Iwasaki – Tanifuji – Amada

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Iwasaki – Tanifuji – Amada
(Updated: 2018, Okt)

I wrote in the articles “Tanifuji (Fukutarō)” & “Iwasaki” that “Tanifuji (Fukutarō)
worked for and with “Iwasaki“:

  • IWASAKI T (marked with the sign of IWASAKI 岩崎 and a “T”)
    iwasaki-fukutaro-tanifuji-4 iwasaki-fukutaro-tanifuji-5
  • IWASAKI Tokiwa (㊂ = “Marusan” = sign/trademark of Iwasaki;
    トキワ = Tokiwa; 登録商標 = tōroku shōhyō = registered trademark

    谷藤 福太郎 = Tanifuji Fukutarō)
    SONY DSC Iwasaki by Tanifuji, Fukutaro 1e

    I am truly privileged and honoured that I may share an unique,
    extremely special and priceless razor, owned by “Ovidiu Cotiga”.
    Many thanks to “Ovidiu Cotiga” who allowed my to share these
    pictures and information with the world!

八十才 谷藤 福太郎作 0a1.八十才 谷藤 福太郎作 0a2八十才 谷藤 福太郎作 0a3.八十才 谷藤 福太郎作 0a4
八十才 = 80 years old
谷藤 福太郎作 (on tang and scales) = Tanifuji Fukutarō saku
作 (a variant, link) = saku = work (e.g. of art); production.

Knowing “Tanifuji” was 80 years old in 1974, this razor would be made around 1974.

Saku” is commonly used on razors where “saku”, stamped after a
maker’s name, means that maker has made this razor himself.
In this very rare case it seems to have a different meaning!

In an article of the blog of “Jim Rion”
Been and Gone, Sanjou City Post 1: The Touristy Bits“, Jim writes this:

“… visiting the Sanjo City Blacksmith’s Dojo. ”
12“They also have samples of the work of the blacksmiths, including this
Tamahagane razor clad in real ivory, one of only 12 in the world.

After the Dojo, we returned to Iwasaki-san’s house where we got to work.”

Here is another picture of the same razor, found in the Sanjo City Blacksmith’s Dojo.
(Ref. :japanesenaturalstones.blogspot.com):
JNS P1010643
JNS P1010648
Sign above this razor (razor on the right):
作銘 Maker 以玉鋼造之 Tamahagane Manufacturing (made) ㊂ Marusan 岩崎 Iwasaki
西洋剃刀 Western razor
製作者 = Manufacturer, producer 岩 崎 重 義 Iwasaki Shigeyoshi
Sign above the razor on the left:
作銘 Maker 岩崎谷藤天田合作打 Iwasaki Tanifuji Amada coöperation forged
西洋剃刀 玉鋼 Tamahagane Western razor
製作者 = Manufacturer
岩崎重義 · 谷藤 福太郎 · 天田昭次
Iwasaki Shigeyoshi· Tanifuji Fukutarō · Akitsugu Amada
(“Akitsugu Amata” = a swordsmith, °1927, Niigata, 5 juli 2013,
→ see further in the article

In an other article of Jim Rion, a continuation of his previous article,
japanshave.blogspot.com/Been and Gone, Sanjou City Post 3: Mini Blade Museum“,
Jim writes:
“Later, in Iwasaki-san’s house, he showed me some more rarities”3
Iwasaki - Tanifuji, Ivory, at Iwasaki's house 1bThese three razors are all Iwasaki straights. The left-most one is one
of only 12 in the world, an ivory-scaled razor made to commemorate
the retirement of a friend and colleague in the razor business,
Tanifuji-sensei, who worked with Iwasaki-san in finishing and
scaling his razors (more on that later) until the age of 79.”

Although it is very hard to see, I wouldn’t be surprised if the tang says:
  八十才             谷藤 福太郎作

It is not a coincidence that the razor of “Ovidiu Cotiga” has the markings
八十才 (“80 years old”) and 谷藤 福太郎作 (“Tanifuji Fukutarō saku”) on its tang
and ivory scales; the razor of  “Ovidiu Cotiga” is also one of these 12 razors!
1 kopie.jpg23
Here “Saku” most probably means “The work” of “Tanifuji Fukutarō“, therefore:
八十才 (80 years old) and 谷藤 福太郎作 (Tanifuji Fukutarō saku) =
Commemoration for the entire work of Tanifuji Fukutarō, retired at 80 years“!

