A fine katana by Nobufusa, Intangible Cultural Asset of Miyagi Prefecture, Elevated Mukansa 1981

With Original polish

Shirasaya with Saya-gaki

NBTHK Hozon certificate

Nobufusa NBTHK Hozon paper

"NOBUFUSA" HOKKE` SABURO, 8th. GEN: WAS BORN IN; MEIJI 42 (1909), ON MAY 15th --- Deceased 2000. HIS FAMILY NAME IS "TAKAHASHI NOBORU". HIS ADDRESS IS LISTED AS; MIYAGI-KEN (PREFECTURE / PRE-WAR NAME), SHIDAGUN (AREA), MATSUYAMA-CHO SENJYAKU AZA, MINAMI KAMEDA #26 (STREET, SAITAMA KEN (MODERN PREFECTURE NAME).

NOBUFUSA WAS A STUDENT OF 7th. GEN. "NOBUFUSA" WHO WAS HIS FATHER, AND WORKED IN THE BIZEN & YAMATO TRADITION'S. EARLY IN THE COURSE OF HIS STUDIES, HE APPRENTICED UNDER "SASAKI ICHIRYUSAI SADATOSHI" FROM WHOM HE LEARNED HIS SKILLS IN REPLICATING BLADES OF THE KOTO BIZEN STYLE. THE MAJORITY OF HIS PRE-WAR AND WAR TIME BLADES WERE MADE IN THE KOTO BIZEN STYLE.  HIS BLADES OF THIS PERIOD EXHIBIT GREAT SKILL; APPARENTLY THE MAJORITY OF THEM WERE CUSTOM ORDERED, BY HIGH RANKING MILITARY OFFICERS.

AFTER THE END OF THE WAR, AND DURING THE YEARS OF OCCUPATION NOBUFUSA (AS WITH ALL SWORD MAKERS) HALTED THE PRODUCTION OF ALL SWORDS. IT IS SAID THAT NOBUFUSA DID NOT ALLOW THESE YEARS TO PASS WITHOUT BENEFIT. HE MADE A DILIGENT STUDY OF THE YAMATO HOSHO TRADITION AND IN PARTICULAR THE WORK OF "SHODAI (1st.) GENERATION KUNIKANE". IT IS SAID THAT HE RE-DISCOVERED SOME OF KUNIKANE'S FORGOTTEN TECHNIQUES, AND LATER INCORPORATED THEM INTO HIS WORKS. HE TRULY REVIVED THE "YAMATO HOSHO" TRADITION.

IN JANUARY OF 1954, NOBUFUSA WAS LICENSED TO PRODUCE BLADES ONCE AGAIN. HE WORKED MAINLY IN THE "YAMATO TRADITION" FROM THAT TIME ON. THE EXCEPTIONAL QUALITY OF HIS WORK BEARS CREDENCE TO THE FACT THAT HIS STUDIES DURING THE OCCUPATION YEARS WERE A GOOD INVESTMENT. I HAVE HAD SEVERAL BLADES BY HIM IN MY COLLECTION. IN PARTICULAR, I RECALL ONE BLADE MADE IN THE YAMATO (KUNIKANE) STYLE. THIS BLADE HAD MARVELOUS "MASAME" (STRAIGHT GRAIN) HADA WITH PROFUSE (VERY EVENLY DISTRIBUTED) JI-NIE (FINE MARTENSITE CRYSTALS). THE NIE WAS SO BRILLIANT, THAT IT SPARKLED WITH ALL THE COLORS OF THE RAINBOW, AND APPEARED LIKE "MINUTE JEWELS" THAT WERE IMBEDDED IN THE HADA. THE SUGUBA HAMON, OF RADIANT NIOI, AND BRILLIANT FINE NIE, LEAVES AN IMPRESSION THAT IS NOT EASILY FORGOTTEN.

