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18th Century Samurai Katana Late Shinto Period Circa 1750 A very good and beautifully mounted sword. Higo iron mounts with pure gold decoration, Higo tsuba with gold, decorated with two figures, one with a yari polearm another with a basket, one standing one seated, both with silver faces and hands. Black kuro kanshitsu ishime nuri and koiguchi saya, that looks stunning. The culture of the samurai traditionally revolved around Bushido. "Bushido" means "Way of the Warrior." It was at the heart of the beliefs and conduct of the Samurai. The philosophy of Bushido is "freedom from fear." It meant that the Samurai transcended his fear of death. That gave him the peace and power to serve his master faithfully and loyally and die well if necessary. "Duty" is a primary philosophy of the Samurai.
A 500 Year Old Samurai Battle Daisho, Koto Era Circa 1510 A daisho of a daito and aikuchi shoto, with rebellion style bound tsuka, carved iron tsuba, spiral lacquer saya and iron and buffalo horn fittings. The most distinctive rebellion style battle wrap on the hilts was a uniform design that was said to have been undertaken on all of the samurai swords used in that last great campaign. Probably to unify the samurai with the same sense of purpose for their last stand as warriors of an ancient and noble Japanese tradition. This daisho was mounted and last used in the final great samurai battle in the Satsuma samurai rebellion, as can be seen depicted in Tom Cruise's blockbuster film, 'The Last Samurai' [amazingly, a not too inaccurate portrayal of that incredible conflict]. These swords had been completely untouched since that great battle and their samurai owner defeated. Although looking somewhat sad and forlorn when they arrived, all that was required was expert restoration by our highly trained artisans. This has now been completed, and what a transformation. The blades have been beautifully repolished and the Edo saya have had had their lacquer restored. The shoto is signed and in unokubi zukuri form with double hi lined in traditional red. After many weeks they are now offered just as they once looked before the great last battles of the rebellion, and their Satsuma clan samurai vanquished. Prior to that rebellion these swords were used, since their traditional making by hand by a master swordsmith in around 1500, by their numerous samurai warrior owners. Every samurai revere ring them as their most treasured possessions. Likely they were brought back to England, duly battle worn, in the 1870's, by an English visitor to the newly opened Meiji Japan. He would likely have been a travelled gentleman, visiting just after the Satsuma Rebellion. After the rebellion the samurai were cast down, stripped of all honours and effectively discarded from Japanese society after more than a thousand years of service, loyalty and devotion to bushido. The age of the samurai was destroyed and simply wiped out, it was the end of feudal Japan, and it's samurai based rule by the said laws of Bushido under the Shogun of the Tokugawa. These fabulous swords an historical pair of artefacts, from the fascinating world of samurai history, used by up to 30 different warriors in their lifetime of half a millennia. The wakazashi or shoto is an aikuchi type [mounted without a tsuba sword guard]. The daisho is a Japanese term referring to the traditional weapons of the samurai. The daisho is composed of a katana [daito] and wakizashi [shoto]. The daito, meaning big sword, and shoto, meaning small sword, The katana, the longer of the two swords, was typically employed in man-to-man combat. The wakizashi made an effective main-gauche or close-combat weapon. A daisho allows for defence while fighting or the fighting of two enemies. Also, the daisho allows the fighter to have a longer or more widespread fighting range. The concept of the daisho originated with the pairing of a short sword with whatever long sword was being worn during a particular time period. It has been noted that the tachi would be paired with a tanto, and later the uchigatana would be paired with another shorter uchigatana. With the advent of the katana, the wakizashi eventually was chosen by samurai as the short sword over the tanto. The ancient custom of leaving the katana at the door of a castle or palace when entering facilitated the continuing to wear the wakizashi within the host's castle. The wearing of daisho was strictly limited to the samurai class, and became a symbol or badge of their rank. Daisho may have became popular around the end of the Muromachi period (1336 to 1573) as several early examples date from the late sixteenth century. An edict in 1629 defining the duties of a samurai required the wearing of a daisho when on official duty. During the Meiji period an edict was passed in 1871 abolishing the requirement of the wearing of daisho by samurai, and in 1876 the wearing of swords in public by most of Japan's population was banned; this ended the use of the daisho as the symbol of the samurai, and the samurai class was abolished soon after the sword ban. Picture of the Battle of Shirowwyama. Length katana [daito] blade tsuba to tip 24 inches, overall 40 inches. Wakazasdhi [shoto] 16.2 inch bladeoverall 24.5 inches. We show a photo in the gallery of a group of Satsuma samurai, all with their daisho, mounted before their last fateful battle, as ours are, and two of them [far right and far left] both have their wakazashi [shoto] worn and mounted aikuchi style without tsuba just as this daisho is. The shoto is 24 inches overall in saya, the daito is 38 inches long overall in saya
A 500 Year Old Samurai Sword Signed Bizen Osafune Sukesada Dated 8th month 2nd year of Eisho [1504/5] Eisho 2 nen 8 gatsu hi. Original brown Edo period lacquer saya, plain iron fushi kashira, pierced iron sukashi tsuba with small copper inlays. Blue silk wrap. The blade has a typical koto period, notare hamon that continues along the whole length of the blade. The blade has an old thinning opening on one side of the kissaki. The skill of the ancient samurai swordsmith was unsurpassed in the world and could take up to 30 years or more for a smith to fully master. This samurai sword, like all true and original samurai swords, would have been the prize possession of every samurai that owned it. It would most likely have cost more than his home, and would certainly have been more important. This is just one reason why fine Japanese sword steel, even of this tremendous age, is in such good state of preservation. When a katana such as this has been, for its entire existence, so highly revered, treasured and appreciated, it will have been cared for most sensitively and treated with the utmost respect during its entire life. In many regards it will have represented the only thing that stood between its samurai owner, of which there may have been 30 or more during this swords great history, and his ultimate downfall in a combat situation. The late Muromachi period was a time of continuous upheaval and war. The demand for swords was high and they needed to have excellent cutting ability. As such, Sukesada swords from this time that have survived to this day can be fine pieces. Sukesada is a name forever synonymous with the Bizen region. The name spans over 60 generations. 24.25 inch blade overall in saya 35.5 inches long.
A Beautiful Aikuchi Tanto With a Carved Dragon Blade Late Koto era circa 1580. Carved horimono of nice quality. And a fine hamon. Black lacquer saya, same covered tsuka with copper fittings and copper menuki of birds and flowers [not shown in photo]. The tanto was invented partway through the Heian period, when it was mainly used as a weapon. With the beginning of the Kamakura period, tanto were forged to be more aesthetically pleasing, and hira and uchi-sori tanto were the most popular styles for wars in the kamakura period. Near the middle of the Kamakura period, more tanto artisans were seen, increasing the abundance of the weapon, and the kanmuri-otoshi style became prevalent in the cities of Kyoto and Yamato. Because of the style introduced by the tachi in the late Kamakura period, tant? began to be forged longer and wider. The introduction of the Hachiman faith became visible in the carvings in the tanto hilts around this time. The hamon (line of temper) is similar to that of the tachi, except for the absence of choji-midare, which is nioi and utsuri. Gunomi-midare and suguha are found to have taken its place. In Nambokucho, the tanto were forged to be up to forty centimetres as opposed to the normal one shaku (about thirty centimetres) length. The tanto blades became thinner between the uri and the omote, and wider between the ha and mune. At this point in time, two styles of hamon were prevalent: the older style, which was subtle and artistic, and the newer, more popular style. Blades could be of exceptional quality. As the end of the period neared, the average blade narrowed and the sori became shallow. The aikuchi is a tanto koshirae where the fushi is flush with the mouth of the saya. There is no tsuba on this form of tanto. Aikuchi normally have plain wood tsuka, the better types covered in same [rayskin], and many forms of aikuchi have kashira that are made from animal horns, iron or copper. Tanto were sometimes worn as the sh?to in place of a wakizashi in a daisho, especially on the battlefield. Before the advent of the wakizashi/tanto combination, it was common for a samurai to carry a tachi and a tanto as opposed to a katana and a wakizashi
A Beautiful Ancient Koto Katana Formerly a Nodachi or Odachi Circa 1450 Odachi were extremely long and very rare swords, used in battle in the ancient warring days. This stunning sword also has some very fine, original, iron mounts decorated with pure gold. The blade has a fabulous blade with an extremely vibrant sugaha hamon. This sword is an absolute beauty, both ancient and enchanting, and fitted with stunning Edo mounts of superb quality. The original Edo period saya simple black lacquer. The tsuba is formed in the simulated stone form similar to molten rock from mount Fuji, with very fine chiseled iron detailing. The tang has several intersperced mekugiana, which would indicate it was an incredibly long odachi. To qualify as an odachi, the sword in question must have had an original blade length over 3 shaku (35.79 inches or 90.91 cm). However, as with most terms in Japanese sword arts, there is no exact definition of the size of an odachi. The odachi's importance died off after the Siege of Osaka of 1615 (the final battle between Tokugawa Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyori). The Bakufu government set a law which prohibited holding swords above a set length (in Genna 3 (1617), Kan'ei 3 (1626) and Shoho2 (1645)). After the law was put into practice, ?dachi were cut down to the shorter legal size. This is one of the reasons why odachi are so rare. Since then many odachi were shortened to use as katana, we feel this may well have been when this blade was shortened. Odachi were very difficult to produce because their length makes heat treatment in a traditional way more complicated: The longer a blade is, the more difficult (or expensive) it is to heat the whole blade to a homogenous temperature, both for annealing and to reach the hardening temperature. The quenching process then needs a bigger quenching medium because uneven quenching might lead to warping the blade. The method of polishing is also different. Because of their size, Odachi were usually hung from the ceiling or placed in a stationary position to be polished, unlike normal swords which are moved over polishing stones. The sword is o-suriagi and now has a blade 26.75, overall 36 inches inches long. Around 550 years old. Mounted with very fine gold and iron mounts and pure gold decorated dragon menuki. A fine blade with a vibrant, undulating gunome hamon..The early print in the gallery of Asahina Yoshihide in armour, a long sword (nodachi) slung on his back, holding a large iron club and the piece of armor he tore from Soga Goro.
A Beautiful Ancient Samurai Koto Armour Piercing Tanto 600 to 700 years old Mounted in a typically Japanese representation of a Japanese bean pod, in carved hardwood. An ancient Samurai Tanto with an Armour piercing, single edged, triangular section mu-zori blade made around 1300 to 1400 a.d. in the Kamakura to Nambokochu era. Used throughout the great Warring era of Japan's ancient and turbulent history. In nice polish showing typical narrow hamon of the era. The Kamakura period [ Kamakura jidai 1185–1333] is a period of Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura by the first shogun, Minamoto no Yoritomo. The period is known for the emergence of the samurai, the warrior caste, and for the establishment of feudalism in Japan. The Kamakura period ended in 1333 with the destruction of the shogunate and the short reestablishment of imperial rule under Emperor Go-Daigo by Ashikaga Takauji, Nitta Yoshisada, and Kusunoki Masashige. The Kamakura period marks the transition to land-based economies and a concentration of advanced military technologies in the hands of a specialized fighting class. Lords required the loyal services of vassals, who were rewarded with fiefs of their own. The fief holders exercised local military rule.
A Beautiful Ancient Style Japanese 'Ken' Tanto Dagger Circa 1750 With super polish and nice suguha hamon. Ken are one of the rarer styles of tanto based on samurai blades of over 1000 years ago. Ken blades may have parallel edges or slightly double concave shapes as does this one. Some of the top sword smiths in history made ken as offerings to various temples. It is not uncommon to find ken with a vajra (double thunderbolt) style hilt in keeping with their use as Buddhist ritual implements. The fittings are carved wood of takebori dragon throughout and encased in rich brown lacquer with a full suite of fine shakudo fittings. Shakudo is a billon of gold and copper (typically 4–10% gold, 96–90% copper) which can be treated to form an indigo/black patina resembling lacquer. Unpatinated shakudo visually resembles bronze; the dark colour is induced by applying and heating rokusho, a special patination formula.The ken, a sword with a straight double-edged blade based on Chinese prototypes, was used in Japan from at least the third century until the sixth century. At the end of that period, the double-edged sword was gradually superseded by the single-edged type, from which all later Japanese swords developed. A ken was discovered in one of Japan’s most famous early burial mounds, known as the Eda Funayama kofun (burial mound), located in Kumamoto Prefecture, on Kyushu Island, in southern Japan. The mound, which was excavated first in 1873, yielded many rare items, including jewelry, crowns, ceremonial shoes, armor parts, mirrors, and several swords, all of very high quality. Swords of this earliest period are extremely rare and show the earliest stage in the development of Japanese sword blades.This fabulous ken was made as an homage to the earlist ken, which ahd a very special place in samurai history and it's buddhist traditions. Picture in the gallery of an original Japanese woodblock print depicting Inumura Daikaku stabbing the gigantic demon cat of Nabeshima with his Ken Tanto. 11.25 inch blade, overall in saya 16.75 inches
A Beautiful and Ancient Samurai Wakazashi Inscribed Nobukuni Circa 1360 Signed Nobukuni. This is a remarkable sword that was made over 600 years ago in Kyoto by the revered Nobukuni school of Yamashiro province (present-day southern Kyoto prefecture) One of the greatest and best blade making schools of the Koto era. The two kanji name is still partially clear despite its great age. Original hammered gold leaf lacquer saya in the stylised form of cherry bark. Edo iron tsuba inlaid with gold silver and copper flowers. Fushi of deeply chiselled copper and pure gold decorated flowers and scrolling tendrils over a nanako ground. Large square section menuki panels under black silk ito. The horimono are traces of Sanskrit characters. One side of the sword it may have read Kojin the god of calamities. The other side features the bonji character and both sides have Hi grooves that served to lighten the sword and provide decoration. This bonji character was used by Buddhist monks as offerings to the gods. the Kodzuka [utility knife] that lives in the wakazashi’s sword pocket [see photo]. It’s an Edo period Higo style iron handled knife called a kodzuka that is decorated in pure gold overlay with the form of a giant rayfish. Also, the Nobukuni school of smiths from the 1300’s are regarded with great reverence in Japan, with one similar looking blade in the Kyoto National Museum. It is deemed; An Important Cultural Property, it’s Blade Length is 15. inches, [no fittings or mounts remain] from the same Nanbokucho period [1333 to 1391], although their blade has been shortened [probably by around 4 inches] but, it’s surface condition is better than ours with less horimono design loss, however, it’s signature has been lost completely when it was shortened. Many scholars agree that Nobukuni produced some of the finest engravings the Japanese Samurai sword world has ever seen. Nobukuni was likely a son or grandson of Ryokai Hisanobu of the Rai school based in Kyoto. He later studied under Sadamune of Kamakura in Soshu province (present-day Sagami, Kanagawa prefecture). This sword is a form based on a naginata shape, just as the great warrior Benkei carried. Stories about Benkei's birth vary considerably. One tells how his father was the head of a temple shrine who had raped his mother, the daughter of a blacksmith. Another sees him as the offspring of a temple god. Many give him the attributes of a demon, a monster child with wild hair and long teeth. In his youth, Benkei may have been called Oniwaka. He is said to have defeated 200 men in each battle he was personally involved in. He joined the cloister at an early age and travelled widely among the Buddhist monasteries of Japan. During this period, monasteries were important centres of administration and culture, but also military powers in their own right. Like many other monks, Benkei was probably trained in the use of the naginata. At the age of seventeen, he was said to have been over 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) tall. At this point, he left the Buddhist monastery and became a yamabushi, a member of a sect of mountain ascetics who were recognisable by their black caps. Japanese prints often show Benkei wearing this cap. Benkei is said to have posted himself at Gojo Bridge in Kyoto, where he disarmed every passing swordsman, eventually collecting 999 swords. On his 1000th duel, Benkei was defeated by Minamoto no Yoshitsune, a son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo. Henceforth, he became a retainer of Yoshitsune and fought with him in the Genpei War against the Taira clan. Yoshitsune is credited with most of the Minamoto clan's successes against the Taira, especially the final naval battle of Dannoura. After their ultimate triumph, however, Yoshitsune's elder brother Minamoto no Yoritomo turned against him. From 1185 until 1189, Benkei accompanied Yoshitsune as an outlaw. In the end, they were encircled in the castle of Koromogawa no tate. As Yoshitsune retired to the inner keep of the castle to commit ritual suicide (seppuku) on his own, Benkei fought on at the bridge in front of the main gate to protect Yoshitsune. It is said that the soldiers were afraid to cross the bridge to confront him, and all that did met swift death at the hands of the gigantic man, who killed in excess of 300 fully trained soldiers. Long after the battle should have been over, the soldiers noticed that the arrow-riddled, wound-covered Benkei was standing still. The huge and loyal warrior monk carried a naginata such as this blade. Overall length in scabbard 26.75 inches, blade length 19.2 inches
A Beautiful and Fine Shinto Katana Signed By Kiyomitsu Circa 1670 A very good Shinto smith that had a most distinctive angular cut finish to his blades nakago, they are the sogi-otoshi (Shaved off ) type. Beautifully polished blade with extravagant stunning hamon. Fine fushi kashira of patinated copper with pure gold relief decoration of a fully armoured samurai oh horseback the kashira depicts the samurai with his bow held between his teeth, the samurai on the fushi mount is riding his horse, crossing a rough river holding his bow and his tachi at his waist. The tsuba has a silver applied rim and the design is sukashi piercings showing a circle of arrow flights to complement the fittings. Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the "katana" signature were made. This was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style" (cutting edge up). Japanese swords are traditionally worn with the signature facing away from the wearer. When a tachi was worn in the style of a katana, with the cutting edge up, the tachi's signature would be facing the wrong way. The fact that swordsmiths started signing swords with a katana signature shows that some samurai of that time period had started wearing their swords in a different manner. However, it is thought by many, that as many as 70% of katana made were never signed at all. 25 inch blade tsuba to tip.37.75 inches long in saya overall
A Beautiful Bizen Koto Katana Circa 1380 Nambokochu Era Made in the transitional period between Nambokochu and Muramachi. Super ancient narrow blade with wonderful curvature and typical narrow hamon of the Nambokochu era. Delightful original Edo fittings including its superb Edo lacquer saya with deep ribbing and a court cap pattern saya-jiri [bottom chape mount]. The iron fushi kashira have pure gold inlaid ancient kinbuntai kanji. The iron tsuba is beautifully chisseled with crisp edges. Looking at the late Nanbokucho period, the main Bizen smiths last signed eras (the last dated examples do not always coincide with the end of the smith’s career) were Joji for Motoshige, Koryaku for Chogi, and Oei for Omiya Morishige. Many of the Bizen dates moved up to Eiwa, Koryaku, Eitoku, Shitoku, Kakei, Ko-o, and Meitoku, and the tachi shapes changed to become narrower. Choji’s Koryaku era tachi are narrow, but without other style changes. Morikage’s work from the end of the Nanbokucho period have a narrow shape with small hamon which is similar to Kosori work. Also, there are many Bizen smiths who are not belong to famous schools and do not have a clear school style (similar to this Masamitsu work), and people called all of these smiths Kosori smiths. Overall, at the end of the Nanbukucho period, Bizen swords became narrower, and at the same time, the mainstream schools’ characteristics gradually disappeared and smaller hamon become popular.
A Beautiful Early Samurai Katana, Koto Era Circa 1500 Showing traces of a fabulous, and intricate fine and very deep hamon. A suite of matching iron Higo school mounts, inlaid with thin curlicue lines of silver and soft metal. Shi-shi lion dog minuki. Red and black speckled saya in original Edo period lacquer. Unusual and very attractive, original Edo era two colour Tsuke wrap. This sword has been most gently and sypathetically cleaned by our conservator, as it had likely been untouched and stored for nigh on 150 years or more. Every effort has been made to remove accumulated grime but to highlight all the fine detail and to keep it's natural and original Edo period 'feel' and condition. 40 inches long approx overall in saya
A Beautiful Edo Period Original Samurai Armour 17th-18th Century A superb early to mid Edo samurai yoroi, with the symbol in gold of deer antlers emblazoned on both haidate [thigh protectors], which could indicate vassalage to the family of Honda Tadakatsu a general [and later daimyo] serving under Tokugawa Iayesu, whose symbol was his famous deer antlers worn upon his kabuto helmet. It has a fine helmet kabuto of 12 plates, a 12 plate goshozan suji bachi kabuto. A helmet which is a multiple-plate type of Japanese helmet bowl with raised ridges or ribs showing where the 12 tate hagi-no-ita ( helmet plates) come together at the five-stage tehen kanamono [finial], with the fukurin [metal edges] on each of the standing plates. The mabisashi [peak] lacquered and it has a four-tier lacquered iron hineno-jikoro [neck-guard] laced with dark blue. The interior shows four very ancient helmet plates rivetted together to form the interior support basis of the 12 plate skull. Unlined. With full face menpo facial armour . Dou or d?, a chest armour made up of iron plates of various sizes and shapes with pendents kusazuri made from iron or leather plates hanging from the front and back of the dou to protect the lower body and upper leg. Sode, large [modern] rectangular shoulder protection made from iron and or leather plates. Kote, armoured glove like sleeves which extended to the shoulder or han kote (kote gauntlets) which covered the forearms. Kote made from cloth covered with iron plates of various size and shape, connected by chain armor (kusari). Haidate, thigh guards which tied around the waist and covered the thighs. These were made from cloth with small iron and or leather plates of various size and shape, connected to each other by chain armour (kusari) and sewn to the cloth. Suneate, shin guards made from iron splints connected together by chain armor (kusari) and sewn to cloth and tied around the calf. In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armour makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries-old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours). Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms. This armour has areas of worn and distressed lacquer and areas of cloth/material that are perished due to it's great age as would be expected. Complete with storage box [unlidded]
A Beautiful Japanese Katana of Hojo Clan, By Hishu Ju Kanehisa, Koto Period A most beautiful Koto period sword, made around 1450 to 1500. Very fine lacquer saya of the Hojo family dragon in clouds. The fushi of patinated copper fully decorated with nanako bears the triple triangle clan mon, in multiples, of the Hojo clan, it also bears within it a concealed inner liner than could be used to hide small documents or secret communications. Koto iron sukashi tsuba with shakudo mimi [rim]. Gold covered habaki, carved buffalo horn kashira and dragon menuki. The legend of the origin of the Hojo mon says that Tokimasa Hojo (1138-1215) came into a cave on Enoshima, an island south of modern Tokyo where he prayed that his descendants would be prosperous. The dragon god who dwelt in that cave granted him his wish, leaving behind 3 of his scales. These are the scales that are represented in the three triangles of the “Triforce” of the Hojo. Hojo Soun was the first head of the Late Hojo clan [1493-1590] one of the major powers in Japan's Sengoku period. Born Ise Moritoki, he was originally known as Ise Shinkuro, a samurai of Taira lineage from a reputable family of Shogunate officials. Although he only belonged to a side branch of the main, more prestigious Ise family, he fought his way up, gaining territory and changing his name in imitation of the illustrious Hojo. Traditionally Soun held a reputation of a ronin who rose to power almost overnight in Kanto; however, he belonged to a prestigious family in the direct employment of the Ashikaga shoguns, and enjoyed important family connections. His sister was married to Imagawa Yoshitada, a major daimyo from a prestigious cadet branch of the Ashikaga family. Shinkuro became a retainer in the Imagawa clan, and when Yoshitada died in battle in 1476, Shinkuro mediated the succession dispute between supporters of Yoshitada's son Imagawa Ujichika and Yoshitada's cousin, Oshika Norimitsu. This proved a temporary peace. When Norimitsu again attempted to gain control of the Imagawa clan, S?un came to Ujichika's defense, killing Norimitsu. Soun was rewarded by Ujichika with Kokukuji castle. He gained control of Izu Province in 1493, avenging a wrong committed by a member of the Ashikaga family which held the shogunate. With S?un's successful invasion in Izu province, he is credited by most historians as being the first "Sengoku Daimyo". About 1475, under the cognomen of Ise Shinkuro, he worked for Imagawa, the constable of Suruga Province, and eventually became an "independent leader" with a number of warriors joining him. In 1491, he was able to take Horigoye after the death of Kanto Kubo Ashikaga Masatomo died, gaining control of Izu Province. He then adopted the surname of Hojo and the given name of Soun or Sozui. After building a stronghold at Nirayama, Hojo Soun secured Odawara Castle in 1494, the castle which would become the center of the Hojo family's domains for nearly a century. In an act of treachery, he seized the castle after arranging for its lord to be murdered while out hunting. In 1516, he laid siege to the castle of Arai, and "was virtual master of all Sagami." Soun died the following year, and passed on the newly built Hojo domains to his son Ujitsuna, who subsequently changed the clan name from the original Ise to Hojo and posthumously renamed his father to Hojo Soun. In 1521, Ujitsuna built Soun-ji temple dedicated to his father. The third siege of Odawara occurred in 1590, and was the primary action in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's campaign to eliminate the Hojo clan as a threat to his power. The months leading up to it saw hasty but major improvements in the defense of the castle, as Hideyoshi's intentions became clear. The massive army of Toyotomi Hideyoshi surrounded the castle in what has been called "the most unconventional siege lines in samurai history." The defenders slept on the ramparts with their arquebuses and armour; despite their smaller numbers, they discouraged Hideyoshi from attacking. After three months, the Hojo surrendered, facing overwhelming numbers and, presumably, an impending shortage of food and supplies. Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of Hideyoshi's top generals, was given the Hojo lands. Though Hideyoshi could not have guessed it at the time, this would turn out to be a great stepping-stone towards Tokugawa's attempts at conquest and the office of Shogun. Overall37 inches long in saya, blade 26.5 inches long tsuba to tip.
A Beautiful Koto Period Damyo's Tachi Original Edo Tokugawa Koshirae With a stunning polished blade around 530 years old. Bearing the clan mon of the Tokugawa, superb edo nishiji pure gold lacquer decorated with gold ho-oo pheonix and kiri mon. With a very fine gold inlaid iron tsuba of traditional tachi form, all Edo period fittings. A tachi was a type of traditionally made Japanese sword (nihonto) worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The tachi style of swords preceded the development of the katana — the first use of the word katana to indicate a blade different from tachi appears toward the end of the twelfth century. In later Japanese feudal history, during the Sengoku and Edo periods, certain high-ranking warriors of what became the ruling class would wear their sword tachi-style (edge-downward), rather than with the saya (scabbard) thrust through the belt with the edge upward. The bakuhan taisei was the feudal political system in the Edo period of Japan. Baku, or "tent," is an abbreviation of bakufu, meaning "military government" — that is, the shogunate. The han were the domains headed by daimyo. Vassals held inherited lands and provided military service and homage to their lords. The Bakuhan Taisei split feudal power between the shogunate in Edo and provincial domains throughout Japan. Provinces had a degree of sovereignty and were allowed an independent administration of the Han in exchange for loyalty to the Shogun, who was responsible for foreign relations and national security. The shogun and lords were all daimyo: feudal lords with their own bureaucracies, policies, and territories. The Shogun also administered the most powerful han, the hereditary fief of the House of Tokugawa. Each level of government administered its own system of taxation. The Shogun had the military power of Japan and was more powerful than the emperor, who was a religious and political leader. The shogunate had the power to discard, annex, and transform domains. The sankin kotai system of alternative residence required each daimyo would reside in alternate years between the han and attendance in Edo. In their absence from Edo it was also required that they leave family as hostages until their return. The huge expenditure sankin-kotai imposed on each han helped centralize aristocratic alliances and ensured loyalty to the Shogun as each representative doubled as a potential hostage. Tokugawa's descendants further ensured loyalty by maintaining a dogmatic insistence on loyalty to the Shogun. Fudai daimyo were hereditary vassals of Ieyasu, as well as of his descendants. Tozama, or "outsiders", became vassals of Ieyasu after the battle of Sekigahara. Shinpan, or "relatives", were collaterals of Tokugawa Hidetada. Early in the Edo period, the shogunate viewed the tozama as the least likely to be loyal; over time, strategic marriages and the entrenchment of the system made the tozama less likely to rebel. In the end, it was the great tozama of Satsuma, Choshu and Tosa and to a lesser extent Hizen that brought down the shogunate. These four states are called the Four Western Clans or Satchotohi for short. The number of han (roughly 250) fluctuated throughout the Edo period. They were ranked by size, which was measured as the number of koku that the domain produced each year. One koku was the amount of rice necessary to feed one adult male for one year. The minimum number for a daimyo was ten thousand koku; the largest, apart from the shogun, was a million. 42.5 inches long overall in saya, blade inches long tsuba to tip
A Beautiful Large and Imposing Signed Shinto Katana Inscribed on the tang, Izumi no Kami fujiwara Kuniteru. A seriously mighty and impressive sword. All original Edo fittings and original Edo lacquer saya with long sayajiri bottom mount. Lacquer decorated with dragonflies. Early Edo period circa 1650. Gold silk wrap tsukaito, blade in beautiful polish showing a most elegant undulating hamon. An original Japanese samurai woodblock print shown in the gallery [for information only] showing how a sword of this stature could have been used. The absolute beginning of a Japanese sword is the unique Tamahagane steel. This steel ore was made in a low clay furnace known as the tatara. The furnace master was called the Murage who wouldn’t lose sight of the tatare once it has been lit. Besides the murage the furnace required a dozen additional workers to operate it through its 7 day Tamahagane production cycle. The tatara was only operated three weeks per year. During each winter – when the air humidity is the lowest - the tatara was fired up. Tosho The Tosho or blade smith gathered the required steel for a sword by selecting the right steel wafers made of flattened pieces of Tamahagane ore. The pieces would be forged together and would go through a folding process creating thousands of layers in the steel (which takes about 12-14 folds). The biggest misconception is that the steel is folded hundreds or thousands of times. Too many folds would actually reduce the carbon content of the steel. Thousands folds would create a useless piece of steel with less carbon than a soft iron nail. The main tools you would find in a Japanese sword forge are similar to what you would find in a Western forge: hammers, anvils and of course the forge itself with a bellow to push air into the forge. A Tosogu-shi (or kinko-shi) was a sword fitting maker or fine metal worker. The tosogu-shi made the metal parts of a Japanese sword such as the tsuba, fuchi and kashira and menuki. Also optional saya decoration such as the koijiri, semegane, saya-jiri, kogai and kozuka are made by the tosogu-shi / kinko-shi. This art used chisels, files, jeweller's saws and punches to create incredible details in a sword’s furniture and applies multiple patina techniques to add colour to the created piece. The most common materials to make sword fittings were steel, copper, several copper based alloys, gold, silver and brass. Besides the base materials, the Japanese art of metalworking often uses inlays of gold, silver as well as specific Japanese alloys such as shibuichi (copper and silver alloy) and shakudo (copper and gold alloy). A nuri-shi is a lacquerer. The Japanese lacquer tradition is seen in many objects including plates, boxes and other daily things. The nuri-shi uses urushi lacquer which is a resin based lacquer made from the sap of a lacquer tree. Urushi nuri – urushi lacquering – is an elaborate process by itself as it requires up to 40 steps with a minimum of 10-14 urushi lacquer layers. A Japanese sword sheath is supposed to be tough, light, water-resistant and preferably also have an element of scratch-resistance. Urushi has survived decades of use and even after centuries, some urushi lacquered pieces are in near perfect condition. There are hundreds of different lacquering styles including a stone-like structure, egg shell inlays, mother of pearl inlays and a ‘simple’ highly patinated finish. Several natural materials were used to give the lacquer work a specific style. By using pigments the nuri-shi could make the exact colour he needed for the job. Maki-e (urushi art work) even used gold and silver powder and leaf, beetle wings and pine needles to classify a Japanese sword sheath as a true work of art. Overall 41.25 inches long in saya, blade tsuba to tip 28.5 inches long, tsuka 10.5 inches long.
A Beautiful Near 500 Year Old Koto Period Tachi, Circa 1500 With a typical narrow sugaha hamon of the Koto period, and the blade is beautifully polished. The blade shows a fascinating, small, steel line insert that is a very ancient and highly skilled surface repair. Expertly achieved and quite remarkable. Most attractive black lacquer saya and gold ito wrap over traditional same with dragon menuki in gilt bronze. Gilded tachi koshirae. In the ancient period the tachi was used primarily on horseback, where it was able to be drawn efficiently for cutting down enemy foot soldiers. On the ground it was still an effective weapon, but somewhat awkward to use. The uchigatana was the predecessor to the katana as the battle-blade of feudal Japan's bushi (warrior class), and as it evolved into the later design, the two were often differentiated from each other only by how they were worn and by the fittings for the blades. It was during the Mongol invasions that it was shown there were some weaknesses in the tachi sword which led to the development of the Katana. Tachi are the Samurai swords worn on Court occasions by the Daimyo Lords of Japan. They are distinguished by the fact that they are worn with the cutting edge down, from one or two hangers in the centre of the saya. Katana are slid through the belt or Obi, and thus do not have these two hangers. Traditionally in the Edo era only Daimyo are allowed to wear Tachi and there were only about 50 Daimyo in any one period in all Japan. In later Japanese feudal history, during the Sengoku and Edo periods, certain high-ranking warriors [daimyo] of what became the ruling class would wear their swords tachi mounted. This Tachi although mounted in the Edo period fittings, was made before the Edo period. The Edo started with the Tokugawa, who ruled Japan for around 460 years and it was founded after the battle of Sekigahara in 1598. The Tokugawa unified Japan and created a lasting dynasty of military rulers like none that had been before. The most famous Shogun, Ieyasu Tokugawa had obliged the daimyo [the tachi wearing Japanese clan war lords] to pay homage to the Shogun every two years in a big, formal and costly procession to the court in Edo (Tokyo). The intention was to assure their loyalty and to weaken them by putting financial burdens on them.Imagawa Yoshimoto 1519 -1560) was one of the leading daimyo (feudal lords) in the Sengoku period Japan. Based in Suruga Province, he was one of the three daimyo that dominated the Tokaido region. He was also one of the dominant daimyo in Japan for a time, until his death in 1560. The blade has seen considerable combat use with three tiny hagire, thus this is the perfect sword for the collector of history and samurai artistry and beauty in combat, not for a nihonto specialist.
A Beautiful Original Edo Period Wakazashi Saya Superbly decorated in multi colour patinated copper soft metal strips. A wonderful high end saya that would compliment any suitable blade that may fit. Small repair required at the throat and opening. 17.75 inches long
A Beautiful Samurai Hira-zukuri O-Tanto Signed Takakuni Circa 1750 Shinto period. A most attractive large o-tanto with a most impressive blade bearing a super and deep hamon. Iron tsuba with inlaid soft metals. Pure gold inlaid iron fittings. Fine original Edo ishime lacquer saya with ribbing showing thin old age cracking. The tanto is commonly referred to as a knife or dagger. The blade can be single or double edged with a length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches, in Japanese 1 shaku). The tanto was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tanto are generally forged in hira-zukuri style (without ridgeline), meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tanto have particularly thick cross-sections for armour-piercing duty, and are called yoroi toshi
A Beautiful Shinto Han Dachi Mounted Katana Circa 1650 All original Shinto period Edo Han-dachi fittings throughout, and untouched since the Edo period, including it's original Edo lacquered saya. Iron tsuba decorated with figures on a mountainside with trees, and with pure gold embellishments. Lacquer on the saya decorated with elegant flowering tendrils. Superb, deep, undulating notare hamon. Under the original Edo wrap are pure gold decorated patinated copper menuki, in the form of dragon with ancient straight ken swords and Vajra [sanskrit thunderbolt sceptres]. Han-dachi originally appeared during the Muromachi period when there was a transition taking place from Tachi to katana. The sword was being worn more and more edge up when on foot, but edge down on horseback as it had always been. The handachi is a response to the need to be worn in either style. The placement of the kurikata, menuki and sometimes the other fittings were altered for a better presentation depending on which side was worn outward most of the time Handachi-Koshirae became popular during the mid-Edo period, and that they were made until the Bakumatsu period. Blade 29 inches long tsuba to tip, overall in saya 40 inches long, tsuka 9.75 inches long.
A Beautiful Shinto Katana Echizen Kuni Shimosaka Sadatsugu Circa 1640 A subtle sword and an absolute beauty, made around the same time as we, in Britain, were experiancing the English Civil War of almost 400 years ago. With patinated copper koshirae fittings of birds feasting of sheaves of corn decorated with gold highlight and a most detailed hand struck nanako ground. A very fine Koto sukashi tsuba on a simulated stone ground iron plate with pierced clan crest mon, and menuki of samurai arrows. The saya is black with crushed abilone shell decoration. The blade has simply amazing activity and the hamon magnificently vibrant. Overall 36 inches long in saya, blade tsuba to tip 24 inches,
A Beautiful Wakizashi Sentoku Kinko Tsuba From The Edo Period Of crashing waves and spray with sea birds flying. The seigaiha or wave is a pattern of layered concentric circles creating arches, symbolic of waves or water and representing surges of good luck. It can also signify power and resilience. The Tsuba, or Japanese sword guard, is a refined utilitarian object. It is essentially a sheath for the blade to fit through, protecting the hand of the warrior. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament.
A Bizen Osafune ju Yokeyama Sukekane, 58th Generation Tomonari, Dated 1869 Only very occasionally is it our privilege to offer an Edo katana that comes from a line of smiths that boasts a 58 generations long line of master swordsmiths, descended from Tomonari the founder of the Bizen school. A beautiful katana in the tradition of the Yokoyama Bizen school this sword exemplifies this late Bizen school of the Shinshinto era. Yokoyama Sukekane was the adopted son of Yokoyama Sukemori, and was trained by the famous Yokoyama Sukenaga of the Shinshinto Bizen School. This absolutely delightful sword [dated 1869] has all that one can wish for if one seeks a sword with an ancient pedigree that can trace it's ancestry back almost a thousand years. It has a fine hamon, beautiful fittings and a saya of superb quality with ribbing. Beautiful, singed Edo sukashi tsuba. Fittings in pure gold silver on iron, decorated with designs of weapons and implements of the samurai, the fushi kashira with arrow heads, and menuki of yak hair hossu [fly-whisk], the insignia of a ruler. One supposes one could spend decades trying to find a sword with this ancestry. Stand for photo display only not included
A Circular Edo Iron Tsuba of Two Sea Cucumbers. The Type of Musashi Fame. In negative sukashi. Early Edo period, 82mm x 76mm. One of the most collectable tsuba that are sought and desired by lovers of samurai history. This is the very form of tsuba, favoured by the most famous samurai of all, Miyamoto Musashi, and from his time period of the early Edo era. A most similar tsuba, also from the same era, was in the Randolph B. Caldwell collection of fine tsuba and fittings, and was sold in October 20th, 1994 for $5,400. The famed swordsman Miyamoto Musashi was born Shinmen Takezo in Harima Province and may have fought at Sekigahara under the Ukita as a common soldier. Although a samurai of war, In his brief biography in his book, he confines himself to his achievements in single combat. He claimed to have defeated his first opponent (a certain Arima Kihei) at the age of 13, following this up with a victory over " powerful martial artist called Akiyama of Tajima province." After 1600 Musashi drifted to Kyoto and became involved in a well-known battle with the Yoshioka School of swordsmanship, emerging victorious. He wrote that he engaged in sixty duels without suffering defeat once, and was noted in this regard for his skill at handling two swords simultanously. He was also remembered for employing a simple bamboo sword, which he used to deadly effect. In 1640 Musashi accepted service with the Hosokawa clan, and three years later, in Higo Province, began work on his great book, Gorin no shô (The Book of Five Rings). He finished this influential work on swordsmanship in May 1645 - the same year he died.
