61| Part 2 of — 25|Edo Period History (江戸歴史 1603 – 1867)

This chapter is a detailed part of Chapter 25 Edo Period History (江戸時代歴史).  Please read Chapter 25 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 edo Period                        The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

Battle of Sekigahara  (関ヶ原合戦)

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉), the most powerful man during the Sengoku period (and Momoyama period), died in 1598.  At that time, his heir, Hideyori (秀頼), was only five years old.  Before Hideyoshi’s death, he set up a council system which consisted of the top five daimyos to take care of the jobs for Hideyori as his regents until he came

of age.   At Hideyoshi’s death bed, all the five daimyos agreed to be the guardians of Hideyori.  But, little by little, Ishida Mitsunari (石田三成) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康) began disagreeing with each other.  In 1600, finally, those two main daimyos clashed, and the Battle of Sekigahara broke outOne side is called Seigun (the western army), led by Ishida Mitsunari, and the other, Togun (the eastern army) by Tokugawa Ieyasu.  

All the daimyos in the country took either Tokugawa or Ishida Mitsunari’s side.  It is said that the Mitsunari’s Seigun had 100,000 men, while the Tokugawa’s Togun, 70,000 men.   Ieyasu had fewer soldiers, but he won in the end.  Ieyasu became the Toyotomi clan’s chief retainer, which means that he was virtually the top person because Hideyori was still a child.    

In 1603 Ieyasu became the shogun.  Now Ieyasu seized control of Japan, and he established the Tokugawa Bakufu(government) in Edo and eliminated the council system. 

Toyotomi Hideyori was still there with his mother, Yodogimi (淀君or Yodo-dono淀殿)、  in Osaka Castle, which was built by Hideyoshi before he died.  After a while, the relationship between the Osaka side Hideyori and his mother, Yodogimi, and Edo’s side, Ieyasu, became awkward.  Yodogimi was a very proud and headstrong person with good reasons.  She was a niece of Oda Nobunaga, the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the mother of the head of the Toyotomi clan.  Later, her pride got her into trouble and led to the destruction of the Toyotomi clan. 

Osaka Winter and Summer siege (1614 and 1615)

During the 15 years between the Battle of Sekigahara and the Siege of Osaka Castle, the tension between the Tokugawa Bakufu and Toyotomi clan built up little by little.  Before the Battle of Sekigahara, the Toyotomi clan ruled Japan.  After the Sekigahara, the Tokugawa Bakufu began to rule Japan.  The Toyotomi clan lost many top advisers and vassals in the battle.  As a result, all the power of the Toyotomi’s centered around Yodogimi.  By the time of the siege, Hideyori grew up to be a fine man, but Yodogimi had overprotected, and she controlled him.  She even did not allow Hideyori to practice kendo (Japanese traditional martial art of swordsmanship), saying it was too dangerous. 

She persistently acted as if the Toyotomi clan was still in the supreme power.  Tokugawa Ieyasu tried to calm the friction by having his grand-daughter, Senhime, married to Hideyori.  A few advisors suggested Yodogimi yield to Tokugawa, but she insisted that Tokugawa subordinate himself to Toyotomi.   A rumor began to spread that the Toyotomi side started to hire and gather a large number of ronins (samurai without a lord) inside the Osaka Castle.  Several vital persons tried to mediate the Toyotomi clan and the Tokugawa but failed. 

Finally, Ieyasu led his army to Osaka, and in November 1614, began a campaign to siege the Osaka Castle (the Winter Campaign)It is said that the Toyotomi side had 100,000 soldiers, but some of them were just mercenariesHowever, Osaka Castle was built almost like a fortress itself, very hard to attack.  The Tokugawa army attacked hard and fired cannon every day, but they realized that the castle was so solid that it was a waste of time to continue. 

