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  • Writer's pictureEmiko

CHIYOZURU III, Ochiai Uichi, Kanna blade blacksmith

Updated: Jan 5

Ochiai Uichi also known as Chiyozuru the third.

Born in Mishima, Shizuoka prefecture in Meiji 28 (1895), when he was 13 years old, he started an apprenticeship under Munetsugu who belonged to the blacksmith lineage of Kunihiro. Munetsugu at that time was known to be the most skilled kanna and nomi blacksmith in the Kanto region (a wider area surrounding Tokyo). In Taisho 5 (1916), he joined the Navy. Uichi had a very poor education not even graduating from elementary school. During his service in the Navy, he was able to study mathematics skills which later helped him in blacksmithing. He left the

service in Taisho 9 (1920) and went back to work as a blacksmith.

In Taisho 11 (1922) Uichi started to make kanna blades with a brand name, "Hisakuni" commissioned by a wholesaler, Wakui-shoten but not well received. With a referral by Wakui, Uichi visited Chiyozuru Korehide asking for an apprenticeship in Taisho 14 (1925), he was not accepted at first, but after considering his honorable relationship with Wakui Seiichi, Korehide later accepted Uichi as his apprentice. He taught Uichi every aspect of the kanna-making process ground up at his shop and Uichi's kanna, "Hisakuni" showed much improvement after that.

Around the year of Showa 6 (1931), he had some business dispute with Wakui-shoten over the distribution rights of "Hisakuni" brand, and he lost usage of the brand name. Then he visited his master blacksmith, Korehide for assistance, Uichi was granted a trading name, "Nobukuni" by Korehide, and he continued to use this name for his kanna blade. But times were tough in the Depression era, so in August, Showa 7 (1932) when he was 37 years old, he took a job at the Navy supply factory for necessity to pay his bills.

In Showa 22 (1947), Chiyozuru Korehide visited Nobukuni's house in Honmachi, Meguro district (Tokyo). At that time, he had a shop operating from a shuck after he returned from Mishima, his home town where he relocated during the war period to avoid an air raid in Tokyo. Chiyozuru Korehide asked Nobukuni at the visit, that he would like Nobukuni to be the third Chiyozuru because he recognized that Nobukuni had the potential skills and passion of a great kanna maker. In the following year, 1948, Nobukuni became officially Chiyozuru the third with a ceremony attended by Korehide and other close relations. At this time, Korehide was 78 and Nobukuni 52 years old. Since then, Nobukuni marked his kanna blade with a name, Chiyozuru the third, Nobukuni.

In Showa 48 (1973), he retired from his trade leaving all his business to his two sons. He passed away when he was 72 years old in Showa 53 (1978). Later, their factory shop was burned down in Heisei 4 (1992), and it never reopened since then.

This article is based on the translation of the article website in Japan(有)スズキ金物店「千代鶴是秀の系譜8」

The kanna below on the top both blades are marked Hakuunsai Kyuju with a mark. This name was supposedly used for the marking by Ochiai Uichi.

The kanna dai has several stamps, Tanaka Hisao, a name of the dai maker in the middle, on the right - Shindoryu (Shindo-school) with a mark (tsutsumi), on the left -betsuuchi (possibly it means special-made).

The photo on the top, the blade and the sub-blade are both marked, Hakuunsai, Kyuju.

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