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Japanese Sword Katana Gendaito signed Kasama Ikkansai Shigetsugu Nihonto

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Stock #: 20230821000
Availability: 1

Product Description:
This Katana is signed by Kasama Ikkansai Shigetsugu. This blade has never been made available to the public.

Nagasa Length measured straight line 27 ¼ in or 69.2 cm
Width 1 1/4 in or 3.3 cm
Sori about 2cm
Powerfully steep sweep at nakago
Housed in original Shira Saya

Signature Translation:
Oite Toyama Mitsuru O teinai
Kasama Ikkansai Shigetsugu saku

Made at the estate of Toyama Mitsuru
by Kasama Ikkansai Shigetsugu

The date reads: SHOWA JU SHI NEN ROKU GATSU HI, the 14th year of showa
(1939), a day in the 6th month.

By all accounts, Kasama Shigetsugu is recognized for having spent his life dedicated to Nihonto, preserving and passing down the art of traditional Japanese swordsmithing.

Experts believe, Sensei Shigetsugu, could arguably be the most important and influential swordsmith of the Showa period.

Some of his most notable students were Yoshihara Kuniie, Tsukamoto Okimasa, Sakai Shigemasa, Miyairi Akihara, Kurihara Akihide, Hidemune and Yasuhiro as well as countless others.

However, after WWII ended the way that it did, the ensuing forced surrender of Nihonto, the banning of making swords, Kasama Shigetsugu as the artist in residence for the powerful and previously influential Black Dragon founder Toyama Mitsuru was essentially ostracized for fear of association in occupied Japan.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Ikkansai Kasama Shigetsugu or may discover something written here that was unknown about him, I present the following information I have gleaned from the sources I have tried to reference and acknowledge as valuable resources during the years I have cared for and studied this sword.
Thank you to all who have assisted me these last 30 years.

Historical Background:

Sources reveal Kasama Shigetsugu experienced significant health problems in 1938 and 1939. I suspect nakago with grass script kanji was done by Shigetsugu’s own hand. So much information has been recorded about Kasama Shigetsugu but questions still remain.The question which has plagued me is which of his students did he supervise during the creation of this sword in June of 1939.

Ray Singer wrote this on Nihonto Message Board: Fujishiro's Nihon Toko Jiten is the sword bible that is indispensable to collectors all over the world. It was written by the great expert Fujishiro Yoshio in the Showa period, and has been updated several times since. No sword I list goes onto my site without first consulting what Fujishiro Yoshio has had to say about the smith, and it is rare that he chooses to list a contemporary smith to mention. A quick check shows only 11 that he considered worthy of mention: Watanabe Kanenaga, Miyaguchi Yasuhiro, Sakurai Masatsugu, Miyairi Akihira, Hikosaburo Akihide, Gassan Sadakatsu, Takahashi Sadatsugu, Gassan Sadamitsu (Nidai Gassan Sadaichi*), Kasama Shigetsugu, Horii Toshihide, and Shibata Ka.

Aoi Art quotes, Kasama Ikkansai Shigetsugu was born on April 1, 1886 in Shizuoka. His real name was Kasama Yoshikazu. He studied sword making under his uncle, Miyaguchi Ikkansai Shigeyoshi until 1903 when he went to Tokyo and studied under Morioka Masayoshi. Shigetsugu was the master swordsmith at the Nihonto Tenran Denshusho. He later made swords at the forge on the estate of Toyama Mitsuru, a noted swordsman of his time and founder of the Black Dragon Society. Kasama Ikkansai Shigetsugu obtained the top rank of Japanese sword training place instructor of Imperial Academy’s art exhibition in Akasaka, Tokyo. He made swords for Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress. He was also great at engraving. He used square style Kanji for his Mei when he made swords as him, and when he made swords instead of somebody, he used cursive style Kanji for his Mei. He passed away on the 11th of March, 1966, at the age of 80.

Gleaned from the Nihonto Message Board: There are sources that state that Shigetoshi was a student of Hamabe Toshizane of Inaba (there are some issues with this) and that he was adopted into the Hamabe family. He is said to have then returned to Shizuoka Prefecture and returned to using the Miyaguchi surname. He is said to have studied horimono with a member of the Ozaki Suketaka group....This contradicts the info below. He was born in Tenpo 9 and died at the age of 69 in Meiji 39 (1906). In any case, he was surely not a student of Ozaki Suketaka.

