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

Chapter 50 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 red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.

In  16| Late Kamakura period: Tanto  (Early Soshu-Den  鎌倉末短刀) ,  the general characteristics of the late Kamakura period Tanto style (early Soshu Den) was described.  The next two photos fit in with the typical features 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 swordsmiths among the early Soshu DenMasamune’s tomb is in Honkaku-JI (本覚寺) Temple, approximately a 6 minutes’ walk from Kamakura 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 grooves).  Komaru-boshiItame-hada (wood grain pattern).  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 Sano Museum Catalog’s description stated that connoisseurs in the past had difficulty determining this is Masamune swordBecause the wide Mihaba with sori and hamon was a little different from other Masamune’s.  Judging from the clear Nie, Chikei, and Kinsuji, they determined it was a Masamune Tanto.

Enju Photo below

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

Enju (延寿) group lived in Higo (肥後) Province in Kyushu.  The characteristics of the Enju group is very similar to that of the Yamashiro Den’s.  It is because Enju Kunimura was related to Rai Kuniyuki of Yamashiro-Den.

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

Masamune’s Tomb in Honkaku-ji Temple

Masamune’s (正宗) tomb is in the Honkakuj-Ji Temple (本覚寺) in Kamakura.  Here is a map of the Honkaku-Ji Temple and Masamune Kogei store in Kamakura.  This store is owned by Tsunahiro Yamamura, the 24th generation of MasamuneHonkaku-Ji Temple is circled in red, and Masamune Kogei store is the red circle with X.  Both are approximately a 6 to 7 minutes walking distance from Kamakura station. 

To get to Honkaku-Ji Temple from Tokyo

Take the Yokosuka line train from Tokyo station (approx. one hour)  → Get off at Kamakura Station (one stop after 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 Temple sign is at the corner of the post office) →The temple is at a short distance from the post office.

52 Honkakuji map in red

From Kamakura Tourist map

52 Honnkakuji 2 54 large Masamune monument only

52 Honkakuji 54 Small Masamune tomb only

Honkakuji Temple (本覚寺) and Masamune Tomb (正宗墓 ) My trip in 2019

21| Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代刀)

0-timeline - size 24 Muromach

       The red circle above indicate the time we discuss in this section

The Muromachi period was a relatively peaceful and prosperous time until a little before “Onin-no-Ran,” which happened at the end of the Muromachi PeriodRefer to Chapter 20|Muromachi Period History (室町時代歴史) .  The Nanboku-cho style long sword became useless; thus, they were shortened.  The shortened blade is called Suriage.  In general, the Muromachi period was the declining time for sword making.

Tachi and Katana

Until the end of the Nanboku-cho period or the beginning of the Muromachi period, Samurai suspended swords from one’s waist, the blade side down.  When a sword was worn this way, the swordsmith inscribed his name to the side that faces outward, which means that the blade comes on your right when you see the inscription.  In this case, the sword is called Tachi.

Yet, around the Muromachi period, a sword was worn between one’s belt, with the blade side up.  The swordsmiths inscribed his name to face outward when it was worn. Therefore, when you see the inscription, the cutting edge comes on your left.  Then it is classified as Katana. 

Around the beginning of the Muromachi period, Samurai started to wear a pair of swords called Dai-sho (大小), meaning large and small.  The long one is Katana, and the short one is Wakizashi.  In general, Tachi is longer than Katana.  Katana is longer than Wakizashi, and Wakizashi is longer than Tanto.  Here is the order of the length. 

                                       Tachi   >   Katana   >   Wakizashi   >  Tanto

The difference between Tachi and Katana comes from the way it was worn, not the length.   22 tachi & Katana

O-suriage ( 大磨上: Katana shortened by great length) 

How much the sword should be shortened depends on the sword’s original length and how much the owner wants it shortened.  O-suriage is a kind of sword that is shortened by a great length.  Once a blade is shortened that much, the inscription of the maker’s name is cut off.  When Hon’ami family (本阿弥家, a sword connoisseur family who have appraised Japanese swords for generations since the Muromachi  period till today) appraised such a Suriage sword, they wrote the make of the sword and the swordsmith’s name on the front side of the hilt, and the connoisseur’s name with his Kaou (similar to signature) on the back.  There are several ranks of writings.  Which level it should be done is depending on the quality of the sword and how an owner wants it.  Below are the classes (lower to highest).

Shu-Mei (朱明 )————————————————————-name written in Vermilion  Kinpun-Mei (金粉名 )———————————————–name lacquered in gold powder  Gin-Zougan (銀象嵌 )————————————————————name inlaid in silver  Kin-Zougan (金象嵌 )————————————————————-name inlaid in gold

Sugata (姿: Shape)———— The average length is usually  2 feet and 3 to 4 inches (68~71cm).  The shape of the Muromachi period Katana is somewhat similar to the Heian period Tachi style.  However, Muromachi Katana is not as grand or graceful as the Heian period sword.  The curvature is usually the Koshizori shape.  Koshizori means the highest curvature comes at the lower part of the blade.  The length and shape are suitable for wearing between the body and the belt. The width and the thickness are well balanced with the size of the sword.  Small Kissaki.

