46|Part 2 of —– 12|Middle Kamakura Period Tanto 鎌倉中期短刀

This chapter is a datiled part of chapter of 12| Tanto ( 短刀) Middle Kamakura Period.  Please read Chapter 12 before reading this section.

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

In Chapter 12 Kamakura Period Tanto described that the shape of a Tanto called Takenoko-zori had appeared during the middle Kamakura period.  This style of Tanto curves inward a little at the tip.  The drawing below may be a little exaggerated to show the curve.  The real Takenoko-zori curve is not so obvious.  Maybe a few millimeters inward.  Usually, the length of the Tanto is approximately 12 inches or less.  Tantos are described as follows; a Tanto of approx. 10 inches is called Jyosun tanto (定寸短刀), longer than 10 inches is Sun-nobi tanto (寸延び短刀 ), and less than 10 inches is called Sun-zumari Tanto (寸詰短刀).

Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延び)   >   Jyosun Tanto (定寸)   >  sun-zumari Tanto (寸詰り)  (longer than 10 inches)           (approx. 10 inches)                (less than 10 inches)

13 Tanto drawing Mid Kamakur

13 «Part 2» Tanto photo

Tanto by Shintogo Kunimitsu (新藤五国光).  This style is called Kanmuri -otoshi (冠落し), the Mune side (opposite side of cutting edge) is shaved off.  The length is approximately 10 inches.  Woodgrain surface, Nie on Ji (refer to 3 |Names of Parts).  Very finely forged.  Hamon is medium Suguha (straight).  Boshi is Ko-maru (small round).  Because of the Kanmuri-otoshi style, it may not be easy to see the Takenoko-zori, the Mune side bend inward very slightly.  Among the Tanto producers, Shintogo Kunimitsu is considered the top Tanto Maker.

13 «Part 2»Tanto photo with Saya

Above photo is also by Shintogo Kunimitsu (新藤五国光) with Saya.  Saya is the scabbard.  The handle of the scabbard (white part) is made with sharkskin.  Both photos are from Sano Museum Catalog.  Permission granted.

38|Part 2 of — 5 Heian Period Sword (792-1192)

This chapter is the continued part of 5 |Heian Period: Swords5 |Heian Period Swords.  Please read chapter 5 before reading this section.  More sword terminologies will be used in the coming chapters.  They were explained between chapters 1 to 31.  For unfamiliar sword terminology, please read chapter 1 to 31.

39 Heian Time line

                                  The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this sect

There are several active schools of swordsmith during the Heian period.  We use the word, Den for school.  They are Yamashiro Den (山城伝), Yamato Den (大和伝), Bizen Den ( 備前伝 ).  Also, the following areas are other groups during the Heian period:  Hoki-no-kuni (伯耆の国), and Oo-U (奥羽).

 Yamashiro Den (山城伝 )

During the Heian period,  among Yamashiro Den swords, the most famous sword is Mikazuki Munechika (三日月宗近) by Sanjo Munechika (三条宗近).  Mikazuki means crescent.  Because the crescent shape uchinoke (collection of nie) pattern appears in the Hamon area, it was named Mikazuki Munechika.  It has a graceful shape, narrow-body, Koshi-zori, Funbari, and small kissaki.  It shows wood grain surface, suguha with nie mixed with small irregular, sometimes Nijyu-ha (double hamon: 二重刃) appears.  Sanjo Munechika lived at the Sanjo area in Kyoto.  His sword style was followed by his sons and grandsons, Sanjo Yoshiie (三条吉家), Gojo Kanenaga (五条兼永), Gojo Kuninaga (五条国永 ).  Gojo is the area in Kyoto.

6 photos Sanjo Munechika

Mikaduki Munechika(三日月宗近) Tokyo National Museum (東京国立博物館蔵)  “Token no mikata” by Yuichi Hiroi (“刀剣のみかた” 広井雄一)

Houki -no-Kuni (伯耆の国)

Houki-no-Kuni is today’s Tottori prefecture.  It is known for the place to produce good iron.  The sword name, Doujigiri Yasutsuna  (童子切安綱) by Houki-no-Yasutsuna (伯耆の安綱) is the most famous one.

