19| Nanboku-Cho Period Sword (North and South Dynasty Sword)

18 Nanbokucho time line

                           The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

During the Nanboku-Cho period, Samurais demanded large, elaborate, and impressive, yet practical sword.  The Soshu-Den style sword in Nanbochi-Cho time was just that.  This is the most popular style then.  The Nanboku-Cho period was the height of the Soshu Den.  Many swordsmiths moved from other provinces to Kamakura area and forged the Soshu-Den style swords.   Other schools and provinces outside Kamakura area also made the SoshuDen style swords in their own places.

19 Nanboku-cho Sword style

Sugata ( 姿: Shape)———-The original length of a swords was 3, 4, or 5, feet long, but shortened to approximately two and a half feet long at a later time.  A greatly shortened sword is called O-Suriage.

The Nanboku-Cho style sword has a shallow Kyo-zori (also called Torii-zori).  Refer Chapter 6 Heian period.  The highest curvature comes around the middle of the body.  A wide body, high Shinogi, narrow Shinogi-Ji.  Refer Chapter 4 Names of parts.  The thin body called Kasane is a distinctive feature for the Nanboku-cho style.  High Gyo-no-mune or Shin-no-mune, sometimes Maru-Mune (round back).


19 Nanboku-cho 3 kinds Mune

Hi (: groove) and Horimono (彫刻: engraving)—– On Shinogi-Ji area (refer to Chapter 4 Names of parts)often a single hi (Bo-hi), double hi, Suken (dagger), Bonji (Sanscrit), Dragon are engraved.


9 Hi, Suken, Bonji

Hamon (刃: Tempered line) —- The lower part of the body shows a narrow tempered line, with the higher part shows a wider showy tempered line.  Course Nie.   O-midare (large irregular hamon), Notare-midare (wavy irregular hamon), Gunome-midare (a mix of repeated half circular and irregular hamon).  Inazuma, Kinsuji (refer to Chapter 15 Late Kamakura Period sword) also sometimes appears

19 Hamon Notare 319 Mamon choji gunome19 Hitatsura Hamon Hiromitsu

*From Sano Museum Catalogue ( Permission granted).

Jihada (地肌: Area between shinogi and tempered line)  Refer to Chapter 4 Names of parts——Wood grain pattern (Itame 板目). Sometimes Tobiyaki, a patchy tempered spot(s) appears on jihada.

Kissaki (切っ先) and Boshi (Tempered line at Kissaki area) —– O-Kissaki (long and large kissaki). Fukura kareru (less arc).  Midare-komi (body and boshi have a similar tempered line), with kaeri fukashi (hamon deeply turns back), sometimes Hitatsura (entirely tempered).  See the above illustration.

Sword-smiths during Nanboku-Cho Period Soshu Den (school)

From Soshu———————————————————Hiromitsu (広光)  Akihiro (秋広)  From Yamashiro ————————————————–Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重)  From Bizen (called So-den Bizen)————-Chogi (長儀 )group  Kanemitsu (兼光 ) group  From Chikuzen —————————————————————-Samoji (左文字 ) group


19 Chogi photo from Sano book

The distinctive characteristics of the Nanboku-Cho period sword on the photo above      

  • The trace of an engraving of Suken on the nakago indicates that this area was once a part of the main body.
  • Long kissak








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
12 Sansaku Boshi(三作


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)



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.