22 Muromachi sword shape

Hirazukuri-Wakizashi———–Hirazukuri means a flat surface with no Shinogi and no Yokote line.  Usually One foot and 1, 2 inches long.  No curvature.  Hirazukuri-Wakizashi appeared during the Muromachi time.

Hamon (刃文: tempered line) ———————- Nioi base. Tempered area is well balanced to the width of the blade.  Koshi-hiraita-midare mixed with Choji-midare.

22Hamon (Koshi Hiraita midare)
from Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)
  • Boshi (Tempered line at Kissaki area) ————– Midare-komi, short turn back.  See the above illustration.  Midare is an irregular wave-like pattern.
  • Ji-hada (地肌: An area between the tempered line and Shinogi————Soft look, large wood grain pattern, Ji-utsuri (faint smoke or cloud-like effect) shows.
  • Horimono (彫物Engravings) ———- Bo-hi (single groove), Soe-hi (Hi accompanied with a thin groove), Futasuji- hi (double narrow groove), Sanskrit, Tokko-tsuki ken, Tsume-tsuki Ken, name of God, and dragon.  Carvings became elaborate.

8 Hi, Suken, Bonji                  21 Tsume-tuki-ken tokko with caption

Sword Smiths during Muromachi Period

  • Bizen Den ——–Osafune Morimitsu (長船盛光), Yasumitsu (康光), Moromitsu (師光)
  • Yamashiro Den————————————————-Yamashiro Nobukuni (山城信国)

img057 21Masashige     21 Muromachi sword from Sano

Ise Masashige (伊勢正重),                     Bizen Osafune Naomitsu (備前長船尚光)         Juyo Token(重要刀剣)                           Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)    once my family sword

 
 

19 | Nanboku-Cho Period Tanto(南北朝短刀)

 

0-timeline - size 24 Nanboku-cho
The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

During the Nanboku-cho period, a type of Tanto called Hirazukuri Ko-wakizashi Sun-nobi Tanto was made.  Hirazukuri means a flat sword without the Yokote line and Shinogi.  Ko-wakizashi means a shorter sword.  Sun-nobi Tanto means longer than standard Tanto.  This is also called Enbun Jyoji Ko-wakizashi Tanto.  It is called this way because majority of this type of Tanto were forged around Enbun and Jyoji imperial era.  In Japan, a new imperial period starts when a new emperor ascends to the throne.  The Enbun era was from 1356 to 1361, and the Jyoji period was from 1362 to 1368.

20 Enbun Jyoji Kowakizashi Tanto

Sugata  (姿: shape) ——-  The length of a standard size Tanto is approx. one ShakuShaku is an old Japanese measurement unit for length and, one Shaku is very close to 1 foot.  

8.5 Sun (the Sun is another old Japanese measurement unit for length) is approximately 10 inches.  Ten inches is the standard size Tanto called Josun Tanto.  Anything longer than Josun Tanto is called Sun-nobi Tanto.  Anything shorter than Josun is called Sun-zumari Tanto. 

Most of the Nanboku-cho tantos are longer than Josun Tanto,  approximately 1 foot 2 inches long.  Therefore they are called Hirazukuri Ko-wakizashi Sun-nobi Tanto

Saki-zori (curved outward at the top.  See the illustration above).  Wide width and thin body.  Fukura Kareru (no Fukura means less arc).  Shin-no-mune.  See the drawing below.

20 Fukura           20 Shin-no-Mune

 Hi, (樋: Grooves) and Horimono (彫り物: Engraving) —- A groove or grooves on the Mune side.  Bonji (Sanscrit, described in Chapter 16 Late Kamakura Period  (Early Soshu-Den Tanto 鎌倉末短刀, Koshi-bi (Short groove),  Tumetuki Ken, Tokko-tsuki Ken (see below) appear.  Ken (dagger) is curved widely and deeply in the upper part and shallower and narrower in the lower part.  This is called Soshu-bori (Soshu stule carving).

20 Tokko, tume Ken

Hamon (: Tempered line) —– The narrowly tempered at the lower part gradually becomes wider toward the top.  Then a similar wide Hamon goes into the Boshi area.  Hamon in the Kissaki area is Kaeri-fukashi (turn back deep).  See the illustration below.  Coarse Nie.  O-midare (large irregular Hamon pattern).