Eventually, both sides went to a peace negotiation.  Several items of the treaty were agreed on.  One of them was to fill the outer moat of the Osaka Castle.  But the Tokugawa side filled both the outer and the inner moats.  That made the Toyotomi side angry, and they became suspicious that the Tokugawa side might not keep the agreement.    

Another agreement was the disarmament of the Toyotomi clan.  Yet the Toyotomi side kept having their soldiers inside the castle.  Tokugawa gave the last ultimatum to the Toyotomis to either dismiss all soldiers from the castle or move out.  Yodo-gimi refused both. 

After that, another siege started in the summer of 1615 (the Summer Campaign).  It is said that the Toyotomi had 70,000 men, and the Tokugawa had 150,000 men.  Both sides had several battles here and there, but the fights did not go well for both sides in the beginning because of the thick fog, delayed arrival of troops, miscommunications, etc.   The last battlefield was in the Osaka Castle. The Toyotomis decided to stay inside the castle, but soon a fire broke out from inside and burned the castle.  Yodo-dono and Hideyori hid inside the storage building, waiting for Ieyasu’s answer to the plea for their lives.  They hoped their daughter-in-law could achieve the bargain.  But It was not accepted, and they both died inside the building.

Nene and Yodogimi

 Nene was the lawful wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.  She was a brilliant and sensible person but not a high born.  Everybody respected her, including Tokugawa Ieyasu.  Even Hideyoshi often followed her opinions on political matters.  She much helped Hideyoshi to climb up his ranks.  However, Nene could not bear a child.  Toyotomi Hideyoshi went around other women everywhere, hoping to get his heir, but Yodogim was the only one who could have a child with him.  Naturally, a rumor went around about who the true birth father of Hideyori was.  The speculation indicated several men, and one of them was Ishida Mitsunari.   

62 Yodo Gimi

伝 淀殿画像(It is said to be a portrait of Yodo-dono but no evidence)Owned by Nara Museum of Art    Drawn in 17th century  Public Domain:  Yodo-dono cropped.jpg from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Nene (Kodai-In), Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s lawful wife.  Public domain from Wikimedia, owned by Kodai-Ji

60|Part 2 of — 24 Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国短刀)

Chapter 60 is a Continued part of chapter 24|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代).  Please read chapter 24|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)  before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period

       The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section  

Muramasa (村正)

The discussion of this chapter is about the famous Muramasa (村正).  Usually, many well-known swordsmiths were from one of the Goka Den (五家伝:primary five schools: Yamashiro Den, Bizen Den, Soshu Den, Yamato Den, and Mino Den).  However, Muramasa was not from the Goka Den but Ise Province.  The first generation Muramasa was known as a student of He’ian-jo Nagayoshi (平安城長吉) of Yamashiro Den who lived the mid Muromachi period.  Muramasa has three generations from the mid Muromachi period to the Sengoku period.

61 Ise map

Here is one of Muramasa’s tanto that was made during the Sengoku periodSince this is the Sengoku period tanto, the blade shows the Sengoku period sword style.  It shows Mino Den Characteristics, with the Soshu Den Characteristics added.

61 Muramasa photo  61 Muramasa illustration

Muramasa (村正) from Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Mino-Den Characteristic of the Sengoku period that shows on this Tanto

Muramasa’s tantos are often 10 inches ± half inches or so.  Hirazukuri (平作り). Thin blade with a sharp look.  Nioi base with small Nie and Sunagashi (brushed sand-like, the illustration below) appears.  Boshi (the top part of hamon) is Jizo (a side view of a human’s head).  The tempered line has wide areas and narrow areas.  Some areas are so narrow, close to the edge of the blade, while others are broad.  Hako midare (box-like shape) and Gunome (lined-up beads pattern).  O-notare (large gentle waviness) is a Muramasa’s signature characteristic.  The pointed tempered line is a typical Mino Den characteristic (Sanbon-sugi).  Refer 24Sengoku period sword.

