The Gesshin Kagekiyo knives represent some of the highest levels of craftsmanship and quality we have seen. The blacksmiths, sharpeners, and even lacquerware craftsmen are all amazingly skilled, as can clearly be seen by simply looking at them. In fact, all of the craftsmen are certified craftsmen or dentou-kougeishi (a very prestigious honor). These knives have amazing fit and finish, spectacular grinds, and amazing geometry. They are really thin behind the edge, have great distal taper, and wide bevels, making them easier to thin and sharpen. Unlike our higher-end Gesshin Kagekiyo lines, these lacquer handles are far more simple, and the saya that come with these are normal saya instead of lacquered saya. The steels are also a bit more forgiving and easier to work with.
As the sharpener working on this particular series has changed, this was the previous display unit that we're making available so we can have a display unit that reflects the current iterations. For this 210mm petty, Jon enjoyed the imagery and lesson of Ito Jakuchu's "Bean Vine" (豌豆豆図) piece.
Per the website of the Met Museum in New York in relation to this specific piece: Itō Jakuchū, son of a greengrocer, used vegetables and plants as a personal iconography that almost always included a moral or religious meaning. This handsome sketch of a bean plant, paired with a poem by Ōbaku Zen monk Musen Jōzen (Tangai), refers to a story about the Chinese poet Cao Zhi (192–232), whose tyrannical brother, Cao Pei (Emperor Wen), once commanded him to compose a poem before he took seven steps, threatening him with execution if he failed. Tangai’s verse makes an erudite reference to Cao Zhi’s original poem comparing himself and his brother to the parts of a bean plant, while also alluding to the Zen philosophy of nonduality.
The green vine puts forth blossoms,
and its pods are like half-formed swords.
The bean and stalk are inseparable;
both were born from the same roots.
- translated by John T Carpenter (source: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/40462)
There are a few cosmetic blemishes and imperfections on the blade and a deeper scratch on the handle on the backside being a previous display piece but the knife has the same excellent grind, steel, and fit and finish. Jon has also touched up the edge as well.