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Hizen Koku Ju (Nakao) Kazuyoshi

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Sharing a few examples of my shinsakuto by the swordsmith Hizen (Nakao) Kazuyoshi.

It can be a challenge digging up detailed swordsmith information, and often, even moreso with shinsakuto. I have found a few excerpts, and it seems his father and one of his brothers both achieved Mukansa status, but the little info that I've found is mainly from google translated pages and often has to be kind of puzzled together.

I stumbled upon this particular smith in my early travels, and I always found his work quite appealing. Thus far, I've ended up with 5 of his katana and 1 tanto. A few other examples have been popping up recently on the usual Japanese sword sites.
 

Quote
"Hizen Koku Ju Kazuyoshi is a swordsmith of Saga prefecture. He was born in Showa 14 (1939).
His real name is Nakao Kazuyoshi. He has won numerous awards (two Yushusho prizes, four Doryokusho prizes, and twelve Nyusen prizes.)
He is a son of Nakao Tadatsugu and is active as a student of Horii Toshihide.

Kazuyoshi, Nakao being his worldly name, is a blacksmith living in Takeo, Saga Prefecture, who aims to reach the level of mastery of such blacksmiths as Kamakura Ichimonji, Hizen-no-kuni Tadayoshi, and Minamoto Kiyomaro.
From about 1955 he began to work with his father Tadatsugu, who was a student of Horii Toshihide - the swordsman of Horii Toshihide(1886-1943) - one of the most famous blacksmiths of the Taisho and early Showa eras.

Nakao has never mass-produced swords. There is evidence that in 12 years he forged only 60 swords, specifically focusing on the mastery of utsushi styles. Thus, the number of swords of his work is small, but many of them are masterpieces and have been exhibited at exhibitions of new swords (Shin-shinto) and received various prizes, including the Yushusho Skill Prize, the Shoreisho Incentive Prize, and the Doryokusho Prize for Doreokusho's Diligence."


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176cm Odachi
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1972 (this is my main tameshigiri blade, and the only nihonto I have that I actually cut with)
71.4" Nagasa, 7.2mm Motokasane, 3.3cm Motohaba, 2.4cm Sakihaba

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Next to a Sabatier
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1992 Utsushi Kiyomaro
74.1cm Nagasa, 8.5mm Motokasane, 3.6cm Motohaba, 3.1cm Sakihaba

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2006 Utsushi Kiyomaro
75cm Nagasa, 8.2mm Motokasane, 3.7cm Motohaba, 3.2cm Sakihaba

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These are great, thanks for sharing. Are you based in the US? I’m curious about how often you get your tameshigiri sword sharpened/polished and who you have do the work given that it’s a shinsakuto. 

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41 minutes ago, Katsujinken said:

These are great, thanks for sharing. Are you based in the US? I’m curious about how often you get your tameshigiri sword sharpened/polished and who you have do the work given that it’s a shinsakuto. 

 
I am in in the US. I actually haven't needed to have anything sharpened up to this point, but I also have other modern blades that I cut with. Various monosteel, etc.
The Kazuyoshi is/was still in original polish and is quite sharp - the original owner was an Iaido practitioner who never used it to cut.

As to your specific question, and attempting to be careful knowing the general forum views on cutting with nihonto, and polish work by anyone other than a togishi; based solely on what little firsthand work I have seen from the states, and strictly where only a cutting edge is concerned, I would have no issue with Josiah Boomershine or Walter Seton. (Josiah has edge honed a shinsakuto wakizashi for me as well.) I can't speak to his work with more intensive polishing, but as for myself, I wouldn't be sending a nihonto to anyone outside of the few known Japanese trained polishers for an art polish and such. (and even then, I may just prefer to send it to Japan.)

For reference, I'm aware of a sword by Yasuhiro Kobayashi that has been used to cut tatami and bamboo for the past 43 odd years, and has never been sharpened.

I started typing a paragraph here about various gendaito/shinsakuto that I have cut with over the years (including a Nagamitsu that may as well have been a spoon, and still would cut tatami-omote and bamboo just fine) and the niku/geometry of a traditional Japanese blade not requiring the kind of paper slicing razor edge that so many are obsessed with in order to cut well (as is seen on a lot of modern competition oriented blades with geometry catering to soft targets, nihonto or otherwise) - but such tangents and/or opinions never seem to bode well for the thread.
 

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Thanks! That’s very helpful. In Japan there’s the idea of a “batto polish” for keeping tameshigiri swords in shape. 
 

I myself use an Ogawa Kanekuni shinsakuto from the mid 1980s for battodo. 
 

And I agree 100% with your last paragraph! I posted something similar on this board just the other day, actually: 

 

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Not a huge fan of using Nihonto for tameshigiri personally but you have some lovely blades and it is great to see so much support of modern smiths . 

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It depends on the one that wields the sword, I was told. Those look spectacular.  Makes me want to start taking photos 🤭

 

Cheers

 

 

John

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