Following the article about fake/counterfeit Shigefusa knives, I received a few questions about subtle difference found with Shigefusa kanji. The Shigefusa kanji variances have been well documented on fora and plenty of images can be found on this site. Time to combine all these articles in one simple page. Enjoy!

General Rule of Thumb

A good, general rule of thumb is: all Shigefusa knives have stamped kanji, only single bevel kitaeji knives have hand chiseled kanji. Yes, exceptions exist, we will discuss these below.

To the left is an illustration of this 'general rule:' a kitaeji yanagiba with chiseled kanji and a kasumi yanagiba with stamped kanji.

重房作 vs. 重房

Single bevel kitaeji knives carry an extra 作 character below the regular kanji. I have seen a discussion where the extra “作” was suggested as an indicator of the knife’s age; this is a not a correct method. In addition, I have only once encountered a chiseled kanji without the 作, though a high variation exisit in the execution of this particular kanji. See the "Rare Stamp" section for more information.
Stamped Kanji

Stamped Kanji

Not much to say here, the stamp is very straight forward. Often confusion about stamped vs chiseled can arise from the fact that the inlay of the stamp loses its dark color, which can make the stamp appear hand made. The stamped kanji size and consistency can easily debunk any statement.

Stamped variations

Very little variations on the classical Shigefusa stamped kanji exist. The only example I could find was posted on KKF, were a small emoticon appeared in the belly of the 房 character. For sure we know it's a happy knife.

Chiseled Kanji

Generally reserved for single bevel Kitaeji Shigefusa knives; just enjoy their beauty.


The most common mistake is chiseled kanji on other than Kitaeji single bevel knives. Personally, I have seen and owned several knives with such mistakes, most notably a kasumi deba.

Why use the word mistake? Relatively simple: during the summer of 2018 I was able to visit Shigefusa and ask Mr. Iizuka san himself about kanji differences on several of his knives. His answer was simply, these are ‘mistakes’. A pure observation from my side, one tend to see these variations more often on NOS knives versus recent knives.

Sanjo Made

Regardless of the knife type and finish, these two kanji characters are always stamped and stamped with a varying degree of precision, as illustrated to the left.

With or Without Sanjo Made

This is a variation I have seen more than once before, a missing ‘Sanjo Made’ stamp, as the image shows. Hard to give an explanation for this reasons. Anecdotally, I heard that Shigefusa would have been in a hurry to finish a knife and skipped this step. The truth we should never know.

Sanjo Works

A Shigefusa kanji variation exist where the kanji is stamped on the back. These are kurouchi knives with plastic handles, often referred to Sanjo Works knives. These knives have no kanji on the front of the knife, only on the back with often a high degree of variations. Meaning, no uniform way of kanji arrangements.


Kiya & Munemasa

Both Kiya and Munemasa are renowned resellers of Shigefusa knives, carrying these knives under their own label. As such, these knives they are generally have their respective kanji on the front of the knife, while the Shigefusa kanji can be seen on the back.

General speaking, each company’s kanji is stamped, not chiseled, with no variations observed between kasumi & kitaeji, nor single vs double bevel knives. However, there are exceptions when it comes to the Shigefusa kanji on the back side; occasionally these are chiseled, as one example illustrates below.

Rare stamps

Huh? Rare stamps, do they exist? Yes! I have seen (and held) a Shigefusa knife with a confirmed, early Shigefusa 'boxed' stamp. These stamps are extremely rare and date from the early knifemaking beginnings of Mr. Iizuka. I doubt one will ever find one for sale.

Along the rare lines, one of the first Shigefusa knives ever made with a chiseled kanji that misses the 作 character. Again, the only instance I am aware of. #JNS