Dr. Anthony Thomas


The Kashu Kanewaka School can trace its roots to Shizu in Mino Province. The great grandfather of the founder of the Kanewaka school was a descendent of Shizu Saburo Kaneuji. This smith, whose given name was Shirouemon was the grandfather of Tsujimura Yomonosuke. The exact reason for Tsujimura Yomonosuke's move to Kaga province may never be known. However, there was good reason to make the move. In 1583 Toshiie Maeda established the seat of power for his clan in Kanazawa of Kaga province. The Meada clan began building a new castle and there was need for swords as well. The growth of the Kaga smiths began with the movement of other smiths to join smiths already long since established in Kaga such as Fujishima Tomoshige and Shogen Ietsugu. It is perhaps during this movement that Tsujimura Yomonosuke left Mino province to seek his fortune in Kaga. When he arrived in Kaga his son founded the Kashu Kanewaka School.




Suguta: The katana of the first generation Kanewaka has a shallow sori, a wide mihaba and o-kissaki. The tanto is in the Enbun Joji style and has a relatively long nagasa or sunobi, saki zori, a wide mihaba, and thick kasane. There are also more standard tanto which have josun, uchi-zori, and thick kasane. The katana of Takahira has chu-kissaki and standard, tapering mihaba, this suguta was also adopted by the 2nd generation. There are wakizashi with the shinogi zukuri style but there are more with the hirazukuri form. These are often short wakizashi in the one shaku range (30cm).

Jihada: Mokume hada mixed with masame hada with ji-nie

Hamon: O-notare midare and o-gunome midare with wide hamon and whose gunome tend to be hako-midare. Thick sungashi can be seen in the tani, and the hamon is occasionally mixed with rough and pointed midare. There is also a hamon of suguha-choji midare with gunome ashi and a good deal of hataraki. The shodai's hako tends to be more disorganized while nidai and sandai tend to be much more squarely defined

Yakiba: The Kanewaka works tend to have more sunagashi and kinsuji. Where as the Takahira works tend to have less. The shodai also tends to have disorderly nie conglomerations while the later generations do not.

Boshi: The boshi is midare komi in a small pattern, ko-maru and turn back. Mishina boshi can be seen at times. Standard ko-maru boshi becomes common beginning with the second generation. Shodai tends to have undulated and pointed tip with kaeri. Takahira works were usually notare-komi forming a ko-maru with modest kaeri.

Horimono: Bo-hi and futasuji hi can be seen. The first generation skillfully engraved such horimono as ken, goma-hashi, ken-maki-ryu in the hitsu, sho chiku bai (pine tree, bamboo and plum tree), Santai Butsu (Three Buddhas), etc. But, the later generations rarely produced horimono. It is also thought that precise and elaborate horimono were likely not their work but that of carving specialists either living in Kashu or visiting Kashu from Echizen, since some of the carvings have typical Echizen characteristics.

Nakago: A relatively gentle kuri-jiri. The yasurime are sujikai or katte sagari, kakumune, note that smiths usually inscribed "Kashu" with the complex form of the kanji for kashu. Niji mei occur but nagamei are the most common. The kanji for "tsukuru" was used by Shodai but seldom by later generations. It is quite difficult to distinguish between shodai mei and later generations. The kanji for "waka" has a distinct characteristic that can differentiate the shodai from later generations.


Shirouemon - Kanewaka

This smith was the grandfather of Kaga Tsujimura Yomonosuke - Kanewaka. He followed the Late Shizu School. He lived in Mino province and was active from 1532. He is listed as the head of the family. Inscriptions:

"Kanewaka" 㡡

"Noshu Seki ju Kanewaka saku" ǻؽ

Tsujimura Yomonosuke - Kanewaka

This smith was the grandson of Mino Tsujimura Shirouemon - Kanewaka. He followed the Seki School, lived in Inuyama of Owari province. He also lived in Mino province. He was active from 1532. According to historical records, he apparently made his move to Kaga as early as the 9th year of Keicho (1604). He is the father of Tsujimura Jinroku - Shodai Kashu Kanewaka. Inscription:


Tsujimura Jinroku - Kashu Kanewaka (I) and Etchu no Kami Takahira (I)

