52|Part 2 of —–17|Late Kamakura Period Tanto (Early Soshu-Den Tanto)

Chapter 52 is the continued part of chapter 17 Late Kamakura period Tanto (17 | Late Kamakura period Tanto ——- Early Soshu-Den Tanto.  Please read Chapter 17 before chapter 52.

After studying the general common characteristics of the late Kamakura period Tanto style (that is early Soshu-Den Tanto) on chapter 17, what points do the next two swords fit in with the common characteristic of early Soshu-Den Tanto?

53 Masamune Tanto photo53 Masamune Tanto Oshigata

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

Masamune was born in Kamakura as a son of Tosaburo Yukimitu.  Masamune is a very well-known sword smith even among those who are not interested in a sword.  His tombstone is in Honkaku-Ji (本覚寺) temple near Kamakura train station, approximately 6 minutes’ walk from the station.

Characteristic—– Hira zukuri.  Very slightly sakizori (tip area curves slightly outward).  Bo-hi and Tsure-hi.  Boshi is Ko-maru.   Hamon is Notare (wavy).  From the illustration above, Sunagashi, Nijyuu-ba can be seen.  One of the important characteristics to connosseur sword is Nie or Nioi and Ji-hada.  It is not possible to see it from this photo, but Masamune does Nie and usually wood grain surface.  Nie is the Soshu-Den characteristic.  This type of Nakago is called Tanago-bara.   Masamune Tanto is often MuMei (no signature).

53 Kunisuke photo53 Kunisuke illustration

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

Enju  group lived at Kikuchi county in Higo Province (Kyushu).  The characteristic of Enju group is very similar to the one of Yamashiro style.  Because  Enju Kunimura who started the Enju group was said to be the son-in-law of Rai Kuniyuki of Yamashiro-Den. 

Characteristic—-Hamon is Hoso Suguha (straight temper line).  Boshi is Ko-maru.  Front engraving is Suken (left photo of the sword) and the engraving on the back is Gomabashi ( right photo of the sword).  Jitetsu or Jihada is tight Itame.  Nie

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

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

14 Ikubi kissaki Damadge

As I explained in chapter 14 Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期), Ikubi Kissaki sword shows a flaw (above illustration) when the damaged area was repaired.  To compensate for this flaw, in Late Kamakura Period, swords smiths 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)

Above photo is Goro Nyudo Masamune( 五郎入道正宗 ).  Please look at the size and shape of Kissaki.  This is definitely different than 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 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)On the illustration above, Kinsuji, Inazuma is shown inside the Hamon.  The clear line inside the Hamon is Inazuma and Kinsuji.  Kinsuji, Inazuma are the collection of Nie looks like a line.  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.photo50 part 2 of 15 吉岡

The above picture is Yoshioka Ichimonji (吉岡一文字).  Kissaki is also like the one of Masamune.  It is longer than previous Ikubi Kissaki or Ko-Gissaki.  This is Chu-Gissaki.  Kissaki like this is the important point 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 photo50 part 2 of 15 運生 

Above photo is Ukai Unsho (鵜飼雲生).  This is also the sword 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 earlier time than the late Kamakura period.  I chose this sword here to show that the sword does not always have the style of that period.  To Kantei*, first, look at the style and shape and give yourself some idea of the period of the time you think it was made.  But in this case, Kissaki does not indicate late Kamakura periodNext thing to do is to look at the different characteristic of the sword one by one like Hamon, Nie or Nioi, Jihada, etc,  and determine what period, which Den, which province and finally come up with a swordsmith’s name.  This process is called Kantei.

*Kantei – – – – – – to determine the name of the swordsmith by looking at the characteristic of the sword without looking at the Mei (inscription).  Mei is not always there either because it is shortened or some other reasons.

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

49| Part 2 of —-14|Late Kamakura Period (鎌倉後期歴史)

This is the detailed part of chapter 14|Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期.  Please read chapter 14 before starting this chapter.

