Antique Japanese Sword Katana attributed to Shimada Sukemune with NBTHK Hozon Certificate
This blade is attributed to Shimada Sukemune(島田助宗). Sukemune belonged to Shimada school in the Suruga domain(today’s Shizuoka prefecture). Its foundation dates back to the mid-Muromachi period, and it was founded by Yoshisuke(義助). The first-gen Sukemune was the younger brother of Yoshisuke.
The swordsmith’s name Sukeume lasted four generations, and they were active in sword-forging during the Tenbun-Kanbun era(1532-1673). We believe the attribution was given to early generation of Sukemune, based on its appraisal.
The first-gen Yoshisuke served a powerful feudal family named Imagawa. It is said that he received his maker’s name 義 from Imagawa Yoshitada. Shimada school interacted with other schools in Soshu swordsmiths living near Odawa castle in Kanagawa prefecture. The Suruga domain was vital for strong feudal lords such as Takeda, Tokugawa, and Hojo clan during the Sengoku Jidai (Warring state period). The swordsmiths in Shimada school received many orders from these strong feudal families.
It is said that the generations of Sukemune mastered a particular sword-forging tradition called Soshu Den. Shoshu Den was born in the middle of the Kamakura period. Back then, the Yamato and Yamashiro traditions were highly developed, and there were a few renowned swordsmiths from those regions. However, the sword-forging practice was in its infancy in the Kanto area, where the Soshu region was located.
At the beginning of the Kamakura government, which was established in 1185, the first Shogun, Minamoto Yoritomo, prioritized making a lot of rules to have its political stability. And he couldn’t afford to hire swordsmiths within the same region or train them. Therefore, the Kamakura government originally ordered weapons to the swordsmiths in the other areas, such as Yamato and Yamashiro.
But, since the government was established, the demand for weapons increased exponentially in the government, and they had to figure out how to meet those demands from Samurai who served Kamakura shogunate. Then, the 5th head of the Shogun, Hojo Tokiyori, invited two renowned swordsmiths from other parts of Japan. They were Awataguchi Kunitsuna from Yamashiro province and Bizen Saburo Kunimune from Bizen province. And the 7th-gen Shogun Koreyasu Shino also invited Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane from Bizen province.
It is said that those three swordsmiths played an essential role in creating the Soshu Den and making the foundation of the Soshu Den. Also another famous figure in the Soshu den is Intou Kunimitsu, an adopted son of Awataguchi Knitsuna. And Kunimitsu passed his excellent craftsmanship to Yukimitsu, his apprentice. And Masamune, one of the most famous swordsmiths in Japanese history, was an apprentice of Yukimitsu. And Masamune was the one that brought Shoshuden to nationwide fame. The tradition Masamune completed became an example of other swordsmiths who learned Soshu Den. Also, Soshu Den influenced many renowned swordsmiths during the Koto- Shinto era. One of examples is Inoue Shinkai from Osaka and Suishinshi Masahide from Edo.
This blade is stored in Tachi(太刀) Koshirae. Tachi was mainly used by an armored Samurai with one hand on horseback from the Heian period (794-1185 A.D.) until the early Muromachi period. TACHI was suspended loosely on the left waist with its edge facing the ground so that you could draw it faster to cut down soldiers on the ground. Because of its gorgeous looking, having a Tachi-style sword mounting became a social status among Samurai.
This blade is appraised as a Hozon Touken (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 and high quality with artistic value.
Cutting Edge Length (Nagasa): 80.0 cm ( 31.5 inches)
Curvature (Sori): 2.51 cm (0.99 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.
In the Tachi Koshirae (太刀拵), these sword mountings are called the Kabutogane (冑金/兜金) and the Fuchi Kanamono (縁金物). The Kabutogane is a metal fitting attached to a handle’s end. It corresponds to the Kashira (頭) part of the Fuchi Kashira (縁頭). And the Fuchi Kanamono (縁金物) is also a metal fitting attached to the handle but on the opposite side of the Kabutogane. It corresponds to the Fuchi (縁) part of the Fuchi Kashira.
In addition, a Sarute/Sarude (猿手) is attached to this Kabutogane. The user of a sword passed the Udenukio (腕貫緒, a cord wrapped around the wrist to prevent a sword from falling out of the hand, mainly used when riding a horse) through this ring. All of these decorative sword mountings have metal rust due to aging. However, we would like you to enjoy this as an antique texture born after a long period.
Tsuka and Menuki: Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
This Menuki has a simple look. Equipped with circular plain metal fittings, probably made of copper, the shape is specialized for functionality and practicality rather than decorativeness. As this handle is not wrapped with the Tsukamaki thread, we could clearly see the entire appearance of each Menuki. Today, it is challenging to know the design of the cloth that covers this handle because the pattern on the fabric has become difficult to see due to aging. It seems this cloth had a gorgeous design, so we assume the simplicity of this Menuki matched well with this handle’s design.
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 antique Tsuba has a typical shape of the Tachi Goshirae Tsuba (太刀拵鐔). The difference between Tachi Tsuba (太刀鐔) and Katana Tsuba (刀鐔) is that the top and bottom positions of the Nakago hole (茎櫃, center hole) are reversed. The Tsuba of this Koshirae has Aoi (葵) Tsuba shape. The Ju-Ji (十字, cross) pattern is designed from the center part.
If you focus on four corners, you will find a heart mark-shaped hole is engraved on each edge. It is called the Inome (猪の目) pattern. The Inome pattern has been used since ancient times. As its name implies, the boar’s eyes are the origin of this pattern. Some people believed the Inome design would work as an amulet to protect them from evil spirits or fire. Also, it is said it would bring good luck. The same as other sword mountings of this Koshirae, this Tsuba also has a quite simple appearance without gold or silver paintings.
Saya: Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper: NBTHK Hozon Certificate for the blade (No.379539)
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 March 19th in the 20th year of Heisei (2008). 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: Hyogo 20468
The Board of Education in Hyogo 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.
Here is one of the reviews we received from a customer who purchased an authentic Japanese sword from us. For more reviews, please click here.
“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.
We accept payment through Stripe (Credit card), PayPal, Apple Pay or ChromePay, all of which are secure payment methods. Also, you don’t need to make an account on Stripe for the checkout. If you prefer other payment method, please contact us. After confirming your payment, we will apply for an export permit. You may either pay in JPY, USD, AUD, CAD, EUR, CHF or GBP. The price is set in Japanese Yen. Prices in other currencies are automatically calculated based on the latest exchange rate.
*If the amount is above 1 million JPY, Stripe or wire transfer will be the only options for payment.
We have shipped authentic Japanese swords to the USA, UK, Canada, Mexico, Germany, France, Hong Kong and Australia. If you don’t live in these countries and like to order, please contact us first before making a purchase. We offer Free International Shipping as long as we can send antique Japanese swords by EMS.
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 take 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.
*If you live in Australia and like to purchase an authentic Japanese sword, please click here to know the detail.
*Please keep in mind that due to the spread of COVID-19, there might be delays in shipping. If you like to know the detail about shipping, please feel free to ask us.
【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 a 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.
Thank you for reading all the information on the page. If you have any difficulty choosing the right Japanese sword for you, we will be more than happy to help you find the one that speaks to you the most. Please feel free to contact us.