Ishiguro-san and his family trade
In the age of Tensei, the 16th century, the making of blades, UCHI-HAMONO, began in village of Yoita in the land of Echiigo (now known as Niigata Prefecture). At this time the local lord Naoe Yamatonokami Sanetsuna brought into the area an experienced group of sword makers from Kasugayama. This setting up shop was a strategic step that war lords devised in order to develop areas that they wanted to secure as their territory.
These early swordsmiths were from the line known as the school of Kanemitsu & Kanetatsu. Throughout the Sengoku period and the Edo period or for about the last 400 years ago, Yoita has been known and famous as a center for blacksmithing. In the late Edo period Ryaminsai Kaneyuki and other smiths became famous for making kanna along with swords.
The Ishiguro brothers Kenji, Keijiro, Hiroshi and Akiji worked along with many other blacksmiths making kanna in their father's large kanna studio before the war. Ishiguro Keijiro-san said that Yoita was one of the busiest blacksmithing towns in all of Japan and times were good. The sound of hammering began very early every morning until late at night and there were large orders for all the shops to fill. In the early 1950's they helped to start the first nationwide kanna contest. One of the Ishiguro's kanna named TAMASHII (soul) was well received and won the gold prize along with other makers Chiyozuru, Ishido, Hatsuhiro and Dogyu. Ishiguro-san said that after this contest Dogyu-san came to visit often. He was a very big man and a respectable person.
After this the four brothers got together and decided that they should expand their business and not limit themselves to kanna making only. It became apparent to them that to have all four of them producing the same product did not make a lot of sense and that it might create some kind of unhealthy competition among them. Keijiro and Hiroshi decided to become wholesales of Yoita tools shortly after, each starting their own companies. Kenji and Akiji would keep on producing tools as they had been. Keijiro and Hiroshi's sons still maintain their fathers businesses in two separate independent locations.