61|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 red circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A :主要7刀匠地) and 28,Shin-to Main Seven Regions (part B 主要7刀匠地)described an overview of the seven main regions.  This chapter and the next chapter show the representative swords from these regions.  They are Yamashiro (山城 in Kyoto), Settsu (摂津today’s Osaka), Musashi (武蔵  Edo), Satsuma (薩摩  Kyushu).  But Echizen (越前) and Kaga (加賀), Hizen (肥前) are skipped.29 Map with number 7

With the Ko-to swords, the shape, Hamon condition, Kissaki size, the length, and the shape of the Nakago, etc., indicate when the sword was forged.  In Ko-to time, the Bizen swordsmiths forged the Bizen Den swords; the Yamashiro swordsmiths forged the Yamashiro Den swords, the Mino swordsmiths forged the Mino Den sword.  But with the Shin-to-time swords, that is not the case.  The Den and the location of a swordsmith often do not match.  For Shin-to sword, we study the swordsmiths and their main seven regions swords and their characteristic.

Regarding the swords made in the Ko-to time, if a sword has a wide Hamon line with Nie, usually, its Ji-hada shows large wood grain or large burl grain.  Also, when you see a narrow Hamon line, it usually has a fine Ji-hada. 

However, with Shin-to swords, if a sword has a wide Hamon with Nie, it often has small wood grain or small burl grain pattern on Ji-hada.  And if it has a narrow Hamon line, it may have a large wood grain pattern Ji-hada.  That is the Shin-to characteristic.   

Here is an exception; some of the early Soshu Den swords during the late Kamakura period show wide Hamon with Nie with small burls on Ji-hada.  Because of that, whether it is Ko-to or Shin-to is confusing.  Even so, other features like Ji-hada or other parts should indicate the Shin-to or Ko-to.

  1. Yamashiro (山城: Kyoto)

64-kunihiro-sword.jpg 64 Kunihiro IllustrationHorikawa Kunihiro   (堀川国広)   From Sano Museum Catalogue (permission granted)

Horikawa Kunihiro (堀川国広)

Horikawa Kunihiro was considered a great master swordsmith among Shin-to swordsmiths.  He forged his swords in many styles with different characteristics.  Hamon types are O-notare, O-gunome, Togari-ba (pointed hamon), Chu-suguha with Hotsure (frayed look), Hiro-suguha with Sunagashi effect, Inazuma, or Kinsuji appears.  Kunihiro liked to make his sword shape looking 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 them; designs include a dragon, Sanskrit letters, etc.  Since his swords are in many different styles, there is no general characteristic on his swords other than that Hamon is mainly Nie.  His Ji-hada is finely forged.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

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, photos were taken by my father.

Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi ( 伊賀守金道)

Kinmichi family is called the Mishina group.  Refer 27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地)Iga-no-Kami Kinmichi received the Japanese Imperial chrysanthemum crest. 

The characteristic of Kinmichi ——- wide sword, shallow curvature, extended Kissaki, Sakizori (curvature at 1/3 top),  wide tempered line, Kyo-yakidashi (refer 27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地), Hiro-suguha (wide straight Hamon), O-notare (large wavy), Yahazu-midare, Hako-midare (refer 24| Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代短刀)Boshi is Mishina-boshi, refer 27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地).  Fine wood burl, Masame appears on Shinog-ji area.

Dewa Daijo Kunimichi (出羽大掾国路)

Dewa Daijo Kunimichi was the best student of Horikawa Kunihiro.  The right photo above.  Like Kunihiro, the shape of the sword looks like a shortened Nanboku-cho sword.  Shallow curvature, wide-body, somewhat stretched Kissaki, and Fukura-kareru (less arch in fukura).  Wide tempered line, large Gunome, Nie with Sunagashi, or Inazuma shows.  Double Gunome (two Gunome side by side) appears.  Fine Ji-hada.

  1. Settu (摂津) Osaka (大阪 )

Settu (Osaka) has many well-known swordsmiths.  They are Kawachi-no-Kami Kunisuke (河内守国助), Tsuda Echizen-no-Kami Sukehiro (津田越前守助広), Inoue Shinkai (井上真改), Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子忠綱), etc.                                                                                                     

The Settsu (Osaka) sword’s main characteristic ———— The surface is beautiful and fine, almost like a solid look with no pattern or no designs surface.  The below two photos are of the Settsu sword.

                 62 Ikkanshi photo  62 Ikkanshi illustration                  Ikkanshi Tadatsuna from Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission granted to use.

Ikkanshi Tadatsuna (一竿子忠綱)

Ikkanshi Tadatsuna was famous for his carvings.  His father was also a well-known swordsmith, Omi-no-Kami Tadatsuna (近江守忠綱).  Ikkanshi Tadatsu was the second generation of Omi-no-kami Tadatsuna.  Therefore he was also known as Awataguchi Omi-no-Kami Fujiwara Tadatsuna (粟田口近江守藤原忠綱), as you see in the Nakago above photo.                                               

The characteristics of Ikkanshi Tadatsuna —————- longer kissaki and Sakizori (curved at a higher part of the body), wide tempered line with Nie.  Osaka Yakidashi (transition between the Suguha above Machi and Midare is smooth.  Refer to 27|Shinto Sword — Main Seven Regions (Part A 主要7刀匠地) for Osaka Yakidashi.  O-notare with Gunome, Komaru-boshi with a turn back, and very fine Ji-hada with almost no pattern on the surface.

61 Inoue Shinkai 1

 Inoue Shinkai (井上真改) from “Nippon-to Art Swords of Japan” The Walter A. Compton Collection

Inoue Shinkai (井上真改)

Inoue shinkai was the second generation of Izumi-no-Kami Kunisada (和泉守国定), who was a student of Kunihiro.                                                                                                                         

The characteristic of Inoue Shinkai’s swords —-Osaka Yakidashi, tempered line gradually become wider toward the top.  O-Notare and deep Nie.  Very fine Ji-hada with almost no design on the surface.

24| Sengoku Period Tanto (戦国時代短刀)

0-timeline - size 24 Sengoku Period                                   The red circle above 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 either inward or outward.   

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 ———————— Standard Tanto length 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) ———– Takenoko-zori Jo-sun 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)————- Some Shirake (白け: a whitish surface) sometimes appears.  Some Utsuri (a light, whitish, cloud-like effect) on Ji-hada appears.

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

                                             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(彫物: Engraving) ——-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 sword with a Hamon on both cutting edges.  Often Bonji (Sanscrit) is curved.

  • Hamon (刃文: Tempered line) ——— Wide tempered line.   Nioi base.  Irregular Hamon, wide Suguha (straight tempered line), and Chu-suguha (medium straight  tempered line).  Hamon turns back deeply.
  • Ji-hada (地肌:Area between shinogi and tempered line)——- Fine and wood burl pattern.

25-moroha-tanto1 Moroha Tanto

The Swordsmith for Tanto during the Sengoku Period 

The Bizen swords during the Sengoku period are called Sue-bizenSue is pronounced “su” and “e“ as egg.   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.