61 Sunagashi 2

Sunagashi (Brushed sand-like trace.  My drawing is exaggerated)

59| Second Part of — 23 Sengoku Period Sword (戦国時代刀)

Chapter 59 is a detailed part of Chapter 23,  Sengoku Period Sword.  Please read Chapter 23 Sengoku period sword before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period

                                      The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

During the Sengoku (Warring States) period, the Mino Den group and Bizen Osafune group were the primary sword makers.  During almost 100 years of the Warring States period, all Daimyos needed a large number of swords.  If suppliers were closer, that was even better.  Many Sengoku Daimyos could reach to Mino area easily because the location was convenient (central) location.  Since the Heian period, Mino swordsmiths were creating swords there. 

One of the well-known swordsmiths of Mino Den at the end of the Kamakura period was Shizu Kane’uji (志津兼氏).  He was one of the Masamune Jutteru (正宗十哲)*.   But the real height for the Mino Den was the Sengoku period

During the Sengoku period, the Shizu group and the Tegai group from the Yamato area and many swordsmiths from Yamashiro (Kyoto) area moved to Mino. Mino became the busiest sword making place.  They made very practical swords for the Warring Stated period.

60-mino-map.jpg

*Masamune Juttetsu (正宗十哲) —–The original meaning of Masamuren Juttetsu was the top 10 Masamune studentsBut later, the word was used more broadly.

Three examples of Sengoku period swords

The three swords below are examples of the Sengoku period blades.  Please note that every sword is different.  Even each swords made by the same swordsmith is different.  Please refer to Chapter 23 Sengoku Period Sword for the primary common characteristics of the blades made in the Sengoku period,

60-sukesada-photo-e1563148031935.jpg 60 Sukesada illustration

Bizen Osafune Yosozaemon Sukesada (備前国住長船与三左衛門尉祐定) from Sano Museum Catalog, permission granted.

Common points of Sengoku period characteristics that show on the sword above

Hamon is Kani-no-tsume (crab claw shape, see above hamon).  Kani-no-tsume type hamon never appeared in the Heian, Kamakura, or Nanboku-cho period.  This type of hamon is one of the decisive points of the Sengoku time.  Marudome-hi (the end of the groove is round ) often appears on the Bizen Den sword during the Sengoku period.  Wide tempered area.  Midare-komi boshi (same type of hamon on the body and the boshi) has a long turn-back and an abrupt stop.  Hamon is the Nioi base.  Most Bizen swords have Nioi, with a few exceptions.

60 Kanesada photo  60 kanesada illustration Izuminokami Fujiwara Kanesada (和泉守藤原兼) from Sano Museum Catalog

Common points of Sengoku Period characteristic shows on the sword above

The last letter of the Kanji(Chinese characters) of this swordsmith above is “”.  We use this letter in place of “ 定”  for him.  The reason is there are two Kanesadas.  To distinguish him from the other Kanesada (兼定), we instead use the letter “ “ and call him Nosada “のさだ.”

Izuminokami Fujiwara Kanesada (Nosada) is the top swordsmith of Mino Den at the time.  The shape of the sword is the typical Sengoku period sword style: shallow curvature, Chu-gissaki (medium size kissaki), and pointed Gunome hamon.  The width of the hamon is wide and narrow.  Often, Nosada and other Mino Den swordsmiths have wood grain with Masame on Ji-HadaNioi base, mixed with coarse Nie.

60 Norimitsu photo  60-norimitsu-illustraton.jpg                     Bizen Osafune NorimitsTu (備前長船法光) from Sano Museum Catalog, permission granted.

The common points of Sengoku period characteristic shows on the sword above

Shallow curvature.  Sturdy look.   Marudome-hi (Hi ends round)Pointed hamon called Togari-ba (尖り刃).  Nioi base mixed with Nie.  Slight Masame and wood grain on Ji-hada.

