65|Part 2 of —29 |Main 7 Area Among Shin-To Sword (part B)

 

This chapter is the detailed part of chapter 29|Main 7 Areas Among Sin-To Sword (part B).  In Chapter 29, the location 1 to 7 was discussed but here the location 1,2,3,7 and 8 will be discussed.  Please read chapter 29 before reading this chapter.

65 Map with number with 8

  1. Settu (摂津) at Osaka (大阪 )

Settu Osaka has many well-known swordsmiths, like Kawachi-no-Kami Kunisuke (河内守国助), Tsuda Echizen -no-Kami Sukehiro (津田越前守助広), Inoue Shinkai (井上真改), Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子忠綱), etc.  The main characteristic of Settsu Osaka sword is very pretty fine Jitetsu (surface), almost no pattern, no design flat like surface.  The below two photos are Settsu sword.

65 Ikkanshi illustration 65 Ikkanshi photo

Ikkanshi Tadatsuna from Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission granted to use.

Ikkanshi Tadatsuna is famous for his carvings.  His father was Omi-no-Kami Tadatsuna.  Ikkanshi Tadatsu is the second generation of Omi-no-kami Tadatsuna.  Therefore he is also known as Awataguchi Omi-no-Kami Fujiwara Tadatsuna as you see on the Nakago above photo. The characteristics of his sword are:  Longer Kissaki and Sakiziri.  Wide tempered line with Nie.  Osaka Yakidashi.  O-Notare with Gunome.  On the illustration above, one Gunome between Notare shows.  Boshi Komaru (turn back)Very fine Ji-Hada almost no pattern on the surface.

 

 65-inoue-shinkai-photo-.jpg  65 inoue Shinkai illustration

Inoue Shinkai (井上真改) from Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission granted to use.

Inoue Shinkai is the second generation of Izumi-no-Kami Kunisada who was the student of Kunihiro.  The characteristics of his sword are:  Osaka Yakidashi, gradually wider tempered line toward the top, O- Notare, Deep Nie, Fine Ji-Hada is so fine almost no design on the surface.

3. Musashi (Edo)

We find many famous swordsmiths in Edo also.  They are 1st, 2nd,  3rd generations of Yasutsugu(康継), Kotetsu(虎徹), Noda Hankei (野田繁慶), Hojoji Masahiro (法成寺正弘), etc.  Two photos below are swordsmiths from Musashi.

65 Yasutsugu photo 65-yasutsugu-illustration-e1567313224375.jpg

Yasutsugu  From Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission granted to use

Characteristics of Yasutusgu:  Shallow curvature.  Chu-Gissaki (medium Kissaki). Hamon is wide Notare, Midare, O-Gunome (sometimes same shape Gunome line up side by side).  The trace of Soshu-Den and Mino-Den shows in his work.  Woodgrain mixed with Masame on Shinogi-Ji.

 

65 Kotetsu photo    65 kotetu illustration

Kotetsu From Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission granted to use.

Here is the famous Kotetsu.  The formal name is Nagasone Okisato Nyudo Kotetsu (長曽祢興里入道虎徹).   Kotetsu started to make sword around 50 years old, until then, he was an armor maker.   The characteristics of Kotetsu: Shallow curvature and wide width.  Wide tempered line with Nie.  Around Machi area, the Hamon is small Irregular, the upper part becomes wide Suguha like Notare.  Fine Nie.  Boshi is Komaru with short turn back.  Ji-Hada is fine wood grain, burl.  Sometimes,  O-Hada (black iron show through) shows at the lower part (right above Machi) of the sword.  The illustration above shows the thick (or wide) borderline between Ha and Ji consisted of Nie ( in other words, wide hazy not clear line).  This is Kotetsu’s characteristic.  Once you see it you will remember.

7. Satsuma (Kyushu)

65 Satsuma Masakiyo illustration 65 Satsuma Masakiyo photo

Miyahara Mondonosho Masakiyo (宮原主水正正清) From Sano Museum Catalogue, permission granted to use.

