Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Chojyusai Tsunatoshi with NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Chojyusai Tsunatoshi(長寿斎綱俊) in August, the 6th year of the Ansei era (1859). The signature also says that Chounsai Koretoshi (長運斎是俊), who is the son of Tsunatoshi, was involved in this sword-forging. When two swordsmiths collaborated to create one work, it is called Gassaku (合作). It was generally done by a master and his apprentice or his son. Chojyusai Tsunatoshi is also known as the first-gen Tsunatoshi because his son also used Tsunatoshi as his maker’s name. Based on the tang, this blade was forged upon the request from Fukuda Nao-Oki (福田直興). We believe this person was a high-ranked Samurai who was wealthy enough to order a custom-made sword from a renowned swordsmith.
The first-gen Tsunatoshi was born in 1798 in Yonezawa city, Hashu province (Yamagata prefecture) as the third son of Izumi no Kami Kunihide(和泉守国英). His family name was Kato, and he was the younger brother of Kato Tsunahide. Tsunatoshi’s real name was Kato Hachiro.
He served Yonezawa Uesugi clan, a powerful feudal lord in today’s Yamagata prefecture.
During his early career, he moved to Edo city to learn superb sword-forging techniques from Suishinshi Masahide, one of the most renowned swordsmiths at the end of the Edo period.
There is also a record of him forging swords in Osaka and Kumamoto while his base was in Azabu town in Edo city (Today’s Tokyo).
He settled in Edo city around 1823, and he created most of his work. He started to run his school there and resided in the house of Uesugi family. It is said that he received a stipend from them. He received the honorable title Chounsai (長運斎) in the first year of the Bunka era (1854). And, he gave this title to his son Koretoshi (the second-gen Tsunatoshi) in 1856, and he got the new title Chojyusai (長寿斎). Chojyu means living a long life in Japanese.
His school flourished at the end of the Edo period, training many swordsmiths who later became historically significant ones, such as Koyama Munetsugu, Takahashi Naganobu, Ishido Korekazu. Tsunatoshi excelled at forging Bizen-Den tradition swords with Choji Midare Hamon, an irregular, wavy tempering line. You can see this characteristic in this blade as well. Most of Tsunatoshi’s work reflects Bizen Den (One of the Five Japanese sword-forging traditions). In terms of Bizen Den tradition swords, it is said that Tsunatoshi school surpassed Suishinshi Masahide school.
Tsunatoshi died at the age of 66 in December 1863 after creating many great swords for high-class Samurais in Edo city. He is categorized as one of the top-tier swordsmiths during the late Edo period (SHIN SHIN TO era). And, he was the head of the prosperous school at the end of the Edo period.
This blade is appraised as a Tokubetsu Hozon Token(特別保存刀剣) 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, especially well preserved and high quality with artistic value.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)： 69.7 cm( 27.4 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 1.6 cm(0.63 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.
A plant pattern is designed for this Fuchi Kashira. The same design also decorates the scabbard. Carving lines remain in good condition and make an ornamental appearance of this Koshirae. We think this plant pattern is a kind of the Karakusa (唐草, arabesque) design. It is a pattern in which stems and leaves of vines are twined and make curves. As ivy has a strong vitality and grows up without interruption, people have considered this design a symbol of prosperity and longevity. In Japanese, Vine is called Tsuru (蔓), and it has another pronunciation; “Man.” There is a word 万 (it is also read Man), which means thousand. In the Karakusa pattern, leaves and vines are connected like an Obi (帯, belt). The word 帯 can also be read “Tai.” Due to its pronunciation, the term 代 (Tai) is associated. From this word-association game, an idiom 万代 is associated, and it means a thousand generations. In other words, we imagine that people have used this design wishing prosperity and longevity for their clans for a long time.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
It is challenging to see the entire figure of Menukis through the gaps of the Tsukamaki thread. It seems a kind of animal. Regarding the curly hairs of these animals, we guess the Kara-Jishi (唐獅子) is the motif. The Shishi (獅子) means a lion in Japanese, and the Kara-Jishi is a lion brought from the Continent to Japan in the Toh period (唐, Tang dynasty, 618-907). The Kara-Jishi typically has curly hair for its head, neck, body, and tail, as you see in this work. In Buddhism, the Kara-Jishi is regarded as a symbol of wisdom, and the Monju Bosatu (文殊菩薩, Manjushri Bodhisattva) rides lions. According to a theory, the Kara-Jishi originates from the Komainu (狛犬, stone guardian dogs that exorcize evil spirits). The former owner of this sword might have been a pious Buddhist.
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 Tsuba has a symmetrical shape. Its edge is covered with a thin metal plate; it gives a decorativeness for this work. And it has practicality. For example, it prevents the wear of the edge part. We imagine it also prevents the wear and tear of the Kimono if the edge damages it by touching the cloth.
You would find a heart mark in this Tsuba. It is called the Inome (猪の目) pattern. This design has been used since ancient times in Japan. As its name implies, the boar’s eyes are its origin. Some people have believed that the Inome pattern would work as an amulet to protect them from evil spirits or fire. Also, it is said it would bring good luck.
Kougai：Kougai is the equipment for Samurai to arrange or fix his hair style.
The Kougai was used to arrange or fix the hairstyle of Samurais. This item is usually stored in the Kougai Hitsu. The Kozuka is often stored at the other side of the scabbard, as you see in this Koshirae. This Kougai is separated into two parts; this type of Kougai is categorized as the Wari Kougai (割笄). According to a theory, this separated type was invented in the Edo period, and it became popular as decorative metal fittings. Although there is no proof, it is said that some people used the Wari Kougai as chopsticks.
Kozuka：Kozuka is a small knife stored in Koduka Hitsu(groove of the sheath of the Japanese sword).
A Kogatana (小刀, small knife) is stored in the Kozuka. It is probably made from copper, and its brownish color emphasizes the impression that this Kozuka looks like wood grain.; it is also because of thin line patterns.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 153792)
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 4th in the 21st year of Heisei (2009). They appraised them as Tokubetsu Hozon Touken, the blade especially worth preserving for Japanese society. The purchaser will receive these original certificates as well. We can also translate what is written into English and make a PDF file for your record if you request.
Registration Number : Tokyo 159727
The Board of Education in Tokyo 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.
【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 350 Japanese swords 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.
We have shipped authentic Japanese swords to the USA, Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany, Switzerland, 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 either EMS or FedEx(Canada).
We normally ship by EMS(Express Mail Service) provided by Japan Post. When we receive an order from the Canada we will use FedEx instead as EMS temporarily stops shipping from Japan to those countries due to COVID-19.
We will send you a tracking number for your order as soon as we hand it to the post office/FedEx. 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.
* 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 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 Powder, Peg remover, Oil Applicator). By watching the video instruction above , you can enjoy learning how to maintain your Japanese sword while appreciating it.
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