For many years Izumi (no) Kami Kaneshige (和泉守兼重) was thought to be the same smith as Kazusa (no) Suke Kaneshige (上総介兼重). Their workmanship is similar and even their signature style was very much alike. This theory was put to rest when a sword came to light that was a joint work of Kazusa (no) Suke Kaneshige (上総介兼重) and the third generation Edo Sandai Yasutsugu (江戸三代康継). This was a dated work and from the date of the blade together with the fact that Kazusa (no) Suke Kaneshige (上総介兼重) also inscribed that he made it when he was 43 years old; his date of birth could be determined to have been Kanei 2 or 1625. Since there exists a dated sword by Izumi (no) Kami Kaneshige (和泉守兼重) of this same date, it has been determined that Izumi (no) Kami Kaneshige (和泉守兼重) was either the father or teacher of Kazusa (no) Suke Kaneshige (上総介兼重).
Izumi no Kami Kaneshige (和泉守兼重) was one of the top smiths from Edo (Tokyo) along with Yasutsugu (康継) and Hankei (繁慶). There are a couple of theories as to his area of origin. The common thought is that he was from Echizen Province. It is thought that he moved to Edo and that he became a student of Senjuin Morikuni (千手院盛国) of Edo. Morikuni (盛国) also had the title of Izumi (no) Kami (和泉守) and his swords are similar to those of Kaneshige (兼重) in shape, style, and signature. For that reason, Kaneshige’s (兼重) origins are still somewhat up in the air and perhaps further information will come forth in the future to clarify this point. Kaneshige (兼重) was known to be a maker of yanone (arrow points) in his early years.
Kaneshige worked for the Daimyo Todo Izumi (no) Kami Takatora. Interestingly, It is said that Miyamoto Musashi, the most famous swordsman in Japan, recommended Kaneshige to the Todo clan. As mentioned, his earliest dated work is Kanei 2 (1625) and this puts his working years into a period of transition between the ages of Keicho-Shinto and Kanbun-Shinto. Izumi no Kami Kaneshige (和泉守兼重) had strong ties to Nagasone Kotetsu (虎徹). This is especially true of Izumi (no) Kami Kaneshige (和泉守兼重) who is generally thought to have been the teacher of Kotetsu (虎徹).
SUGATA: Kaneshige (兼重) made most of his swords in shinogi–zukuri katana or wakizashi form. He also made a few hira–zukuri wakizashi in sun–nobi form, but no tanto in hira-zukuri form have been found to date. The sori is modest and the kissaki is medium. The blade width is either average or somewhat wide giving it a strong appearance. There is a marked difference in the width of the blade from the moto to the saki. While his early blades will be more Keicho-Shinto is shape, his later blades reflect the typical shape of the Kanbun period.
JITETSU: The jigane is slightly hard and is usually ko–mokume or itame mixed with masame–hada. The masame–hada will be especially pronounced in the shinogi–ji. There will be plenty of ji–nie.
HAMON: Most of his hamon are wide suguha combined with shallow notare. The nioi base is profusely covered with nie giving it an overall nie–deki appearance. Many of his hamon have gunome–ashi, some of which are close enough together form a true gunome pattern. Nie patterns such as kinsujiand sunagashi will be found. Many swordsmiths including Kotetsu, Sukehiro, Shinkai and Shigekuni tried to make this kind of deep nioikuchi suguha hamon. Later smiths such as Motohira, Masayuki, and Yukihide also tried to make swords like Kaneshige.
BÔSHI: The bôshi will have a smooth curve that will turn back in a ko–maru shape. The kaeri will be of various lengths, but usually on the short side. Mishina bôshi can be found as well as such things as hakikake.
HORIMONO: Bo-hi (single grooves) are found at times.
NAKAGO: The nakago will taper sharply at the tip forming a ha-agari kurijiri shape. The yasurimei are generally sujikai starting with a relatively modest slanting, which gradually increases as it approaches the tip. Some nakago are finished with a decorative horizontal filing at the top. This is not a full kesho finish as was done by some of his students. An important kantei point is the shape of his nakago. The mune will be flat and the ha side will be slightly rounded.