THE HAMON, AND HADA OF HIS EARLY "BIZEN TRADITION" BLADES ARE EQUALLY AS FINE AS THOSE OF HIS LATER YAMATO STYLE BLADES. THE BIZEN BLADES ARE CONSIDERABLY SCARCER, HOWEVER. HIS "BIZEN SAKA CHOJI" (REARWARD SLANTING CHOJI (CLOVER LEAF'S)) WAS THE KEY FACTOR TO HIS WINNING MANY CONTEST'S. IN SHOWA 29, 30, AND 31, HE PLACED HIS BIZEN, & YAMATO WORKS ON "BITO`" EXHIBITION (“BIJUTSU TOKEN”), AND WON THE COVETED "DORYOKU" AWARD TWICE, AND THE "SHOREI" AWARD FOUR TIMES. IN "1967", HE WAS OFFICIALLY GRANTED THE TITLE OF "MUKEI BUNKAZAI" (LIVING TREASURE) OR "INTANGIBLE CULTURAL ASSET"! IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO DECIDE WHICH OF HIS STYLES I PERSONALLY FAVOR THE MOST, BOTH (ALTHOUGH, VERY DIFFERENT) ARE EQUALLY MARVELOUS MASTERPIECES!

THE "GENEALOGY" OF NOBUFUSA IS REMARKABLE, IT IS:  "9th. GEN. KUNIKANE" SENDAI HANZO, C - 1751 AD. ---------- 4th. AND 5th. GEN. "TOSHIFUSA" HO`REI --------- 6th. GEN., NOBUFUSA KO` REI ---------- "SADATOSHI" SASAKI  ICHIRYUSAI ----------7th. GEN. NOBUFUSA, RYO`RAI (HOKKE SABURO`) HIS FATHER ---------- 8th. GEN. " NOBUFUSA " (HIMSELF). GENERALLY SPEAKING HIS "KITAE" (CONSTRUCTION), UTILIZED SELECTIVELY MINED, JAPANESE IRON, IRON FROM OLD BLADES (VERY DESIRABLE), AND ESPECIALLY MADE "JAMI" STEEL" (STEEL WITH 3% TO 4 %, PURE CARBON). HE WAS A MASTER (ONE OF HIS TRADE SECRETS) AT THE MAKING, AND MIXING OF "CHARCOAL" HE USED; PINE, AND CHESTNUT CHARCOAL, MIXED WITH "MISCELLANEOUS WOOD'S" (UNDISCLOSED). THE BLADE WAS THEN FORGED USING THE "SHIHO`ZUME" (FOLDING OF 3 BILLETS) METHOD, AND FOLDED FROM THE 4 CORNERS, TOWARD THE 4 DIRECTIONS OF THE COMPASS. IT WAS EVIDENTLY CUSTOM ORDERED, AND NEVER DELIVERED DURING THE YEARS OF CONFLICT

IN SUMMERY, IT IS EASILY SEEN THAT "HOKKE SABURO NOBUFUSA" WAS AN SWORD SMITH THAT EXCELLED IN PERSISTENCE, ACHIEVEMENT, AND ERUDITE PURSUITS. HIS RE-DISCOVERY, AND APPLICATION OF MANY LOST SECRETS OF THE "YAMATO HOSHO", AND "BIZEN" SCHOOL'S ARE A MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO THE "ART OF SWORD MAKING", IT IS BOTH A HONOR, AND A PRIVILEGE TO OWN A FINE EXAMPLE OF HIS (COVETED) WORK, AND ONE OF THE MOST PRUDENT INVESTMENTS THAT COULD BE MADE.

* "GENDAITO": MODERN (PRE-WAR, AND WAR YEARS) BLADE, MADE IN THE OLD WAY. "SHINSAKU TO`": NEWLY (1952 TO PRESENT) MADE BLADE, MADE IN THE OLD WAY.

 

 

 

"Nobufusa"

(Sayagaki: Takahashi Noboru (birth name) / Meiji 42)

Custom ordered, pre-war blade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

"Comparison"

 

 

Solid Silver habaki

 

 

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