FROM EMPEROR TO BLACKSMITH APPRENTICE…ALL FOR THE LOVE OF SWORDS.

CAUGHT YOU...

The Sword holds a hallowed place in any WEAPON LEGENDS HALL OF FAME

(…well, it would…though shiro hasn’t finalised his yet…sorry…):–cos

there were few times in martial history when it’s use was not applied.

sword5

FROM EMPEROR TO BLACKSMITH APPRENTICE

sword n co.

Long esteemed as an individual and collective icon and national symbol, JAPAN too venerates the SWORD

as an ideal and a representation of the strength of the individual to collectively defend the nation.

sword and statueALL FOR THE LOVE OF SWORDS.

Along with the ancient sacred Mirror and Beads, the sacred SWORD is one of Japans trio sets of National Treasures. (click)

sword15

SACRED SWORD OF JAPAN.

The ORIGINS of this sword appreciation society approach is indeed an ancient one.Even within this collective LEGEND there are those whose blade shone brightest due to the inspiration their acts endow.

night ken...

One such whose growing appetite for sword knowledge was so keen;

that his own chosen lot from Emperor to blacksmith apprentice

ALL for the LOVE OF SWORDS became a LEGEND indeed.

BLADE WORK

BLADE WORK WORK WORK…

HERE…THERE…

EVERYWHERE A SMITH

shogun stuff

MUCH SMITH WORK HEREIN…

Blacksmithing (Jap.kajiya) was arguably the most important cultural trade in any country.

Essential infrastructure in every village, castle or army.Most tech or machinery was made/repaired by the smiths.There are several colors and types of smith too.

  • black / white / tin / red / brown / copper / silver / gold / hammer / blade / nai(l) / arrow / shoe / six(sickle) etc

The names are basic/self explanatory; referring to a weapon, item or metal type/color.

In the Western World the anglo saxon germanic connection for example meant for many years a persons profession/family trade…

was their surname too.

This fact also explains such names as smithson in the obvious manner…a son of a smith.

FIRE IT UP.

EXCUSE ME SIR…YOUR SWORD IS ON FIRE!

 

The LEGENDS of FIRE (ka)

are also inextricably bound with that of  Smithing

another obvious.

Official records indicate too that swords were/have been occasionally used as votive divine offerings for nearly two thousand years.

Swords sacrificed to/for the GODS.

Sweet.

ROSE...WITH SWORD.

sum ken.

FALLING SMELTING IN LOVE…SECRETLY.

fired up

The process of sword smithing in Japan had its boom period from around 1100-1500’s.

This work had soon become almost ritualized, akin to a religion.The smiths themselves became honorable society members, their profession/position almost venerated.

The particular methods used to create the iconic samurai sword are long and labour intensive.Some of the smiths specialised in particular processes such as forging the blade or tempering, so swords were oft. the product of several experts.

The approach and dedication of these tradies ensured the jap. sword its deserving place in martial history and legend.

sword16

work workFor those with an interest;

a closer look at the sword smiths work can be found here…(click)

or here…(click).Also sweet.

sword&scroll

ken co.

sam sym

HOW NOT TO GIVEMASAMUNE A HAND!

Precise technical details were oft.treasured secrets.

sword workOne of the LEGENDARY SMITHS...for example:

the great MASAMUNE, being visited by another local smith, had reason to use one of his bladed creationson the visitor.

Placing his hand in one of Masamune’s tempering baths…to ascertain temp and ingredients presumably…

the visiting smith soon found himself without

his hand.

Masamune, with one neat sword swish strike-removed the offending body part:

SECRET SAVED…SAMURAI SWORD-SMITH  STYLE !

choppin timeswish LEGEND, though…not so sweet

if you were the next victim visitor;

all hands…and any other appendages…away…NOW!

culture jap style

co with ken.SHIRO’s SMITHING LOCALE LEGENDS LIST…

SWORD SWIPE...

ancient ken

Very few extant records exist of the very early days of sword making…

pre 1100’s only smiths in small numbers seemed to be mentioned-

approx 900+ the swordsmith YASUTSUNA and another , around 100yrs later-

named as MUNECHIKA are considered worthy of note it seems.

lite my fire

sam wit ken.