MEI: Kaneshige’s mei is done in what is called reisho–sosho style. This is like a form of grass writing that is slightly cursive and is said to have originated in China. His most common signatures are as follows:
The blade that Nihonto.com is proud to present here is an outstanding example of the work of Izumi no Kami Kaneshige (和泉守兼重). It was awarded Jûyô Tôken certification at the 61st Jûyô Tôken shinsa in 2015. A translation of the certificate is as follows:
Jūyō-Tōken at the 61st Jūyō Shinsa held on October 20, 2015
Katana, mei: Izumi no Kami Fujiwara Kaneshige (和泉守藤原兼重)
Nagasa 70.2 cm, sori 1.7 cm, motohaba 3.0 cm, sakihaba 2.0 cm, kissaki-nagasa 3.6 cm, nakago-nagasa 20.1 cm, no nakago-sori
Keijō: shinogi-zukuri, iori-mune, normal mihaba, noticeable taper, thick kasane, some funbari, relatively deep sori, chū-kissaki
Kitae: densely forged ko-itame that features plenty of ji-nie and much chikei
Hamon: nie-laden hiro-suguha-chō with a wide, bright, and clear nioiguchi that is mixed with notare, gunome, ko-gunome, ashi, and fine kinsuji and sunagashi
Bōshi: relatively widely hardened sugu with a ko-maru-kaeri, hakikake at the tip, and kinsuji on the ura side
Nakago: ubu, tapers noticeably to a ha-agari kurijiri, sujikai-yasurime with some type of keshō on the ura side, one mekugi-ana, the sashi-omote side bears below of the mekugi-ana and towards the back of the tang a seven-character signature that is executed in a unique clerical script.
When it comes to Edo-based swordsmiths, Izumi no Kami Kaneshige (和泉守兼重) was active somewhat after the local pioneers Shodai Yasutsugu (初代康継) and Hankei (繁慶) The earliest dated work in existence is a naginata that is dated with “a day of the eighth month of Kan’ei two (寛永, 1625)”. It has been traditionally believed that Izumi no Kami Kaneshige and Kazusa no Suke Kaneshige (上総介兼重) were the same swordsmiths who gave up his honorary title of Izumi no Kami and changed it to Kazusa no Suke out of respect for his employer, Tōdō Izumi no Kami (藤堂和泉守). However, there exists a wakizashi signed “(Aoi-mon) Tsuji Kazusa no Suke Fujiwara Kaneshige yonjūsan-sai Edo ni oite kore o tsukuru, Yasutsugu Shimosaka Ichinojō sanjūhassai Bushū Edo ni oite kore o tsukuru” (「葵紋」辻上総介藤原兼重四⼗三歳於江⼾作之 康継下坂市 之丞卅⼗⼋歳於武州江⼾作之, “[Hollyhock crest]. Made by Tsuji Kazusa o Suke Kaneshige, age 43, and Yasutsugu Shimosaka Ichinojō, age 38, in Edo in Musashi province”) and a katana signed “(Aoi-mon) Yasutsugu nanban-tetsu o motte Bushū Edo ni oite kore o tsukuru – Shimosaka Ichinojō sanjūnana-sai kore o tsukuru, Kanbun rokunen nigatsu kichijitsu” (「葵紋」康継以南蛮 鉄於武州江⼾作之・下坂市之丞卅⼗七歳造之、寛⽂六年⼆⽉吉⽇, “[Hollyhock crest] Made by Yasutsugu Shimosaka Ichinojō, age 37, on a lucky day of the second month of Kanbun six  in Edo in Musashi province by using nanban-tetsu”). Aligning the mentioned ages and the date calculates the year of birth of Kazusa no Kami Kaneshige as Kan’ei three (1626), which makes it clear that he was not the same person as Izumi no Kami Kaneshige by whom a dated from from Kan’ei two exists as indicated. The majority of works of Izumi no Kami Kaneshige are katana and wakizashi in shinogi-zukuri, and tantō are known by this maker. His workmanship can be broadly divided into a notare-chō that is mixed with connected gunome and ashi, or a nie-laden suguha-chō with a wide, bright, and clear nioiguchi that tends to a gently undulating notare.
This blade is a typical work from the first category of workmanships as it displays a nie-laden hiro-suguha-chō that is mixed with notare, gunome, ko-gunome, and ashi. Also, the wide, bright, and clear nioiguchi, the abundance of nie, and the fine kinsuji and sunagashi can also be considered as characteristic for Kaneshige. In addition, the blade has a thick kasane and displays despite its fine forging structure a wide and very ambitious suguha, which all results in a powerful masterwork.
The nakago features some type of keshō-yasurime, but not to the extent of later fully decorative file marks. Therefore, this approach may be regarded as the origins of such later keshō finishes.