Miyahara Mondonosho Masakiyo was highly regarded by Shimazu family of Satsuma Han (Satsuma domain).  Later he was chosen to go to Edo by Shogun Yoshimune to forge Shogun’s sword.  The characteristics of Mondonosho Masakiyo: Well balanced sword shape.  Shallow curvature.  Wide and narrow Hamon with squarish Hamon and pointed Hamon mixed as in the photo above.  He engraved Aoi crest (the hollyhock crest of the Tokugawa family) on Nakago.
8. Sendai

65 仙台山城大掾藤原国包photo 65 仙台山城大掾藤原国包

Yamashiro Daijo Fujiwara Kunikane (山城大掾藤原国包 ) From Sano Museum Catalogue, Permission granted to use.

Fujiwara Kunikane is from Sendai.  He was favored by Date Masanune (伊達政宗) and was sent to Kyoto to study sword making.   It is said he was the descendant of the Yamato Hosho group.   Characteristics of Fujiwara Kunikane:  The shape of the sword is like Ko-To with Funbari (refer 6 |Heian Period Swords)Narrow width with high Shinogi.  Narrow tempered line with Chu-Suguha Hotsure (frayed medium straight tempered line).  Niju-Ha and Uchinoke shows.   Boshi is Yakizume (10 | Middle Kamakura Period — Bizen School(鎌倉中期備前伝)).  Ji-Hada shows neatly arranged Masame.  Sometimes mistaken as the Yamato Hosho (大和保昌) of Ko-To Yamato-Den.

 

 

 

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.

 

61|Part 2 of – – – 25|Sengoku Period Tanto (1467 – 1596)

Chapter 61 is a detailed part of chapter 25|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代).  Please read chapter 25|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)  before start reading this chapter.

Muramasa (村正)

The discussion in this section is about the famous Muramasa (村正 ).  Many well-known swordsmiths are from one of the Goka-Den (main 5 schools, that is Yamashiro- Den, Bizen- Den, Soshu- Den, Yamato- Den, Mino- Den).  Muramasa is not from Goka-Den but from Ise Province.

61 Ise map

It is said that Muramasa was a student of Heian-Jo Nagayoshi (平安城長吉) of Yamashiro-Den.  Muramasa has three generations through Mid Muromachi periodSince Muramasa lived through the Sengoku Period, his sword shows the characteristic of Sengoku period sword style that is Mino-Den characteristic with  Soshu-Den characteristic added.

61 Muramasa photo  61 Muramasa illustration

Muramasa from Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

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

Muramasa’s Tanto is often 10 inches ± half inches or so.  Hirazukuri (平作り). Thin blade.  Muramasa Tanto gives a sharp look.  Nioi base with small Nie and Sunagashi (brushed sand like, the illustration below) appears.  Boshi (Top part of Hamon) is Jizo (side view of the head shape).  Tempered line has a wide area and narrow area, that is some area of tempered line is close to the edge of the blade and another area is a wide tempered line.  See the illustration above.  Hako-Midare (box like shape) and Gunome (line up beads like shape).  O-Notare (large gentle waviness) is Muramasa’s characteristic.  The pointed tempered line that is the typical Mino-Den characteristic (Sanbon Sugi) shows .  Refer 24|Sengoku Period Sword(戦国時代).

61 Sunagashi 2

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

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

Chapter 52 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 circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.

In  16| Late Kamakura period Tanto (Early Soshu-Den 鎌倉末短刀)Den), a general common characteristic of the late Kamakura period tanto style (early Soshu Den) was described.  Next two photos fit in with the typical characteristics of early Soshu Den tanto.

Masamune

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 swordsmith among the early Soshu DenMasamune’s tomb is in Honkaku-JI (本覚寺) Temple near Kamakura train station, approximately 6 minutes’ walk from the 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 groove).  Ko-maru boshiItame-hada (wood grain).  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 description of the Sano Museum Catalog stated that connoisseurs in the past had difficulty determining whether this sword had been made by Masamune because of the wide mihaba with sori and hamon is a little different for usual Masamune but by judging from the clear nie, chikei, and kinsuji, this sword should be judged as Masamune.

Enju Photo below

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

Enju group lived Higo Province in Kyushu.  The characteristic of the Enju group is very similar to that of the Yamashiro Den’s.  Because Enju Kunimura was related to Rai Kuniyuki of Yamashiro-Den. 

