Okubo Kazuhira - recreation of
kokuhō (Nat'l Treasure)Sanchomo" Yamatorige Ichimonji
Hon'ami Nisshu (Living National treasure)
w/ his saya-gaki
Mukansa* "Without Judgment"
Swordsmith: Okubo Kazuhira (Wahei) The top student of Miyairi Akihira the first living national treasure.
Classification: (shinsakuto) tachi
Nagasa (cutting edge length): 28 7/8" ~ 73.3 cm Sori (curvature): 2.73 cm [tori-sori] Motohaba (width): 3.3
Hada: Ko-itame with chikei and ji nie
Hamon: Nie deki o-choji midare
Omote: Kinrin'in-dono Ken'yo Ritsugi Jukai Hogon seikoji
Tochigi-shi Yoriimachi-ju lizuka Kinbei bodai-son Imaizumi Shun kore o okuru
The devout layman Kinrin'in Ken'yo Ritsugi Jukai Hogon.
Gift by Imaizumi Shun from Yoriimachi in Tochigi City, descendant of the enlightened Iizuka Kinbei.*
* According to tradition, Iizuka Kinbei was the father of lizasa Ienao 飯篠家直 (1387-1488), the founder of the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu*.
*Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu is one of the oldest military art schools in Japan. As a school admired for its high standard of technique it has been very influential in the foundation of other schools. It was established by Lizasa Chouisai about 560 years ago. He was born in Lizasa-village (Take town, Chiba Prefecture) 1387 AD. After an intensive period of both mental and physical ascetical practiced at Katori Jingu, he had mastered the secret of military arts. The school has been inherited from his age through today by his posterity.
Photo (left): 飯篠家直 lizasa Chōunsai Ienao (1387-1488) Source: Wikipedia Japan
Ura: Soshu-ju Kazuhira saku Showa 52nd year , 8th month, 2nd day (1977, 2nd day of Aug.)
Nakago: Ubu, 1 mekugiana
Saya-gaki: written by Hon'ami Nisshu in the spring of 1986 with his kaō (signature), a Ningen kokuhō (Living National Treasure).
Soshu-ju Kazuhira saku
Second day of the ninth month Showa 50 (1975) [typo on saya-gaki: should state 1977]
The devout layman Kinrin'in Ken'yo Ritsugi Jukai Hogon.
Gift by Imaizumi Shun from Yoriimachi in Tochigi City, descendant of the enlightened Iizuka Kinbei.
[Blade has an] ubu-nakago and is signed.
Written by the juyo-mukei-bunkazai Hon'ami Nisshu in spring of 1986, year of the tiger + kao
Fukuro-gaki (袋書), sword bag writing: written by a priest in Japan 1992, it confirms the name of sword owner at the time, Mr. Imaizumi Shun. It states "Yu-ken" (Grand Sword).
Certificate: Guaranteed to pass NBTHK Hozon (a sword Worthy of Conservation by the Society for the Preservation of the Japan Art Sword)
Included: aikuchi (合口) koshirae, Shirasaya, and carry bags
This tachi was made by Okubo Kazuhira (born Okubo Towazu, 1943, died 2003). Kazuhira was the top student of Miyairi Akihira, the first national living treasure. Kazuhira was granted Mukansa at Heisei 12 (2000 AD) however passed away 3 years later. This tachi was made August 2nd 1977 prior to his gaining Mukansa status. It is a recreation of the famous Yamatorige (Yamadorige) Ichimonji that was once owned by Uesugi Kenshin (Nagao Kagetora, born February 18th 1530 - died April 19th 1578). An offer of 5 million USD was once made for the original kokuhō Yamatorige (Yamadorige) Ichimonji (nicknamed "Sanchomo"), it remains in a private collection at this time. The living national treasure Hon'ami Nisshu polished the blade and wrote the saya-gaki. The high quality koshirae was made by the top craftsman in Japan at the time (believed to be Mr. Watanabe). It is made in the style of the original that was owned by the Daimyo (Lord) Uesugi Kenshin, with the scabbard being covered in leather then lacquered black. The tsuka-ito quality is excellent. Uesugi Kenshin, from the Echigo province, was known as Dragon of Echigo, God of War, Tiger of Echigo & Guardian of the North. The former owner and whom this sword was made to honor are descendants of the enlightened Iizuka Kinbei, whose father Lizasa lenao, was the the founder of Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu (one of the oldest military art schools in Japan). See the article by Markus Sesko further below showing images of the national treasure (kokuhō) Yamatorige-Ichimonji along with its aikuchi koshirae.
"Uesugi Kenshin was one of the most renowned warlords of the 16th Century, a colorful figure who combined a love of campaigning with a thirst for learning and a genuine sense of honor. A devout religious man, Kenshin would never marry nor produce off-spring. Buddhist vows did not, however, prevent him from acquiring a taste for drink, which he consumed in copious amounts during his lifetime and may well have contributed to his early demise." (There is much more to read at Samurai-Archives.com about Uesugi Kenshin, including an extensive write-up about his various battles)
Original cost was at the time of making was about $55,000 USD, all custom ordered by Mr. Imaizumi a very big and famous collector, in the honor of his grandson passing, see tang translation described above here. The habaki is gold foil. The sword bag has fukurogaki by a priest, written in 1992, confirms the name of owner, Mr Imaizumi Shun. It states "Yu-ken" (Grand Sword).
"Towazu's family were not smiths, and he himself developed an interest in forging swords whilst still at school. In 1961, after reading in a newspaper about the smith Miyairi Akihira, he set off alone to locate Akihira and learn about sword-making from him. Towazu travelled to Akahira's hometown of Sakaki, a full day's journey by train from his home in Kanagawa Prefecture, without letting his parents know of his intentions. The newspaper article did not give Akahira's address, and so Kazuhira wandered along the Shinano River until nightfall, when he slept rough. In the morning, he was able to get directions to Akahira's house from a local farmer.
Akahira accepted Towazu as a student. Originally Towazu intended to return to finish his schooling, but Akahira discouraged him, pointing out that a high-school diploma was unnecessary to become a swordsmith. Towazu gained his swordsmith's license in 1967 and took the smith-name Kazuhira (derived by combining characters from his birth name and his teacher's name).
He returned to his parents' home and set up a smithy there. At the age of 23, he was severely injured when a fragment of a large stone anvil hit him in the face. He was forced to retire from work until fully recuperated.
Over time, Kazuhira moved away from the Soshu style of his teacher, and began to forge swords in the Bizen style. Working in this style, he took first prize at the All Japan Swordsmith Association Awards in 1993 and the NBTHK Chairman's Award in 1995."
Quotation from Wikipedia: Courtesy  Kodansha International. May 2002. pp. 103-107. ISBN 978-4-7700-2854-9 &  Leon Kapp; Hiroko T. Kapp; Yoshindo Yoshihara (2002). Modern Japanese Swords and Swordsmiths: From 1866 to the Present. Kodansha International. pp. 157. ISBN 978-4-7700-1962-2.