ISHIDO FAMILY LINEAGE
In the following paragraphs I have attempted to piece together an overview of the lineage of the Ishido blacksmith name. I do not wish to disrespect or pry into the Ishido family. My purpose is to establish some historical perspective and nothing more. If any of the following is incorrect, I apologize and will attempt to correct it to any degree possible. I understand that the Ishido name has been used by a separate line of sword smiths until the present date. My research deals only with the Ishido lineage that is directly connected with the present Ishido Teruhide who make kanna and tool blades in the Tokyo area. The following names used are presented as the family name first and the given name or professional name next.
The Ishido history is a bit complex but I believe that in the Edo period leading up to the Meiji restoration the blacksmiths using the professional name of Ishido were sword makers. Beginning with the Meiji they turned to the production of kanna blades and various edged tools. The head of the clan at that time of the restoration was the sword blacksmith known as Ishido Unjusai Korekazu. Soon two other blacksmith family names will merge with the Ishido history, they are the Kato and Seiichi famlies.
Ishido Unjusai Korekazu was indeed an actual sword smith, and it is documented that he was the 7th generation to make swords. It is now understood that Ishido Unjusai Korekazu was the father of a daughter but no son. Another sword smith who's
family name was Kato but used the professional name of Chounsai Tsunatoshi (father of Chiyozuru Korehide) had a brother by the name of Kato Toshinaga. Kato Toshinaga married the daughter of Ishido and and thereby legally adopted the Ishido family
name and became known as Ishido Toshinaga, but used the professional name of Ishido Korekazu. There is evidence that earlier in the Edo period a marriage union between the Ishido & Kato clans took place. Ishido Toshinaga was the first Ishido to make kanna blades as a tradesman, up until that point only swords were made by the Ishido clan.
About this same time, the 1850-60s, the head of the Kato clan, Kato Chounsai Tsunatoshi had two sons, the younger son, who's name was Kato Hiroshi was later to use the professional name of Chiyozuru Korehide. Chiyozuru created his own name and dropped the Kato name and therefore became an independent blacksmith on his own and set up his own shop at a early age.
At the time of Korekazu's death in 1891, his son the talented Hidekazu, rightfully took over the family business. The Ishido name
became prominent in the tool trades and there is a good chance that Ishido Hidekazu and Chiyozuru worked closely and helped to encourage each others knowledge and skills. It is known and recorded that Hidekazu had two sons who where both blacksmiths and it was assumed that one of them would have taken up the family trade and the continuation of the Ishido name at some point. As fate would have, tragedy struck the family thrice. The first son was lost unexpectedly, possibly in an accident,
and the second son died tragically soon after. During this late period in Hidekazu's life he also lost his wife. With the burden of all these losses it is reported that alcoholism and depression befell the master. Thankfully Hidekazu's cousin, Chiyozuru Korehide stepped into manage the Ishido business for the few years that Hidekazu was suffering.
Upon Hidekazu's untimely death in 1931, a leader to the Ishido hamono (blade) factory line was needed. There were two apprentices at the foundry who were considered at this time. The facts are very vague, and no details are available, but it appears that the older apprentice, the heir apparent, met death by his own hand. The younger apprentice decided to pass on the
opportunity. There was one more option, a student and skilled blacksmith by the name of Seiichi Kikuchi.
Born in 1900 at the dawn of the 20th century, Seiichi Kikuchi had been working with the Ishido hamono from the age of 14 years old, and now at the young age of 32 appeared to have the vision, talent, and dedication needed to step in and handle the work load. After Hidekazu died it is known that Kikuchi-san assumed all of the work of running the factory and filling orders and helped
to pay the bills of the factory. It is believed however, that as legal heirs to the Ishido hamono factory, its inventory, and all of the Ishido documents and deeds, Chiyozuru Korehide and his wife Shizu (maiden name Ishido Shizu) managed the company's office while Seiichi Kikuchi ran the development and using the professional name of Ishido Teruhide. In 1951 he wisely formalized the professional name of Ishido Teruhide by registering the name with the Japan Trade Association. Ishido Teruhide was now a trademarked name and Kikuchi maintained that professional title until his death in 1982.
