Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Yokoyama Sukehisa with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Yokoyama Sukehisa (横山祐久) in the 5th year of the Ansei era (1858：The end of the Edo period). He belonged to Bizen Osafune school, located in today’s Okayama prefecture. He was especially active during the Ansei-Keio era (1855-1868). He was an apprentice of Yokoyama Sukenaga.
About Sukenaga(His master)
Bizen Osafune Jyu Sukenaga(備前長船住祐永) is one of the most famous swordsmiths in Bizen province at the end of the Edo period(Bakumatsu). Born as the second son of Yokoyama Sukehira, he belonged to the Yokoyama school in Bizen province(today’s Okayama prefecture). He eventually became the head of this school. He called himself the 56th-gen of Tomonari, a renowned swordsmith in the mid-late Heian period in Bizen province. He was allowed to inscribe a chrysanthemum emblem, which is the symbol of the Japanese emperor. His sword forging technique was so great that the emperor allowed him to use this emblem, which was quite honorable for any swordsmith. He trained many apprentices. Sukehisa was one of his students. And we believe Sukehisa was a very skilled swordsmith while there aren’t many remaing works today.
This History of Bizen 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 were 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 the 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)：68.1 cm(26.8 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 2.0 cm( 0.79 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.
We think this Fuchi Kashira’s design is a kind of Ajiro (網代) pattern, which is also called the Higaki (檜垣, a fence made of thin cypress boards with wickerwork). It is the design in which rows of oblique right and left rectangles are alternately combined. The intersection angle is not a right angle, and the rectangle sometimes becomes a parallelogram. It is used for dyeing and weaving tint patterns and is also seen in bamboo works. The Ajiro is a wickerwork trap, fishing gear made of bamboo instead of a net. Therefore, this design represents a large catch. Also, some people believed it would exorcise evil spirits. These meanings might have inspired this Fuchi Kashira’s design.
Also, please check the design of the Fuchi part and the side of the Kashira part. It seems that an elongated bamboo is wrapped around them. As mentioned above, the Ajiro pattern has been used for bamboo works. It is probably why bamboos were designed on this Fuchi Kashira. In addition, the bamboo design itself is favored as an auspicious motif for long time. Since this plant keeps its green color even in cold winter, people thought the bamboo pattern shows eternity and longevity.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
The same as the Fuchi Kashira, this Menuki is also colored with silvery paint. Seeing from the gaps of the Tsukamaki thread, we estimate that a tree branch and a small bird perched on it are engraved.
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.
The surface of this Tsuba has worn away over time, making it challenging to see the engraving lines, and now it is uneasy to determine what kind of motifs were initially engraved on it. At the lower side of its front, we could see the Ume (梅, Japanese apricot blossom) tree and a figure of an animal which seems to be a tiger or lion. We assume this animal is a Karajishi (唐獅子). The Shishi (獅子) means a lion in Japanese, and the Karajishi is a lion brought from the continent to Japan in the Toh period (唐, Tang dynasty, 618-907). The Karajishi typically has curly hair for its head, neck, body, and tail. In Buddhism, the Karajishi is regarded as a symbol of wisdom, and Monju Bosatu (文殊菩薩, Manjushri Bodhisattva) rides lions. According to a theory, the Karajishi is the origin of Komainu (狛犬, stone guardian dogs that exorcize evil spirits). It shows this beast motif has been familiar to Japanese people since ancient times.
Japanese apricot blossoms begin to bloom in winter that snow still covers its tree. Therefore, people thought this flower told the arrival of spring. Same as cherry blossom, it has been appreciated for a long time in Japan. People enjoy its adorable petal shape and scent and gracefully branched tree and compose many poems. As it comes out in the cold season, it symbolizes the power of perseverance and vitality.
On the backside of this Tsuba, we estimate its design is the Takaradukushi (宝尽くし, combination of several treasures) pattern. It is because we could find a Chouji (丁子, precious medicine, fragrance, dye). It is a plant that represents happy marriage, good health, and longevity. We are uncertain about other engraved motifs; these might also be elements of the Takaradukushi pattern, the same as the Chouji.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 1018957)
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 December 14th in the 4th year of Reiwa (2022). 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 29027
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.
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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, 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.
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“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.
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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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