Okimasa was born on November 13 in the third year of Taisho (1914) in Koriyama city in Fukushima Prefecture. He claimed to be a descendant of the kotô smith, Echizen Yamamura Masanobu. Okimasa had three brothers and a nephew who all became excellent smiths.
His study in sword forging began under the master smith Kasama Shigetsugu in 1934, an event precipitated after a bicycle trip he made to Tokyo from Koriyama to see the shinsakutô exhibit. Okimasa later married the daughter of Shigetsugu and became his son-in-law.
By Showa 14, Okimasa had opened his own kaji at his residence in Setagaya-machi, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. During this period he also made swords at the estate of Toyama Mitsuru in Tokiwamatsu, Setagaya. He was a member of the Nihon Toto Tanren Tosho Gyou Kumiai the Rikugun Gunto Gijutsu Shiyo Rei Kai, and a meisosho, or master craftsman, member of the Koku Koin Kai, which was a national association of craftsman.
Okimasa was held in extremely high regard during his active period. In 1943 the Nihon Token Tanrenji (NTT) and the Nihon Token Shinbunshi (NTS) rated the various modern swordsmiths. They broke the smiths into three partitions, one for the older senior smiths who received honorary rankings, and then two partitions, East Block and West Block for the others, with the East Block rankings considered to be superior to West Block.
The format follows Sumo rankings, and the senior smith at Yokuzuna rank (highest) of the East block was Tsukamoto Okimasa, indicating that he stood without parallel.
Okimasa was also shinsa-in, or judge, at the later annual Shinsaku Nihonto Tenrankai. He had won all of the major awards, including the Presidents Award at the Rikugun Gunto Gijutsu Shiyo Rei Kai, the Navy Ministers award, the Prime Ministers award, and the Education Ministers award. In the NBTHK’s annual contests, he won the Yusho, or Excellence award once and the top award of Tokusho, four times.
He left many superior works done in the Bizen and Soden styles, and made a sword for the Grand Shrine at Ise in Showa 28. His work also embraces the style of the famous shinshinto smith Kiyomaro, with gunome-midareba and profuse hataraki.
He also produced many works in choji-midare, similar to those of his teacher and was also skilled at horimono. In particular he made a special effort to study and perfect an Awataguchi style ji-hada, and as a result, his ji-hada is especially refined.
Due to the destitute condition in which most sword makers lived after the war, it is said that he made many excellent gimei of Kiyomaro, Ichimonji, and other famous swordsmiths in order to survive. He enjoyed drinking and it is said that this contributed to his untimely death due to tuberculosis on May 27 in Showa 35 at the age of 46.
This sword is a fine example of this smith’s work. The nagasa is 26 1/4 inches or 67 cm. The sori is a graceful koshi sori. The hada is a very tight itame hada. The hamon is a robust chôji midare suggestive of the Bizen Ichimonji school.
It comes in an old shirasaya probably its original one or close to it, with a sayagaki by Tanobe Sensei. This was a custom ordered blade and the tang is inscribed to Mr. Fujita who ordered the blade. It is signed, Oite Fujita Shi (no) Tsukamoto Ikkansai Okimasa Saku. On the ura it is dated Showa Jyu nana nen Jyu ni Gatsu Kichi Nichi. This means, “Made on a lucky day in December of 1942”.
The sayagaki by Tanobe Sensei is as follows:
Tsukamoto Ikkansai Okimasa
Shōwa jūshichinen Fujita-shi no motome ni ōji seisaku-seshi mono nari. Dōkō Kasama Shigetsugu monjin shikamoMiyairi Akihira to aideshi nari. Honsau deki sugure kono kō no daihyōsaku kana. Hachō ni-shaku ni-sun kore ari
Heisei kanoto-hebidoshi fumizuki kokutan Den-shi Tanzan mite narabi ni shirushite + kaō
Tsukamoto Ikkansai Okimasa
Made in 1947 on request of Mr. Fujita. This smith was a student of Kasama Shigetsugu and a fellow student of Miyairi Akihira. The deki of this blade is excellent and the work can be regarded as representative for the smith.
Blade length ~ 66.6 cm
Examined and written by Den-shi Tanzan [Tanobe Michihiro] on a lucky day in July of the year of the rat of the Heisei era (2001) + monogram
This blade comes with NBTHK Hozon papers attesting to its authenticity and quality. It is in excellent polish with only a few very minor minute scratches. This is your chance to own a fine blade by one of the top rated gendai smiths of the 20th century.