IS A VERY INTERESTING FACT THAT "ICHIMONJI", THE MOST FAMOUS SCHOOL OF SWORD
MAKING DURING THE KAMAKURA PERIOD ( 70 % OF TODAY'S NATIONAL TREASURE
SWORDS, ARE FROM THIS PERIOD ), ACTUALLY HAD ITS "GRASS ROOTS BEGINNINGS AT
SEA"! HAD THERE NEVER BEEN A BATTLE OF "DEN-NO-URA" IT IS ALMOST CERTAIN
THAT THE "ICHIMONJI SCHOOL" WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN BORN! THE MAJORITY OF
"ICHIMONJI" MAKERS WERE FROM BIZEN.
"BIZEN", IS THE ONLY PROVINCE THAT HAS EXPERIENCED CONTINUOUS SWORD PRODUCTION FROM THE "HEIAN PERIOD", TO THE "SHIN-SHINTO" PERIOD. THUS EXPERIENCED SWORD SMITHS OF THE HIGH LEVELS, WERE ABUNDANT. THROUGHOUT THE HISTORY OF SWORD MAKING, BIZEN PROVINCE WAS DOMINATE. BIZEN PROVINCE. POSSESSED ALL OF THE NECESSARY ELEMENTS, AND REQUIREMENTS FOR SUCCESSFUL SWORD MAKING. "BIZEN TETSU" ( IRON ) WAS EXCEPTIONAL PURITY, AND OF THE HIGHEST QUALITY. HIGH GRADE SAND IS ALSO AVAILABLE, AS IT IS CLOSE TO THE SEA. THE WATER SUPPLY FROM THE "ASAHI GAWA", AND "YOSHII GAWA" RIVERS WAS VERY PURE. THE SOIL PRODUCES FINE WOOD, FROM WHICH SOME OF THE "HIGHEST GRADE CHARCOAL" EVER SEEN IS PRODUCED, EVEN TO THIS DAY! THE OTHER SIGNIFICANT FACTOR, IS THE SUPPLY ROUTE, THE "SANYODO HIGHWAY" PASSES DIRECTLY THROUGH BIZEN. IN SUMMARY, THE CONDITIONS IN BIZEN WERE ABSOLUTELY IDEAL, FOR "SWORD MAKING". "BIZEN", IS CREDITED WITH THE HIGHEST SWORD PRODUCTION STATISTICS, IN THE HISTORY OF JAPAN. "BIZEN OSAFUNE", THE CITY OF SWORD SMITH'S. AT ONE TIME "80 %" OF THE RESIDENTS OF "OSAFUNE" WERE SWORD SMITHS. WITH SO MANY SWORD SMITHS LIVING IN CLOSE PROXIMITY, THE SHARING OF ADVANCEMENTS, THOUGHTS, AND TECHNOLOGY WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR A VAST NUMBER OF IMPROVEMENTS, AND INNOVATIONS IN THE ART OF SWORD MAKING. THIS GAVE THE OSAFUNE SCHOOL, A TREMENDOUS ADVANTAGE IN AN AGE OF LESS THAN IDEAL NATIONWIDE COMMUNICATION.
The Yoshioka Ichimonji group worked from 1288 to the mid 1300's with the founder being Sukeyoshi, who was the grandson of Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukemune Kamakura era into Nanbokucho era. They were very active and progressed group at Yoshioka which is located at the west side of the Yoshii River in BIZEN Province. With Ichimonji groups, they are associated with the names of the land; Fukuoka, Yoshioka, Katayama and Iwado (Oki).
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