Antique Japanese Sword Katana attributed to Late-gen Shikkake with Hozon Certificate
This blade is attributed to a work of the late-gen Shikkake school during early Muromachi period (Approx. 600 years old).
Shikkake school was founded by Norinaga (則長) in Yamato region (Today’s Nara prefecture) during the Bunpo era (1317-1319: Late Kamakura period). It is said that swords forged by Norinaga were known for their sharpness and made a lot of long Tachi swords. Therefore, most of the remaining work has been shortened so dramatically that the signatures were cut.
The school prospered during the late Kamakura period-Muromachi period. There were five prestigious schools, including Shikkake school during the Kamakura-Nanbokucho period. They are called Yamato Goha (大和五派); Senjyuin (千手院), Tegai(手掻), Taima (当麻), Hosho (保昌) and Shikkake school. They served politically powerful monks and temples in Nara, such as Todaiji temples. They were initially forging swords for military monks who became powerful due to the government’s policy back then. Monks needed many weapons as there were many political rivalries between influential temples, and they need strong weapons like swords to protect themselves. During this time, Shikkake school or other Yamato sword schools met the requests from monks. They also forged blades for Samurai hired by those monks during their heyday.
Shikkake school belonged to YAMATO DEN, which has the longest history among GOKADEN, five traditions of Japanese sword forging techniques. The blades forged by swordsmiths residing in Yamato region are generally called Yamato Mono. And, Koudai Shikkake, or Late-gen are referred to Shikkake swordsmiths from the Muromachi period.
The name Shikkake came from the district where this school forged swords. The district’s name used to be called Shirikake, but it changed its pronunciation over time and became Shikkake. They called themselves Shikkake swordsmiths. Shikkake school forged swords near Todaiji temple, one of the most famous temples in Japan. The name Shikkake came from the ritual in festivals taking place near Todaiji temple.
Those who carried mikoshi, a portable shrine on their shoulders during the festivals, took a rest at the district, and they sat there. In Japanese, Shikkake(尻懸) means sitting down. That is how this district was named.
The swords forged in Yamato regions are famous for their beautiful Jigane, steel surface, and straight tempering line(Suguha). This blade has a beautiful Jigane with a Suguha tempering line, which shows an outstanding characteristic of the Yamato sword. Based on the shape of Nakago(Tang), it was shortened in the past. We assume its original length was much longer than it is now.
This blade is appraised as a Hozon Token(保存刀剣) issued by NBTHK(Nihon Bijutsu Touken Hozon Kyokai:日本美術刀剣保存協会). This authentication paper was only given to authentic Japanese swords, well preserved with artistic value.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)：70.3 cm ( 27.7 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：1.81 cm( 0.71 inches)
The crystalline structure which forms along the cutting edge of a blade as a result of the hardening process
visible steel surface pattern created by folding and hammering during forging process
Nakago：Nakago is the tang of the Japanese sword.
Japanese swordsmiths left the black rust on the tang because it prevents red rust while the tang is in its handle. And the discoloration of the tang was created over time, and it is a great indicator for a Japanese sword specialist to estimate when the sword was forged.
Koshirae: Koshirae is the mounting of the Japanese sword. There are several parts that consist of Koshirae such as Saya(Scabbard), Tsuka(Handle), Tsuba(Handguard).
Fuchi-Kashira：A pair of matching sword fittings that cover the upper and bottom parts of its sword hilt.
This Fuchi Kashira has a simple look. Straight lines of uniform width are engraved on the sides. If you viewed it from the front, you would find it seems to be a single flower. The bottom of the Kashira part swells, and short straight-line patterns remain at the tip. You would realize minor dents or color fading on this Fuchi Kashira: we hope you will enjoy them as antique textures. Such things are natural textures that were born over a long period and are traces of their long history.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
This Menuki’s motif is the Inoshishi (猪, wild boar). There are no noticeable features other than facial features. However, the engraving lines of its hair might have worn away due to the friction caused by holding the handle many times.
Wild boars have been treated as divine beasts of Marisiten (摩利支天, Mārīcī). This god was regarded as the guardian deity of the Samurai in Japan, and the wild boar, the divine beast of this god, was treated equally as a lucky charm to win the battles. For Samurai warriors who prayed for the gods’ protection in conflicts, Marishiten, the god of war, was probably a jinx in modern terms. Since it was a prayer related to life and death, we imagine their faith (power) was extraordinary. In Japanese, there are expressions about wild boar. For example, the Inoshishi Musha (猪武者, Inoshisi is a Japanese name for the wild boar) means a Samurai who rushes without considering the before and after circumstances. Or, the idiom Chototsu Moushin (猪突猛進) describes the figure of a reckless person who makes rapid progress toward a goal. When you hear this, you might get a strong impression that wild boar is a madcap animal. However, we can also interpret that this type of person could work hard on what he (or she) is aiming for. Also, in the war, Samurai warriors needed the courage to get into the enemy’s land without regard for danger. So, the wild boars might have been applied to this Menuki because its owner wanted to emulate the courage of wild boars.
Tsuba and Habaki：Tsuba is the handguard for the Japanese Sword and Habaki is the equipment to make the blade not touch its scabbard inside. It prevents the blade from getting rusty and chipped.
This design was inspired by a clock imported from the Netherlands during the Edo period. It is called Tokei Tsuba (時計鐔). Tokei means clock in Japanese. Tsuda school who exclusively served the Owari Tokugawa domain was famous for creating this kind of Tsubas. You can also see a crescent moon on the upper part of this Tsuba. And, we assume the sun is also designed on the bottom part of the Tsuba.
