55 |Part 2 of —–21 Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代刀)

Chapter 55 is the detailed part of chapter 21|Muromachi Period Sword.  Please read Chapter 21 before reading this section.

57 Muromach-timeline size 22

                         The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

After the Muromachi period, swords changed to Katana(刀) from Tachi (太刀), as described in chapter 21 Muromachi Period Sword.  Refer to 21| Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代刀)  .  By the end of the Nanboku-cho period, the swords’ length became shorter to approximately 2 feet ± a few inches.  The 3-to-5 feet long swords seen in the Nanboku-cho period were no longer created.  The reason was that, during the Nanboku-cho period, warriors fought mostly riding horses, but after the Muromachi time, infantry fighting became more common.

Oei Bizen (応永備前)                                                                                                             The pronunciation of Oei is“O as Oh” and “ei as A of ABC.”   The Muromachi period was the declining time in sword making.  The swords made during the early Muromachi period in the Bizen area were called Oei BizenOsafune Morimitsu (長船盛光), Osafune Yasumitsu (長船康光), Osafune Moromitsu (長船師光) were the main Oei Bizen swordsmiths.  Soshu Hiromasa (相州広正)、Yamashiro Nobukuni (山城信國)  were also similar to the Oei Bizen style.  Please refer to 21| Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代刀) for Muromachi sword shape, Hamon, Boshi, and Ji-hada.

57 Moromitsu photo (必要分 57 Moromitus Oshigata

Bishu Osafune Moromitsu (備州長船師光)   from Sano Museum Catalogue ((permission granted)

The above Osafune Moromitsu sword is 2 feet 5 inches long with medium Kissaki.  The Hamon has a small wave-like pattern with continuous Gunome (a lined half-circles).  The Boshi area shows irregular waviness with a slightly pointed tip.  Very faint Bo-utsuri (soft shadow shaped like a strip of wood) shows on Ji-hadaBo-utsuri is a distinctive characteristic among all of the Oei Bizen.

Before the Muromachi period, there had been many swordsmith groups in the Bizen area, but by the Muromachi time began, Osafune (長船) was the only remaining active group.

Osafune (長船) is the name of a region, but it became the last name of the swordsmiths during the Muromachi time.  Two other well-known swordsmiths among the Oei Bizen were Osafune Morimitsu (盛光) and Osafune Yasumitsu (康光).  The Hamon by Morimitsu and Yasumitsu shows more work than that of the sword in the photo above.  Chapter 21| Muromachi Period Sword (室町時代刀) shows the Hamon by Morimitsu and Yasumitsu, also describes typical characteristics of the swords in the Muromachi period.

Hirazukuri Ko-Wakizashi Tanto

58 Hirazukuri Ko-Wakizashi Tanto

Hirazukuri Ko-Wakizashi Tanto Shape

Hirazukuri Ko-wakizashi Tanto was the trendy style during the early Muromachi time. Swordsmiths in different areas created the Tantos like the one above.  But majorities of this types were made by Oei Bizen swordsmiths.

The characteristic of the Hirazukuri ko-wakizashi Tanto ——— Usually 1 foot and 1 or 2 inches long.  No Yokote line, no Shinogi, and no Sori (no curvature, straight back). Average thickness.  Narrow width.  Gyo-no-mune (refer 12| The Middle Kamakura Period Tanto

13 Mune drawing

Hirazukuri Ko-wakizashi Tanto often shows many engravings.  Hi with Soe-hi (parallel double line, wide and narrow side by side ), Tokko-tsuki-ken, Tsume-tsuki-ken, Bonji, etc.

9 Hi, Suken, Bonji20 Tokko, tume Ken  58 tsumetukiken and Hi

*drawings from “Nihonto no Okite to Tokucho” by Honami Koson

 

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

This chapter is a 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 red 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, especially those with large territories, had political and military power to control the area at the end of the Kamakura period.  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 prominent 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 groups.  Those five groups are called Yamato Goha (Yamato five groups).

