GENERAL OUTLINE OF THE SENJUIN HA 千手院派
At the northwest of the Tôdaiji Sangatsu-dô is the SENJUIN 千手院, and in the beginning this IN 院 (temple or monastery) was at Senju-tani of Wakakusa-yama, but it was moved here during TENROKU 天禄 (970-973). Then, it is said that in the reign of Horikawa Tennô (1086-1107), a man named YUKINOBU 行信 made a naginata in this place for the first time, and after that, this trade was handed down for a number of generations, and they were called the SENJUIN KAJI 千手院鍛冶. In this ichirui (group), according to the meikan, there were a large number of tôkô, but zaimei swords they made are almost non-existent. YUKINOBU 行信, TOSHIMASA 俊正, ARIYUKI 有行, SHIGEHIRO 重弘 and such are all famous smiths, but are known in word only, and I have not yet come in contact with any swords that were positively made by them.
To begin with, among the YAMATO MONO 大和物, and not just limited to this Keitô, it is generally the case that the ubu nakago that are mumei are the most common, but I wonder why this is so? Also, compared to other kuni, there are very few that are influenced by the jidai, they are very conservative, and I wonder why they are all classical. There are probably various reasons for this, but the thing which should be noted first is that a response to a general demand was comparatively infrequent, in other words, the majority were kaji supported by someone, and so, this was because the tastes of the supporting lords were conservative, and classical.
Looking in the Kaji Mei Hayamidashi 鍛冶銘早見出, it says that he is the founder of SENJUIN 千手院, he used a nijimei, and that his jidai was NINPEI 仁平 (1151-1154), and mainly KENKYÛ 建久 (1190-1999). [TN: It says HON KENKYÛ 本建久, and I have interpreted this to mean mainly, but from NINPEI to KENKYÛ is quite an interval.] In the (Kotô Meijin Taizen 古刀銘尽大全), it says in the keizu that the shodai was of around CHÔSHÔ 長承 (1132-1135), the nidai was of around NINPEI 仁平 (1151-1154), and that he was also called YUKINOBU 行延. Most other books have, since long ago, list YUKINOBU 行信 as a tôkô of the Heianchô Jidai, but in the Hidanshô 秘談抄, it says that he was of around SHÔGEN 正元 (1259-1260), in other words, lists him as a tôkô of the middle Kamakura Jidai. It is difficult to quickly determine which of these is correct, but if YUKINOBU 行信 is clearly the founder of the SENJUIN 千手院, since I think that the time tachi with the SENJUIN 千手院 mei on the next page was made is not later than the beginning of the Kamakura Jidai, it follows that the time of YUKINOBU 行信 was probably not later than this. [TN: Around 1185]
ref. Nihonto Koza
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Old swords (kotō)
105 swords from the kotō period (late 10th century to 1596) including tachi (61), tantō (26), katana (11), ōdachi (3), naginata (2), tsurugi (1) and kodachi (1) have been designated as national treasures. They represent works of four of the five traditions: Yamato (5), Yamashiro (19), Sōshū (19), Bizen (45); and blades from Etchū Province (3), Bitchū Province (5), Hōki Province (2) and Saikaidō (7).
Centers of sword production during the old sword (kotō) period. Provinces related to the Five Traditions are marked in red.
The Yamato tradition is the oldest, originating as early as the 4th century with the introduction of ironworking techniques from the mainland. According to legend, the smith Amakuni forged the first single-edged long swords with curvature (tachi) around 700. Even though there is no authentication of this event or date, the earliest Japanese swords were probably forged in Yamato Province. During the Nara period, many good smiths were located around the capital in Nara. They moved to Kyoto when it became capital at the beginning of the Heian period, but about 1200 smiths gathered again in Nara when the various sects centered in Nara rose to power during the Kamakura period and needed weapons to arm their monks. Thus, the Yamato tradition is associated closely with the warrior monks of Nara. Yamato tradition sugata[j 1] is characterized by a deep torii-zori,[j 2] high shinogi,[j 3] and slightly extended kissaki.[j 4] The jihada[j 5] is mostly masame-hada,[j 6] and the hamon[j 7] is suguha,[j 8] with rough nie.[j 9] The bōshi[j 10] is mainly ko-maru.[j 11] Generally the style of Yamato blades is considered to be restrained, conservative and static. Five major schools or branches of the Yamato tradition are distinguished: Senjuin,[nb 8] Shikkake, Taima,[nb 9] Tegai[nb 10] and Hōshō.[nb 11] Four of the five schools are represented by national treasure swords.[45