Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Suketsugu with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Suketsugu (助次), who was active during the early Muromachi period (1394-1429) in Yamato province (today’s Nara prefecture). It is said that he belonged to Senjuin school and served Toudaiji temple. Senjuin school is the oldest school among other schools that flourished during the Kamakura-Muromachi period.
Senjuin School in Yamato region
There was a temple called Senjudo in Nara prefecture where Senju Kannon (Thousand arms) Budha statue was worshiped. And a group of swordsmiths who lived there was known as Senjuin (千手院). They belonged to Todaji temple. Senjuin School was founded by Yukinobu, who was the son of Yoshiyuki, another famous swordsmith. Yukinonobu was originally a servant for Senjuin temple, a branch of Todaiji temple during the late Heian period (1086-1107), and eventually became a swordsmith who exclusively forged blades for Todaiji temple.
There were five prestigious schools, including Senjuin school, during the Kamakura-early Muromachi period in Yamato province. They are called Yamato Goha(大和五派); Senjuin(千手院), Shikkake (尻懸), Taima(当麻), Hosho(保昌) and Tegai(手掻) 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. They required strong weapons like swords to protect themselves. During this time, Senjuin school or other Yamato sword schools met the requests from monks. They also forged blades for Samurai during their heyday.
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.
Ubu Nakago (生茎)
Ubu Nakago is a Japanese sword terminology that refers to a blade that hasn’t been shortened. This blade has a cutting edge length of 70.9 cm. It is Ubu Nakago, meaning it was never shortened since its creation. It was common for Samurai to have their Katana shortened to follow the imposed regulations or adjust their body size. You can often see the shortened blades made during the Kamakura-Muromachi period. However, the length of this blade hasn’t changed, and it is extremely rare to find such a piece (Ubunakago) made before the Edo period and its signature still remains on the tang.
*Please keep in mind that there are a couple of Kitae Kizu on this blade. If you like see the detailed condition, please feel free to contact us.
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)：70.9 cm (27.9 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 2.8 cm ( 1.10 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. On the other hand, the Fuchi part is gorgeously decorated. It has a rough surface, and you will find minor golden marks. These are the family crests called the Go San-no Kiri (五三の桐) pattern. The number of flowers blooming at each inflorescence means the ranks of this design. It is a popular design that the paulownia (this flower is called 桐 in Japanese) motif is used. This pattern was once used by the imperial family and people in authority at that time. Today, it is permitted to use by ordinary households and is appreciated as their family crests. According to a tradition, Houou (鳳凰, Fenghuang, a kind of sacred beast) rests its wings at the paulownia tree; therefore, it has come to be regarded as a holy plant.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
We can see the figure of a dragon on this Menuki. In addition, we can also see golden ring patterns and stripes. Although we cannot see the entire shape of this Menuki, we estimate its motif is a combination of dragon and tiger. Both animals’ designs were favored among Samurai warriors. Initially, the dragon was an imaginary creature found in ancient foreign traditions or myths. Furthermore, it is regarded as a symbol of auspicious signs. Its body is likened to nine animals: antlers are deer, the head is a camel, eyes are demons, the neck is a snake, the belly is the Mizuchi (蛟, a mythical animal in Japan that looks like a snake and has a horn and four legs), scales are fish, claws are falcons, palms are tigers, and ears are cows. It was thought that the dragon would reign at the top of all animals because of its odd-looking appearance.
The tiger is a brave animal. A theory says people considered the tiger pattern would protect people from evil spirits. Therefore, its pattern has been treated as a talisman. The combination of these beasts is called the Ryu Ko Zu (龍虎図), a design that expresses the fighting spirit of those with the same power fighting fiercely. This idea might have inspired this Menuki’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 Tsuba has a unique symmetrical shape. You would find four heart marks on each end. This is the Inome (猪の目, boar’s eyes) pattern, which has been used since ancient times. Some people believed that 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. This pattern is often found in traditional Japanese architectures such as shrines or temples and used Gegyo (懸魚, decoration under the roof, where the roof is jointed) or metal fittings for hiding timber joints. Such a religious motif was sometimes incorporated into sword mounting designs.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 1014490)
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 9th in the 2nd year of Reiwa (2020) . 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 : Saitama 2561
The Board of Education in Saitama 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, 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 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.
【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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