64| Part 2 of –30 Shin-Shin-To (新々刀 Bakumatsu sword 1781 – 1867)

Chapter 64 is a detailed chapter of 30|Bakumatsu Period, Shin Shin-to.  Please read chapter 30 before reading this chapter.

0-timeline - size 24 Bakumatsu

The circled area is the subject of this chapter.

Swords made between Tennmei era (天明 1781) and the end of Keio era (慶應) is called Shin-shin-to.  See the timeline above.  This was the time the society was moving toward the Meiji Restoration.  It is Bakumatsu time.  During the  time, sword making became active again.  Below is the well-known swordsmiths in main areas.

Musashi no Kuni  (武蔵: Tokyo today)

Suishinshi Masahide (水心子正秀) ——- When Suishinshi Masahide forged Yamashiro Den style sword, the shape is like the one of the Ko-to time; Funbari, elegant shape, Chu-suguha (medium straight), Komaru boshi, fine wood grain.  When he forged the Bizen style sword, Koshizori shape, just like Ko-to Bizen Osafune, Nioi with Ko-choji, it shows Katai-ha (Refer to  30| Bakumatsu Period Sword 新々刀 1781-1867 ).   In my sword textbook,  I had a note that I saw Suishinshi on 11/1970 and 10/1971.

Taikei Naotane  (大慶直胤) ——Though Taikei Naotane was within the Suishinshi group, he was among the top swordsmith.  He had an amazing ability to forge all kinds of different styles of sword wonderfully.  When he made Bizen Den style, it looks like Nagamitsu of Ko-to time with Nioi.  Also, did Sakasa-choji as Katayama Ichimonji had done.  Katai-ha appearsMy sword textbook had a note that I saw Naotane on 8/1971.

67 Naotane photo

Taikei Naotane (大慶直胤)   Photo is from “Token no Mikata (The way to look at swords)” written by Koichi Hiroi,  Published 1971

Minamoto no Kiyomaro (源清麿) —– Kiyomaro desired to join the Meiji Restoration movement as a Samurai, but his guardian realized Kiyomaro’s ability as a great swordsmith, helped him to be a swordsmith.  It is said that Kiyomaro had a drinking problem, he was not so eager to forge swordsAt the age of 42 years old, he committed SeppukuKiyomaro was called Yotsuya Masamune because he lived in Yotsuya (part of Shinjuku. Tokyo, today) and was a very good sword smith, almost same level as Masamune.  His sword has wide width, shallow Sori, stretched Kissaki, Fukura Kareru.  Boshi has komaruboshi.  Ji-gane is fine wood grain.

67 Kiyomaro photo

Minamoto no Kiyomaro (源清麿)   Photo is from “Token no Mikata ( The way to look at swords)”, written by Koichi Hiroi, published 1971

Settsu no Kuni    摂津の国   (Osaka today )

Gassan Sadakazu  (月山貞一) —– Gassan was good at Soshu Den style and Bizen Den style, but he could make any kinds of style.  He was as genius as Taikei Naotane.  Because of his ability, when he made ko-to style sword, it is hard to distinguish his sword and real ko-to sword.   One needs to be careful not to mistake a sword made by Gassan from a real Ko-to.  He also had an amazing ability in carving.  His Hirazukuri-kowakizashi forged in Soshu style looks just like Masamune or Yukimitsu.  He forged Yamashiro style, Takenokozori, with hoso-suguha or Chu-suguha in Nie.  He also forged Yamato Den, Masame -hada sword.

67 Gassan photo

Gassan Sadakazu (月山貞一)  Photo is from “Token no Mikata (How to look at swords)” written by Koichi Hiroi, Published in 1971

 

 

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.

24| Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代短刀)

0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period                                   The red circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

25 Chukanzori Tanto

Chukan-zori (中間反り) ————— Chukan-zori Tanto has a straight Mune(back), its back does not curve forward or outward unlike Takenoko-zori,  Chukan-zoridoes.   

Hamon (刃文: Tempered line) ———–Sanbon-sugi (三本杉), O-notare (大湾), Yahazu-midare (矢筈乱), Hako-midare (箱乱),  Gunome-choji (互の目丁子),  Chu-suguha (中直刃)  See below.

24 Sannbon sugi,hako, yahazu, O-midare)

Horimono (彫り物: Carving) —————Often Hi (grooves) is curved

Tanto Length ———————— The length of a Tanto should be no longer than one Shaku*¹ (approx. 12 inches, 30.5cm).  The standard size Tanto is called Jo-sun Tanto, which is 8.5 Shaku (approx. 10 inches, 25.7cm).  Longer than Jo-sun is called Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延)Shorter than Jo-sun is called Sun-zumari Tanto (寸詰).

               Sun-nobi Tanto  >  Jo-sun Tanto (approx. 10 inches) >  Sun-zumari Tanto

*¹ Shaku is a Japanese old measurement unit for length.

