63|Part 2 of — 27 Shin-to Main 7 Regions (part A)

This chapter is a continued part of chapter 27| Shinto Main 7 Regions  (Part A).  Please read chapter 27 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Shin-to

The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

In Chapter 27, Shinto Main 7 Regions (part A 主要7刀匠地) and Chapter 28, Shinto Sword Main 7 Regions (part B 主要7刀匠地) described an overview of the seven main regions.  This chapter and next chapter shows the photos of the representative swordsmiths from those regions.  They are Yamashiro (山城 in Kyoto), Settsu (摂津 today’s Osaka), Musashi (武蔵 Edo), Satsuma (薩摩).  But Echizen (越前) and Kaga (加賀), Hizen (肥前) are skipped.

29 Map with number 7

During the Ko-to time, a sword shape, hamon condition, Kissaki size, and the length and the shape of the nakago, etc., indicates when the sword was forged.  Also, Bizen swordsmith forged Bizen Den sword, Yamashiro swordsmith forged Yamashiro Den sword, Yamato swordsmith forged Yamato Den sword.  But during the Shinto time, that is not the case.  Den and the location of the swordsmith do not match.  For Shin-to sword, we study the swordsmiths of the seven central regions and their characteristic.

During Ko-to time, usually, if a sword has a wide hamon line with nie, Ji-hada shows large wood grain or large burl grain.  Also, when you see a narrow hamon line, it usually shows with fine Ji-hada during Ko-to timeBut on Shin-to, wide Hamon with nie with small wood grain or small burl grain on Ji-hada.  And narrow Hamon line with a large wood grain Ji-hada.  This is the Shin-to characteristic.   Yet some of the early Soshu Den sword during the late Kamakura period shows wide hamon with nie with small burl on Ji-hada.  Because of that, whether it is Ko-to or Shin-to is confusing.  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) was considered as a great master swordsmith among Shin-to swordsmiths.  He forged his swords in different styles and different characteristics.  The types of hamon are O-notare, O-gunome, Togari-ba (pointed hamon), Chu-suguha with hotsure (frayed look), Hiro-suguha, with Sunagashi effect, Inazuma, Kinsuji appears.  Kunihiro liked to make his sword shape look like O-suriage (shortened Nanboku-Cho style long sword).  Kunihiro’s blade gives you a massive feeling.  Kunihiro’s swords often have beautiful carvings on it; designs are such as 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.jpg            Iga-no-Kami Kinnmichi (伊賀守金道)           Dewa Daijyo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)        Both Juyo Token (重要刀剣), once my family owned swords, photos were taken by my father.

Characteristics of Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi ( 伊賀守金道)

Kinmichi family is called Mishina group.  Refer 27 Shinto Main 7 Regions  AIga-no-Kami Kinmichi received the 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 27 Shinto Main 7 Regions  A ), hiro suguha (wide straight hamon), O-notare (large wavy), Yahazu-midare, Hako-midare (refer 25 Sengoku Period Tanto).  Boshi is Mishina boshi, refer 27 Shinto Main 7 Regions 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 looks like a shortened Nanboku-cho sword.  Shallow curvature, widebody, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

60|Part 2 of — 24 Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国短刀)

Chapter 60 is a Continued part of chapter 24|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代).  Please read chapter 24|Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代)  before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period

       The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section  

Muramasa (村正)

The discussion of this chapter is about the famous Muramasa (村正).  Usually, many well-known swordsmiths were from one of the Goka Den (五家伝:primary five schools: Yamashiro Den, Bizen Den, Soshu Den, Yamato Den, and Mino Den).  However, Muramasa was not from the Goka Den but Ise Province.  The first generation Muramasa was known as a student of He’ian-jo Nagayoshi (平安城長吉) of Yamashiro Den who lived the mid Muromachi period.  Muramasa has three generations from the mid Muromachi period to the Sengoku period.

61 Ise map

Here is one of Muramasa’s tanto that was made during the Sengoku periodSince this is the Sengoku period tanto, the blade shows the Sengoku period sword style.  It shows Mino Den Characteristics, with the Soshu Den Characteristics added.

