Antique Japanese Sword Tanto Signed by Yokoyama Sukekane with NBTHK Hozon Certificate
This blade was signed by Bizen Osafune Jyu Yokoyama Sukekane(備前長船住横山祐包) in the 5th year of the Ansei era(1858: 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. Bizen Osafune Jyu means that he resided in this area in today’s Okayama prefecture. Osafune is also the name of the school Sukekane belonged to. Yokoyama was his last name.
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 Tanto 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 Hozon Token(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, well preserved with artistic value.
Cutting Edge Length(Nagasa)：28.6 cm( 11.2 inches)
Curvature(Sori)：0 cm (0 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), Kozuka.
Fuchi-Kashira：A pair of matching sword fittings that cover the upper and bottom parts of its sword hilt.
You could find the signature of this Fuchi Kashira’s maker on the side of the Fichi part. It is written as Shufu-Ju (秋府住) Hondou Naonaga (本堂 直長). It means this work was done by Hondou Naonaga, who lived in the Shufu area.
The wave pattern is engraved in semi-three dimensionally with strong carving lines. The rough movement of the waves creates an animated image. This motif is often seen in sword mountings and frequently combined with the dragon design. We estimate it is because of a belief that worships the dragon as a water god.
As waves’ movements continue endlessly, the wave pattern represents eternity, immortality, longevity, birth, etcetera. Also, since tides repeatedly change the shape and terrain of rocks, some people hoped for a strong will by using this motif. People used this pattern wishing for an indomitable spirit to rechallenge time and time without giving up. Thanks to its dynamic design, this motif has been appreciated, especially for men’s Kimono (traditional Japanese costume).
Tsuka and Menuki：Tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword and Menuki is its decoration.
This Menuki is made from copper. It remains its classy color. We believe this Menuki’s design is a family crest. This plant pattern is categorized as the Kiri (桐, paulownia) motif, and is called the Gosan-no Kiri (五三の桐) design.
The Kiri pattern is generally composed of three standing straight inflorescences and three leaves. The number of flowers blooming at each inflorescence shows the ranks of this design. It is also famous that one of the most popular Samurai in Japan: Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉, 1537-1598), used the Kiri pattern for his family crest. A theory says that Hideyoshi initially used the Omodaka (沢瀉, arrowhead) pattern as his family crest. However, Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長, 1534-1582), a well-known military commander in the Warring States period, permitted Hideyoshi to use the Kiri design. After the fall of the Muromachi Shogunate and the defeat of Nobunaga at the Honnouji (本能寺) temple, the reign of Hideyoshi finally started. Hideyoshi used this plant motif in various items such as clothes, furniture, decorations of his buildings, etcetera.
Moreover, he bestowed the Kiri crests to his subordinates with the clan name Hashiba (羽柴, Hideyoshi used this family name before the Toyotomi clan) or Toyotomi (豊臣). However, even among Hideyoshi’s subordinates, this Kiri crest was often given as a reward. But some people began to use this family crest without permission, such as by borrowing or stealing it. In response to this situation, Hideyoshi enacted a law to limit the use of the Kiri crest, but the value of this design decreased considerably. Therefore, it is said that Hideyoshi used a unique design Kiri crest called the Taikou Giri (太閤桐) pattern to distinguish it from others. Through these processes, the Kiri crest became a familiar emblem not only for the privileged class, such as influential Samurai, but also for the middle class and the general public.
This plant pattern was once used by the imperial family and national leaders of the time. Today, this plant pattern is used as the crest of the Japanese Government. We hope that by introducing a little about the transition of this family crest, you will find the history of this design and its deep connection with the Samurai culture fascinating. Please enjoy this sword’s Koshirae with its blade.
Habaki：Habaki is the equipment to make the blade not touch its scabbard inside. It prevents the blade from getting rusty and chipped.
Saya： Saya is the scabbard for the Japanese sword.
This scabbard has a surface with a constant width notched pattern like an Inro (印籠, traditional Japanese case to store small objects) in the circumferential direction. This type of scabbard is categorized as the Inro Kizami Zaya (印籠刻鞘).
Authentication Paper：NBTHK Hozon Certificate for the blade (No. 3025568 ) ＆Tokubetsu Kicho for the Koshirae (No.431)
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. 25th in the 3rd year of Showa (2021). They appraised it as Hozon Touken, the blade worth preserving for Japanese society. The purchaser will receive these original certificates as well. We can also translate what is written into English and make a PDF file for your record if you request.
Registration Number : Tokyo 34029
The Board of Education in Tokyo 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.
“It was outstanding. Nothing short from what I would expect from Japanese people. Takaoki-san and Gin-san treated me to the best purchasing experience I’ve ever had. They were honorable, humble and dedicated to duty. I felt like a family member. I would highly recommend the Samurai Museam Shop to anyone looking to purchase an authentic antique Japanese sword with certification paper work.”
【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 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 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 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.