A Delightful & Beautiful Most Ancient Samurai Tachi Around 600 Years Old Made Circa 1390 to 1420 this is a most beautiful and ancient sword from the great warring period of Japan's samurai history. The mounts are original Edo period, with lovely nishiji [ground gold] lacquer on the saya and traditional tachi mountings in shinchu and gold silk ito wrapped over pure gold overlaid onto carved kinko dragon, holding ancient ken . The tsuba is a tradional tachi form in three pieces , dai seppa in shinchu and the central plate in iron. A blade of most impressive, elegant and deep curvature, typical of the early samurai sword of the Nambokochu to Muramachi era [1333 to 1573]. As is often with ancient swords the story of it's use starts in the era before it was actually made, by it's master smith, maybe a decade earlier in the Nanboku-cho period (Northern and Southern Courts period) Spanning from 1336 to 1392, it was a period that occurred during the formative years of the Muromachi bakufu of Japan's history. The Imperial seats during the Nanboku-cho period were in relatively close proximity, but geographically distinct. They were conventionally identified as: Northern capital : Kyoto Southern capital : Yoshino. During this period, there existed a Northern Imperial Court, established by Ashikaga Takauji in Kyoto, and a Southern Imperial Court, established by Emperor Go-Daigo in Yoshino. Ideologically, the two courts fought for fifty years, with the South giving up to the North in 1392. However, in reality the Northern line was under the power of the Ashikaga shoguns and had little real independence. This sword would very likely have been used in the Onin War (1467–1477) which led to serious political fragmentation and obliteration of domains: a great struggle for land and power ensued among bushi chieftains and lasted until the mid-sixteenth century. Peasants rose against their landlords and samurai against their overlords, as central control virtually disappeared. An early Japanese print in the gallery shows a samurai receiving his reward of a fine tachi [such as this one] from his shugo daimyo lord. The shugo daimyo were the first group of men to hold the title "daimyo". They arose from among the shugo during the Muromachi period. The shugo daimyo held not only military and police powers, but also economic power within a province. They accumulated these powers throughout the first decades of the Muromachi period. Major shugo daimyo came from the Shiba, Hatakeyama, and Hosokawa clans, as well as the tozama clans of Yamana, Ouchi, and Akamatsu. The greatest ruled multiple provinces. The Ashikaga shogunate required the shugo daimyo to reside in Kyoto, so they appointed relatives or retainers, called shugodai, to represent them in their home provinces. Eventually some of these in turn came to reside in Kyoto, appointing deputies in the provinces. The Onin War was a major uprising in which shugo daimyo fought each other. During this and other wars of the time, kuni ikki, or provincial uprisings, took place as locally powerful warriors sought independence from the shugo daimyo. The deputies of the shugo daimyo, living in the provinces, seized the opportunity to strengthen their position. At the end of the fifteenth century, those shugo daimyo who succeeded remained in power. Those who had failed to exert control over their deputies fell from power and were replaced by a new class, the "sengoku daimyo", who arose from the ranks of the shugodai'K and Ji-samurai. Osuriage tang unsigned, nishiji lacquer on the saya with small surface age chips. Blade 63cm long tsuba to tip. 40 inches long approx overall in saya
A Delightful Armour Piercing Samurai Tanto Around 500 Years Old With a most powerful armour piercing blade showing a very fine hamon. The mounts are decorated with a flock of geese flying in formation over high mounted fishing nets in a shower of rain of pure gold. The seppa are beautifully carved with deep casellated edging. The tsuba is an oval plate in iron with a full relief edge decoration of prunus. Superb ribbed lacquer saya shown with a small pocket kodzuka knife for illustration but not included. The blade is in super condition for it's age, with a small rice grain sized blemish to one side of the blade
A Delightful Early and Ancient Kamakura Rai Kunimitsu School Samurai Tanto It is an absolute joy to present such and ancient, beautiful and intriguing piece, bearing one of the all time great samurai smith's school names Rai Kunimitsu, a highly renown tanto maker. The blade bears a carved horimono of a Buddhist ken sword with varjira and stylized dragon, called the Shin-no kurikara. The blade has been repolished and looks amazing compared to how recently was. Its nakago is of the early belly form. It has iron fushi kashira inlaid with pure gold depicting dragon and clouds, and the tsuba is also of iron, with onlaid pure gold kiri mon. The tanto's saya is decorated with nishiji gold flake lacquer. The blade has a fine and thin suguha hamon. Although the nakago has four mekugi ana [peg holes] the signature is still very readable, and it bears the name Rai Kunimitsu. The tsuka [hilt] has blue and gold silk wrap. The blade made circa 1320. It also has an iron kodzuka [utility knife] within the saya's pocket, and it is in the form of a detached sword's tang with a signature [kanji], the kanji are inlaid with gold alloy, and also combined with a chrysanthemum mon, that form of mon was an awarded honour, to denote the blade of the symbolic nakago was made by a prized and highly revered smith. We detail an article written on the great Rai Kunimitsu; Rai Kunimitsu is one of the group of very famous smiths with Sai-jo rankings from Fujishiro. He is considered to be the son of Rai Kunitoshi with the given name Jirobei, and inherits the main line of Rai through his father. He begins independently signing his own work in the late Kamakura period and works into the Nanbokucho. Fujishiro indicates that his dated work shows a 36 year working period starting in Showa (1312), but it's possible this has been extended with finds that post-date his writings. Yamanaka has him starting earlier in Kagen (1303). Rai Kunitoshi and Rai Kunimitsu were famous and successful in their own time. Furthermore they have been given as gifts to and from the Shogun in the Edo period, indicating that this esteem has carried through the ages. Quoting from Fujishiro: It is not hard to imagine why the kaji Kunitoshi, Kunimitsu, and father and son Kunitsugu were famous and prospered in their time. Among the names of the swordsmiths that have been handed down to the present day, there are two cases, the one in which their fame was circulated about while they were still living, and those which became famous after they died. It is probably reasonable to consider Kunitoshi nado among the former. Some experts have declared Rai Kunimitsu to be the top smith of the entire Rai school, though mostly he is seen as a little bit junior to Rai Kunitoshi who is the pre-eminent smith of Rai. His work is seen both with choji hamon similar to his father's early style, and the later style of Rai work with suguha. As a smith he made several different styles of tachi staying current with the times, and four of five different styles of tanto, from typically Kamakura through to sunnobi style from the Nanbokucho. Sometimes a bit of Soshu style can be seen in his work, though not as much as in Kunitsugu. Today there are many works of his that are held at the highest levels of appreciation: Kokuho (National Treasure), Juyo Bunkazai and Juyo Bijutsuhin, and Tokubetsu Juyo Token. Of interesting note, on occasion he signed "Rai Minamoto Kunimitsu" and the Minamoto is something also seen rarely on Rai Kunitoshi. Rai works are known to have somewhat thin skin and after some polishing and as to be expected the horimono has somewhat faded in parts. The hamon although thin and most narrow, also to be expect after numerous polishings, but it is completely present we believe. Like all of our traditional samurai swords this sword [and even a tanto must be referred to as a sword by tradition] has remained in this country since its arrival in the 1870's, it has never returned to Japan for inspection by shinsa,
A Delightful Edo Period 1600 Japanese Noh Mask, Possibly Amazakuro Akujo From the ancient Japanese tradition of mask drama that can trace its origins to the Bugaku Imperial Court dancing of the 9th century. Noh is the classical theatre of Japan which was codified in the 14th century under the father and son actors Kan'ami and Zeami under the patronage of the Shogun (supreme military leader) Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. The performances utilise masks and elaborate costume. This is a substantial though small size mask, robustly carved from a thick piece of hinoki, with the carving confidently executed. The original colour of the mask appears to be of a predominantly a pinkish skin colour over a very thin layer of gofun, with details of the lips painted in red. The whites of the deep-set eyes are with details. The high domed forehead and the raised eyebrows together with the delicately carved wrinkles add to the overall image of a benevolent deity. It is significant that the mask is called Omote, which means the front surface facing the audience. But there is a reverse side, too, called Ura, behind which the actor conceals himself. Unlike the smooth finished outer surface of a Noh mask, the Ura is a roughly finished indented shell with just two tiny holes, more rudimentary than what we might call eyes. By including himself in this primitive space, the Noh actor transforms himself into a person of another world and attempts to draw the audience after him, by radiating a sense of the existence and non existence of an inhabitant of that other world. This mask is of symbolic size, not a wearing type. The Ayakashi mask expresses god or ghost possessed of mysterious powers. It is also used for a vindictive warrior. Okina (Old man masks) This type of mask originated from sarugaku, the predecessor of noh, in the latter part of the Heian period. This is the oldest type of noh mask. 6 inches x 4.25 inches.
A Delightful Japanese Samurai Late Koto Era Aikuchi Tanto With engraved shinchu [Japanese alloy] kashira, sayajiri [scabbard bottom mount] and kogai, carved buffalo horn mounts throughout including kurigata. Rich dark red lacquer saya and botanical menuki. The tanto was invented partway through the Heian period, when it was mainly used as a weapon. With the beginning of the Kamakura period, tanto were forged to be more aesthetically pleasing, and hira and uchi-sori tanto were the most popular styles for wars in the kamakura period. Near the middle of the Kamakura period, more tanto artisans were seen, increasing the abundance of the weapon, and the kanmuri-otoshi style became prevalent in the cities of Kyoto and Yamato. Because of the style introduced by the tachi in the late Kamakura period, tanto began to be forged longer and wider. The introduction of the Hachiman faith became visible in the carvings in the tanto hilts around this time. The hamon (line of temper) is similar to that of the tachi, except for the absence of choji-midare, which is nioi and utsuri. Gunomi-midare and suguha are found to have taken its place. In Nambokucho, the tanto were forged to be up to forty centimetres as opposed to the normal one shaku (about thirty centimetres) length. The tanto blades became thinner between the uri and the omote, and wider between the ha and mune. At this point in time, two styles of hamon were prevalent: the older style, which was subtle and artistic, and the newer, more popular style. Blades could be of exceptional quality. As the end of the period neared, the average blade narrowed and the sori became shallow. The aikuchi is a tanto koshirae where the fushi is flush with the mouth of the saya. There is no tsuba on this form of tanto. Aikuchi normally have plain wood tsuka, the better types covered in same [rayskin], and many forms of aikuchi have kashira that are made from animal horns, iron or copper. Tanto were sometimes worn as the shoto in place of a wakizashi in a daisho, especially on the battlefield. Before the advent of the wakizashi/tanto combination, it was common for a samurai to carry a tachi and a tanto as opposed to a katana and a wakizashi.
A Delightful Long Antique Shinshinto Han Dachi Katana With shakudo mounts, an unusual carved iron tsuba and a blde with a good gunome hamon in original polish. This mount has unique style called han-dachi (or han-tachi) style, that is a half and half between tachi and katana. All the metal fittings are tachi style. But the designs on them are made as katana style. So this sword was used as katana style that wore the blade in the obi [the waist belt] with the cutting edge upward. All original Edo period fittings. Small lacquer losses to saya. This can be restored if required. 37 inches overall in saya, blade tsuba to tip 27.5
A Edo Period Iron Katana Mokko Form Tsuba Iron plate with inlays of gold and silver. The Tsuba, or Japanese sword guard, is a refined utilitarian object. It is essentially a sheath for the blade to fit through, protecting the hand of the warrior. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament. 7 x 7.7cm
A Fabulous 500 Year Old Bladed Japanese Officer's Sword With a now re-polished blade that shows a remarkably beautiful hamon. The whole sword is now simply a 5 star plus example. All the traditional mounts are very good indeed, it's leather covered combat saya is superb and the blade is simply wonderful. If one wanted an ancient samurai sword that has been used contantly for around 500 years in combat, right up to the end of the war in 1945, you would have to go a very long way to find better. Collectors frequently seek Shin Gunto swords that have an original handed down 'Ancestral' blade, as it is said less than one in a hundred Japanese swords, surrendered in WW2, were swords with handed down early, traditional blades. That form of sword was often the prerogative of an eldest born son, who went to fight for his Emperor [during WW2 ], with his ancestor's blade set in traditional, military mounts. Blade length [nagasa] tip to tsuba 26.5 inches
A Fabulous Ancient Kamakura Period, Almost 800 Year, Nagamaki Naoshi Katana A simply stunning and most ancient blade, around 700 to 800 years old, in original Edo period fittings of pure gold inlaid copper fushi kashira, of birds and a wild boar, signed by the master craftsman, and a very good, early, iron kaga zogan tsuba, inlaid with sinshu decoration including twin demi-lune imperial chrysanthemum mon of the emperor. It is an o-sukashi tsuba in a pierced wheel spoke pattern, from the koto period, of circa 1580. The katana bears an original, early, nagamaki naganata long polearm blade shortened, as was tradition in the 1400's, to later mount as a samurai katana. It has wonderful brown and gold bi-colour silk deluxe hilt wrap, and a black ishime stone lacquer saya with buffalo horn kurigata and sayajiri. Nagamaki were weapons favoured by the Buddhist warrior monks that would have used these pole arms in service to protect and guard the Temples and surrounding land, which were under constant pressure by neighbouring warring clans attempting to jockey for power and expansion. To this end the sword smiths supplying weapons to this warrior class would have been very mindful to Buddhist beliefs of remaining unattached to material possessions, which explains why many of these weapons were never signed. The blade has the typical early, koto period, thin sugaha hamon that continues along the whole length of the blade but is barely visible on the small middle kissaki area. The blade has one or two very small old surface pitting areas [not suprising for its great age]. We show in the gallery a mounted samurai with his ancient nagamaki pole arm with a most similar blade type. The skill of the ancient samurai swordsmith was unsurpassed in the world and could take up to 30 years or more for a smith to fully master. This samurai sword, like all true and original samurai swords, would have been the prize possession of every samurai that owned it. It would most likely have cost more than his home, and would certainly have been more important. This is just one reason why fine Japanese sword steel, even of this tremendous age, is in such good state of preservation. When a katana such as this has been, for its entire existence, so highly revered, treasured and appreciated, it will have been cared for most sensitively and treated with the utmost respect during its entire life. In many regards it will have represented the only thing that stood between its samurai owner, of which there may have been 30 or more during this swords great history, and his ultimate downfall in a combat situation. 38 inches long overall in saya, blade 25 inches long
A Fabulous and Rare, High Rank Samurai, Edo Period Horse Pack Saddle The whole frame is beautifully decorated with crushed abilone shell and the arch mounts engraved with family Clan crest or Mon. To be fully lacquered, finely embelished, and bearing the clan mon, the conclusion is fair that it is a high ranking piece, for the transport of weapons, armour boxes or even women, in the baggage train of a Daimyo. They amy also have been used for the transport of the women or weaponry of a senior ranking Samurai. This is a spectacular piece and they are very rarely seen, and the few that have survived over the centuries are more usually the fairly crude utility examples, completely undecorated and very plain. Over the decades we have had early Japanese woodblock prints showing a procession of horses, in a Daimyo's or Shogun's entourage, some occasionally show a pack saddle exactly such as this, with it's distinctive high crested top. They were usually racked with tanegashima [arquebuss guns] or even polearms. Also, in one early print three women are seated on one example. They may have been attendant's for a Daimyo's consort.
A Fabulous Edo Samurai Armour Of the Mizuno Clan, Formerly Shogun of Japan Antique Edo period in very nice condition commensurate for age. Tachi omodaka mon of the Mizuno Clan. The rear of back plate has an intact sashimono holder [clan flag pole]. A samurai armour of a member of the Mizuno Clan, a Mizuno Daimyo family. The Mizuno are a branch of the Tokugawa family and Mizuno Nobumoto was Shogun, who died in 1576 just before the Edo period bagan in 1599. Mizuno Nobumoto was a daimyo of Japan's Sengoku period. A son of Mizuno Tadashige, and brother of Mizuno Tadamasa, he was the lord of Kariya Castle.It's kabuto [helmet] is a 8 plate goshozan suji bachi kabuto. Probably 17th-18th century. A ken [plates] Suji bachi, which is a multiple-plate type of Japanese helmet bowl with raised ridges or ribs showing where the 8 tate hagi-no-ita (helmet plates) come together at the four-stage tehen kanamono [finial], with the fukurin [metal edges] on each of the standing plates. The mabisashi [peak] is lacquered and it has a four-tier lacquered iron hineno-jikoro [neck-guard] two Tachi Omadaka mon of the Mizuno on the front wings . With a full menpo face mask guard with moustach. The Do has the large gold Tachi Omadaka mon of the Mizuno and it bears at least twp sword cuts across it. Nobumoto sided with Oda Nobuhide in 1542, having switched his allegiance from the Imagawa family, but soon changed sides once more, to serve under the Matsudaira family. He was assigned Kariya Castle to defend. Oda Nobunaga blamed Nobumoto of selling rice to Akiyama Nobutomo (a rival Takeda officer), in 1576. Tokugawa Ieyasu thus sent Hiraiwa Chikayoshi to kill him. Nobumoto's brother, Mizuno Tadashige then went on to take Nobutomo's place. Nobumoto is buried in the Mizuno family temple, Ryogon-ji, a Zen Buddhist monastery established in 1413, in Kariya, Japan. Mon and kamon are Japanese emblems used to decorate and identify an individual or family. While mon is encompassing term that may refer to any such device, kamon and mondokoro refer specifically to emblems used to identify a family. The devices are similar to the badges and coats of arms in European heraldic tradition, which likewise are used to identify individuals and families. Mon are often referred to as crests in Western literature, which is another European heraldic device that mimics the mon in function. No leg defences. This armour has areas of worn and distressed lacquer and areas of cloth/material that are perished due to it's great age as would be expected.
A Fabulous Katana Blade Signed Tsuda Echizen-no-Kami Sukehiro II Dated 1680 In full Edo polish, and displaying a wonderous choji hamon line. 2 piece gold covered habaki. Signed Tsuda Echizen-no-Kami Sukehiro [ born 1637 died 1682] and dated Enpo Shichi nen Hachi-Gatsu Hi [7th year of Enpo 8th Month]. When the first generation Sukehiro passed away, he was succeeded by his adopted son who became known as the 2nd generation Sukehiro. He moved to Osaka and was allowed to engrave the signature prefix “Echizen no kami” in 1657. 27 inch blade from bottom of habaki to tip. Sukehiro was, alongside Inoue Shinkai, the most skillful swordsmith in Osaka in the Shinto era. Sukehiro II and Inoue Shinkai collaborated and made some swords together. Sukehiro II, was summoned to Osaka Castle in kanbun 6 (1666) to serve as master swordsmith for the Daimyo Aoyama Inaba-no-Kami, the Hanji of the castle. It was from this time that his techniques, and the refinement of his work's rapidly progressed. It was in Enpo that he changed the style of his signature kanji from kaku (square) to maru (rounded). He first mastered traditional blade tempering patterns such as Choji (clove shape) and Gunome (another traditional pattern). But he developed a variation which later became known as the Toran-Midare pattern that means large surging waves crashing to the shore. It was the first time such a pattern was seen before, and, became much sought after. One of the most beautiful hamon (the temper line) of the times. There after Tsuda Sukehiro became well known, as master of Toran-Midare hamon. The kanji gives every appearance to us as being correct, as does the hamon, but only a suitable shinsa could confirm.
A Fabulous Late Edo Period Samurai Battle Katana, by Master Smith Masashige Of Choshu, dated, Bunsei 1824. One of our great restoration projects of a very good katana, that required a polish, that has now been duly completed, and what a result!!. The blade is signed Choshu Ryusaishi Masashige and dated 1824 [in Hawleys, MAS 909]. He was of the famous Masahide school, and a pupil of the great master smith Suishinshi Masahide. It has a wonderful elegance and balance to it, typical of the ancient times from where it gains it's influence, and it feels simply as light as a feather and a joy to handle. The hilt bears old iron Higo mounts and a charming plain russeted iron mokko tsuba, that is also signed. The wrap is a typical rebellion pattern rebind. This sword has been be utterly transformed into the item of significant beauty it once was. This sword was last used in the Satsuma rebellion. The Rebellion was the last gasp of the ancient samurai to keep Japan as a feudal state with the samurai as it's backbone, but the Emperor knew that change must come and the day of the samurai was over. So twenty thousand samurai joined forces to fight the new conscript peasant army. It finished after the defeat at the Siege of Kumamoto Castle and in other battles in central Kyushu. The surviving remnants of the samurai forces loyal to Saigo Takamori fled back to Satsuma, seizing the hill of Shiroyama overlooking Kagoshima on 1 September 1877. Imperial army troops under the command of General Yamagata Aritomo and marines under the command of Admiral Kawamura Sumiyoshi began arriving soon after, and the rebels were surrounded. After combat losses and defections, Saigo had only 300 to 400 samurai remaining of a force of over 20,000 which had besieged the government garrison in the city of Kumamoto only six weeks earlier. Following an intensive artillery bombardment the night of 24 September, imperial forces stormed the mountain in the early morning hours. The samurai, under heavy fire, charged the lines of the imperial army, which had not been trained for close-quarter sword fighting. In just a few minutes the once organized line turned into discord. Highly skilled samurai swordsmanship prevailed against an army with very little traditional training. For a short time Saigo's lines held, but was forced back due to weight of numbers. By 6 a.m., only 40 rebels were still alive. Saigo was wounded in the femoral artery and stomach. Losing blood rapidly, he asked to find a suitable spot to die. One of his most loyal followers, Beppu Shinsuke, carried him further down the hill on his shoulders. Legend says that Beppu acted as kaishakunin and aided Saigo in committing seppuku before he could be captured. However, other evidence contradicts this, stating that Saigo in fact died of the bullet wound and then had his head removed by Beppu in order to preserve his dignity. This swords saya is very nice original Edo lacquer with crushed abilone shell decorated. The tsuka could be rebound in the more traditional pre-Satsuma way, in which case it would look as it once did before it had the Satsuma Rebellion rebind. 36.5 inches long overall, blade 26.5 inches long tsuba to tip.
A Fabulous Samurai Katana By Mito Ju Norimune Tokumune of Hitachi Signed by Tokumune [Norimune] of Hitachi. A stunningly beautiful signed blade, a true battle sword, in delightful condition. A very similar samurai sword, bearing the same name and signature Tokumune smith, Mito Ju Norimune [Tokumune of Mito], sold in Czerny's International Auction House in Italy last September, lot number 246, for 10,000 Euros. A superb and stunning Edo period Samurai katana, an original antique Shinshinto katana signed Hitachi Tokumune. Strong battle-blade in the style of Kinno-to (the Imperialists' swords), made during the Bakumatsu period. Kanai Norimune (or Tokumune, in accordance with the Tokugawa, lords of the Mito domain) was born in 1827 and died in 1899; he was Tokurin's pupil and used to manage the manufacturing of the well-known Kinno-to swords. The blade with two mekugi-ana, notare-midare hamon, fully original Edo period silk bound tsuka, in gold, with shakudo-nanako fuchi-kashira decorated with peonies in gold and silver, shakudo and gold floral menuki, and circular sukashi tsuba chiselled and pierced with flowering branches, in its black lacquered saya complete with shakudo-nanako kodzuka and kogai each decorated with different leaves and flowers in shakudo and gold. Signed Hitachi Kuni Mito ju Tokumune 65 cm. Blade. The blade shows a beautiful hamon [with crab claw] and very good grain to the hada. 26.5 inch blade length, Tsuba to tip. Overall 39 inches long in saya
A Fabulous Shinto Katana Circa 1620 With Fine Edo Koshirae The gently undulating yet exceptionaly deep hamon is very fine quality and this is a most beautiful an impressive katana. A very fine Shinto blade set in very fine quality shakudo, Edo period mounts, of multi coloured patination and pour gold onlaid décor. The saya has it's original Edo red lacquer, and the sword is mounted with it's koto period o-sukashi iron tsuba carved with profiles of flying geese. The production of swords in Japan is divided into specific time periods: jokoto (Ancient swords, until around 900 A.D.), koto (old swords from around 900–1596), shinto (new swords 1596–1780), shinshinto (new new swords 1781–1876), traditional gendaito (modern swords 1876–1945). The first use of "katana" as a word to describe a long sword that was different from a tachi is found in the 12th century. These references to "uchigatana" and "tsubagatana" seem to indicate a different style of sword, possibly a less costly sword for lower ranking warriors. The evolution of the tachi into the katana seems to have started during the early Muromachi period (1337 to 1573). Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the "katana" signature were made. This was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style" (cutting edge up). Japanese swords are traditionally worn with the signature facing away from the wearer. When a tachi was worn in the style of a katana, with the cutting edge up, the tachi's signature would be facing the wrong way. The fact that swordsmiths started signing swords with a katana signature shows that some samurai of that time period had started wearing their swords in a different manner. However, it is thought by many, that as many as 70% of katana made were never signed at all. The rise in popularity of katana by samurai is believed to have been due to the changing nature of close-combat warfare. The quicker draw of the sword was well suited to combat where victory depended heavily on fast response times. The katana further facilitated this by being worn thrust through a belt-like sash (obi) with the sharpened edge facing up. Ideally, samurai could draw the sword and strike the enemy in a single motion. Previously, the curved tachi had been worn with the edge of the blade facing down and suspended from a belt The length of the katana blade varied considerably during the course of its history. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, katana blades tended to be between 68 to 73 cm (26 to 28 in) in length. During the early 16th century, the average length was closer to 60 cm (23.5 in). By the late 16th century, the average length returned to greater lengths. However, with every new owner [and early blades may have had 20 owners] the blade could be reduced if required to fit, and the shorter samurai would need shorter swords however long the considered norm may have been. Overall 40 inches long in saya
A Fabulous Signed Samurai O-Tanto with Delightfully Fine Mounts A large tanto almost wakazashi size.With hard lacquered leather bound tsuka. Shinshinto period, signed blade and signed fittings. The signature is in an unusual form and it's translation, as yet, eludes us. The fittings are all bronze and hammered with with fine gold and probably by the much sought after Goto school. Superb kodsuka with gold foil and carved copper, signed blade. Leather covered saya with iron and gold Kojiri. Gold rimmed bronze tsuba with nanako ground and Shishi. Tanto first began to appear in the Heian period, however these blades lacked artistic qualities and were purely weapons. In the Early Kamakura period high quality tanto with artistic qualities began to appear, and the famous Yoshimitsu (the greatest tanto maker in Japanese history) began his forging. Tanto production increased greatly around the Muromachi period and then dropped off in the Shinto period. Shinto period tanto are quite rare. Tanto were mostly carried by Samurai; commoners did not generally carry them. Women sometimes carried a small tanto called a kaiken in their obi for self defence.It was sometimes worn as the shoto in place of a wakizashi in a daisho, especially on the battlefield. Before the 16th century it was common for a Samurai to carry a tachi and a tanto as opposed to a katana and a wakizashi.
A Fabulous Soten Gold Dragon Mounted Sunobi Tanto to Ko Wakazashi Signed Takeshige, circa 1700. Either a very long tanto [samurai dagger] or a short wakazashi [samurai short sword] The complete koshirae [mounts] of, fushi, kashira, menuki and tsuba are all of wonderful quality and beauty, and all depicting in deep takebori, the dragon in pure gold, over patinated, hand nanako ground, copper. The chisseling has created stunning detail and it is a true beauty in all respects. A very attractive undulating hamon with distinct Shinto period yakideshi, in nice bright polish. We are having a new bespoke saya made for it, and rebound the hilt [tsuka] as it was, in gold silk ito. The blade has a few old age pitting marks, and one around the size of a grain of rice around 5 inches from the tip. The saya is black sprial ishime lacquer. Blade tsuba to tip 15.25 inches, full length 22 inches.
A Fabulous Wakazashi by Master Sadahide Student of Masahide Dated 1830 A simply wonderful wide and sizeable blade with fine hamon and incredible tight grain hada. Copper patinated fushi kashira od the tiger and bamboon. A very good signed copper tsuba with samurai. Original black lacquer saya with fine kodzuka utility knife. As Sukehiro and Shinkai were highly praised by Kamada Natae in his book he wrote in this period swordsmiths begun to imitate their works making strong shape and Hamon in Toran-Ha. Swords in this period imitated the Osaka style. Then Masahide ( one of most famous sword smiths in Shinshinto time ) advocated in his book that "we should make swords by the method of the Koto era." With this final aim swordsmiths begun to create their own steels trying to reach the quality of the ancient one. Combining materials which have different quantity of carbon, a good Jihada will appear. Therefore, swordsmiths used a lot of materials like old nails and the like to adjust the quantity of carbon to be suitable for swordmaking.Even today this steel is called Oroshi-gane. As already said an easy way to produce Tamahagane was available in Shinto time and swordsmith could get good quality Tamahagane. Therefore, it seems that most of them didn't make their own Oroshi-gane. But some swordsmiths like Kotetsu or Hankei followed Masahide suggestions and reached a top-quality level combining ancient iron/steel with modern one. In effect Ko-Tetsu means "ancient steel".
A Fabulous, 16th Century, Dated and Signed Koto Period Wakazashi Signed Nishu ju Kanefusa from Hyuga province, Gassan school. Dated Dai-ei reign. Bound in Imperial white silk over black giant ray skin, with two menuki of a large cockeral and possibly a koro incense burner. The fushi is chisseled patinated copper of takabori pure gold decorated flowering plants over a nanako ground. Carved buffalo horn fushi. Koto period Higo style tsuba in the five lobed mokko form in iron. The saya is beautifully lacquered in ishime stone finish. The blade looks absolutely beautiful and the whole sword is just a joy the hold and admire. The Imperial white silk hilt is not only stunningly attractive it is a sign of wealth and status. The Gassan school derives, as its name suggests, from Mt. Gassan in the old province of Dewa (present-day Yamagata prefecture), and is characterized by a wavy grain called ayasugi hada. According to tradition, it was founded by a smith named Kiomaru (or Kishin Dayu, as he was also known), who lived in the sacred grounds of Mt. Gassan back in the 12th century. Ever since, swordsmiths have flourished at the foot of Mt. Gassan, and a number of masters have appeared, in a long succession. The Gassan school origins remains to this day one of the most prestigious and successful lines of sword forging. The roots of Gassan extend far back into the Kamakura period (1185-1333 AD), and it is suspected perhaps even as early as Heian period (794-1185 AD). The home of Gassan was in Dewa province in the northern region of Honshu where they were the only indigenous school to Dewa. The name “Gassan” actually refers to one of three sacred mountains of Dewa, or “Dewa Sanzan”, the other two being Mt. Haguro and Mt. Yudono. It is a very mountainous and remote region, and was even more so in the earliest days of the school. Some Gassan smiths left Dewa and travelled to work in Hyuga, as did Gassan Masatsugu
A Fascinating 19th Century Edo Japanese Samurai 'Boy's Sword' A delightful original antique Japanese sword of half size katana dimensions. With tradition fittings of copper with gilt highlights. O-sukashi iron tsuba of bamboo leaves. Original Edo silk ito wrapped around traditional giant rayskin. Brown lacquer saya and a grey steel blade. Being a late Edo boys sword the blade is somewhat rudimentary and it will be unlikely to have a hamon. Probably for a son of a middle ranking samurai. In 1185 AD the aristocratic court government of classical Japan was replaced by a warrior-administration ushering in the Age of the Samurai. Just as the sons of aristocracy underwent the ceremony of genpuku to signify their adulthood, so did the sons of warrior nobility. The central feature of genpuku throughout this time period was the placing of a samurai helmet, rather than court cap, by a high status warrior. Adult samurai received their swords and armor at this time. After going through genpuku, youths were expected to do adult labour, and samurai-class men acquired full warrior status and were expected to fight in open battle. In addition, youths gained the right to marry, and to officiate at shrine ceremonies. The ceremony acted to bind youth to the previously mentioned high status warrior. Often this practice was used to confirm and solidify the social status of samurai families. For example, a samurai family of lower status might, through the ceremony of genpuku, become tied to a higher status family. The lower status son would then act as a retainer to the higher status warrior to whom he was tied. After genpuku, warrior sons were accepted as full adults and welcomed to a career in the warrior-administration.Overall 19 inches long, blade 10.25 inches.
A Fine & Beautiful Japanese Shinto Katana Circa 1630 Quietly reserved, and a most attractive sword indeed, and of good impressive length. With all original Edo koshirae [mounts] including original Edo period saya and black lacquer, Edo mounts and tsuba. Beautifully polished blade showing an elaborate undulating gunome hamon. Original Edo period beige silk hilt binding [tsukaito]. All of the fittings to this delightful sword are it's original Edo mounts and all in nice condition and quality, untouched for around 200 years. By the time Ieyasu Tokugawa unified Japan under his rule at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, only samurai were permitted to wear the sword. A samurai was recognized by his carrying the feared daisho, the ‘big sword, little sword’ of the warrior. These were the battle katana, the ‘big sword,’ and the wakizashi, the ‘little sword.’ The name katana derives from two old Japanese written characters or symbols: kata, meaning’side,’ and na, or ‘edge.’ Thus a katana is a single-edged sword that has had few rivals in the annals of war, either in the East or the West. Because the sword was the main battle weapon of Japan’s knightly man-at-arms (although spears and bows were also carried), an entire martial art grew up around learning how to use it. This was kenjutsu, the art of sword fighting, or kendo in its modern, non-warlike incarnation. The importance of studying kenjutsu and the other martial arts such as kyujutsu, the art of the bow, was so critical to the samurai — a very real matter of life or death — that Miyamoto Musashi, most renowned of all swordsmen, warned in his classic The Book of Five Rings: ‘The science of martial arts for warriors requires construction of various weapons and understanding the properties of the weapons. A member of a warrior family who does not learn to use weapons and understand the specific advantages of each weapon would seem to be somewhat uncultivated.’. The Edo lacquer on the saya has areas of usual age wear. Overall length in saya 38.25 inches, blade length tsuba to tip 28.75 inches
A Fine & Beautiful Shinto Samurai Tanto Hira-zukuri Koshi-zori form, in full polish, Omokumi Hada, Midare based on Notare Hamon, in Shirasaya. Mumei Tang
A Fine and Elegant 600 Year old Samurai Koto Katana With Signed Blade Signed tang, but with only a partial signature remaining, and signed Edo period dragon pattern, Soten school, sword mounts [koshirae] in patinated copper and pure gold. It has a fine ishime [stone effect] lacquer saya. Mokko form iron tsuba, inlaid with relief figures. A beautiful sword of fine proportions, most elegant, refined and simply a joy to own. The production of swords in Japan is divided into specific time periods: jokoto (Ancient swords, until around 900 A.D.), koto (old swords from around 900–1596), shinto (new swords 1596–1780), shinshinto (new new swords 1781–1876), traditional gendaito (modern swords 1876–1945). Blade could be improved with repolishing. The first use of "katana" as a word to describe a long sword that was different from a tachi is found in the 12th century. These references to "uchigatana" and "tsubagatana" seem to indicate a different style of sword, possibly a less costly sword for lower ranking warriors. The evolution of the tachi into the katana seems to have started during the early Muromachi period (1337 to 1573). Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the "katana" signature were made. This was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style" (cutting edge up). Japanese swords are traditionally worn with the signature facing away from the wearer. When a tachi was worn in the style of a katana, with the cutting edge up, the tachi's signature would be facing the wrong way. The fact that swordsmiths started signing swords with a katana signature shows that some samurai of that time period had started wearing their swords in a different manner. However, it is thought by many, that as many as 70% of katana made were never signed at all. The rise in popularity of katana by samurai is believed to have been due to the changing nature of close-combat warfare. The quicker draw of the sword was well suited to combat where victory depended heavily on fast response times. The katana further facilitated this by being worn thrust through a belt-like sash (obi) with the sharpened edge facing up. Ideally, samurai could draw the sword and strike the enemy in a single motion. Previously, the curved tachi had been worn with the edge of the blade facing down and suspended from a belt The length of the katana blade varied considerably during the course of its history. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, katana blades tended to be between 68 to 73 cm (26 to 28 in) in length. During the early 16th century, the average length was closer to 60 cm (23.5 in). By the late 16th century, the average length returned to greater lengths. However, with every new owner [and early blades may have had 20 owners] the blade could be reduced if required to fit, and the shorter samurai would need shorter swords however long the considered norm may have been. 37.5 inches long in saya. 27.5 inch blade from tsuba to tip.
A Fine Japanese Samurai Katana, Shinto Period 1660 Signed Tadahiro Inscribed, katana mei, Hizen Kuni Ju Omi no Daijo Fujiwara Tadahiro. The bottom part of the name is now lacking due to shortening of the tang. Circa 1660, with nice suguha straight hamon. Plain iron fushi kashira and unusual cord binding form. Cast pierced tsuba. Unusual original edo saya with bi colour lacquer. A simple and understated sword, of nice quality. The Hizen school of the Shinto period is certainly one of the most famous and easily recognized by collectors and students of all levels. Hashimoto Shinzaemon was born in 1572 to a samurai family. His father and grandfather were both killed early on, and being orphaned at the age of 13 he took up sword smiting with relatives (possibly Iyo no Jo Munetsugu) at Nagasemura. He took up the name Tadayoshi, and his skill must have grown rapidly, for at the age of 25 he travelled to Kyoto and was accepted as a student of Umetada Myoju. Myoju was fond of performing horimono for Tadayoshi's blades, and this illustrates a close bond and no doubt a respect on the part of the teacher for the imposing potential of his top student and these two are often counted among the top five smiths of the entire Shinto period. Tadayoshi would eventually leave Kyoto to work for the Nabeshima clan in Hizen province. The Nabeshima specifically fostered the school set up by Tadayoshi and Hizen became a great swordmaking center, and no doubt brought much revenue back to the Nambeshima daimyo. Late in his life Tadayoshi received the title of Mutsu no Daijo, and on this occasion he changed his name to Tadahiro and his style changed along with his signature. In 1614 he became father to Hashimoto Heisakuro, who would join his father's forge at the young age of 10 and eventually take on his personal name Shinzaemonnojo, and then his father's art name of Tadahiro. 36.5 inches long overall in saya, blade 25.5 inches.
A Fine Samurai Master Smith Katana Signed Inaba Kuni ju Fujiwaya Fuyuhiro With traditional black silk wrap and black lacquer saya. Gold decorated Edo period bronze fuchi [hilt collar] and iron kashira. Koto period o-sukashi mokko tsuba in iron. He often signed Wakasa Inshu, his name appears in Fujishiro's index Meito zukan, the 'Catalogue of Fine Swords'. Fujishiro were the great family of Japanese sword appraisers. The blade is dated 1601. A very good blade, but is very rare in that is also dated, which is very scarce indeed for the early Shinto period, Shinto blades were most rarely dated especially in the early period. It is a most fine sword, in beautiful polish. Straight sugaha hamon. Blade length 28.20 inches from [from the tsuba if present] to tip.
A Fine Shinto Iron Tsuba Of A Cockerel And O-daiko Drum Signed. Katana size. O-daiko, a barrel drum played in temples, theatre orchestras and at festivals. The drum's cowhide skins, decorated with lacquer-work dragons were never sounded. Instead the drum is a symbol of peace as indicated by the presence of a rooster atop the instrument. An ancient story tells of a drum placed at a village gate to sound an alarm during an attack. As the years passed the drum was never used. Hens and roosters began to live in the drum and this image became an emblem of contentment and peace.
A Fine Shinto Katana Signed Inshu ju Fujiwara Fuyuhiro Circa 1660 With a fabulous blade showing an incredibly vibrant hamon with masses of activity. Highly distinctive Koto tsuba, of course hammered iron, sword fittings of gilt patinated copper. Signed tang and original Edo period lacquered saya. The first use of "katana" as a word to describe a long sword that was different from a tachi is found in the 12th century. These references to "uchigatana" and "tsubagatana" seem to indicate a different style of sword, possibly a less costly sword for lower ranking warriors. The evolution of the tachi into the katana seems to have started during the early Muromachi period (1337 to 1573). Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the "katana" signature were made. This was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style" (cutting edge up). Japanese swords are traditionally worn with the signature facing away from the wearer. When a tachi was worn in the style of a katana, with the cutting edge up, the tachi's signature would be facing the wrong way. The fact that swordsmiths started signing swords with a katana signature shows that some samurai of that time period had started wearing their swords in a different manner. However, it is thought by many, that as many as 70% of katana made were never signed at all. The rise in popularity of katana by samurai is believed to have been due to the changing nature of close-combat warfare. The quicker draw of the sword was well suited to combat where victory depended heavily on fast response times. The katana further facilitated this by being worn thrust through a belt-like sash (obi) with the sharpened edge facing up. Ideally, samurai could draw the sword and strike the enemy in a single motion. Previously, the curved tachi had been worn with the edge of the blade facing down and suspended from a belt
A Fine Shinto Wakazashi By Omni Daijo Fujiwara Tadahiro Circa 1660. The great Tadahiro II of Hizen. The fittings are comorants, and the kozuka a figure riding a giant carp in gold over copper. The 2nd generation Tadahiro was born in Keicho 19 (1614) as the first son by a mistress of 1st generation Hizen-koku Tadayoshi. His initial name was Hashimoto Heisakuro, later had succeeded to his father's name of Shinzaemon. He excelled in as a superior sword maker since teenage to play a ghost-maker on behalf of his father in his later years. He had succeeded major Tadahiro 2nd generation in Kanei 9, (1632) when he was as young as 19 years old. He intended not to succeed his father's smith name Tadayoshi for the sake of preserving appearances that he was not a legitimate child of Tadayoshi. Passed away in Genroku 6, (1693), was 80 years old. His legitimate child 3rd generation succeeded to the initial name of Tadayoshiu when he enjoyed the Mutsu daijo title in Manji 3 (1660), was 24 years old. The subject artisan Tadahiro 2nd generation established and developed the superior high standard quality of sword making for the major Hizen Tadayoshi school and had laid the foundations for the later generations until 9th by the end of Edo period. This beautiful wakizashi we believe as his work in his early thirties of 1644-47. Most superior forging method using top quality fine steel known as "Tamahagane" generates precisely fine Ko-Itame with sparkling Ji-nie glittering that generates superior Chikei darkish Nie lines activity. The forging scene looks like "Nashi-ji".?We would appraise it as "Above Superior Made" / "Above Supreme Sharp". 26.5 inches long overall in saya,, blade tsuba to tip 18.65 inches.
A Fine Shinto Wakazashi WW2 Tank Officer Mounted Mizuta Ju Kunishige School Now re-polished. Full signature on the blade Bichu Koku Mizuta Ju Kunishige, blade made around 1650. Mounted by it's last owner for use in WW2 as an Imperial Japanese Army tank division officer commander, surrendered in 1945. It still has most of it's ancient traditional fittings, just a WW2 tsuba, menuki, and the wooden saya is covered in gunto combat leather. The tsuka has a nice iron and gold inlaid fushi. In very good condition for age, blade in new polish. The shortness of his sword was essential so it could be used in combat within the confines of the tank and easily removed for hand to hand combat when the need arose. The signed blade was originally made around 1650 and used by the WW2 officer's samurai ancestors. The founder of the Mizuta Kunishige school started around later Kamakura period as a lineage of Ko-Aoe Tamtsugu school. Generally this Mizuta school become very active during later Muromachi to Edo period. Kunshige [Kambun 1661]. Katsuba Kunishige region of Bichu, from the era of the Edo period, Kambun Mizuta Kunisige is the fourth generation of a dynasty of Kunisige masters. He was the son of the master Oego Kunisige (Oyogo Kunishige) and later became the adopted son of the master Ichizo Kunishige, younger brother Oego Kunisige. Mizuta Kunishige tradition goes back to the famous master Tametsugu, and belonged to the old Aoe school. Ichizo Kunishige in 1645 was awarded the title of master of the highest level Yamashiro Daijo. He was the only student Otsuki Katsuba Kaneshige. Katsuba continued development of the tradition of this school. 27.5 inches long overall in saya, blade 18 inches long typical age blade surface thinning.
A Fine Signed Shinto O-Tanto Signed Yamoto Daijo Kanehiro. Signed Shinto Tanto, by a master smith bearing the honorific title Assistant Lord of Yamoto. A Samurai's personal dagger signed Yamoto Daijo Kanehiro. A Smith who had a very high ranking title A very nice signed Tanto, in full polish, with an early, Koto, Kamakuribori Style Iron Tsuba. The tsuba is probably Muramachi period around 1450, carved in low relief to one side. 6.5cm. Plain early iron Koshira. The blade in nice polish, itami grain and a medium wide sugaha hamon signed with his high ranking official title Yamoto Daijo Kanehiro [Kane Hiro, Assistant Lord of Yamoto Province] circa 1660. He lived in Saga province. Superb original Edo period ribbed lacquer saya.the saya has a usual side pocket to fit a kodzuka utility knife. These knives were always a separate non matching and disconnected part of the dagger. Black silk binding over silver feather menuki. The samurai were bound by a code of honour, discipline and morality known as Bushido or “The Way of the Warrior.” If a samurai violated this code of honour (or was captured in battle), a gruesome ritual suicide was the chosen method of punishment and atonement. The ritual suicide of a samurai or Seppuku can be either a voluntary act or a punishment, undertakan usually with his tanto or wakazashi. The ritual suicide of a samurai was generally seen as an extremely honourable way to die, after death in combat.
A Fine Wakazashi By Kaneuji Circa 1650 For the Asano Clan A senior samurai's dagger of the Asano clan of the world renown 47 Ronin fame. All original Edo fittings with Asano clan mon on the fushi. A splendid kodzuka decorated with Chinese warrior with a polearm. Fine ishime Edo lacquer on the saya and the silver kamon of the Asano. It has a fine and elegant blade with typical midare irregular wavy hamon. With Mon of the Maruni Chigai Taka no ha [the crossing pair of hawk feathers in circle] and it belonged to an Asano clan clan samurai. The mon of Asano Naganori, who was the daimyo of the Ako Domain in Japan (1675 - 1701). His title was Takumi no Kami. He is known as the person who triggered a series of incidents retold in a story known as Chushingura, one of the favourite themes of kabuki, joruri, and Japanese books and films. On the day of his death, he drew his sword and attempted to kill Kira in the Corridor of the Pines at Edo Castle in what is now Tokyo. He was wounded and failed to kill Kira. On the same day, the fifth Tokugawa shogun Tsunayoshi sentenced him to commit seppuku, which he did after writing his death poem: "kaze sasofu hana yori mo / naho ware ha mata / haru no nagori wo / ika ni yatosen." "More than the cherry blossoms, Inviting a wind to blow them away, I am wondering what to do, With the remaining springtime." He was buried in the graveyard of Sengaku-ji. His retainers became ronin when the Shogunate confiscated his fief. Under the leadership of Oishi Kuranosuke, however, they avenged the death of their lord by killing Kira at his mansion in Edo on December 15, 1702. These former retainers became famous as the Forty-seven Ronin, and their vendetta ranks as one of the most renowned in Japan. Ukiyo-e depicting the assault of Asano Naganori on Kira Yoshinaka in the Matsu no Oroka of Edo Castle. A most beautiful original Edo piece from one of the greatest and historical clans in samurai history, beautifully preserved, by a great family smith name Kaneuji. Full length 31 inches in saya, tip to tsuba blade length 21.25 inches
A Fine Yanagawa School Katana Tsuba Signed Naomasa [1692-1757] Mokko-shaped tsuba with shishi, or lion dog, over decorated with gold embellishments. He was a pupil of the early Yokoya as well as of the Yoshioka and combined the characteristics of both these schools. So completely was the resulting style assimilated by his numerous following that few great schools may be said to present a more perfect continuity of manner. This notable school almost takes rank with the Goto, the Nara and the Yokoya in the extent of its influence, the numbers of its pupils, and the importance of the branch schools founded by them.
A Good Early Samurai Katana, Koto Era, With Carved Horimono Blade Blade circa 1550, all original Edo period mounts and fittings. It is a long bladed early 'battle sword' katana that has a carved engraved horimono blade bearing a carved sankrit Buddhist bonji and blowing leaves down the length of the 30" long blade. It has a gentle gunome hamon and shows small areas of surface wear due to it's great age. The tsuka is 'battle wrapped' a somewhat simplified version of traditional re-wrapping that has no menuki. All the fittings are original Edo, the hilt has a plain russet iron fushi, carved buffalo horn kashira [pommel]. The saya is completely original Edo period with fine black ishime stone lacquer. The 17th century iron tsuba bears repeated stamped decoration of stylized bats.