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

MasamuneTomb in Honkaku-ji Temple

Masamune (正宗) tomb is at Honkakuj-Ji Temple (本覚寺) in Kamakura.  Here is a map of Honkakuji temple and Masamune kogei store in Kamakura.  This store is owned by Tsunahiro Yamamura who is the 24th generation of MasamuneHonkaku-ji Temple is circled in red  and Masamune Kogei store is red circle with X.  Both are in approx. 6 to 7 minutes walking distance from the Kamakura station. 

Take Yokosuka line from Tokyo station (approx. one hour) — Get off at Kamakura Station (don’t get off 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 sign is at the corner of the post office) — Honkaku-ji Temple is a short distance from the post office.

52 Honkakuji map in red

52 Honnkakuji 2 54 large Masamune monument only

52 Honkakuji 54 Small Masamune tomb only

2019 family trip to Kamakura

49|Part 2 of — 14|Late Kamakura Period Sword

This chapter is a detailed part of chapter 14| 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 Sword (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.

48| Part 2 of –13|Late Kamakura Period, Genko (鎌倉後期歴史)

This is the detailed part of chapter 13|Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期.  Please read chapter 14 before reading this section.

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline

                                      The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section.

Genko (元寇):  Mongolian Invasion 

In Chapter 14, the Mongolian invasion was described simply.  Here is the more detailed description.  The Mongol Empire was a vast empire spread between present Mongol areas to Eastern Europe from 13 to 14 centuries.  Grandson of Genghis Kahn, Kublai Kahn sent several official letters to Japan demanding Japan to become a dependency state of the Mongol Empire (元: Yuan) and demanded to send a tribute to them.   They threatened Japan that they would invade if Japan did not accept their demand.  Hojo Tokimune (北条時宗 ) who was in power in Kamakura Bakufu (government) at the time, refused and ignored the letters many times.  That led to the two-time invasions by the Mongol Empire.  It is often said that the strong typhoon hit Japan on each occasion and Mongols were chased away by these two big typhoons.  This was correct but the real story was a lot more to it.

Bunei-no-eki (文永の役  )  1274

The first Mongolian invasion was called Bunei-no-eki.  In the early part of October 1274, 40,000 Mongol troops*¹ (Mongol, Han people, and Korean) departed from the Korean peninsula on 900*² large and small ships and headed to Japan.  After they arrived on the Tsushima island (対馬 ), Mongol troop burnt villages and killed many people including the island people.  Village people were captured and sent to the top officials of the Mongols as their slaves.  It was a very sad scene.  The Mongols moved to Iki island (壱岐の島), to Hizen shore (肥前 ),  to Hirato island (平戸 ), to Taka-Shima (鷹島 ), then to Hakata bay (博多).   At each place, the disastrous sad scene was the same as everywhere.   At each battlefield, Japanese soldiers and villagers were killed in large numbers.  The Kamakura Bukufu (government) sent a large number of samurai troops to the battlefield.  The Japanese troops sometimes won and pushed the Mongolians back, but mostly the Japanese sides lost.  Many wives and children of the Japanese side were captured.  Eventually, even no soldiers dared to fight against the Mongols.  Mongols arrows were short and not so powerful, but they put on the poison at the tip, and they shoot the arrows all together at one time like rain.  Also, this is the first time the Japanese saw the firearms.  The loud sound of the explosion made the horses and samurai frightened.