 

 

 

58| Second part of — 22 Sengoku Period History (戦国時代歴史) 

Chapter 58 is a detailed part of chapter 22 Sengoku Period History.  Please read chapter 22 Sengoku Period History before reading this chapter.

0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period
        The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

Chapter 22 Sengoku Period History explained how we separated the timeline based on political history and sword history.  The center timeline above shows the Sengoku Period (戦国時代) ends in 1596 for sword history.

1596 is the beginning of the Keicho (慶長) era.  The swords made in and after the Keicho era is called Shin-to (new sword), and swords before the Keicho era is called Ko-to (old sword).  Therefore, the beginning of the Keicho era is the dividing line.  The swords made during the Keicho time is technically Shin-To, but they are sepecially called Keicho Shin-To.                                                                                                                                                                                        22| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代歴史) described the overview of the Sengoku Period.  At the beginning of the Sengoku Period, 30 or so small Sengoku Daimyos fought fiercely with each other.   They allied with a neighboring territory on and off and sometimes betrayed each other.  The stronger daimyos took over  weaker one’s territories.  Little by little, the number of daimyos became smaller.  The names of known powerful daimyos are Imagawa Yoshimoto (今川義元), Takeda Shingen (武田信玄), Uesugi Kenshin (上杉謙信), Hojo Soun (北条早雲), Oda Nobunaga (織田信長),  Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉).  Their final goal was to defeat others and advance to Kyoto (京都) to be the supreme political power.

Oda Nobunaga (織田信長) defeats Imagawa Yoshimoto in Okehazama (桶狭間)

Around 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto (今川義元) controlled a significant part of  Suruga (today’s Shizuoka prefecture.  See the map below for the location).  He was a powerful Sengoku Daimyo who was big enough to be the top ruler of the country.

Imagawa clan decided to advance his army toward Kyoto to take over the governmentHe took 25,000 men troop with him.  On his way up to Kyoto, they need to pass Owari (尾張: Aichi prefecture today.  See map below for the location), Oda Nobunaga’s territory.

Oda Nobunaga (織田信長 ) was still a young man who had much less means than Imagawa Yoshimoto.  It was quite apparent that there was no chance for Oda Nobunaga to beat Imagawa.  He had just become the head of Owari after his father’s death.  Also, at that time, Nobunaga was called the “The idiot of Owari” because of his eccentric behaviors (he was actually a genius).

Not too many people had much confidence in him.  Among  Oda vassals, some insisted on just staying inside the castle instead of going out and fighting since Nobunaga managed to gather only 3,000 men.  But in the end, to everyone’s surprise, the Oda side won.  Here is how it happened.

While Imagawa Yoshimoto was advancing, Nobunaga scouted which route Imagawa would take.  Imagawa’s side was sure to win this easy battle since the Oda clan was small, and the head of the clan was an idiot.  Imagawa troops decided to stop and rest in a place called Okehazama.   The road going through Okehazama was long and narrow.  Knowing Imagawa troop would come this way, Nobunaga sent out his men disguised as farmers and offered food and sake to Imagawa soldiersWhile they were having a good time, Oda Nobunaga made a surprise attack on the Imagawa troop.  On top of that, all of a sudden, it began raining heavily.  The rain was so heavy that the Imagawa troop even could not  see the Oda troop was coming.  In the end, Imagawa Yoshimoto was killed by the Oda side in the battle.  After this, the Imagawa clan declined.

59 Okehazama drawing

Bishu Okehazama Gassen (備州桶狭間合戦) by Utagawa Toyonobu (歌川豊信)   Public Domain (http://morimiya.net/online/ukiyoe-big-files/U896.html)

59-imagawa-and-oda-map.jpg

Oda Nobunaga(織田信長) and Akechi Mitsuhide(明智光秀)

After the battle of Okehazama, the Oda clan grew bigger rapidly.  Oda Nobunaga became the primary power.  While his reign he did several cruel things like burning Enryaku-ji Temple (延暦寺) and killing many people, including ordinary people,  yet his economic measures encouraged commercial activities.