A Good Edo Period Noda Maru Gata Oval Iron Wakazashi Tsuba With a simulated stone finish surface. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other. 2.5 inches long.
A Good Koto Period O Sukashi Tsuba Cirtca 1550. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
A Good Koto Period O-Sukashi Katana Tsuba Circa 1550. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
A Good Koto Wakazashi Signed Masaharu Saku Circa 1550 With O-sukashi tsuba in iron of a bamboo grove, all original Edo fittings including the saya and tsuka completely untouched in over 200 years. Original Edo period polish showing wonderful activity and fluidity. Kodzuka utility knife fitted in the saya. Fifty years after this sword was made the Tokugawa shogunate began and effectively ruled Japan for the next 268 years. The heads of government were the shoguns, and each was a member of the Tokugawa clan. The Tokugawa shogunate ruled from Edo Castle and the years of the shogunate became known as the Edo period. This time is also called the Tokugawa period or pre-modern. Following the Sengoku Period of "warring states", the central government had been largely re-established by Oda Nobunaga during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. After the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, central authority fell to Tokugawa Ieyasu. Society in the Tokugawa period, unlike the shogunates before it, was supposedly based on the strict class hierarchy originally established by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The daimyo, or lords, were at the top, followed by the warrior-caste of samurai, with the farmers, artisans, and traders ranking below. In some parts of the country, particularly smaller regions, daimyo and samurai were more or less identical, since daimyo might be trained as samurai, and samurai might act as local rulers. Otherwise, the largely inflexible nature of this social stratification system unleashed disruptive forces over time. Despite the establishment of the shogunate, the Emperor in Kyoto was still the legitimate ruler of Japan. However, regardless of the political title of the Emperor, the shoguns of the Tokugawa family controlled Japan. The administration of Japan was a task given by the Imperial Court in Kyoto to the Tokugawa family. Blade from tsuba to tip 17.33 inches
A Good Shinto Aikuchi Tanto Samurai Dagger with a Fine Blade The blade has a fine Hamon with a full, back edge temper, and a running itami grain Hada. With giant rayskin bound hilt and black speckled dark red lacquer saya. Pony kodsuka, black horn fittings. Shinto period circa 1620. Tanto first began to appear in the Heian period, however these blades lacked artistic qualities and were purely weapons. In the Early Kamakura period high quality tanto with artistic qualities began to appear, and the famous Yoshimitsu (the greatest tanto maker in Japanese history) began his forging. Tanto production increased greatly around the Muromachi period and then dropped off in the Shinto period. Shinto period tanto are quite rare. Tanto were mostly carried by Samurai; commoners did not generally carry them. Women sometimes carried a small tanto called a kaiken in their obi for self defence.It was sometimes worn as the shoto in place of a wakizashi in a daisho, especially on the battlefield. Before the 16th century it was common for a Samurai to carry a tachi and a tanto as opposed to a katana and a wakizashi.
A Good Small Japanese Samurai Aikuchi Tanto Edo Period Circa 1700 All original Edo fittings with period lacquer. Nicely polished blade with a gunome hamon based on suhaga. Dark red saya and tsuka over-dappled with black lacquer with contrasting matt and bright highlights. Silver falling rain engraved habaki and golden shi-shi lion dogs mounted to the bottom section of the saya. Small denting to the saya lacquer on the obverse side. 10.5 inches overall, 6.75 inch blade hilt to tip
A Good Untouched Koto Katana Surrendered To British Major in WW2 A lovely deeply curved old blade mounted in WW2 fittings and used in the Imperial Japanese Army Officer in Burma in WW2. Surrendered to this British officer in '45 by the Japanese officer and it is complete with his signed and certified permission chit to hold possession and to return with to home with it as his WW2 souvenir [signed at HQ551 at Kalewa in early 1946]. Granted to a Major serving in the 14th Army under General Slim at Imphal campaign. The scabbard bears four distinct 'cut incisions' at the throat, and this has been a well recorded tradition of warriors, of all nations, for centuries. It represented to the soldier each of his personal victory's in hand to hand combat. From Imphal there were two routes to the Chindwin River and Burma. One route left the plain at its southern end. It then proceeded through the towns of Tiddim, Fort White, and Kalemyo before ending at the town of Kalewa on the Chindwin River. This route was called the Tiddim road. The other route exited the plain to the southeast and proceeded to Palel, crossed the Shenam Pass, and then to Tamu. At Tamu the route split. One could either continue east to the town of Sittaung on the Chindwin River or turn south down the Kabaw Valley to Kalemyo where it joined the Tiddim Road. The stretch to Tamu was called the Palel –Tamu Road. S.E.A.C.’s directives for operations in the Imphal area tasked 14th Army to contain and divert Japanese forces by gaining control of the area south of Imphal-Tamu road and west of the Chindwin River and to exploit east of the Chindwin River to support Special Force. In accomplishing this task Slim also saw an opportunity to draw the Japanese into a decisive battle on ground favorable to the 14th Army in order to severely weaken the Japanese Burma Area Army.
A Good WW2 Shingunto Japanese Officers Katana Sword Good blade, overall grey it shows a very deep temper line, that reaches over half the width of the blade in areas. Good regulation fittings and a leather covered wooden saya. The blade may possibly earlier than WW2, from the Russo-Japanese War period. A WW2 traditional officers sword used in the Japanese Islands and surrendered in 1945. Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. The attack severely damaged the American fleet and prevented, at least for the short term, serious American interference with Japanese military operations. In response, the United States declared war on Japan. Following Germany's declaration of war on the United States, the United States also declared war on Germany. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan achieved a long series of military successes. In December 1941, Guam and Wake Island fell to the Japanese, followed in the first half of 1942 by the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore, and Burma. Thailand remained officially neutral. Only in mid-1942 were Australian and New Zealander forces in New Guinea and British forces in India able to halt the Japanese advance. The turning point in the Pacific war came with the American naval victory in the Battle of Midway in June 1942. The Japanese fleet sustained heavy losses and was turned back. In August 1942, American forces attacked the Japanese in the Solomon Islands, forcing a costly withdrawal of Japanese forces from the island of Guadalcanal in February 1943. Allied forces slowly gained naval and air supremacy in the Pacific, and moved methodically from island to island, conquering them and often sustaining significant casualties. The Japanese, however, successfully defended their positions on the Chinese mainland until 1945.
A Highly Attractive Antique Suit of Original Edo Period Samurai Gosuku Photographed after it's recent full cleaning. With Shinari Kabuto [acorn shaped helmet] of built up lacquer over iron construction. With fully laced Shikoro [neck armour lames]. Open hanbo face guard, with laced Nodowa [throat armour]. Dark brown lacquer thin plates with full lacing to the Do in Maru-do type form [breast plate without hinge, single side opening]. Chain mail over silk Kote [arm armour] with plate Tekko [hand armour]. Fully laced and plate Sode [shoulder armour] Fully laced four panels of Haidate [waist armour] Fully laced Kasazuri [thigh Armour], without lower Suneate. The armour is trimmed in printed and decorated doe skin and all the connection fittings are in traditional carved horn. This armour is absolutely beautiful. It's condition is very good indeed apart from some lacquer wear to the helmet but this we can attend to, some silk perishing on part of the thigh armour top section, and some colour fading to one hand armour lacquer. Japanese armour is thought to have evolved from the armour used in ancient China and Korea. Cuirasses and helmets were manufactured in Japan as early as the 4th century.Tanko, worn by foot soldiers and keiko, worn by horsemen were both pre-samurai types of early Japanese cuirass constructed from iron plates connected together by leather thongs. During the Heian period 794 to 1185 the Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of armour worn by the samurai known as the dou or do. Japanese armour makers started to use leather (nerigawa) and lacquer was used to weather proof the armor parts. By the end of the Heian period the Japanese cuirass had arrived at the shape recognized as being distinctly samurai. Leather and or iron scales were used to construct samurai armours, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) which these cuirasses were now being made from. In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armour makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours).Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms. The era of warfare called the Sengoku period ended around 1600, Japan was united and entered the peaceful Edo period, samurai continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status but traditional armours were no longer necessary for battles. During the Edo period light weight, portable and secret hidden armours became popular as there was still a need for personal protection. Civil strife, duels, assassinations, peasant revolts required the use of armours such as the kusari katabira (chain armour jacket) and armoured sleeves as well as other types of armour which could be worn under ordinary clothing.Edo period samurai were in charge of internal security and would wear various types of kusari gusoku (chain armour) and shin and arm protection as well as forehead protectors (hachi-gane). Armour continued to be worn and used in Japan until the end of the samurai era (Meiji period) in the 1860s, with the last use of samurai armour happening in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion
A Japanese Edo Period Armour Sleeve And Gauntlet In Japanese called the kote and tekko. A single one piece Kote, armoured glove like sleeve which extends to the shoulder, then down to the kusari lined han kote, which covers the forearm and hand. Ideal for framing for a unique interior décor display or as an original piece oif original samurai warfare history. Kote were made from cloth covered with iron plates of various size and shape, connected by chain armour (kusari). Japanese armour is thought to have evolved from the armour used in ancient China. Cuirasses and helmets were manufactured in Japan as early as the 4th century.Tanko, worn by foot soldiers and keiko, worn by horsemen were both pre-samurai types of early Japanese cuirass constructed from iron plates connected together by leather thongs. During the Heian period (794-1185), the Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of armour worn by the samurai known as the dou or do. Japanese armour makers started to use leather (nerigawa) and lacquer was used to weather proof the armour parts. By the end of the Heian period the Japanese cuirass had arrived at the shape recognized as being distinctly samurai. Leather and or iron scales were used to construct samurai armours, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) which these cuirasses were now being made from. In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armour makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours). Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms. The era of warfare called the Sengoku period ended around 1600, Japan was united and entered the so-called peaceful Edo period, but conflict remained through internecine and clan rivalry. Samurai continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status and for extreme combat. During the Edo period light weight, portable and secret hidden armours became popular as there was still a need for personal protection. Civil strife, duels, assassinations, peasant revolts required the use of armours such as the kusari katabira (chain armour jacket) and armoured sleeves as well as other types of armour which could be worn under ordinary clothing. Edo period samurai were in charge of internal security and would wear various types of kusari gusoku (chain armour) and shin and arm protection as well as forehead protectors (hachi-gane). Armour continued to be worn and used in Japan until the end of the samurai era (Meiji period) in the 1860s, with the last use of samurai armour happening in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion.
A Japanese Edo Period Processional or Ceremonial Pole Arm Yari Set on a very good mother o'pearl decorated haft. With a over lacquered blade cover. A yari on it's pole can range in length from one metre to upwards of six metres (almost 20 feet). The longer hafted versions were called omi no yari while shorter ones were known as mochi yari or tae yari. The longest hafted versions were carried by foot troops (ashigaru), while samurai usually carried a shorter hafted yari. Yari are believed to have been derived from Chinese spears, and while they were present in early Japan's history they did not become popular until the thirteenth century. The original warfare of the bushi was not a thing for "commoners"; it was a ritualized combat usually between two warriors who may challenge each other via horseback archery and sword duels. However, the attempted Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281 changed Japanese weaponry and warfare. The Mongol-employed Chinese and Korean footmen wielded long pikes, fought in tight formation, and moved in large units to stave off cavalry. Polearms (including naginata and yari) were of much greater military use than swords, due to their much greater range, their lesser weight per unit length (though overall a polearm would be fairly hefty), and their great piercing ability. Swords in a full battle situation were therefore relegated to emergency sidearm status from the Heian through the Muromachi periods. Ceremonial yari were used for parades of Daimyo travelling through regions or traditional public ceremonies in the Edo era. MOP losses to haft.
A Japanese Shinshinto Period Tanto Mounted in WW2 SOLD SOLD A traditional seppuku [suicide] dagger in shira saya [standard wooden mounting] with copper habaki. The very type as were given to the WW2 Zero pilots on their Kamikaze suicide missions, and also given to Kaiten pilots, [the Japanese navy's one man human torpedoes]. This larger type were also used by regular Imperial Army officers for the same purpose. Blade probably Shinshinto period. A must have piece, for collectors of fine Samurai edged weapons, who have yet to gain one of these most interesting daggers for their collection.The pilot had the choice whether to commit suicide, or not. It was not an order, nor directive and if the pilot missed the ship he had the option of killing himself to ask forgiveness of the honourable ancestors for his failure, as many of the planes had only enough fuel for a one way trip. Because the Zero pilot was belted into a very narrow seat and wearing many layers of his cold atmospheric pilot's flying suit with the addition of his life vest; it would be impossible for the aeronautical pilot to commit traditional ritual seppuku. It is said the procedure was to pull the knife out from it's neck sheath and thrust it straight into the throat much like the ladies form of seppuku.
A Japanese WW2 Officer's Sword Ritsumeikan Tarenjo Smith, Sakurai Masayuki With a beautiful, polished, gendaito blade by Masayuki an incredibly vibrant hamon. All good traditional type 95 mounts and tsuba, with a leather bound combat steel saya. A very good and sound example of these much sought after swords of Imperial Japan, Ritsumeikan Tarenjo Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto had a small forge (tanrenjo) set up during World War II which made swords for the military and the war effort. The forge was led by Sakurai Masayuki, the second son of Sakurai (Manji) Masatsugu, a well known early gendai swordsmith. He originally signed Masatsuna. He worked in Fukuoka, Osaka, and Kyoto (Ritsumeikan University). He was an early teacher of Seiho Sumitani (Sumitani Masamine), who became a Ningen Kokuho Tosho (Living National Treasure Swordsmith) from Kanazawa. Several swordsmiths worked and trained at the Ritsumeikan Tanrenjo. Among them were Masayuki, Masatake, Yokota Masamitsu and Kawai Yoshikazu. Yoshikazu was a Jumei Tosho (Army approved swordsmith) and won the Nyusen prize at the sword competition held by Japanese army in the prewar Japan. Most swords made at the Ritsumeikan University Tanrenjo are signed "Oite Ritsumeikan" (made at Ritsumeikan ) with the name of the swordsmith or swordsmiths. Many of the swordsmiths working there were Jumei Tosho (Army approved swordsmiths), thus many of the Ritsumeikan blades will bear a star stamp. There were several "swordsmiths in training" also working at the Ritsumeikan Tanrenjo. Not all bear the Jumei Tosho star stamp. Sakurai Masayuki, the second son of Sakurai (Manji) Masatsugu, a well known early gendai swordsmith. He originally signed Masatsuna. He worked in Fukuoka, Osaka, and Kyoto (Ritsumeikan University). Most Ritsumeikan swords are found in shingunto koshirae.
A Japanese, Silk, WW2 Framed 'Meatball' Flag. War Souvenir. From the Pacific War. The flag has perished around all the edges. It has recently been framed by the previous owner at great expense, but, it's size and weight requires the buyer to collect, framed, or, we can sell it unframed. Delivery charge is quoted on this webshop for 'sold as-is', unframed. Flag 27 inches x 30 inches, including the frame it is 32 inches x 41 inches. The frame, apparently, cost more than we are asking for the flag, [sold either framed or unframed for the same price] but it is free, if the buyer collects both together.
A Koto Aikuchi Tanto 500 to 600 Years Old With Clan Mon. With deeply ridge red lacquer saya horn fittings and menuki forming it's mekugi decorated with pure gold clan Gosan kirimon of powlonia. The blade is very attractive and around 500 to 600 years old. It's kodzuka is most rare, in that it's hilt is a representation of a formed samurai sword's tang with it's signature with the large chrysanthemum mon. This is a rare and very desireable type of kodzuka. The tanto is commonly referred to as a knife or dagger. The blade can be single or double edged with a length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches, in Japanese 1 shaku). The tanto was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tanto are generally forged in hira-zukuri style (without ridgeline), meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tanto have particularly thick cross-sections for armour-piercing duty, and are called yoroi toshi. The blade is beautiful and remarkable for it's great age.
A Koto Chisa Katana With A Beautiful O-Sukashi Tsuba and Shibuishi Mounts Circa 1590. This is a truly delightful quality sword with beautiful mounts finely decorated in pure gold. The tsuba represents the clan mon [crest] of it's samurai owner. The blade is in full Edo polish with a most attractive undulating gunome hamon. The mounts are early late Koto to Edo period shibuishi, the kashira is iron, decorated with a relief chisselled sage wearing a gold inlaid kimono. The fushi is also on an iron ground, and decorated in pure gold, onlaid on to the iron, and is a relief decorated prunus tree. The Koto period tsuba is an o-sukashi mon design. The surface of the blade has just a few combat scratches mainly to one side. The hilt has been expertly rebound in imported black Japanese silk Ito and the saya traditionally relacquered in black. The Chisa Katana is a slightly shorter Katana highly suitable for two handed, or two sword combat, or, combat within enclosed areas such as castles or buildings. As such they were often the sword of choice for the personal Samurai guard of a Daimyo, and generally the only warriors permitted to be armed in his presence. Chisa katana, [Chiisagatana] or literally "short katana", are shoto mounted as katana. It is fair to say wakizashi are shoto which are mounted in a similar way to katana, but in this instance we are considering the predecessors of the daisho. In the transitional period from tachi to katana, katana were called "uchigatana", and shoto were referred to as "koshigatana" and "chiisagatana", in many cases quite longer than the later more normal length wakizashi. Daimyo were the most powerful feudal rulers from the 10th century to the 19th century in Japan. The term "daimyo" literally means "great name." From the shugo of the Muromachi period through the sengoku to the daimyo of the Edo period, the rank had a long and varied history. The term "Daimyo" is also sometimes used to refer to the leading figures of such clans, also called "lord". It was usually, though not exclusively, from these warlords that a shogun arose or a regent was chosen It has a long 10.5 inch tsuka and a 22 inch blade tsuba to tip overall length in scabbard 38.5 inches.
A Koto Era Samurai Katana Sword Guard Tsuba, Circa 1500 In iron with inlaid clan mon in brass, depicting many swastika symbols. An most interesting and ancient piece of Samurai history. Although today, we look at brass as an inexpensive and common metal. In ancient times, brass was highly prized until the technology of mass-producing it was invented. The yellow colour of brass resembles gold but brass is much harder and more durable. Before its use on tsuba, brass was often used to make Buddhist altar ornaments and religious objects. at the time of its creation, brass was considered more precious than gold. The tsuba is the hand guard of a Japanese sword. It served several purposes. The tsuba balanced the sword. And it protected the hand of the sword holder from an attack by an enemy as well as from gliding into the sword blade. The third purpose was a more refined one. The Japanese tsuba developed into a kind of a status symbol for the sword owner.
A Koto Muramachi Yoroi Doshi [Armour or Helmet Piercing] Tanto, Circa 1530 A very thick bladed tanto specifically designed to penetrate using a powerful thrust, either samurai armour or even a helmet. Wide narrow straight sided blade, with a narrow suguha hamon typical of the Koto era. Mounted in a plain wooden shirasaya mount that bears some kanji text on both sides of the tsuka. We have not had this translated yet. The bottom of the saya bears a carved image of a stern face. The yoroi-doshi "armour piercer" or "mail piercer" were one of the traditionally made Japanese swords (nihonto) that were worn by the samurai class as a weapon in feudal Japan. The yoroi-d?shi is an extra thick tanto, a long knife, which appeared in the Sengoku period (late Muromachi). The yoroi-doshi was made for piercing armour and for stabbing while grappling in close quarters. The weapon ranged in size from 20 cm to 24 cm, but some examples could be under 15 cm, with a "tapering mihaba, iori-mune, thick kasane at the bottom, and thin kasane at the top and occasionally moroha-zukuri construction". The motogasane (blade thickness) at the hamachi (the notch at the beginning of the cutting edge) can be up to a half-inch thick, which is characteristic of the yoroi-doshi. The extra thickness at the spine of the blade distinguishes the yoroi-doshi from a standard tanto blade. Yoroi-doshi were worn inside the belt on the back or on the right side with the hilt toward the front and the edge upward. Due to being worn on the right, the blade would have been drawn using the left hand, giving rise to the alternate name of metezashi or "horse-hand (i.e. rein-hand, i.e. left-hand) blade". This blade is 24cm long, 8mm thick at the hamachi. Last Edo polish likely from around 200 years past.
A Koto Period 900-1500AD Tanto Dagger Tsuba In iron with silver inlaid boar's eye decoration. The Tsuba, or Japanese sword guard, is a refined utilitarian object. It is essentially a sheath for the blade to fit through, protecting the hand of the warrior. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament.
A Koto to Shinto Period Katana Tsuba In Iron Pierced With Stylized Birds The piercing has been outlined with a borderline of inlaid brass. Circa 1600. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
A Koto Wakazashi Tsuba of Double Lobed Form in Iron With traces of gold wire inlay. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
A Large Edo Period Iron Plate Mokko Tsuba With Chiselled Willow Tree Beautifully chisseled. For a sizeable katana. The Tsuba, or Japanese sword guard, is a refined utilitarian object. It is essentially a sheath for the blade to fit through, protecting the hand of the warrior. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
A Late Koto Samurai Wakazashi, With The Clan Mon of The Last Samurai's Clan A samurai weapon carried by a samurai serving the last samurai of Kagoshima, Saigo Takamori (1828-77), The Meiji Emperor's most loyal general, bearing his Katsuwa-mon engraved on the swords fushi. He is considered in Japanese history to be the very last warrior samurai of Japan, and probably the most famous samurai in history and was the basis of the 2003 movie The Last Samurai played by Ken Watanabe [with the fictional name Katsumoto] starring Tom Cruise. The sword has a good gunome hamon late Koto blade circa 1575, fine original Edo saya with pine needle lacquer and a very good kodzuka utility knife with a shakudo hilt bearing the depiction of a grasshopper. Oval iron tsuba and engraved fushi kashira and the Katsuwa Saigo mon. On a muddy field outside Kagoshima on September 25, 1877, the feudal system that had dominated Japan for 700 years died, not with a whimper but with a defiant roar. At 6 that morning, the 40 remaining warriors of the 9,000 Satsuma samurai, of the last traditional samurai army in Japanese history [including it's commander Saigo Takemori, General of the Emperor] rose from their foxholes, drew their swords and charged into the guns of the 30,000-man-strong imperial army. A charge that unsurprisingly was not to end well for those most gallant samurai, who despite the outward appearance, were the most faithful and devoted warriors of their Meiji Emperor whose army they were fighting. In order to more easily understand the complexities of the Satsuma Rebellion one ought to watch the Last Samurai film. The greatest threat to the Meiji government was also the last of a series of civil wars that had raged through Japan for 1,500 years. Ironically, the conflict did more to defeat samurai goals than any act of legislation could have done. Fighting to preserve the old order, the samurai had gone down in bloody defeat to modern weapons wielded by the lower-class soldiers they despised. The modern Japanese army had passed its first test and would soon develop into a force that would terrorize Asia and briefly humble the Western forces of Russia, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and the United States. In spite of the futility of his cause, however, Takamori Saigo’s integrity and strength of convictions left a lasting impression on both the people and the government he had opposed. The latter posthumously withdrew the brand of traitor from his name and made his son a marquess. Later honoured by a statue in Tokyo’s Ueno Park, Saigo is still popularly regarded as a heroic figure: the last of the noble samurai. Blade 15 inches from tsuba to tip, 24 inches overall in saya.
A Magnificent All Silver Mounted Ancient 500 Year Old Katana By Moriyoshi A wonderful sword as one might expect to see in a Japanese historical art exhibition, a national museum, a royal collection, or an oligarchs London mansion surrounded by Picassos or Rembrandts. The beauty about the finest Japanese 'art swords' is that their sophistication, quality and beauty is as much at home with medieval, renaissance, impressionist or even the most modern contemporary art and furnishings. All styles are superbly complimented by the great beauty of samurai swords. Another unique consideration, and this is likely only true of fine Japanese swords, is that a sword costing under 10,000 pounds may be displayed alongside paintings worth hundreds of millions of pounds and neither will look remotely out of place against each other. This superb sword is fitted with a full suite of original, Edo period, carved deep relief takebori mounts in solid silver depicting crashing waves, and complimented with a beautifully polished blade. The tsuba is silvered copper alloy to maintain the combat strength as pure silver would be too soft to engage in tsubazeriai. In a sword combat duel, the two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai, the combat act of pushing the two samurai's tsuba against each other. The seigaiha or wave is a pattern of layered concentric circles creating arches, symbolic of waves or water and representing surges of good luck. It can also signify power and resilience. Blade signed Moriyoshi, circa 1500. The tsuba is silver coated copper. A strong and powerful katana with a stunning blade bearing a fine gunome hamon. Of all the weapons that man has developed since our earliest days, few evoke such fascination as the samurai sword of Japan. To many of us the samurai is based on the countless film images of the samurai in his fantastic armour, galloping into battle on his horse, his colourful personal flag [sashimono] whipping in the wind on his back, and it has become the very symbol of ancient Japan, the Empire of the Rising Sun. And, truly, to the samurai of real life, nothing embodied his warrior’s code of Bushido more than his sword, considered inseparable from his soul. Indeed, the sword was considered such a crucial part of a samurai’s life that when a young samurai was about to be born, a sword was brought into the bedchamber during the delivery. When the time came for an old samurai to die — and cross over into the ‘White Jade Pavilion of the Afterlife’ — his honoured sword was placed by his side. Even after death, a daimyo, or nobleman, believed he could count on his samurai who had followed him into the next world to use their keen blades to guard him against any demons, just as they had wielded their trusty weapons to defend him against flesh-and-blood enemies in this life. In a samurai family the swords were so revered that they were passed down from generation to generation, from father to son. If the hilt or scabbard wore out or broke, new ones would be fashioned for the all-important blade. The hilt, the tsuba (hand guard), and the scabbard themselves were often great art objects, with fittings sometimes inlaid or decorated with gold or silver such as this fine sword has. The hilt and scabbard were created from the finest hand crafted materials by the greatest artisans that have ever lived. Often, too, they ‘told’ a story from Japanese myths, decorated with tales of folklore within the design of the swords fittings [koshirae] Some magnificent specimens of Japanese swords, that still remain in Japan, can be seen today in the Tokugawa Art Museum’s collection in Nagoya, Japan. Overall in saya 40 inches long, blade 27 inches long
A Magnificent Ancient Nambokochu Samurai Tachi, 1375 of The Bessho Clan A simply glorious and ancient sword around 650 years old, and worthy of any museum grade display. Beautiful blade showing a typical early narrow hamon line, and at the kissaki it is at the very edge in the midsection of the curve. Stunning Edo period tachi koshirae [fittings], decorated in fine pure gold lacquer dragon on a black lacquer ground. The fittings bear the clan mon of the Bessho, and one of it's notable heroes was Sengoku daimyo, Bessho Nagaharu who committed seppuku on February 2, 1580. There is a picture in the gallery of Bessho Nagaharu painted by Yosiiku [for information only] Please note he wears over his armour a silk half robe that is decorated with the dragon his favourite symbol as shown on the sword décor. The lacquer dragon on the saya is executed with sublime skill and a fabulous example of the art of the sword makers. The saya fittings are superbly inlaid with pure gold dragons. Bessho Nagaharu was born in 1558 in modern day Hyogo Prefecture, the son of local daimyo, Bessho Yasuharu. He became head of the clan in 1570 with the death of his father. Nagaharu was 20 years old when Oda Nobunaga sent his troops to subjugate the region. Under Nobunaga’s orders, Hashiba Hideyoshi (later to be known as Toyotomi Hideyoshi) had taken much of Harima with very little military action, relying on political maneuvering to claim the territory. One by one the daimyo succumbed to Hideyoshi’s charmed offerings, however Bessho Nagaharu’s uncle, Bessho Yoshichika felt greatly insulted at having to bow to the common born Hideyoshi. He convinced Nagaharu to refuse Hideyoshi, and instead allied his clan with the leader of the Hatano clan, Hatano Hideharu of Tamba (modern-day east Hyogo and parts of Kyoto). Bessho and his men soon entrenched themselves in Miki Castle. The Bessho forces managed to repel Hideyoshi at first, and so Hideyoshi ordered the smaller surrounding castles be attacked first, cutting off all supply routes. Bessho had prepared well. Miki Castle was stocked with supplies, and later received further essential supplies secreted in by the Mori Naval forces. The siege lasted almost 3 years, from May 5, 1578 until February 2, 1580. A number of break-outs were recorded, with Nagaharu’s younger brother, Harusada being captured and killed during one such attempt. Miki Castle was close to falling when Bessho Nagaharu committed seppuku in order to end the siege and save the lives of the samurai within Miki Castle. Some of the samurai then turned on Nagaharu’s uncle, Bessho Yoshichika, for having caused the siege, and killed him.A tachi was a type of traditionally made Japanese sword (nihonto) worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The tachi style of swords preceded the development of the katana — the first use of the word katana to indicate a blade different from tachi appears toward the end of the twelfth century. In later Japanese feudal history, during the Sengoku and Edo periods, certain high-ranking warriors of what became the ruling class would wear their sword tachi-style (edge-downward), rather than with the saya (scabbard) thrust through the belt with the edge upward. The bakuhan taisei was the feudal political system in the Edo period of Japan. Baku, or "tent," is an abbreviation of bakufu, meaning "military government" — that is, the shogunate. The han were the domains headed by daimyo.
A Meiji 1900's Japanese Cigarette Case With a Scene of Mount Fuji Etched brass decoration with a black lacquer background to highlight the pattern. Small signature kanji on the reverse. The Meiji period, also known as the Meiji era, is a Japanese era which extended from October 23, 1868 through July 30, 1912. This period represents the first half of the Empire of Japan during which Japanese society moved from being an isolated feudal society to its modern form. Fundamental changes affected its social structure, internal politics, economy, military, and foreign relations. The period corresponded with the reign of Emperor Meiji after 1868, and lasted until his death in 1912. It was succeeded by the Taisho period upon the accession of Emperor Taisho to the throne
A Mokko Shaped Edo Period Brass Wakazashi Tsuba 18th century with naive line engraving of heart shapes and waves. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
A Most Attractive Ancient Koto Period O-Tanto [Large Dagger] Muramachi period made from 1392 to 1573. Wide O-Tanto blade with wide fuller to one sde and bo-hi on the alternate side. Clear hamon temper line with small combat impact dent to one side. Copper and silver inlaid original Edo period fushi kashira and pierced iron tsuba. Copper and gilt menuki under the original Edo silk binding over ginat rayskin. Original Edo period ishime brown stone lacquer to the saya.The tanto was invented partway through the Heian period. With the beginning of the Kamakura period, tanto were forged to be more aesthetically pleasing, and hira and uchi-sori tanto becoming the most popular styles. Near the middle of the Kamakura period, more tanto artisans were seen, increasing the abundance of the weapon, and the kanmuri-otoshi style became prevalent in the cities of Kyoto and Yamato. Because of the style introduced by the tachi in the late Kamakura period, tanto began to be forged longer and wider. The introduction of the Hachiman faith became visible in the carvings in the hilts around this time. The hamon (line of temper) is similar to that of the tachi, except for the absence of choji-midare, which is nioi and utsuri. Gunomi-midare and suguha are found to have taken its place. During the era of the Northern and Southern Courts, the tanto were forged to be up to forty centimetres as opposed to the normal one shaku (about thirty centimetres) length. The blades became thinner between the uri and the omote, and wider between the ha and mune. At this point in time, two styles of hamon were prevalent: the older style, which was subtle and artistic, and the newer, more popular style. With the beginning of the Muromachi period, constant fighting caused the greater production of blades. Blades that were custom-forged still were of exceptional quality. As the end of the period neared, the average blade narrowed and the curvature shallowed
A Most Attractive Ancient Koto Wakizashi Muramachi Period Circa 1450 With a fine O-sukashi Koto tsuba of four set out samurai war fans. Iron Edo period higo mounts of russetted iron, and most attractive gold silk wrap over gilt and patinated fan menuki. Original Edo black lacquer saya. The kodzuka has a copper hilt with a nanako ground and a squatting Oni demon facing another figure riding a dragon. Wakizashi have been in use as far back as the 15th or 16th century and this example is from that earliest period. The wakizashi was used as a backup or auxiliary sword; it was also used for close quarters fighting, and also to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi toshi, the chisa-katana and the tanto. The term wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of "wakizashi no katana" ("sword thrust at one's side"); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set. Kanzan Sato, in his book titled "The Japanese Sword", suggests that the wakizashi may have become more popular than the tanto due to the wakizashi being more suited for indoor fighting. He mentions the custom of leaving the katana at the door of a castle or palace when entering while continuing to wear the wakizashi inside. Wakizashi were worn on the left side, secured to the obi
A Most Attractive and Beautiful Koto Era Wakizashi. With original Edo period saya of very fine quality painted with a flowering branch and an exotic bird. Namban sukashi tsuba. Copper habaki, copper fushi and carved horn kashira, bronze menuki. Fine blade with very nice hamon. Two hole mumei nakago. Circa 1550.Wakizashi have been in use as far back as the 15th or 16th century. The wakizashi was used as a backup or auxiliary sword; it was also used for close quarters fighting, and also to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi toshi, the chisa-katana and the tanto. The term wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of "wakizashi no katana" ("sword thrust at one's side"); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set. Kanzan Sato, in his book titled "The Japanese Sword", notes that there did not seem to be any particular need for the wakizashi and suggests that the wakizashi may have become more popular than the tanto due to the wakizashi being more suited for indoor fighting. He mentions the custom of leaving the katana at the door of a castle or palace when entering while continuing to wear the wakizashi inside. Wakizashi were worn on the left side, secured to the obi [waist sash].
A Most Attractive and Intriguing Erotic Mounted Samurai Tanto A Shinto samurai dagger blade, made around 1720, in beautiful polish showing a delightful itame running and flowing grain in the hada. Mounted much later in the Meiji to Taisho era, in erotic silvered mounts depicting a samurai in 'relaxing' poses, accompanied by a geisha. She is fully clothed to one side of the saya, and partially disrobed on the other, displaying her resplendent feminine qualities. Likely remounted for the newly burgeoning export market in the late 19th to early 20th century. Overall 16.25 inches long, blade length 10.75 inches long
A Most Attractive Japanese Katana Blade Late Shinshinto Circa 1850 It shows a beautiful gunome hamon and considerable activity in the hada. Absolutely perfect for bespoke fitting in old Edo period mounts and handmade tsuka and saya to the personalised requirements of its next owner. All of this work we can undertake, or, a plain shirasaya [long term storage and display mount] can be bespoke made for it. The Samurai became expert in fighting from horseback and on the ground. They practiced armed and un-armed combat. The early Samurai emphasized fighting with the bow and arrow. They used swords for close-in fighting and beheading their enemies. Battles with the Mongols in the late 13th century led to a change in the Samurai's fighting style. They began to use their sword more and also made more use of spears and naginata. The Samurai slowly changed from fighting on horseback to fighting on foot. The Samurai wore two swords (daisho). One was long; the other short. The long sword (daito - katana) and the short sword (shoto - wakizashi). The Samurai often gave names to their swords and believed it was the "soul" of their warriorship. The oldest swords were straight and had their early design in Korea and China. The Samurai's desire for tougher, sharper swords for battle gave rise to the curved blade we still have today. The sword had its beginning as iron combined with carbon. The swordsmith used fire, water, anvil and hammer to shape the world's best swords. After forging the blade, the sword polisher did his work to prepare the blade for the "furniture" that surrounded it. Next, the sword tester took the new blade and cut through the bodies of corpses or condemned criminals. The "furniture" of each sword changed over the decades as fashion and style dictated. This sword blade is perfect for re-fitting to its original traditional form. Blade base of habaki to tip 26.5 inches, 33.25 inches long overall
A Most Attractive Koto Katana, Circa 1550, With Superb, Beautiful Mounts. The blade, after polishing, has revealed some rather intense areas of tempering in clouds, and one side of the kissaki is almost in full body temper, that is quite remarkable. Unusual indeed, and overall this is a very impressive, and a most interesting early blade. The mounts are old Higo school, inlaid with pure silver on russetted iron, with a stunning pair of gold silver and bronze menuki of a ken with a varjira [an ancient sword and lightening maker] wrapped with a dragon. The wrap is an old white wrap, although now aged to cream colour. The tsuba is iron, mid Koto period, with a design of the Rays of Buddha. Used some fifty years before and thus during the time of the Battle of Sekigahara, the great conflict that saw a revolutionary change in the entire culture of Japan and it's leadership by the victors, the Tokugawa. The Sengoku or "Warring States" period of Japanese history lasted from 1467 - 1615 AD. During this time warlords and their samurai armies waged civil war. In 1590 Toyotomi Hideyoshi succeeded in uniting Japan under his rule. After his death there was a power struggle between a coalition of Eastern clans led by Tokugawa Ieyasu and a Western coalition led by Ishida Mitsunari. Their final showdown occurred near the town of Sekigahara in 1600 AD. The armies were evenly matched. Mitsunari deployed his army to block the vital Nakasendo road, with Kobayakawa Hideaki's large clan in position to threaten the Eastern army's left flank. However Hideaki had secretly promised Ieyasu that he would switch sides once the battle started. The Eastern army launched a determined attack and made good progress. Slowly the Western army drove them back and began to counterattack. Mitsunari and Ieyasu both tried to convince Hideaki to intervene on their side. Finally he made his decision and charged down the hill right into the flank of the Western army. His betrayal was decisive, and the Western army was routed. In the years following the battle Ieyasu was able to consolidate his power and become the Shogun of Japan. The Tokugawa Shogunate would last last until 1868, a time marked by peace, a strict caste system, and isolation from the outside world. The mune has an area of shinae, some old bending and straightening stressing as one sometimes sees on old Koto blades, often not revealed until after numerous polishings. An old picture in the gallery of Tokugawa Ieyasu, with help from the Jodo monks of the Daijuji temple in Okizaki, defeats the Ikk?-ikki at the battle of Azukizaka, 1564. 40.5 inches long approx overall in saya
A Most Attractive Koto Wakazashi Attributed to Kanemune of Etchu 1532 Uda school blade with bo hi to both sides. Fine sugaha hamon with mokume hada. Edo period Goto school mounts in shakudo patinated copper and gold depicting carved shi shi lion dogs. Menuki of shakudo and gold dragons. Iron Edo tsuba of fan formed windows, with Amidayasuri. NTHK certificated in 2003 as attributed to Kanemune of Etchu [by a previous owner]. The founder of the Uda School is considered to have been Kunimitsu. He was originally from the Uda district of Yamato Province. He worked around the Bunpo Era or 1317 at the end of the Kamakura Era. All of the succeeding smiths of this school used the kanji character â"Kuni", in their signatures. At some point he moved to Etchu Province so even though the Uda School had its foundation in the Yamato tradition, it is considered to be one of the wakimono schools from this region together with such schools as he Fujishima and Chiyozuru. Together these three schools are often referred to as the kita kuni mono. Since remaining works by Kunimitsu are non-existent, his students, Kunifusa and Kunimune, are generally thought to be the true founders of this school. Both of these smiths studied under Norishige of the Etchu Province and they were active around the Koan Era (1361). The works of these early Uda smiths followed the style of the Yamato Den particularly in the areas of sugata and hamon.
A Most Attractive Koto Wakazashi With Original Edo Fittings A beautiful 500 year old samurai sword with a most stunning midare hamon, shown in beautiful polish, of a superb irregular form. The saya has a most dramatic colourful lacquer pattern of a dominant deep red over a secondary black base ground. It is mounted with koshirae of patinated copper fushi kashira with gilded highlights, the kashira is decorated with stylized rolling waves with sea foam, and the fushi is of a water dragon swimmimg through rough seas. Copper Edo tsuba of complimentary rolling seas near an island coast line with pagoda, peasant houses a fishing boat and swimming geese. The kodzuka is decorated with a relief pattern of bulbous fruit on a patinated copper ground. Samurai wakizashi have been in use as far back as the 15th or 16th century. The samurai's wakizashi was used as his secondary or auxiliary sword; it was also used as an occasional primary weapon for close quarters fighting, such as in a castle, and also to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi toshi, the chisa-katana and the tanto. The term wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of "wakizashi no katana" ("sword thrust at one's side"); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set. Blade 17.5 inches long tsuba to tip.
A Most Attractive Koto Wakizashi. With Superb Fittings, and Fine Tsuba A very nice samurai short sword circa 1500. Very fine Edo period koshirae [fittings], in gold and patinated two colour copper, decorated with takebori deep relief flowers, with a beautiful sentoku marubori tsuba in the form of a dragon, and a pair of bronze and gold tipped gumbai [war fan] menuki. It has a super little blade with a very attractive gunome hamon. The habaki is a superbly patinated example Wakizashi have been in use as far back as the 15th or 16th century. The wakizashi was used as a backup or auxiliary sword; it was also used for close quarters fighting, and also to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi toshi, the chisa-katana and the tanto. The term wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of "wakizashi no katana" ("sword thrust at one's side"); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set. Kanzan Sato, in his book titled "The Japanese Sword", notes that there did not seem to be any particular need for the wakizashi and suggests that the wakizashi may have become more popular than the tanto due to the wakizashi being more suited for indoor fighting. He mentions the custom of leaving the katana at the door of a castle or palace when entering while continuing to wear the wakizashi inside. Wakizashi were worn on the left side, secured to the obi [waist sash]. 18.25 inch blade tsuba to tip .
A Most Attractive Samurai Daisho, Koto Period, Circa 1550 With their original pair of iron, Shinto period, katabami mon sukashi tsuba. Both blades possess a most beautiful gunome hamon with deep curvature and bright polish. This daisho was beautifully restored and re-fitted within the past 15 years with ribbed brown lacquer sayas, matching tsuka-ito in rich brown silk, iron, higo style koshirae, including a matching pair of kodzuka and kogai, each with takebori shishi, and set within the pockets of the shoto's [short sword] saya. They both have matching, gilt, shishi [lion dog] menuki beneath the hilt binding. A samurai's daisho were his swords, as worn together, as stated in the Tokugawa edicts. In a samurai family the swords were so revered that they were passed down from generation to generation, from father to son. If the hilt or scabbard wore out or broke, new ones would be fashioned for the all-important blade. The hilt, the tsuba (hand guard), and the scabbard themselves were often great art objects, with fittings sometimes of gold or silver. Often, too, they ‘told’ a story from Japanese myths. Magnificent specimens of Japanese swords can be seen today in the Tokugawa Art Museum’s collection in Nagoya, Japan. In creating the sword, a sword craftsman, such as, say, Masumane, had to surmount a virtual technological impossibility. The blade had to be forged so that it would hold a very sharp edge and yet not break in the ferocity of a duel. To achieve these twin objectives, the sword maker, or cutler, was faced with a considerable metallurgical challenge. Steel that is hard enough to take a sharp edge is brittle. Conversely, steel that will not break is considered soft steel and will not take a keen edge. Japanese sword artisans solved that dilemma in an ingenious way. Four metal bars — a soft iron bar to guard against the blade breaking, two hard iron bars to prevent bending and a steel bar to take a sharp cutting edge — were all heated at a high temperature, then hammered together into a long, rectangular bar that would become the sword blade. When the swordsmith worked the blade to shape it, the steel took the beginnings of an edge, while the softer metal ensured the blade would not break. This intricate forging process was followed by numerous complex processes culminating in specialist polishing to reveal the blades hamon and to thus create the blade's sharp edge. Inazo Nitobe stated: ‘The swordsmith was not a mere artisan but an inspired artist and his workshop a sanctuary. Daily, he commenced his craft with prayer and purification, or, as the phrase was, ‘he committed his soul and spirit into the forging and tempering of the steel.” Celebrated sword masters in the golden age of the samurai, roughly from the 13th to the 17th centuries, were indeed valued as highly as European artists such as Raphael, Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci. Daito blade tsuba to tip 28.5 inches long, overall in saya 39.5 inches long, Shoto blade 16 inches long tsuba to tip, overall 24 inches long in saya I
A Most Attractive Shin Shinto Japanese Carved Bone Tanto Dagger Blade very nicely polished. Carving of very nice quality depicting samurai in combat, various figures and shishi lion dogs. Mounted in the late Meiji to Taisho period as a most decorative dagger, representative of the legendary samurai. Of course this was not a traditional sword wearing mount, but when Japan was opening up to the world, after being a closed feudal society for almost 400 years, swords such as these were most popular with visitors from Europe from the earliest steamship trade. They were also given as gifts for presentation
A Most Attractive Shinto Wakazashi Circa 1600 Kabuto-gane tsuka mount with gold silk ito over giant ray skin, a plain copper fushi and patinated copper botanical menuki. Original lacquer Edo period saya and a fine early Edo o-sukashi square form iron tsuba decorated with scrolling tendrils. The blade has a nicely undulating delightful notare hamon. Wakizashi have been in use as far back as the 15th or 16th century. The wakizashi was used as a backup or auxiliary sword; it was also used for close quarters fighting, and also to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi toshi, the chisa-katana and the tanto. The term wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of "wakizashi no katana" ("sword thrust at one's side"); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set. Kanzan Sato, in his book titled "The Japanese Sword", notes that there did not seem to be any particular need for the wakizashi and suggests that the wakizashi may have become more popular than the tanto due to the wakizashi being more suited for indoor fighting. He mentions the custom of leaving the katana at the door of a castle or palace when entering while continuing to wear the wakizashi inside. Wakizashi were worn on the left side, secured to the obi [waist sash].