Japanese troops had to retreat and the situation was really bad for the Japanese.  But one morning, a big surprise to the Japanese!  All the ships disappeared from the shore, they were all gone on the morning of October 21st (today’s calendar, Nov 19th).   All Mongols disappeared from the shore of Hakata.  What happened was Mongols decided to quit the fight and went back to their country.  The reason was; for Mongols, even though they were winning, they also lost many soldiers and lost one of the major key persons in the army.  The Mongols realized that no matter how much Mongols won, the Japanese kept coming more and more from everywhere.  Also, the Mongols realized that they could not expect reinforcements from their country across the ocean.  Their stocks of weapons were getting low.  It was the Mongols decision to go back.  Here was a twist.  Around the end of October (November by today’s calendar), the sea between Hakata (where Mongols were stationed) and Korea was a very dangerous sea because of the bad weather.  Only a clear daytime of the south wind day is possible to sail over this sea.  The name of the sea where the Mongol soldiers had to sail back is called Genkai Nada (玄界灘), very famous for the rough sea.  For some reason, the Mongols decided to head back during the night.  That was a mistake.  They may have caught a moment of the south wind, but it did not last long.  As a result, they encountered the usual severe rainstorm.  Many ships hit against each other, against the cliff, ships capsized, people fell into the ocean, and several hundred broken ships were found on the Japan shore.  The Mongol invasion ended here.  This is called Bunei-no-eki (文永の役 ).  Mongols lost a large number of people, ships, soldiers, food, weapons.  Actually, it was Korea who lost a great deal,  they were forced to supply all of the people, food, weapons, etc. by the Mongols.  After this war, in Korea, only old men and children were left to work on the farm, on top of it, they had a drought and long rain.

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.  The Kamakura Bakufu kept ignoring and killed messengers.  Kublai Kahn decided to attack Japan again in 1281.  The top advisers of Kublai Kahn tried to convince him not to do it because the ocean is too dangerous, the country is small, the place is too far, and nothing to gain even if the Mongols win.  But Kublai Kahn still insisted to attack.  This time they came in two groups.  One was the East-route troop, the number was 40,000*¹ soldiers on 900 ships, and the other was South-route troop, the number was 100,000*¹ soldiers on 3,500 ships.  This is the largest scale forces in history.  They planned to depart from each one’s port and supposed  to join on the Iki-no-shima island (壱岐の島) by June 15th, then work together.  The East-route troop arrived there before the South-route troop came.  Instead of waiting for the South-route troop to arrive, the East-route troop started to attack the Hakata Bay (博多) on their own.  But since the previous invasion of the Binei-no-eki, 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 came there, instead, they changed their plan.  On top of that, while they were waiting for the South-route troop to arrive, they lost over 3,000 men over the epidemic.  With difficulty like this, some suggested going back home but they concluded to wait for the South-rout troop to arrive as long as the food last.  Meantime, the South-route troop changed their plan and decided to go to Hirato-Shima (平戸島) where it is closer to Dazaifu (太宰府).  Dazaifu 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 was stationed at a nearby island called Takashima (鷹島).  The problem was that this island had very high tide and low tide, the ships were not easily maneuvered.

Meantime, 60,000 Japanese men were marching toward the place where the Mongols were stationed.   Before Japanese soldiers arrived to fight against the 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 in early May.  That means they were on the ocean and the shore of Japan for about three months or so.  Around the north Kyushu area (北九州), usually, a typhoon comes average 3.2 times between 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 at Koan-no-eki.   Even after the Mongols failed two attempts to attack Japan, Kublai Khan still insisted to attack Japan the third time no matter how much his advisers reasoned him not to.  In the end, 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 toward 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

*¹ Number of soldiers by https://kotobank.jp/word/元寇-60419 .  Several different reference sources have a slightly different number of soldiers and ships, but they are similar numbers.

46|Part 2 of –11 Ikubi Kissaki(continuedfrom Chapter 45)

This chapter is a detailed part of 11| Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先) and continued from the previous 45|Part 2 of —- 11|Ikubi Kissaki(猪首切先.  Please read Chapter 11 and Chapter 45 before reading this section.

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline                    
                       The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.

Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗)

Another swordsmith that needs to be mentioned in this section is Bizen Saburo Kunimune (備前三郎国宗).  In the middle Kamakura period, the Hojo clan invited top swordsmiths to the Kamakura area.  Awataguchi Kunitsuna (粟田口国綱) from Yamashiro of 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 with his circle of people.  Those three groups started the Soshu Den (相州伝).

