Period: Showa, pre-WW2.
Mei: Hokke Saburo Nobufusa in katana-mei.
Sugata: Shinogi-zukuri, shallow tori-zori, iori-mune.
Overall length: 34.37 inches (873.00 mm).
Nagasa: 25.90 inches (658.00 mm).
Nakago: Ubu, 8.46 inches (215.00 mm). O-sujikai yasurime with kesho finish, one mekugi-ana. Although it is a sword of the 7th generation Nobufusa, it is dai-saku and dai-mei by the 8th generation. In other words, it was both made and signed by the 8th generation Nobufusa whilst he was substituting for his father, who died in 1958.
Kissaki: Chu-kissaki, 1.28 inches (32.60 mm). Difficult to see because of the polish, but boshi appears to be slightly midare-komi with chu-maru.
Moto-haba: 1.20 inches (30.60 mm). Saki-haba: 0.89 inches (22.80 mm). Moto-gasane: 0.25 inches (6.40 mm). Saki-gasane: 0.20 inches (5.00 mm).
Sori: 0.38 inches (9.70 mm).
Hamon: Saka-gunome and saka-choji. There are many ashi, mostly slanting and in many cases reaching right down to the ha-saki or cutting edge. These, like the rest of the hamon, are formed of nioi and are mostly very thick and wide. Some sunagashi present.
Hada: A fine, compact ko-mokume with some masame.
Blade condition: In old polish and good condition. No ware or fatal flaws, and only the odd scuff. It will polish up beautifully.
Comes with both a shirasaya and 1934 pattern shingunto mounts. The shirasaya is an amateur but well-made item, made by the previous owner but one. The shin-gunto mounts are in good condition; the tsuka has been recently restored, and the liner of the saya was professionally replaced when the sword was polished a few years ago. In fact the only flaw is that the spring of the retaining clip is missing. However, it would not be too much effort to make a new spring and fit it to the button and catch.
This sword, which was captured by an Australian soldier, is a masterpiece of modern swordmaking, better than many shinshinto works, as one might expect from a smith who was later awarded the Mukansa title. The strong shape resembles Keicho shinto, and the sword has an extremely good balance. It is an extremely good weapon, and it is of no surprise that Nobufusa's swords are highly recommended for tameshigiri by Soke Obata of the International Shinkendo Association, amongst others.
The 8th generation Hokke Saburo Nobufusa was born 15 May 1909 as Takahashi Noboru. The first generation Nobufusa was a student of the ninth generation Sendai Kunikane, a line of smiths working in the Yamato tradition.
The 8th generation Nobufusa was taught Bizen-den by his father. The majority of his pre-war and wartime blades were made in this style. They exhibited great skill, most being special orders for high ranking military officers.
Swordmaking was all halted during the Occupation; a few swords were authorised for temples, but that was it. Nobufusa used this time to study the Yamato hosho style, particularly the work of the 1st generation Kunikane. He rediscovered some of Kunikane’s forgotten techniques and incorporated them into his later works. By doing so, he single-handedly revived the Yamato hosho tradition.
Nobufusa was licenced to produce swords again in 1954, after which time he worked almost exclusively in the Yamato tradition. His shinsakuto are of exceptional quality. However, his scarcer pre-war and wartime Bizen tradition gendaito are the equal in quality to his later Yamato shinsakuto. In 1954, 1955 and 1956 he placed his Bizen and Yamato swords on exhibition, won the coveted doryoku award twice and the shorei award four times. His characteristic use of bizen saka choji (rearward slanting choji) was a key factor in his winning many contests. In 1967 he was granted the title of Mukei Bunkazai, or ‘Living Treasure’ and in 1981 was awarded the coveted title of Mukansa, which made him one of the top master swordsmiths of Japan.
8th generation Hokke Saburo Nobufusa died in 2000.
TK-488 Toko Taikan, rated at 2.5 million yen
NOB-158 in Hawley's Japanese Swordsmiths
NMK-729 in Nihonto Meikan
GTM-72 in Gendai Toko Meikan
An Oshigata Book of Modern Japanese Swordsmiths 1868-1945, J S Slough (2001), Rivanna River Company, 128-130.
ISF AL/GA Newsletter
UK Sword Register No. 38. An almost identical sword.