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Updated: 20 Jul 2024

Gassan Sadakazu
月山貞一

 Hello, world. Welcome to Samurai Museum Shop. Thank you for finding our website. In this post, we would like to introduce one of the prominent Japanese swordsmiths. We hope you will enjoy reading this post. 

 Sadakazu was born as the son of the Tsukamoto family in Omi province(today’s Shiga prefecture) in 1836. Sadakazu was adopted by Gassan Sadayoshi(月山貞吉), one of the most famous swordsmiths in Osaka prefecture, when he was seven years. Sadakazu started his training under Gassan Sadayoshi when he was 11 years old. And at incredible speed, he was able to master a lot of complex techniques. According to available records, his first blade was created in 1851 when he was 16 years old. 

 Gassan is the name of the school he belonged to. It was initially founded during the Heian period(late 12th century). It is said that the school name “Gassan” (月山) came from the fact that they forged swords near the mountain called Gassan in Dewakoku. 

 His master, Gassan Sadayoshi, founded Gassan school in Osaka in 1833. While Gassan school had been known as one of the most prestigious schools from the Kamakura period(late 12th century), its presence faded in the early-mid Edo period. However, after Sadayoshi became a highly-regarded swordsmith at the end of the Edo period, the whole school revitalized and flourished again because of his continuous effort and superb craftsmanship.

 Gassan Sadakazu supported Sadayoshi, and they spent many years researching traditional Gassan style swords and finally made Ayasugihada, the signature design of Gassan school. Ayasguhihada looks undulating grain pattern in the Jihada(steel surface), which resembles a Japanese cedar grain. 

 At the end of Sadayoshi’s career, Sadakazu often did Daimei for his master. Daimei is a regular act where an apprentice or a child of the swordsmith signed his master’s name with his master’s permission, being involved in a sword-forging. This fact proves that the level of artistry Sadakazu mastered was closed to his master, Sadayoshi. It is said that Sadakazu was able to create various styles of blades by using different sword traditions. And, he was also famous for having beautiful sculptures on his work.

 When Sadakazu started his career, it was the end of the Edo period when the military government of Samurai(Tokugawa Shogunate)controlled Japan, and feudal society was the norm. There was plenty of demand of weapons from Samurais back then. However, in 1868, there was a civil war between Tokugawa’s shogunate government and the new Meiji imperial government. After this battle, the Tokugawa shogunate was ousted, and the imperial government gained control. The whole feudal system was dismantled, and the new government took the social status of Samurai. The demand for Japanese swords decreased dramatically from the beginning of the Meiji era. Many swordsmiths lost their jobs or changed their career. However, Sadakazu kept forging swords until he died at the age of 84(1918). 

 In the post-Samurai period, he played an important role for the Japanese sword. The government recognized his contribution to his preserving the tradition of Japanese sword-forging. In 1906(the 39th year of Meiji), he received Teishitsu Gigeiin(帝室技芸員: Nationally-designated Important intangible cultural property). He also submitted his work to the Chicago expo in 1893 and received an honorable award. Emperor Meiji purchased this award-winning sword one year after the expo.

 His son is Gassan Sadakatsu, his grandson, Gassan Sadakazu(the-second gen Sadakazu), and Gassan Sadatoshi(Great-grandson) were famous and skilled swordsmiths. Gassan Sadatoshi and his son still keep creating beautiful swords for Japanese sword collectors today.

 

 We hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you are interested in checking his work, we happen to acquire an antique Katana signed by him. More information is available by clicking the image below.

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