The characteristics of Yasutsuna’s sword———-It has a graceful shape with small kissaki, narrow hamon (often suguha with ko-choji), coarse nie on hamon area, large wood grain mixed with masame on ji-hada Hamon area often shows Inazuma and kinsuji.  Boshi area is yakizume, kaen with small turn back.

6 Sano Hoki Yasutuna

伯耆の安綱 (Hoki no Yasutsuna) 佐野美術館図録 (Sano Musem Catalogue)

Bizen Den (備前伝 )

Bizen is Okayama prefecture today.  It is known for the place to produce good iron.  Since the Heian period until now, Bizen has been famous for the sword-making tradition.  The sword-making group in this area during the Heian period is called the Ko-bizen group.  The most famous swordsmith in Ko-bizen group is Bizen Tomonari (備前友成) and Bizen Masatsune (備前正恒) and Bizen Kanehira (備前包平)

The characteristics of Ko-bizen group———-a graceful narrow body, small kissaki, narrow tempered line with Ko-choji (small irregular) with Inazuma and Kin-sujiJi-hada is a small wood grain pattern.

6 Sano Kanehira

Bizen Kanehira (備前包平) Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館図録)

I saw Ko-Bizen Sanetsune (真恒 ) at Mori Sensei’s house.  That was one of the Kantei-to of that day.  I received Douzen*ᴵ.  The book written by Hon’ami Koson was used as our textbook.  Each time I saw a sword at Mori Sensei’s house, I put down the date on the swordsmith’s name where the author describes.  It was Nov. 22, 1970.  It had a narrow body line, small kissaki (that is Ko-bizen Komaru), kamasu*2  (no fukura), and suguha and others.  Kamasu is the condition where the fukura (arc) is much lesser than usual.  Thinking back then, it is amazing we could see a famous sword like this one for our study materials.

Kantei-Kai

Kantei-kai is the study meeting.  Usually, several swords were displayed covering the nakago part.  The attendees guess the name of the sword maker and hand in the answer sheet to the judge.  Below is the grade.

Atari—–If the answer is the right on the exact name, you get atari, that is the best answer.

Dozen —-The second one is dozen.  The subject sword was made by the family and (or) clan of the right Den.  It means almost the right answer.  Dozen is considered very good.  It indicates the student has a good knowledge of the particular group.

Kaido Yoshi—– This means the same line, but not within the family.

Jidai Yoshi—-Each Kantei-kai has different grading systems.  Some have Jidai Yoshi, which means the time or period is correct.

Hazure—– Wrong answer.

After all the answer sheet is handed in and the answer sheet is graded and returned, the judge reveals the correct answer and explains why.

*1 Dozen:  Almost the same as the collect answer.                                                   

*2 Kamasu:  The name of a fish.  It has a narrow and pointed head.

 

 

30| Shin-Shin-To (Bakumatsu Period Sword 新々刀)1781-1867

0-timeline - size 24 BakumatsuThe circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

The later part of the Edo period is called Bakumatsu.  See the circled area of the timeline above.  Swords made during this time are called Shin Shin-to.   They are also called Fukko-to (復古刀: revived sword).  Fukko-to copied the shape, hamon, boshi, and other features of the Ko-to and Shin-to swords.  The characteristics of Shin Shin-to (新々刀) and well-known swordsmiths are those below.

The Characteristics of Shin Shin-to

  • Katana, Wakizashi, and Tanto, all tend to be similar to or copy of the Ko-to and Shin-to in
  • Many swords often have hi or detailed
  • One swordsmith would make more than one style swords like Soshu Den, Bizen Den, and Shin-to style together.
  •  Often shows Katai-ha. Refer to Chapter 24 Sengoku Period Sword.

30 katai-ha

                                                                                     Katai-ha

  • Weak (not tight)
  • Yakidashi (2to 3 inches above machi) is often Suguha(straight line), even though the rest is irregular    Boshi is often irregular Midare.
  • Detailed engravings, but more realistic than the previous times.

Well known swordsmiths of Shin Shin-to

  • Settsu (Osaka area) ————Gassan Sadayoshi (月山貞吉) Gassan Sadakazu (月山貞一) Gassan family is famous for detailed carvings.
  • Musashi no Kuni (Tokyo area) ——Suishinshi Masahide (水心子正秀)  Minamoto Kiyomaro (源 清麿)  Taikei Naotane (大慶直胤)  Taikei Yoshitane (大慶義胤) is famous for his carvings.