Some 200+ years later however…

the LEGENDS OF JAPANS SWORDSMITHING period began to be recognised.

Looking back now…

5 major areas/PROVINCES were producing some 80% of this period’s weapons.

LOTSA SWORD WORK THEREIN.

work work blade work

(considered alphabetically…)

BIZEN , MINO , SOSHU/SAGAMI , YAMASHIRO  and  YAMATO.

 

BIZEN : it’s geographical location and ideal weather conditions, esp. in the east of the province ensured the production of high quality weaponry for much of this time.

BIZEN

BIZEN PROVINCE.

 

MINO : legends associate Masamune students with this area and early works show excellent sword-smithing though long term the quality suffered and MINO lost its importance and influence in this tradition.

MINO prov.

MINO PROVINCE.

 

SOSHU/SAGAMI : a main centre of influence , esp. in Kamakura where the First SHOGUNATE was established…the black-smithing necessity…obvious…even though its locale and climate…not entirely desirable.

SOSHU.

SOSHU/SAGAMI PROVINCE.

 

YAMASHIRO : the province of the then capital, KYOTO…sword-work in high/great demand for many years.

YOSHIMITSU-SAN…of the KAMAKUR period, a favourite of shiro’s.

YAMASHIRO

YAMASHIRO PROVINCE.

 

and

YAMATO : locale of a previous capital, NARA…then the later Temple/monk/sect movements into the area around 1200+ ensured a continuing good/high quality presence and contribution to the Jap.sword work traditions for some time.

YAMATO

YAMATO PROVINCE.

 

UNIQUE=YOU

SHIRO INTRO’s…THE MASTER-SMITHS OF LEGEND.

…so many smiths…so lil time and space…

 

The sword intel reveals a listing of many many names in japan alone who have done good sword work.

Just using the main 5 provinces

more than several hundred just in this period of history.

Yet, amongst these many…a small handful still stood out.

sword & coKnown as the MASTER-SMITHS or MASTER-MAKERS; these 3 groups collectively represent the ALL.Their exemplary skills even acknowledged as extraordinary by their peers.Many of their weapons became famous in their own way via other samurai legends and tales.

samsym too…and a BONUS too…

In addition:

A bonus for reading this far-

Shiro has done an addition of his own…to this master-smith listing.

muramasa ken.

The last name is well known…though a lil infamous-

and whilst the purists of jap sword history seem intent on refusing his deserved place…

shiro disagrees.

They say…he is unlucky, a smith on the edge of insanity…one whose blades reflect his madnessALL his work classified as ignoble and unworthy…struck off the records of the experts guilds too.

By men of superstition and plain prejudice sayeth shiro.

sam chop

For Shiro knows full well the edge of madness

WE ALL DO…if we but dare look close to the edge.

Shiro knows too…like children;

madmen and womentend to tell…the plain truth.

all sorts

HE deserves and has earnt his place at last; here at least-

Amongst friends…and fellow madmen he dreams-

Make him feel welcome…remember him too.

LEGEND of a SWORD-SMITH.

EACH AND ALL it seems.

AT LAST, BUT NOT LEAST,…ON THE LIST… FOR YOU.

 

muramasa ken

BLADE WORK BY MURAMASALAST BUT NOT LEAST ON THE LIST. LEGEND.

 

THE LIST…OF LEGENDS.+

shiro’s addition…at LAST

but not least for YOU.

sword play.