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 Hamon is squarish with less Kubire (less narrow at the bottom of the clove).  Hajimi (刃染み rough surface) may show.  Often the Kunimure swords are 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 (tadpole and clove-like)Hamon                                                                                  (Sano Museum Catalog, Permission granted)

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

Ji-hada —–Woodgrain.  Fine Ji-hada with some Ji-nie (Nie inside Ji-hada).  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

The above photo is the National treasure Kunimune of the Terukuni Jinja Shrine in Kagoshima prefecture.  This Kunimune sword was lost after WWII.  This is the sword Dr. Compton, the chairman of the Board of Miles Laboratory in Elkhart Indiana, found in an antique store in Atlanta.  I mentioned Dr. Compton in 33| Background.  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) in Tokyo.  It turned out to be the famous missing National treasure of Kunimune from Terukuni Jinja ShrineHe returned the sword to Terukuni Jinja without compensation in 1963.  My father became a good friend with him around this time through Dr. Homma and Dr. Sato (both were leading sword experts).  Later, Dr. Compton asked Dr. Honma and my father to examine his swords which he kept in his house (he had about 400 swords) and swords of New York Met, Philadelphia Museum, and the Boston Museum.  Father wrote about this trip and swords he examined in those museums and published a book in 1965; the title is “Katana Angya (刀行脚)”.  For Dr. Compton and my father, around this time must be the best time of their life.  The business for both of them was doing good and could spend time on their interest and having fun.  It was the best time of me too.

One time while I was visiting Compton’s house, he showed me his swords in his basement for hours almost all day.  His house was huge and the basement he built as his study room was with fire prevention system and correct lighting for viewing swords.   It was functionally correct as a storage place for his many different art objects.  Then his wife, Phoebe said to him that he cannot keep a young girl (I was a college student) in the basement all day long.  He agreed and then he took me to his cornfield to pick some corns for dinner.  Basement to a cornfield, not much improvement?  So his wife Phoebe decided to take me shopping and lunch in Chicago.  Good idea,  but it is too far.   The distance between Elkhart and Chicago is about two hours by driving a car then, too far just for shopping and lunch.  To my surprise, we took their company’s helicopter and landed on the rooftop of the department store then do the shopping and lunch came back  the same way.

Miles Lab. and a well-known Japanese large pharmaceutical company had a business tie-up then.  Dr. Compton used to come to Japan quite often, officially for business purposes.  But whenever he came to Japan he used to spend days with sword people and I used to follow my father.  One of the female workers of this pharmaceutical company, her job description was to translate the sword book into English.  My parents’ house was filled with Miles products.  Miles Lab. had a big research institute in Elkhart Indiana.  I visited there several times.  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 Compton’s room to greet him thinking the chairman must be sitting in 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 Japanese college student looking like a college student.   John Forsythe showed a strange expression on his face that he did not know what to think.

 

41|Part 2 of — 7 Overview of Kamakura Period Sword (1192-1333)

This is the detailed part of 7| Overview of the Kamakura Period Swords (1192-1333).   Please read chapter 8 before reading this section.

7 Kamakura timeline

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

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

 Middle Kamakura Period —- Yamashiro Den (山城伝)

The Middle Kamakura period was the height for the Yamashiro Den.  Among Yamashiro Den, there were three major groups (or families).  They are Ayanokoji group (綾小路 ) Awataguchi group (粟田口)、and Rai group (来).  Among the Awataguchi group, 6 swordsmiths received the honor as 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 in the Ayanokoji area in KyotoMy 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, narrowbody, and Ji-nie.  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 well-known swords.  His famous Fudo Kuniyu (不動国行) was owned by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru (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).  They are all historically well-known powerful daimyos.  It is said that 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 well-known swords.

Middle Kamakura Period —– Bizen Den (備前)

During the Heian period, Bizen Den called Ko-Bizen existed.  They are similar to the one to Yamashiro-Den style.  The true Bizen Den and also the height for the Bizen-Den was the Middle Kamakura period.  Bizen area (Okayama prefecture now) has many ideal aspects of sword making.  The weather is good, produced good iron, abundant wood for fuel nearby, and the location is 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 other sword groups, and more famous swordsmiths appeared.  Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (則宗) and his son Sukemune (助宗 ) received the honor of the Goban-kaji 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 asked his tailor to monogram Mitsutada on the inside pocket of his suit jacket.  From Hatakeda group (畠田), Hatakeda Moriie (畠田守家), from Ugai (鵜飼) group, Unsho (雲生 ), Unji (雲次) appeared.  The famous Kunimune (国宗) also appeared around this time.  Because of a large number of swordsmiths in Bizen Den, a large number of bizen swords exist.  Each swordsmith showed his own characteristics on their swords.  Therefore kantei can be complex.  This is the time Ikubi Kissaki started to appear.