A Most Attractive Shinto Wakazashi With Gold Decorated Mounts Gold flake nishiji lacquer saya with polished buffalo horn fittings. Patinated copper tsuba with gilt highlights. Signed blade Hosho Takada ju Fujiwara Yukinaga. Wakizashi have been in use as far back as the 15th or 16th century. The wakizashi was used as a backup or auxiliary sword; it was also used for close quarters fighting, and also to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi toshi, the chisa-katana and the tanto. The term wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of "wakizashi no katana" ("sword thrust at one's side"); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set. Kanzan Sato, in his book titled "The Japanese Sword", notes that there did not seem to be any particular need for the wakizashi and suggests that the wakizashi may have become more popular than the tanto due to the wakizashi being more suited for indoor fighting. He mentions the custom of leaving the katana at the door of a castle or palace when entering while continuing to wear the wakizashi inside. Wakizashi were worn on the left side, secured to the obi [waist sash].
A Most Attractive Tanto By Tosa Choson, Master Smith, Horimono Dragon Blade Shinshinto period aikuchi tanto. Now re-polished and looking fabulous. Tokugawa mon represented throughout the fittings. Circa 1822 [Hawley CHO 16, 30 points]. Tosa Choson was one of the great 19th century sword smiths and this is a fine example of his work, with stunning grain in the blade's hada.. Decorated with a dragon chasing the pearl of wisdom carved horimono to one side of the blade, and prunus tree and a Buddhist bonji to the other. He tanto is commonly referred to as a knife or dagger. The blade can be single or double edged with a length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches, in Japanese 1 shaku). The tanto was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tanto are generally forged in hira-zukuri style (without ridgeline), meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tanto have particularly thick cross-sections for armour-piercing duty, and are called yoroi toshi. Overall 19 inches long.
A Most Beautiful 17th Century Edo Katana Signed Oite Nanki Shigekuni After a year long wait this sword has arrived after it has had it's bespoke Shira saya completed. The signature translates Oite Nanki Shigekuni tsukuru kore, but to be grammatically correct it is „Nanki ni oite Shigekuni kore o tsukuru“. The character oite marks that what follows refers to a place where something took or takes place. In Japanese, the term oite stands at the end and is marked with the particle ni , i.e. Ni oite. So the reader has to be familiar with Japanese grammer to put the characters quoted in kanbun in the correct order. Nanki Shigekuni was of the late Yamato school: his early work is inscribed "resident of Tegai," referring to the Tegai school of Todaiji Temple in Nara. Along with many smiths he migrated after the pacification of the nation in the late sixteenth century, and went to Tsuruga. He was retained by the Tokugawa branch family in Kii Province, and his descendants continued to work in the castle town for eleven generations. Many have considered and described Shigekuni to be the greatest of all shinto smiths. He emulated the work of Go no Yoshihiro, making Soshu style swords in keeping with the requirement of the time. This blade is a most beautiful example with a full length hi and elegant sugaha hamon. A shinsa could determine that the mei is correct. 37.5 inches long approx overall in shira saya,. Blade 26.5 inches.
A Most Beautiful and Attractive Muramachi Koto Period Chisa Katana Circa 1400, around 600 years old. With a most elegant blade with a fine sweeping curvature and typical thin, sugaha, Muramachi period hamon. Tensho style mounted hilt with a beautiful narrow waisted mid section. The maru gata Heianjo tsuba, mumei, Momoyama tsuba is iron with a raised rim and very fine zogan [inlays] of engraved sinshu [brass alloy] in the form of deity figures. The fushi kashira are iron, the fushi inlaid with pure fold flowers and kashira with gilt shitodome. All the koshirae are original Edo period but it has been superbly lightly restored by our artisans by rebinding the hilt and lacquering the saya. The Chisa Katana is a slightly shorter Katana highly suitable for two handed, or two sword combat, Ni-Ten Ichi Ryu, or, combat within enclosed areas such as castles or buildings. As such they were often the sword of choice for the personal Samurai guard of a Daimyo, and generally the only warriors permitted to be armed in his presence. The chisa katana sword was far more effective a defence against any threat to the Daimyo's life by assassins [or the so-called Ninja] when hand to hand sword combat was within the Castle structure, due to the restrictions of their uniform low ceiling height. The hilt was usually around ten to eleven inches in length. Of all the weapons that man has developed since caveman days, few evoke such fascination as the samurai sword of Japan. To many of us in the West, the movie image of the samurai in his fantastic armour, galloping into battle on his horse, his colourful personal flag, or sashimono, whipping in the wind on his back, has become the very symbol of Japan, the Empire of the Rising Sun. And, truly, to the samurai of real life, nothing embodied his warrior’s code of Bushido more than his sword, considered inseparable from his soul. Indeed, a sword was considered such a crucial part of a samurai’s life that when a young samurai was about to be born, a sword was brought into the bedchamber during the delivery. When the time came for an old samurai to die — and cross over into the ‘White Jade Pavilion of the Afterlife’ — his honoured sword was placed by his side. Even after death, a daimyo, or nobleman, believed he could count on his samurai who had followed him into the next world to use their keen blades to guard him against any demons, just as they had wielded their trusty weapons to defend him against flesh-and-blood enemies in this life. The legendary 16th century samurai warrior, said by many to be the best ever, Miyamoto Musashi, was a great exponent of single handed sword wielding, using two shorter swords as this one, simultaneously. Within his book, Musashi mentions that the use of two swords within strategy is mutually beneficial between those who utilize this skill. The idea of using two hands for a sword is an idea which Musashi disagrees with, in that there is not fluidity in movement when using two hands — "If you hold a sword with both hands, it is difficult to wield it freely to left and right, so my method is to carry the sword in one hand"; he as well disagrees with the idea of using a sword with two hands on a horse, and/or riding on unstable terrain, such as muddy swamps, rice fields, or within crowds of people. Overall 33 inches long, blade tsuba to tip 21.75 inches long
A Most Beautiful Kamakura Tanto Probably Yamato Tradition Circa 1320 An ancient now repolished blade around 700 years old. With a nice, typical, early narrow hamon to the fabulously ancient blade. Amazing to know this dagger blade is around 700 years old and looks as good as near new. With very fine Edo period soft-metal mounts over laid with pure gold and silver on a hand punched nanako ground all with the theme of exotic birds flowing trees and a turtle, and a pure gold pheonix onlaid onto its kodsuke utility knife. The extended length saya is uniformly deep ridged ribbing with a pale amber lacquer. The saya has a silver kurigata of turbulant water and is deliberately extended to give the appearance that longer blade is within it. This has an added advantage of a quicker withdraweral from the saya than it's appearance belies and would be expected by an adversary. An Edo iron tsuba inlaid with gold flowers and butterflies. It has it's last original gold Edo wrap [ito] that shows age and areas of discolouration. It could of course be replaced by us with new, Japanese, gold silk wrap, as might be preferred. Yamato tradition blades have their origins that lies in the province of Yamato, which for the Nara period, was regarded as the center of Japanese culture. The province is located south of Kyoto in the region of Kinai ( "Heart of the Capital area"). The city of Heijo-kyo (now Nara ) in the province of Yamato was then the capital of the Japanese Empire, so that it was here that many sword smiths settled. According to legend, thus came from the first Japanese sword forging of Amakuni and Amakura, the Yamato tradition. Ascribed to them is the Kogarasu Maru sword, which is probably the best known example of Yamato sword making. With the transfer of the capital to Heian-kyo (now Kyoto ) in 794, many swordsmiths left the province. Around the year 1200 the area around Nara, increasingly bellicose religious sects were formed, so that the demand for swords increased. In the course of that, thus more sword smiths were active in that state again, to meet the needs of the armed warrior monks and samurai. For this reason, temple names for the different schools were mostly used, for example there was the Tegai-School named after the gate of the temple Tegai-mon -ji Todai . 55.5 cm long overall, 25.5 cm blade tsuba to tip.
A Most Beautiful Samurai Tachi, Tokugawa Mon Late Edo Shinshinto A super tachi with several mon decorated within the lacquer on the saya of the Tokugawa clan. Tachi were by tradition in the late Edo era worn by the clan Daimyo. The green doeskin obi tori have also two Tokugawa mon placques. The signed blade is in full original polish and horimono engraved with a dragon. The Edo tsuba is decoarted with a hawk preying on a hare. Following the Sengoku Period of "warring states", central government had been largely reestablished by Oda Nobunaga during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. After the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, central authority fell to Tokugawa Ieyasu. Society in the Tokugawa period, unlike the shogunates before it, was supposedly based on the strict class hierarchy originally established by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The daimyo, or lords, were at the top, followed by the warrior-caste of samurai, with the farmers, artisans, and traders ranking below. In some parts of the country, particularly smaller regions, daimyo and samurai were more or less identical, since daimyo might be trained as samurai, and samurai might act as local rulers. Otherwise, the largely inflexible nature of this social stratification system unleashed disruptive forces over time. Taxes on the peasantry were set at fixed amounts which did not account for inflation or other changes in monetary value. As a result, the tax revenues collected by the samurai landowners were worth less and less over time. This often led to numerous confrontations between noble but impoverished samurai and well-to-do peasants, ranging from simple local disturbances to much bigger rebellions. None, however, proved compelling enough to seriously challenge the established order until the arrival of foreign powers. Toward the end of the 19th century, an alliance of several of the more powerful daimyo, along with the titular Emperor, finally succeeded in the overthrow of the shogunate after the Boshin War, culminating in the Meiji Restoration. The Tokugawa Shogunate came to an official end in 1868, with the resignation of the 15th Tokugawa Shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu and the "restoration" (Osei fukko) of imperial rule. 40.5 inches long overall in saya, blade inches long tsuba to tip
A Most Beautiful Signed Shinto Wakazashi With Clan Mon In Gold Koshirae The iron fushi kashira are overlaid with pure gold flower head clan mon. Pierced iron semi sukashi tsuba, 17th to 18th century, of three highly prized aki nasu [trio of autumn egg plants]. The signed blade has a superbly vibrant hamon, beautifully polished, and the finely saya has been relacquered in the old style. The sword was made circa 1600, and now it has been sympathetically restored it is the absolute beauty as it once was. The black silk hilt wrap is original Edo period. The all pure gold decoration of the clan mon is most significant, and these are variations of Chrysanthemum, the kiku mon of the Japanese Imperial household, and another flower head mon. It may well indicate the owners connection, possibly as a retainer, to a most highly revered household in Shinto period Japan. In regards to the tsuba design. There is a famous old Japanese saying about the highly respected design of the tsuba of aki nasu, and it goes thus “Aki nasu yome ni kuwasuna” — “Don’t let the daughter-in-law eat aki yasu.” As usual with old Japanese sayings we have only a small clue as what they mean. We believe it likely means; It is traditional for the daughter-in-law to live with her husband’s family after marriage. Even with a new “wife” in the house, it would be the mother-in-law who continued to rule the household — and the kitchen would remain her domain. To the young bride, the mother-in-law could be terrifying, and in some households the younger woman would end up in a position that was little better than that of a servant. In this scenario, eggplants, which are particularly good in autumn, were considered too much of a delicacy to feed to such a lowly family member. Blade 21.4 inches long tsuba to tip, overall 29.85 inches long in saya.
A Most Charming Edo Patinated Copper and Silver Onlaid Katana Tsuba Depicting a contemplating cat crouched beneath a bush, signed on the reverse side Moritake. The Tsuba, or Japanese sword guard, is a refined utilitarian object. It is essentially a sheath for the blade to fit through, protecting the hand of the warrior. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other. 73mm x 75mm
A Most Charming Oval Tanto Tettsu Tsuba Inlaid With Gold Oval mokko shape intricately inlaid with delicate gold flower heads and leaves, with an open Kodzuke Hitsu-ana. Mid Edo era. The tsuba is the hand guard of a Japanese sword. It served several purposes. The tsuba balanced the sword. And it protected the hand of the sword holder from an attack by an enemy as well as from gliding into the sword blade. The third purpose was a more refined one. The Japanese tsuba developed into a kind of a status symbol for the sword owner. 5.4 x 4cm
A Most Elegant Shinto Katana With Kiri Clan Mon by Mutsu Aizu Ju Masanaga. With Toyotomi Hideyoshi's clan mon. Circa 1650, with every han dachi mount embellished with a gold Kiri mon. With beautiful bright polish blade showing a stunning undulating notare hamon. It is the Kamon [samurai clan symbol] of paulownia tomentosa. Originally, this design was one of two Emperor's Kamon (the existing Imperial Kamon is the chrysanthemum (Kiku mon) only). This design was given to the Shogun and Toyotomi Hideyoshi from the Emperor. This chisa katana sword has a blade with a spectacular deep hamon. The original Edo lacquer on the saya is most rare in that it is in a longitudal separated pattern of smooth and rippled black. A list of Wazamono is a list of 228 fine swordsmiths (or 180 depending on the method of counting) of katana and other weapons in the book Kaiho kenjaku, released in 1815 by Yamada Asaemon. (Yamada Asaemon V was one among a direct line of official sword testers for the bakufu during the Edo Period, every generation of whom inherited that name). The work lists 12 saijo owazamono ( "supreme sharpness swords"), 21 owazamono ( "great sharpness swords"), 50 ryowazamono ( "good sharp swords"), 80 wazamono (wazamono, "sharp swords"), and 60 (65) maked with mixed levels of sharpness. In this reference work Masanaga was graded Ryowazamono. Toyotomi Hideyoshi was granted this swords clan mon when he was a preeminent daimyo, warrior, general, samurai, and politician of the Sengoku period who is regarded as Japan's second "great unifier". He succeeded his former liege lord, Oda Nobunaga, and in many respects brought an end to the Warring States period. The period of his rule is often called the Momoyama period, named after Hideyoshi's castle. After his death, his young son Hideyori was displaced by Tokugawa Ieyasu. Hideyoshi is noted for a number of cultural legacies, including the restriction that only members of the samurai class could bear arms. He financed the construction, restoration and rebuilding of many temples standing today in Kyoto. Hideyoshi played an important role in the history of Christianity in Japan when he ordered the execution by crucifixion of twenty-six Christians. Like Nobunaga before him, Hideyoshi never achieved the title of shogun. Instead, he arranged to have himself adopted into the Fujiwara clan, and secured a succession of high court titles including, in 1585, the prestigious position of Imperial Regent (kampaku). In 1586, Hideyoshi was formally given the name Toyotomi by the imperial court. He built a lavish palace, the Jurakudai, in 1587 and entertained the reigning emperor, Go-Yozei, the following year 21.75 inch blade,36 inches long approx overall in saya
A Most Fine & Beautiful Katana Signed Sukesada of Bizen Dated 1560 Signed Bizen kuni ju Osafune Sukesada. One of the Sukesada, Bizen smiths. A very nice Koto blade, that has seen battle, with fine mounts and most unusually and very interestingly, embossed leather wrapped tsuka, with cloisonne enamel menuki. Embossed leather was imported to Japan by the Portuguese in the 16th century and was highly prized as screens and other decorative works of art. We have also seen, although most rarely, other items decorated with this distinctive leatherwork such as samurai purses and saya coverings. The embossing on the leather are various insects, highly popular in samurai fittings décor. The fushi tsuka mount is very fine, signed by the maker, and decorated with flowers and gold buds. Harima, Mimasaka and Bizen provinces were prospering under the protection of the Akamatsu family. Above all, Bizen province turned out a great many talented swordsmiths. A large number of swords were made there in the late Muromachi period not only supplying the demand of the Age of Provincial Wars in Japan but also as an important exporting item to the Ming dynasty in China. At the onset of the decline of the Ashikaga shogunate in 1565 ad., and Yoshiteru's assassination the shogunate of Yoshiteru was filled by his two-year old son, Yoshiaki. Yoshiteru's brother was the abbot of a Buddhist monastery. He resigned this position and attempted to assume the shogunate. These efforts ultimately failed. The demand for swords began an accent to unimaginable levels. The national unrest and violent civil war did not cease until the successful takeover of the shogunate by Tokugawa Iyeyasu. The "Osafune - Kozori" group was the major supplier of blades for these events. 29 inch blade Tsuba to tip. On just one side of the blade there are combat stress hagire marks near the top section. This blade has certainly seen battle use, and is ideal for the historical collector of beautiful samurai weaponry, as opposed to those seeking blade condition perfection. 40 inches long approx overall in saya
A Most Fine Ancient 0-Tanto Circa 1340 Fitted With Oni Demon Mask Fittings. A really beautiful, early, fine large tanto from the Kamakura to Nambokochu era up to 700 years old. A most imposing and impressive piece. The fittings are all original Edo period in iron and pure goldsuper with a theme of Oni demon masks, accompanied by birds and turtles on the kodzuka. The kodzuka blade has a hamon and signed. The original Edo lacquer saya is decorated with delightful two-tone matt and gloss finish. It has original iron fittings all finely inlaid with scrolls of silver gold and copper. The blade has a single deep hi on the reverse side and bo hi on the obverse. It has a fabulous bright polish and a chu-sugaha hamon. Oni are a kind of yokai from Japanese folklore, variously translated as demons, devils, ogres, or trolls. They are popular characters in Japanese art, literature and theatre. Depictions of oni vary widely but usually portray them as hideous, gigantic ogre-like creatures with sharp claws, wild hair, and two long horns growing from their heads. They are humanoid for the most part, but occasionally, they are shown with unnatural features such as odd numbers of eyes or extra fingers and toes.Their skin may be any number of colours, but red and blue are particularly common. The Kamakura period [ Kamakura jidai 1185–1333] is a period of Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura by the first shogun, Minamoto no Yoritomo. The period is known for the emergence of the samurai, the warrior caste, and for the establishment of feudalism in Japan. The Kamakura period ended in 1333 with the destruction of the shogunate and the short reestablishment of imperial rule under Emperor Go-Daigo by Ashikaga Takauji, Nitta Yoshisada, and Kusunoki Masashige. The Kamakura period marks the transition to land-based economies and a concentration of advanced military technologies in the hands of a specialized fighting class. Lords required the loyal services of vassals, who were rewarded with fiefs of their own. The fief holders exercised local military rule.
A Most Fine Shinto Katana By Kanenaga, A Sword of Great Presence. A sizeable and most impressive katana over 300 years old, signed Kanenaga. Delightful undulating gunome hamon. Superb tsuba in iron, decorated with finely chiselled figures of a dragon and a tiger with a gold kanji, the reverse of the tsuba are carved with clouds and crashing waves. All the swords koshirae fittings are original Edo and the lacquer of the saya is a rich burgundy colour. Brass hilt mounts of flower heads inlaid with strips of silver. Blade 29 inches long, the sword complete in the saya is 40 inches long overall The Tiger and Dragon Are Celestial Companions Infusing these celestial creatures into the traditional yin yang serves to articulate some of the basic meanings expressed in the T'ai Chi. The tiger and dragon are extraordinarily complimentary companions according to Chinese astrology. These celestial creatures are fairly opposite in character with the dragon boldly leading the offensive charge and the tiger expressing a more defensive nature. However, they make a well-rounded whole when they come together. To better understand this concept, it's important to consider their characteristics separately before bringing them together. Blade tsuba to tip 29 inches approx, 40 inches long overall in saya.
A Most Impressive & Substantial Edo Japanese Samurai Battle Katana Due to its size and build most likely for use by a horse mounted samurai. Made circa 1600 to 1650 and mounted in all original Edo fittings, saya and tsuba. Hand pierced iron circular tsuba to represent sea spray. Plain fushi kashira. For roughly a thousand years, from about the 800s to the late 1800s, warfare in Japan was dominated by an elite class of warriors known as the samurai. Horses were their special weapons: only samurai were allowed to ride horses in battle. Like European knights, the samurai served a lord (daimyo). In 1600, after a long period of conflict among rival daimyo, the victorious Tokugawa Shogun discouraged armed civil warfare, maintained the samurai's traditional status, so internecine warfare continued unabated. The sword and the horse remained symbols of their power. By the time Ieyasu Tokugawa unified Japan under his rule at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, only samurai were permitted to wear the sword. A samurai was recognized by his carrying the feared daisho, the ‘big sword, little sword’ of the warrior. These were the battle katana, the ‘big sword,’ and the wakizashi, the ‘little sword.’ The name katana derives from two old Japanese written characters or symbols: kata, meaning’side,’ and na, or ‘edge.’ Thus a katana is a single-edged sword that has had few rivals in the annals of war, either in the East or the West. Because the sword was the main battle weapon of Japan’s knightly man-at-arms (although spears and bows were also carried), an entire martial art grew up around learning how to use it. This was kenjutsu, the art of sword fighting, or kendo in its modern, non-warlike incarnation. The importance of studying kenjutsu and the other martial arts such as kyujutsu, the art of the bow, was so critical to the samurai — a very real matter of life or death — that Miyamoto Musashi, most renowned of all swordsmen, warned in his classic The Book of Five Rings: ‘The science of martial arts for warriors requires construction of various weapons and understanding the properties of the weapons. A member of a warrior family who does not learn to use weapons and understand the specific advantages of each weapon would seem to be somewhat uncultivated.’ European knights and Japanese samurai have some interesting similarities. Both groups rode horses and wore armour. Both came from a wealthy upper class. And both were trained to follow strict codes of moral behaviour. In Europe, these ideals were called chivalry; the samurai code was called Bushido, "the way of the warrior." The rules of chivalry and Bushido both emphasize honour, self-control, loyalty, bravery, and military training. 29 inch blade.
A Most Impressive Ancient, Koto Samurai Battle Sword By Yukinaga Circa 1450. Wide deeply curved blade with double hi. A glorious looking katana, externaly very subtle, with few frills, but with impressive form and status once drawn from the saya. The blade had a bohi [twin fullers] on both sides, thus at the same time lightening the blade, making it more effective in combat, yet creating no additional weakness. It has a deep sori [curvature] typical of the Muramachi Koto era [1392-1573]. 26.25 inch blade tsuba to tip. Overall 40 inches long in saya
A Most Intriguing Carved Wooden Imprisoned Sino-Mongol Figure, An Okimono A charmingly carved wooden okimono of a Chinese or Mongol male in manacled wooden torture stocks. Possibly representing one of the Chinese invaders that tried unsucessfully to invade Japan. The kind of tortuous affair that was usually unique to the far east in ancient times. In fact the legendary Genghis Khan was imprisoned in such a terrible device when he was captured by another mongol leader as a youth before he grew into becoming the world greatest conquerer.The Mongol invasions of Japan of 1274 and 1281 were major military efforts undertaken by Kublai Khan to conquer the Japanese islands after the submission of Goryeo (Korea) to vassaldom. Ultimately a failure, the invasion attempts are of macrohistorical importance because they set a limit on Mongol expansion and rank as nation-defining events in Japanese history. The Mongol invasions are an early example of gunpowder warfare. One of the most notable technological innovations during the war was the use of explosive hand thrown bombs. The invasions are referred to in many works of fiction, and are the earliest events for which the word kamikaze, or "divine wind", is widely used (in this instance in reference to the storms faced by the Mongolian fleets). Prior to the American occupation of Japan at the end of World War II, these failed invasion attempts were the closest Japan had come to being conquered by a foreign power in the last 1,500 years. Very nicely carved and signed. Right foot a little chipped. 2.5 x 1.25 x 2 inches
A Most Unusual Edo Period Katana Tsuba, With Rotational Fitting An iron sukashi tsuba, cut with four symbols, and two north and west facing blade apertures to enable the rotation of the tsuba mounting onto the blade. The tsuba is usually a round, ovoid or occasionally squarish guard at the end of the tsuka of bladed Japanese weapons, like the katana and its various declinations, tachi, wakizashi, tanto, naginata etc. They contribute to the balance of the weapon and to the protection of the hand. The tsuba was mostly meant to be used to prevent the hand from sliding onto the blade during thrusts as opposed to protecting from an opponent's blade. The chudan no kamae guard is determined by the tsuba and the curvature of the blade. The diameter of the average katana tsuba is 7.5–8 centimetres (3.0–3.1 in), wakizashi tsuba is 6.2–6.6 cm (2.4–2.6 in), and tanto tsuba is 4.5–6 cm (1.8–2.4 in). During the Muromachi period (1333–1573) and the Momoyama period (1573–1603) Tsuba were more for functionality than for decoration, being made of stronger metals and designs. During the Edo period (1603–1868) tsuba became more ornamental and made of less practical metals such as gold. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
A Most Unusually Mounted 600 Year Old Samurai Tanto A charming blade, probably 15th century. Nambam style fittings with stunning koshirae fully pierced detailing flying cranes and flowers. A super kodsuka in shakudo detailed with cranes. Signed blade to the kodzuka. The overall decoration is most unusual in that the lacquer, is convincingly simulating woodgrain, and is incredibly well executed. Tanto first began to appear in the Heian period, however these blades lacked artistic qualities and were purely weapons. In the Early Kamakura period high quality tanto with artistic qualities began to appear, and the famous Yoshimitsu (the greatest tanto maker in Japanese history) began his forging. Tanto production increased greatly around the Muromachi period and then dropped off in the Shinto period. Shinto period tanto are quite rare. Tanto were mostly carried by Samurai; commoners did not generally carry them. Women sometimes carried a small tanto called a kaiken in their obi for self defence.It was sometimes worn as the shoto in place of a wakizashi in a daisho, especially on the battlefield. Before the 16th century it was common for a Samurai to carry a tachi and a tanto as opposed to a katana and a wakizashi.
A Pair of Decorative Japanese Sword Placques Made from a full set of pre 1937 ShinGunto Officer sword fittings [complete with tsuka and 'bulls blood' red lacquered wooden saya] that have been cut in two, equally, from 'bow to stern' and mounted on two dark brown lacquered wooden panels. A very attractive, imaginative and most pleasing decorative effect has thus been achieved.
A Rare & Mighty Shinshinto Katana Bearing Maker and Owner's Name Inscribed Inscribed as follows; Made in Bunkyo August 1863, by Ryuginsai Hirotsuna, who made this sword in his 70th year for Yoshiyuki. It is most rare to see such inscriptions of Japanese swords and they are much prized as the sword effectively has its own built in provenence. A long large and mighty blade with higo style mounts and a very nice Shinto sukashi tsuba. The saya is its original Edo saya, with original lacquer in black and iron sayajiri. By the time Ieyasu Tokugawa unified Japan under his rule at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, only samurai were permitted to wear the sword. A samurai was recognized by his carrying the feared daisho, the ‘big sword, little sword’ of the warrior. These were the battle katana, the ‘big sword,’ and the wakizashi, the ‘little sword.’ The name katana derives from two old Japanese written characters or symbols: kata, meaning’side,’ and na, or ‘edge.’ Thus a katana is a single-edged sword that has had few rivals in the annals of war, either in the East or the West. Because the sword was the main battle weapon of Japan’s knightly man-at-arms (although spears and bows were also carried), an entire martial art grew up around learning how to use it. This was kenjutsu, the art of sword fighting, or kendo in its modern, non-warlike incarnation. The importance of studying kenjutsu and the other martial arts such as kyujutsu, the art of the bow, was so critical to the samurai — a very real matter of life or death — that Miyamoto Musashi, most renowned of all swordsmen, warned in his classic The Book of Five Rings: ‘The science of martial arts for warriors requires construction of various weapons and understanding the properties of the weapons. A member of a warrior family who does not learn to use weapons and understand the specific advantages of each weapon would seem to be somewhat uncultivated.’
A Rare and Collectable WW2 Japanese Officer's Shingunto Sword Hanger Very rare to survive the war as so few were taken from the Japanese officers by allied combatants on their surrender. Plaited leather with metal spring clasp and hook mount. Photo in the gallery of three surrendering Japanese officer's, each one still wearing their plaited leather sword belt hanger, none of which have been surrendered with the swords.
A Rare Japanese WW2 Shell Around 45mm Possibly Anti Tank Gun It does have naval markings to the case. More research is needed to identify it. Japanese shells are very rare in the UK. Total shell height 235mm x round width 45mm. Inert and safe not suitable for export. For sale to over 18s only.
A Rare, Signed, Japanese Uke-Zutsu, A Sashimono Holder Worn By The Samurai An old Edo period piece, probably 17th to 18th century. A long tubular or square sided lacquered wooden mount, with a brass strengthening top piece, with which to carry the samurai's sashimono, clan banner, on the samurai's armour cuirass backplate. Although it appears to be a relatively simple piece it is a most rare original antique collectable that simply near impossible to find if one is needed. Sashimono poles were attached to the backs of the chest armour worn by samurai by special fittings. Sashimono were worn by basic foot combat samurai called ashigaru and the elite samurai who were both mounted on horses or fought on foot, and in special holders on the horses of some cavalry samurai. The banners, resembling small flags and bearing clan symbols, were most prominent during the Sengoku period—a long period of civil war in Japan from the middle 15th to early 17th century. The designs on sashimono were usually very simple geometric shapes, sometimes accompanied by Japanese characters providing the name of the leader or clan, the clan's mon, or a clan's slogan. Often, the background colour of the flag indicated which army unit the wearer belonged to, while different divisions in these armies emblazoned their own design or logo on it. However, the presence of the daimyo's mon was used more commonly than the design or logo of the unit, as battles could often get quite large and complicated; being able to recognize friend from foe at a glance is of the utmost importance in battle. Sometimes elite samurai, who were sufficiently famed or respected, had their own personal design or name featured on their sashimono as opposed to that of their division. These stylized designs contrast with the elaborate heraldic devices displayed by some European armies of the same period.
A Samurai Sankaku su Yari Polearm with original Pole. Probably Shinto period, circa 1680, in nice order overall. In delightful polish, showing a fine hamon, with red lacquered Hi. Yari is the Japanese term for spear, or more specifically, the straight-headed spear. The martial art of wielding the yari is called sojutsu. A yari can range in length from one meter to upwards of six metres (3.3 to 20 feet). The longer versions were called omi no yari while shorter ones were known as mochi yari or tae yari. The longest versions were carried by foot troops (ashigaru), while samurai usually carried a shorter yari such as this example. Yari are believed to have been derived from Chinese spears, and while they were present in early Japan's history they did not become popular until the thirteenth century. The original warfare of the bushi was not a thing for "commoners"; it was a ritualized combat usually between two warriors who may challenge each other via horseback archery and sword duels. However, the attempted Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281 changed Japanese weaponry and warfare. The Mongol-employed Chinese and Korean footmen wielded long pikes, fought in tight formation, and moved in large units to stave off cavalry. Polearms (including naginata and yari) were of much greater military use than swords, due to their much greater range, their lesser weight per unit length (though overall a polearm would be fairly hefty), and their great piercing ability. Swords in a full battle situation were therefore relegated to emergency sidearm status from the Heian through the Muromachi periods. Around later half of sixteenth century, ashigaru holding pikes (naga yari) with length of 4.5 to 6.5 m (15 to 22 feet) or sometimes 10 m became main forces in armies. They formed lines, combined with harquebusiers and short spearmen. Pikemen formed two or three row of line, and were forced to move up and down their pikes in unison under the command.Yari overtook the popularity of the daikyu for the samurai, and foot troops (ashigaru) used them extensively as well Various types of yari points or blades existed. The most common blade was a straight, flat, design that resembles a straight-bladed double edged dagger. This type of blade could cut as well as stab and was sharpened like a razor edge. Though yari is a catchall for spear, it is usually distinguished between kama yari, which have additional horizontal blades, and simple su yari (choku-so) or straight spears. Yari can also be distinguished by the types of blade cross section: the triangular sections were called sankaku yari and the diamond sections were called ryo-shinogi yari. Sankaku yari (triangle spear) had a point that resembled a narrow spike with a triangular cross-section. A sankaku yari therefore had no cutting edge, only a sharp point at the end. The sankaku yari was therefore best suited for penetrating armor, even armor made of metal, which a standard yari was not as suited to. Picture in the gallery by Ukiyo-e, a print of a samurai general holding a yari in his right hand. Blade and tang 38cm, blade 13.3 cm overall on pole 194cm
A Scarce Cased Sagemono 'Demon Mask' Samurai Tobacco Pouch Set & Pipe Box Antique, Edo period [1600-1867] sagemono set. A silk tobacco pouch [tobako-ire] with a silver Oni Demon mask mount. A white Jade Ojimi on the connecting cord and a chequered lacquer and metal mounted pipe case a Kizuruzutsu. All set in a beautiful damask silk patterned box. Sagemono were the items [pouches pipes, writing implements etc.] that hung by silk cords from the Obi [the silk Kimono sash]. Tobacco was known in Japan since the 1570s at the earliest. By the early 17th century, kiseru had become popular enough to even be mentioned in some Buddhist textbooks for children. The kiseru evolved along with the equipment and use of incense associated with the Japanese incense ceremony: kodo: Master artisanship in the traditional Japanese aesthetic, this magnificent tobacco sagemono suite would make a striking centerpiece for the discriminating collector of Japanese antiques. From the early 16th century around the world, sailors and global trade disseminated tobacco and smoking habits. Cultivation by colonists became widespread not only in America, but across the African continent as well. “The weed had been integrated within diverse cultures, and diagnosed as beneficial by the medical systems of Europe, of China, and of India,” but it was the Japanese, having “received tobacco courtesy of a shipwreck in 1542,” who took most zealously to it, adopting a matter-of-fact approach free from ritual or reason. A doctor from Nagasaki wrote, “of late a new thing has come into fashion called ‘tobacco’, it consists of large leaves which are cut up and of which one drinks the smoke” . Tobacco was instantly popular—though, as elsewhere, first in the higher strata of Japanese society, where it was favoured by higher ranking Samurai who created “ornate silver tobacco pipes” and formed smoking clubs in which to gather and share in the pleasure of tobacco .
A Set of Exceptionally Beautiful Edo Period Samurai Tanto Koshirae Superb quality Edo period tanto koshirae [sword fittings] with a manikin of a wooden blade and habaki [tsunagi]. The full suite of matching, patinated, honey coloured copper, fushi, kashira, and tsuba bear a stunning kashira that depicts a carved figure of Fukurokuju, one of the Japanese seven deities, the tall headed god of happiness, wealth and long life one of the Shichi-fuku-jin (“Seven Gods of Luck”), particularly associated with longevity. He is supposed to have once lived on earth as a Chinese Taoist sage. He has a white beard, wears a scholar’s headdress and he reads from a scroll containing the world’s wisdom. The seven are drawn from various sources but have been grouped together from at least the 16th century. They are Bishamon, Daikoku, Ebisu, Fukurokuju, Jurojin, Hotei, and the only female in the group, Benten. He is sometimes confused with Jurojin, another of the Several Gods of Fortune, who by some accounts is Fukurokuju's grandson and by other accounts inhabits the same body as Fukurokuju. As such, the two are often confused. The carving is beautifully executed and the figure has an most charming jolly smile. All the matching fittings are in beautiful condition. Only the lacquer of the saya has areas of wear and surface cracking. Overall 59 cm, saya 44cm, tsuka, 15cm
A Shinshinto Wakazashi Signed Nagata Masakuni Fine sukashi tsuba in iron, iron tsuka fushi with silver bird decoration, buffalo horn kashira and iron dragon meuki under a traditional battle wrap. The original Edo saya is decorated in full polished giant rayskin. The join seam of the rayskin on the reverse side of the saya shows a little shrinkage. Nicely polished blade showing a good undulating hamon in full polish and very nice grain in the hada. The samurai's wakizashi was used as his secondary or auxiliary sword; it was also used as an occasional primary weapon for close quarters fighting, such as in a castle, and also to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi toshi, the chisa-katana and the tanto. The term wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of "wakizashi no katana" ("sword thrust at one's side"); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set. Tiny combat edge nicks. A nice kodzuka utility blade handle in the saya pocket [with no blade]
A Shinto Iron Tsuba Katana Guard With Brass Mimi Chisseled with scrolling chanels and a kodzuka ana and kogai ana. The tsuba has [south fitted] kuchi-beni. Literally "lipstick", but refers to the copper plug of the nakago-ana. Their function is to secure the tsuba firmly when mounted on a blade. These plugs are sometimes called sekigane.
A Shinto Period Samurai Polearm Jumonji Yari. 3 Bladed With Original Haft Haft decorated with traditional abilone shell. Jumonji yari, is a cross-shaped spear, also called magari yari, it looks somewhat similar to a trident or partisan in European polearms, and brandished a pair of curved blades around its central lance. Occasionally it is called a maga yari in modern weaponry texts. The Jumonji yari is certainly one of the most collectable and scarecist of all the traditional samurai polearms. A yari on it's pole can range in length from one metre to upwards of six metres (almost 20 feet). The longer hafted versions were called omi no yari while shorter ones were known as mochi yari or tae yari. The longest hafted versions were carried by foot troops (ashigaru), while samurai usually carried a shorter hafted yari. Yari are believed to have been derived from Chinese spears, and while they were present in early Japan's history they did not become popular until the thirteenth century. The original warfare of the bushi was not a thing for "commoners"; it was a ritualized combat usually between two warriors who may challenge each other via horseback archery and sword duels. However, the attempted Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281 changed Japanese weaponry and warfare. The Mongol-employed Chinese and Korean footmen wielded long pikes, fought in tight formation, and moved in large units to stave off cavalry. Polearms (including naginata and yari) were of much greater military use than swords, due to their much greater range, their lesser weight per unit length (though overall a polearm would be fairly hefty), and their great piercing ability. Swords in a full battle situation were therefore relegated to emergency sidearm status from the Heian through the Muromachi periods
A Shinto Wakizashi With Intricate Multi Cord Bound Tsuka This is a most interesting blade. It has an undulating hamon, a fairly stout and powerful blade, but, the most intriguing part is that it has been conserved with two smithed blade repairs. For centuries good samurai sword blades have had specialist swordsmith repairs to the blade face, enabled by the cutting out of small damaged sections, and small rectangular fillets of steel inset within, using a dovetail principle and then polished over. This blade, however, has had circular not rectangular inserts put in, and interestingly both partially within the hamon, the hardest and thinnes part of the blade, and just on the reverse side. None of us here, and at least two other well respected nihonto specialists, have every seen it's like before, and none of us are sure how it was achieved at all. It has a simple oval tsuba, and the tsuka has the highly complex and intricate multi cord ito binding that is so complex can no longer be replicated today. An excellent saya, good polish blade, plain iron fushi kashira. A most pleasing sword with some fascinating features.
A Signal Example of a Fine Soten Tsuba Decorated with Pure Gold Signed first generation Soten, although it might well not be the first generation but Soten school but it is an absolute beauty, and an august piece of great beauty. Iron plate with soft metal face and feet to the figure.The Soten school where founded by Soheishi Nyudo in Hikone (Goshu) during the 17th century.. Iron was the metal most frequently used for tsuba. The metal was usually patinated, a chemical reaction which turned it black and also prevented further rusting. The surface could either be polished smooth, or roughened with a hammer or chisel. Then it could be decorated in many different ways. These included itobori (a basic method of hairline engraving), takabori (a sculpted design raised above the surface), and sukashi-bori (whereby the surface was cut through to leave a pierced design). Several forms of zogan (inlay), usually made of metal, were also used.
A Simply Magnificent Museum Quality Shinto Period Yoshikuni Samurai Sword Wakazashi with a signed blade by master 'Wazamono' smith Kozuke no Kami Yoshikuni of Settsu, in around 1661, signed tsuba, signed Mogarashi Nyudo Soten Sei Kinen Nanajyuu Sansai No Koshu Hikone Jyu. Signed fushi, Gotou Mitsutaka Kao [Thanks to Gay Diey once more for translation]. All koshirae are Edo period, and all depicting scenes of a great legendary historical samurai sea battle involving a sea dragon and horses. The tsuba, fushi and menuki are all copper, gold alloy, of the most beautiful quality, all decorated with solid hammered gold and shakudo. The menuki are also of samurai, in sea vessels in hammered gold over copper, and utterly fabulous. The magnificent Soten signed tsuba has yet again decoration of solid gold to match the fittings, hammered over copper, and is one of the most beautiful one can see outside of a museum, with wondrously detailed hand chiselled takebori figures of samurai in crashing waves, with his gold inlaid clan mon of chrysanthemum on his garb. The seigaiha or wave is a pattern of layered concentric circles creating arches, symbolic of waves or water and representing surges of good luck. It can also signify power and resilience. The main samurai figure is on a boat, fully armoured, and holding aloft a ball. In the crashing waves below him is a water dragon consuming a samurai general holding aloft his war fan. The fushi is carved takebori also of samurai riding on ponies crashing through the waves. Bound in Imperial white silk wrap and with abilone speckled black lacquer saya, blade in around 98% fine polish with just a couple of very small wear marks. Kozuke no Kami Yoshikuni was a student of shodai Yamato (no) Kami Yoshimichi. He worked in the similar styles as his reknown teacher, and appears in the book Kaiho-kenshaku. This is a detailed list of Wazamono, the best reknown 'sharp blade' samurai sword makers. It details 228 swordsmiths (or 180 depending on the method of counting) of katana and other weapons in the book Kaiho kenjaku or Kaiho-kenshaku, released in 1815 by Yamada Asaemon. (Yamada Asaemon V was one among a direct line of official sword testers for the bakufu during the Edo Period, every generation of whom inherited that name). The authoritative list, compiled by the samurai whose job was testing a katana, had been and is still used as a benchmark for the quality of finest katana. The reading of the tsuba is a little complex and the best we can assertain
A Simply Stunning 14th to 15th Century Tachi of Wakazashi Size The blade is now re-polished and looks simply magnificent. It's had grain as so beautiful and complex it is truly exceptional, and utterly remarkable for a blade that is between 600 to 700 years old!! A slim wakazashi sized tachi, in stunning Edo period shakudo fittings, of the most discerning quality, mounted faithfully to scale as a full tachi, but around two thirds size and to be worn as a shoto but tachi style, bound from the obi. Often they could be used as samurai boys swords, but only for sons of the very highest ranking Daimyo when in this quality. Beautiful blade from the 14th to 15th century with nambokochu form fish belly tang. The koshirae are gilt bronze with fine shakudo and mon of menuki, The Nishikawa family crest, of the Maru ni Mokkou. A tachi was a type of traditionally made Japanese sword (nihonto) worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The tachi style of swords preceded the development of the katana — the first use of the word katana to indicate a blade different from tachi appears toward the end of the twelfth century. In later Japanese feudal history, during the Sengoku and Edo periods, certain high-ranking warriors of what became the ruling class would wear their sword tachi-style (edge-downward), rather than with the saya (scabbard) thrust through the belt with the edge upward. The bakuhan taisei was the feudal political system in the Edo period of Japan. Baku, or "tent," is an abbreviation of bakufu, meaning "military government" — that is, the shogunate. The han were the domains headed by daimyo. The number of han (roughly 250) fluctuated throughout the Edo period. They were ranked by size, which was measured as the number of koku that the domain produced each year. One koku was the amount of rice necessary to feed one adult male for one year. The minimum number for a daimyo was ten thousand koku; the largest, apart from the shogun, was a million. 28.5 inches long, blade 20.25 inches long tsuba to tip. Kameda - Ishino - Magabuchi - Kawashima - Wada et Yamaoka
A Simply Stunning Koto Katana With A Fantastic Unokubi Zukuri Blade Circa 1500, around 500 years old. The 'cormorant's neck' blade form is patterned after the shape of the Nagamaki, the powerful long-handled sword popular between the 12th and 14th centuries. Notable for the strongly relieved shinogi-ji and diamond-shaped kissaki, the Unokubi-Zukuri Katana provides excellent balance in a strong cutting blade. The mune (back) of the blade is also different from the more usual form in that it starts out like most katanas, but after a third of the way down, the mune thins out rapidly into a long thin false edge. The last couple of inches of the mune then flare back out into a diamond form right at the kissaki. The Koto period is 900 to 1595 AD. With very nice mounts. The fushi kashira are embellished with gold over patinated copper and decorated with animals. The kashira is a gold embellished bird with flowers on a nanako ground, and the fushi is decorated with a rat eating a daikon, the favoured food of the samurai. The tsuba is in iron, koto period O-sukashi with piercings and wide rim. The blade looks superb. 27.5 inch blade. 38 inches long approx overall in saya
A Singularly Beautiful Nagamaki Naoshi Wakazashi, Koto Era. Koshibiraki gunome midare hamon with hitatsura. With a superb original Edo period lacquer saya, with it's kodzuka complete. The blade is most impressive nagamaki naoshi style U-no-kubi-zukuri without Yokote form with a stunningly active hamon in stunning full polish. Circa 1500.