It is reported that Kasama started training under his uncle Shigetoshi in 1899 (Shigetoshi would have been 62 and Shigetsugu 13) and went to Tokyo in 1903 with his teacher and Masatoshi, at 17, where he worked with Morioka Masayoshi. After a short time, Shigetoshi returned to Shizuoka. Kasama and Masatoshi lived on the second floor of Masayoshi's house with he and his wife in Koishikawa. Masayoshi was an excellent smith and it was a great loss when he died at the young age of 46. Contrary to the lineage listed below, he studied under both Sadakazu and Kanenori, both Teishitsu Gigei'in. He became a smith for the Imperial Household and made a number of gensui-to. It is these connections that opened the door for Kasama to also become a smith for the Imperial Household and to have access to the top echelon of the military and government.

From Taisho into early Showa, Shigetoshi, Masatoshi, Masayoshi, and Kasama all worked for a time at the Army's arsenal in Koishikawa. Without this work, they would have not been able to survive as private sword orders were few and far between.

I should also add that as I recall, I found some documents that placed Kasama as a student of Miyaguchi Masatoshi, not Miyaguchi Shigetoshi. In truth, it is probably safe to conclude that he studied under both of them...Miyaguchi Masatoshi name was Yonezawa Kanjiro-he was adopted into the MIyaguchi family. He took the mei Masafusa when his son, Toshihiro, became head of the household. He died in 1919. Kasama would have been about 33. Interestly, Kasama is reported to have used the mei Masateru at first… the above 4 para from Chris Bowen to SwordGuyJoe NMB

Slightly edited excerpt from Paul Martin’s The Yoshihara Tradition:
Kurihara Hikosaburo (Akihide) [charged with reviving the craft of swordmaking by the Japanese Prime Minister] invited one of the most famous smiths of the period, Ikkansai Kasama Shigetsugu, to become the chief instructor of Nipponto Tanren Denshu Jo (Japanese Sword Forging Institute) on the grounds of his estate in Akasaka, Tokyo. Shigetsugu became perhaps the most influential smith to teach there in its entire history, and had the greatest impact on students and teachers alike.
Shigetsugu, born Kasama Yoshikazu on April 1, 1886 in Shizuoka, started his apprenticeship under his uncle Miyaguchi Shigetoshi in 1899. In 1903 he entered the Tokiwamatsu Token Kenkyujo, on the estate of Toyama Mitsuru, to study under Morioka Masayosh. Later he went on to study metallurgy whilst collaborating with Dr. Tawara Kuniichi in formal research on the composition of
Japanese swords. Tazawa built a special laboratory in Tokyo University for the project. The results were published in a book called Nihonto no Kagakuteki Kenkyu (Scientific Research of the Japanese Sword), which remains to this day a definitive scientific work on the subject.
Shigetsugu worked mainly in the Bizen and Soshu traditions of swordmaking, which influenced many of the Denshusho students later work. Never Yet Melted July 23, 2013

Kurihara Akihide established the Nippon To Denshujo. Akihide was a member of the Japanese Diet or congress. The Diet asked him to help make swords and train swordsmiths. He set up the Nippon To Denshujo in Tokyo in 1933 and hoped to train about 1,000 swordsmiths. The swords from the Denshujo are of very strong interest to collectors, as well as any Yoshihara sword from this period, and also any swords made by the Denshujo’s chief instructor, Kasama Shigetsugu, and its founder, Kurihara Akihide. A surprisingly large number of Japanese smiths working today can trace their professional lineage to someone who worked at the Denshujo from 1933 to 1945. Blade Magazine february 15 2022

Ratings for Kasama Shigetsugu:
Slough 2.5 million pg160
Toko Taikan 2.8 million
Hawley 8 as Gendaito

Other Sources
Japanese Sword Index
Modern Japanese Swordsmiths- Slough
Nihonto Message Board
Larry Klahn (very missed)
Chris Bowen (daimei daisaku Shigetsugu)
Kanji Courtesy of SeveM NMB
SwordGuyJoe NMB
Ray Singer

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