Takenoko-zori Jo-sun Tanto (筍反定寸短刀) ———– This type of Tanto was made during the Sengoku period.  It resembles the swords made by Rai Kunimitsu of Yamashiro Den.  (Illustration below)

Hamon (刃文: Tempered line)———–Hoso-suguha (細直刃: Narrow straight hamon).  Katai-ha (illustration below) shows somewhere on the blade.  Masamehada (Straight grain pattern) may appear on the Mune side

                  13 Middle Kamakura Period Tanto                 24 Suguha katai-ha

Ji-hada (地肌: Area between shinogi and tempered line)——— Shirake (白け: whitish surface) sometimes appears.  Uturi (the whitish light cloud-like effect) on Ji-hada  appears.

Sun-nobi Tanto (寸延短刀)———Tanto of this type is similar to the Sakizori Tanto which is from the late Soshu Den style.  You may see Hitatsura (see below illustration).   Unlike Soshu Den, the Hitatsura type Hamon shows more on the lower part of the Tanto, less on the upper part.

                                             25 Sun-Nobi Tanto      25 Hitatsura

Hirazukuri Takenokozori Sunzumari Tanto (平造筍反寸延短刀)

This is a unique Tanto in the Sengoku period.   Hirazukuri means a flat surface sword without Shinogi, Yokote line, or obvious kissaki.   Takenoko-zori means bamboo shoot shape (back of the sword curves inward).   Sun-zumari means shorter than 10 inches long (shorter than 8.5 shaku, or 25.7 cm).  The lower part of the blade is wide and thick, and the tip is narrow and thin.  It has a piercing sharp look.

  •  Horimono(彫り物: Carving) ——-Deeply carved Ken-maki Ryu (a dragon wrapped around a spear).
  • Hamon (刃文: Tempered line)———Wide tempered line, Nioi base.  Irregular Hamon, wide Suguha (straight) and Chu-suguha (medium straight).  The Hamon in the Boshi area turns back long.
  • Ji-hada (地肌)———–fine and wood burl pattern.

Moroha-Tanto (諸刃短刀: double-edged sword)

Double-edged blade with a Hamon on both edges. Often Bonji (Sanscrit) is curved.

  • Hamon (刃文) ——— Wide tempered line.   Nioi base.  Irregular Hamon, wide Suguha (straight) and Chu-suguha (medium straight).  Hamon turns back deep.
  • Ji-hada (地鉄)——- Fine and wood burl.

25-moroha-tanto1 Moroha Tanto

Name of swordsmith during the Sengoku Period (Tanto maker)

The swords during the Sengoku period are called Sue-bizen sword.  Bizen Osafune Yoso Zaemon Sukesada (与三左衛門祐定) is the most regarded swordsmith during the Sengoku period.  He also forged Tantos.  One thing to point out is that there were many swordsmiths called Sukesada.  Yoso-Zaemon Sukesada is, however, the one who represents the era.

12| The Middle Kamakura Period Tanto (鎌倉中短刀)

0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura

The red circle indicates the area we discuss in this chapter 

It is very rare to see a tanto (small short sword) made during the Heian period.  During the middle Kamakura period, a large number of wonderful tanto were made.  They were called takenoko-zori shape.  Takenoko means bamboo shoot.  The back of the dagger curves inward slightly.

13 Middle Kamakura Period Tanto

Sugata (shape)———-Hirazukuri , it means no shinogi, no yokote line, as you see in the illustration above.  Standard tanto size is about 10 inches.  The width is well balanced to the size of Tanto that means not too wide not too narrow.  The Body is slightly thick.  High Gyo-no-mune (行の棟) and Shin-no-mune (真の棟)

13 Mune drawing

Hamon (刃文) —————- Tempered area is narrow.  Nioi base.  Irregular straight line (suguha midare) or straight line with small choji (suguha-choji).  The tempered edge line may show a frayed look.

Boshi(tempered line at Kissaki area) ———Yakizume,   Kaen,   Niekuzure.

13 Hamon and Hi

Engravings (彫刻 ) ———- Often different kinds of engravings are done at the lower part of the body of Tanto.  These may be a groov or two grooves, Sanskrit, spear (Suken), dragon, etc,.  For Sanskrit and spear, look at the illustration inside 8| Middle Kamakura Period (Yamashiro Den) 鎌倉中期山城伝

13 Hamon and Hi

Tanto group and Swordsmiths in the Middle Kamakura Period

Awataguchi group(粟田口)———————————Awataguchi Yoshimitu (粟田口吉光)  Rai group (来) ——————————————————————-Rai Kunitoshi(来国俊)  Soushu Group  (相州) ——————————————Shintougo Kunimitu (新藤五国光)  Bizen group (備前) —————————————————— Bien Kagemitu (備前景光) Bungo no Kuni Group (豊後の国) ——————–Bungo-no-kuni Yukihira (豊後の国行平)

13 Rai kunimitsu Tanto photo 2  来国光(Rai Kunimitsu)

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