23rd Generation

kanefusa The Kanefusa lineage of swordsmiths of Mino Province dates back to the Muromachi era in the 1400's. The 23rd generation Kanefusa worked during the WW II era and was a direct descendant of this famous line of swordsmiths. This lineage continues today with the 25th generation Kanefusa. The 23rd generation Kanefusa's name was Kato Koichi. He was born in 1900. During the Showa period he studied under Kato Jumyo and worked in Seki (Mino / modern Gifu prefecture). During the war years he made many blades for the military, both army and navy, and for civil officials. He won numerous awards in sword exhibitions and contests during this period. He was ranked 1st Seat (National Swordsmith) in the 6th Exhibition of Swords held in 1941 (Slough). He was ranked Kibin no Retsu in 1942 by Kurihara Hikosaburo at the Tosho Banzuke (J.Kim). Many of his blades are signed as being prize winning blades. Blades by the 23rd generation Kanefusa have received origami from the NBTHK or NTHK. This school of swordsmiths is noted for making a special style of hamon known as "Kanefusa midare".

horimono There are several blades known made by Noshu Seki 23rd Generation Kanefusa which have the kiku-sui crest carved as a horimono on the blade (not on the nakago). These blades were not made at the Minatogawa Jinja Tanrensho and have no known connection with it. These swords probably were a special order from a group of naval officers or a naval officer's club associated with the Minatogawa battleship. This same style Minatogawa crest is occasionally found on blades by Asano Kanesane. These are also thought to be special order blades and not associated with the Minatogawa Jinja.

Among signatures on the 23rd Generation Kanefusa blades are:

  • Kanefusa
  • Fujiwara Kanefusa
  • Noshu Seki ju Fujiwara Kanefusa
  • Seki ju Ni ju San Dai Kanefusa
  • Noshu Seki ju Ni Ju San Dai Fujiwara Kanefusa saku kore
    (oshigata shown left)

stamp Some blades bear inscriptions about awards or being prize winning blades. Sho or Seki tang stamps may appear on the nakago. Some of his blades were signed nakirishi mei. He forged both traditionally made gendaito and non-traditionally made showato using mill steel, thus each blade must be judged on its own merits. Kanefusa blades are found mounted in shin-gunto (army) or kai-gunto (navy) koshirae and shirasaya. The 23rd generation Kanefusa is listed in the Toko Taikan, in Hawley's Japanese Swordsmiths, and the Nihonto Meikan.

Rare tang stamp (right) on nakago of a 23rd Gen. Kanefusa blade. Believed to read: "Registration of practical design #211689. Wrapped steel forging blade" (Jitsuyo Shinaan Toroku, Dai 211689 Go, Hotetsu Tanren Toin)

Oshigata courtesy of Ron Polansky.
Thanks to Jinsoo Kim and John Slough for information on Kanefusa.
Thanks to Phillip Bell for the kikusui mon photo.
Photo from Dai Nihon Token Shoko Meikan (pub. 1942) courtesy of Jinsoo Kim

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