The oldest signed and dated blades attributed to Jinroku Kanewaka are dated the 9th year of Keicho (1604). These blades are signed "Kanewaka" and "Kanewaka saku" without saying where they were made. The second oldest date inscribed is the 12th year of Keicho (1607) and the example giving that date is signed "Kashu ju Kanewaka saku". There is another example that has the same mei but is dated the 14th year of Keicho (1609). In the 16th year of Keicho (1611), his mei changed to "Kashu ju Kanewaka tsukuru" This mei using "tsukuru" replaced the use of "saku" for the rest of his productive career. Production of signed works continued until the 9th month of the 5th year of Genna (1619). No work is known to represent the 6th year of Genna. Then we come across an example dated first month of 7th year of Genna (1620). This example is signed Etchu no Kami Fujiwara Takahira. Kanewaka received the Etchu no Kami title sometime between 9th month of the 5th year of Genna and the 1st month of the 7th year of Genna while changing his name to Takahira on the same occasion. Interestingly, there is an example of a tanto that was signed "Etchu Daijo Fujiwara Takahira" which indicates there was a brief period during which he had the Etchu Daijo title before he became Etchu no Kami. The Shodai's very last work is dated "A good day in February, 5th year of Kanei (1628)" In general this smith is considered to be active beginning in middle of Keicho era. His swords are rated ryowazamono. Inscriptions:

"Kanewaka" - 1604

"Kanewaka saku" - 1604 

"Kashu ju Kanewaka saku" 콣 - 1607 and 1609

"Kashu ju Kanewaka tsukuru" 콣¤ 1611 thru 1619

"Etchu Daijo Fujiwara Takahira" ƣʿ - 1620

"Etchu no Kami Fujiwara Takahira" ƣʿ - 1620 thru 1628

Tsujimura Shirouemon - Kagehira

This is the eldest son of Shodai Kanewaka. He followed the style of his father. He swords are rated ryowazamono. He was active from 1620. The earliest dated works are from 1628 and his latest work is dated 1656. It is interesting to note that Kagehira's initial activity coincides with his father's change in mei. Further, it is also interesting to note that Shirouemon is not indicated as the second generation Kanewaka. Instead his younger brother Matasuke is given the name. However, he was only 7 years old when his father took the name Takahira. It is somewhat doubtful that Matasuke would have been able to begin signing the Kanewaka name at such a young age. It seems unlikely that the Kanewaka name would be left unsigned for many years. It is therefore possible that Kagehira may have made swords and signed them either as first and/or second generation. This could go some way in explaining the relative scarcity of Kagehira swords is rather scarce inspite of his rather life and expected productivity. Further research is needed to clarify this point. It is also quite likely that Shirouemon took some part in the training of Matasuke. Finally, it is interesting to note that Kagehira's blade are rated equal in sharpness to his father's but superior to his younger brother's family namesake. Inscriptions:

"Kashu ju Fujiwara Kagehira" 콣ƣʿ

"Kashu ju Fujiwara Kagehira tsukuru" 콣ƣʿ¤

"Kashu ju Tsujimura Shirouemon Fujiwara Kagehira" 콣¼Ϻƣʿ

Tsujimura Arihira

This is the second son of Shodai Kanewaka. He followed the style of his father. He was active from the Kanei era (1624). There are very few of his works that exist today. One idea is that this smith remained in the background. Inscriptions:

"Kashu ju Fujiwara Arihira" 콣ƣͭʿ

"Echigo no Kami Fujiwara Arihira" ƣƣͭʿ

"Kashu ju Fujiwara Arihira tsukuru" 콣ƣͭʿ¤

"Kashu Kanazawa ju Echigo no Kami Fujiwara Arihira" 콣߷۸ƣͭʿ

Tsujimura Matasuke - Kashu Kanewaka (II).

This is the nidai Kanewaka. He was the third eldest son of the Shodai Kanewaka. Born in 1613 and died in 1677. He was active from Meireki era. He apparently assumed his father's name at an early age. However, it is unclear exactly what year he took his father's name, he began swordmaking, and under whom he did his training. It is believed that his older brother may have played some role. His swords are rated wazamono. Inscriptions:

"Kashu ju Kanewaka" 콣

"Kashu ju Kanewaka Matasuke" 콣

"Etchu no Kami Takahira Sannan Kanewaka"

"Kashu Aizu ju Tsujimura Matasuke Fujiwara Kanewaka Toshi Gojusansai tsukuru kore"

Tsujimura Hachimanyama - Kashu Kiyohira (I).

