49|Part 2 of — 14|Late Kamakura Period Sword (Early Soshu 鎌倉末刀)

This chapter is a detailed part of chapter 14| Late Kamakura Period Sword.  Please read chapter 15 before reading this section.

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline

                                     The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section.

14 Ikubi kissaki Damadge

In Chapter 14| Late Kamakura Period Sword (鎌倉後期), the Ikubi-kissaki sword was explained.  The above illustration shows a flaw when the damaged area was repaired.  To compensate for this flaw, in the Late Kamakura Period, swordsmiths started to forge swords with longer Kissaki and a tip of Hi ends lower than Yokote-line.  So that in case the Yokote-line was lowered after the repair, hi does not go higher than Yokote-line

15 Masamune (Sano)   15 Masamune hamon (Sano)

The above photo is a sword by Goro Nyudo Masamune( 五郎入道正宗 ).  Please look at the size and shape of Kissaki.  This is definitely different from previous Ikubi-kissaki, or Ko-gissaki.  This is a typical late Kamakura period Kissaki style.  This is O-suriage (largely shortened).  Under Kamakura Bakufu, many swordsmiths moved to Kamakura.  They were Toroku Sakon Kunituna (藤六左近国綱 ) of Yamashiro Awataguchi group (山城粟田口),  Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真), and Kunimune (国宗 )of the Bizen area.  They are the origin of Soshu Den (相州伝).  Eventually, Tosaburo Yukimitsu (藤三郎行光)  appeared and his son is the famous Masamune (正宗)In the drawing above, Kinsuji, Inazuma is shown inside the hamon.  The clear line inside the hamon is Inazuma and Kinsuji.  Inazuma, Kinsuji is the collection of Nie.  Masamune is famous for Inazuma, Kinsuji.  Masamune lived in Kamakura, his hamon looks like an ocean wave when it is viewed sideways.

50 part 2 of 15 吉岡.photo 50 part 2 of 15 吉岡

The above picture is a sword by a swordsmith of Yoshioka Ichimonji group (吉岡一文字).  Kissaki is also like the one of Masamune.  It is longer than the previous Ikubi-kissaki or Ko-gissaki.  This is Chu-gissakiKissaki like this one is one of the important points to determine what period the sword was made.  Hamon has Choji, Gunome, Togariba (pointed-tip), very tight Nie.

50 part 2 of 15 運生 photo 50 part 2 of 15 運生 

The above photo is a sword by Ukai Unsho (鵜飼雲生) of Bizen Den.  This sword is also from the late Kamakura period.  But it has Ko-gissaki.  This sword does not have the late Kamakura period Chu-gissaki style.  Narrow Hoso-suguha is somewhat like an earlier time than the late Kamakura period.  This sword indicates that the sword does not always have the style of that period.  To Kantei*, first, look at the style and shape then give yourself some idea of the period of the time it was made.  But in this case, Kissaki does not indicate the late Kamakura periodThe next thing is to look at the different characteristics of the sword one by one like hamon, Nie or Nioi, Jihada, etc,  and determine what period, which Den, which province and then come up with the name. This process is called Kantei.

*Kantei —  to determine the swordsmith name by analyzing the characteristic of the sword without seeing the MeiMei may have been gone if it was shortened or never inscribed.

All the photos above are from Sano Museum Catalogue.  Permission to use is granted.

9 | Middle Kamakura Period: Bizen Den 鎌倉中備前伝

12 Red Middle Kamakura Timeline
The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this chapter 

There are large numbers of swordsmiths in Bizen (備前) school during the Heian period but their sword style is generally similar to Yamashiro school, called Ko-Bisen (古備前). The real Bizen school style started in the Middle Kamakura period.  Bizen province had many ideal conditions to produce swords.  It produced good quality steel and a large amount of fuel around the area and also the transportation was convenient.  Naturally, large numbers of swordsmiths gathered in this area and produced swords in quantities.  Because of that, to connoisseur Bizen sword is difficult.  In general, the Bizen sword has a higher quality standard than other schools.

Generally speaking, the next three characters are the most distinctive features of Bizen school.

  • Nioi base temper line (Nie is sand-like small dots on a tempered line, Nioi is finer dots than Nie, so small, it looks as if a line)  Technically speaking, those two are the same.  See the illustration below.
  • Jigane (sword steel) looks soft.
  • Reflection appears on the surface.

10 Nie & Nioi

Sugata (shape) — The length of the sword is about 33 inches ± a few inches. The width of the blade is slightly wide and it has a stout look.  The curvature of the blade is Koshizori (腰反)  means the highest curvature comes lower part.  The body has an average thickness.  Small kissaki.

10 Middle Kamakura ---備前刀姿

Horimono(engraving) — Engravings are rare. The shape of the tip of Hi is all the way up to Ko-Shinogi and fill up the whole area.

8 Hi

Nakago — Long and thin with curvature.  The end of the Nakago is rounded which has the shape of chestnut’s bottom.  This is called KurijiriSee the illustration of the sword above.

Hamon (tempered area pattern)— Nioi base. The tempered area is wide and the width is even, also the size of midare (irregular tempered line ) is uniform.

Boshi — The same tempered pattern continues to go up to the Boshi area.  You can see Choji midare (clove-like pattern) or Yakizume.

10 Boshi --- Bizen

Jitetu — Fine well forged, and soft look steel.  The surface of the steel has small wood grain pattern mixed with the large grain pattern.  Chikei (condensation of Nie) and cloud-like reflection appears.

Bizen School Sword Smiths during Middle Kamakura Period

Fukuoka Ichimonji (福岡一文字) group ———-Norimune (則宗)  Sukemune (助宗 )  Yoshioka Ichimonji (吉岡一文字) group ———-Sukeyoshi (助吉)   Sukemitsu (助光)         Sho-chu Ichimonji (正中一文字) group ———   Yoshiuji (吉氏)   Yoshimori (吉守)      Osafune (長船) group ———-Mitsutada (光忠)  Nagamitu (長光) Kagemitsu (景光)   Hatakeda(畠田) group ————————————-Moriie (守家)  Sanemori  (真守)          Ugai (鵜飼) group —————————————————— Unsho (雲生) Unji (雲次)

10, Ichimonji Photo

Ichimonji from Sano Museum Catalog (permission to use is granted)