The classification of the sword from the top

  1. Kokuho (国宝: National treasure)
  2. Jyuyo Bunkazai (重要文化財: Important Cultural Property)
  3. Jyuyo Bijutu Hin (重要美術品: Important Artwork)
  4. Juyo Token (重要刀剣: Important Sword)

The rest is omitted

Below is 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 the sword was made, which Daimyo owned it in the past and classification

Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Bunkazai)             Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo bunkazai)

img027               img028

Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Token)                   Osafune Mitsutada (Jyuyo Bunakzai)

img029 img030

Late Kamakura Period —– Soshu Den (相州伝 )

Yamashiro Den started to decline at the later part of the Kamakura Period.  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.  Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) and Kunimune (国宗) from Bizen moved to KamakuraToroku Sakon Kunitsuna (藤六左近国綱) from Awataguchi group of Yamashiro Den moved to KamakuraThose three are the ones who originated the Soshu Den in Kamakura.  Kunitsuna’s son is Tosaburo Yukimitsu, then his son is the famous Masamune (正宗)Outside of Kamakura, Yamashiro 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.

18| 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17| Nanboku-cho Period History (南北朝歴史 1333-1392)

0-timeline - size 24 Nanboku-cho

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

After Jokyu-no-Ran (10| Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221, the power of the Imperial Court declined significantly.  The successor, the Hojo clan with a dominant power during the Kamakura period, also began to have financial difficulty and started to lose control over the regional warlords.  One of the reasons was the cost incurred by the Mongol invasion.  The Kamakura Bakufu (government) could not reward well to those warlords who worked hard during the war.  As a result, they were very dissatisfied with the Bakufu.  Seeing this as a chance, Emperor Go-Daigo attempted to attack the Kamakura Bakufu two times but failed both times.  He was exiled to Oki island.  Meantime, Ashikaga Takauji (足利尊氏) and several groups of anti-Kamakura samurais gathered arm forces and succeeded in destroying the Kamakura Bakufu (1333).  This war ends the Kamakura period.

Emperor Go-Daigo, who had been exiled to Oki island, returned to Kyoto and attempted political reforms.  This reform was called Kenmu-no-Chuko (建武の中興).  His reform, however, failed to satisfy most of the ruling class.  Taking advantage of this situation, Ashikaga Takauji attacked the Imperial Court in Kyoto, deposed Emperor Go-Daigo, and placed a member from the other branch of the Imperial family on the throne. 

Emperor Go-Daigo, however, insisted upon his legitimacy, moved to Yoshino in the South of Kyoto, and established another Imperial court.  Thus began the Northern and the Southern Imperial Courts.  With much strife between these rival courts and their problems within each Court,  more Samurai groups began moving to the Northern dynasty.  About 60 years later, the Southern dynasty was compelled to accept the Northern Dynasty’s proposal.  Consequently, the Northern Dynasty became the legitimate imperial Court.  These 60 years are called Nanboku-cho or Yoshino-cho period. 

During the Nanboku-cho period, Samurais demanded larger and showy, yet practical swords.  Soshu Den was its height of their prominence.  However, the Soshu group was not the only group that made all the swords. Other schools and provinces of the different areas also made Soshu Den style swords.

Well-known Early Soshu-Den Swordsmith In the Late Kamakura Period

Tosaburo Yukimitsu (藤三郎行光)   Masamune (正宗)      Sadamune (貞宗)

18 Masamune photo    18 Masamune hamon (Sano)

Masamune from Sano Museum Catalog (permission granted)

Well known Middle Soshu-Den swordsmiths (North and South dynasty time )

Hiromitsu (広光)    Akihiro (秋広)

18 Hiromitu photo 20 Hitatsura Hiromitsu Hitatura )

Hiromitsu from Sano Museum Catalog (permission granted)