A Singularly Beautiful Wakazashi Signed Mondonosho Fujiwara Masakiyo c1720, The tang has been reduced and the signature has been reset within the upper part, called gaku-mei and it also bears his rare Ichiyo aoi mon. This is a most rarely seen feature [gaku-mei] and only normally added to swords that are highly prized by the owner. The original Edo saya is superbly decorated with crushed abilone shell. A most beautiful sword with simply stunning Edo period full suite of fittings, in very fine shakudo decorated with carved takebori of pure gold interwoven dragons. The hamon bears all the signature traits of Masakiyo's work. The mei is very good and most closely matches his recorded examples. Although we feel it has every chance of being his work, especially as the hamon is so typical, there is always the chance it may not be, but, as it bears a gaku-mei, this is highly technical work, so one might easily conclude why one would go to the effort and expense in the Edo period to execute such an adaption, in order to save the signature, without feeling it is all correct and thus not gimei. He was one of the best and foremost Shinto smiths who signed with the Ichiyo aoi mon to the nakago. Mondonosho Masakiyo is said to have been born in 1670 in Sasshu Izumikyo. His common name is said to be Miyahara Seiuemon, and it is said he was also called Kakudayu. He learned the craft of sword making from the Satsuma Han smith Maruta Souemon Masafusa. In the beginning he used the mei of Kiyomutsu and later changed to Masakiyo. In the 1st month of 1721 he was beckoned, along with Ichinora Yasuto (Yasutoshi) of this same kuni, by the 8 th Shogun Yoshimune to come to Edo and make a sword, and as a recognition of his skill, he was granted permission by the Bakufu to inscribe the Ichiyo aoi mon on the nakago, and on his homeward journey he was appointed Mondonosho by the Imperial Court. He passed away in 1730 at the age of 61. He, along with Yasuyo, were the pillars of the Satsuma Shinto, but in contrast to the fact that Yasuyo mostly tempered with suguba in a gentle notare tone, Masakiyo mixed in gunome, togariba, and the like in ko-notare, and tempered with a modified Shizu style of notareba. In the works of his twilight years, daimei by his son Masachik, and his deshi Masamori are frequently seen. There is a small area of tiny pitting by the kissaki that should remove with polishing.
A Spectacular Bladed Koto Katana Circa 1490 With a simply glorious blade showing within it's original Edo polish a deep gully wavy gunome hamon of breathtaking beauty. Original Edo wrap over gilt menuki with pure gold decorated fushi [sword hilt mount] depicting deeply chissled takebori Soten fighting samurai in armour, carved horn kashira [pommel]. Chisseled iron plate tsuba with crashing waves. The seigaiha or wave is a pattern of layered concentric circles creating arches, symbolic of waves or water and representing surges of good luck. It can also signify power and resilience. It has a most elegant original Edo lacquer saya most deeply ribbed in black. Copper double habaki blade collar. 29 inch blade tsuba to tip. Signs of light wear but overall superb for age. 29 inch blade tsuba to tip
A Spectacular Koto Katana Signed Bizen Osafune Sukesada Circa 1580 Original Edo mounts and fittings based around han dachi mounts [semi tachi] form. It has a magnificent and splendorous blade, that has now been polished and shows a breathtakingly extravagant and beautiful hamon, that is absolutely rapturous, and has been utterly transformed by repolishing. This katana dates from the very end of the koto Bizen tradition. The Bizen Sukesada line of swordsmiths descended in the Osafune school and are recorded as far back as the end of the Nambokucho period (around 1394). The sword was made around 1580 and it was only 10 years later that the Yoshii river catastrophically flooded, wiping out the forges in Osafune and sounding the death knell for the greatest of the koto traditions. The early Sukesada smiths produced swords of outstanding quality. Hikobeijo and Yososaemonjo Sukesada are both ranking O-Wazamono and Fujishiro gives them both Saijosaku rankings. 28.4 inch blade tsuba to tip.
A Spectacularly Stunning Samurai 'Royal' Katana In Imperial White and Black Signed Fujiwara Katsunaga, circa 1650, a good master samurai sword smith of the early Shinto era. Edo 1650 iron fushi inlaid with stylised gold dragon, matching iron and gold inlaid sayajiri [bottom scabbard mount]. A beautiful full relief sukashi dargon tsuba, and gold menuki of dragon under the white silk ito [hilt wrap]. This sword was made around the British equivalent era of the English Civil War, yet looks as good as it did on the day it was made. A similar white silk bound samurai sword cajn be seen on exhibition in the Dresden-Zwinger-Armoury Museum. White in Japan has been the colour of purity, specifically ritual purity. The use of the white katabira is thought to have appeared around 794 to 1185, as a mix of Shinto and Buddhist tradition. The Emperor was said to wear a white kimono when performing religious rituals during the Heian period. Unlike the coarse hemp of the commoners, the Emperors garment was spun from silk and was called a byakue meaning nothing more complicated than “white robe.”. This sword has a beautiful blade, with a subtle sugaha hamon, and a tsuba of a full sukashi takebori dragon holding a ken [ancient sword] with gold decorated matching menuki under the white silk binding over black lacquered giant rayskin. The first use of "katana" as a word to describe a long sword that was different from a tachi is found in the 12th century. These references to "uchigatana" and "tsubagatana" seem to indicate a different style of sword, possibly a less costly sword for lower ranking warriors. The evolution of the tachi into the katana seems to have started during the early Muromachi period (1337 to 1573). Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the "katana" signature were made. This was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style" (cutting edge up). Japanese swords are traditionally worn with the signature facing away from the wearer. When a tachi was worn in the style of a katana, with the cutting edge up, the tachi's signature would be facing the wrong way. The fact that swordsmiths started signing swords with a katana signature shows that some samurai of that time period had started wearing their swords in a different manner. However, it is thought by many, that as many as 70% of katana made were never signed at all. The rise in popularity of katana by samurai is believed to have been due to the changing nature of close-combat warfare. The quicker draw of the sword was well suited to combat where victory depended heavily on fast response times. The katana further facilitated this by being worn thrust through a belt-like sash (obi) with the sharpened edge facing up. Ideally, samurai could draw the sword and strike the enemy in a single motion. Previously, the curved tachi had been worn with the edge of the blade facing down and suspended from a belt The length of the katana blade varied considerably during the course of its history. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, katana blades tended to be between 68 to 73 cm (26 to 28 in) in length. During the early 16th century, the average length was closer to 60 cm (23.5 in). By the late 16th century, the average length returned to greater lengths. A photo in our gallery, taken around 1850 in Japan shows an Imperial retainer with his white silk bound sword. This is a stunning sword in superb condition with just some miniscule surface pitting by the blade tip. 39 inches long approx overall in saya
A Splenderous Ishido School Silver Mounted Katana Circa 1650 With royal white silk wrap. Silver matching koshirae and gold and bronze Kiri mon menuki. A very beautiful Edo period mokko form iron tsuba inlaid with pure gold silver and copper A beautiful iron plate with very nice quality decoration of four robed figures observing a four birds across a moon lit cloud. Copper sekigane. Lacquer saya and it's stunning pure gold decorated kodzuka knife with pure gold Shishi [lion dog] vahjira [lightning maker] and ken [ancient straight sword. It also has a full matching set of mountings over sang de beuof stone lacquer. The hamon is truly robust midare and wonderous to admire. Mumei tang with three mukugi ana. This is a beautiful piece that would grace any fine collection of antiques or top quality art. Worthy of a museum collection. The Ishido School originated at the Sekido Temple in Omi Province around the Kanei period (1624). From there the smiths went to various sections of the country to found branch Ishido schools. Some went to Kii Province and came to be known as the Kishi Ishido. Later Tameyasu led this group to Osaka. Others went to Edo, the most famous of these being Ishido Korekazu. Mitsuhira was one of the students of Korekazu. The Ishido school smiths were best known for their ability to make swords in the Bizen tradition of the Ichimonji School. They were well known for their hamon, which was a robust choji midare, which sometimes reached the shinogi. Their works often had fine utsuri and the best works are often mistaken for true Ichimonji works. One distinctive feature, which differs from the Ichimonji School, is that the hada in the shinogi ji is masame whereas in the Ichimonji School of the Koto period it would be itame. Another difference is that in Ichimonji swords the outstanding midare patterns would keep their exuberance into the boshi while the boshi of the Ishido School tend to be of a quieter and shallower midare pattern. Mitsuhira is now thought to have been the older brother of Tsunemitsu. He worked around the middle of the 17th century. His family name was Heki. He received the title of Dewa no Kami and was later known as Dewa Nyudo. He is famous for his choji hamon and both he and Korekazu are credited with the revival of the Bizen tradition in the Shinto period. His choji can be distinguished from the other Ishido smiths in that his was shaped more in a fukuro-choji form (sack-shape choji). This is one of the few points that separate his works from the works of his brother Tsunemitsu. Author; Fred Weisberg. 39.5 inches long overall in saya
A Stunning Ancient Koto Period Katana Circa 1400, Muramachi Era. Originally tachi or uchigatana mounted this fabulous and ancient sword was remounted likely 400 years ago as a katana. Signed tsuba decorated with a figure on a water buffalo and small pure gold inlaid dots. Gilt decorated fushi kashira, the fushi with depicting jungle fauna and the kashira with a takebori tiger. Gold silk bound tsuka over bronze shishi on black samegawa. Set off with a dark red stone finish lacquer saya. The blade has an incredibly beautiful and complex hamon pattern, with just a couple of thin, natural openings due to it's great age. The uchigatana was the predecessor to the katana as the battle-blade of feudal Japan's bushi (warrior class), and as it evolved into the later design, the two were often differentiated from each other only by how they were worn and by the fittings for the blades. It was during the Mongol invasions that it was shown there were some weaknesses in the tachi sword which led to the development of the Katana. In later Japanese feudal history, during the Sengoku and Edo periods, certain high-ranking warriors [daimyo] of what became the ruling class would wear their swords tachi mounted This sword would very likely have been used in the Onin War (1467–1477) which led to serious political fragmentation and obliteration of domains: a great struggle for land and power ensued among bushi chieftains and lasted until the mid-sixteenth century. Peasants rose against their landlords and samurai against their overlords, as central control virtually disappeared. An early Japanese print in the gallery shows a samurai receiving his reward of a fine tachi [such as this one] from his shugo daimyo lord. The shugo daimyo were the first group of men to hold the title "daimyo". They arose from among the shugo during the Muromachi period. The shugo daimyo held not only military and police powers, but also economic power within a province. They accumulated these powers throughout the first decades of the Muromachi period. The Onin War was a major uprising in which shugo daimyo fought each other. During this and other wars of the time, kuni ikki, or provincial uprisings, took place as locally powerful warriors sought independence from the shugo daimyo. The deputies of the shugo daimyo, living in the provinces, seized the opportunity to strengthen their position. At the end of the fifteenth century, those shugo daimyo who succeeded remained in power. Those who had failed to exert control over their deputies fell from power and were replaced by a new class, the "sengoku daimyo", who arose from the ranks of the shugodai'K and Ji-samurai. 28 inch blade length from tsuba to tip, 39 inches full length complete katana in saya, 9.65 inch Tsuka
A Stunning and Most Beautiful Katana Signed Unshi Moritoshi We specialise in samurai weapons from all the great eras of samurai history. Yet the last century of the samurai, the 19th, had some of the finest swords made in all their history. We show this fine sword from the late era, from before the Satsuma rebellion [that effectively saw the end of the samurai era forever] to show just how fine and wonderful a senior ranking samurai katana could be. A typical and very fine samurai shibui battle sword worthy of a most senior ranking samurai, of the era of Emperor Komei who was the fourth son of Emperor Ninko and his consort Tsuneko Fujiwara. Komei's Imperial family lived with him in the Dairi of the Heian Palace. The family included six children, four daughters and two sons; but the future Emperor Meiji was the only one to survive childhood. The Komei principal consort was Asako Kujo. This sword would have seen service in the era of the Mito rebellion. Mito bakumatsu soran, also called the Kanto Insurrection or the Tenguto Rebellion was a civil war that occurred in the area of Mito Domain in Japan between May 1864 and January 1865. It involved an uprising and terrorist actions against the central power of the Shogunate in favour of the Sonno Joi ("Revere the emperor, expel the barbarians") policy The swords master smith was Unshi Moritoshi who was an exemplary student of Chounsai Tsunatoshi. A fine substantial blade now repolished. The mounts are all in battle black including the black coloured same and black lacquered menuki. The fushi is superb in patinated copper decorated with a pure gold parasol and banner. The province within which he worked work was Suo. The starting era of his working life was Koka (1844-1848) the end in the Era Bunkyu (1861-1864) His active period was 1844-1864. Tsunatoshi's working period was 1830-1844 his School was the Suishinshi Masahide and his father was Kunihide. The family name was Kato and he was born around 1800. He was the son of Dewa (no) Kuni Kunihide and he was the younger brother of Kato Tsunahide. The Kato family smiths were originally from Yonezawa in Dewa. Tsunatoshi was called Kato Hachiro. He has dated works from around 1823 that he made at Azabu, Edo where he did most of his work. He received the title of Chounsai in Ansei Gannen (1854). He handed down this title to his son, Koretoshi, in 1856 and took the new title of Chojusai for himself. It is said that he received a stipend from the Uesugi Clan. He died at the age of 66 on the fifth day of December 1863. Tsunatoshi's sword making group prospered greatly in Edo (Tokyo). He and his students greatly excelled in the making of Bizen style swords. His skill was great enough to surpass the famous sword-making group led by Suishinshi Masahide. One of the most famous of all Shinshinto sword smiths, Koyama Munetsugu, is said in some reference books to have been a student of Chounsai Tsunatoshi. Others have Munetsugu as a contemporary of Tsunatoshi's and a student of his older brother Tsunahide. [akn. F. Weissberg]. Woodblock print in the gallery by Utagawa Kuniteru depicting Mito rebels under the "Sonno Joi" banner battling the shogunal army in Tsukuba. Total 41.5 inches, blade 27.5 inches 41.5 inches long approx overall in saya
A Stunning Koto Wakazashi Signed Kanobo Hayata Ryo Masazane Saku of the Yamato Tegai Tradition. With original Edo period lacquer saya in jolly good order, it has its sinchu tsuba and complimentary koshirae fittings of fushi and kashira, a very fine beautifully polished blade bearing superb small combat blocking impact above the shinogi, on the ura side, caused in close combat by being struck by a weapon, maybe a teppo musket ball or an narrow. It caused little damage to the blade, but is the greatest symbol in bushido of 'honourable sword damage' caused in combat. These small defensive impacts are never removed but saved for permanent posterity. The Yamato Tegai school got its name from the fact that its workshop was built in front of the gate Tengai-mon belonging to the Todaiji Temple in Nara. The first generation Kanenaga who worked around 1288-1293 is known to be the founder of the Yamato Tegai school of sword making. The smiths of this school all used the same character "Kane"in their works. Some of the other smiths were Kanekiyo, Kanetsugu, Kanetoshi, and Kanemitsu. One of the ater smiths, Kaneuji, left the Tegai tradition to study the Soshu tradition with Masamune. He later moved to Mino and founded the new sword making tradition of Mino. Around then he changed the character "Kane" in his mei to the one we are familiar with for all succeeding Mino smiths. Tegai Kaneuji was also known as Shizu. Therefore we call some of his works and the works of his followers Yamato Shizu. Of the smiths of this school, the first generation Kanenaga left a fair number of signed examples of his work. Most have been greatly shortened with the two characters of his name being found at the very bottom of the nakago. There are only two known examples of intact nakago surviving and, unfortunately, one of them has been re-tempered. The works of the first generation Kanenaga are known to be the best that the school produced. The Yamato Tegai school continued to produce swords from the Kamakura through the Nanbokucho eras. At the end of the Nanbokucho period, the school ceased to be active. However with the start of the Muromachi period, it once again became active and began to prosper. The revived school is called the Sue-Tegai (later Tegai) school. Representative smiths who continued the Tegai tradition in the Muromachi period were Kaneshige, Kaneyuki, Kanekiyo, Kanetoshi, Kaneyoshi, Kanezane, Kanemune, Kaneiye, and Kanesada. Generally more tanto than tachi or katana are extant today by all of these smiths, and among them even some with remarkable deki. It is said that Masazane was a late Tegai smith who lived in the old Fujiwara district of Nara in Yamato province. However there is some confusion about the Kanabo smith Masazane of the same name. He was active somewhat later, i.e. around Tenbun and was according to transmission the son of the Eisho-era late Tegai Masazane. the most famous work of Masazane, the yari Tonbogiri. Honda Tadakatsu ( 1548-1610), another Tokugawa-shitennô, wore this yari at the Battle of Hitokotozaka in Genki three [1572] and forced with it his way through the line between the enemy and the allies by wielding it overhead. It has to be mentioned that the shaft of the spear was an incredible 6 m long (The blade itself has a nagasa of 43,8 cm.) According to transmission, once a dragonfly, a tonbo tried to land on the yari but was cut in two halves and that is why it got the nickname „Tonbogiri“ Blade 20.75 inches long tsuba to tip.
A Stunning Samurai Katana Signed Yamashiro Daijo Fujiwara [Kunikane] Circa 1650. With wonderful pure gold and shakudo Soten school mounts, Koto period tsuba of iron inlaid with brass in feather pattern. Original black lacquer Edo period saya. Fine gunome hamon in original Edop polish showing a few light scratches. Signed on the suriagi tang but with two kanji lacking at the suriagi. The rise in popularity of katana by samurai is believed to have been due to the changing nature of close-combat warfare. The quicker draw of the sword was well suited to combat where victory depended heavily on fast response times. The katana further facilitated this by being worn thrust through a belt-like sash (obi) with the sharpened edge facing up. Ideally, samurai could draw the sword and strike the enemy in a single motion. Previously, the curved tachi had been worn with the edge of the blade facing down and suspended from a belt The length of the katana blade varied considerably during the course of its history. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, katana blades tended to be between 68 to 73 cm (26 to 28 in) in length. During the early 16th century, the average length was closer to 60 cm (23.5 in). By the late 16th century, the average length returned to greater lengths. However, with every new owner [and early blades may have had 20 owners] the blade could be reduced if required to fit, and the shorter samurai would need shorter swords however long the considered norm may have been.
A Stunning Shinto Katana By Owari Takayama Kanetake Full Polished Blade Early Shinto, circa 1600. The blade has a full length hi, and lacquered in red, the blade has been repolished and looks beautiful. The mounts [fushi and menuki] are very nicely chiselled Goto school flowers in patinated copper and gold. The tsuba is Edo in iron with inlaid copper flowers. A delightful sword in completely original Edo period fittings, including the lacquered saya, which has lain untouched for 150 years. Full length 37.5 in saya, tip to tsuba blade length 27.5 inches
A Stunning Very Large Presentation or Exhibition Late Edo Tsuba 9.5cm x 9.cm. Case 12cm x 11.2cm x 3cm. A Superb shakudo kinko tsuba in a display case. Chisseled on a shinchu plate with a beautiful design of a praying figure in turbulent water. Signed Giokuriuken Nobukatsu, school of Nobuyuki [Iwama] circa 1860-80. Not made for mounting on a sword of course, it is far too large, but as an example of the fine art of the 19th century Japanese metalworker in the form of a tsuba. If you observe photos 3 and 4 you will see in the turbulant water hundreds of hand punched representations of bubbles within the sea spray, often, sadly, mistaken for natural casting gas porosity, but in this case each one has been arranged to appear 'natural' within the turbulant water pattern and there are likely hundreds of them, each hand designed in over 60 different shapes and sizes. These have been painstakingly applied in differring sizes. A remarkable example of dedication to one's art. Back in the 1970's I held an exhibition of Shubiyama, with the aid of Ted Dale, a great family friend and Managing Director of Bonhams Auctioneers of London, and I had a very similar example, also in shakudo, and two with shubiyama [mother of pearl inlays] by the same artist, and I very much admired this form of specialised work, based on samurai art, made for for exhibition or presentation purposes. In the late Edo period [the bakumatsu era] the wearing of the sword was eventually banned, and most sadly the samurai denigrated, and the great Meiji koshirae makers had to find alternative outlets for their magnificent skills. The artistry and objects they created, and their talents, were reknown once more around the world of fine art. The young Meiji Emperor assumed the throne in 1868, Japan's new leaders realised that the historic skills of the metalworker, lacquerer, enameller and ceramic artist could play a vital part in the struggle to compete in international markets. Before long, visitors to international exhibitions in Europe and America were confronted with astonishing displays of Japanese artistic creativity and technical virtuosity. The masterpieces of Meiji art, in a unique style blending the best of traditional design with prevailing international taste, are unrivalled in the quality of their craftsmanship and were avidly sought by Western collectors. The considerable number of works by, in many cases the finest artists, has made it imperative to look beyond mere admiration, and has made it possible to draw up a datable evolution of their art. A prime example is the work of the enameller Namikawa Yasuyuki. And it is now possible to date his work and this has had the spin-off not only of the possibility of the accurate dating of the work of other cloisonné craftsmen, but also the beginnings of an understanding of the pattern of development in the evolution of Meiji decorative arts in general. It is now possible to discern three periods that cut across the categories of material: an early period, from the beginning of Meiji until the early 1880s; a second period that runs until very close to 1900; and a third until the end of Meiji and beyond.
A Sublime Kamakura 1200's Japanese Katana Tiger in the Bamboo Grove One of the most intrigueing and outstanding swords we have seen in some while. The [tachi] blade is most ancient up to 800 years old, likely Kamakura period, and one of the best indications of this is the blade's hi [deep groove] passing completely from the kissaki right through to the nakago under the hilt [tsuka]. So many of the very best Juyo rated blades bear this highly distinctive feature. The fittings are wonderful and depict the legendary tiger in the bamboo grove. The original Edo saya is carved wood made to simulate bamboo, and pale brown lacqured, to compliment the whole theme of the mounting [koshirae]. The fushi kashira are engraved and gold lined in the tiger and bamboo theme and signed with kakihan. It bears an iron o-sukashi tsuba continuing the theme of bamboo with leaves. The Japanese sword as we know it today, in all of its elegance, is an invention of the latter part of the Heian period [794-1191]. Swords had been fabricated in various places in Japan before this, conspicuously in Yamato province where some of the oldest blades originate, but the names of the old smiths tend to be lost in time and become legends. In the middle Heian and earlier, work styles are various, with straight chokuto and experiments with double edged swords and partially curved blades all extant. Thanks to the Shoso-in repository in Nara, we are lucky to see many interesting preserved artifacts from the 8th century showing these various work styles and techniques in the swords nestled amongst the objects preserved in this collection. Of note, none bear signatures of the smiths. The most successful school of the late Heian, by the number of works we have left to examine, is the Ko-Bizen school. It is universally understood that there are somewhere between only 500 and 800 that still exist today but an accurate number is most difficult to calculate. Ko-Yamashiro blades are even more rare than Ko-Bizen and we know the makers of the Sanjo and Gojo schools of Kyoto only by a small handful of blades. Overall in saya 38. inches long, blade tsuba to tip 27.5 inches.
A Super 16th to 17th Century Samurai Yoroi Armour Face Mask 'Hanbo' A rarely surviving early peice of facial armour from the great samurai era. Early Edo period. The maker of this remarkable face mask has emphasized its appearance by exaggerating the angularity of the cheeks and jawline through bold lines. The design is called ressai [ violent expression]. This mask is of fine quality, although very aged. The tetsu russet surface has been finely finished and the embossing is sharp. Early Edo period . Overall condition is as expected for it's significant age with seperation on the laced neck defence. Some chips and minor rust and lacquer losses overall. It's type is the School  of Nara style   It has an asenagashino ana [a hole under the chin to drain off perspiration] and orikugi [two projecting studs above the chin to provide a secure fastening to the wearer]. In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armour makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours). Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms. The era of warfare called the Sengoku period ended around 1600, Japan was united and entered a relatively peaceful Edo period. However, the Shoguns of the Tokugawa period were most adept at encouraging clan rivalries and conflicts and battles were engaged throughout the empire. This of course suited the Shogun very well, while all his subordinate daimyo fought each other they were unlkikely to conspire against him. Samurai use continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status but traditional armours were no longer necessary for war, but still for battle
A Super 700 Year Old Koto Era Samurai Sword Nagamaki Naoshi. From the Kamakura period. The hilt is wrapped in brown silk over black giant rayskin. The fushi is iron inlaid with pure gold. Black ishime lacquer saya. The tsuba is iron with traces of silver and gold inlays in the form of samurai armour pieces. The habaki is silver plated and scroll engraved. The blade is most ancient and surface thinning in parts. The 'cormorant's neck' blade form is patterned after the shape of the Nagamaki, the powerful long-handled sword popular between the 12th and 14th centuries. The Unokubi-Zukuri Katana provides excellent balance in a strong cutting blade. The mune (back) of the blade is also different from the more usual form in that it starts out like most katanas, but after a sixth of the way down, the mune thins out rapidly into a long thin false edge. The last half inche of the mune then flares back out into a diamond form. The Koto period is 900 to 1595 AD. With very nice mounts. Overall in saya 34.5 inches long, blade tsuba to tip 23.5 inches long, sword length out of saya including tsuka 33 inches. This samurai sword, like all true and original samurai swords, would have been the prize possession of every samurai that owned it. It would most likely have cost more than his home, and would certainly have been more important. This is just one reason why fine Japanese sword steel, even of this tremendous age, is in such good state of preservation. When a katana such as this has been, for its entire existence, so highly revered, treasured and appreciated, it will have been cared for most sensitively and treated with the utmost respect during its entire life. In many regards it will have represented the only thing that stood between its samurai owner, of which there may have been 30 or more during this swords great history, and his ultimate downfall in a combat situation
A Super Samurai Warrior's Horse's Bit Iron construction decorated with pierced Kiri clan mon designs. Circa 1700. Early Samurai horse bit's are certainly very rare and to have family crests in the design a most pleasing feature.
A Super Shinto Period Chisa Katana With All Pure Silver Koshirae Circa 1620. Beautiful blade with an elaborate gunome hamon. All the original Edo era fittings are in pure hammered silver [with copper binding rims to the kashira]. It is fitted with a fine shakudo kodsuka decorated with an onlaid pure gold full relief sake cup . The kodzuka is a utility knife set within the original Edo saya. The saya has it's original and superb 'ishime' stone finish lacquer. Mounted with an o-sukashi shoami tsuba, muramachi era circa 1500 in iron. The tsuka hilt wrap is in leather over giant ray skin and clan mon menuki. A katana was two shaku or longer in length (one shaku = about 11.93 inches). However, the Chisa katana is longer than the wakizashi, which was somewhere in between one and two shaku in length. The most common blade lengths for Chisa katana was approximately eighteen to twenty-four inches. They were most commonly made in the Buke-Zukuri mounting (which is generally what is seen on katana and wakizashi). The chisa katana was able to be used with one or even two hands like a katana. The Chisa Katana is a slightly shorter Katana highly suitable for two handed, or two sword combat, or, combat within enclosed areas such as castles or buildings. As such they were often the sword of choice for the personal Samurai guard of a Daimyo, and generally the only warriors permitted to be armed in his presence. Chisa katana, [Chiisagatana] or literally "short katana", are shoto mounted as katana. 31.25 inches long overall in saya. Blade from tsuba to tip 20.25 inches.
A Superb Ancient Japanese [Nodachi] Katana Engraved With Buddhist Bonji Blade around 650 years old, formerly a Nodachi [an early samurai warriors so called 'great sword']. Simple yet very fine shakudo fittings and a Koto period o sukashi tuba in iron of the same age as the blade. The original Edo period silk tsuke-ito [hilt binding] is wrapped over a patinated copper dragon fly menuki and a flower menuki. The blade is is Edo polish and shows a superb grain in the hada and a thin irregular sugaha hamon. The bonji horimono under the tsuke is the Buddist symbol of Fudo Myoo 'Almighty Strength, Middle Guard' , the the other horimono, is Kongoyasha Myoo, " Power, North Guardian". Bonji were in use since the late Kamakura period [the 1300's]. Before that religious inscriptions were made in Chinese, but with the spreading Shingon-Buddhism Sanscrit became popular. Sanskrit characters (or rather pictograhs) used on swords are called Bonji or Shuji. They are readings of the various incarnations of Buddha. Very slight signs of old battle wear. Odachi were extremely long and very rare swords, used in battle in the ancient warring days. This sword is an absolute beauty, both ancient and enchanting, and fitted with stunning Edo mounts of simple but super quality. The original Edo period saya simple black lacquer. The tang has three intersperced mekugiana, the current one being several inches from the others, which would indicate it was an incredibly long sword, a nodachi or odachi. To qualify as an odachi, the sword in question must have had an original blade length over 3 shaku (35.79 inches or 90.91 cm). However, as with most terms in Japanese sword arts, there is no exact definition of the size of an odachi. The odachi's importance died off after the Siege of Osaka of 1615 (the final battle between Tokugawa Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyori). The Bakufu government set a law which prohibited holding swords above a set length (in Genna 3 (1617), Kan'ei 3 (1626) and Shoho2 (1645)). After the law was put into practice, odachi were cut down to the shorter legal size. This is one of the reasons why odachi are so rare. Since then many odachi were shortened to use as katana, we feel this may well have been when this blade was shortened. Odachi [or Nodachi] were very difficult to produce because their length makes heat treatment in a traditional way more complicated: The longer a blade is, the more difficult (or expensive) it is to heat the whole blade to a homogenous temperature, both for annealing and to reach the hardening temperature. The quenching process then needs a bigger quenching medium because uneven quenching might lead to warping the blade. The method of polishing is also different. Because of their size, Odachi were usually hung from the ceiling or placed in a stationary position to be polished, unlike normal swords which are moved over polishing stones. Due to the official instruction to limit the size of swords surviving full length No-dachi effectively no longer exist in the general collecting world. The Kamakura period [ Kamakura jidai 1185–1333] is a period of Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura by the first shogun, Minamoto no Yoritomo. The period is known for the emergence of the samurai, the warrior caste, and for the establishment of feudalism in Japan. The Kamakura period ended in 1333 with the destruction of the shogunate and the short reestablishment of imperial rule under Emperor Go-Daigo by Ashikaga Takauji, Nitta Yoshisada, and Kusunoki Masashige. The Kamakura period marks the transition to land-based economies and a concentration of advanced military technologies in the hands of a specialized fighting class. Lords required the loyal services of vassals, who were rewarded with fiefs of their own. The fief holders exercised local military rule. 29.5 inch blade from tsuba to tip.
A Superb And Fine Quality Edo Era Tsuba Of A Seated Sage Takebori carved figure decorated in pure gold and silver and gold ivy leaves and tendrils. Round iron plate. Copper sekigane. The tsuba is usually a round, ovoid or occasionally squarish guard at the end of the tsuka of bladed Japanese weapons, like the katana and its various declinations, tachi, wakizashi, tanto, naginata etc. They contribute to the balance of the weapon and to the protection of the hand. The tsuba was mostly meant to be used to prevent the hand from sliding onto the blade during thrusts as opposed to protecting from an opponent's blade. The chudan no kamae guard is determined by the tsuba and the curvature of the blade. The diameter of the average katana tsuba is 7.5–8 centimetres (3.0–3.1 in), wakizashi tsuba is 6.2–6.6 cm (2.4–2.6 in), and tanto tsuba is 4.5–6 cm (1.8–2.4 in). During the Muromachi period (1333–1573) and the Momoyama period (1573–1603) Tsuba were more for functionality than for decoration, being made of stronger metals and designs. During the Edo period (1603–1868) tsuba became more ornamental and made of less practical metals such as gold. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other. The tsuba has north and south kuchi-beni. Literally "lipstick", but refers to the copper plugs of the nakago-ana. Their function is to secure the tsuba firmly when mounted on a blade. These plugs are sometimes called sekigane.
A Superb and Imposing Shinto Samurai Sword Circa 1650 With a beautiful long blade showing a fine suguha hamon. Higo style mounts and an iron tsuba decorated with flowers the match the fushi kashira. Like European knights, the samurai served a lord (daimyo). In 1600, after a long period of conflict among rival daimyo, the victorious Tokugawa Shogun discouraged armed civil warfare, maintained the samurai's traditional status, so internecine warfare continued unabated. The sword and the horse remained symbols of their power. By the time Ieyasu Tokugawa unified Japan under his rule at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, only samurai were permitted to wear the sword. A samurai was recognized by his carrying the feared daisho, the ‘big sword, little sword’ of the warrior. These were the battle katana, the ‘big sword,’ and the wakizashi, the ‘little sword.’ The name katana derives from two old Japanese written characters or symbols: kata, meaning’side,’ and na, or ‘edge.’ Thus a katana is a single-edged sword that has had few rivals in the annals of war, either in the East or the West. Because the sword was the main battle weapon of Japan’s knightly man-at-arms (although spears and bows were also carried), an entire martial art grew up around learning how to use it. This was kenjutsu, the art of sword fighting, or kendo in its modern, non-warlike incarnation. The importance of studying kenjutsu and the other martial arts such as kyujutsu, the art of the bow, was so critical to the samurai — a very real matter of life or death — that Miyamoto Musashi, most renowned of all swordsmen, warned in his classic The Book of Five Rings: ‘The science of martial arts for warriors requires construction of various weapons and understanding the properties of the weapons. A member of a warrior family who does not learn to use weapons and understand the specific advantages of each weapon would seem to be somewhat uncultivated.’ European knights and Japanese samurai have some interesting similarities. Both groups rode horses and wore armour. Both came from a wealthy upper class. And both were trained to follow strict codes of moral behaviour. In Europe, these ideals were called chivalry; the samurai code was called Bushido, "the way of the warrior." The rules of chivalry and Bushido both emphasize honour, self-control, loyalty, bravery, and military training. 43 inches long overall, blade tsuba to tip 30.5 inches long
A Superb Ikeda Yasumitsu, Yasukuni Shrine Sword Tachi In shira saya signed and dated though some of the date is obscured. The epitome of collecting 20th century WW2 blades are the famed Yasukuni shrine swords, of which only around 8,100 were ever made and Yasumitsu was one of the greatest of them all. The Shrine is one of Japan's most revered places but due to it's militarist nature still very controversial. Many believe there is no better or desirable sword to own from Japan's WW2 history, than a fine sword from one of the 8,100 made at the Shrine. A Japanese WW2 army officer's Yasukuni shrine sword by " Yasumitsu " Yasumitsu was born in Yamagata pref. on Nov. 2, 1879. He is grandson of Ikeda Kazuhide who was a student of Suishinshi Masahide. He is the 10th generation Ikeda Kazumitsu, in 1933 he become a master of Yasukuni shrine sword smith and retired in 1940. Yasuhiro, Yasunori and Yasumitsu are the most desirable smiths from the Yasukuni shrine and their blades are not often seen on the market. A picture in the gallery of the Emperor Hirohito visiting the shrine in 1935 and a delegation from the Hitler Youth visiting the Shrine in 1938. The site for the Yasukuni Shrine, originally named Tokyo Shokonsha ( "shrine to summon the souls"), was chosen by order of the Meiji Emperor. The shrine was established in 1869, in the wake of the Boshin War, in order to honor the souls of those who died fighting for the Emperor. It initially served as the "apex" of a network of similar shrines throughout Japan that had originally been established for the souls of various feudal lords' retainers, and which continued to enshrine local individuals who died in the Emperor's service. Following the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion, the Emperor had 6,959 souls of war dead enshrined at Tokyo Shokonsha. In 1879, the shrine was renamed Yasukuni Jinja. The name Yasukuni, quoted from the phrase in the classical-era Chinese text Zuo Zhuan (Scroll 6, 23rd Year of Duke Xi), literally means "Pacifying the Nation" and was chosen by the Meiji Emperor. The name is formally written as using obsolete (pre-war) kyujitai character forms. By the 1930s, the military government sought centralized state control over memorialization of the war dead, giving Yasukuni a more central role. Enshrinements at Yasukuni were originally announced in the government's Official Gazette so that the souls could be treated as national heroes, but this practice ended in April 1944, and the identities of the spirits were subsequently concealed from the general public. The shrine had a critical role in military and civilian morale during the war era as a symbol of dedication to the Emperor. Enshrinement at Yasukuni signified meaning and nobility to those who died for their country. During the final days of the war, it was common for soldiers sent on kamikaze suicide missions to say that they would "meet again at Yasukuni" following their death. After World War II, the US-led Occupation Authorities issued the Shinto Directive, which ordered the separation of church and state and forced Yasukuni Shrine to become either a secular government institution or a religious institution independent from the Japanese government. Yasukuni Shrine has been privately funded and operated since 1946, when it was elected to become an individual religious corporation independent of the Association of Shinto Shrines. The GHQ planned to burn down the Yasukuni Shrine and build a dog race course in its place. However, Father Bruno Bitter of the Roman Curia and Father Patrick Byrne of Maryknoll insisted to GHQ that honoring their war dead is the right and duty of citizens everywhere, and GHQ decided not to destroy the Yasukuni shrine. Moreover, the Roman Curia reaffirmed the Instruction Pluries Instanterque in 1951. 40.540 inches long approx overall in shira saya. 28.25 inch long blade
A Superb Japanese Samurai Wakezashi By Kanenori, Made For Sukechika A most beautiful 500 year old samurai Wakezashi museum piece, that has remained in it's Edo fittings that have been untouched for almost 150 years. Furthermore it is also very unusual indeed, in that it bears two signed names. The first, by it's creator, the master smith Kanenori, the second, Sukechika, which very likely would be the samurai for whom it was created, or presented. This sword has a most beautiful, large and impressive blade, though not long, and it bears superb and beautiful polish. It has fine early, Higo iron mounts, decorated with pure gold. The tsuba is iron and decorated with the old Japanese tradition of naming years after an animal. Such at the rat, the horse, the goat and the snake etc. It's kodzuka is very rare, in that it's hilt is a representation of a formed samurai sword's tang with it's signature with the large chrysanthemum mon. This is a rare and very desireable type of kodzuka. The sword's blade has a fabulous choji hamon with incredible detail and activity, typical of Kanenori, and the blade is Koto period. This is a wakezashi of great beauty and sophistication by one of the highly respected family of smiths from the Koto period
A Superb Koto Battle Katana Signed Kashu ju Fujiwara Ietsugu,1550 Kashu ju fujiwara Ietsugu school, a school of swordsmiths that were most highly prized by all samurai and known for the source of superbly effective and reliable swords for battle. Finely mounted, in shibui battle-sword form, in fully matching koshirae sword mounts and signed tsuba based around a water buffalo, partially supine, beneath a crescent moon and clouds. The fushi has a water buffalo supine beneath clouds, fushi has a silver crescent moon partially covered in silver clouds with engraved clouds, the signed tsuba has another water buffalo. The menuki under the wrap are dragons. The blade has a supern hamon. The original Edo period lacquer saya is of super quality despite its shibui quietness. Kaga - Hashizume Kunitsugu School. Ietsuga started in the Kyoroku era (1528-1532) and was ending in the Koji era (1555-1558). Ietsugu and his descendants are called Hashizume school as they lived in Hashizume town in Kaga province. Also they had been prized by warriors from long ago for the name of smith Ietsugu that means "Inheritance of a House" and also has been called as "Kaga-aoe" because they adopted the name of Ietsugu that originated from the Ietsugu in Aoe school. The combination of the buffalo horns and crescent moon can be reflected on samurai armour kabuto [helmets], such as was said to have been worn by Yamamoto Kansuke who was a noted samurai of the 16th century who was one of Takeda Shingen’s most trusted Twenty-Four Generals. Also known by his formal name, Haruyuki. He was a brilliant strategist, and is particularly known for his plan which led to victory in the fourth battle of Kawanakajima against Uesugi Kenshin. However, Kansuke never lived to see his plan succeed; thinking it to have failed, he charged headlong into the enemy ranks, dying in battle. In the book of Japanese folklore "Strange Tales of the Crescent Moon" The princess Neiwanjo rides upon a water buffalo as she approaches Chinzei Hachirô Tametomo Tametomo on the Okinawan shore. Tametomo is the famous seven feet tall giant samurai, a celebrated archer whose bow was more than eight feet long and required the strength of three ordinary men to bend it. He could shoot arrows — their heads as large as spears — with such force that they could sink an enemy ship. Said to have chased away the god of smallpox,
A Superb Koto Era 500 to 600 Year Old Tanto With Taka no ha Clan Crest A very fine ancient samurai dagger from the early Muromachi era. Beautifully decorated with a full matching suite of Koshirae, signed on the fushi by the maker, all finely engraved with a flower and leaf theme. The blade is in superb polish showing a fabulous hamon and it has horimono engraving of Bonji script and an ancient symbolic Ken sword blade. The [Hawk Feather] crest [ known as a Kamon], have been in use for a very long time … the first documented usage of this kamon symbol dates back to the Asuka era (around 700 A.D.), when Emperor Suiko used one of these emblems on his flags. The earliest common usage of Kamon begins in the Heian era (794-1192 A.D.), however, when it became common for the nobility to either choose their own Kamon, or have it bestowed upon them by their superiors in rank.