This Tamahagane razor is forged by “Shigeyoshi Iwasaki” as an homage
to Tanifuji’s 80th birthday and his retirement. Maybe, but not necessarily,
it was finished and scaled by “Tanifuji Fukutaro”.
It is also very unique that these razors, although
made of Tamahagane, aren’t marked as such!It is quenched vertically, as did “Kamijō Yukio
in his days (another teacher of “Iwasaki”).
Of these 12 Tamahagane made, ivory scaled razors, apparently:
  • One is gifted to the former emperor of Japan.
  • One is at Shigeyoshi’s home (pictures in this article)
  • One is at the Sanjo blade museum (pictures in this article)
  • One is at Ovidiu Cotiga’s home (pictures in this article)
  • One of these 12 razors was at Tanifuji’s home soon after they were made.
    It is unknown if it remained in the family, possibly a descendent still has it.
7 are still somewhere…
Apparently around 3 years ago, there was another one seen in the wild…
These razors were almost certainly not sold individually but gifted to various
close friends and important people for Iwasaki like mentors and people that
suported his quest for the ultimate razor.
Pretty rare and awesome razor, isn’t it?

Thank you “Ovidiu Cotiga” !

(Update ’18, Okt)

So, who was “Amada Akitsugu”?

JNS P1010643 kopie
作銘 Maker 岩崎谷藤天田合作打 Iwasaki Tanifuji Amada coöperation forged
西洋剃刀 玉鋼 Tamahagane Western razor
製作者 = Manufacturer
岩崎重義 · 谷藤 福太郎 · 天田昭次
Iwasaki Shigeyoshi· Tanifuji Fukutarō · Akitsugu Amada

“Amada Akitsugu” was a sword smith and plane maker
(°1927, Niigata, †5 juli 2013).

He signed his planes with「千代正」

Iwasaki - Amada 1a

Iwasaki - Amada 1b

“Amada Akitsugu”, together with “Iwasaki Kōsuke” and
“Nagashima Munenori” were students of “Kurihara Akihide”.

“Kurihara Akihide” (°1879, Sano, Tochigi pref., †1954, aged 76), known as
“Kurihara Hikosaburo”, learned under “Inagaki Masanori” the Second and
the “Horii Taneaki” clan. Akihide established “Nihon-to Tanren Denshusho”
(日本刀鍛錬伝習所) at Akasaka in Tokyo.

“Nagashima Munenori”, as said a student of “Kurihara Akihide” was a
sword forging and Tamahagane handling sensei of “Iwasaki Shigeyoshi”.

After the war, it was impossible to live from making swords alone,
“Nagashima Munenori” teached “Amada Akitsugu” to make planes.

In this way “Amada Akitsugu” and “Iwasaki Shigeyoshi” are connected
trough “Nagashima Munenori”.

Another connection with “Iwasaki” is that under the guidance of
“Iwasaki Kōsuke” (the father of “Iwasaki Shigeyoshi”), from a scientific
perspective, “Amada Akitsugu” used a microscope to evaluate the steel
structure of his products which was new at that time.

“Akitsugu Amada”, as a swordsmith, became holder of an important
“Intangible cultural property” which is a human national treasure.
“Tanifuji Fukutaro”, famous as “Master of Razor”, also was holder
of an “Intangible Cultural Properties”.

The combination of the sword forging and Tamahagane handling skills
of “Iwasaki Shigeyoshi” & “Akitsugu Amada”, together with the knowledge
and experience of Western straight razor maker “Tanifuji Fukutaro” gave
birth to this razor, and many others after it.

(平成25年1月15日発行(隔月刊   刀剣界   第9号)

This entry was posted in HISTORY & IDENTIFICATION. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Iwasaki – Tanifuji – Amada

  1. Ronell Jones says:

    Can you contact me as I may have found one of these gems
    Thank you kindly and blessings


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