61 Muramasa photo  61 Muramasa illustration

Muramasa (村正) from Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

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

Muramasa’s tantos are often 10 inches ± half inches or so.  Hirazukuri (平作り). Thin blade with a sharp look.  Nioi base with small Nie and Sunagashi (brushed sand-like, the illustration below) appears.  Boshi (the top part of hamon) is Jizo (a side view of a human’s head).  The tempered line has wide areas and narrow areas.  Some areas are so narrow, close to the edge of the blade, while others are broad.  Hako midare (box-like shape) and Gunome (lined-up beads pattern).  O-notare (large gentle waviness) is a Muramasa’s signature characteristic.  The pointed tempered line is a typical Mino Den characteristic (Sanbon-sugi).  Refer 24Sengoku period sword.

61 Sunagashi 2

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

54| Part 2 of — 19 Nanboku-cho Tanto (南北朝短刀)

This chapter is a continued part of chapter 19.  Please read 19 |Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀), before reading this section.

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                            The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

20 Enbun Jyoji Kowakizashi Tanto

The drawing above is a typical shape of the Nanboku-cho time tanto.  This drawing was in chapter 19.  This drawing exaggerates the form of the Enbun Joji Kowakizashi tanto.  At the end of chapter 19, Nanboku-cho Tanto, there is a list of swordsmiths’ names in the period.  Hiromitsu and Akihiro represent the most common characteristics of Nanboku-cho tanto.

56 cropped Hiromitu photo 20 Hitatsura

Hiromitsu From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Enbun Joji Ko-wakizashi tanto is also called Sun-nobi tanto (>10 inches) because the length is longer than standard size tanto (approx. 10 inches)The top part of the tanto bends outward slightly. This type of shape is called Sakizori.

Characteristic of Hiromitu and Akihiro

Shape———————- Usually, one foot and one to two inches long (Sun-nobi).  Wide width.  Thin in body thickness.  Sakizori.                                                                      Hamon ———————Wide hamon and narrow hamon are mixed.  Hamon around Yakidashi (right above machi) area is narrow, but it gets wider gradually as it goes up.  Hamon around the Fukura area is the showiest.  Mainly Nie.  Sunagashi, Kinsuji, Gunome, Umanoha-midare (horse teeth shape hamon), or Hitatsura appears (above drawing).                                                                                                                                Boshi———–Irregular, unevenly tempered.  Hamon covers almost entire boshi. Deep turn back.                                                                                                                              Jihada ——————-Wood-grained                                                                          Nakago ——-Tanago-bara shape.  Refer to 19 Nanboku-cho Period Tanto.

Nobukuni (Below is my sword)

Shodai Nobukuni (the first generation Nobukuni) was a student of Sadamune.  He was one of the Sadamune San Tetsu (貞宗三哲, Sadamune’s top three students).  Nobukuni’s characteristics were similar to those of Hiromitsu’s and Akihiro’s described above.  Nobukuni also created Sun-nobi tanto.  The sword below has a Hoso-suguha, Ko-mokume (small burl), Ko-maru boshi (small round).

56 Nobukuni 1 Nobukuni4

56 Nobukuni 2

This is my sword.  Shodai Nobukuni (初代信國).   Juyo Token (重要刀剣)

Certification

number Juyo 3220,    Certification Juyo-Token

Wakizashi :  Nobukuni (信国),   31.4cm length, 0.3cm curvature, HirazukuriMitsumune (three-sided mune),  Sun-nobi, Ji-hada is wood grain and Ji-nie (nie on the surface between shinogi and hamon),  Hamon is Chu-suguha (medium straight),  Front carving shows Bonji (sanscrit), Sanko-ken, back engraving is Bonji and Hoko (pike).   Original nakago.  The examination by the Nihon Bijutu Token Hozon Kyokai, it is certified as Juyo Token.  The Chairman Moritatu Hosokawa.  Showa 45 June 1 (1970 June 1)

51|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

50| Part 2 of —– 15 The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)

This chapter is the continued part of Chapter 15|The Revival of Yamato Den.   Please read chapter 15 before reading this section.