A Superb Presentation Samurai Sword C.1500 From The Pitt-Rivers Collection Now stunningly and beautifully repolished. A magnificent all solid silver mounted sword of around 500 years of age, bearing an engraved presentation silver habaki, inscribed "presented by K.Kurobe, to W. H.Deakin 1873". In original Edo period fittings of pure silver throughout. The stunning quality tsuba is rimmed in rope pattern of pure silver [called a mimi], and inlaid with finest pure gold of a scene of corner of a walled castle with a jetty below silver rocks. The original Edo saya bears it's Edo ribbed two tone deluxe quality lacquer and matching silver top and bottom mounts to compliment the hilt silver mounts. This sword is one of two we were delighted to acquire and came from the collection of the late William Gronow Davis MFH, and formerly the Pitt-Rivers collection. William Gronow Davis was the lifelong partner of the late Michael Pitt-Rivers. He moved to King John’s House, Tollard Royal, on the idyllic Rushmore Estate in 1961. His estates collection came from Michael Pitt-Rivers home, King John’s House, which was a former Royal hunting lodge restored by his grandfather General Augustus Pitt Rivers. The general's collection of 22,000 pieces founded the world famous Pitt-Rivers Museum at Oxford University. Some of his collection he retained, and thus some, in due course, was eventually bequethed to his grandson, and in due turn to his partner the late William Gronow Davis. This sword was thus, originaly, part of the Pitt-Rivers Collection, of world renown and repute, as one of the finest personal collections of anthropological artifacts from the Far East, Middle East, Asiatics, Africa and the Americas, including a superb collection of Japanese artifcats and Noh masks. Why this sword [and another we have] were kept and not donated to the museum is not known. The sword is Koto period, made around 1500, the central theme is all original pure silver Edo period fittings of it's fushi, kashira, sayajiri and the tsuba rim, as well as it's stunning original Edo era lacquer saya. The menuki represent dragons, the blade has a fine suguha hamon, but very grey, and it requires a beautiful polish [which we will undertake]. Pitt Rivers' interests in archaeology and ethnology began in the 1850s, during postings overseas, and he became a noted scientist while he was a serving military officer. He was elected, in the space of five years, to the Ethnological Society of London (1861), the Society of Antiquaries of London (1864) and the Anthropological Society of London (1865). By the time he retired he had amassed ethnographic collections numbering tens of thousands of items from all over the world. Influenced by the evolutionary writings of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer, he arranged them typologically and (within types) chronologically. He viewed archaeology as an extension of anthropology and, as consequence, built up matching collections of archaeological and ethnographic objects to show longer developmental sequences – to support his views on cultural evolution. This style of arrangement, designed to highlight evolutionary trends in human artefacts, was a revolutionary innovation in museum design. Pitt Rivers' ethnological collections form the basis of the Pitt Rivers Museum which is still one of Oxford's attractions. The presented Mr W.H.Deakin would likely be the W Deakin who owned with his brothers what was described by them in the 1870's as Japan's Finest Art & Antiques company, based in Yokohama. They had a luxurious store, Deakin Brothers & Co., opposite the Grand Hotel, and another at no. 38 The Bund.
A Superb Presentation Samurai Sword of 1550 From The Pitt-Rivers Collection Bearing the Emperor's personal mon [clan crest] habaki. In original presentation storage case. Inscribed [as a basic translation] as; A Fine Sharp Sword, presented to the Chief of Staff [in Japanese] Wickham? This may represent a presentation to a visiting British notable or military officer during the Imperial Meiji reign. This sword came from the collection of the late William Gronow Davis MFH, and formerly the Pitt-Rivers collection. William Gronow Davis was the lifelong partner of the late Michael Pitt-Rivers. He moved to King John’s House, Tollard Royal, on the idyllic Rushmore Estate in 1961. His estates collection came from Michael Pitt-Rivers home, King John’s House, which was a former Royal hunting lodge restored by his grandfather General Augustus Pitt Rivers. The general's collection of 22,000 pieces founded the world famous Pitt-Rivers Museum at Oxford University. Some of his collection he retained, and thus some, in due course, was eventually bequethed to his grandson, and in due turn to his partner the late William Gronow Davis. This sword was thus, originaly, part of the Pitt-Rivers Collection, of world renown and repute, as one of the finest personal collections of anthropological artifacts from the Far East, Middle East, Asiatics, Africa and the Americas, including a superb collection of Japanese artifcats and Noh masks. Why this sword [and another we have] were kept and not donated to the museum is not known. The sword is Koto period around 1550, the central theme is all original iron Edo period fittings of fushi and tsuba representing dragons, as well as it's stunning original Edo era lacquer saya, finely decorated with a dragon. The menuki represent flowers and the kashira is in cushion form in carved buffallo horn. It has a stunning ribbed copper habaki of the Emperor's chrysanthemum mon [crest] and the blade has a fine suguha hamon and it's silk cord hilt wrap is perished which we can also replace if required. Under the sword, within it's presentation case, is it's original Edo era silk bag. This bag is in an all but relic state but an important artifact to keep. Pitt Rivers' interests in archaeology and ethnology began in the 1850s, during postings overseas, and he became a noted scientist while he was a serving military officer. He was elected, in the space of five years, to the Ethnological Society of London (1861), the Society of Antiquaries of London (1864) and the Anthropological Society of London (1865). By the time he retired he had amassed ethnographic collections numbering tens of thousands of items from all over the world. Influenced by the evolutionary writings of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer, he arranged them typologically and (within types) chronologically. He viewed archaeology as an extension of anthropology and, as consequence, built up matching collections of archaeological and ethnographic objects to show longer developmental sequences – to support his views on cultural evolution. This style of arrangement, designed to highlight evolutionary trends in human artefacts, was a revolutionary innovation in museum design. Pitt Rivers' ethnological collections form the basis of the Pitt Rivers Museum which is still one of Oxford's attractions. The blade has now been polished and looks beautiful.
A Superb Quality Edo Period Gosuko Samurai Armour 17th to 19th Century Shown with a kabuto and menpo but not included The cuirass and thigh guards are all inticately laced and the overlapping do plates are mounted with gold dome head rivets . The edging is all elaborated engraved over the gilt finish. Not including menpo and helmet crest [sold seperately] The higher class samurai wore elaborate tatami armour, while the lower class samurai and retainers wore a plainer basic version. Japanese armour is thought to have evolved from the armour used in ancient China and Korea. Cuirasses and helmets were manufactured in Japan as early as the 4th century. Tanko, worn by foot soldiers and keiko, worn by horsemen were both pre-samurai types of early Japanese cuirass constructed from iron plates connected together by leather thongs. DuringHeian period 794 to 1185 the Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of armour worn by the samurai known as the dou or do. Japanese armour makers started to use leather (nerigawa) and lacquer was used to weather proof the armor parts. By the end of the Heian period the Japanese cuirass had arrived at the shape recognized as being distinctly samurai. Leather and or iron scales were used to construct samurai armours, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) which these cuirasses were now being made from. In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armour makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours). Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms. The era of warfare called the Sengoku period ended around 1600, Japan was united and entered a relatively peaceful Edo period. However, the Shoguns of the Tokugawa period were most adept at encouraging clan rivalries and conflicts and battles were engaged throughout the empire. This of course suited the Shogun very well, while all his subordinate daimyo fought each other they were unlkikely to conspire against him. Samurai use continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status but traditional armours were no longer necessary for war, but still for battle. During the Edo period light weight, portable and secret hidden armours became popular as there was still a need for personal protection. Civil strife, duels, assassinations, peasant revolts required the use of armours such as the kusari katabira (chain armour jacket) and armoured sleeves as well as other types of armour which could be worn under ordinary clothing. Edo period samurai were in charge of internal security and would wear various types of kusari gusoku (chain armour) and shin and arm protection as well as forehead protectors (hachi-gane). Armour continued to be worn and used in Japan until the end of the samurai era (Meiji period) in the 1860s, with the last use of samurai armour happening in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion. The Ii clan [who wore distinctive salmon red lacquer armour and helmets] were renown and fearsome fighters of remarkable tenacity, highly feared and respected in equal measure. Famous on Japanese samurai history is the Ii family’s red lacquered suits of armour, helmets and or swords. Deep salmon red, as opposed to the more usual black and brown, and worn by all from the lord down to the foot soldiers, it marked them out on the battlefield and advertised their origin to those who stood opposed to them. Known as the Red Devils, samurai under the rule of the Ii family played an integral part in the battles that ended the civil war and raised Tokugawa Ieyasu to the office of shogun, gaining great fame and a fierce reputation. Ii Naomasa, served as one of Tokugawa Ieyasu's generals, and received the fief of Hikone in Omi Province as a reward for his conduct in battle at Sekigahara. The colour of their armour meant that they were the easiest to recognize on the painted screens that depicted the great events of Japanese history, showing that the Ii family understood the benefits of good public relations. The Ii and a few sub-branches remained daimyo for the duration of the Edo period. Photo in the gallery show the armour with kabuto with an antique menpo [face armour] and helmet clan mon in place for illustration purposes only. The item for sale is the armour only, not the helmet or menpo.
A Superb Shinto Samurai Dragon Handachi Katana 18th Century A fantastic battle sword with mounts of fine quality, all original Edo period, fully matching as a complete suite of fittings, including the Iron tsuba, and made for the blade and remained with it for almost 300 years. The koshirae are takebori, iron with superbly crafted and chisseled gold inlaid water dragons. The blade is wonderful with a most elaborate gunome hamon. Japanese dragons are diverse legendary creatures in Japanese mythology and folklore. Japanese dragon myths amalgamate native legends with imported stories about dragons from China, Korea and India. The style of the dragon was heavily influenced by the Chinese dragon. Like these other Asian dragons, most Japanese ones are water deities associated with rainfall and bodies of water, and are typically depicted as large, wingless, serpentine creatures with clawed feet. The samurai were roughly the equivalent of feudal knights. Employed by the shogun or daimyo, they were members of hereditary warrior class that followed a strict "code" that defined their clothes, armour and behavior on the battlefield. But unlike most medieval knights, samurai warriors could read and they were well versed in Japanese art, literature and poetry. Samurai endured for almost 700 years, from 1185 to 1867. Samurai families were considered the elite. They made up only about six percent of the population and included daimyo and the loyal soldiers who fought under them. Samurai means “one who serves." Samurai were expected to be both fierce warriors and lovers of art, a dichotomy summed up by the Japanese concepts of bu (“the way of life of the warrior”) and bun (“the artistic, intellectual and spiritual side of the samurai”). Originally conceived as away of dignifying raw military power, the two concepts were synthesized in feudal Japan and later became a key feature of Japanese culture and morality.The quintessential samurai was Miyamoto Musashi, a legendary early Edo-period swordsman who reportedly killed 60 men before his 30th birthday and was also a painting master. Members of a hierarchal class or caste, samurai were the sons of samurai and they were taught from an early age to unquestionably obey their mother, father and daimyo. When they grew older they were trained by Zen Buddhist masters in meditation and the Zen concepts of impermanence and harmony with nature. The were also taught about painting, calligraphy, nature poetry, mythological literature, flower arranging, and the tea ceremony. As part of their military training, samurai were taught to sleep with their right arm underneath them so if they were attacked in the middle of the night and their the left arm was cut off the could still fight with their right arm. Samurai that tossed and turned at night were cured of the habit by having two knives placed on either side of their pillow. Samurai have been describes as "the most strictly trained human instruments of war to have existed." They were expected to be proficient in the marital arts of aikido and kendo as well as swordsmanship and archery---the traditional methods of samurai warfare---which were viewed not so much as skills but as art forms that flowed from natural forces that harmonized with nature. An individual didn't become a full-fledged samurai until he wandered around the countryside as begging pilgrim for a couple of years to learn humility. When this was completed they achieved samurai status and receives a salary from his daimyo paid from taxes (usually rice) raised from the local populace. Swords in Japan have long been symbols of power and honour and seen as works of art. Often times swordsmiths were more famous than the people who used them.
A Superb Wakizashi Circa 1600 With A Great Shinto Blade. This has returned from repolishing and looks fabulous, the signature had to be carefully cleaned and thus able to be be translated. We have only had three of his swords, made by a descendant of Sanjo Yoshinori in the past 10 years, one katana and two wakizashi, and we are delighted to have another. With it's original Edo fittings including a fine dragon menuki, with kodzuka, it is a most beautiful sword. Signed and very good blade he was said to be a descendant of Yamashiro Sanjo Yoshinori, and his father was taught by his grandfather Norimitsu, after which he moved to Kyoto in Yamashiro to finish his training. He was then hired as a retainer of Matsudaira Tadanao clan, as swordsmith in Echizen province, where he remained for the rest of his working period. He produced many fine swords recognized for the cutting quality and beauty. He was born in the late Koto times and worked in the Keicho Shinto period. Often said to be the second Golden Era of swordmaking, 1596- 1624. Masanori, Assistant Lord of Yamato [Fukui-city present day]. Small ware in the hada.
A Superb Yasukuni Shrine Smith Sword by Yasuhiro With Makino Clan Kamon In very good order indeed by the founding smith of the shrine. Early gunto fittings with early type pierced tsuba all matching numbers, and a company officer's knot. The mon on the kabutogane is silver of the Makino clan and the clan are a daimyo branch of the samurai Minamoto clan in Edo period Japan. The most significant senior Makino in WW2 was Count Makino Nobuaki, who was born to a samurai family in Kagoshima, Satsuma domain (present day Kagoshima Prefecture), Makino was the second son of Okubo Toshimichi, but adopted into the Makino family at a very early age. During WW1 he was Foreign Minister and he was appointed to be Japan's ambassador plenipotentiary to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. In February 1921, he became Imperial Household Minister and elevated in rank to shishaku (viscount). Behind the scenes, he strove to improve Anglo-Japanese and Japanese-American relations, and he shared Saionji Kinmochi's efforts to shield the Emperor from direct involvement in political affairs. In 1925, he was appointed Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan. He became a devoted personal advisor to the Emperor and it would be typical that a sword of this quality and significance would be presented and owned by one of the family of that highly important figure, and even potentially presented by the Emperor himself, as Yasukuni onkashi-to swords often were [see below], especially given the status of Count Makino and the respect awarded him and his clan by the Emperor personally. Signed To to ju nin Kansei Kunimori Kin Saku The Shrine is one of Japan's most revered places but due to it's militarist nature still very controversial. Many believe there is no better or desirable sword to own from Japan's WW2 history, than a fine sword by a Shrine smith. A Japanese WW2 army officer's Yasukuni shrine sword smith by Yasuhiro. The Yasukuni Tanren Kai generally made swords for high-ranking military people using a sue-Koto Bizen-derived sugata. Exceptions were made for onkashi-to (swords made for the emperor to present to distinguished graduates of military staff colleges) and for homei-to ('rewarding swords'). This is a beautiful sword by Miyaguchi Yasuhiro, also known as Toshihiro (real name: Miyaguchi Shigeru), A Yasukuni shrine smith. Miyaguchi Toshihiro / Yasuhiro, (1897-1956) also signed Kunimori, was the 3rd generation of Miyaguchi Ikkansai, grandson of Miyaguchi Shigetoshi . He is of the Ikkansai Mon (school), "MINAMOTO KIYOMARO", was the greatest master of the Shinshinto period and was also of this school. He was trained by his father Masatoshi and later studied under Kasama Ikkansai Shigetsugu. Swords signed Kunimori were made on the grounds of Baron Okura Kishichiro's estate. In 1937 Kunimori became head instructor for Okura Tanrenjo. On December 23, 1932 the board of directors of the Yasukuni Shrine (Yasukuni shrine is devoted to the protection, and Memory of "SAMURAI, AND MILITARY WARRIORS") approved the establishment of the "Nihon To Tanren Kaji". Toshihiro was summoned and given the smith name Yasuhiro July 8th, 1933 by the war minister "Araki Sadao"! He was then appointed in charge of the Yasukuni Tanren Kai Foundation, he is also listed as one of the Founders. In 1933 he began producing swords at this well known, and prolific school of sword smiths. He worked at the Yasukuni shrine until 1936, where he produced approximately 500 swords. He was also given the the War Minister award at the Nihonto Tanren Kai held by the Dai Nippon Tosho Kyokai. Yasuhiro was skilled at horimono, which he learned from his cousin Kasama Ikkansai Shigetsugu. He also used the mei of "Miyaguchi Toshihiro" and "Miyaguchi Ikkansai Toshihiro". The site for the Yasukuni Shrine, originally named Tokyo Shokonsha ( "shrine to summon the souls"), was chosen by order of the Meiji Emperor. The shrine was established in 1869, in the wake of the Boshin War, in order to honor the souls of those who died fighting for the Emperor. It initially served as the "apex" of a network of similar shrines throughout Japan that had originally been established for the souls of various feudal lords' retainers, and which continued to enshrine local individuals who died in the Emperor's service. Following the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion, the Emperor had 6,959 souls of war dead enshrined at Tokyo Shokonsha. In 1879, the shrine was renamed Yasukuni Jinja. The name Yasukuni, quoted from the phrase in the classical-era Chinese text Zuo Zhuan (Scroll 6, 23rd Year of Duke Xi), literally means "Pacifying the Nation" and was chosen by the Meiji Emperor. The name is formally written as using obsolete (pre-war) kyujitai character forms. By the 1930s, the military government sought centralized state control over memorialization of the war dead, giving Yasukuni a more central role. Enshrinements at Yasukuni were originally announced in the government's Official Gazette so that the souls could be treated as national heroes, but this practice ended in April 1944, and the identities of the spirits were subsequently concealed from the general public. The shrine had a critical role in military and civilian morale during the war era as a symbol of dedication to the Emperor. Enshrinement at Yasukuni signified meaning and nobility to those who died for their country. During the final days of the war, it was common for soldiers sent on kamikaze suicide missions to say that they would "meet again at Yasukuni" following their death. After World War II, the US-led Occupation Authorities issued the Shinto Directive, which ordered the separation of church and state and forced Yasukuni Shrine to become either a secular government institution or a religious institution independent from the Japanese government. Yasukuni Shrine has been privately funded and operated since 1946, when it was elected to become an individual religious corporation independent of the Association of Shinto Shrines. The GHQ planned to burn down the Yasukuni Shrine and build a dog race course in its place. However, Father Bruno Bitter of the Roman Curia and Father Patrick Byrne of Maryknoll insisted to GHQ that honouring their war dead is the right and duty of citizens everywhere, and GHQ decided not to destroy the Yasukuni shrine. Moreover, the Roman Curia reaffirmed the Instruction Pluries Instanterque in 1951. Pictures in the gallery of the Emperor Hirohito visiting the shrine in 1935, and a delegation from the Hitler Youth visiting the Shrine in 1938.
A Superb, Early, Koto, Katana Tsuba in Iron, The Rays of Buddha Pattern Circa 1500. The Tsuba, or Japanese sword guard, is a refined utilitarian object. It is essentially a sheath for the blade to fit through, protecting the hand of the warrior. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament. The tsuba has north and south kuchi-beni. Literally "lipstick", but refers to the copper plugs of the nakago-ana. Their function is to secure the tsuba firmly when mounted on a blade. These plugs are sometimes called sekigane.
A Superb, Kamikaze, Early Bladed Tanto, In Full Polish and Shira Saya A traditional seppuku [suicide] dagger in shira saya [standard wooden mounting]. With a very good notare hamon and good kissaki turn back. Full hi to one side, and typical Shinto yakideshi hamon end. Nicely aged tang with early hand punched mekugi ana. The very type as were given to the WW2 Zero pilots on their Kamikaze suicide missions, and also given to Kaiten pilots, [the Japanese navy's one man human torpedoes]. Blade probably Shinto period. A must have piece, for collectors of fine Samurai edged weapons, who have yet to gain one of these most interesting daggers for their collection. Photo in the gallery shows a WW2 'Kamikaze' pilot being issued his suicide Seppuku tanto in the Kaiten ceremony. Originally they would have had an exterior brown leather cover and neck strap. The pilot had the choice whether to commit suicide, or not. It was not an order, nor directive and if the pilot missed the ship he had the option of killing himself to ask forgiveness of the honourable ancestors for his failure, as many of the planes had only enough fuel for a one way trip. Because the Zero pilot was belted into a very narrow seat and wearing many layers of his cold atmospheric pilot's flying suit with the addition of his life vest; it would be impossible for the aeronautical pilot to commit traditional ritual seppuku. It is said the procedure was to pull the knife out from it's neck sheath and thrust it straight into the throat much like the ladies form of seppuku. Blade has pewter habaki and plain shira saya. 5.5 inch blade from habaki to tip
A Superior Edo Period Samurai Maedate Helmet Adornment of an Oni Demon A maedate is a samurai adornment crest that affixes to the front of his armour helmet kabuto. They were removable and could be transferred to other helmets. Shown on a helmet kabuto for illustration puposes only. The maedate at its widest is 10.5 inches across. Although pricipally made as a samurai's helmet adornment they are highly collecatable in their own right as object d'art for display as fine Japanese works of art from the great Edo period of samurai history. Kabuto is a type of helmet first used by ancient Japanese warriors, and in later periods, they became an important part of the traditional Japanese armour worn by the samurai class and their retainers in feudal Japan. Japanese helmets dating from the fifth century (long before the rise of the samurai class) have been found in excavated tombs. Called mabizashi-tsuke kabuto (visor-attached helmet), the style of these ancient helmets came from China and Korea and they had a pronounced central ridge. The kabuto was an important part of the equipment of the samurai, and played a symbolic role as well, which may explain the Japanese expressions, sayings and codes related to them. One example is Katte kabuto no o o shimeyo ( "Tighten the string of the kabuto after winning the war"). This means don't lower your efforts after succeeding (compare to "not to rest on one's laurels"). Also, kabuto o nugu ( "to take off the kabuto") means to surrender Note that in Japanese language the word kabuto is an appellative, not a type description, and can refer to any combat helmet. The Edo period or Tokugawa period is the period between 1603 and 1868 in the history of Japan, when Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country's 300 regional daimyo. The period was characterized by economic growth, strict social order, isolationist foreign policies, a stable population, and popular enjoyment of arts and culture. The shogunate was officially established in Edo on March 24, 1603, by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The period came to an end with the Meiji Restoration on May 3, 1868, after the fall of Edo.
A Superlative and Beautiful Koto Katana Circa 1500 A superb ancient samurai sword that would grace any fine collection of oriental art or compliment any residence albeit traditional or contemporary decorated. The classical beauty of samurai swords is remarkable, in that there is barely any kind of décor that is not improved with their addition. With fine Soten mounts of pure gold ponies grazing in a meadow and an iron and gold inlaid Soten sukashi tsuba depicting mandarin and companion crossing a bridge with a warrior guard armed with a polearm. Blade with a fine sugaha straight hamon in original Edo polish. Fine black silk wrap covering menuki of long. Fine black Edo lacquer saya with sageo of gold and brown woven silk. Of all the weapons that man has developed since our earliest days, few evoke such fascination as the samurai sword of Japan. To many of us in the, the movie image of the samurai in his fantastic armour, galloping into battle on his horse, his colourful personal flag, or sashimono, whipping in the wind on his back, has become the very symbol of Japan, the Empire of the Rising Sun. And, truly, to the samurai of real life, nothing embodied his warrior’s code of Bushido more than his sword, considered inseparable from his soul. Indeed, a sword was considered such a crucial part of a samurai’s life that when a young samurai was about to be born, a sword was brought into the bedchamber during the delivery. When the time came for an old samurai to die — and cross over into the ‘White Jade Pavilion of the Afterlife’ — his honoured sword was placed by his side. Even after death, a daimyo, or nobleman, believed he could count on his samurai who had followed him into the next world to use their keen blades to guard him against any demons, just as they had wielded their trusty weapons to defend him against flesh-and-blood enemies in this life. In a samurai family the swords were so revered that they were passed down from generation to generation, from father to son. If the hilt or scabbard wore out or broke, new ones would be fashioned for the all-important blade. The hilt, the tsuba (hand guard), and the scabbard themselves were often great art objects, with fittings sometimes of gold or silver. The hilt and scabbard were created from the finest hand crafted materials by the greatest artisans that have ever lived. Often, too, they ‘told’ a story from Japanese myths. Magnificent specimens of Japanese swords can be seen today in the Tokugawa Art Museum’s collection in Nagoya, Japan. Overall 37.5 inches long in saya
A Truly Exquisite, Finest Quality Tiger 'Byakko' Wakazashi, Shinto Period Circa 1650. This is a fine example of the merging of the finest of top quality Japanese craftsmanship, of both a master swordsmith, and a koshirae sword fittings maker. With the finest, Edo period, inlaid sentoku and pure gold, tigers in a bamboo forest koshirae, over a hand punched nanako ground. The sentoku tsuba is completely ensuite, with a stunningly carved takaniku bori tiger prowling through bamboo to match the hilt mounts. The blade is in full Edo polish, showing a singularly superb choji hamon. The kodsuka utility knife is very fine, in complimentary quality shakudo, and the blade of the kodzuka is most unusually carved with an horimono of a dragon around a ken blade. The saya is geometrically patterned in black lacquer and pine needles with a shakudo kojiri bottom mount. Overall this is simply captivating and once again we have the privilege to offer a sword that would grace the finest museum garde collection of antique samurai weaponry. The tiger, Byakko in Japanese, is the king of the beasts. According to legend, the tiger's tail would turn white when it reached the age of 500 years. In this way, the white tiger became a kind of mythological creature. It was said that the white tiger would only appear when the emperor ruled with absolute virtue, or if there was peace throughout the world. Because the colour white of the Wu Xing theory also represents the west, the white tiger became a mythological guardian of the west. The tiger has the power to control the wind, and wind is its constant companion, and bamboo can resist the strongest winds without breaking. Therefore, the two are distinctly balanced. Introduced through Buddhism, the tiger represents the three principals of strength, nobility, and courage. L,UOB
A Tsuba With A Chisseled Steel O-Takebori Shishi Inlaid With Gold Circa 1650. Owakazashi or Chisa Katana size. The Tsuba, or Japanese sword guard, is a refined utilitarian object. It is essentially a sheath for the blade to fit through, protecting the hand of the warrior. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other. The tsuba has north and south kuchi-beni. Literally "lipstick", but refers to the copper plugs of the nakago-ana. Their function is to secure the tsuba firmly when mounted on a blade. These plugs are sometimes called sekigane.
A Very Attractive Antique Tanto, Signed Blade With Oni Demon Décor Superb Shin-shinto blade, signed Munehisa, with good undulating and extravagent hamon, red lacquer hi and fine gilt habaki. Carved hardwood fittings in over lacquered black fully carved with a demon hunter and an oni demon cowering behind a shield. The background is dominantly overlaid scales, to represent a stylzed dragon, rolling seas, and the kurigata [cord mount] is an oni mask.Oni are a kind of yokai from Japanese folklore, variously translated as demons, devils, ogres, or trolls. They are popular characters in Japanese art, literature and theatre. Depictions of oni vary widely but usually portray them as hideous, gigantic ogre-like creatures with sharp claws, wild hair, and two long horns growing from their heads. They are humanoid for the most part, but occasionally, they are shown with unnatural features such as odd numbers of eyes or extra fingers and toes.Their skin may be any number of colours, but red and blue are particularly common.
A Very Attractive Samurai Wakazashi Circa 1680 Original Edo period lacquer saya set with its samurai's signed blade kodzuka utility knife within it's saya pocket. Very good looking hamon, nice copper tsuba of a part stylized waterwheel piercing. Original green silk ito hilt wrap over gilt menuki of relief dragon. Wakizashi have been in use as far back as the 15th or 16th century. The wakizashi was used as a backup or auxiliary sword; it was also used for close quarters fighting, and also to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi toshi, the chisa-katana and the tanto. The term wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of "wakizashi no katana" ("sword thrust at one's side"); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set.. 59 cm long in saya overall, blade tsuba to tip 16 inches.
A Very Beautiful Koto Katana Signed Tadamitsu Around 500 Years Old This sword is signed Tadamitsu and dates to around 1505 during the heart of the Sengoku Jidai (Warring States period). It is a beautiful and impressive sword with just one hole in the ubu-nakago (an unaltered tang). Hamon Chu-suguha (straight temperline), and shallow notare-kokoro (wave-like patterns within it) Jihada (surface skin), Tight itame hada (wood grain pattern) Blade length: 69.5cm tsuba to tip. Fushi kashira with kebori fine line engraving of the Tiger in a Bamboo grove theme. The tiger has the power to control the wind, and wind is its constant companion, and bamboo can resist the strongest winds without breaking. Therefore, the two are distinctly balanced. Introduced through Buddhism, the tiger represents the three principals of strength, nobility, and courage. Based likely on the smith Bizen no Kuni Osafune Tadamitsu, but the signature is rather more faint than one would expect, so possibly a made by a pupil of his school. The hamon and grain capture the work beautifully. The saya is beautiful inlaid with tiny flecs of abilone shell that reflect the light stunningly. Overall 37 inches long in saya
A Very Clean Imperial Japanese Officer's Kaneaki Gendaito Tachi With traditional shin gunto fittings and mounts, and leather combat covered saya. Good clean binding and blade in 90% polish. By Minamoto Kaneaki [tachi mei]. A very honest good WW2 officer's sword, made for and used by an officer in service of the Imperial Japanese Army in the war in the Pacific. Surrendered at the end of WW2. Overall in very nice condition for age, and after it went through our cleaning and polishing workshop for 20 odd hours to remove the past 70 odd years of storage dirt accumulation. The Pacific War, sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War, was the theatre of World War II that was fought in the Pacific and East Asia. It was fought over a vast area that included the Pacific Ocean and islands, the South West Pacific, South-East Asia, and in China (including the 1945 Soviet–Japanese conflict). It is generally considered that the Pacific War began on 7/8 December 1941, on which date Japan invaded Thailand and attacked the British possessions of Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong as well as the United States military bases in Hawaii and the Philippines. Some historians contend that the conflict in Asia can be dated back to 7 July 1937 with the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War between the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China, or possibly 19 September 1931, beginning with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. However, it is more widely accepted that the Pacific War itself started in early December 1941, with the Sino-Japanese War then becoming part of it as a theatre of the greater World War II. The Pacific War saw the Allied powers pitted against the Empire of Japan, the latter briefly aided by Thailand and to a much lesser extent by its Axis allies, Germany and Italy. The war culminated in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and other large aerial bomb attacks by the United States Army Air Forces, accompanied by the Soviet invasion of Manchuria on 8 August 1945, resulting in the Japanese announcement of intent to surrender on 15 August 1945. The formal and official surrender of Japan took place aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. Following its defeat, Japan's Shinto Emperor stepped down as the divine leader through the Shinto Directive, because the Allied Powers believed this was the major political cause of Japan's military aggression and deconstruction process soon took place to install a new liberal-democratic constitution to the Japanese public as the current Constitution of Japan.
A Very Fine & Beautiful Koto O-Tanto Circa 1550 Of large, impressive and powerful size, with a rare unokubi zukuri blade, but it is rarer still, as the tapered champhering on either side of the back edge is deliberately unequal [see photo]. Unokubi Zukuri literally means 'neck of the Cormorant' which refers to the tapering of the monouchi. Gilded raindrop habaki, pure gold decorated kurigata on the saya in the form af a dragon's head. The fushi on the tsuka is signed, bears further inscription to the side, possibly a poem or an indication of it's story, and is made of silver with gold highlights within the flower decoration. It has a kodzuka utility knife with a signed blade. All the fittings wrap and saya are original Edo period, the pure gold decoarted menuki are of clan mon [crests] the fushi is of carved buffallo horn and the tsuba in brass with silver inlaid lines. The ribbed décor black lacquer saya is a;lso original Edo period, has some lengthwise thin surface cracking, not surprising considering it's age, but not obtrusive. The tanto was invented partway through the Heian period. With the beginning of the Kamakura period, tanto were forged to be more aesthetically pleasing, and hira and uchi-sori tanto becoming the most popular styles. Near the middle of the Kamakura period, more tant? artisans were seen, increasing the abundance of the weapon, and the kanmuri-otoshi style became prevalent in the cities of Kyoto and Yamato. Because of the style introduced by the tachi in the late Kamakura period, tanto began to be forged longer and wider. The introduction of the Hachiman faith became visible in the carvings in the hilts around this time. The hamon (line of temper) is similar to that of the tachi, except for the absence of choji-midare, which is nioi and utsuri. Gunomi-midare and suguha are found to have taken its place. During the era of the Northern and Southern Courts, the tanto were forged to be up to forty centimetres as opposed to the normal one shaku (about thirty centimetres) length. The blades became thinner between the uri and the omote, and wider between the ha and mune. At this point in time, two styles of hamon were prevalent: the older style, which was subtle and artistic, and the newer, more popular style. With the beginning of the Muromachi period, constant fighting caused the greater production of blades. Blades that were custom-forged still were of exceptional quality. As the end of the period neared, the average blade narrowed and the curvature shallowed
A Very Fine Japanese Late Koto Armour Piercing Tanto Signed Kodsuke kami Kuniyoshi. Circa 1590. In full polish showing a spectacular hamon and hada grain. Superb copper habaki carved in the form of Mount Fuji. Pierced o sukashi iron tsuba. This blade is immensely thick and in correct use there is no form of samurai armour or even helmet that could withstand its power and strength to penetrate steel yoroi defences in combat. While martial suicide is a practice found in a lot of cultures, the act of seppuku, or ritual self-disembowelment, is peculiar to Japan. The earliest known acts of seppuku were the deaths of samurai Minamoto Tametomo and poet Minamoto Yorimasa in the latter part of the 12th century. Seppuku is known in the west as hara-kiri. However, the term seppuku is considered a more elegant usage. As the human spirit was believed to reside in the stomach, slitting the stomach open was considered to be the most straightforward, and bravest, way to die. Therefore, this act was a privilege reserved for the samurai. Commoners were allowed to hang or drown themselves, and samurai women could slit their own throats, but only a samurai was allowed to commit seppuku. By committing seppuku , a samurai would be able to maintain or prevent the loss of honour for himself and his extended family. Therefore, a samurai who committed seppuku was often revered after his death. Defeated or dishonored samurai who chose surrender rather than suicide often found themselves reviled by society. 330 mm long blade from habaki to tip, 11mm thick at the habaki
A Very Fine Japanese WW2 Naval Officers Dirk With A Traditional Smith Blade A most rare example of an 1883 pattern original Imperial Japanese Naval officer's dirk, last used in WW2, with an antique smith made blade. The unusual quality of this dagger may indicate it was owned by an admiral or an officer of highest family status. WW2 naval officers daggers usually are made with non removable utilitarian cutlery blades, with simulated sharkskin grips, but this one has a most beautiful traditional highly bright hand polished blade with removable peg hole [mukugi ana]. Photo in the gallery [not included for information only] of Imperial Japanese Naval officers with German officers in full dress, all wearing naval dirks, during a visit to Sansouci in Potsdam, Germany, prior to WW2, and a Japanese warship in Tokio Harbour in 1937. Early examples had sharkskin grips such as this one and ornate gilt finished fittings (see pages 70-73 of Military Swords of Japan By Fuller & Gregory). This Dirk has the correct shark skin grip with gilt wire binding which is beautifully tight. It has an ornate gilt pommel and wave cross guard. The grip is mounted with the Emperor's family cherryblossom insignia, or 'Mon'. It has a superb, mint, 9" single edged blade with hi. It measures 17.25" overall and the hilt is slotted for retaining lug which is mounted on its scabbard. The scabbard has ornately decorated gilt mounts and is covered with lacquered leather which is a rich red/brown colour. The upper mount of the scabbard has the correct press button retaining lug & 2 hanging rings. It's only signs of natural wear are on the lacquer on the leather scabbard and small areas on the gilt mounts, not surprising as it would have been carried for likely 35 years or even more. The dirk pattern as authorized in 1883 (Meiji 16). Although adopted some 59 years before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, these daggers remained in use through the end of World War II. The Japanese military in the modern era required their officer’s to purchase their own uniforms, equipment and personal weapons, just as nearly every major military force in the world did. As such, even though standardized regulations were in place for every conceivable item an officer might need, variations did exist – especially within the realm of edged weapons like swords and dirks, and this one is classed as most superior due to it's blade quality.
A Very Fine Koto Era Samurai Handachi Katana By Master Kanenori Circa 1530 Blade in delightful original Edo polish and just bearing a couple of slight scratches and miniscule edge nicks. Typicial Edo han dachi fittings and full mounts in gilded bronze and a very fine crushed abilone lacquer saya. Iron mokko tsuba circa 1600. Gold dragon menuki under the traditional original silk wrap. As was used at the battle of Okehazama. Samurai warfare is simply extraordinary, such as the incredible battle of Okehazama, where a force of 1500 samurai routed a far superior army of 35,000 samurai through skill, adacity and cunning. In this battle, Oda Nobunaga defeated Imagawa Yoshimoto and established himself as one of the front-running warlords in the Sengoku period. In May or June 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto, with an army of perhaps 35,000 men, set forth on a march to Kyoto. Entering the Oda territories in Owari Province, he first took the border fortresses of Washizu and Marune before setting up camp in a wooded gorge known as Dengaku-hazama. This was all reported to Oda Nobunaga by his scouts and, in response, Nobunaga then led his own forces into position at a temple called Zenshoji, a short distance away, on the other side of the Tokaido. Had Nobunaga decided on a frontal assault, the battle would have been deceptively easy to predict; his army was outnumbered ten to one by the Imagawa forces. A frontal assault would be suicidal and an attempt to hold out at Zensho-ji would only last a few days. Because of the odds against their side, some of Nobunaga's advisers even suggested a surrender. Nobunaga, however, decided to launch a surprise attack on the Imagawa camp. When he made his decision, he gave this speech: "Imagawa has 40,000 men marching toward this place? I don't believe that. He 'only' has 35,000 soldiers. Yes, that is still too many. So, Sado, you want me to surrender. What if we do surrender? Will you get content with losing your life that way? Or what if we hold on like Katsuie wants me to? What if we stay here in this castle, lock it up, and wait until the Imagawas lose appetite and stop the siege and go home? We will be able to prolong our lives for 5 or 10 days, and what we cannot defend will still be undefendable. We are at the bottom of the pit, you know. And our fate is interesting. Of course the misery is too great, too. But this is how I see it: this is a chance in a lifetime. I can't afford to miss this. Do you really want to spend your entire lives praying for longevity? We were born in order to die! Whoever is with me, come to the battlefield tomorrow morning. Whoever is not, just stay wherever you are and watch me win it!" Nobunaga left a small force at the temple with a large number of banners, to give the impression that this was the location of his main force. Meanwhile, Oda's main force (about 1,500 men) moved through the forest undetected to the rear of the Imagawa army. The Imagawa samurai, not unsurprisingly, did not expect an attack, and that afternoon was very hot. The histories say that the Imagawa samurai were celebrating their recent victories with song, dance, and sake. An afternoon rainstorm further aided Oda's soldiers who arrived at the Imagawa camp just as the rains came down (this was the afternoon of 12 June). When the storm passed, Nobunaga's men poured into the camp from the north, and the Imagawa warriors lost all discipline and fled from the attackers. This left their commander's tent undefended, and the Oda warriors closed in rapidly. Imagawa Yoshimoto, unaware of what had transpired, heard the noise and emerged from his tent shouting at his men to quit their drunken revelry and return to their posts. By the time he realized, moments later, that the samurai before him were not his own, it was far too late. He deflected one samurai's spear thrust, but was beheaded by another. With their leader dead, and all but two of the senior officers killed, the remaining Imagawa officers joined Oda's army. Soon the Imagawa faction was no more and Oda Nobunaga was famous as his victory was hailed by many in Japan as miraculous. The most important of the samurai lords who joined Oda after this battle was Tokugawa Ieyasu from Mikawa Province. Ieyasu would remain a loyal ally of Nobunaga from this time until the latter's death. Stand for photo display only not included
A Very Fine Samurai Shinto Wakazashi With gold and copper fushi kashira decorated with dragon. A most interesting o-sukashi tsuba. Signed kodzuka with hamon. Superb original Edo period lacquered saya with a stripe and counter stripe pattern design. Three hole nakago and superb polished blade of a gently undulating notare hamon. Wakizashi have been in use as far back as the 15th or 16th century. The wakizashi was used as a backup or auxiliary sword; it was also used for close quarters fighting, and also to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi toshi, the chisa-katana and the tanto. The term wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of "wakizashi no katana" ("sword thrust at one's side"); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set.
A Very Fine Sword By Master Smith Hoki no kami Taira Ason Masayoshi in shirasaya, and it's last WW2 military mounts. This ancestral sword is mounted for a superior officer who served in WW2, bearing his clan mon, the Toyotomi, in silver on the hilt. However, this antique samurai blade, made in the 8th year in the reign of the Emperor Kansei, is by a most prestigious maker, who ranks among the very best Japanese master sword smiths seen in Europe today. One of the two Master Shinshinto smiths of Satsuma. His blades have attained some of the highest recognition by shinsa [Japanese sword expert appraisal committee], and can be extremely valuable indeed. This is a perfect opportunity to obtain one of the highest ranking smith's sword's that can be seen outside of Japan. A master smith, ranked in Hawley at 75 points. [The very highest grade over 75 points never or very rarely ever leave Japan]. Masayoshi was born in 1733. According to Fred Weissberg; "He was the son of the second generation Masayoshi (the character for "Yoshi" is different). Masayoshi's family name was Ichiji and he had three first names, Jiemon, Kakazo, and Shoei. Masayoshi was employed by the Satsuma clan and used the inscription, "Satsuma Kanko", in his signature in 1793. This means official smith of the Satsuma clan. He received the title, "Hoki no Kami", at the same time as the other famous Satsuma smith, Motohira. From that time on, Masayoshi changed the character, "Yoshi", used in his name to another character with the same pronunciation. The last dated blades made by this smith were made in Bunka 14 (1817). He died in 1818 at the age of 86. Masayoshi was one of the two master smiths of Satsuma in Shinshinto times. It is said that more than forty students studied under him. The school includes his son, Masakuni, and Yoshimoto. In this school the characters, "Yoshi"or "Masa" are commonly used by students as part of their smith names. Thanks to Gary Diey in regards to the clan mon. 38 inches long overall in shira saya, blade 27.5 inches long
A Very Good Ancestral Bladed WW2 Japanese Officers Katana By Hirotaka Circa 1620. Signed Hoki no Kami fujiwara Hirotaka with a super blade in original Edo polish. Excellent WW2 sword mounts and leather combat covered scabbard. A beautiful sword bearing a very good blade of some 400 years.
A Very Good Armour Piercing Bladed Tanto, Shinshinto Period 1781 till 1863. Exceptionally thick and powerful blade, in full polish showing superb crabclaw hamon with back edge tempering. Fine red lacquer saya with Tokugawa Aoi mon. Buffalo horn fittings with gold inlaid Minuki under original Edo wrap. Kodzuka with nanako ground and two gilt and bronze phoenix in relief. Small hairline cracks in the lacquer near the kodzuka pocket. The tanto was invented partway through the Heian period, when it was mainly used as a weapon. With the beginning of the Kamakura period, tanto were forged to be more aesthetically pleasing, and hira and uchi-sori tanto were the most popular styles for wars in the kamakura period. Near the middle of the Kamakura period, more tanto artisans were seen, increasing the abundance of the weapon, and the kanmuri-otoshi style became prevalent in the cities of Kyoto and Yamato. Because of the style introduced by the tachi in the late Kamakura period, tanto began to be forged longer and wider. The introduction of the Hachiman faith became visible in the carvings in the tanto hilts around this time. The hamon (line of temper) is similar to that of the tachi, except for the absence of choji-midare, which is nioi and utsuri. Gunomi-midare and suguha are found to have taken its place. In Nambokucho, the tanto were forged to be up to forty centimetres as opposed to the normal one shaku (about thirty centimetres) length. The tanto blades became thinner between the uri and the omote, and wider between the ha and mune. At this point in time, two styles of hamon were prevalent: the older style, which was subtle and artistic, and the newer, more popular style. Blades could be of exceptional quality. As the end of the period neared, the average blade narrowed and the sori became shallow. The aikuchi is a tanto koshirae where the fushi is flush with the mouth of the saya. There is no tsuba on this form of tanto.