Things were going somewhat smoothly for Nobunaga late in his life.  But in 1582, Nobunaga was killed by his own top vassal, Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀), at Hon’nou-ji (本能寺) Temple in KyotoNobunaga was 49 years old.

There are a few theories about why Akecdhi attacked and killed Nobunaga, but we don’t know what exactly happened. One speculation is Akechi had a grudge against Nobunaga.  There were many incidents Nobunaga mistreated Akechi.  Another is that Akechi saw a chance to attack Nobunaga (Nobunaga was with a very few men on that day) and took the opportunity.  The other is then Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki (足利義昭) ordered Akechi to kill Nobunaga since Akechi had once worked under him.  Shogun Yoshiaki was afraid that Nobunaga became too powerful.  More theories go on.  We don’t know the real reason; we still debate over it.  It is one big mystery of Japanese history.

After this happened, the news was relayed to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a counterpart of Akechi under Nobunaga.  At that time, he happened to be in  Bicchu (備中, Okayama prefecture today), which was about 230 KM (143 miles) away from Kyoto (See the map below).   Hideyoshi quickly returned to Kyoto with his troop to fight against Akechi and killed him.

Here is another mystery.  The time between Nobunaga was dead, and the time Akechi was killed by Hideyoshi was only ten days.  Hideyoshi was 230 KM (143 miles) away.  That means in 10 days, Hideyoshi received the information of Nobunaga’s death, hurried back 230 KM (143 miles) to Kyoto with his troop, and fought against Akechi and killed him.   Their means of transportation at the time was minimal.  Even though Hideyoshi had a communication route established between Nobunaga’s inner circle all the time, it is an amazing speed.  There are  also speculatiions that Akechi and Hideyoshi were behind together or some other secret plot behind the incidents..

After Hideyoshi killed Akechi, Hideyoshi cleverly maneuvered his way up to the top of the power.  While he was in charge, he mined a large amount of gold from the gold mines he possessed.  There is a record stating that Hideyoshi buried a vast amount of gold somewhere.  But we never found it yet.

Hideyoshi was a poor farmer’s son who became the most perwerful man in the country.  His success story fascinates the Japanese.  Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu are the three most depicted subjects on TV programs and movies.  After Hideyoshi died naturally, Tokugawa Ieyasu became Shogun, and the Edo period started.

59-bicchu-map.jpg

55|Part 2 of —– 20|Muromachi Period History (室町歴史)


This is a detailed part of the 20 | Muromachi Period History.  Please read chapter 20 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Nuromach & Sengoku

                                  The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this chapter

Until the Muromachi (室町) period, the political history and the sword history are parallel in our study.  The above timelines show:  the middle line is for the sword history, and the bottom line is for the political history.

The styles of swords were distinctively different between those in the Muromachi period and the Sengoku period (戦国時代).  Therefore, for sword study, the Muromachi period and the Sengoku period have to be separated.   Japanese history textbooks define that the Muromachi period is from 1393 (the end of Nanboku-cho) until 1573 when Oda Nobunaga(織田信長) removed Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki (足利義昭) from Kyoto (the fall of the Muromachi  Bakufu).   In those textbooks, the Sengoku period was described as a part of the Muromachi period.  However, we need to divide the Muromachi period and the Sengoku period for the sword study’s purpose.

Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満)

The best time during the Muromachi period was when Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満, Grandson of Ashikaga Takauji) was in power.  He moved the Bakufu to Muromachi (室町) in Kyoto, therefore, it is called the Muromachi period.  By the time, most of the South Dynasty samurasi went under the North Dynasty.  The South Dynasty accepted the Shogun Yoshimitsu’s offer to end the fight against the North Dynasty.  This acceptance established the power of the the Ashikaga family in the Muromachi Bakufu .

Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu created a tremendous amount of profit from trades with China (Ming).  He built a famous beautiful resort villa in Kyoko, the Golden Pavillion (Kinkaku-Ji Temple 金閣寺*).  It is said that he created the Golden Pavillion to display his power and wealth.  The beautiful culture called the Kitayama Bunka (Kitayama culture 北山文化) was created around this time.

*Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-Ji Tempe金閣寺)  —– The official name is Rokuon-Ji Temple (鹿苑寺).  Saionji Kintsune (西園寺公経) built it first as his resort house in the Kamakura period. Shogun Yoshimitsu acquired it in 1397, and he rebuilt it as his villa.  He also used it as an official guesthouse.

After Shogun Yoshimitsu’s death, the villa was converted to Rokuon-Ji Temple.  It is a part of Rinzaishu Sokoku-Ji Temple, which is the head temple of a denomination of the Zen sect, Rinzaishu Sokoku-ji group(臨済宗相国寺派).  Kinkaku-Ji is a reliquary hall containing relics of Buddha.

Kinkaku-Ji Temple represents the glorious Kitayama Bunka (Kitayama culture).  In 1994, it was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

57 Kinkakuji trip 2019

The photo was taken in May 2019, a family trip to Kyoto

Ashikaga Yoshimasa (足利義政)

After Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満) died, the Muromachi Bakufu became less financially prosperous, and the military power decreased.  As a result, daimyos (feudal lords) gained more control.  A few generations after Shogun Yoshimitsu, Ashikaga Yohimasa became the 8th shogun).  His wife was the famous Hino Tomiko (refer  Chapter 20 Muromachi Period History

It is said that Shogun Yoshimasa was not interested in his job as a shogun, but he was much more interested in art and culture.  He created the foundation of today’s Japanese art and culture, such as the Japanese garden, Shoin-zukuri (書院造)* interior design, tea ceremony, flower arrangements, painting, and other art forms.  His cultural attribute is called Higashiyama Bunka (Higashiyama culture (東山文化).

As described in Chapter 20 Muromachi Period History (室町時代), Shogun Yoshimasa did not have a child.  His brother Yoshimi (義視) was supposed to be the next shogun.  But his wife, Hino Tomiko, gave birth to a son, Yoshihisa (義尚).  Hino Tomiko asked Yamana Sozen (山名宗全; powerful family) to back up her son.  At the same time, brother, Yoshimi, tied up with Hosokawa Katsumoto (another powerful family 細川勝元).  The problem was that Shogun Yoshimasa was paying too much attention to all his cultural hobbies, did not pay attention to the problem he created by not being clear who should be the next shogun.  He did not yield the Shogunate to either one.

In 1467, on top of the successor problem, because of other conflicts of interests of other powerful daimyos, a civil war, “Onin-no-Run (応仁の乱 )” broke out.  All daimyos were divided and sided either the Hosokawa group or the Yamana group.   Eventually, the war spread to the rest of Japan and last over ten years.  Finally, in 1477, after both Hosokawa Katsumono and Yamana Sozen died, Shogun Yoshimasa decided to transfer the Shogunate to his son Yoshihisa.  Because of this war, Kyoto was devastated.  The power of the Muromachi Bakufu declined significantly.

While all this was happening, and people were suffering, Yoshimasa was still spending money to build the Ginnkaku-ji Temple (The Silver Pavillion: 銀閣寺).  He died without seeing the completion of the Ginkaku-ji Temple.  The Onin-no-Run would lead to the next Sengoku period, the 100-year-long Warring States period).

*Shoin-zukuri (書院造)———- A traditional Japanese residential interior style with Tatami mats, an alcove, and a Shoji screen, sliding door.  This style is the base of the interior of today’s Japanese house.