51 Japan map Yamato

General Characteristic of Yamato Den

Yamato Den (大和伝) sword always shows Masame (柾目: straight grain-like pattern) somewhere on Ji-hada, Jigane, or Hamon.   Refer to 15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活) for the general characteristic.  Masame is sometimes mixed with Mokume (burl like pattern) or Itame (wood-grain like).  Either way, Yamato Den shows Masame somewhere.  Some swords show Masame on the entire body, and some show less.  Because of Masame, the Hamon tends to show Sunagashi (brush stroke-like pattern) 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 and Kinsuji, especially Inazuma appear under the Yokote line.
  • Boshi ————————- Often Yakizume.  Refer Yakizume on 15| The Revival of Yamato Den(大和伝復活)
  • Ji-hada ——————– Small wood grain pattern and well-kneaded 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 Period: Sword (鎌倉末太刀) 
  • Hamon ————————- Mainly Nie (we say Nie-hon’i).  Medium frayed Suguha, mixed with small irregular and Gunome (half-circle like pattern).  Double-lined, brush stroke-like Pattern may appear.  Small Inazuma and Kinsuji may show.      
  • Boshi ———————— Yakizume, Hakikake (bloom trace like pattern) and Ko-maru (small round)     
  • Ji-hada ———- Small burl mixed with Masame.  The Shikkake group sometimes shows Shikkake-hada, the Ha side shows Masame and the 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 and Kinsuji appears.                                                                 
  • 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 (called Oshigata) shows Notare (wave-like Hamon) and Suguha-hotsure (frayed Suguha) with kinsuji.

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

Characteristics:  Munei (shortened and no signature).  Yamato Den, Tegai-ha (Yamato school Tegai group).  Length is two shaku two sun eight &1/2 bu (27 1/4 inches): very small kissaki and funbari.

My Yamato sword

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

My Yamato sword 5

My Yamato sword 4

My Yamato sword.jpg 2

In Hamon, Sunagashi, Niju-ba shows very faintly.   My photo of Boshi is not good, but it looks like Yakizume Jihada is Itame with Masame, almost Nashiji-hada (possibly because of my eyes).  Nie-hon’i.  Please ignore the cloth pattern underneath reflecting on the blade.

 

41| Part 2 of — 8 Middle Kamakura Period: Yamashiro Den 鎌倉中期山城伝

This chapter is a detailed part of Chapter 8| Middle Kamakura Period –Yamashiro Den(鎌倉中期山城伝).   Please read Chapter 8 before reading this chapter.

0-timeline - size 24 Middle Kamakura

      The red circle indicates the time we discuss in this section

During the Middle Kamakura period, there were three main groups among the Yamashiro Den.  They are Ayano-koji (綾小路) group, Awataguchi (粟田口) group, and Rai (来) group.

When we refer to a certain group, we say, “xxx haxxx ippa   “, or  “xxx ichimon “.  We use those three words interchangeably.  They all basically mean a “group”.  For example, we say Ayano-koji Ippa, means Ayano-koji group.

Ayano-Koji Ippa (綾小路 )

  • Sugata (shape) —————- In general, gentle or graceful Kyo-zori shape.  The difference between the width of the Yokote line and Machi is not much.  The sword is slender yet thick.  Small Kissaki 
  • Hi and Engraving ———————- Bohi (one groove) or Futasuji-hi (double grooves)   
  • Hamon ————————– Nie base with Ko-choji (small clove shape) and Ko-midare (small irregular).  Small Inazuma (lightning like line) and Kin-zuji (golden streak) may show.  Double Ko-choji (two Ko-choji side by side) may appear.                                     
  • Boshi (tempered line at tip area) ——————Ko-maru (small round), Yakizume (refer to the illustration below), and Kaen (flame like pattern)                                           
  • Ji-hada ————– Small wood grain with a little Masame (straight grain)  Ji-nie shows.   
  • Nakago (hilt) ————————– Long, slightly fat feeling
  • Ayano-Koji  swordsmiths——Ayano-koji Sadatoshi (綾小路定利), Sadanori (定則)

Awataguchi Ichimon (粟田口)

Many swordsmiths from Awataguchi Ichimon (group) received the honor of the Goban Kaji (meaning top swordsmith) from Gotoba Joko (Emperor Gotoba 後鳥羽上皇 ).  Their general  characteristic is as follows.