A Very Good Japanese Officer's Sword, Early Shinto Ancestral Blade Signed blade in pristine condition, made around 350 years ago. A shorter blade usually associated with Japanese pilots or tank officers. A very good Shin Gunto mounted officer's sword, with a fine Shinto ancestral blade, with a good Hamon and in 95% original polish. With Habaki. It is a short gunto most likely made for aircrew pilot, or possibly even submarine crew [but this is only educated conjecture]. The shorter military and naval mounted sword was made during WW2 for those that inhabited, during combat, a small and restricted area that was most unsuitable for the standard long sword, such as in a plane, submarine or even a tank. Photo in the gallery shows a Kamikaze pilot being issued his Kaiten in a ritual ceremony, please note on his belt he is wearing his 'Aircrew' Short Gunto sword, another photo shows a pilot captain of Special-Attack Party Hakk?-Second Party Ichiu-Unit, holding his short crew gunto, that he carried in his plane when on combat missions. [for information only photos not included]. The early ancestral blade was custom fitted into standard WW2 Shingunto type 94 [1934 pattern] mounts, in order to use the blade by the officer in WW2, the blade is very snug in the saya. Tsuba to blade tip, 21.5 inches
A Very Good Japanese Type 32, Japanese 1899 pattern Type 'B' Otsu Sabre Used in WW2, made at the Tokyo Arsenal. The most efficient and well made other ranks and NCO's which was used from the Russo-Japan War of 1905 until the end of World War II, although none were made after the mid 1930's. It has well made blade that measures 30 1/2 inches in length which remains in good condition. Checkered grip is in excellent condition. This type of type 32 was issued to military police, armoured corps, artillery, engineers.
A Very Good Koto Tanto Blade, Circa 1480, In its Bespoke Shirasaya Mount Beautiful blade with a fine gentle notare hamon with a running itame grain. Funa-gata boat shaped tang, with straight hira zukuri shaped blade from the late muramachi period. In its shira saya which is the blades hand made wooden storage mount for keeping the blade clean and safe for potential long term storage. It was also the most popular way an officer of the Japanese armed forces would keep and carry his family tanto blade during his campaign service. Blade from base of habaki 8.3 inches long, overall in saya 12.5 inches long. Perfect for bespoke remounting with antique fittings.
A Very Good Samurai Katana Dated 1573 By the Great Name of Sukesada Showing a fabulous and extravagant hamon temper line patinated copper fittings decorated with birds. Pierced iron tsuba featuring a butterfly. Signed by one of the great and famous names in Samurai sword history, Bizen Osafune Sukesada. Sukesada was a family name used by a number of great swordsmiths and they are most collectable in their own right. This blade is dated 1573, the equivalent date of the time when Mary Queen of Scots was conspiring to dethrone her 'cousin' , the mightiest of all European Queens, Queen Elizabeth. Harima, Mimasaka and Bizen provinces were prospering under the protection of the Akamatsu family. Above all, Bizen province turned out a great many talented swordsmiths. A large number of swords were made there in the late Muromachi period not only supplying the demand of the Age of Provincial Wars in Japan but also as an important exporting item to the Ming dynasty in China. At the onset of the decline of the Ashikaga shogunate in 1565 ad., and Yoshiteru's assassination the shogunate of Yoshiteru was filled by his two-year old son, Yoshiaki. Yoshiteru's brother was the abbot of a Buddhist monastery. He resigned this position and attempted to assume the shogunate. These efforts ultimately failed. The demand for swords began an accent to unimaginable levels. The national unrest and violent civil war did not cease until the successful takeover of the shogunate by Tokugawa Iyeyasu. The "Osafune - Kozori" group was the major supplier of blades for these events.It is also well documented that there were indeed very high quality works produced during this time. Many higher quality swords of varying degrees were also needed to provide the upper ranks with swords befitting their status. The leading smiths producing the highest quality works was Sukesada along with a few others such as Kasumitsu, Munemitsu, Kiyomitsu mons. This sword was produced by an Osafune school smith, Sukesada. Though there were many sword schools located in Bizen Province, for many years the Osafune was the most prosperous of these schools. Sukesada was the most prominent name of the Sue-Bizen school.
A Very Good Samurai Sword Blade By Master Tadamitsu Circa 1440 A wonderful Muramachi era blade almost 600 years old, with a superb hamon gold foil habaki and shortened tang with a preserved folded over signature. Hamon forms Gunome pattern mixing with Clove (Choji) outline which is slanted generally. The founder of the sword maker Tadamitsu in Bizen is referred in Shouou period (1288-93) and the oldest existent Tanto has the date of year Teiji 3 (1364) during Nanbokucho period, then later generations shows the records of Ouei - Bunmei (1394-1486) in Muromachi period. The preserved folded over system in order to preserve the blade smiths signature was only reserved for the best and revered blades. We can mount this sword in bespoke plain shira saya for £350 or traditionally as it was 600 years ago, with all antique fittings and a bespoke saya and tsuka in the colour of choice for around £1,500 depending on the fittings. Overall 26.75 inches long blade from base of habaki 21.5 inches long
A Very Good Samurai Sword Blade Perfect For Bespoke Refitting at Leisure Late Koto to Shinto era, circa 1590, signed Nobu? , chisa katana blade, with very good undulating gunome hamon. The katana was two shaku or longer in length (one shaku = about 11.93 inches). However, the Chisa katana is longer than the wakizashi, which was somewhere in between one and two shaku in length. The most common blade lengths for Chisa katana was approximately eighteen to twenty-four inches. They were most commonly made in the Buke-Zukuri mounting (which is generally what is seen on katana and wakizashi). The chisa katana was able to be used with one or even two hands like a katana. The Chisa Katana is a slightly shorter Katana highly suitable for two handed, or two sword combat, or, combat within enclosed areas such as castles or buildings. As such they were often the sword of choice for the personal Samurai guard of a Daimyo, and generally the only warriors permitted to be armed in his presence. Chisa katana, [Chiisagatana] or literally "short katana", are shoto mounted as katana. Of all the weapons that man has developed since caveman days, few evoke such fascination as the samurai sword of Japan. To many of us in the West, the movie image of the samurai in his fantastic armour, galloping into battle on his horse, his colourful personal flag, or sashimono, whipping in the wind on his back, has become the very symbol of Japan, the Empire of the Rising Sun. And, truly, to the samurai of real life, nothing embodied his warrior’s code of Bushido more than his sword, considered inseparable from his soul. Indeed, a sword was considered such a crucial part of a samurai’s life that when a young samurai was about to be born, a sword was brought into the bedchamber during the delivery. When the time came for an old samurai to die — and cross over into the ‘White Jade Pavilion of the Afterlife’ — his honoured sword was placed by his side. Even after death, a daimyo, or nobleman, believed he could count on his samurai who had followed him into the next world to use their keen blades to guard him against any demons, just as they had wielded their trusty weapons to defend him against flesh-and-blood enemies in this life. The legendary 16th century samurai warrior, said by many to be the best ever, Miyamoto Musashi, was a great exponent of single handed sword wielding, using two shorter swords as this one, simultaneously. Within his book, Musashi mentions that the use of two swords within strategy is mutually beneficial between those who utilize this skill. The idea of using two hands for a sword is an idea which Musashi disagrees with, in that there is not fluidity in movement when using two hands — "If you hold a sword with both hands, it is difficult to wield it freely to left and right, so my method is to carry the sword in one hand"; he as well disagrees with the idea of using a sword with two hands on a horse, and/or riding on unstable terrain, such as muddy swamps Blade 25.75 inches long overall including tang, blade from tsuba to tip 21.5 inches
A Very Good Shinto Battle Katana By Teragayama Fujiwara Ujishige of Banshu Circa 1750. Fine bronze and gold fushi kashira decorated with fans and ivy leaves. The Tsuba is a stunning Edo period piece, in iron with a gold phoenix onlaid. The saya is in it's original Edo lacquer finish. The two principle Teragayama Ujishige [1st and 2nd generations] master sword smiths made few swords, and they are most highly rated and most desirable when their swords appear. This is a joyous samurai sword from eminent smiths Overall 37 inches long in saya, blade from tsuba to tip 27.5 inches
A Very Good Shinto Katana By Master Suzuki Yamato no Kami Sukemasa. A Very good smith and a fine, externally untouched 'sleeper' sword. Full suite of matching mounts including a crayfish tail saya mount. A very fine osukashi iron Soten tsuba inlaid with gold. A fabulous blade with stunning hamon and a beautiful polish. Dated Kyoho Gonen Nigatsu hi [1716]. A very nice example katana, by a good smith, that's mounts binding and fittings have remained completely untouched for likely 200 years. Made and used in the Japanese Edo period. A revolution took place in the centuries from the time of the Kamakura shogunate, which coexisted with the Tenno's court, to the Tokugawa, when the bushi became the unchallenged rulers in what historian Edwin O. Reischauer called a "centralized feudal" form of government. Instrumental in the rise of the new bakufu was Tokugawa Ieyasu, the main beneficiary of the achievements of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Already powerful, Ieyasu profited by his transfer to the rich Kanto area. He maintained 2.5 million koku of land, new headquarters at Edo, a strategically situated castle town (the future Tokyo), and also had an additional two million koku of land and thirty-eight vassals under his control. After Hideyoshi's death, Ieyasu moved quickly to seize control from the Toyotomi family. Ieyasu's victory over the western daimyo at the Battle of Sekigahara (October 21, 1600, or in the Japanese calendar on the 15th day of the ninth month of the fifth year of the Keicho era) gave him virtual control of all Japan. He rapidly abolished numerous enemy daimyo houses, reduced others, such as that of the Toyotomi, and redistributed the spoils of war to his family and allies. Ieyasu still failed to achieve complete control of the western daimyo, but his assumption of the title of shogun helped consolidate the alliance system. After further strengthening his power base, Ieyasu installed his son Hidetada (1579–1632) as shogun and himself as retired shogun in 1605. The Toyotomi were still a significant threat, and Ieyasu devoted the next decade to their eradication. In 1615, the Tokugawa army destroyed the Toyotomi stronghold at Osaka. The Tokugawa (or Edo) period brought 250 years of stability to Japan. The political system evolved into what historians call bakuhan, a combination of the terms bakufu and han (domains) to describe the government and society of the period. In the bakuhan, the shogun had national authority and the daimyo had regional authority. This represented a new unity in the feudal structure, which featured an increasingly large bureaucracy to administer the mixture of centralized and decentralized authorities. The Tokugawa became more powerful during their first century of rule: land redistribution gave them nearly seven million koku, control of the most important cities, and a land assessment system reaping great revenues. As Japan entered the more peaceful Edo Period (1603-1868), tsuba and sword fittings became increasingly elaborate and decorative in design and function, and their manufacture became highly specialised and technically advanced. Different schools of makers developed their own styles, often influenced by the culture and environment of the region, and the role of the tsuba and mounts extended to become an elaborate piece of art. Subjects for decoration included Japanese mythology, history and nature. Since the 16th century, it was customary for the guard and mounts to feature the signature of the maker. Valued for their excellence in design and execution, sword fittings today exist as refined pieces of art.
A Very Good Shinto Samurai Combat Ryo-Shinogi yari. Polearm Very nice blade in polish showing a good hamon temper line. Double edged four sided. A thick stout blade that would have been enormously effective in trained hands. A Samurai ryo-shinogi yari polearm. Shinto period in nice order overall. Yari is the Japanese term for spear, or more specifically, the straight-headed spear. The martial art of wielding the yari is called sojutsu. A yari can range in length from one meter to upwards of six metres (3.3 to 20 feet). The longer versions were called omi no yari while shorter ones were known as mochi yari or tae yari. The longest versions were carried by foot troops (ashigaru), while samurai usually carried a shorter yari such as this example. Yari are believed to have been derived from Chinese spears, and while they were present in early Japan's history they did not become popular until the thirteenth century.The original warfare of the bushi was not a thing for "commoners"; it was a ritualized combat usually between two warriors who may challenge each other via horseback archery and sword duels. However, the attempted Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281 changed Japanese weaponry and warfare. The Mongol-employed Chinese and Korean footmen wielded long pikes, fought in tight formation, and moved in large units to stave off cavalry. Polearms (including naginata and yari) were of much greater military use than swords, due to their much greater range, their lesser weight per unit length (though overall a polearm would be fairly hefty), and their great piercing ability. Swords in a full battle situation were therefore relegated to emergency sidearm status from the Heian through the Muromachi periods. Around later half of sixteenth century, ashigaru holding pikes (naga yari) with length of 4.5 to 6.5 m (15 to 22 feet) or sometimes 10 m became main forces in armies. They formed lines, combined with harquebusiers and short spearmen. Pikemen formed two or three row of line, and were forced to move up and down their pikes in unison under the command.Yari overtook the popularity of the daikyu for the samurai, and foot troops (ashigaru) used them extensively as well Various types of yari points or blades existed. The most common blade was a straight, flat, design that resembles a straight-bladed double edged dagger. This type of blade could cut as well as stab and was sharpened like a razor edge. Though yari is a catchall for spear, it is usually distinguished between kama yari, which have additional horizontal blades, and simple su yari (choku-so) or straight spears. Yari can also be distinguished by the types of blade cross section: the triangular sections were called sankaku yari and the diamond sections were called ryo-shinogi yari. 16.5 inch blade including tang, 7inch blade length, overall yari length 75 inches.
A Very Good Wakazashi By Soshu ju Tsunahiro Circa 1530 Beautifully wide and meaty blade by a great master smith of the Koto era. Superb original Edo lacquer ribbed saya and nice, subdued, iron fittings and tsuba. Dragon menuki. Blade in good old polish with a few finger marks and signs of combat use and wear. A stunning piece of most visually impressive stature.
A Very Good WW2 Japanese Kaiten Tanto With Fine Hamon A traditional seppuku [suicide] dagger in shira saya [standard wooden mounting]. With a very good notare hamon and good kissaki turn back. Full hi to one side, and typical yakideshi hamon end. Nicely aged tang with early hand punched mekugi ana. The very type as were given to the WW2 Zero pilots on their Kamikaze suicide missions, and also given to Kaiten pilots, [the Japanese navy's one man human torpedoes]. Blade wartime period, traditionally made period. A must have piece, for collectors of fine Samurai edged weapons, who have yet to gain one of these most interesting daggers for their collection. Photo in the gallery shows a WW2 'Kamikaze' pilot being issued his suicide Seppuku tanto in the Kaiten ceremony. Originally they would have had an exterior brown leather cover and neck strap. The pilot had the choice whether to commit suicide, or not. It was not an order, nor directive and if the pilot missed the ship he had the option of killing himself to ask forgiveness of the honourable ancestors for his failure, as many of the planes had only enough fuel for a one way trip. Because the Zero pilot was belted into a very narrow seat and wearing many layers of his cold atmospheric pilot's flying suit with the addition of his life vest; it would be impossible for the aeronautical pilot to commit traditional ritual seppuku. It is said the procedure was to pull the knife out from it's neck sheath and thrust it straight into the throat much like the ladies form of seppuku. Blade has pewter habaki and plain shira saya. Very small pitting area at front tip one side 6.25 inch blade from hilt to tip
A Very Nice & Inexpensive Japanese Shinto Katana Around 280 Years Old All the fittings are original to the blade and Edo era, the saya is also original Edo lacquer with sayajiri [bottom mount]. The tsuba is an early, iron plate with mon, Koto period around 1500. Iron Higo style fushi kashira with inlaid silver scrolls. The blade is in very clean bright polish with a most delightful undulating gunome hamon. By the time Ieyasu Tokugawa unified Japan under his rule at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, only samurai were permitted to wear the sword. A samurai was recognized by his carrying the feared daisho, the ‘big sword, little sword’ of the warrior. These were the battle katana, the ‘big sword,’ and the wakizashi, the ‘little sword.’ The name katana derives from two old Japanese written characters or symbols: kata, meaning’side,’ and na, or ‘edge.’ Thus a katana is a single-edged sword that has had few rivals in the annals of war, either in the East or the West. Because the sword was the main battle weapon of Japan’s knightly man-at-arms (although spears and bows were also carried), an entire martial art grew up around learning how to use it. This was kenjutsu, the art of sword fighting, or kendo in its modern, non-warlike incarnation. The importance of studying kenjutsu and the other martial arts such as kyujutsu, the art of the bow, was so critical to the samurai — a very real matter of life or death — that Miyamoto Musashi, most renowned of all swordsmen, warned in his classic The Book of Five Rings: ‘The science of martial arts for warriors requires construction of various weapons and understanding the properties of the weapons. A member of a warrior family who does not learn to use weapons and understand the specific advantages of each weapon would seem to be somewhat uncultivated.’ 40 inches long overall in saya, blade 28 inches long tsuba to tip.
A Very Nice Koto Period Wakazashi Signed Kaneuji Circa 1450 Most attractive patinated copper fushi kashira with carved figures and pure gold onlay. Rays of Buddha form tsuba with unusual three dimensional form, Koto period in iron. Original Edo period lacquer saya with abilone leaf form inlay. A copper kodzuka decorated in relief with the face of Fukurokuju, who probably originated from an old Chinese tale about a mythical Chinese Taoist hermit sage renowned for performing miracles in the Northern Song period (960 and 1279). The blade form and style is typical Kaneuji, and he originally worked in the Tegai style in Yamato province during the years 1313 - 1315, his works from that time are referred to as Yamato Shizu. At that time he used the Yamato Kane form of kanji. He then studied with Goro Nyudo Masamune, after which he changed his signature to Kaneuji, using the Mino Kane. He is thought by many to be the best of the Masamune Jutetsu, the ten students of Masamune. Shizu Saburo Kaneuji lived in Yamato province before going to Mino to study under Masamune. Kaneuji's style changed radically in Mino. His swords are most like Masamune's and are often confused with Masamune's. The Mishina school can trace its history back to Kaneuji and through him back to Masamune. This sword is very impressive and of beautiful lines. Most unlikely by the great sword master Kaneuji, as it is probably circa 1450, so, maybe best referred to as Kaneuji school, but none the less it is a wonderful looking ancient sword, used right from the very best era of samurai history and warfare. Very nice order throughout. The original lacquer to the saya has a few natural age chips and the copper habaki is being restored.
A Very Nice Kyu-Gunto Japanese Officers Sword With a Shinto Ancestral Blade WW2 Surrendered sword with an ancestral Samurai blade, made around 350 years ago in the Edo period [Kanbun to Jokyo eras, 1661-1688]. This sword was used originally used for around 200 plus years as a traditional Katana by numerous samurai. It was then mounted as a kyu gunto katana, [with a guarded metal hilt and metal saya] initially for the Russian-Japanese war of 1904, and it was then used continually right through WW1 and into WW2, where upon it had its leather protective cover made, and eventually surrendered in 1945. Swords of this distinctive form were strongly influenced in their manufacture by General Murato and would be known as a Murata-to, [but only if they were fitted with a standard Murata made blade in the 1890's]. However, the generic name though was the Army Officer Kyu-Gunto, and they were used, mostly, in the Russian War in 1904-5, but, they were actually designed in the late 1880's and continued in use right up until the early 1940’s in WW2. This sword however has a blade much earlier and superior than the high grade Murata blades, so, although it's appearance is just like one, it is not. However, as Murata had such a strong influence of this type of sword we include a little detail of the Kyu-gunto and Murata's connection. The development of Murata -to was apparently created by Tsuneyoshi Murata at around the turn of the century. It was a sword that began to cross the divide between the traditional Samurai sword, that was banned in the era of the Meiji Emperor, and the modern Western style saber, adopted by the Imperial Japanese Army in the 1870's. By the early 1900's the Japanese officer class began more and more to see themselves as the reincarnated embodiment of the old Samurai warrior class, and the desire for the return to the traditional Bushido warrior code was becoming a powerful force. Modern Western styles had been faithfully adopted and the Imperial Japanese military had joined the rest of the civilised world in all it's advancements and technology in weaponry and uniforms that it had to offer. However, the officer class saw a threat to their long felt superiority over all others as their dress made them all but indistinguishable from soldiers of other inferior nations. A resurgence in the Samurai ethic needed a connection to the modern uniform, so a return to the Samurai sword was achieved in combat, but still with the visible connection to more modern Western dress form. This sword, that bridged the gap between modern and ancient sword styles, was popular and adopted with great keenness. In fact Japanese military sword styles progressed even further in the subsequent decades, so that by the 1930's the standard officer's sword was a near identical copy of the ancient Samurai Tachi, with very little deference to modern sword patterns. The Murata-to was, although a modern blade, far better quality than had been used in the previous 30 years. However, a very few officers were privileged and able to use a blade of their ancestors, a true Samurai sword, and remount it in the Kyu-Gunto style. This is one of those swords, with a blade centuries old. It was may have been further used by the grandson of the officer that had used it in the Russian War, during WW2, and he surrendered it in 1945. The Saya has a WW2 leather combat cover over it's nickel plated one. The hamon is very good with a fine deeply undulating gunome form. The disastrous Japanese-Russian War in which both countries almost bankrupted themselves was a conflict that effectively destroyed Imperial Russia as a world power for several decades, and well into WW1. The Russo-Japanese War (8 February 1904 – 5 September 1905) was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan over Manchuria and Korea. The major theatres of operations were Southern Manchuria, specifically the area around the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden; and the seas around Korea, Japan, and the Yellow Sea. Russia sought a warm water port on the Pacific Ocean, for their navy as well as for maritime trade. Vladivostok was only operational during the summer season, but Port Arthur would be operational all year. From the end of the First Sino-Japanese War and 1903, negotiations between Russia and Japan had proved impractical. Russia had demonstrated an expansionist policy in Manchuria dating back to the reign of Ivan of the Terrible in the 16th century. Japan offered to recognize Russian dominance in Manchuria in exchange for recognition of Korea as a Japanese sphere of influence. Russia refused this, and demanded that Korea north of the 39th parallel be a neutral buffer zone between Russia and Japan. The Japanese government perceived a Russian threat to its strategic interests and chose to go to war. After the negotiations had broken down in 1904, the Japanese Navy opened hostilities by attacking the Russian eastern fleet at Port Arthur, a naval base in the Liaotung province leased to Russia by China.
A Very Nice Shinto Wakazashi By Kanenobu Signed Seki ju Kanenobu. Superb and most beautiful and active hamon [temper line] to the blade, fully signed. Good original Edo lacquer saya. The mountings are a gold decorated fushi [hilt collar] of the bamboo grove, and a hand chisselled iron takebori sukashi tsuba, signed, of intense beauty, carved with a tiger with pure gold stripes, and a Dragon in the clouds above a bamboo grove. The Japanese have been fascinated by tigers for centuries. One of the earliest tiger paintings to be discovered in Japan may have been painted in the seventh century and was discovered on the wall of a tomb chamber near the city of Asuka. Tigers are not indigenous to Japan, however these powerful cats so captivated Japanese imaginations that early artists produced innumerable paintings of them over the course of their history—most without the benefit of firsthand observations. Early Japanese artists were following a precedent established in China, where tigers roamed in great numbers and achieved religious and cosmological symbolism. According to traditional Asian mythology, tigers are identified with yin, the female principle, as well as autumn and wind. The dragon, representing yang, is believed to create mists and rain and is associated with spring and rejuvenation. Tigers and dragons are sometimes paired together as these images represent opposite principles in nature. Japanese artists Kishi Ganku and Kishi Renzan depict tigers and dragons amid swirling clouds.
A Very Nicely presented Koto Period Samurai Katana Circa 1520 With ribbed and brown ishime stone lacquer in mid brown. The binding is original Edo silk and the fushi kashira mounts are early Higo style in ancient iron with inlaid birds. Nice blade with undulating gunome hamon. Very charmingly presented in lovely order and all original Edo fittings. The name katana derives from two old Japanese written characters or symbols: kata, meaning’side,’ and na, or ‘edge.’ Thus a katana is a single-edged sword that has had few rivals in the annals of war, either in the East or the West. Because the sword was the main battle weapon of Japan’s knightly man-at-arms (although spears and bows were also carried), an entire martial art grew up around learning how to use it. This was kenjutsu, the art of sword fighting, or kendo in its modern, non-warlike incarnation. The importance of studying kenjutsu and the other martial arts such as kyujutsu, the art of the bow, was so critical to the samurai — a very real matter of life or death — that Miyamoto Musashi, most renowned of all swordsmen, warned in his classic The Book of Five Rings: ‘The science of martial arts for warriors requires construction of various weapons and understanding the properties of the weapons. A member of a warrior family who does not learn to use weapons and understand the specific advantages of each weapon would seem to be somewhat uncultivated.’ 26.75 inch blade, sword overall 38 inches long in saya.
A Very Rare WW2 Japanese Shell Case From a Type 11 37mm Infantry gun Souvenir of an British officer gifted to him by an Australian officer, who served in the Pacific War in WW2. All Japanese munitions from WW2 are incredibly rare to see in the UK as so few returning soldiers bothered to collect them and bring them home, plus all WW2 arms of all kinds were destroyed in Japan from 1945. For them it was a determined effort to wipe out all mention and thought of WW2 and to eradicate any reminder of the shame. All marked items of that period were banned, and in fact a rule that is still enforced in Japan today. The shell schematics are; Calibre Diameter: 37mm Case Length: 132mm Rim: R Round Index: Shell Type 95 AP Projectile Index: Type 95 AP Projectile Weight: 0,67000 kg Filler Weight: 0,03500 kg Usage: Type 11 37mm Infantry Gun, Type 94 37mm Anti-Tank Gun & Type 94 37mm Tank Gun Comment: Armour piercing/high Explosive round for Type 11 Infantry Gun, early Type 94 AT & Tank Guns. Inert and safe not suitable for export.
A Wonderful 'Zodiac' Tachi, Bizen no kami Minamoto Sukekuni Circa 1650 Incredible lacquer saya that is also original Edo period, fully decorated with gold hiramaki-e lacquer depicting creatures of the Asian lunar Zodiac. The Rat, Ox, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog. Over a part nishiji gold lacquer and crushed coloured abilone ground. The tachi fittings are in patinated copper and the tachi tsuba is beautfully line engraved with a trench border of flame patterns and four ken. The tsuka hilt wrap is complimentary gold Japanese silk over two menuki of two members of the Zodiac, the Tiger and the Dragon in gold. The blade is in around 95% original polish showing a fine hamon with areas of notare undulation. The Asian zodiac is not based on constellations, as is the Western (Greek/Roman) zodiac. The Asian calendar is based on the twelve yearly phases of the moon, known as the twelve-month lunar year (each month lasting between 28 to 31 days). The Western (Greek/Roman) calendar is based on the annual path of the sun through twelve star constellations, known as the solar year. East Asia’s calendar is also based on the Twenty-Eight Constellations or 28 Moon Lodges, which added greater precision. The twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac are well-known symbols associated with forecasting people's futures and determining their character. By the 4th century BC, they were well established in Chinese thought. The earliest depictions appear in ceiling paintings from a tomb dated 533 BC. During the Tang dynasty, pottery representations of these symbols were placed in tombs, reflecting the court's fascination with divination and astrology.Blade engraved Bizen no kami Minamoto Sukekuni. Picture in the gallery ; Scroll, Twelve Zodiac Animals, by Nagasawa Rosetsu. Tachi are the Samurai swords not only worn in combat but worn on Court occasions by the Daimyo Lords of Japan. They are distinguished by the fact that they are worn with the cutting edge down, from one or two hangers in the centre of the saya. Katana are slid through the belt or Obi, and thus do not have these one or two hangers. Traditionally in the Edo era only Daimyo are allowed to wear Tachi and there were only about 50 Daimyo in any one period in all Japan. In later Japanese feudal history, during the Sengoku and Edo periods, certain high-ranking warriors [daimyo] of what became the ruling class would wear their swords tachi mounted. This Tachi although mounted in the Edo period fittings, was made before the Edo period. The Edo started with the Tokugawa, who ruled Japan for around 460 years and it was founded after the battle of Sekigahara in 1598. The Tokugawa unified Japan and created a lasting dynasty of military rulers like none that had been before. 40 inches long approx overall in saya
A Wonderful Koto Chisa Katana With Finest Shakudo Mounts and Tsuba Circa 1600. The mounts are fabulously detailed and with sublime quality patination. The takabori tsuba is chiselled in patinated copper with gold embellishments. The menuki are delightful gold silver and copper carvings of seated figures, two playing aboard game probably Go and another playing a zither type instrument seated next to an koro incense burner. The saya is gold leaf overlaid on black with a flowing open design. The blade has a full wide hi on both sides, a sugaha hamon is beautifully polished. This stunning sword would grace any fine collection of oriental art or examples of the finest Asian and Oriental weapons. Chisa katana, [Chiisagatana] or literally "short katana", are shoto mounted as katana. It is fair to say wakizashi are shoto which are mounted in a similar way to katana, but in this instance we are considering the predecessors of the daisho. In the transitional period from tachi to katana, katana were called "uchigatana", and shoto were referred to as "koshigatana" and "chiisagatana", in many cases quite longer than the later more normal length wakizashi. Shakudo is a billon of gold and copper (typically 4-10% gold, 96-90% copper) which can be treated to form an indigo/black patina resembling lacquer. Unpatinated shakudo Visually resembles bronze; the dark color is induced by applying and heating rokusho, a special patination formula. Shakudo Was historically used in Japan to construct or decorate katana fittings such as tsuba, menuki, and kozuka; as well as other small ornaments. When it was introduced to the West in the mid-19th century, it was thought to be previously unknown outside Asia, but recent studies have suggested close similarities to certain decorative alloys used in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome Blade 20.25 inches, 35 inches long overall in saya
A Wonderful Original Samurai Archery Set, Edo Era, A wonderful original antique Samurai bow Yumi, Edo Era, with arrows in a parchment quiver [yabira yazutsu] with six arrows [ya]. Edo period [1599 -1863]. A complete and fabulous set set on a bow and arrow stand. The lidded parchment quiver is beautifully impressed with huge amounts of Japanese text, portraits and figures. These sets are very rarely to be seen and we consider ourselves very fortunate, indeed priveledged, to offer one. It was from the use of the war bow or longbow in particular that Chinese historians called the Japanese 'the people of the longbow'. As early as the 4th century archery contests were being held in Japan. In the Heian period (between the 8th and 12th centuries) archery competitions on horseback were very popular and during this time training in archery was developed. Archers had to loose their arrows against static and mobile targets both on foot and on horseback. The static targets were the large kind or o-mato and was set at thirty-three bow lengths and measured about 180cm in diameter; the deer target or kusajishi consisted of a deer's silhouette and was covered in deer skin and marks indicated vital areas on the body; and finally there was the round target or marumono which was essentially a round board, stuffed and enveloped in strong animal skin. To make things more interesting for the archer these targets would be hung from poles and set in motion so that they would provide much harder targets to hit. Throughout feudal Japan indoor and outdoor archery ranges could be found in the houses of every major samurai clan. Bow and arrow and straw targets were common sights as were the beautiful cases which held the arrows and the likewise ornate stands which contained the bow. These items were prominent features in the houses of samurai. The typical longbow, or war bow (daikyu), was made from deciduous wood faced with bamboo and was reinforced with a binding of rattan to further strengthen the composite weapon together. To waterproof it the shaft was lacquered, and was bent in the shape of a double curve. The bowstring was made from a fibrous substance originating from plants (usually hemp or ramie) and was coated with wax to give a hard smooth surface and in some cases it was necessary for two people to string the bow. Bowstrings were often made by skilled specialists and came in varying qualities from hard strings to the soft and elastic bowstrings used for hunting; silk was also available but this was only used for ceremonial bows. Other types of bows existed. There was the short bow, one used for battle called the hankyu, one used for amusement called the yokyu, and one used for hunting called the suzume-yumi. There was also the maru-ki or roundwood bow, the shige-no-yumi or bow wound round with rattan, and the hoko-yumi or the Tartar-shaped bow. Every Samurai was expected to be an expert in the skill of archery, and it presented the various elements, essence and the representation of the Samurai's numerous skills, for hunting, combat, sport and amusement, and all inextricably linked together. The Bow is 59 inches long.
A Wonderful Samurai Tanto, With Symbol of the Navigator, William Adams. Now re-polished blade. William Adams was the principle character, based on the first English real life 17th century navigator adventurer who traveled to Japan, depicted in James Clavells epic masterpiece "Shogun". Sadly for him, he was never again allowed to leave Japan and return to his family in England. It is a wonderful and historical samurai tanto [dagger] that bears a pure silver inlaid, 16th century Sino-Japanese compass design, into its iron scabbard mount. It was the symbol of Japanese Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu's famous English navigator, William Adams, who became a close advisor to the Shogun, and known in Japan as Anjin. The symbol of the compass in Japanese artifacts of all kinds are very rare indeed, possibly as Japan was a most insular society and foreign travel was highly restricted. However, John Adams became such a highly regarded 'foreigner' within the shogun's court, his symbol could be embellished by a member of the inner circle of his influence, or those maybe connected to Adams himself. The tanto bears a signed koto blade by Kanetsugu, made circa 1530. It has an iron Koto period sukashi tsuba, iron fushi kashira [dagger hilt mounts] that are decorated with geese in flight. It has a matching iron kodzuka knife, with silver inlaid geese, also in flight. It is fitted with gold menuki, over black giant rayskin under the wrap. One menuki is a three dimensional depiction of a goose flying in front of the moon, and another, within a bamboo grove. The blade is somewhat now fabulously polished and displays a very nice and beautiful gunome hamon, with a single hi and a 'falling rain' carved habaki [collar mount] in copper. A picture in the galley is of the Tokugawa's Red Seal ships based on the navigators own ship, and a period print of Richard Adams being presented to the shogun, alongside a contemporary map of Japan [as it was detailed on European maps in the early 1600's]. Both are for information only. William Adams English navigator, also known in Japan as Miura Anjin, was born in 1564 in Gillingham England William Adams, also called Anjin or Miura Anjin (born 1564, Gillingham, Kent, England—died May 26, 1620, in Hirado, Japan), he was a navigator, merchant-adventurer, and the first Englishman to visit Japan. At the age of 12 Adams was apprenticed to a shipbuilder in the merchant marine, and in 1588 he was master of a supply ship for the British navy during the invasion of the Spanish Armada. Soon after the British victory, he began serving as a pilot and ship’s master for a company of Barbary merchants. In June 1598 he shipped out as pilot major with five Dutch ships bound from Europe for the East Indies (present-day Indonesia) via the Strait of Magellan. The trouble-ridden fleet was scattered by storms, and in April 1600 Adams’s ship, the Liefde (“Charity”), its crew sick and dying, anchored off the island of Kyushu in southern Japan, the first northern European ship to reach that country. Adams and the other survivors were summoned to Osaka, where Tokugawa Ieyasu—soon to become the shogun of Japan—interrogated mainly Adams about a variety of political, religious, and technological topics. Ieyasu was so impressed with Adams’s knowledge, especially of ships and shipbuilding, that he made the Englishman one of his confidants. Adams was given the rank of hatamoto (“bannerman”), a retainer to the shogun, and was awarded an estate at Miura, on the Miura Peninsula south of Edo (now Tokyo). Despite those honours, in the early years of his sojourn Adams repeatedly expressed his desire to return to England (where he had a wife and family, whom he eventually was able to continue to support) but was refused permission. He thus became permanently settled in Japan, married a Japanese woman, and came to be known by the name Anjin (“Pilot and Navigator] later called Miura Anjin. Adams oversaw the construction of Western-style ships, wrote letters on behalf of the shogun encouraging Dutch and English traders to come to Japan, and then officiated between the shogunate and the traders who began visiting the country. In 1613 he helped to establish an English factory (trading post) for the East India Company at Hirado, in Kyushu northwest of Nagasaki. Adams was allowed to undertake several overseas voyages between 1614 and 1619, traveling as far as Southeast Asia. His name is still revered in Japan with a district of his estate still bearing his name and his story is detailed in the magnificent epic book and film Shogun by James Clavell. 18.73 Inches long in saya, blade 11.5 inches long.
A WW2 Japanese 'Shin Gunto' Sword Made in Java In The Occupation Untouched in 67 years! The photos show the blade covered in hardened thick storage grease to protect it from rust. We have left this present but could easily be removed, the blade look very good underneath this crust of grease. The tang bears the merest remainder of traces of katakana script. Very likely made in Sumaran [Semerang] a Japanese Garrison on the island of Shiyawaka. It had an occupation steelworks that made swords for Japanese officers, who could no longer at the latter part of the war, obtain swords from Japan. They also produced swords for the Indonesian collaborating officers. The sword has been stored since around 1946 so it is still caked in storage grease. A basic officer's sword of utility quality but an interesting piece from the Pacific campaign. The Japanese Empire occupied Indonesia, known then as the Dutch East Indies, during World War II from March 1942 until after the end of War in 1945. The period was one of the most critical in Indonesian history. Under German occupation, the Netherlands had little ability to defend its colony against the Japanese army, and less than three months after the first attacks on Borneo the Japanese navy and army overran Dutch and allied forces. Initially, most Indonesians optimistically and even joyfully welcomed the Japanese as liberators from their Dutch colonial masters. This sentiment changed as Indonesians were expected to endure more hardship for the war effort. In 1944–45, Allied troops largely by-passed Indonesia and did not fight their way into the most populous parts such as Java and Sumatra. As such, most of Indonesia was still under Japanese occupation at the time of their surrender in August 1945. On 29 April 1945, Japanese occupation force formed BPUPKI (Indonesian Independence Effort Exploratory Committee) (Japanese: Dokuritsu Jyunbi Choosakai ), a Japanese-organized committee for granting independence to Indonesia. The commanding officer of 16 IJA was General Nagano Lt-General Nagano Yuichiro. Indonesian independence meeting and discussion were prepared through this organization. The final stages of warfare were initiated in October 1945 when, in accordance with the terms of their surrender, the Japanese tried to re-establish the authority they relinquished to Indonesians in the towns and cities. Japanese military police killed Republican pemuda in Pekalongan (Central Java) on 3 October, and Japanese troops drove Republican pemuda out of Bandung in West Java and handed the city to the British, but the fiercest fighting involving the Japanese was in Semarang. On 14 October, British forces began to occupy the city. Retreating Republican forces retaliated by killing between 130 and 300 Japanese prisoners they were holding. Five hundred Japanese and 2000 Indonesians had been killed and the Japanese had almost captured the city six days later when British forces arrived. Picture in the gallery of Indonesian boy volunteers training for the Japanese volunteer army. Major Kido, in charge of a Kido Butai (an Officer Training School with an armoury in Semarang), was recommended for a British DSO for his assistance in securing the city and for subsequent help in the relief of internee camps at Ambarawa. (In fact the Japanese mistakenly opened fire upon the arriving British forces killing several members of 3/10 GR.) The DSO for Kido was not approved (which was hardly surprising, as it was just a few weeks since the Japanese surrender, and it would have caused uproar in Britain). This recommendation is mentioned in General Christison's memoirs held in the IWM, quoted by the following scholars: The Secret of Major Kido: The battle of Semarang, 15-19 October 1945.’ Han, Bing Siong. Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia, Volume 152, Issue 3 (1996), pages 382–428. ‘Sleeping with the Enemy: Britain, Japanese Troops and the Netherlands East Indies, 1945–1946.’ Roadnight, A. History, Volume 87, Number 286, April 2002 , pp. 245-268(24). ‘Side-stepping Geneva: Japanese Troops under British Control, 1945-7.’ Connor, S, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 45 (2) April 2010: 389-405. Kido Butai (battalion) was so well regarded by the British forces that it was afforded the unique honour of departing Java carrying its small arms for disposal at sea. Kido Butai was then interned on Rempang island (south of Singapore in Dutch territorial waters) before being repatriated to Japan. Interestingly the Semarang kenpeitai (military police corps), which suffered considerable casualties carrying out British orders, were arrested and handed over to the Dutch military courts for subsequent for 'war guilt' investigations and trial. No account was taken of their assistance against Indonesian nationalists. There was considerable post war ill-feeling in Japanese ex-servicemen's circles over the actions of Kido Butai with former kenpeitai being contemptuous of 'treacherous' and 'anti-Indonesian' actions by pro-Indonesian Japanese veterans. (From interviews with former IJA personnel, including ex-Kido Butai, in Connor's PhD thesis.) The battle for Semarang, Anglo-Dutch friction and the combined British-Japanese operation to relieve internee camps as well as the British military disaster at Surabaya in October 1945 (430 dead in three days!) are the subject of the new and controversial story Black Sun, Red Moon: A Novel of Java by Rory Marron. Mr Marron suspects many of the PETA militia officers, trained by the Japanese, would have been carrying swords such as these and carried them throughout the revolution until Indonesia gained independence from the Dutch in 1949. Much of the above history was by courtesy of Mr Rory Marron author of Black Sun, Red Moon:
An Absolutely Beautiful Ancient Samurai 'Chisa Katana, 600-650 Years Old With a crushed abalone shell saya, and a very good Koto period tsuba of iron with shibuishi [patinated bronze] bird inlaid decoration. The blade has a full length hi and a stunning effusive hamon. The Edo fushi has pure gold decoration of bamboo leaves over bronze, and the fushi carved buffalo horn. The menuki are Edo pure gold Shishi. This sword was perfect for a samurai warrior trained in the ancient combat art form that requires one handed swordsmanship. The legendary 16th century samurai warrior, said by many to be the best ever, Miyamoto Musashi, was a great exponent of single handed sword wielding. Within his book, Musashi mentions that the use of two swords within strategy is mutually beneficial between those who utilize this skill. The idea of using two hands for a sword is an idea which Musashi disagrees with, in that there is not fluidity in movement when using two hands — "If you hold a sword with both hands, it is difficult to wield it freely to left and right, so my method is to carry the sword in one hand"; he as well disagrees with the idea of using a sword with two hands on a horse, and/or riding on unstable terrain, such as muddy swamps, rice fields, or within crowds of people. In order to learn the strategy of Ni-Ten Ichi Ryu, Musashi employs that by training with two long swords, one in each hand, you will be able to overcome the cumbersome nature of using a sword in both hands. The blade is so well balanced and elegant it feels almost as if the hand is empty. With a stunning set of fittings including a very fine quailty octagonal o-sukashi, signed, tsuba. Pure gold embellished shakudo fushi on a nanako ground. Very beautiful blade with a full length hi and a vibrant undulating hamon, in beautiful polish. A sword of the of the Nambokochu Era to Muramachi period. The saya is very fine dark blue with crushed abilone shell décor. The Chisa katana was the weapon of preference worn by the personal high ranking Samurai guard of a Daimyo [Samurai war lord or clan chief] or even Shogun, as very often the Daimyo would be more likely within his castle than without. The chisa katana sword was far more effective a defence against any threat to the Daimyo's life by assassins [or the so-called Ninja] when hand to hand sword combat was within the Castle structure, due to the restrictions of their uniform low ceiling height. The blade is slightly shorter than the traditional katana length and in close quarter action this gave it's user a huge advantage in certain circumstances. The Nanboku-cho period (Northern and Southern Courts period), spanning from 1336 to 1392, was a period that occurred during the formative years of the Muromachi bakufu of Japan's history. The Imperial seats during the Nanboku-cho period were in relatively close proximity, but geographically distinct. They were conventionally identified as: Northern capital : Kyoto Southern capital : Yoshino. During this period, there existed a Northern Imperial Court, established by Ashikaga Takauji in Kyoto, and a Southern Imperial Court, established by Emperor Go-Daigo in Yoshino. Ideologically, the two courts fought for fifty years, with the South giving up to the North in 1392. However, in reality the Northern line was under the power of the Ashikaga shoguns and had little real independence. The sword would have been used in the Onin War period (1467–1477) which led to serious political fragmentation and obliteration of domains: a great struggle for land and power ensued among bushi chieftains and lasted until the mid-sixteenth century. Peasants rose against their landlords and samurai against their overlords, as central control virtually disappeared. The imperial house was left impoverished, and the bakufu was controlled by contending chieftains in Kyoto. The provincial domains that emerged after the Onin War were smaller and easier to control. Many new small daimyo arose from among the samurai who had overthrown their great overlords. Border defenses were improved, and well fortified castle towns were built to protect the newly opened domains, for which land surveys were made, roads built, and mines opened. New house laws provided practical means of administration, stressing duties and rules of behavior. Emphasis was put on success in war, estate management, and finance. Threatening alliances were guarded against through strict marriage rules. Aristocratic society was overwhelmingly military in character. The rest of society was controlled in a system of vassalage. The shoen (feudal manors) were obliterated, and court nobles and absentee landlords were dispossessed. The new daimyo directly controlled the land, keeping the peasantry in permanent serfdom in exchange for protection. This sword, when viewed, looks almost in as new condition, many not familiar with early samurai swords will be astonished that an ancient sword, so old, can look so fine. In fact there are probably no European swords in existance today that are in the condition of this wonderful piece. A European sword in this vintage in just fair smooth rusty condition, will be many tens of thousands of pounds, if you could ever find one! One picture in the gallery of Musashi, an example in one handed sword combat [one in each hand] from an Edo print of Musashi. Out of interest both swords appear to be chisa katana Chisa katana, [Chiisagatana] or literally "short katana", are shoto mounted as katana. It is fair to say wakizashi are shoto which are mounted in a similar way to katana, but in this instance we are considering the predecessors of the daisho. In the transitional period from tachi to katana, katana were called "uchigatana", and shoto were referred to as "koshigatana" and "chiisagatana", in many cases quite longer than the later more normal length wakizashi.