Kikuchi's son Seiichi Hideo was born in 1932. Although the family of Kikuchi Seiichi's were not blood relatives or related by marriage to the Ishido clan, Hideo was a welcome addition to the hamono factory in the Ebisu area of Tokyo. In grammar school, as Hideo was later to say, "I enjoyed making models of airplanes". But after graduating from grammar school he would be provided with a tutor (a sign of good financial times) to continue his schooling while he began to work at the factory. As the1930s rolled along the production of kanna blades declined, other changes happened too. In 1940 the factory started to use more machinery, and when the war came, the Ishido hamono had up to 22 workers making swords under a contract with the army. In 1945 a fire destroyed the factory and it was rebuilt. Hideo took part in this rebuilding, and he understood the new machinery first hand. Twenty five years after the death of Hidekazu it was decided that a legal heir to the famous Ishido name should be formalized.
Chiyozuru Korehide, as head of the clan, elected to enact a practice that was used in Japan in just such situations. It was decided that Chiyozuru's wife would temporarily divorce Chiyozuro, and in doing so was allowed to assume her maiden name and status as an Ishido. She was the sister of Hidekazu and in 1956 she was the last remaining member of the Ishido family. Now after leaving the Chiyozuru family (the process took a few days) and becoming an Ishido again, she could adopt Hideo as her son and therefore giving him all of the legal rights to the Ishido name and fortune. An adoption ceremony was performed on June 5th 1956, with 200 guests in attendance. There is a published photo of the closest guests to the family and they include Chiyozuru sitting next to Hideo sitting next to his adopted mother Shizu-san and at that end of the row is Kikuchi's sister. On the other side of Chiyozuru to his left sits Seiichi Kikuchi. Directly behind this row are two daughters of Chiyozuru, their husbands, and in the back row with his family is Chiyozuru Nobukuni. Immediately after this adoption ceremony, the Chiyozurus' were married again in a wedding ceremony.
Seiichi Kikuchi remained as the master blacksmith of the Ishido hamono factory, making all of the decisions regarding the designs and contracts. Teruhide Kikuchi-san may have been the most creative of the Ishido blacksmiths of the 20th century. A true man of vision, he was one of the first blacksmiths to incorporate power driven drop hammers and sheers and modern
steels. Needless to say he was from the very beginning a humble and extremely devoted man in regards to the Ishido hamono and the Ishido clan. He gave up his only son in name, probably worked 365 days a year, forgave any claim to fame outside the reference of the Ishido hamono, and I believed possessed an infinite amount of integrity. Hideo's wife would later describe that the last 20 years of Kikuchi-sans life, "he did not lift a hammer very often but retained the rights to perform Yaki ire (tempering
and annealing) & Mei kiri (engraving or chiseling the makers name on the blade) until just before his death in 1982".
Upon the death of Kikuchi Seiichi, his son Ishido Hideo assumed the title of Ishido Teruhide. Hideo-san was trained in the traditional master/apprentice manner from an early age and as a master blacksmith he became an accessible inspiration to a whole generation of contemporary blacksmiths in Japan. He helped to rebuild the war torn shop that Ishido hamono maintained in Ebisu and which he would eventually moved to Oyama in Tochigi prefecture. Hideo-san withstood the lean years and he participated in the soon to follow great years of tool making of the 1950s and 60s. Along side the aging father Kikuchi, Hideo-san helped to nourish the emergence of the "boutique blacksmith" era where reputations were rightly profiled and recognized. In the late 1960s The Living National Treasure status was promulgated and although tool makers were not officially included, craftspeople throughout Japan were given their due respect. In the 1980s a new revitalization of the black smithy trade was emerging. Ishido Teruhide won an award for a kanna blade in 1981, and in the bubble years of the 1980s customized blades with unique decorative elements became popular, prices went up for top quality work. Ishido Hideo, a man with enormous talent and knowledge was an example of strength and stability to many emerging metal workers and tool smiths. Sadly, Hideo passed away late in 2006 after a long career of hard work and honest endeavor.
Ishido Yoshitaka Teruhide is now the bold captain of the family business and is displaying his spirit as the leader of the Ishido clan. May he have as much success and a long life as those before him.
Unjusai Korekazu (b.?-d.1891)
Ishido Hidekazu (b.1874-1931)
Teruhide Seiichi Kikuchi (b.1900-1982)
Ishido Hideo (b.1932-2006)
Ishido Yoshitaka (b.1957- )