50|Part 2 of –16 Late Kamakura Period: Tanto (Early Soshu-Den 鎌倉末短刀, 正宗墓)

Chapter 50 is a continued part of 16| Late Kamakura period Tanto (Early Soshu-Den 鎌倉末短刀).  Please read Chapter 16 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

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

In  16| Late Kamakura period: Tanto  (Early Soshu-Den  鎌倉末短刀) ,  the general characteristics of the late Kamakura period Tanto style (early Soshu Den) was described.  The next two photos fit in with the typical features of early Soshu Den Tanto.


Goro Nyudo Masamune (五郎入道正宗) was born in Kamakura as a son of Tosaburo Yukimitu (藤三郎行光)Today, Masamune is a very well-known swordsmith, even among those who are not very familiar with the Japanese sword.  His father, Tosaburo Yukimitsu was also one of the top swordsmiths among the early Soshu DenMasamune’s tomb is in Honkaku-JI (本覚寺) Temple, approximately a 6 minutes’ walk from Kamakura station. 

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

Masamune photo (above) —– Hira-zukuri (flat)Very slightly Sakizori (tip area curves slightly outward).  Bo-hi and Tsure-hi (parallel thin grooves).  Komaru-boshiItame-hada (wood grain pattern).  Hamon is Notare (wavy).  The illustration above shows Sunagashi and Niju-ba (double Hamon).  This type of Nakago is called Tanago-bara.  Masamune Tanto is often Mu-mei (no signature).  This particular tanto is called Komatsu Masamune (小松政宗).  The Sano Museum Catalog’s description stated that connoisseurs in the past had difficulty determining this is Masamune swordBecause the wide Mihaba with sori and hamon was a little different from other Masamune’s.  Judging from the clear Nie, Chikei, and Kinsuji, they determined it was a Masamune Tanto.

Enju Photo below

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

Enju (延寿) group lived in Higo (肥後) Province in Kyushu.  The characteristics of the Enju group is very similar to that of the Yamashiro Den’s.  It is because Enju Kunimura was related to Rai Kuniyuki of Yamashiro-Den.

Enju (Photo above) —-Hamon is Hoso-suguha (straight temper line).  Boshi is Komaru.  The front engraving is Suken (left photo left side), and the engraving on the back is Gomabashi (left photo right side).  Ji-hada is a tight Itame.  It is confusing to Kantei (determining who made the sword) a sword like this because even though this sword is from the late Kamakura period, it does not have the typical early Soshu Den look.

Masamune’s Tomb in Honkaku-ji Temple

Masamune’s (正宗) tomb is in the Honkakuj-Ji Temple (本覚寺) in Kamakura.  Here is a map of the Honkaku-Ji Temple and Masamune Kogei store in Kamakura.  This store is owned by Tsunahiro Yamamura, the 24th generation of MasamuneHonkaku-Ji Temple is circled in red, and Masamune Kogei store is the red circle with X.  Both are approximately a 6 to 7 minutes walking distance from Kamakura station. 

To get to Honkaku-Ji Temple from Tokyo

Take the Yokosuka line train from Tokyo station (approx. one hour)  → Get off at Kamakura Station (one stop after Kita-Kamakura) → Exit from the East Exit (front exit) → Go straight and cross the road → Turn right and go up to the post office  → Turn left at the post office (Honkaku-ji Temple sign is at the corner of the post office) →The temple is at a short distance from the post office.

52 Honkakuji map in red

From Kamakura Tourist map

52 Honnkakuji 2 54 large Masamune monument only

52 Honkakuji 54 Small Masamune tomb only

Honkakuji Temple (本覚寺) and Masamune Tomb (正宗墓 ) My trip in 2019

28|Shin-to Sword — Main Seven Regions (part B 主要7刀匠地)

0-timeline - size 24 Shin-to
 The red circle indicates the subject of this chapter

64Map with number with 8

3Musashi ( 武蔵 ) in Edo ( 江戸 )

The Katana and Wakizashi made in the Musashi area have shallow Sori (curvature).  Often the width of the upper part of the body tends to be narrow.  Usually, the Hamon starts with a small irregular pattern, gradually becomes a bigger irregular pattern, then a few inches under the yokote line, it becomes a small irregular pattern again.  The Boshi is usually Komaru-boshi.  The Ji-hada is somewhat rough.   Masame-hada shows on Shinogi-ji.

Well-known swordsmiths in Musashi ———————————-Noda Hannkei (野田繁慶)                                                      Nagasone Okisato Nyudo Kotetsu (長曽根興里入道虎徹)

28 Kotetsu                            はんけい cropped

Nagasone Okisato Nyudo Kotetsu                                                Noda Hankei (野田繫慶)  (長曽根興里入道虎徹)                                             from Compton’s collection “Nippon-to”  Once owned by my father.                                                            

  1. Echizen ( 越前 ) and 5. Kaga (加賀 )

Many swordsmiths from Mino (美濃) area moved to Echizen and Kaga area (#4  & 5 on the map above).  Therefore, the swords made in this area are called Echizen- seki, and Kaga-seki.  Refer to 23|Sengoku Period (戦国) Sword for Mino Den.  The style of Echizen Yasutsugu (越前康継) is similar to the one of Mino Den.

Well-known swordsmith in Echizen ————————-Echizen Yasutsugu (越前康継 )

  1. Hizen (肥前)

Both Katana and Wakizashi in Hizen have a well-balanced shape. Hizen area tends to make swords with Chu-suguha-hotsure (a medium-width straight Hamon that looks like frayed fabric.) with fine Nie (沸).  The Boshi has a regular clean line with uniform width tempered line, as shown in the illustration below.  If you see a Shinto sword which has Chu-suguha Hamon and a Boshi that looks like the one below, it is often made by Hizen Tadayoshi (肥前忠吉).  Very fine Ji-hada (surface), sometimes called Nukame-hada.

29 Hizen Tadayoshi Boshi

Well-known swordsmith in Hizen ———————————— Hizen Tadayoshi ( 肥前忠吉)

  1. Satsuma (薩摩 )

The swords made in Satsuma have a solid look for both katana and wakizashiKissaki (the top pointed area) is a little stretched.  Yakidashi (a few inches above Machi ) shows a small irregular HamonHamon is O-midare with coarse Nie called Ara-nie.  The Ara-nie forms Togari-ba (pointed pattern, see the drawing below)One of the characteristics of this region is Satsuma-nie.  That is, the Ara-nie around hamon continues and blends into the Ji-hada area.  Therefore, the border between Ha-nie and Ji-nie is unclear.  Inside the Hamon sometimes shows a thick line shaped like lightning.  This line is called Satsuma-no-imozuru (sweet potato vine), less favorable than Inazume and Kinsiji.  This is the most prominent feature of the Satsuma sword.  Boshi has a narrow-tempered line with a small irregular patternThis is called Satsuma-boshi.  On the Ji-hada surface, Chikei (a long dark line like) appears.  This is called Satsuma-gane (薩摩金).

29 Satsuma Togari-ba

Well-known swordsmiths in Satsuma ——————  Izunokami Masafusa (伊豆守正房)                                                                                                 Ichinohira Yasuyo (一平安代)                                                                                       Mondonosho Masakiyo (主水正正清)