Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Suketaka with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Bishu Jyu Kuzan Suketaka (備州住久山祐高) in the 4th year of the Keio era (1868: The end of the Edo period). Suketaka was active from the end of the Edo period to the beginning of the Meiji era. Bishu, also known as Bizen, is the name of the province located in Today’s Okayama prefecture. He belonged to Osafune school and was an offspring of Sukesada (祐定). Other famous figures who belonged to Osafune school are Yokoyama Sukenaga and Yokoyama Sukekane.
About Sukesada school
Suketaka’s ancestors dated back to Sukesada school, one of the most famous schools, and flourished for generations among Osafune schools(The head branch). There were various styles forged by the generations of Sukesada during the Muromachi-Edo period. There were about 60 swordsmiths who used Sukesada as his maker’s name in Samurai history.
The swordsmiths in Bizen produced many swords during the Muromachi period, as it was in the middle of the Sengoku period(Warring State period). The demand for weapons increased among strong feudal lords. However, The sword-forging tradition of Bizen province almost disappeared because of the disastrous flood of the Yoshii River (1591), which was close to Osafune school. Even after everything was destroyed, there were few remaining swordsmiths. One of them was a group of swordsmiths who signed Sukesada. The main member of the school was Yokoyama Fujishiro Sukesada, the fourth head of Sukesada School. And one of his children was Shichibei no Jyo Sukesada (七兵衛尉祐定). They became one of the pioneers that revitalized the sword-forging business in Bizen province. Suketaka was a descendant of this Sukesada.
The history of Osafune School
It is said that Osafune school was founded by Mitsutada (光忠), who was active during the mid-Kamakura period. Bizen Osafune school was the biggest one of all other schools in Bizen province, and they received many orders from feudal lords or renowned Samurai. They were called Osafunemono and beloved by Samurai warriors.
Among the swordsmiths who belonged to this school, Nagamitsu, Sanenaga, and Kagemitsu are known as Osafune Sansaku, the three renowned Osafune swordsmiths. There are also four other prominent swordsmiths who were from Bizen Osafune school. They are called Osafune Shiten-no, the four masters of Osafune school. Their names are Nagamitsu, Kanemitsu, Nagayoshi, and Motoshige.
BIZEN is located near the Chugoku Mountains, where iron sands, one of the essential materials for making Japanese swords, were abundant. Furthermore, BIZEN swordsmiths had close access to Yoshi River, where they could find water and charcoal. This geological location contributed to the swordsmiths forging high-quality refined blades. We presume BIZEN was quite active in sword-forging from ancient times. It is said that BIZEN DEN was created by groups of swordsmiths there during the late Heian era (Late 12th century ). These ancient swordsmiths in Bizen province are called Ko-Bizen (Old Bizen) swordsmiths. By inheriting the sword forging techniques from Ko-Bizen swordsmiths, the Bizen Osafune school flourished from the mid-Kamakura period.
It 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)： 71.1 cm (28.0 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.
You would find the figures of small birds engraved on this Fuchi Kashira. For example, we could see four birds flying in the sky on the Kashira part. Its metal surface has worn down due to aging, and currently, it is not easy to see all the details. We could still see the traces of golden paints here and there. Although it is challenging to determine what type of bird they are based on their appearance from what we could see, the motif is likely a bird that is familiar to people’s lives.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
The same as the Fuchi Kashira, this Menuki’s design is also related to a bird. Since the plant visible through the gaps of the Tsukamaki thread is quite similar to bamboo grasses, we would like to mention one classical combination pattern as a possible motif of this Menuki. It is called the Take ni Suzume (竹に雀), a Japanese idiom that means an example of a good match. Take (竹) is bamboo, and Suzume (雀) means sparrow.
Bamboo grows neatly toward the sky, and it is a vital plant. Therefore, this motif represents nobility and strength. According to a foreign legend, the Houhou (鳳凰, Fenghuang) eats bamboo fruits, so bamboo has been considered a sacred plant. Also, as it keeps its green color even in cold winter, people thought the bamboo pattern showed eternity and longevity. The design of sparrows flocking around this evergreen plant was considered an auspicious thing and has become a good-luck pattern that wishes for the prosperity of descendants and the family’s prosperity. It is said that sparrows peck misfortune and symbolize a family’s safety and wealth. Also, there is an idea that believes a sparrow is Houou’s chick. The legend of the Houou and bamboo mentioned above comes to mind now. While there is no proof, we are happy if you would enjoy this consideration as a possibility.
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 rough surface. Its outline is not the usual regular oval shape but is irregularly distorted, making it a unique form that shows the movement of the maker’s hand.
About the design, several flowers with six petals are depicted on both sides of this Tsuba. The shape of these flowers suggests that they are probably the Tessen (鉄扇, clematis) flowers. This flower’s petals spread out like a windmill and have stiff vines. There is a design that is called the Tessen Karakusa Mon (鉄線唐草文) that emphasizes vines. According to a theory, the Japanese name for this flower, Tessen, was derived from the fact that the hard vines remind us of iron wires (鉄線 means iron wire in the Japanese dictionary sense). This flower was appreciated as a flower to decorate tea parties, and people favored its graceful appearance. There are also various Tessen flower-designed family crests. Based on these facts, it is understandable that it was incorporated into sword mountings, as seen in this Tsuba.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 1020381)
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 May 31th in the 5th year of Reiwa (2023). 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 : Okayama 88796
The Board of Education in Okayama 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 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 an export permit. If you live in Japan, please click here before you make a purchase.
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 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.
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.”
【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.
【How To Contact Us】
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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.