0-timeline - size 24 Late Kamakura

                               The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

At the end of the Kamakura period, in the Yamato area, powerful temples expanded their territories.  See the map below for the location of the Yamato area.  Several big temples had a political and military power to control the area at the end of the Kamakura period, especially, the one with large territories.   Those big territories were called Shoen (荘園).  They employed a large number of monk soldiers called So-hei.  The demand for swords was increased by the increased number of Sohei (僧兵).  The increased demand revived the Yamato Den.

Some of the big temples had their own swordsmiths within their territory. Todaiji-temple (東大寺) backed Tegai (手掻) sword group.  The Senjuin (千手院 ) sword group lived near Senju-Do (千手堂) where Senju Kannon (千手観音) was enshrined.  The name of the sword group, Taima came from the Taima-Ji Temple (当麻寺).  Shikkake group (尻懸) and Hosho group (保昌) were also Yamato Den sword group.  Those five groups are called Yamato Goha (Yamato five group).

51 Japan map Yamato

General Characteristic of Yamato Den

Yamato Den (大和伝) sword always shows Masame (柾目: straight grain-like) somewhere on Ji-hada, Jigane, and/or hamon.   Please refer to 15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活for its general characteristic.  Masame is sometimes mixed with Mokume (burl like) or Itame (wood grain like).  Either way, Yamato Den sword shows Masame somewhere.  Some sword shows Masame entirely or some show a lesser amount. Because of Masame, the hamon tends to show Sunagashi (brush stroke-like) or a double line called Niju-ha.

Taima or Taema group (当麻)

Shape ——————— Middle Kamakura period shape and Ikubi-kissaki style              Hamon —————-Mainly medium Suguha.  Double hamonSuguha mixed with choji.  Often shows Inazuma, Kinsuji, especially under Yokote line Inazuma appeares.         Boshi —– Often Yakizume.  (Refer 15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活)        Ji-hada ———– Small wood grain and well-knead surface.  At the top part of the sword, the wood grain pattern becomes Masame.

Shikkake Group (尻懸)

Shape ——————— Late Kamakura period shape. Refer 14| Late Kamakura SwordHamon–Mainly Nie (nie-hon’i).  Medium frayed suguha, mixed with small irregular and Gunome (half-circle).  Double-lined, brush stroke-like pattern.  Small Inazuma, KinsujiBoshi ——————Yakizume, Hakikake (swept trace like) and Ko-maru ( small round)    Ji-hada —————— Small burl mixed with Masame.  Shikkake group sometimes shows Shikkake-hada, which is, that the ha side shows Masame and mune side shows burl.

Tegai Group ( 手掻 )

Shape ——— Early Kamakura shape and thick kasane (body).  High ShinogiKoshizori. Hamon ————————- Narrow tempered line with medium suguha hotsure (frayed suguha). Mainly Nie.  Double tempered line. Inazuma, Kinsuji shows.                              Boshi ———————————————–Yakizume (no turn back), Kaen (flame like).      Ji-Hada ————————————————- Fine burl mixed with Masame.

51 Kanenaga photo Yamato51 Kanenaga ilustration Yamato

Tegai Kanenaga of Yamato.  From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted).  The illustration shows Notare (wave-like hamon) and Suguha hotsure (frayed Suguha) and Kinsuji.

Below is my Yamato sword.  I obtained this sword at an annual San Francisco swords show a few years back.

Characteristic:  Munei (cut short and no signature).  Yamato Den, Tegai-ha (Yamato school Tegai group).  Length is 2 shaku 2 sun 8 &1/2 bu (27&1/4 inches).  Very small Kissaki and funnbari.

My Yamato sword

The entire view of the sword and Kantei-sho (NBTHK Certification).  It is ranked as “Tokubetsu Hozon Token”.

My Yamato sword 5

My Yamato sword 4

My Yamato sword.jpg 2

On Hamon, Sunagashi, Niju-ba shows very faintly.   I could not take a good photo of boshi.  But it is Yakizume like.  JiHada is Itame with faint Masame, almost Nashiji-Hada (possibly because of my eyes).  Nie-hon’i.