30 Kiyomaro entire

Minamoto Kiyomaro(源清麿)    Previously owned by my family

  • Tosa (四国: Shikoku area) ———————————————— Sa Yukohide (左行秀)
  • Satsuma (鹿児島: Kagoshima) ———- Oku Moptohira (奥元平) Namino Hira (波平)

Meiji Ishin-To

Right before the Meiji Restoration, long swords (approx. 3 feet) with no curvature were made.  Sa Yukihide (from Tosa) forged this type of sword.  Saigo Takamori (西郷隆盛)、 Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) owned this type of blades.  Both are famous historical characters during the Meiji Restoration, called Meiji Ishin.  Both of them were a part of the Kin’no-to group which supported the Emperor and renewed the political system.

27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地)

0-timeline - size 24 Shin-to

 

                            The red circle indicates the subject we discuss in this section

In Shinto time, there were seven main prosperous areas where many swordsmiths gathered and actively made swords.  Those are Yamashiro (山城) in Kyoto, Settsu (摂津) in Osaka, Musashi (武蔵 ) in Edo, Hizen (肥前) in Saga, Satsuma (薩摩) in Kagoshima, Echizen (越前) in Fukui,  and Kaga (加賀) in Kanazawa.  Swordsmiths of each area shared their own common regional characteristics of these places.  Knowing each of these characteristics is the easiest way to understand Shin-to.  But keep it in mind that each swordsmith in one group also has his own unique way of sword making.  The followings are general descriptions of these characteristics.

Below is a map of Japan.  Hokkaido is omitted from the map because swords were not made there at that time.

64Map with number with 8

1.  Yamashiro (山城) Kyoto

Yamashiro Shin-to sword has a solid and strong look.  Hamon at the lower part of the blade right above the Machi (区) area shows Suguha (straight hamon).  This is called Kyo-yakidashi (京焼出), which means starting with a straight Hamon.  Then it shows a sudden change to the design of O-midare (大乱).  O-midare (irregular waviness) becomes less wavy at one or two inches below the Yokote line, then continues into the Boshi as a wavy Hamon.  The design in the Boshi is Komaru-boshi.   See the illustration below. 

Ji-hada ———— Somewhat rough (this depends on the swordsmith).  Masame-hada (straight grain pattern) may show on Shinogi-Ji (the area between ridgeline and back). 

Among Yamashiro Shin-to group, there was a group called Mishina Group (三品).  They were Mino Den (美濃) related.  Therefore, their Boshi was often Jizo-boshi (地蔵鋩子).  This is called Mishina-boshi ( 三品鋩子).  Jizo-boshi is a look of the side of a man’s head.

Well known swordsmiths in Yamashiro area: Umetada Myoju (梅忠明寿)                                                                                                   Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広)                                                                                               Dewadaijyo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)

28 Mishina-Boshi Komaru-boshi, Kyo-Yakidashi

img067 Iganokami Kinnmichi (伊賀守金道) Yamashiro Den previously owned by my family 

2.Settu (摂津) Osaka (大阪)

Settsu (Osaka) created more Wakizashi than Katana.  They tend to make it slightly Sakizori (top half curves outward) and slightly stretched Boshi.  Settsu sword also has Yakidashi the same way as the previous Yamashiro sword.  Yet, unlike Yamashiro’s sword, in the area where Suguha changes into Notare (wavy pattern), the transition is not sudden but relatively smooth.  This is called Osaka Yakidashi.

Osaka Boshi ————–Hamon continues up to the Yokote line, then Komaru with a turn.  Ji-hada————-Very fine, almost no pattern, slid surface like especially Shinogi-ji (between ridgeline and back).  This is called Osaka-tetsu (iron).

29 Osaka Yakidashi Komaru Boshi

Well-known swordsmiths in Settsu area— Osaka Tsuda Sukehiro (大阪津田助広)                                                                                 Tsuda Sukenao (津田助直)                                                                                                   Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子 忠綱)

img073

 Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子忠綱) previously my family owned

15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活)

 

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

        The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

It is said that the first sword-making started from Yamato province (present Nara prefecture) during the Nara period (710 to 794).  In the early sword making days, their forging techniques were primitive.  At that time, a large number of swordsmiths lived in Yamato, yet as time passes, the sword making declined in the area.