Genko (元寇) —  Mongolian Invasion 

In Chapter 14, the Mongolian invasion was simply described.  Here is the more detailed description.  The Mongol Empire was a vast empire spread between present Mongol areas to all the way to Eastern Europe from 1206 to 1368.  Grandson of Genghis Kahn, Kublai Kahn sent several official letters to Japan demanding Japan to become a dependency state of the Mongol Empire (Yuan) and demanded to send a tribute to them.   They threatened Japan that they will invade if Japan did not accept their demand.  Hojo Tokimune (北条時宗 ) who was in power in Kamakura Bakufu (government) then, refused and ignored the letters many times.  That caused the two times invasions by the Mongol Empire.  The prevailing notion is that the strong typhoon hit Japan on each invasion, Mongols were chased away by the typhoon.  There were more to it to the story.

Bunnei-no-Eki (文永の役  )  1274

The first Mongolian invasion is called Bunnei-no-Eki.  The early part of October 1274, 40,000 Mongol troops (Mongol, Han people, and Korean) departed heading to Japan from Korean peninsula on 900 large and small ships.  After they arrived on the Tsushima island (対馬 ), Mongol troop burnt villages and killed many people including the island people.  Many people were captured and presented to the top officials of the Mongols as their slaves.  It was a really miserable sad scene.  The Mongols moved to Iki Island (壱岐の島), then to Hizen shore (肥前 ),  Hirato Island (平戸 ),  Taka-Shima (鷹島 ), then to Hakata bay (博多).   At each place, the disastrous scene was the same as everywhere.   At each battlefield, Japanese soldiers and villagers were killed in great numbers.  Kamakura Bukufu (government) sent many Samurai to the battlefield, the Japanese side won and pushed the Mongols back here and there but mostly Japanese sides lost.  Many wives and children were captured, eventually, even no soldiers dared to fight against Mongols.  Mongols arrows were short and not so powerful, but they put on the poison at the tip, and they shoot the arrows like rain.  Also, this is the first time the Japanese saw the firearms.  Their loud sound of the explosion made horses and Samurai frightened.  Japanese troops had to retreat and the situation was really bad for Japanese.  But all of a sudden surprisingly, on morning of the of October 21st (today’s calendar, Nov 19thall the ships were gone, nowhere to be seen on the shore.   Mongols were all disappeared from the shore of Hakata.  What happened was Mongols decided to quit the fight and went back.  For Mongols, even though they were winning, they also lost many people and lost one of the major key person in the army.  The different history book of Korea and Mongols had several records about the reasons to leave Japan.   The Mongols realized no matter how Mongols were winning, the Japanese kept coming more and more from everywhere.  The Mongols could not expect reinforcements from their country over the ocean.  Also, their stocks of weapons were getting low.  It was the Mongols decision to go back.  Here is a twist.  Around the end of October (November by the today’s calendar), the sea between Hakata (where Mongols were) and Korea was very dangerous because of the bad weather, unless the clear daytime of south wind day.  This place is called Genkai Nada (玄界灘 ) famous for the rough sea.   Yet Mongols decided to go back at night.  They may have caught the moment of the south wind, but it did not last long.  As a result, they encountered the usual severe rainstorm.  Many ships hit against the cliff, ships capsized, people fell into the ocean, and several hundred broken ships were found on the shore.  This is called Bunnei- no- Eki (文永の役 ).  Mongols lost a large number of people, ships, troop, food, weapons, and Korea who was forced to supply all of them by the Mongols lost a great deal.  Only old men and children were left to work on the farm, on top of it, they had drought and long rain.

At this Bunnei-no-Eki (文永の役), it was not a typhoon that caused the Mongols to be defeated, Mongols decided to leave but encountered usual bad weather.