  • Sugata (Shape) ————————————– Elegant shape Torii-zori (or Kyo-zori) shape
  • Hi and Engraving ————– The tip of Hi comes all the way up and fill in the Ko-shinogi.  The end of the Hi can be Maru-dome (the end is round), Kakudome (the end is square) or kakinagashi

9 «part 2» 大小丸,焼詰,丸角止, 掻流     

              Maru-dome (rounded end)             Kaku-dome (square)          Kakinagashi

  • Hamon ————— The slightly wider tempered line at the bottom then it becomes narrow tempered line at the top.  Nie base (this is called Nie-hon’i).  Straight tempered line mixed with Ko-choji (small clove) or wide straight line mixed with choji.  Awataguchi-nie appears.  Awataguchi-nie means fine, deep and sharp shiny Nie around tempered line area.   Fine Inazuma (lightning-like line) and Kinsuji (golden streak) appear.
  • Boshi (tempered line at the tip area) ————- Ko-maru (small round)  or O-maru (large round).   The return is sharrow.  Yakizume, Nie Kuzure, and Kaen (flame)9-«part-2»-大小丸焼詰丸角止-掻流-1-e1547925390685.jpg

Yakizume      O-maru     Ko-maru         Yakikuzure

  • Ji-hada ————- Fine Ko-mokume (wood swirls) with Ji-nie.  Nie on Ji-hada. Yubashiri, Chikei appears.                                                                                                     
  • Nakago ——————————– Often two letter inscription
  • Names of Awataguchi swordsmiths —– Awataguchi Kunitomo (粟田口国友 ),  Hisakuni (久国), Kuniyasu (国安),  Kuniyasu (国安), Kunikiyo (国清)

 Rai Ha ()

A general characteristic of Rai group is as follows.  However, each swordsmith has own characteristics.

  • Sugata (shape) ———— Graceful with dignity.  Thick body.  Rai made Ikubi Kissaki.   
  • Hi and Engravings ———————— Wide and shallow Hi.                                                       
  • Hamon —————— Nie base.  Suguha (straight).  Wide Suguha with Ko-midare (small irregular) and Choji (clove).  Sometimes large Choji at the lower part and narrow Suguha at the top.  Inazuma and Kin-suji appear around Yokote area.
  • Boshi ————————————  Komaru, Yakizume (refer to the illustration above)
  • Ji-hada ———– Finely forged Itame (small wood grain) sometimes mixed with Masame (parallel grain).  Fine Nie.  Rai group sporadically shows Yowai Tetsu (weak surface) which may be the core iron.
  • Swordsmiths of Rai Ha —— Rai Kuniyuki (来国行), Kunitoshi (国俊), Ryokai (了戒 ) 

Rai Kunitoshi is said to be Rai Kuniyuki’s son.  Ryokai is said to be Rai Kunitoshi ‘s son.

img017

    Rai Kuniyuki (来国行)Once my family sword, photo taken by my father with his  writing.    
9 «part 2» Rai Kuniyuki photo.jpg       Rai Kuniyuki hamon
Rai Kuniyuki (来国行)Sano Museum Catalogue (佐野美術館)  (permission granted)

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

 

12| The Middle Kamakura Period: Tanto (Dagger 鎌倉中期短刀)

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 (短刀dagger) made during the Heian period.  During the middle Kamakura period, a large number of high-quality Tanto were made.  They were called Takenoko-zori shaped Tanto.   Takenoko means bamboo shoot.  The back of the Tanto curves inward slightly.

12Tanto drawing Mid Kamakur

Sugata (shape)———- Hirazukuri.  It means there is no Shinogi, Yokote line.  See the illustration above.  The standard Tanto size is about 10 inches.  The width is not too wide, not too narrow, very well-balanced size.  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) —————-The tempered area is narrow.  Nie base.   Suguha-midare (straight line pattern with an irregular wavy pattern) or Suguha-choji (straight line pattern with small Choji)The tempered edge line may show a frayed look.

Boshi(tempered line at Kissaki area) ———Yakizume,   Kaen,   Nie-kuzure.

13 Hamon and Hi

Engravings (彫刻 ) ———- Often, different kinds of engravings are done at the lower part of the body.   These may be a groove or two grooves, Sanskrit,  Suken (spear), dragon, etc.  For Sanskrit and spear, look at the illustration inside Chapter 8.

13 Hamon and Hi

Tanto 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)

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA        Creative common  Free media  Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)