Group(長船)——————Bizen Osafune Mitutada(長船光忠) Nagamitsu(長光)   Ugai Group————————————————————————- Ugai Unji (鵜飼雲次)

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From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)                                                                    Osafune Nagamitsu(長船長光 )

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Osafune Mitsutada(長船光忠)                          Osafune Mitsutada(長船光忠)                        *Were family sword This photo was taken by my father and writings on the white paper were written by him.

9 | Middle Kamakura Period (Bizen Den) 鎌倉中期備前伝

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline
The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this chapter 

There are large numbers of swordsmiths in Bizen (備前) school during the Heian period but their sword style is generally similar to Yamashiro school, called Ko-Bisen (古備前). The real Bizen school style started in the Middle Kamakura period.  Bizen province had many ideal conditions to produce swords.  It produced good quality steel and a large amount of fuel around the area and also the transportation was convenient.  Naturally, large numbers of swordsmiths gathered in this area and produced swords in quantities.  Because of that, to connoisseur Bizen sword is difficult.  In general, the Bizen sword has a higher quality standard than other schools.

Generally speaking, the next three characters are the most distinctive features of Bizen school.

  • Nioi base temper line (Nie is sand-like small dots on a tempered line, Nioi is finer dots than Nie, so small, it looks as if a line)  Technically speaking, those two are the same.  See the illustration below.
  • Jigane (sword steel) looks soft.
  • Reflection appears on the surface.

10 Nie & Nioi

Sugata (shape) — The length of the sword is about 33 inches ± a few inches. The width of the blade is slightly wide and it has a stout look.  The curvature of the blade is Koshizori (腰反)  means the highest curvature comes lower part.  The body has an average thickness.  Small kissaki.

10 Middle Kamakura ---備前刀姿

Horimono(engraving) — Engravings are rare. The shape of the tip of Hi is all the way up to Ko-Shinogi and fill up the whole area.

8 Hi

Nakago — Long and thin with curvature.  The end of the Nakago is rounded which has the shape of chestnut’s bottom.  This is called KurijiriSee the illustration of the sword above.

Hamon (tempered area pattern)— Nioi base. The tempered area is wide and the width is even, also the size of midare (irregular tempered line ) is uniform.

Boshi — The same tempered pattern continues to go up to the Boshi area.  You can see Choji midare (clove-like pattern) or Yakizume.

10 Boshi --- Bizen

Jitetu — Fine well forged, and soft look steel.  The surface of the steel has small wood grain pattern mixed with the large grain pattern.  Chikei (condensation of Nie) and cloud-like reflection appears.

Bizen School Sword Smiths during Middle Kamakura Period

Fukuoka Ichimonji (福岡一文字) group ———-Norimune (則宗)  Sukemune (助宗 )  Yoshioka Ichimonji (吉岡一文字) group ———-Sukeyoshi (助吉)   Sukemitsu (助光)         Sho-chu Ichimonji (正中一文字) group ———   Yoshiuji (吉氏)   Yoshimori (吉守)      Osafune (長船) group ———-Mitsutada (光忠)  Nagamitu (長光) Kagemitsu (景光)   Hatakeda(畠田) group ————————————-Moriie (守家)  Sanemori  (真守)          Ugai (鵜飼) group —————————————————— Unsho (雲生) Unji (雲次)

10, Ichimonji Photo

Ichimonji from Sano Museum Catalog (permission to use is granted)