  • The BIZEN SANHEI = The 3 MASTER-SMITHS OF BIZEN = KANEHIRA, SUKEHIRA & TAKAHIRA.
  • The KYOTO SANJO = The 3 MASTERS OF KYOTO = ARIKUNI, KANENAGA & YOSHIIE.
  • The elite SANSAKU = The 3 MASTER-MAKERS = MASAMUNE, YOSHIHIRO & YOSHIMITSU.

and last but not least

  • MASTER-MAKER MURAMASA…of ISE PROVINCE…He who the purists forgot…

( on purpose btw…i mean…just cos that fumbly  SHOGUN  IYEYASU  cut himselftwice…on a MURAMASA…surely doesn’t mean anything???…hmmm???…might throw some salt over my left shoulder…just in case methinks…and get someone else to clean THAT SWORD too perhaps !?).

chop samOK…back to the intel shiro.

swordBITS

SWORD COMPONENTS…IN JAPANESE…

PUT BLACKSMITH ON MY RESUME…

o…perhaps emperor too.

smith & co.

Sometime in the late 1100’s

Somewhere in Japan…

ICHIMONJI NORIMUNE the black-smith,

now knew the EMPEROR was a man after his own heart.

fired upThe EMPEROR GOTOBA was a man in love…

deeply in love.

GOTOBA’s passion was now so incensed, so aflame…akin to the forge, which, in turn was soon to become his Temple.A proclamation issued, there was no turning back…the first of its kind…a proclamation of love

FROM EMPEROR TO BLACKSMITH APPRENTICEGOTOBA was to be.

ALL FOR THE LOVE OF…SWORDS.

GOTOBA 1180-1239

EMPEROR GOTOBA OF JAPAN…1180-1239.

 

peeps

sam peeps

In the heady days that followed the black-smith found he was not alone.

GOTOBA was a willing student who learnt well (click).

Not satisfied with the lone wolf approach the EMPEROR put other wheels in motion.Each and every month, one of 12 provincial smiths worked hand in hand with GOTOBA.Others were held in reserve.

Teams of smiths too had been set up in various locales to aid the EMPEROR, now BLACKSMITH APPRENTICE…but still EMPEROR, who had so decreed (click).

GOTOBA WORK WORK.

BLACKSMITH GOTOBA AT BLADEWORK.

 

FROM EMPEROR TO BLACKSMITH APPRENTICE…I AM TO BE-

ALL FOR THE LOVE OF SWORDS.

GOTOBA = EMPEROR, SWORD-LOVER, SWORD-SMITH, LEGEND.

swords

SWORD WORK

SWORD LOVE.

girl sam with ken

LUCKY THAT’s NOT A…MURAMASA???

ken co

Though blunted by the ninja creed

(of all/every weapon…is useful etc)…

shiro does have a soft spot for the lines of a good sword.

 

The look, feel and natural swinging weight do indeed elicit admiring glances…

and interesting techniques too.

Some of the blades ooze ‘ sword appeal ‘.

sword miss sam

a ken.

ken and co

more ken.

The hand made ones are a collectors delight, all with their differences yet all made with the same sword love.

 

WORK WORK

                                                                           HARD AT WORK.

 

SHIRO’s SHINOBI SWORD TIP:

sword play

...AM I ON CAMERA...HOW EMBARASSING...

…WHO PUT DREAMNINJA SUPAGLU ON MY SWORD???

For those who appreciate such things;

to ensure a quicker draw than your opponent…

use a shorter weapon…or none at all.

NINPO IKKAN.

idreamofninja…do you have a dream?

CAUGHT BY JUTTE

JUTTESWORD CATCHER

CAUGHT YOU...

SWORD…CAUGHT…I HOPEHOPE TOO ITS NOT A MURAMASA !?

play time

Here’s a song and 3 more…sharp and sweet…or not…shiro’s choice for sure:

 

miss sam with ken

sword at rest

COMPUTER SHIRO & DELL SILVER MOON

SHIROBANRYU & SHINY DELL SILVER MOON LAPTOP.

BELIEVE IT...OR NOT.

BELIEVE IT…OR NOT.

 

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