Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Minamoto Sukeharu with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Sagami No Kami Minamoto Sukeharu (相模守源祐春), who was active in Settsu province during the early Edo period (Enpo era: 1673-1681). Sukeharu is a nephew of Bizen no Kami Minamoto Sukekuni, a famous swordsmith who originally belonged to Kishu Ishido school and moved to Settsu city (Today’s Osaka). Sukekuni was the master of Sukeharu.
There aren’t many remaining works created by Sukeharu because it is said that he dedicated his career to helping his master. Sukeharu received an honorable official ranking of Sagami no Kami from the emperor for his excellent craftsmanship.
Ishido school was initially founded by Sukenaga, an offspring of Ichimonji Sukemune, who made Fukuoka Ichimonji school in Bizen province(Today’s Okayama prefecture). During 1492-1501 (Late Muromachi period), Sukenaga and his school moved from Bizen province to Omi province after being summoned by Gamou family, a powerful feudal line in that region. Sukenaga started to live in front of Ishido temple, and he changed his surname to Ishido.
Kishu＆ Osaka Ishido School
As of the early Edo period, many Ishido swordsmiths moved to other parts of Japan, looking for better opportunities. There are four areas: Edo, Osaka, Kishu(Wakayama prefecture), and Chikuzen(Fukuoka prefecture). Omi Ishido school is the origin of whole other Ishido branches that flourished during the Edo period. His master Sukekuni belonged to Kishu Ishido school but later moved to Osaka city. It is said that he played an essential role in building the foundation of Osaka Ishido school.
The blades forged by Sukeharu are categorized as Osaka Shinto. Shinto is Japanese Sword terminology that refers to the swords forged during 1596-1781. The blades made in the Osaka area during this period are called Osaka Shinto. There are many famous swordsmiths in this Osaka Shinto era. After Hideyoshi Toyotomi built Osaka castle, Osaka city flourished as a castle town and became the business center. Many swordsmiths moved to Osaka to look for better opportunities. They not only forged swords for those Samurai who lived in Osaka but also for feudal lords nationwide. Ikanshi Tadatsuna(Awataguchi Omi no Kami Tadatsuna), Inoue Shinkai, and Tsuda Sukehiro are the most famous among many swordsmiths.
One of the most notable characteristics of Osaka Shinto is its beauty in Jigane. Jigane is a visible steel surface pattern created by folding and hammering during the forging process), which made it possible by the location of Osaka. Osaka had close access to the Tamahagane(special carbon steel to make Japanese swords) production sites. The swordsmiths residing in Osaka were able to get high-quality carbon steel from these sites.
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)：74.2 cm (29.2 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：1.51 cm (0.59 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.
The Kashira part has a simple look. Although there are minor damages due to aging, its black color creates an elegant atmosphere. On the other hand, the Fuchi part has an ornamental look. Its surface is colored with golden paint and is decorated with the Nanako-Ji (魚子地) technique. About the motif, these leaves are probably Aoi (葵) because of their heart mark shapes. Today, the Aoi-Domoe / Mitsuba-Aoi-no Mon (葵巴/三つ葉葵の紋 ) is known as the family crest of the Tokugawa Shogunate family led by Tokugawa Ieyasu, a famous military commander of the Warring States period. This plant pattern has also been used for the crest of the Kamo shrine in Kyoto prefecture. As mentioned above, the famous Shogunate family, the Tokugawa family, had their family crest with three leaves of Aoi due to the relationship with the Kamo shrine. As its leaves have a habit of always facing the sun, and the word “Aoi” is taken as “Aogu (仰ぐ, looking up)” for the sun, people thought the Aoi pattern would bring good fortune.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
You could find a kind of fish design in the gaps of the Tsukamaki thread. Its eyes are probably gold-colored, and you can see its adorable appearance. We think this Menuki’s motif is the Namazu (鯰, catfish). It is a fish with a large head and mouth, two beards, and a slimy body without scales. Catfishes are nervous and delicate, so they react sensitively to small shakes and violate or jump. For that reason, after the middle ages in Japan, people thought that a catfish was the cause of earthquakes because they could feel tiny shakes that nobody could realize. The catfish pattern was described often in the Edo period. There is a famous ink painting theme about this animal called the Hyoune Zu (瓢鯰図). It depicts a man trying to keep Namazu (鯰, catfish) with Hyoutan (瓢箪, gourd). It is a question and answer of Zen Buddhism. It is thought this theme came from the proverb that means to succeed having difficulty. Since the motifs of sword mountings sometimes reflect the taste of its owner or his view of religion, the former owner of this Katana with catfish might have believed in Zen Buddhism.
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.
Oval-shaped Tsuba that has Kozuka and Kougai holes. Arrows are arranged radially and make a circle shape that looks like a tire. Its design is named Yaguruma (矢車) in Japanese. Ya (矢) means an arrow, and Kuruma (車, also pronounced Guruma) means a car in Japanese. The arrow pattern has been incorporated as a talisman to protect children, especially boys, wishing them to grow up healthy and strong to become brilliant Samurai.
Since ancient times, arrows have been used as a weapon, which is the original purpose of this item. Additionally, each home displayed decorated arrows wishing it would exorcize evil spirits in the house. This talisman is called the Hama-Ya (破魔矢) in Japanese, and this custom is still kept today. As an arrow goes straight forward powerfully, lots of Samurais loved the arrow pattern.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 1016524)
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 Aug 27th in the 3rd year of Reiwa (2021). They appraised it as Tokubetsu Hozon Touken, the blade especially 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 : Fukui 140
The Board of Education in Fukui 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 400 Japanese swords for the past three years (～2022) 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 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, 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 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.