20 Hitatsura

                                        From Sano Museum Catalogue

Ji-hada (地肌: Area between shinogi-ji and tempered line)——— Loose wood grain pattern called Itame.  Yubashiri (refer Chapter 16| Late Kamakura period: Early Soshu-Den Tanto (鎌倉末短刀)), Tobiyaki (Irregular patchy tempered spot) appear.  Crowded (or busy) Tobiyaki is called Hitatsura (drawing above).

Nakago (: Tang) —- Short Tanago-bara.  Tanago-bara means the shape of the belly of a Japanese fish Tanago (bitterling).

20 Tanago Bara

Tanto Sword-smiths during Nanboku-Cho Period

Soshu Den ———————————————————-Hiromitu( 広光) Akihiro (秋広) Yamashiro Den ————————————————–Hasebe Kunishige (長谷部国重)   Bizen Den ——————————————————— Kanemitu (兼光) Chogi (長義 )

Compton Hiromitsu Soshu Hiromitsu     “Nippon-To Art Sword of Japan “   The Walter A. Compton Collection

 

18| Nanboku-Cho Period Sword (南北朝太刀)

0-timeline - size 24 Nanboku-cho

                           The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

During the Nanboku-Cho period, Samurai demanded a large, elaborate, and impressive yet practical sword.  The Soshu Den style sword in Nanboku-cho time was just that.  This type was the most popular style then.  The Nanboku-cho period was the height of the Soshu Den.  Many swordsmiths moved from other provinces to the Kamakura area and forged the Soshu Den style swords.   Other schools and regions outside the Kamakura area also made the Soshu Den style swords in their own places.

19 Nanboku-cho Sword style

Sugata (姿: Shape)———-The original length of 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 blade is called O-suriage

The Nanboku-cho style sword has a shallow Kyo-zori (also called Torii-zori).  Refer to Chapter 5 |Heian Period: Swords.  The highest curvature comes around the middle of the body.  A wide-body, high Shinogi, narrow Shinogi-Ji (Refer to Chapter 3 Names of Parts).  The thin Kasane (thickness of the body) is the 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) ——– Often, a single Hi (Bo-hi), double Hi, Suken (dagger), Bonji (Sanscrit), and/or Dragon are engraved on the Shinogi-Ji area.  Refer to Chapter 3 Names of Parts.

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji

Hamon (: Tempered line) —- The lower part of the body shows a narrow-tempered line; gradually, the tempered line becomes wider and showy.  Course Nie.  O-midare (large irregular wavy Hamon), Notare-midare (wavy, irregular Hamon), Gunome-midare (a mix of repeated half-circular and irregular Hamon).  Inazuma, Kinsuji (refer to Chapter 14 Late Kamakura Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀))  sometimes appears.

19 Hamon Notare 319 Mamon choji gunome19 Hitatsura Hamon Hiromitsu

                                  *From Sano Museum Catalogue ( Permission granted).

Ji-hada (地肌: Area between Shino-gi and tempered line) ———————-Wood-grain pattern (Itame 板目). Sometimes Tobiyaki (patchy tempered spots) appears on Ji-hada. For Ji-hada, refer to Chapter 3 Names of parts.

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 pattern), 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 engraving trace of Suken on the Nakago indicates this area was once a part of the main body.
  • Large and Long kissaki

8| Middle Kamakura Period: Yamashiro Den (鎌倉中期山城伝)

        

0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura                          The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

The characteristics of Yamashiro Den swords

Sugata(shape)—– In general, the blade is narrow, especially near the Yokote line.  The bottom of the blade has fundari (A-line shape).  Kasane is thick.  The curvature type is usually Kyo-zori (the deepest curvature comes at about the middle).  It has a small Kissaki with Fukura.   Shinogi is thick with Gyo-no-mune or Shin-no-mune.  Please see the three illustrations below for Sugata.

13 Mune drawing

9 鎌倉中期刀姿

8 Fukura

Horimono (Engraving)—– The tip of a Hi (樋, groove) follows the exact shape of the Ko-shinogi line.  Sometimes you may see Bonj (Sanscrit) and Suken (see the illustration).

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji

Nakago (hilt: 中心)—————Long and thin with curvature

Hamon (tempered line: 刃文) —————Mostly Suguha (straight line), Niju-Ba (double Hamon), or Suguha with an irregular wavy line.  Sometimes a thin gold lightning-like line called Inazuma faintly appears.  The tempered line is mostly Nie.  The below is Suguha,

picture for 8
豊後国行平(Bungo-no-Kuni-Yukihira)  Sano Museum Catalog permission granted

   * Bungo-no-Kuni-Yukihira was a Yamashiro Den swordsmith from the Bungo area.

Boshi(鋩子)——– Komaru-boshi (small round)   Omaru-boshi (large round)                    Ji-hada (地肌) ——-Well forged fine surface.  Small burl pattern.  Jinie (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)

8 Rai Kunitoshi

Rai Kunitoshi (来国俊)       Sano Museum Catalogue, Permission granted