64|Part 2 of — 28|Main 7 Areas Among Shin-To Sword (part A)

This chapter is the detailed part of chapter 28| Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A).  Please read chapter 28 before reading this chapter.

As it was described in chapter 28, here are the main seven areas of sword making.  They are Yamashiro (山城 in Kyoto), Settsu (摂津 today’s Osaka), Musashi (武蔵 Edo), Echizen (越前) and Kaga (加賀), Hizen (肥前), Satsuma (薩摩).

28-map-with-number-7.jpg

 

During Ko-To time, usually, if a sword has a wide Hamon line with Nie, Ji-Hada is also large wood grain or large burl grain.  Also, when you see a narrow Hamon line, usually with fine or small Ji-Hada on Ko-To.  But on Shin-To, wide Hamon with Nie with small wood grain or small burn grain on Ji-Hada.  And narrow Hamon line with a large wood grain Ji-Hada.  This is the Shin-To characteristic.  Because of that, Some people may confuse with shin-To as Ko-To.   But other features like Ji-Tetsu or other parts should indicate the Shin-To or Ko-To.

*  Early Soshu-Den during the late Kamakura period, some swordsmith did wide Hamon with Nie with small burl.  Because of that whether it was Ko-To or Shin-To was confused.  But other features like Ji-Tetsu or other parts should indicate the Shin-To or Ko-To.

  1. Yamashiro (山城 Kyoto)

64-kunihiro-sword.jpg 64 Kunihiro IllustrationHorikawa Kunihiro    From Sano Museum Catalogue

Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広) is considered a great master swordsmith of Shin-To swordsmith.  He forged his sword in different styles and different characteristic.  The types of Hamon are O-Notare, O-Gunome, Togari-Ba (pointed Hamon), Chu-Suguha with hotsure, Hiro-Suguha, with Sunagashi effect, Inazuma, Kinsuji appears.  The shape of the sword Kunihiro liked to create was the one like Nanboku-Cho time O-suriage style (shortened Nanboku-Cho long sword).  Kunihiro’s sword gives you a massive feeling.  Kunihiro did very fine carvings, like a dragon, Sanskrit letter, etc.  Since he did many different styles, there is no general characteristic on his sword other than Hamon is mainly Nie.  Very finely forged Ji-Hada

img067.jpg    img068.jpgIga-no-Kami Kinnmichi (伊賀守金道)                   Dewa Daijyo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)

Both photos were taken by my father a long time ago.  The quality of the photo is not good.  Both were once my family-owned.  Both Juyo Token

Characteristics of Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi ( 伊賀守金道)

Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi family is called Mishina group.  Refer chapter 28| Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A)Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi received the honorable Japanese Imperial Chrysanthemum crest.  The characteristic of his sword; Wide sword, Shallow curvature, Kissaki extended, Sakizori (curvature at 1/3 top).  Wide tempered line, Kyo Yakidashi (refer 28|Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A), Hiro Suguha (wide straight Hamon).  O-Notare (large wavy), Yahazu Midare, Hako-Midare (refer 25|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)Boshi is Mishina Boshi (refer 28|Main 7 Areas of Shin-To Sword (Part A).  Fine wood burl, Masame appears on Shinogi area.

Dewa Daijo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)

Dewa Daijo Kunimichi was the best student of Horikawa Kunihiro (The 1st photo above).  Like Kunihiro, the shape of the sword was like a shortened Nanboku-Cho sword.  Shallow curvature, wide body, somewhat stretched kissaki and Fukura kareru (less arch in Fukura).  Wide tempered line, Large Gunome, Nie, with Sunagashi, Inazuma shows.  Among large Gunome, double Gunome (two gunome side by side) appears.  Fine Ji-Tetsu.

 

50|Part 2 of — 15|Late Kamakura Period Sword

This chapter is a detailed part of chapter 15| Late Kamakura Period Sword.  Please read chapter 15 before reading this section.

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline

                                     The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section.

14 Ikubi kissaki Damadge

In Chapter 14 Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期), the Ikubi-kissaki sword was explained.  The above illustration shows a flaw when the damaged area was repaired.  To compensate for this flaw, in the Late Kamakura Period, swordsmiths started to forge swords with longer Kissaki and a tip of Hi ends lower than Yokote-line.  So that in case the Yokote-line was lowered after the repair, hi does not go higher than Yokote-line

15 Masamune (Sano)   15 Masamune hamon (Sano)

The above photo is a sword by Goro Nyudo Masamune( 五郎入道正宗 ).  Please look at the size and shape of Kissaki.  This is definitely different from previous Ikubi-kissaki, or Ko-gissaki.  This is a typical late Kamakura period Kissaki style.  This is O-suriage (largely shortened).  Under Kamakura Bakufu, many swordsmiths moved to Kamakura.  They were Toroku Sakon Kunituna (藤六左近国綱 ) of Yamashiro Awataguchi group (山城粟田口),  Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真), and Kunimune (国宗 )of the Bizen area.  They are the origin of Soshu Den (相州伝).  Eventually, Tosaburo Yukimitsu (藤三郎行光)  appeared and his son is the famous Masamune (正宗)In the drawing above, Kinsuji, Inazuma is shown inside the hamon.  The clear line inside the hamon is Inazuma and Kinsuji.  Inazuma, Kinsuji is the collection of Nie.  Masamune is famous for Inazuma, Kinsuji.  Masamune lived in Kamakura, his hamon looks like an ocean wave when it is viewed sideways.