At the end of the Kamakura period, several powerful Buddhist temples in the Yamato area had power struggles against each other.  Temples had a strong political and military power to control a large territory called Shoen (荘園) with their large number of worrier monks called Sohei (僧兵).  The most powerful group was called Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)*.  The groups of sohei demanded more swords to arm themselves.  The high demand for swords from Sohei revitalized the Yamato Den (school) and increased the number of swordsmiths in the Yamato area.   As a result, Yamato Den became active again.  The Yamato Den style is somewhat similar to that of Yamashiro Den.    

*Nanto Sohei (南都僧兵)———Since around the 11th century, Buddhist temples had become powerful under the protection from the JoKos (retired emperors).  Those temples had a large number of Sohei (low-level monks who also acted as soldiers). When power struggles started between the temples, Sohei fought as their soldiers on the battlefields. Nanto Sohei were such soldiers at Kofuku-Ji Temple (興福寺).  Several large temples such as Todai-Ji (東大寺) Temple controlled the Yamato area.

Sugata (姿: Shape) —————- Graceful Yamashiro style since Yamato Den at this time was greatly influenced by Yamashiro Den.   Shinogi is high.  Mune is thin.   Some types of Yamato Den have shallow sori (curvature).

16 Yamato sword cross section

Hamon (刃文Tempered line) ——————–Narrow tempered line.  Mainly Nie (沸).  Chu-suguha-hotsure (中直刃ほつれ: a medium straight line with a frayed pattern), Ko-choji-midare (小丁子: a mixture of small clove-like pattern and irregular wavy lines), Ko-midare (小乱: fine irregular wavy lines), Ko-gunome-komidare (小五の目小乱: small continuous half-circles mixed with wavy lines). 

The main characteristic of the Yamato Den style sword is Masame (straight grain).   Their tempered line often shows Nijyu-ha (double straight lines), Hakikake (tracing of a broom mark), Uchinoke (a crescent-shape line), or combinations of them.   See the illustration below.16 Hamon Yamato

Boshi (鋩子: Tempered line at Kissaki area)———-On the Boshi area, a straight grain pattern appears.  Yakizume or Kaen. (Refer Chapter 12 Middle Kamakura period: Tanto).  O-maru, Ko-maru, Nie-kuzure.  (Refer 14| Late Kamakura Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀).  See the illustration below.

15 Kaen Ykizume

15 Omaru Komaru Niekuzure

Jihada or Jitetsu (the area between shinogi and hamon )——Mostly Masame hada (straight grain pattern 柾目肌). Fine ji-nie, Chikei, and Yubashiri shows (refer 15 Late Kamakura Period).

16 Masame Hada

Nakago (Hilt)——————Often shows the finishing file pattern as shown below.  This is called Higaki Yasuri (檜垣).

16 Higaki Yasuri

Names of the Yamato School Sword-smiths

Taema(当麻) Group————–Taema Kuniyuki(当麻国行) Taema Tomokiyo(当麻友清) Shikkake (尻懸) Group———————————————–Shikkake Norinaga (尻懸則長) Tegai (手掻) group —————–Tegai Kanenaga (手掻包永) Tegai Kanekiyo(手掻包清) Hoshou (保昌) group——–Hosho Sadayoshi ( 保昌貞吉) Hosho Sadamune (保昌貞宗)

16 Shaya Ensou

Yamato Senjuin Shaya Enso (大和千手院沙弥円宗) was once family sword

8| Middle Kamakura Period: Yamashiro Den 鎌倉中山城伝

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline

                   The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this section

Yamashiro school swords have the characteristics as below.

Sugata(shape)—–Generally the width of the blade is narrow, especially around yokote line.  The bottom of the blade has funbari (A-line shape or flares out like the lower part of Eiffel Tower).  Thick Kasane. The type of the curvature is kyo-zori (highest curvature comes around the middle of the sword) or Koshi-zori (lower curvature).  Small Kissaki with fukura (rounded).  Shinogi is high with Gyo-no-Mune (行の棟) or Sin-no-Mune ( 真の棟).

13 Mune drawing

9 鎌倉中期刀姿

Horimono(Engraving)—–The tip of a Hi (樋, groove) is the exact proper shape.  Sometimes you may see Bonj (Sanscrit) and suken (sword illustration).

