Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Tsunatoshi (Koretoshi Gassaku) with NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Chojyusai Tsunatoshi(長寿斎綱俊) in August, the third year of the Bunkyu era (1863). 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.
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)： 71.5 cm( 28.1 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 1.66 cm( 0.65 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 Zuiun (瑞雲) pattern decorates this Fuchi Kashira. The Zuiun pattern is a kind of cloud design that has been treated as an auspicious motif. If you focus on the picture, you will find that the clouds are depicted with black lines. Clouds bring rain and snow, and their movements significantly affect the day’s weather. Due to its supernatural power, a theory says that gods, spirits, and dragons dwell in the clouds.
The cloud pattern has been associated with magical power, and people thought it an omen of lucky things. Also, as clouds appear repeatedly, its design represents reincarnation. Samurais were always on the verge of life and death on the battlefield. They might have believed in the power of this pattern. And they had incorporated it into the design of their sword mountings.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
The certificate says that this Menuki’s motif is the Karahana-Mon Sansou Zu (唐花紋三双図). The golden paint is applied to each Menuki, and the entire condition is good. The Karahana (唐花) means the flowers brought from the Continent; it does not limit a specific plant. It is said Japanese people started using this pattern as a family crest in the Nara period (710-784). Shibata Katsuie (柴田 勝家, 1522-1530), who served under the famous Samurai: Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長, 1534-1582). His Kaemon (替紋, another crest used in place of the fixed crest of the family) was designed with the Karahana pattern. A theory says that he was inspired by one of Nobunaga’s family crests; however, there is no sure proof.
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.
According to the certificate, the Warabite (蕨手, bracken that just came into bud, or a pattern in which one end of the curve is spirally wound inward like the tip of bracken) pattern decorates this Tsuba. This pattern is often designed as a pair; you see that it is symmetrically engraved in this work. There is an idea that considers the Warabite pattern a kind of magical design. This plant motif has been appreciated in Japan for various craftworks such as dyeing and weaving, lacquer, ceramics, etcetera.
About the signature, you would find a Japanese apricot blossom mark which is inlaid with gold. And it continues as 忠, and his Kaou (花押, stylized signature).
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
This scabbard is decorated with crushed seashells. This ornamental scabbard painting is called the Aogai Mijin Nuri (青貝微塵塗). It uses the Aogai (青貝, kind of seashell). Finely crushed shells are coated with lacquer. It emits a unique blue-green color with a rainbow-colored glow. In this work, the delicate brilliance is scattered on the black lacquer ground, and it seems as if it depicts a starry sky. We hope you will appreciate its elegant and gorgeous look.
* Please keep in mind that this Saya has been restored. If you like to see those parts, please check the photos or we can send you more detailed photos upon request.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade and Koshirae Koshu Tokuetsu Kicho Certificate for the blade
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 August 27th in the third year of Reiwa (2021) and its Koshirae was appraised on July 14h in the same year. They appraised them as Tokubetsu Hozon Touken＆ Tosogu, the blade ＆ sword mounting especially worth preserving for Japanese society. The purchaser will receive these original certificates as well. The blade was appraised as Koshu Tokubetsu Kicho, an old form of the certificate on July 1oth in the 52nd year of Showa(1977). We can also translate what is written into English and make a PDF file for your record if you request.
Registration Number : Osaka 20991
The Board of Education in Osaka 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.
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, Canada, Mexico, UK, 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 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.
【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 Powder, Peg remover, Oil Applicator). By watching the video instruction above , you can enjoy learning how to maintain your Japanese sword while appreciating it.
Thank you for reading all the information on the page. If you have any difficulty choosing the right 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.