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SWORD #244.23- Hizen Kuni Ju-Nin Minamoto Yoshinobu Saku

Tokubetsu Kicho NBTHK

The Yoshi Nobu Story
The Father of Hizen Masashiro & Hizen Yukihiro
Many of you are aware of my interest in swords of Hizen province, my many years of collecting, examining and researching these fascinating swords and finally, my writing and publishing the book "Japanese Swords of Hizen Province".
What you were not aware of was that I was missing a very vital Sword Smith, a master Smith of the Hizen school whose signature works are so rare that only two of his signed swords have ever come up for sale. At least no other that I am aware of.
In the past 68 years of my searching for one of them to add to my book, I can now finally add Yoshi Nobu. Following, I will attempt to explain the reason for the rarity of his works.
Yoshi Nobu was born in 1587 during the fifth year of Tensho. He was the 3rd son of Nakajima Shingobei. In 1599, he was adopted into the Shodai Tadayoshi family at age 12. Yoshi Nobu first used the name Sadenjiro, later Yashichibei before changing his name to Yoshi Nobu.

In 1616 at age 29, he succeeded to the head of the family in the 2nd year of Genna. In 1624, the 10th year of Genna, he travelled to Kyoto with his teacher to study under Umetada Myoju.

Yoshi Nobu married the eldest daughter of Tadayoshi and became his son-in-law. In 1614, a son was born to Tadayoshi and a mistress who became Omi Daijo Tadahiro and replaced Yoshi Nobu as the head of the Tadayoshi family. This change presented an opportunity for Yoshi Nobu as the head of the Tadayoshi family. This change presented an opportunity for Yoshi Nobu to form his own school.

Yoshi Nobu had 2 sons who became Master Sword Smiths. Both of whom formed and established their own famous schools. These two were Hizen Masahiro and Hizen Yukihiro.  All three became famous and successful in their own right.

Yoshi Nobu, during his tenure with the Tadayoshi school, played a very important part in making swords for the aging Shodai which carried the signature of his teacher and not his signature. It was only after the death of Tadayoshi in 1632 that Yoshi Nobu began to sign his own swords.

His death in 1637, five years later, at age 51 left him little time to produce the very few known pieces. In my 68 years of study, I have only been aware of two of his Katana being made available. One which is rated Juyo Token and the other shown here in my collection making this the rarest of the Hizen swords available.