50 part 2 of 15 吉岡.photo 50 part 2 of 15 吉岡

The above picture is a sword by a swordsmith of Yoshioka Ichimonji group (吉岡一文字).  Kissaki is also like the one of Masamune.  It is longer than the previous Ikubi-kissaki or Ko-gissaki.  This is Chu-gissakiKissaki like this one is one of the important points to determine what period the sword was made.  Hamon has Choji, Gunome, Togariba (pointed-tip), very tight Nie.

50 part 2 of 15 運生 photo 50 part 2 of 15 運生 

The above photo is a sword by Ukai Unsho (鵜飼雲生) of Bizen Den.  This sword is also from the late Kamakura period.  But it has Ko-gissaki.  This sword does not have the late Kamakura period Chu-gissaki style.  Narrow Hoso-suguha is somewhat like an earlier time than the late Kamakura period.  This sword indicates that the sword does not always have the style of that period.  To Kantei*, first, look at the style and shape then give yourself some idea of the period of the time it was made.  But in this case, Kissaki does not indicate the late Kamakura periodThe next thing is to look at the different characteristics of the sword one by one like hamon, Nie or Nioi, Jihada, etc,  and determine what period, which Den, which province and then come up with the name. This process is called Kantei.

*Kantei —  to determine the swordsmith name by analyzing the characteristic of the sword without seeing the MeiMei may have been gone if it was shortened or never inscribed.

All the photos above are from Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission to use is granted.

22|Muromachi Period Sword

21 Muromachi period Timeline

The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

The Muromachi period was a rather peaceful and prosperous time until a little before “Onin-no Ran”, which was the later part of the Muromachi Period, (Refer Chapter 21 Muromachi Period History).  Nanboku-Cho style long sword became useless, as a result, they were shortened.  The shortened sword is called Suriage.  In general, the Muromachi period was a declining time for sword making.

Tachi and Katana

Until the end of the Nanboku-Cho period or beginning of the Muromachi period, the sword was suspended from one’s waist, the blade side down.  When a sword was worn this way, swordsmith’s inscription faces outsite.  That means when you see the inscription, the cutting side comes right.  This is called Tachi.  Yet, around

the Muromachi period, swords were worn between one’s belt, the blade up.   The inscription of the swordsmiths faces outside when it is worn.  That means when you see the inscription, the cutting edge comes your left.  This is called the Katana.  Around the beginning of the Muromachi period samurai started to wear one pair of swords together called Dai-Sho(大小), which means large and small.  A longer one is called Katana and the shorter one is called Wakizashi.  In general, Tachi is longer and Katana is shorter, Wakizashi is even shorter but longer than Tanto.  Here is the order of the length.

                                            TachiKatana  >  Wakizashi  >  Tanto        

The difference between Tachi and Katana comes from the way it was worn, not the length

22 tachi & Katana

 

O-Suriage ( shortened a large length, 大磨上げ)

How long a sword should be shortened is depends on the original length of the sword and how long an owner want it shortened.  O-suriage is when a sword is shortened a great length.  Once a sword is shortened, the inscription is cut off.  When a suriage sword was appraised by the Hon’ami family (本阿弥家:Connoisseur family continued since mid Edo period till almost recent day), if he  appraised it as a valuable one,  he writes the make of the sword and sword smith’s name on the front side of the hilt and writes the connoisseur’s name and his Kaou (similar to signature) on the back of the hilt.  There are several ranks.  Which rank it should be done is depending on the quality of the sword and how an owner wants it.  Below are the ranks (lower to highest).

Shu-Mei (朱明 )———————————————————–name written in Vermilion  Kinpun-Mei (金粉名 )———————————————-name lacquered in gold powder  Gin-Zougan (銀象嵌 )————————————————————-name inlaid in silver  Kin-Zougan (金象嵌 )—————————————————————name inlaid in gold

Sugata (姿 shape)———Usually approximately 2 feet and 3, 4 inches (71cm) long. The shape of the Muromachi period Katana is somewhat like the Heian period Tachi style.  But Muromachi Katana is not as grand, not as graceful as Heian period sword.  They are Koshizori.  Koshizori shape means the highest curvature comes lower than the center of the blade.  Suitable length and shape for wearing inside the belt. The width and the thickness of the sword are well balanced with the length.  Small Kissaki.

22 Muromachi sword shape

Hirazukuri-Wakizashi———–Hirazukuri means a flat surface with no Shinogi and no Yokote line.  Usually One foot and 1, 2 inches long.  No curvature.  Hirazukuri-Wakizashi appeared During Muromachi time.

