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barnejp

Best Post Ww2 Smith?

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Best vs. most famous will yield different answers. Many of the top smiths who worked after the war did produce swords during the war as well, including Tsukamoto Okimasa, Gassan Sadaichi and Tanigawa Moriyoshi. My opinion is that Tsukamoto Okimasa is the overall best from the Showa period. I personally love the work of Moriyoshi and would rank him at the top as well, but he did not receive the fame of some equal or lesser smiths. I believe that Seiho Sumitani was considered to be the best by Dr. Homma.

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I think that 'best' is largely a matter of opinion and depends one what type of sword on is evaluating against. Sumitani came closest to realizing Bizen (for example Kagemitsu), Ichimonji and Aoe during the Showa period. Today if you want the best Ichimonji utushimono and an unlimited budget you would go to Ohno Yoshimitsu. Sadaichi was probably the best at Gassan-den post war. Okimasa was said to be the best at realizing Kiyomaro, with Moriyoshi a close second. I've heard Amada Akitsugu was the best at Yamashiro-den. More than one person who saw Yoshindo's hitatsura work has said it was the best Soshu-den they have seen in modern times, though I don't think he has won a Masamune-sho (yet).

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To me, a difficult question to answer as not seen enough.

 

Recently though, ive become interested in works by Enomoto Sadayoshi from the Gassan school.

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This is an interesting topic, and probably a topic that some western collectors aren't that familiar with. But it's something worth investigating, you may be shocked with some of the high level of work that's been created since WWII.

 

I'm going to take this thread as meaning who were the best tosho during this period, not the most famous, as they're two very different things.

 

I probably have a rather unique view of this period, during my time in Japan I got to work on swords by Miyairi Yukihira, Amata Akitsugu, Sumitani Masamine, Gassan Sadaichi, Gassan Sadakatsu, Tsukamoto Okimasa, Tanigawa Moriyoshi, Yoshihara Shoji, Kanbayashi Tsunehira, Ozawa Masatoshi... to name a few.

 

And even though I've seen a good number of gendaito and shinsakuto, I haven't seen them all, so of course this is just my opinion, based on the best works I recall by these tosho and trying to objectively judge on quality rather than personal taste.

 

For me the best tosho since WWII in no particular order are:

 

- Amata Akitsugu: Ningen Kokuho, he worked in Bizen, Soshu & Yamashiro-den, and was excellent in all of these traditions, a genius tosho. Even in his final years he was still making his own oroshigane and experimenting in new forging techniques. He passed away 5 years ago but already his work is reaching Tokubetsu Hozon level - http://iidakoendo.com/6200/

(click on the blue numbers) - http://www.katana-Japan.com/?page_id=27

 

- Sumitani Masamine: Ningen Kokuho, Bizen-den, his chojiba became famous for it's thick nioi-guchi, with nie & nioi filling the entire yakiba all the way to the hasaki.


 

- Kawachi Kunihira: Mukansa, Bizen-den & Soshu-den, a few years ago I got to see the sword he won the Masamune-sho with, it was one of the best shinsakuto I've ever seen.



 

- Ozawa Masatoshi: Soshu-den, probably unknown to most western collectors, he has made some modern-day masterpieces.


 

- Ono Yoshimitsu: Mukansa, Bizen-den, we've all seen his Yamatorige utsushimono, the clarity and control he achieves in his chojiba is incredible.


 

- Tanigawa Moriyoshi: Mukansa, mainly Kiyomaro utsushimono, he was so passionate about his work he would often sleep next to his favourite swords, bare blades straight from the forge!


 

- Kubo Yoshihiro: Mukansa, he's currently producing some fantastic Aoe utsushimono, probably the best/most consistent utsuri I've seen on anything in the last 100 years.


 

Cheers.

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Great post Andrew, and I think few have the insight you have into these smiths.
Thanks for the info, I will certainly be adding them to the "keep a lookout for" list. What an amazing privilege it must be to polish work by these masters and see them in a way that few ever will.
 

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Cheers Brian, yes it was unbelievable being able to work on swords by master tosho from all periods during my training, but when working on shinsakuto there was an added connection, the fact that I could talk to that tosho!  :)  I was getting info on forging techniques, hearing great stories and visiting forges to watch them work... it all adds to appreciating the swords they produced. I'm very thankful for these experiences.
 

 

Are the current Gassan lines no good Andrew?

 
Hi Rayhan, of course they're good, to reach mukansa such as Sadatoshi has done you have to be better than good! And the Gassan line is in very capable hands with the next generation as well - Sadanobu the son of Sadatoshi. There are many good or great post WWII tosho that I didn't mention above. The tosho I did mention are the ones that stand out from everything I've seen, some of them for consistent excellent work and others for particular swords that were truly exceptional, or both.
 