Shoin Zukuri style Japanese room

57 Shoin zukuri

Public Domain   GFDL,cc-by-sa-2.5,2.0,1.0 file: Takagike CC BY-SA 3.0view terms      File: Takagike Kashihara JPN 001.jpg

My japanese room

My Japanese room

24| Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国短刀)

0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period                                   The red circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

25 Chukanzori Tanto

Chukan-zori (中間反り) ————— Chukan-zori tanto has a straight Mune(back), its back does not curve forward or outward unlike Takenoko-zori,  Chukan-zoridoes.   

Hamon (刃文: Tempered line) ———–Sanbon-sugi (三本杉), O-notare (大湾), Yahazu-midare (矢筈乱), Hako-midare (箱乱),  Gunome-choji (互の目丁子),  Chu-suguha (中直刃)  See below.

24 Sannbon sugi,hako, yahazu, O-midare)

Horimono (彫り物: Carving) —————Often hi (grooves) is curved

Tanto Length ———————— The length of a tanto should be no longer than one shaku*¹ (approx. 12 inches, 30.5cm).  The standard size tanto is called Jo-sun Tanto, which is 8.5 shaku (approx. 10 inches, 25.7cm).  Longer than Jo-sun is called Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延)Shorter than Jo-sun is called Sun-zumari Tanto (寸詰).

               Sun-nobi Tanto  >  Jo-sun Tanto (approx. 10 inches) >  Sun-zumari Tanto

*¹ Shaku is a Japanese old measurement unit for length.

Takenoko-zori Jo-sun Tanto (筍反定寸短刀) ———– This type of tanto was made during the Sengoku period.  It resembles the swords made by Rai Kunimitsu of Yamashiro Den.  (Illustration below)

Hamon (刃文: Tempered line)———–Hoso-suguha (細直刃: Narrow straight hamon).  Katai-ha (illustration below) shows somewhere on the blade.  Masamehada (Straight grain pattern) may appear on the mune side

                  13 Middle Kamakura Period Tanto                 24 Suguha katai-ha

Ji-hada (地肌: Area between shinogi and tempered line)——— Shirake (白け) whitish surface) sometimes appears.  Uturi (the whitish light cloud-like effect) on Ji-hada  appears.

Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延短刀)———Tanto of this type is similar to the Sakizori tanto which is from the late Soshu Den style.  You may see hitatsura (see below illustration).   Unlike Soshu Den, the Hitatsura type hamon shows more on the lower part of the tanto, less on the upper part.

                                             25 Sun-Nobi Tanto      25 Hitatsura

Hirazukuri Takenokozori Sunzumari Tanto (平造筍反寸延短刀)

This is a unique tanto in the Sengoku period.   Hirazukuri means a flat surface sword without shinogi, yokote line, or obvious kissaki.   Takenoko-zori means bamboo shoot shape (back of the sword curves inward).   Sun-zumari means shorter than 10 inches long (shorter than 8.5 shaku, or 25.7 cm).  The lower part of the blade is wide and thick, and the tip is narrow and thin.  It has a piercing sharp look.

  •  Horimono(彫り物: Carving) ——-Deeply carved Ken-maki Ryu (a dragon wrapped around a spear).
  • Hamon (刃文: Tempered line)———Wide tempered line, nioi base.  Irregular hamon, wide suguha (straight) and Chu-suguha (medium straight).  The hamon in the boshi area turns back long.
  • Ji-hada (地肌)———–fine and wood burl pattern.

Moroha-Tanto (諸刃短刀: double-edged sword)

Double-edged blade with a hamon on both edges. Often bonji (Sanscrit) is curved.

  • Hamon (刃文) ——— Wide tempered line.   Nioi base.  Irregular hamon, wide suguha (straight) and Chu-suguha (medium straight).  Hamon turns back deep.
  • Ji-hada (地鉄)——- Fine and wood burl.