Hamon (刃文: tempered line) ———————- Nioi base. Tempered area is well balanced to the width of the blade.  Koshi-hiraita-midare mixed with Choji midare.

 

22Hamon (Koshi Hiraita midare)
from Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Boshi ————– Midare-komi, short turn back.  See the above illustration.  Midare is an irregular wave-like pattern.

Ji-hada (地肌) An area between the tempered line and Shinogi————Soft look, large wood grain pattern, Jiutsuri (faint smoke or cloud-like effect) shows.

Horimono (carvings 彫物) ———- Bo-hi (single groove), Soe hi ( accompanied thin groove), Futasuji hi (double narrow groove), Sanscrit, Tokko- Tsuki –ken, Tsume-Tsuki-Ken, Names of God, Dragon.  Carvings became elaborate.

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji20 Tokko, tume Ken

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sword Smiths during Muromachi Period

Bizen Den ———-Osafune Morimitsu (長船盛光), Yasumitsu (康光), Moromitsu (師光)      Yamashiro Den———————————————–Yamashiro Nobukuni (山城信国)

 

22 Muromachi sword from Sano
From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)Bizen Osafune Naomitsu (備前長船尚光)
img057
Ise Masashige (伊勢正重) Once Family-owned   Classified as Juyo Token(重要刀剣)

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15| Late Kamakura Period Sword

14 Late Kamakura Period timeline                      The circle represents the time we discuss in this section

The beginning of the Soshu style

A new sword style called Soshu Den emerged after the Mongolian invasion of the latter part of the Kamakura period.  Kamakura area became prosperous under the rule of the Hojo (北条).  Many swords smiths moved to Kamakura.  Those people are Kunituna (国綱 )and his group from Yamashiro area and Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真), Kunimune (国宗) from Bizen area.  They are the origin of Soshu Den (school 相州).  A star swordsmith, Goro-Nyudo-Masamune (五郎入道正宗) appeared during this time.

15 Soshu sword with explanation

 

Shape (Sugata 姿) ——- O-Kissaki (large-Kissaki 大切先) and Chu-Kissaki (medium kissaki 中切先).   Tip of Hi ends lower (see below illustration).  HamaguriHa was eliminated, instead, it became a thinner body.  The original length was approximately 3 feet or so but the majority of them were shortened to 2 feet and 3 or 4 inches in a later time.  This is called O-Suriage(大磨上).

15 Kissak shape of 4

15 Hi ends lower

Hamon——————–Narrow Hamon and wide Hamon.     

Narrow Hamon ——-Suguha (straight) mixed with Ko-Choji (small clove) and Ko-Gumome (continuous half-circle like).  Small Nie base. (left drawing below)

10 Nie & Nioi

Wide Hamon———–Notare (wavy) midare, O-gunome.  Nie base.  Ashi-Iri (short line goes inward, the right drawing below).  Inazuma (lightning-like line), Kinsuji (a gold line like) appears on a tempered line.  But Inazuma and Kinsuji require trained eyes to detect.  It is hard to notice the Inazuma, Kinsuji, etc. for beginners.

15 Late Kamakura Soshu Hamon

Boshi————-The same type of Hamon into Boshi area then turn back a little or Yakizume.  You may also see O-maru  (large round), Ko-maru (small round), Kaen (flame like), and Nie-kuzure.  Refer chapter 13 Middle Kamakura period Tanto for Yakizume and Kaen.

15 three boshi name

 

Jihada or Jitetsu (between Shinogi and Tempered line)—– Strong Ji-Nie (地沸), that is a sand-like small dots appears on Ji (between tempered line and Mune).  Yubashiri (cluster of Ji-Nie),  Kinsuji (lined Nie looks like a golden line), Inazuma  (lightning-like irregular line) and Chikei (similar to Kinsuji appears on Ji-Hada).

15 Yubashiri, Chikei, Inazuma

Late Kamakura Period Soshu School Sword Smiths

From Bizen———–Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) Kunimune (国宗 )   From Yamashiro ————————————–Toroku- Sakon- Kunituna (藤六左近国綱) 

Those above three are the beginning of Kamakura swordsmiths.  Later, Tosaburo-Yukimitu and his son, famous Goro-Nyudo-Masamune appeared.

Masamune Juttetsu  (Main Soshu Style swordsmiths other than above)

From Yamashiro (山城)—— Rai Kunitsugu (来国次), Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重) From Ettshu (越中) province ———————Gou- no-Yoshihiro (郷義弘) Norishige (則重) From   Mino (美濃) province ——————————————–Kaneuji (兼氏) Kinjyu (金重) From   Chikuzen (筑前) province —————————————————-Samoji (左文字)

15 Masamune (Sano) 15 Masamune hamon (Sano)     Goro-Nyudo-Masamune(正宗)   Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館図録) Permission granted    *Because Masamune lived in Kamakura that is a beach town, his Hamon style was inspired by an ocean wave.  Therefore his Hamon sometimes looks like wave design.

15 Masamune, Yoshioka Ichimonji Endo

 

15 Masamune, Yoshioka IchimonjiOnce family-owned swords