Koan-no-Eki (弘安の役) 1281

The second Mongolian invasion is called Koan-no-Eki in 1281.  After the first attempt to invade Japan, Kublai Khan kept sending messengers to Japan to demand to become a dependency state.  Kamakura Bakufu kept ignoring and they killed messengers.  Kublai Kahn decided to attack Japan again in 1281.  Kublai Kahn’s top advisers suggested not to attack Japan because it is too far, the ocean is too dangerous, the country is small, and nothing to gain even if Mongols win.  But Kublai Kahn still insisted to attack.  This time they came in two groups.  They were the East-route troop, the number was 60,000 soldiers on 900 ships, and the South-route troop, the number was 100,000 soldiers on 3,500 ships.  This is the largest scale forces in history.  Their plan was to depart from each one’s port and join on the Iki-no-Shima island (壱岐の島 ) by June 15th, then work together.  The East-route troop arrived before the South-route troop came.  Instead of waiting for the South-route troop, the East-route troop started to attack the Hakata Bay (博多) on their own.  But by that time, Japan already prepared to fight and built a 20 kilometer long stone wall.  This stone wall was 3 meters high and 2 meters thick.  The East-route troop had to give up to land on Japan from Hakata and moved to Shiga-no-Shima (志賀島 )At this place, the fight between Mongols and Japan was even battle but at the end, East-route troop lost and retreated to the Iki-no-Shima and decided to wait for the South-route troop to arrive.  The South troop never arrived there, they changed the plan.   On top of that, while they were waiting for the South-route troop to come, they lost over 3,000 men over the epidemic.   With difficulty like this, the East- route troop discussed the choices they can take.  One opinion was going back home but in the end, they decided to wait for the South-rout troop to arrive as long as the food last.  Meantime, the South-route troop changed the plan and decided to go to Hirato-Shima  (平戸島 ) where it is closer to Dazaifu (太宰府).  That is the final and most important place they wanted to attack.   Later, the East-route troop found out the South-route troop went to Hirato Shima.   Finally, two troops joined at Hirato-Shima and each group stationed nearby island called Taka-shima (鷹島 )The problem was this island had very high tide and low tide, the ships were not easily maneuvered.   Meantime, 60,000 Japanese men were marching toward where the Mongols were stationed.   Before those men arrived to fight against Mongols, A big typhoon came on July 30th and Mongols were caught in a big typhoon, ships hitting each other,  people fell from the ships and drowned and the majority of ships sank.   July 30th was about three months after the East- route troop left Mongol on early May.  That means they were on the ocean and the shore of Japan for about three months or so.  Around North Kyushu area (九州 ), usually, a typhoon comes average 3.2 times between the month of July to September.   Mongols were on the ocean and the shorelines of Japan for approximately three months; they were bound to be hit by a typhoon soon or later.

The Mongol Empire lost 2/3 of its naval forces.   After Mongols failed two attempts to attack Japan, Kublai Khan still insisted to attack Japan the third time, no matter how much his men reasoned him.  But the plan was delayed and terminated because of many rebellions, upheavals and no lumber was left to build ships.  Soon, Kublai died in 1294. The record book of Mongols and Korean indicated that Mongols officials gave a high evaluation of Japanese swords.  Some even say one of the reasons it was not easy to defeat Japan was because of the long sharp swords.  The experience of the Mongolian invasion changed Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先) sword to a new Soshu-Den (相州伝) style sword.

49 Photo of part 2 of 14 Late Kamakura

The stone wall scene.  Photo from Wikipedia.  Public Domain

*Wikipedia was referred for the chapter 49 article.

47|Part 2.5 of —–12|Ikubi Kissaki(continued)

Continued from Chapter 46

Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗)

Another swordsmith needs to be mentioned in this section is Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗).  In middle Kamakura period, the Hojo clan invited the top swordsmiths to Kamakura area.  Awataguchi Kunitsuna (粟田口国綱) from Yamashiro Kyoto, Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane  (福岡一文字助真) from Bizen area, Bizen Kunimune (備前国宗) from Bizen area moved to Kamakura together with his group of people.  Those three groups started the Soshu Den (相州伝).  Refer to 14|Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期)

Sugata (shape)  —– Ikubi Kissaki style.  Sometimes Chu-Gissaki.    Thick body.  Narrow Shinogi width.  Koshi-Zori

Horimono (Engravings)  —– Often narrow Bo-Hi ( single groove)

Hamon (Tempered line) —– O-Choji Midare (large clove irregular) with Ashi.  Or Ko-Choji Midare (small clove irregular) with AshiNioi base with Ji-Nie (Nie in the Hada area).  Some top of the Hamon is squarish with less Kubire ( less narrow at the bottom of the clove).  Hajimi ( rough surface).  Also, he did as follows — Lower part shows Choji, the upper part shows less work without Ashi. 