25-moroha-tanto1 Moroha Tanto

Name of swordsmith during the Sengoku Period (Tanto maker)

The swords during the Sengoku period are called Sue-bizen sword.  Bizen Osafune Yoso Zaemon Sukesada (与三左衛門祐定) is the most regarded swordsmith during the Sengoku period.  He also forged tantos.  One thing to point out is that there were many swordsmiths called Sukesada.  Yoso-Zaemon Sukesada is, however, the one who represents the era.

22| Sengoku Period History (戦国時代歴史)

0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period

The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

The above timeline shows two red circles.  In political history, the Sengoku period (戦国時代) is a part of the Muromachi (室町) period, which is shown on the third line.   However, in the sword history, we separate the Muromachi period and the Sengoku period (Warring States period), shown on the centerline.  In sword history, we divide the time this way because, in those two periods, the sword style changed, and the environment of sword making also changed.

After the Onin-no-Ran (応仁の乱) had started (discussed in 20|Muromachi Period History(室町歴史) , the beautiful capital city, Kyoto (京都 ) was in a devastating condition.  The shogun’s (将軍) power reached only to the very limited small area.  The rest of the country was divided into 30 or so small independent states.  The heads of those independent states were called Shugo Daimyo (守護大名).  They were initially government officials, who had been appointed and sent there by the central government.  Also, powerful local samurais often became the head of those states.  They fought against each other to take over other’s land.  During the Sengoku period, vassals would kill his master and stole his domain, or farmers would revolt against their lords.  A state like this is called “Gekoku-jo (lower class samurai could overthrow the superior).”

This is the time of the Warring States called the Sengoku period.  The head of a state was called Sengoku Daimyo (戦国大名: warlord).  The Sengoku period lasts about 100 years.  Little by little, powerful states defeated less powerful ones after long hard battles and gained more territory.  Thirty or so small countries became 20, then ten and so on.  Eventually, a few dominant Sengoku Daimyo (warlord) were left.  Each daimyo of those states tried to fight his way up to Kyoto and unite the country.  The first one who almost succeeded was Oda Nobunaga (織田信長).  However, he was killed by his vassal, Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀), but shortly after, Akechi was killed by his colleague, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉)

After Toyotomi Hideyoshi defeated Akechi Mitsuhide and his troop and a few more significant warlords, he almost completed uniting Japan.  Yet, Hideyoshi had one more rival to deal with to complete his job.  That was Tokugawa Iyeyasu (徳川家康).  Now, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu were the last contenders for the top position.  Both knew that their opponents were smart and able.  Any wrong move on either part would be a fatal mistake.  So, they decided to keep an amicable co-existing relationship on the surface for a while.  Though Toyotomi Hideyoshi tried to make Tokugawa Ieyasu his vassal, Tokugawa Ieyasu somehow maneuvered to avoid that.  In the mind of Tokugawa Iyeyasu, since he was younger than Toyotomi Hideyoshi, he knew that he could just wait until Hideyoshi‘s natural death.  At that time, he could destroy Hideyoshi’s heir.  And that happened eventually.  

After Hideyoshi’s death, Tokugawa Ieyasu fought Hideyoshi’s vassals and won at the Battle of Sekigahara (関ヶ原の戦い) in 1600.  Then, in 1615, at the battle of the Osaka Natsu-no-Jin (大阪夏の陣), Tokugawa won against Hideyoshi’s son, Hideyori’s army.  After this, the Toyotomi clan ceased to exist entirely, then the Edo (江戸) period started.  The period is called the Edo period because Tokugawa Ieyasu lived in Edo, current Tokyo (東京). 

*The Sengoku period is often depicted in TV dramas and movies.  People who lived through the Sengoku period had a tough time, but it was the most exciting time for making TV shows and movies.  The life of Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and, Tokugawa Ieyasu is the most favorite story in Japan.  Especially the story of Toyotomi Hideyoshi is one of the most popular ones.  His background was a poor farmer, but he eventually became the top ruler of Japan.  That is one fascinating success story.

23 Toyotomi_hideyoshi