15|Late Kamakura Period Sword

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

The beginning of the Soshu style

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

15 Soshu sword with explanation

 

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

15 Kissak shape of 4

15 Hi ends lower

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

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

10 Nie & Nioi

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

15 Late Kamakura Soshu Hamon

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

15 three boshi name

 

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

15 Yubashiri, Chikei, Inazuma

Late Kamakura Period Soshu School Sword Smiths

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

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

Masamune Juttetsu  (Main Soshu Style swordsmiths other than above)

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

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

15 Masamune, Yoshioka Ichimonji Endo

 

15 Masamune, Yoshioka IchimonjiOnce family-owned swords

14|Late Kamakura Period History(鎌倉後期)

14 Late Kamakura Period timeline

                         The circle represents the time we are discussing in this section

GENKO 元寇  (1274 and 1281)

The grandson of Genghis Kahn, Khubilai Kahn attempted to invade Japan two times in 1274 and 1281.  Both times, a strong typhoon hit Japan.  Mongols sent to Japan a large number of soldiers with all kinds of supplies on their huge numbers of ships.  Those ships had to stay at a shore side by side and front and back very closely in the limited area of the shore of Kyushu.   When the strong wind came, ships were swayed, hit each other and capsized.  Many people fell, drowned and lost supplies in the water.  Even though Mongol soldiers landed and fought with the Japanese army, because of the typhoon and ships wrecking, they did not have much choice but to leave Japan.  As a result, Japan won.   Actually, Mongols had many superior weapons than the Japanese.  They had guns, the Japanese did not.  Their group fighting method was much more superior and effective than the Japanese individual fighting method.  This is the time the famous Japanese expression, “Kamikaze” (divine wind)  was created.

After the Mongolian invasion, the need for changing the style of the Ikubi Kissaki became obvious.  When swords were used in a war, the most frequently damaged area was a Kissaki area.  Japanese soldiers used mostly Ikubi Kissaki swords in this war.  The Ikubi Kissaki Tachi has a short Kissaki, therefore, when the damaged area of the Kissaki was polished down for repairing, the top part of the Yakiba (tempered area) disappeared and the Hi (groove) goes up too high in the Boshi area (top triangle-like area).  Short Ikubi Kissaki becomes even shorter, and Hi goes up too high into a Boshi area.  Aesthetically, it is not an appealing look, functionally does not work.  To compensate for this flaw, a new style began to appear in the latter part of the Kamakura period

14 Ikubi kissaki Damadge

During the latter part of the Kamakura period, the swordsmiths began to create a new style of swords to compensate for this fault.  Also, people’s enthusiasm that was raised by driving back Mongolian reflected on the appearance of swords.  Generally speaking, Hamon and the shape of the body became showy and stronger looking.

Kamakura became a very prosperous place under the power of the Hojo family.  A large number of swordsmiths moved to Kamakura from Bizen, Kyoto and other places during this time and created a new style.  This is the beginning of Soshu school (Soshu is the Kanagawa area now).  Many famous top swordsmiths appeared during this time.  One of the famous swordsmiths is Masamune.  Masamune’s tomb is in Honkaku-Ji temple that is about 5 or 6 minutes’ walk from the Kamakura train station.  while I was attending the sword study group of Mori Sensei(teacher), one of the students I studied with was the 24th generation of direct descendants of Masamune.  His last name is Yamamura, he still makes wonderful swords in Kamakura.  He also makes superb kitchen knives too.  The name of his shop is called “Masamune Kogei”, a short walk from the Kamakura train station.  To find his place, ask at the information center at the train station.

54 Yamamura 1 54 Honnkakuji 3         May 2019   Mr. Tsunahiro Yamamura and I                    Honkaku-Ji Temple