Ranking tosho of a particular period is very difficult and something I normally wouldn't attempt but I did so here because I felt it was an area of study that most western collectors don't bother with, and maybe by giving some names and links to swords it would spark an interest in further study from some members here.
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Guest Rayhan

I wonder if there are rankings by, bear with me, traditions such as the Gokaden by modern day standards. For example who is the best by or top 3 by tradition of today's Soshu, Yamashiro, Bizen, etc? I know a lot of the schools mix and specialise in multiple techniques though. The 5 traditions still exist right? (Probably should have asked that first:))

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Most know my favorites, but here are my favorite post war groups and smith:

- Miyairi Group: Fujiyasu Masahira

- - Lots of amazing postwar smiths in this group, but Fujiyasu is my favorite. I believe he stopped competing, so he’ll never be mukansa, but he sure has the talent for it.

- Yoshihara group: Ono Yoshimitsu, followed closely by Yoshihara Shoji (Sandai Kuniie)

- - Some prefer Yoshindo or Shoji Yoshihara, but for my dollar, Ono Sensei was the best of the group and much like the Gassan line, even with Yoshindo’s son passing away, the school still has strong representation

- Gassan’s: This is another close one, but I prefer Enomoto’s work

- Ikkansai’s: This is my absolute favorite of all schools! I’ve had the privilege of having a sword by most of the big name guys, many post war. While I certainly have to give Ozawa Masatoshi an honorable mention - as his work is as good or better than most of the era, though I don’t believe he did make mukansa, my favorite post war smith (smith that made most of his work post war), would be Sakai Ikkansai Shigemasa. His Soden-bizen work, coupled with his skill at horimono, saves him a spot at the top of my list.

- - I should also state that Shigemasa’s best student (IMO), Takahana Ikkansai Shigehisa is quite good as well. Not as consistent as others on this list, but when a sword comes together, it REALLY comes together. Much like Masahira above, I haven’t seen Shigehisa listed in competition results for a few years and I would think if he’d compete, he would at least place.

- Showa Kongobyoe: Tanigawa Moriyoshi

- - My absolute favorite Smith that I don’t collect. While he is known for his Kiyomaro utsushi, his Soden Bizen work is what puts him near the top of the list for me.

 

This is my list and if I’d own a sword from each of these groups, it would be these guys. I also like the Higo Akamatsu Taro smiths, who do a bunch of Kiyomaro utsushi, but they don’t make my top favorites.

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Hi Joe, that's a good group of names on your list for sure. Yes you're correct Ozawa Masatoshi didn't make Mukansa, that was an error in my original post, also I forgot that Kubo Yoshihiro actually did make Mukansa just last year, I've edited my original post to reflect this.
 
For those interested, here's a handy link listing every Mukansa, Ningen Kokuho and Masamune-sho winners - http://www.tsuruginoya.com/mn1_6/mn6_5_17.html
 
I included Ozawa sensei on my list mainly because of 2 particular swords, a Go utsushi which was possibly the best modern Soshu-den work I've seen, and the other a kogarasu-maru utsushi which was possibly the best modern work I've seen, period.
 
Ozawa sensei passed away before my time, but I know his son Toshihisa who's also an accomplished tosho. We were once invited for a bbq at their family home and forge, maybe the most serene location I've ever been, middle of the mountains, right next to a river, the sake flowed much faster than the river though, was a great day! (I've attached a couple pics from the day)

 

By the way Joe, Takehana san was one of the tosho that would send his competition entries to my sensei, so I got to work on some of his best. They were very much like the following examples with rather elaborate ryu horimono that he'd carved himself - http://katana.art.coocan.jp/Riyu/Riyu.html#2012ryu-daisyou and from memory he won some top prizes in those days, but I haven't seen or heard anything from him in a while.

post-49-0-09219600-1537602190_thumb.jpg

post-49-0-03448000-1537602342_thumb.jpg

post-49-0-64889000-1537602354_thumb.jpg

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Tsukamoto Okimasa, he died just before the post war sword boom so his extent work was very few around that time, his reputation probably precedes him. There were suggestion that he made fake Kiyomaros that were papered so if he was that good. However the best smith of the postwar era who left many works and have excelled in different style would be Amada Akitsugu.

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Joe, thanks for the great list.  If I'm not mistaken, I sold you a Fujiyasu Masahira.   Boy, if only I had known he was one of your favorites!!  

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He won lots of big prizes when he was competing and I guess just decided that making swords is not a competition or had some other sort of epiphany.

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Most famous in the West would be Yoshindo Yoshihara.

 

I was able to Meet this gentlemen several times around 2003-2005. Yoshindo would makes some swords at my friend's shop. I never was there when he was making them, but was able to see some of the blades. In 2006 I was able to watch a Demo of him creating the hamon. I chatted with him a bit afterward, but at the time all I knew was what my friend told me that he was a master sword smith and what his cheap swords sold for, which about made me choke. Anywas I wish I knew more then. I still don't know anything now.LOL

 

Martin

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I met Yoshindo and watched him work many years ago.   I gave him a silver railroad token out of appreciation and he gave me a hand made signed kiridashi.  Incredibly generous!  

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