12 «Part 2» 国宗刃紋 佐野

Kunimune Squarish Kawazuko Choji Hamon (Sano Museum Catalog permission granted)

 

Boshi  —– Small irregular.  Yakizume or short turn back.

Jitetsu —–Woodgrain.  Fine Jitetsu with some Ji-Nie (Nie inside Jihada).  Midare Utsuri (irregular shadow) shows.  A few Hajimi (rough surface).

12 «Part 2» 国宗  

Above photo is Kunimune   (国宗 Sano Museum Catalog, permission granted)  Even though Kunimune is famous for Ikubi Kissaki,  and this is the chapter for Ikubi Kissaki, this one is Chu-Gissaki.

 

12 (second part 2) 照国神社

Above photo is a picture from the official site of Terukuni Shrine in Kyushu.  You can go the site by clicking,  http://terukunijinja.pkit.com/page222400.html

Above photo is the National treasure Kunimune of the Terukuni Shrine in Kagoshima prefecture.  This Kunimune sword was lost after WWII.  The chairman of the Board of Miles Laboratory in Elkhart Indiana, Dr. Compton found this sword in an antique store in Atlanta.  Alka Seltzer is one of the well-known products among many of their products.  He was deeply into the sword collection and knew a lot about the Japanese sword.  When he saw this sword, he realized this is not just an ordinary sword.   He bought it and inquired to the Nihon Bijutu token Hozon Kyokai (Sword museum).  It turned out to be the famous missing National treasure of Kunimune of Terukuni Shrine.  He returned the sword to Terukuni Shrine without compensation in 1963.  My father became a friend of his around this time through Dr. Homma and Dr. Sato ( leading sword experts).  Since then, the Compton family and my family became close friends.  Dr. Compton asked Dr. Honma and my father to come to the US and examine his swords in his house (he had about 400 swords)  and swords of New York Met, Philadelphia Museum and the Boston Museum.  My father wrote about this trip and the swords he examined in those museums and published the book in 1965; the title is “Katana Angya (刀行脚)”. Since then, we visited his house and they visited our house more frequently.   Around this time must be the best time of his life for Dr. Compton and for my father.  Both of them could spend time on their interest and having fun.  It was the best time of my life too.

One time when I visited his house, he showed me his swords in his basement for hours almost all day.  His house was really huge and the basement he built as his study room was with fire prevention and had great lighting.   It was really nicely done and functioned correctly as the storage place for his many art objects.   Then his wife, Phoebe said to Compton that he cannot keep a young girl (I was a college student) in the basement all day long and looking at the swords.  He agreed and then he took me to his cornfield to pick some corns for dinner.  The basement to a cornfield, not much improvement?  So his wife Phoebe said that she will take me shopping and lunch in Chicago.   That is good,  but too far.   The distance between Elkhart and Chicago is about two hours by driving a car, too far just for shopping and lunch.  To my surprise, we got on the company private airplane to fly to the top of the roof of the department store then do the shopping and lunch, came back with the same private airplane.

Miles Lab. and Sankyo, a Japanese large pharmaceutical company had a business tie-up as Miles-Sankyo Pharmaceutical Company then.   Dr. Compton used to come to Japan quite often, officially for business purpose.  But whenever he came to Japan he used to spend many days with sword people and I used to follow my father.  One of the female workers of Miles-Sankyo, her job was to translate the sword book into English.  My parent household was filled with Miles-Sankyo products.  Miles Lab. had a big research institute in Elkhart Indiana.  I visited several times there.  One day I was sitting with Dr. Compton in his office, looking into the sword book with our head together.  That day, a movie actor John Forsythe was visiting the research lab.  He was the host of the TV program the Miles Lab was sponsoring.  All the female employees were making a big fuss over him.  Then he came into the Compton’s room to greet him thinking the chairman must be sitting on his big chair at his desk looking like a chairman.  But he saw Compton looking into the sword book with his head against my head.  The appearance of Dr. Compton was just like any chairman of the board of a big company one can imagine, and I was a college student looking like a college student.   John Forsythe had a strange expression that he did not know what to think of what he was seeing.