This Tsuba is designed to be symmetrical except for the direction of the crescent moon. The three small circles scattered on the left and right probably depict stars. We think the entire work expresses celestial bodies. The sun and the moon have been treated as objects of worship since ancient times. Some people considered them the symbol of authority. The moon pattern has various shapes depending on the waxing and waning of the moon: full moon, half-moon, crescent, or hazy moon. There is also the idea: as the moon changes its shape depending on its fullness, it represents growth and development. Moreover, the moon is a classic design that symbolizes autumn: the combination of a moon with rabbits, deer, autumn grass, waves, etcetera.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
The entire Saya is coated with black colored leather.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK Hozon Certificate for the blade (No.328775)
NBTHK, also known as Nihon Bijutsu Touken Hozon Kyokai (the Society for the Preservation of the Japan Art Sword), is one of the oldest Japanese sword appraising organizations in modern-day Japan. They authenticated the blade on Nov 28th in the 3rd year of Heisei (1991). They appraised it as Hozon Touken, the blade worth preserving for Japanese society. The purchaser will receive this original certificate as well. We can also translate what is written into English and make a PDF file for your record if you request.
Registration Number : Yamagata 3900
The Board of Education in Yamagata prefecture issued a registration paper for this sword . It is called Jyu Token Rui Torokusho(銃刀剣類登録証). Bunkacho(The Agency for Cultural Affairs) acknowledges a Japanese sword with this paper as a work of art.
The sword needs to be traditionally hand-forged and made of Tamahagane carbon steel to be registered in the system. With this paper, its owner in Japan can legally own an authentic Japanese sword. Based on this registration number, we will apply for its export permit.
This paper will need to be returned to the board of education when the sword is being shipped abroad, but you can receive a copy of it. An English translation of this registration paper is available on request.
Samurai Museum is located in Tokyo, Japan, exhibiting antique artifacts related to the Samurai history. Samurai Museum Shop is the place for those who are interested in Japanese culture and craftsmanship. We deal with antique Samurai swords/armor, traditional crafts made in Japan and so on.
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“My experience overall with the whole process was wonderful. I had many questions about the history and process to purchase these treasures. All my questions were answered very timely and complete. The staff is very knowledgeable and very well versed if any questions do arise.”
【Japanese Sword& Export Process】
The Japanese swords we deal with are hand-forged edged swords made in Japan. It was made from the traditional carbon steel called TAMAHAGANE(玉鋼). Samurai Museum is familiar with the proper legal procedure for an antique/ authentic Japanese sword to be exported from Japan. We have sent more than 500 Japanese swords for the past three years (～2023) to amazing owners who appreciate its historical value.
Each Japanese sword is registered under the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Board of Education in Japan. They issue a registration paper for each Japanese sword for its owner in Japan to legally possess it. The Japanese sword with its registration paper means it was traditionally hand-forged in Japan.
To legally export the sword from Japan to other countries, we will have to apply for its permit to the Agency for Cultural Affairs(Bunkacho) and return the original registration paper to the Board of Education. It normally takes around 2-4 weeks to receive this permit after submitting required documents. And we would like you to expect at least 1-1.5 months for your order to arrive at your given address after you ordered. For more detailed info, please click here.
It is allowed for residents in Japan to own authentic Japanese swords without a special license as long as they come with registration papers. Please feel free to contact us if you are a resident of Japan, whether temporarily or permanently. We will also assist you when you leave Japan and need to obtain the export permit.
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* If the amount is above 1 million JPY, Stripe or wire transfer will be the only options for payment.
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We normally ship by EMS(Express Mail Service) provided by Japan Post. We will send you a tracking number for your order as soon as we hand it to the post office. We will put 100 % insurance on the shipping document without any extra charge. Based on the total amount, there might be a duty tax or other fee for you to pay, depending on the countries. We use package cushioning to protect the item and put it in a PVC pipe, which is one of the most secure packages because of its durability.
It will normally takes 5-14 days for the item to arrive at your given address after we dispatch it. Time of delivery is estimated as accurately as possible by the carrier but does not take into account any delays beyond our control such as by inclement weather, post office holiday seasons.
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【How to make sure the condition】
Please keep in mind that what you are going to purchase is an antique item. We uploaded high resolution photos for you to check its condition thoroughly. If you like to see more photos with different angles, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to send them to you so that you can make informed decision. It is essential for us to know that you are happy with your choice of a sword. and we are prepared to use the best of our ability to serve you.
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【The Art of Nihonto(Japanese Sword)】
Samurai’s history is a profound, eloquent legacy of ancient Japanese warriors in which millions of people worldwide are being fascinated. If you like to find out the art of Nihonto, please click here.
【A Guide to Japanese Sword Maintenance】
After acquiring an genuine Japanese sword, it is also important to know how to take good care of it. Here is the special video for you. Mr. Paul Martin, Japanese sword expert, shows you how to give proper maintenance to your sword. By mastering how to clean the Japanese sword, its aesthetic beauty will last forever.
When you purchase a Japanese sword from us, you can get a Free Japanese sword maintenance kit. It comes with four tools(Choji Oil, Uchiko Whetstone Powder, Peg remover, Oil Applicator). By watching the video instruction above , you can enjoy learning how to maintain your Japanese sword while appreciating it. If you have any difficulty assembling the sword or cleaning the blade, you can feel free to contact us.
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