Shigefusa Fakes

Rumors about fake Shigefusa knives and botched kanji have been around since the time I started collecting these knives. The Shigefusa kanji variances have been well documented on the several knife fora and on this site, but a recent post on Instagram of a ‘Chinese-made’ Shigefusa sparked my interest to write an short article .

Over the past years, I have purchased numerous (used) Shigefusa knives from authorized resellers, auctions, online market places, Instagram, or direct from generous individuals. The vast majority of these transactions have been with reputable sellers, or a purchase of a knife with a clear provenance. Though occasionally, I admit, I wasn’t 100% sure if I was dealing with genuine Shigefusa knife. Often the first linger of doubt arises from looking at the kanji, but why would I have a doubt? Do ‘fake’ knives really exist and why go through all the hassle of creating them? To take away the first linger of anyone’s doubt, an article on fakes.

Real or not?

Answer: This is 100% real

Do Fakes Exist?

Yes, sadly fake Shigefusa knives do exist. How many? I do not know, for sure two!

This image comes from James' Knives & Stones Instagram account [Link]. The image depicts a fake Shigefusa kitaeji knife which was offered by a reseller on, who has since withdrawn his account.

How to recognize a fake? Firstly, the steel. This knife looks as if its steel came from a cheap prelaminated billet. There is no refinement near the kitaeji lines, nor cloud characteristics seen on other knives. One can even make a point about the classical grouping, as detailed in the 3 yanagiba article.

Secondly, the kanji. The top two 'Sanjo Made' kanji are never chiseled, always stamped. When Shigefusa kanji is chiseled, it always includes a third character 作. Next, the quality of the engraving is very poor and with rough indents. The detailed image of the kanji posted above this paragraph is from a verified Shigefusa and illustrates point 3. Simply observe the minute hammer marks in the troughs in the kanji compared to the image on the right.

100% Fake

Another Example

This image is courtesy of James as well and from the same reseller on A relatively the poor quality of the image due to the resizing, though a clear give away are the kanji and the quality 'Damascus' steel. These two characteristics are easily identified as a fake.

Another flag is the 'chiseled' kanji on a double bevel kitaeji knife. The likelihood of this occurrence is extremely small and (if encountered) found on rarer items, like kitaeji yo gyutos or verified old stock.

So where do we go from here? Will we see more fakes? Is this a larger, industry problem? Honestly, I do not know. Why go through the whole hassle of faking a Shigefusa knife when they are easily identified? My only recommendation is to buy from reputable sources and ask for a knife provenance.