42|Part 2 of —– 8|Overview of the Kamakura Period Sword 1192-1333)

This is the second part of chapter 8.

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

Middle Kamakura Period —- Yamashiro Den (山城伝)

Middle Kamakura period was the height for the Yamashiro Den.  Among Yamashiro Den, there are three major groups (or families).  They are Ayano-koji group (綾小路 ) Awataguchi group (粟田口), and Rai group (来).  Among the  Awataguchi group, six swordsmiths received the honor of 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 at Ayanokoji area in Kyoto.  My 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, narrow body and jinie.  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 noted swords.  His famous Fudo Kuniyu (不動国行) was owned by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru (将軍足利義輝 ) 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).  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 noted swords.

Middle Kamakura Period —– Bizen Den (備前 )

Bizen Den in Heian period is called Ko-Bizen.  They are similar to the one to Yamashiro-Den style.  The height for the Bizen-Den was Middle Kamakura period.  Bizen (Okayama prefecture now) has many ideal aspects of sword making.  The weather is good, produced good steel, abundant fuel nearby, and 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 any other places, and more famous swordsmiths came out.  Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (則宗) and his son Sukemune (助宗 ) received the honor 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 made his tailor monogrammed inside of his suite as Mitsutada.  From Hatakeda group (畠田), Hatakeda Moriie (畠田守家), from Ugai (鵜飼) group, Unsho (雲生 ), Unji (雲次), and Kunimune (国宗) appeared.  Because of a large number of the swordsmiths in Bizen, a large number of swords exists, also, each swordsmith has its own characteristic, Kantei for Bizen can be a very complex process.  This is the time Ikubi Kissaki started to appear.

The below are 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 it was made, which Daimyo owned in the past and classification.

The classification of the sword from the top

1. National treasure     2.Juyo Bunkazai      3.Juyo Bijutu Hin       4.Juyo Token                        The rest is omitted

img028img027

Bizen Osafune Mitsutada  (Juyo Bunkazai)      Bizen Osafune Mitsutada  (Juyo Bunkazai)

 

img029img030

Bizen Osafune Mitsutada  (Juyo Token)           Bizen Osafune Mitsutada (Juyo Bunkazai )

 

Late Kamakura Period —– Soshu Den (相州伝 )

At the end of the Kamakura Period, Yamashiro Den started declining.  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.  From Bizen, Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) and Kunimune (国宗) moved to Kamakura.  From Yamashiro Den Awataguchi, Kunitsuna (国綱) moved to Kamakura.  Those are the one who originated the Soshu Den in Kamakura area.  Kunitsuna’s son is Tosaburo Yukimitsu, then his son is famous Masamune ( 正宗 )Other than Kamakura area, 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.

 

 

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

18 Nanbokucho time line

                           The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

During Nanboku-Cho period, Samurai demanded large, elaborate and practical swords. Soshu Den style — elaborate, large, and impressive  —became the most popular style. Nanboku-Cho period was the height of the Soshu Den.  Many sword smiths moved to Kamakura and forged Soshu Den style swords.  Other schools and provinces also made Soshu Den style swords in their own places.

19 Nanboku-cho Sword style

 

Shape (Sugata 姿)—-Originally the length of the swords were 3, 4, 5, feet long, but shortened to approximately two and a half feet in the later time. Shortening a sword greatly is called O-Suriage.  Nanboku-Cho sword has a shallow Kyo-zori (also called Torii-zori) shape (refer 6. Heian period)highest curvature comes around the center of the body.  Wide body, high Shinogi, and narrow Shinogi-Ji (refer 4 Names of parts) and thin body.  High Gyo-no-Mune or Shin-no-Mune, sometimes Maru-Mune (round back).