This smith is the fourth son of Tsujimura Kanewaka (I) (KAN2898) founder of the Kanewaka School. His name was Tsujimura Gorozaemon. His style is similar to his father. He was active from around 1650. Earliest dated works are from 1652 and latest work is dated 1694. His swords are rated wazamono. He died in 1694. Inscriptions:

"Kashu Fujiwara Kiyohira" 콣ƣʿ

"Tsujimura Fujiwara Kiyohira"

"Kashu Kanazawa ju Kiyohira saku" 콣߷ʿ

"Odawara Hachimanyama ju Kiyohira"

"Soshu Odawara Hachimanyama ju Fujiwara Kiyohira"

Tsujimura Shirouemon - Kashu Kanewaka (III).

This is the son of the nidai Kashu Kanewaka. He succeeded to his father's name in 1677. He also made hamon of saka-choji. His blades are of superior quality like his father. He died in 1711. Inscriptions:

"Kashu ju Kanewaka" 콣

"Kashu ju Fujiwara Tsujimura Shirouemon Kanewaka tsukuru" 콣ƣ¼Ϻ¤

"Etchu no Kami Takahira sandai Kaga Kanazawa ju Tsujimura Shirouemonjo Fujiwara Kanewaka saku kore"

Tsujimura Hachimanyama - Kashu Kiyohira (II).

This smith was the son of Kashu Kiyohira (I). It is not clear who this smith studied under. Hawley lists this smith as having studied under Darani smith Kunihira KUN158. However, this seems somewhat unlikley do to the distance between the location of Kunihira and Kaga province. His real name was Tsujimura Seibei. This smith continued in the style of the shodai. He first signed his works under the name of "Morihira." Inscriptions:

"Tsujimura Kiyohira Chakushi Morihira" ¼ʿҡʿ

"Fujiwara Kiyohira"

"Hachimanyama Kiyohira"

Tsujimura Denuemon - Kashu Takahira (II).

This smith was the second son of the Nidai Kashu Kanewaka KAN2899. He was born 2nd year of Keian (1649). Received the Dewa Daijo title in 1680. Two years later (1651) he received the Dewa no Kami title. He made a sword at 46 years old August on 9th year of Genroku (1696). It is not clear who he studied under. However, Hawley lists this smith twice under the name Takahira TAK12 and TAK13. Hawley also lists this smith as also using the name Kanenaka KAN1700 and Kanewaka. However, the name Kanewaka does not seem likely since the names of the various generations of Kanewaka do not include the name of Denuemon. Inscriptions:

"Denuemon Takahira" ʿ

"Kashu ju Tsujimura Denuemon Takahira" 콣¼ʿ

"Kashu ju Dewa no Kami Fujiwara Takahira" 콣бƣʿ

Tsujimura Jindayu - Kashu Kanewaka (IV).

This smith is the son of Tsujimura Shirouemon Kashu Kanewaka (III). His works are few. He was active from Kyoho era 1716. Inscriptions:

"Kashu Aizu ju Fujiwara Kanewaka" 콣Žƣ

"Kayo Kinpo ju Fujiwara Kanewaka" ۶ܽƣ

"Kashu Kanazawa ju Fujiwara Kanewaka" 콣߷ƣ

"Kaga Kuni Ishikawa gun Tsujimura Jindaya Kanewaka" òвϷ¼㡡

Tsujimura Sukedaya - Kashu Kanewaka (V).

This smith is the son of Tsujimura Jindayu Kashu Kanewaka (IV). He was active from 1736. Inscriptions:

"Kashu ju Kanewaka" 콣

"Kashu Kanazawa ju Fujiwara Kanewaka" 콣߷ƣ

"Kashu Kanazawa fu ju Fujiwara Kanewaka" 콣߷ƣ

There were three more generations of Kanewaka that continue thru to the late Edo period. However, the quality and relationship to the original Tsujimura line is not well documented. Insufficient information is available at this time to present detailed information on these smiths. They are included in the genealogy but no other information is presented here.


1. Toko Taikan - Dr. Tokuno
2. The Connosseur's Book of Japanese Swords by Nagayama Kokan.
3. Japanese Swordsmiths by W. M. Hawley
4. Nihonto Meikan
5. Nihonto Koza Volume IV, Shinto Kantei, translated by Harry Watson
6. Nihonto Shinto Jiten by Fujishiro Yoshio and Fujishiro Matsuo, translated by Harry Watson
7. NBTHK's Token Bijutsu (English Version) Volumes 15, 31,32, 52, 58/59.

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