Antique Japanese Sword Katana Signed by Yokoyama Sukekane with Tokubetsu Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Bizen Osafune Yokoyama Sukekane(備前長船横山祐包) in the first year of the Genji era(1864: Bakumatsu era). He signed the 58th grandson of Tomonari on the tang as well.
Tomomori was a renowned swordsmith in the mid-late Heian period in Bizen province(today’s Okayama prefecture). We presume he signed it to be proud of his ancestry.
About Bizen Osafune
Sukekane’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 blades increased among strong feudal lords. The high level of craftsmanship had been passed until the end of the Edo period, and Sukekane is a good example.
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 to forge 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 after the late Heian era(Late 12th century ).
The Background History
Japan enjoyed a relatively peaceful time from the early Edo period to the mid-Edo period(the 1600s-1760s) because of the stable economy and the powerful government run by Tokugawa Shogun. Samurai didn’t have many opportunities to utilize his Katana sword in public or on battlefields during this time. Thus, they carried their swords more as a symbol of their social status. The demand for weapons decreased accordingly compared to the previous Warring state period called Sengoku Jidai. (1467-1600)
However, toward the end of the Edo period(1764-1876), the Japanese sword’s role changed dramatically. With the poverty spreading in Japan, there were so many riots initiated by the civilians. Japanese sword started to play an essential role in maintaining public safety.
Pressure from foreign countries to open Japanese borders also forced Samurai to order strong-looking swords to survive this tumultuous time. We believe many swordsmiths, including Sukekane, made great efforts to forged high-quality, practical blades for their masters to prepare for battles.
There was a civil war between Tokugawa’s military government and the new Meiji government at the end of the Edo period. That means the original owner of this Katana might have seen the moment when Samurai’s life changed forever. This blade has a strong looking and must have been practical to use in that demanding time.
You can see Sukekane’s excellent craftsmanship by simply looking at this blade closely. We are confident you will be happy to own this piece of Samurai history.
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)： 74.6 cm(29.4 inches)
Curvature(Sori)： 1.6cm( 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.
Small dogs are designed for the Fuchi part. It seems the golden metal was initially applied to these dogs. Dogs have been familiar with our daily life since ancient times. In the past, there were only middle-sized dogs in Japan. According to a theory, a little dog was presented as a gift from the Continent to Japan in 732. The then emperor loved it very much. After this dog passed away, the emperor ordered to make an ornament of it, and this display object became the talisman against evils. Later, it combined with the lion’s image. Have you ever seen Komainu (狛犬)? Komainu is a statue that is usually placed in shrines. They look like a mixture of dogs and lions. According to a theory, the small dog above and the lion were the originals of Komainu.
The dog pattern represents a safe delivery and the wish for children to grow up healthy. Therefore, dogs motifs are often found in Kimono (traditional Japanese costume) for ladies and children. However, it was not only women or children who appreciated the dog pattern. There was a Shogun (the top of Samurai who ruled entire Japan) who is famous even today for loving animals: Tsunayoshi Tokugawa, the 5th Shogun in the Edo period. He promulgated a law to protect animals’ lives. It is said he had more than one hundred dogs. He was called “Inu Shogun,” which means Shogun of dogs in Japanese. We hope you would enjoy this Menuki’s design itself and also the history of the motif.
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
It is challenging to judge the motif of this Menuki; it might be the Hanaguruma (花車) design. This is the design of the combination of multiple flowers and a graphic representation of an oxcart. It is said the Hanaguruma would invite gods. People used this pattern wishing to obtain happiness. Unfortunately, it is not easy to distinguish in this work, but it is considered that each flower has its meaning.
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 is an antique Tsuba that has Kozuka and Kougai holes. This Tsuba’s edge is framed with a metal plate and makes a wavy pattern. This type of edging gives a decorativeness to this work. And it also has practicality, such as preventing the wear of the edge part. Moreover, it prevents the wear and tear of the Kimono if the edge damages it by touching the cloth.
Flowers are designed for this Tsuba. It seems these plants were initially gorgeously colored with gold and silver. When this Tsuba is put into the Tsuka (handle), it looks as if those flowers are in full bloom from the sword’s handle.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
The scabbard is coated with crusted oyster shell called Raden(螺鈿).
Authentication Paper：NBTHK TOKUBETSU Hozon 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 Feb 9th in the 10th year of Heisei (1998). 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 : Osaka 26232
The Board of Education in Osaka issued a registration paper for this sword . In order to obtain this paper, the sword needs to be traditionally hand forged. With this paper, its owner can legally own an authentic Japanese sword in Japan. This paper will need to be returned to the board of education when the sword being shipped abroad but you can receive a copy of it.
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 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, EUR or GBP. The price is set in Japanese Yen. Prices in other currencies are automatically calculated based on the latest exchange rate.
We have shipped authentic Japanese swords to the USA, Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany , France and Hong Kong. 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.
*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 Powder, Peg remover, Oil Applicator). By watching the video instruction above , you can enjoy learning how to maintain your Japanese sword while appreciating it.