19 Nanboku-cho 3 kinds Mune

Hi, Horimono (groove and engraving 樋, 彫刻)—– On Shinogi-Ji (refer 4 Names of parts) area, often appears Bo-hi (one groove), double hi, Bonji (Sanscrit), spear, Dragon engraved

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji

Hamon (Tempered line) —– Lower area of the body shows narrow tempered line, higher area of the body shows wider showy tempered line.  Course Nie.  O- Midare (large irregular), Notare-Midare (wavy irregular), Gunome-Midare (repeating pattern of half circular and irregular mix).  Inazuma, Kinsuji (refer 15 Late Kamakura Period sword) action appears

 

19 Hamon Notare 319 Mamon choji gunome

*From Sano Museum Catalogue ( Permission granted).

 

Jitetu or Jihada (between tempered line and Shinogi) (4 Names of parts)——Wood grain pattern (Itame 板目). Tobiyaki (patchy tempered spot in jihada) appears.

Boshi, Kissaki —– O-Kissaki (Stretched long Kissaki). Fukura kareru (no Fukura). Midare-Komi (tempered line continues into Boshi), with kaeri fukashi (look at the illustration above),  sometimes Ichimai (tempered entire Boshi).  Look at the above illustration.

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

From Soshu————————————————————Hiromitu (広光) Akihiro (秋広  ) From Yamashiro ————————————————–Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重)  From Bizen (called So-den Bizen)————-Chogi (長儀 )group, Kanemitu (兼光 ) group From Chikuzen —————————————————————Samoji (左文字 ) 19 Chogi photo from Sano book

18|Nanboku(Yoshino) Cho Period History—— North and South Dynasty History(1333-1393)

18 Nanbokucho time line

The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this section.

After Jokyu-no-Ran (11|Jokyu-no-ran ), the power of the Imperial court declined significantly.  The Hojo clan who were the main power during the Kamakura period began to have the financial difficulty and started to lose the control over the local lords. One of the reasons was that the cost incurred by the Mongolian invasion. The Kamakura Bakufu (government) could not reward the local lords who worked hard at this war. The local lords became very dissatisfied with the Kamakura Bakufu.  Seeing this as a chance, the Emperor Go-Daigo twice attempted to attack Kamakura Bakufu but failed both times and he was exiled to Oki island. Meantime, Ashikaga Takauji (足利尊氏) and several other groups of Samurai who were opposing the Kamakura Bakufu, gathered their power and succeeded in destroying the Kamakura Bakufu (1333). This ends the Kamakura period. The Emperor Go-Daigo, who had been exiled to Oki island returned to Kyoto and attempted established political reforms. This is called Kenmu-no-Chuko (建武の中興).  This new policy failed to satisfy the most of the ruling class.  Taking advantage of this situation, Ashikaga Takauji attacked Imperial court in Kyoto, deposed the Emperor Go-Daigo and placed the other branch of the Royal family on the imperial throne.  But the Emperor Go-Daigo insisted upon his legitimacy, moved to Yoshino (located the South of Kyoto) and established a rival Imperial court.  Thus began the North and the South dynasty.  Much strife between the North and the South and also, both side had their own problems within themselves.  Eventually more Samurai group went under the control of North dynasty.  About 60 years later, Southern dynasty was compelled and accepted the Ashikaga clan’s proposal. Thus, established the North Dynasty as the legitimate imperial court.  This 60 years is the time called Nanboku-Cho or Yoshino-Cho period.  During Nanboku-Cho period, Samurai demanded larger and showy, and practical swords.  Soshu Den was its height of their prominence.  That does not mean only Soshu group made all the swords.  Other schools and other provinces also made Soshu Den style swords.

Early Soshu den time (that is late Kamakura period), Yukimitu (行光), Masamune (正宗) and Sadamune (貞宗) were representative swordsmiths.   Middle Soshu den time (that is North and South dynasty time), Hiromitu (広光), Akihiro (秋広) were representative swordsmiths.  Late Soshu den time (that is Muromachi period), Hiromasa (広正), Masahiro (正広) was the representative swordsmiths.