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji

Nakago(中心)—–Long and thin with curvature

Hamon(刃文)—– Mostly suguha (straight line), double straight line, straight line with the irregular line.  Sometimes thin gold line shape like the lightning in the sky appears.  The temper line is Nie Base.  Nie and Nioi will be explained in the next chapter.

picture for 8
佐野美術館図録1 豊後国行平(Bungo-no-Kuni-Yukihira  Sano Museum Catalog) permission granted

Boshi(鋩子)—–   Small round and large round.

9 Fukura

Jitetu(地鉄)—–     Well forged fine surface.  Small burl pattern and wood grain pattern.  Lots of Ji-Nie(地沸) on the surface.

Names of the swordsmiths during the middle Kamakura period

Ayano-Koji group —— Ayano-Koji Sadatoshi (綾小路 定利 )

Awataguchi group —– Awataguchi kunituna (粟田口国綱)

Rai group —————-Rai kuniyuki (来国行) Rai Nijikunitoshi (来ニ字国俊)

Other provinces who made Yamashiro style at this time

Sagami-no-kuni-Yamanouchi-Kunituna (相模国山内国綱)

Bungo-no-kuni-Yukihira (豊後国行平)

Higo-no-Enjyu (肥後の延寿)

img009
佐野美術館図録1 来国俊 ( Sano Museum Catalogue Rai-Kunitoshi) permission granted 

5 |Heian Period: Swords

6 Heian Time line

                        The circle indicate the time we discuss in this section

The Heian period is the time, the shape of the swords changed to the curved shape.  Until this time, swords were straight.

The study of swords begins from the Heian period.  The elegant and graceful taste of Fujiwara culture reflects on the swords that were made during the Heian period.  The preference of their lifestyle reflected vividly on the swords.  One of the active groups of swordsmiths in the Kyoto area was called Yamashiro school or Yamashiro DenDen means school.  Their style had a graceful shape.  During the Heian period, Yamashiro Den (school) represents the Heian period sword style.

6a Heian period sword style

General Heian period sword style

Shape———-Lengths of the swords are approximately 30 inches ± a couple of inches.  Elegant and graceful shape.  The width of the blade is narrow.  Small Kissaki(小切先), Kyo-zori (京反り) and deep curvature.  Kyo-zori means the highest curvature comes around the halfway of the blade.  The lower part of the sword has an A-line curve (flare out) that is called funbari (踏ん張り).  It flares out like the shape of the lower part of the Eiffel tower.

6b A line bottom

Hamon(刃文)———-Hamon means tempered line.  The Heian period tempered area is narrow,  and usually, suguha (直刃), means straight hamonNie (沸) base.  Nie is a tiny granule like a particle on the border of the tempered line.  Refer below.  If you look closely, fine sand-like particles are visible. 6 Straigh tempered line(Suguha)

10 Nie & Nioi

Jitetsu (地鉄) ——–fine wood-grained tone.  The location of Jitetsu is in 3 |Names of Parts

Nakago (中心)———- Nakago is a hilt area.  Sword makers inscribe his names here.  The shape of the Nakago during the Heian period is often Kijimomo shape(雉腿), which means pheasant thigh shape.

6 Kijimomo-nakago

Hi and engrave ———- Hi (樋) means an engraved straight line.  Hi and engraved design is rare in the Heian period.  It became more common later time.

Kissaki (切先)———– Ko-kissaki (small kissaki). Boshi (Hamon around kissaki) is usually with komaru (小丸) means small round with a little return.6c Boshi HamonNames of the Heian period swordsmiths

  • Yamashiro school——–  Sanjo Munechika(三条宗近) Sanjo Yoshiie(三条吉家)                                                Gojo Kanenaga(五条兼長) Gojo Kuninaga (五条国永)
  • Yamato school ——–Senju-in (千手院)
  • Bizen school ———– Bizen Tomonari(備前友成) Bizen Masatsune(備前正恒)                                                 Bizen Kanehira (備前包平)
  • Hoki (伯耆) ———–Yasutsuna (安綱) Sanemori (真守)
  • Buzen (豊前) ——— Cho-en (長円) Sinsoku (神息)
  • Satsuma (薩摩) ——-Naminohira (波平)