5 traditions and 8 roads

There were 5 main groups of swordsmiths divided geographically by provinces - Yamato, Yamashiro, Soshu (Sagami), Bizen and Mino, each of which was an active craft centre. Within each of these groups were many schools each with their own differences more or less distinguishable in their blades. 

We find that there is a relationship in sword forging methods that is due to the ease of communications. Due to the mountainous terrain in Japan, certain main highways tended to promote the interchange of ideas within the limited areas served by each road. So we have a grouping of sword making districts served by these roads in which certain characteristics appear to be common to the schools of each district.

The road systems are as follows:
Go Kinai - 5 home provinces around Kyoto the old capital. (Yamashiro, Kawachi, Izumi, Settsu, Yamato).
Tokaido - East sea Road (Iga, Ise, Owari, Mikawa, Totomi, Suruga, Kai, Sagami, Musashi, Hitachi).
Nankaido -South Sea Road (Kii, Awa, Tosa, Sanuki, Iyo).
Sanyodo - Mountain Sunny Road (Harima, Mimasaka, Bizen, Bitchu, Bingo, Aki, Suwo, Nagato.
Saikaido - West Sea Road (Chikuzen, Chikugo, Buzen, Bungo, Hizen, Higo, Satsuma)
Tosando - East Mountain Road (Mino, Shinano, Kozuke, Iwashiro, Uzen, Ugo, Mutsu/Rikuoko).
Hokurikudo - North Inland Road (wakasa, Echizen, Etchu, Echigo, Kaga).
Sanyindo - Mountain Shady Road (Tamba, Tajima, Inaba, Hoki, Izumo,Iwami).

The above geographical arrangements apply primarily to Koto blades made before 1596, and may be 100 years of shinto time in some localities.
For information or questions mail to: rj_thomas3@bushidoboutique.net