An Absolutely Beautiful Koto Period Katana Circa 1500. Between four and five hundred years old. A beautiful blade with a fine undulating hamon in full polish The saya is it's original Edo one, with very fine decoration of simulated wood grain lacquer. Gold decorated copper mounts decorated with plants. Dragon menuki under the original Edo wrap ito. The tsuba is a nice sukashi example in iron. The steel on original, antique, Japanese samurai swords, is, quite simply, way and above the finest steel in the world. Forged by a smith whose skill was unsurpassed throughout the world of blade making. A master smith who, through decades of training and experience, could tell the difference of, potentially, only 20 degrees, in the temperature of red/white hot steel, simply by it's variations in colour. And a man whose skill, over 500 years past, gave him the ability to make a piece of steel of better quality than anything NASA ever made in order to send a rocket to the moon. Samurai swords have a respect within Japanese culture than has been undiminished for a thousand years with every owner considering their sword to be their most prized and valued possession representing the embodiment of their honour. 27.5 inch blade tsuba to tip, 38 inches long overall in saya
An Absolutely Superb Japanese Shinto Signed Pilot's Sword Last Used In WW2 A short Crew Gunto mounted sword, with an early Shinto period signed ancestral blade by Echizen kuni Musashi Daijo fujiwara Yasuhiro, c 1660, in full Edo polish showing a simply fabulous hamon. The whole sword is simply in fabulous condition for it's age. The blade is set with it's late Edo period two piece silvered habaki, all it's traditional WW2 Showa brass fittings, and a fine 1936 pattern pierced gunto tsuba. It is known as a crew-gunto as carried by a Japanese fighter pilot from 1936 until 1945. The short leather covered wooden saya has it's original leather combat cover. The shorter military mounted sword was made during WW2 for those that fought, during combat, in a small and restricted area that was most unsuitable for the standard long sword, such as the Zero fighter plane. Photo in the gallery shows a Kamikaze pilot being issued his Kaiten in a ritual ceremony, please note on his belt he is wearing his 'Aircrew' Short Gunto sword, another photo shows a pilot captain of Special-Attack Party Hakk?-Second Party Ichiu-Unit, holding his short crew gunto, that he carried in his plane when on combat missions. [for information only photos not included]. Collectors frequently seek Shin Gunto swords that have an original handed down 'Ancestral' blade, as it is said less than one in a hundred Japanese swords, surrendered in WW2, were swords such as this. This form of sword was often the perogative of an eldest born son, that went to fight for his Emporor [in WW2], with his ancestor's blade set in traditional military mounts. This sword is an exceptional piece of WW2 Japanese historical interest, very early ancestral swords are scarce in themselves, outnumbered at least 10 to 1 by gendaito swords, but the short 'crew gunto' are much rarer than even that, in our experience, so this makes it potentially, in theory, well over a 100 times scarcer than a regular Japanese WW2 officers sword in our opinion. Apart from information on it's 1945 source, sadly, we do not know the name of it's WW2 officer owner that document was lost. Overall 34 inches long in saya, 21.75 inch blade.
An Amazing Kamukura Samurai Sword With A 700 Year Old Blade Last used and mounted in it's deluxe quality shin gunto wartime fittings, with a most unusual and fine brown Army type polished and coloured ray skin saya. This is rare as 99% of this deluxe type of polished rayskin saya were made in black, for the use of officers in the Imperial Japanese Navy. We have always specialised in ancient samurai blades, and many have been last mounted in WW2 officer's sword fittings, but this example is truly exceptional for it's age, beauty and condition. Although this sword was made during the period of the Nambokochu wars, it would have been used continually another 650 years right up to and including WW2 [until it was brought to England in around 1946], during which time it would simply have been used in too many conflicts and wars to count or list here. It would also have likely been carried with pride by as many as 30 generations of samurai during these centuries, and revered as the most important possession of every man that ever carried it, and used it in battle in the service of their Daimyo [Lords]. To put the age of this sword into European perspective, in equivalent English period terms, when this dagger was being used by a samurai in Japan, Robert the Bruce was King of Scotland and Edward 'The Black Prince' was made Prince of Wales by Edward IIIrd. Robert I (11 July 1274 – 7 June 1329), popularly known as 'Robert the Bruce' was King of Scots from 1306 until his death in 1329. Robert was one of the most famous warriors of his generation, eventually leading Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against England. He fought successfully during his reign to regain Scotland's place as an independent nation, and is today remembered in Scotland as a national hero. Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Aquitaine, KG (15 June 1330 – 8 June 1376) was the eldest son of King Edward III of England and his wife Philippa of Hainault as well as father to King Richard II of England. He was called Edward of Woodstock in his early life, after his birthplace, and since the 16th century has been popularly known as the Black Prince. He was an exceptional military leader, and his victories over the French at the Battles of Crécy and Poitiers made him very popular during his lifetime. In 1348 he became the first Knight of the Garter, of whose Order he was one of the founders. Edward died one year before his father, becoming the first English Prince of Wales not to become King of England. The throne passed instead to his son Richard II, a minor, upon the death of Edward III. The condition of this katana is very good indeed with just some shrinkage of the rayskin saya covering. Blade length tip to tsuba 28.5 inches
An Ancestral Bladed Koto Katana Mounted For A WW2 Officer Surrendered after one of Japan's greatest defeats of WW2 to a senior officer within General Slim's overall command in the 8th Gurkha Rifles, under General Scoones. An absolute beauty, with a circa 450 year old blade. Signed Shigetaka. Blade shows what appears to be a notare hamon based on sugaha. Very nice wooden saya with horn kurigata combat leather covered. Traditional gunto mounted tsuka with single menuki. Iron plate pierced tsuba with clan mon. The blade is a bright as a button, and the condition overall is exceptional and the leather covered saya has a wonderful patina. Surrendered nearing the end of WW2 by a Japanese commanding officer to a British Colonel, serving under General Slim, after The Battle of Imphal. It took place in the region around the city of Imphal, the capital of the state of Manipur in North-East India from March until July 1944. Japanese armies attempted to destroy the Allied forces at Imphal and invade India, but were driven back into Burma with heavy losses. Together with the simultaneous Battle of Kohima on the road by which the encircled Allied forces at Imphal were relieved, the battle was the turning point of the Burma Campaign, part of the South-East Asian Theatre of the Second World War. The defeat at Kohima and Imphal was the largest defeat to that date in Japanese history. The defeat at Kohima and Imphal was the largest defeat to that date in Japanese history. They had suffered 55,000 casualties, including 13,500 dead. Most of these losses were the result of starvation, disease and exhaustion. (The Allies suffered 17,500 casualties, almost entirely from battle.) The Japanese had also lost almost every one of the 12,000 pack horses and mules in their transport units and the 30,000 cattle used either as beasts of burden or as rations. The loss of pack animals was to cripple several of their divisions during the following year. Mutaguchi had sacked all of his divisions' commanders during the battle. Both he and Kawabe were themselves subsequently relieved of command. In December, Slim and three of his corps commanders (Scoones, Christison and Stopford) were knighted by the viceroy Lord Wavell, at a ceremony at Imphal in front of Scottish, Gurkha and Punjab regiments. Slim was created KCB, the others were made KBEs.
An Ancient Kamakura Samurai Tanto on a Botanical Theme Circa 1250 Almost 800 year old blade later set in complete, and original Edo period [1596-1867] mounts, made of silvered copper, decorated with deeply chiselled takebori chrysanthemum grandiflorum. Used in the era of the attempted invasion by the armadas of the great Mongol Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan. The kodzuka is complimentarily decorated in silvered copper, also on a botanical theme. The lacquer body of the saya is over decorated in powdered gold with representations of chrysanthemum heads to match the fushi, kashira and sayajiri. The blade is very grey and should repolish very nicely, shows a deep and good hamon that may be in full temper. Unofficially, the Kamakura Era began in 1185, when the Minamoto clan defeated the Taira family in the Genpei War. However, it was not until 1192 that the emperor named Minamoto Yoritomo as the first shogun of Japan — whose full title is "Seii Taishogun," or "great general who subdues the eastern barbarians" — that the period truly took shape. Minamoto Yoritomo ruled from 1192 to 1199 from his family seat at Kamakura, about 30 miles south of Tokyo. His reign marked the beginning of the bakufu system under which the emperors in Kyoto were mere figureheads, and the shoguns ruled Japan. This system would endure under the leadership of different clans for almost 700 years until the Meiji Restoration of 1868. After Minamoto Yoritomo's death, the usurping Minamoto clan had its own power usurped by the Hojo clan, who claimed the title of "shikken" or "regent" in 1203. The shoguns became figureheads just like the emperors. Ironically, the Hojos were a branch of the Taira clan, which the Minamoto had defeated in the Gempei War The Hojo family made their status as regents hereditary and took effective power from the Minamotos for the remainder of the Kamakura Period. The greatest crisis of the Kamakura Era came with a threat from overseas. In 1271, the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan — grandson of Genghis Khan — established the Yuan Dynasty in China. After consolidating power over all of China, Kublai sent emissaries to Japan demanding tribute; the shikken's government flatly refused on behalf of the shogun and emperor. Kublai Khan responded by sending two massive armadas to invade Japan in 1274 and 1281. Almost unbelievably, both armadas were destroyed by typhoons, known as the "kamikaze" or "divine winds" in Japan. Although nature protected Japan from the Mongol invaders, the cost of the defense forced the government to raise taxes, which set off a wave of chaos across the country. The Hojo shikkens tried to hang on to power by allowing other great clans to increase their own control of different regions of Japan. They also ordered two different lines of the Japanese imperial family to alternate rulers, in an attempt to keep either branch from becoming too powerful. Nonetheless, Emperor Go-Daigo of the Southern Court named his own son as his successor in 1331, sparking a rebellion that brought down the Hojo and their Minamoto puppets in 1333. They were replaced, in 1336, by the Ashikaga Shogunate based in the Muromachi part of Kyoto. The Goseibai Shikimoku remained in force until the Tokugawa or Edo Period. Overall 12.75 inches long, blade length tsuba to tip 8.5 inches
An Ancient Koto Tachi Sword Circa 1350 of the Nambokochu Wars Mounted now as katana. It must be said that how often in life does one have the opportunity to acquire a sword that was made for a warrior around 660 years ago, yet it looks like it was made barely 50 years ago. A singularly beautiful and ancient Japanese Samurai Katana, with a Koto blade of the Nambokochu era [1336 to 1391]. Full Bo-hi [double full length grooves], thin Sugaha hamon, typical chu kissaki. Black lacquer saya black tsuka-ito. Fushi of gilt flowers and a wild boar relief decorated on patinated copper and a nice Kashira of polished buffalo horn. Mumei suriagi tang. Delightful Edo patinated copper tsuba decorated with a gold tiger in relief over a nanako ground. Although this sword was made during the period of the Nambokochu wars, it would have been used continually another 500 years [until it was brought to England in the 1870's], during which time it would simply have been used in too many conflicts and wars to count or list here. It would also have likely been carried with pride by as many as 30 generations of samurai during these centuries, and revered as the most important possesion of every man that ever carried it, and used it in battle in the service of their Daimyo [Lords]. However, we detail at least in part, the era of the 1300's conflicts, in order to get a flavour of this fascinating ancient period of Japan's history, of it's Emperors, and their samurai vassals. The Nanboku-cho period (Northern and Southern Courts period), spanning from 1336 to 1392, was a period that occurred during the formative years of the Muromachi bakufu of Japan's history. The Imperial seats during the Nanboku-cho period were in relatively close proximity, but geographically distinct. They were conventionally identified as: Northern capital : Kyoto Southern capital : Yoshino. During this period, there existed a Northern Imperial Court, established by Ashikaga Takauji in Kyoto, and a Southern Imperial Court, established by Emperor Go-Daigo in Yoshino. Ideologically, the two courts fought for fifty years, with the South giving up to the North in 1392. However, in reality the Northern line was under the power of the Ashikaga shoguns and had little real independence. The main conflicts that contributed to the outbreak of the civil war were, in ascending order of importance, the growing conflict between the Hojo family and other warrior groups in the wake of the Mongol invasions of Japan of 1274 and 1281 and the failure of the Kemmu Restoration, which triggered the struggle between the supporters of the imperial loyalists and supporters of the Ashikaga clan. The Mongol invasions presented a problem since this war, which was seen by most Japanese as a patriotic duty, did not take place against another warrior family, but against a foreign enemy. After the foreign enemy’s defeat there were no lands to hand out to the victors. This was especially a problem for those warriors who had fought valiantly and petitioned the Hojo regents for land. Even in the beginning of the fourteenth century this discontent put a tremendous pressure on any regime that emerged. They had to immediately satisfy this group in order to succeed. When the Nanboku-cho conflict broke out, vassalage ties became more serious. The loyalty of vassals became a big issue. During the relatively peaceful Kamakura period, military skills were not placed at a premium, but after the outbreak of civil war this criterion became the most important one. A new intermediary consideration emerged in the vassalage ties of the post 1336 environment: the need for loyalty and a tighter tie between lord and vassal. The tighter ties between the shogun and his vassals emerged as a result of the need for military action against rivals. Vassalage ties were either established by the Ashikaga or there was a risk of losing a potential warrior to another warrior hierarchy controlled, at best, by emerging shugo lords loyal to the Ashikaga, and at worst by rival imperialist generals. So, in a true sense, vassalage ties during the civil war period were used to bridge potential conflict through the recruitment of warriors. At the same time that vassalage ties tightened between samurai and shogun, the legitimacy of these ties were sorely tested. This apparent paradox is logically explained by the existence of many claims to samurai loyalty that were presented: towards rival imperialist generals, shugo lords, and even towards local samurai alliances. A few examples will illustrate the emergence of vassalage ties between the shogun Ashikaga Takauji and his new housemen. The Kobayakawa family became loyal vassals when they were entrusted with defending Ashikaga interests in the province of Aki province after Takauji had retreated to Kyushu in 1336 . Another Aki samurai family, the Mori clan, became vassals of Takauji in 1336, and served under Ko Moroyasu until the outbreak of the Kanno Incident. In the 1350s, the Mori sided with the enemies of Takauji, Tadayoshi and his adopted son Tadafuyu, and not until the 1360s were they back again as vassals of the shogun. Overall sword is 37.5 inches long in saya, 37 inches long unsheathed, blade tip to tsuba 26.75 inches long.[all approx]
An Ancient Samurai Nambokochu Era Hira Zukuri Tanto Circa 1390 A simply stunning and superb quality Edo period polished giant ray skin saya, in fabulous condition, with kodzuka pocket containing its kodzuka utility knife. Very attractive tsuba of an oval copper plate with inlaid takebori figures of a mounted samurai and retainers. Copper and gold onlaid fushi kashira. The blade is most ancient and beautiful looking. A samurai weapon perfect for one who is interested in ancient samurai history and the form of original weapons carried at that time. The hamon is very narrow indeed. Due to its great age, and its yakiba contacts with the edge.
An Ancient, Most Beautiful & Singularly Stunning 15th Century Katana Around 535 years old. Stylized 'Tiger's Tail' saya which is a most dramatic symbol of samurai high status, there is a famous print of Shogun Oda Nobunaga with his tachi in a tigers tail saya. Circa 1480, signed but, due to great age the signature is near illegible. An ancient tachi blade that in the Koto era was changed by it's fittings to be worn as a katana. Imperial white silk wrap [ito], and most elegant fittings in nanako ground patinated copper with pure gold mon of the Ken-Hanabishi clan kamon, originaly used by the Takeda clan [without ken] such as the famous Takeda Shingen. The tsuba is iron ground with gold inlays around figures. The menuki under the imperial white silk binding are in the form of arrows with strap cutting heads, outlined in gold. The blade is super showing a delightful hamon and in full traditional polish. The sword is signed tachi mei but not translatable any more. The saya is nishiji and black contrasting spiral lacquer. In the ancient period the tachi was used primarily on horseback, where it was able to be drawn efficiently for cutting down enemy foot soldiers. On the ground it was still an effective weapon, but somewhat awkward to use. The uchigatana was the predecessor to the katana as the battle-blade of feudal Japan's bushi (warrior class), and as it evolved into the later design, the two were often differentiated from each other only by how they were worn and by the fittings for the blades. It was during the Mongol invasions that it was shown there were some weaknesses in the tachi sword which led to the development of the Katana. It is said that hanabishi was first used as a family crest by the Kai-Takeda clan, and Takeda hanabishi, which has a standard design, was used as the official family crest of the Takeda family. 40.5 inches long approx overall in saya
An Antque Edo Period Men-Netsuke of a Noh Mask Likely an inro netsuke. men-netsuke or "mask netsuke" - These were imitations of full-size noh masks and share characteristics in common with both katabori and manju/kagamibuta. Face of a Jo an old man with moustach and glass eyes. From the ancient Japanese tradition of mask drama that can trace its origins to the Bugaku Imperial Court dancing of the 9th century. Noh is the classical theatre of Japan which was codified in the 14th century under the father and son actors Kan'ami and Zeami under the patronage of the Shogun (supreme military leader) Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. The performances utilise masks and elaborate costume. Netsuke, like the inro and ojime, evolved over time from being strictly utilitarian into objects of great artistic merit and an expression of extraordinary craftsmanship. Such objects have a long history reflecting the important aspects of Japanese folklore and life. Netsuke production was most popular during the Edo period in Japan, around 1615–1868. Today, the art lives on, and some modern works can command high prices in the UK, Europe, the USA, Japan and elsewhere. Okimono, small and purely decorative sculptures, were often made by the same artists who produced netsuke. Probably 18th century. 2.25 x 1.75 inches
An Astoundingly Beautiful Signed Shinto Katana of Great Status and Form A most fabulous sword made in the Kanbun era between 1661 to 1673, Shinto period, with all original Edo silver mounts. The katana is signed Bungo Takata Daijo fujiwara Yoshiyuki of the Takad school of smiths. The school was active from Koto times right through to Shinto, with relatively few smiths working in Shinshinto times. During the Shinto period, swordsmiths of this school gained a reputation for making good practical swords that has a reputation for both sturdiness and excellent cutting ability. They seem to have worked to improve their swords, since they frequently adapted the best ideas in contemporary swordsmithing to their work. As a result, their swords were greatly sought after by samurai. Members of this school are also known as Fuijwara Takada because they used Fujiwara as a family name in their signatures. Made in the equivalent era of King Charles Iind of England. Silver fushi kashira mounts to the hilt and silver sayajiri [scabbard bottom mount]. A pair of chiselled silver dragon menuki and a very fine iron signed mokko tsuba inlaid with silver and gold dragons and bound in a silver mimi [rim]. The blade has a spectacular hamon of incredible activity and vibrancy. It has some small localised surface marking but this will be removed in polishing. The skill of the ancient samurai swordsmith was unsurpassed in the world and could take up to 30 years or more for a smith to fully master. This samurai sword, like all true and original samurai swords, would have been the prize possession of every samurai that owned it. It would most likely have cost more than his home, and would certainly have been more important. This is just one reason why fine Japanese sword steel, even of this considearble age, is in such good state of preservation. When a katana such as this has been, for its entire existence, so highly revered, treasured and appreciated, it will have been cared for most sensitively and treated with the utmost respect during its entire life. In many regards it will have represented the only thing that stood between its samurai owner, of which there may have been 20 or more during this swords great history, and his ultimate downfall in a combat situation 40.25 inches long overall in saya, 27.5 inche long blade 1.25 inches wide at the habaki.
An Attractive Samurai Shinto Aikuchi Tanto Circa 1650 Original Edo lacquer saya, simple hilt with giant rayskin wrap. Buffalo horn fittings. Good blade with undulating hamon and cormorants neck form blade shape.The tanto was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tanto are generally forged in hira-zukuri style (without ridgeline), meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tanto have particularly thick cross-sections for armour-piercing duty, and are called yoroi toshi., but this scarce type is Unokubi Zukuri
An Early 1430 Tanto With a Rare Over-All Tempered Double Hamon Blade A delightful samurai dagger with a captivating blade. Very fine fittings all with a theme of the sea. The fushi kashira and kodzuka are decorated with pure gold, chissled takebori, sea shells and crashing waves, and the tsuba is also decorated with pure gold highlighted takebori crashing waves, in the style that later influenced one of the worlds greatest artists, Hokusai. The blade is superbly tempred with deep undulating hamon on both the edge and the back. A most rare feature to see. The tsuka [hilt] in wrapped same [giant rayskin] with menuki of water dragon.This sword would very likely have been used in the Onin War (1467–1477) which led to serious political fragmentation and obliteration of domains: a great struggle for land and power ensued among bushi chieftains and lasted until the mid-sixteenth century. Peasants rose against their landlords and samurai against their overlords, as central control virtually disappeared.The shugo daimyo were the first group of men to hold the title "daimyo". They arose from among the shugo during the Muromachi period. The shugo daimyo held not only military and police powers, but also economic power within a province. They accumulated these powers throughout the first decades of the Muromachi period. The Onin War was a major uprising in which shugo daimyo fought each other. During this and other wars of the time, kuni ikki, or provincial uprisings, took place as locally powerful warriors sought independence from the shugo daimyo. The deputies of the shugo daimyo, living in the provinces, seized the opportunity to strengthen their position. At the end of the fifteenth century, those shugo daimyo who succeeded remained in power. Those who had failed to exert control over their deputies fell from power and were replaced by a new class, the "sengoku daimyo", who arose from the ranks of the shugodai'K and Ji-samurai.
An Early Edo Period Iron O-Sukashi Katana Tsuba Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
An Early Iron O-Sukashi Katana Tsuba Decorated with Samurai Clan Kamon It has has very fine chisseling to the open pattern. Decorated with most unusual layered surface gilding on one side. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament
An Edo Era 'Tokugawa' Tachi, Mounted With a Koto Blade Circa 1400 A small tachi around two thirds the size of a regular tachi, around wakazashi sized, with elaborate Meiji period pressed bronze patinated koshirae bearing clan mon and a full applied décor based on flowers and plants. The blade is simply delightful, with a typical, early, Muramachi , thin and most elegant suguha hamon. This sword would likely have been fitted in the late Tokugawa era, with an ancient ancestral blade of a samurai, for a ceremony and festival known as 'boys day'. For the Japanese boy, the boys day festival was the entry-point, the beginning of the journey to a time and a place where heroes lived and legends were made. They were taught the elements of bushido and Japanese military history through dolls dressed as samurai accompanied with decorated banners and accoutrements, showing images of the great samurai and warriors of the past. Boys of high clan status may be given boy sized suits of traditional samurai armour to wear during the festival, and thus also to carry the legendary samurai's tachi swords, as did their fathers before them. Some only had symbolic swords with false blades, others however, might have real swords, and in the most fortunate and esteemed families, they had swords set with ancient and ancestral wakazashi blades such as this beautiful sword. Tango no Sekku is the martial element and is embodied in the earliest term known for Boy's Day: Tango no sekku or Feast of the First Day of the White Horse. A white horse was believed to spring from a union between a dragon and a mare, a steed known for its valour and courage, suited for a hero. Horses were brought to Japan in the early 5th century. Records indicate that during the reign of Emperor Yuryaku (457-478), equestrian events were sponsored during the 5th month in conjunction with other spring rites to encourage mastery in this area. Called yabusame, the event consisted of shooting arrows from horseback at stationary targets. The horse fundamentally changed the nature of Japanese combat, and images of the ideal warrior soon centered on the horse. Kyuba no michi (Way of the Horse and Bow) was one of the earliest martial codes of behavior which later became the Bushi-do or "Way of the Warrior". Tango no Sekku celebrated this connection: horse and rider, courage and bravery . Some of the warrior images would include, say, Kato Kiyomasa (1562-1611). He was an aramusha or "rough warrior", and was particularly helpful to Hideyoshi during the campaigns in Korea beginning in 1592; there he was nicknamed kisho-kan or "devil general," for his tenacity and cruelty. In 1611 just before his death, Kiyomasa wrote in Cook's words: "Having been born into the house of a warrior, one's intentions should be to grasp the long and short swords and die." Boys' Day display elements (kazari) reflect the dual emphasis on the idealized martial and the talismanic spiritual. Fukinagashi (streamers) were military banners and pennants whose fluttering ends drove away evil. Kabuto, the distinctive battle helmet was believed to protect a house against evil and often made of spiritwarding iris leaves to further its talismanic effect. Musha-ningyô were heirs to the talismanic tradition: dolls were seen as substitutes (katashiro), diverting evil away from the child and revered for their protective powers. The tsuka bears no mekugi [traditional blade retaining peg] the blade is held in place by friction. Three small flower emblems lacking on the mounts. Overall 30inches long, blade tsuba to tip 18.5 inches long.
An Edo O Sukashi Wakazashi or Tanto Tsuba In Iron Circa 1650. The Tsuba, or Japanese sword guard, is a refined utilitarian object. It is essentially a sheath for the blade to fit through, protecting the hand of the warrior. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament.
An Edo Period 1603-1867 Large Samurai Maedate Helmet Adornment With Aoi Mon The triple hollyhock design clan crest of the Tokugawa. The Tokugawa clan was a powerful daimy family of Japan. They nominally descended from Emperor Seiwa (850–880) and were a branch of the Minamoto clan (Seiwa Genji) by the Nitta clan. The early history of this clan remains a mystery. Members of the clan ruled Japan as Shoguns from 1603 to 1867. The Tokugawa's clan crest, known in Japanese as a "mon", the "triple hollyhock" (although commonly, but mistakenly identified as "hollyhock", the "aoi" actually belongs to the birthwort family and translates as "wild ginger"—Asarum), has been a readily recognized icon in Japan, symbolizing in equal parts the Tokugawa clan and the last shogunate. Although pricipally made as a samurai's helmet adornment they are highly collecatable in their own right as object d'art for display as fine Japanese works of art from the great Edo period of samurai history. Kabuto is a type of helmet first used by ancient Japanese warriors, and in later periods, they became an important part of the traditional Japanese armour worn by the samurai class and their retainers in feudal Japan. Japanese helmets dating from the fifth century (long before the rise of the samurai class) have been found in excavated tombs. Called mabizashi-tsuke kabuto (visor-attached helmet), the style of these ancient helmets came from China and Korea and they had a pronounced central ridge. The kabuto was an important part of the equipment of the samurai, and played a symbolic role as well, which may explain the Japanese expressions, sayings and codes related to them. One example is Katte kabuto no o o shimeyo ( "Tighten the string of the kabuto after winning the war"). This means don't lower your efforts after succeeding (compare to "not to rest on one's laurels"). Also, kabuto o nugu ( "to take off the kabuto") means to surrender Note that in Japanese language the word kabuto is an appellative, not a type description, and can refer to any combat helmet. The Edo period or Tokugawa period is the period between 1603 and 1868 in the history of Japan, when Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country's 300 regional daimyo. The period was characterized by economic growth, strict social order, isolationist foreign policies, a stable population, and popular enjoyment of arts and culture. The shogunate was officially established in Edo on March 24, 1603, by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The period came to an end with the Meiji Restoration on May 3, 1868, after the fall of Edo.
An Edo Period Armourers Hot Stamp Chrysanthemum Katana Tsuba Iron plate tsuba in circular shape with omote and ura surfaces showing multiple kiku stamp designs.Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
An Edo Period Gold Wire & Silk Thread Japanese Samurai Kiseru [Pipe] Case Circa 1780. Completely decorated with the Manji [swastika] mon of the Hachisuka clan. The Edo period (1603-1868) that precedes the development of cigarettes in Japan was the heyday of kiseru. From the early seventeenth century when the bans were lifted, tobacco was already well established in all classes as a luxury goods. It was at this time that really developed the use of kiseru and the socalled "kizami tobacco", a very finely shredded tobacco. In the Edo period there was in the high society the "Tobacco Ceremony" or "The Way of Tobacco" (tabako-do]. As for the tea ceremony, for example, rules of politeness and decorum were fixed. It was the "good manners to give and receive the kiseru" Here's how the rules were set: 1 - If one has a guest foremost one soukd prepare the tabako-bon ("tobacco tray"). 2 - the guest will not start smoking before the arrival of the owner. 3 - The owner, upon his arrival, first say, "Would you please smoke some tobacco." 4 - The guest politely decline the offer saying, "I would not dare, the master should smoke first." [Repeat two or three times the 3 and 4 politeness…] 5 - The master of the house takes a paper towel with which he carefully clean the the kiseru and hands it to his guest, saying, "Please, try this. ' 6 - The guest can finally begin to smoke, not forgetting to compliment for the nice taste of the tobacco… Around mid-Edo, the Japanese started to want smoking outside their homes. To do so, and carry their kiseru they developed different accessories like "tabako-ire.". When finishing their studies, they would receive a "tabako-ire" reward. These are usually hung on the belt of the kimono and thus they became a social sign : young people could show them off and tell everyone "see, I'm adult" It also became very fashionable to have a silver "nobe kiseru". It was an essential fashion accessory for young people from rich houses. The presence of kiseru in many woodblock prints of the Edo period attests to the importance of this object in the daily life in that period. But from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of the Edo period, cigarettes imported from the West and Russia became increasingly popular. Approx 12 inches long.
An Edo Period Samurai Horseman Ryo-Shinogi Yari Polearm With original pole and iron foot mount ishizuki. Very nicely polished four sided double edged head. The mochi-yari, or "held spear", is a rather generic term for the shorter Japanese spear. It was especially useful to mounted Samurai. In mounted use, the spear was generally held with the right hand and the spear was pointed across the saddle to the soldiers left front corner. The warrior's saddle was often specially designed with a hinged spear rest (yari-hasami) to help steady and control the spear's motion. The mochi-yari could also easily be used on foot and is known to have been used in castle defense. The martial art of wielding the yari is called sojutsu. A yari on it's pole can range in length from one metre to upwards of six metres (3.3 to 20 feet). The longer hafted versions were called omi no yari while shorter ones were known as mochi yari or tae yari. The longest hafted versions were carried by foot troops (ashigaru), while samurai usually carried a shorter hafted yari. Yari are believed to have been derived from Chinese spears, and while they were present in early Japan's history they did not become popular until the thirteenth century.The original warfare of the bushi was not a thing for "commoners"; it was a ritualized combat usually between two warriors who may challenge each other via horseback archery and sword duels. However, the attempted Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281 changed Japanese weaponry and warfare. The Mongol-employed Chinese and Korean footmen wielded long pikes, fought in tight formation, and moved in large units to stave off cavalry. Polearms (including naginata and yari) were of much greater military use than swords, due to their much greater range, their lesser weight per unit length (though overall a polearm would be fairly hefty), and their great piercing ability. Swords in a full battle situation were therefore relegated to emergency sidearm status from the Heian through the Muromachi periods. The pole has has the top lacquer section relacquered in the past 50 years or so.
An Edo Period Samurai Kusari and Plate Lower Leg Protector Circa 1700. Original artifacts that would make a fascinating display feature. Collecting parts of original armour for artistic display is a tradtion that goes back thousands of years, in fact as fore as long as armour has been worn. In ancient Rome armour was collected as cwar trophies and proudly displayed in all the grear Roman villas from the Emperor down. Japanese armour was generally constructed from many small iron (tetsu) and or leather (nerigawa) scales (kozane) and or plates (ita-mono), connected to each other by rivets and lace (odoshi) made from leather and or silk, and or chain armour (kusari). These armour plates were usually attached to a cloth or leather backing. Japanese armour was designed to be as lightweight as possible as the samurai had many tasks including riding a horse and archery in addition to swordsmanship. The armour was usually brightly lacquered to protect against the harsh Japanese climate. Chain armour (kusari) was also used to construct individual armour pieces and full suits of kusari were even used. The era of warfare called the Sengoku period ended around 1600, Japan was united and entered the so-called peaceful Edo period, but conflict remained through internecine and clan rivalry. Samurai continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status and for extreme combat. During the Edo period light weight, portable and secret hidden armours became popular as there was still a need for personal protection. Civil strife, duels, assassinations, peasant revolts required the use of armours such as the kusari katabira (chain armour jacket) and armoured sleeves as well as other types of armour which could be worn under ordinary clothing. Edo period samurai were in charge of internal security and would wear various types of kusari gusoku (chain armour) and shin and arm protection as well as forehead protectors (hachi-gane). Armour continued to be worn and used in Japan until the end of the samurai era (Meiji period) in the 1860s, with the last use of samurai armour happening in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion.
An Edo Period Wakazashi or Tanto Iron Tsuba of Crashing Waves Of crashing waves and spray with sea birds flying. The seigaiha or wave is a pattern of layered concentric circles creating arches, symbolic of waves or water and representing surges of good luck. It can also signify power and resilience. The Tsuba, or Japanese sword guard, is a refined utilitarian object. It is essentially a sheath for the blade to fit through, protecting the hand of the warrior. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament.
An Edo Period Wakazashi Tsuba, Signed. Chisselled With Flower Design Maru gata with kogai hitsu-ana and a filled and sealed hozuka hitsu-ana. The Tsuba on a samurai sword can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other. 2.7 inches across.
An Edo Sukashi Tsuba Decorated With Birds In Flight Made for a Katana but with a square section adaption to mount on a polearm as well. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
An Edo Wakazashi Unokubi Zukuri 'Cormorants Neck' Blade Form Complete Edo period fittings, koshirae [mounts] lacquer saya, round plain iron tsuba, plain iron fushi kashira and patinated copper menuki. Gold silk wrap over traditional giant rayskin. Bright polished late Edo period blade with scalloped back edge [unokubi zukuri, or cormorants neck]. Copper hilted kodzuka utility knife decorated in relief. An antique Japanese wakazashi in smart order with all antique plain fittings. A most attractive yet a most inexepensive example. The habaki [small blade collar] is being resilvered. The blade has a few very small and feint surface light scratches as one might expect. Not available for delivery until early October.
An Exceptional & Huge Koto Tachi Circa 1500 Last Used in WW2 A big, sprauncy tachi blade with an immense deep curvature in superb bright and clean polish. It shows a fine hamon with just a tiny blemish on the side. Mounted as an ancestral sword by the eldest son of a family of traditional samurai who served his emperor in ww2 in the Pacific War, and surrendered in 1945. It could be superbly mounted once more with old fittings to be as it once was around 500 years ago. It was during the Mongol invasions that it was shown there were some weaknesses in the tachi sword which led to the development of the Katana. Tachi are the Samurai swords worn on Court occasions by the Daimyo Lords of Japan. They are distinguished by the fact that they are worn with the cutting edge down, from one or two hangers in the centre of the saya. Katana are slid through the belt or Obi, and thus do not have these two hangers. Traditionally in the Edo era only Daimyo are allowed to wear Tachi and there were only about 50 Daimyo in any one period in all Japan. In later Japanese feudal history, during the Sengoku and Edo periods, certain high-ranking warriors [daimyo] of what became the ruling class would wear their swords tachi mounted. This Tachi although mounted in the Edo period fittings, was made before the Edo period. The Edo started with the Tokugawa, who ruled Japan for around 460 years and it was founded after the battle of Sekigahara in 1598. The Tokugawa unified Japan and created a lasting dynasty of military rulers like none that had been before. The most famous Shogun, Ieyasu Tokugawa had obliged the daimyo [the tachi wearing Japanese clan war lords] to pay homage to the Shogun every two years in a big, formal and costly procession to the court in Edo (Tokyo). The intention was to assure their loyalty and to weaken them by putting financial burdens on them.Imagawa Yoshimoto 1519 -1560) was one of the leading daimyo (feudal lords) in the Sengoku period Japan. Based in Suruga Province, he was one of the three daimyo that dominated the Tokaido region. He was also one of the dominant daimyo in Japan for a time, until his death in 1560. 30.75 inch blade tsuba to tip
An Exceptional 5th Generation Tadayoshi Wakazashi Circa 1730 Now beautifully repolished with a fine suguha hamon. From the great school of Tadayoshi smiths. With all it's original superb pure gold decorated fittings featuring takebori fans over a nanako ground. A really nice namban sukashi tsuba of the ancient traditional of the dragon and the phoenix. Menuki of a buffalo drawing a cart all embellished with pure gold, and a shishi [lion dog]. The saya is it's original Edo lacquer inlaid with small pieces of polished abilone shell. It has it's kodzuka knife in the saya pocket of gold and patinated copper. The whole piece is of very fine quality and singularly attractive. The Godai Tadayoshi (Fifth Generation) was born in 1696. He was the son of the Omi Daijo Tadayoshi ( Fourth Generation). He began working around 1716 and worked until his death in 1775. He signed Hizen Kuni Tadahiro while his father was alive. He is also known to have signed Dai-mei for his father. After his father's death in 1747 he changed his signature to read Hizen (no) Kuni Tadayoshi. He received the title Omi (no) Kami in 1750 after which he began signing Hizen Kuni Omi (no) Kami Tadayoshi. He is the first of the later smiths to sign "Omi (no) Kami" and he is known by that nickname. This smith had a long working life and produced a good number of swords. Although a later generation, his work is considered to resemble that of the first generation. He is considered to be the last of the "Shinto" Tadayoshi smiths. The next generation (6th) marks the beginning of the "Shinshinto" Tadayoshi smiths. Total length in saya 24.75, 18.5 inch blade tsuba to tip.
An Iron Plate Katana Edo Tsuba Decorated With Small Figures In Rain Garb Circa 1650. Small fishermen towing nets wearing rain hats and tied straw body coverings. With large fauna as a side decoration. With kozuka and kogaiana. The Tsuba can be solid, semi pierced of fully pierced, with an overall perforated design, but it always a central opening which narrows at its peak for the blade to fit within. It often can have openings for the kozuka and kogai to pass through, and these openings can also often be filled with metal to seal them closed. For the Samurai, it also functioned as an article of distinction, as his sole personal ornament
An Original and Superb Edo Period Samurai Tatami Kusari Kabuto Helmet. Very rarely seen to survive. A very nice museum or private collection piece. Lightweight portable folding (tatami) armour was made from small square or rectangle armour plates called karuta. The karuta are usually connected to each other by chain armour kusari and sewn to a cloth backing, some karuta armour can be sewn directly to the cloth backing without any kusari. Tatami armour was lightweight, portable, convenient for transportation, and they were manufactured inexpensively and in numbers for the ashigaru light infantry type samurai.Tatami armours were worn by all samurai classes from the highest class to the lowest class. The higher class samurai wore elaborate tatami armour, while the lower class samurai and retainers wore a plainer basic version. Japanese armour is thought to have evolved from the armour used in ancient China and Korea. Cuirasses and helmets were manufactured in Japan as early as the 4th century. Tanko, worn by foot soldiers and keiko, worn by horsemen were both pre-samurai types of early Japanese cuirass constructed from iron plates connected together by leather thongs. DuringHeian period 794 to 1185 the Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of armour worn by the samurai known as the dou or do. Japanese armour makers started to use leather (nerigawa) and lacquer was used to weather proof the armor parts. By the end of the Heian period the Japanese cuirass had arrived at the shape recognized as being distinctly samurai. Leather and or iron scales were used to construct samurai armours, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) which these cuirasses were now being made from. In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armour makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours). Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms. The era of warfare called the Sengoku period ended around 1600, Japan was united and entered the peaceful Edo period, samurai continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status but traditional armours were no longer necessary for battles. During the Edo period light weight, portable and secret hidden armours became popular as there was still a need for personal protection. Civil strife, duels, assassinations, peasant revolts required the use of armours such as the kusari katabira (chain armour jacket) and armoured sleeves as well as other types of armour which could be worn under ordinary clothing. Edo period samurai were in charge of internal security and would wear various types of kusari gusoku (chain armour) and shin and arm protection as well as forehead protectors (hachi-gane). Armour continued to be worn and used in Japan until the end of the samurai era (Meiji period) in the 1860s, with the last use of samurai armour happening in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion. A photo in the gallery of a Tatami Kusari armour in the Metroplitan Museum USA.
An Oval Iron Tanto Tsuba. Early Edo Period Hizen (Nagasaki) Nunome Nagasaki nunome work consists mostly of designs of a simple nature, geometrical and conventional, in silver wire. Edo era onlaid, in fine traces of silver and gold, with leaves and tendrils. The tsuba is usually a round, ovoid or occasionally squarish guard at the end of the tsuka of bladed Japanese weapons, like the katana and its various declinations, tachi, wakizashi, tanto, naginata etc. They contribute to the balance of the weapon and to the protection of the hand. The tsuba was mostly meant to be used to prevent the hand from sliding onto the blade during thrusts as opposed to protecting from an opponent's blade. The chudan no kamae guard is determined by the tsuba and the curvature of the blade. The diameter of the average katana tsuba is 7.5–8 centimetres (3.0–3.1 in), wakizashi tsuba is 6.2–6.6 cm (2.4–2.6 in), and tanto tsuba is 4.5–6 cm (1.8–2.4 in). During the Muromachi period (1333–1573) and the Momoyama period (1573–1603) Tsuba were more for functionality than for decoration, being made of stronger metals and designs. During the Edo period (1603–1868) tsuba became more ornamental and made of less practical metals such as gold. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
Ancestral Samurai Sword Surrendered By Kamikaze Pilot Cpt.Onishi Kozo With surrender label. Re-entered on our site now it has been spectacularly repolished. The blade now looks absolutely stunning!!. A true museum worthy piece of WW2 history. It has a 400 year old blade, with traditional antique samurai Edo sword fittings, of gold and copper fushi kashira decorated with flowers, and an Edo period carved Choshu iron tsuba, and it's traditional WW2 leather covering to it's saya [scabbard]. The blade has a beautiful undulating hamon based on sanbonsugi. What a simply amazing history this sword has. Once carried by a notorious and legendary Kamikaze, a Pilot [who obviously was not called upon to make his final suicide mission] that surrendered his sword on the surrender of Bouganville Island, to an Australian Naval ship's commander. An ancestral Samurai sword surrendered by Japanese Kamikaze Pilot [Captain Onishi Kozo Kure of 7th Wing, Nanatoku Kure Naval Base] in WW2, awarded to HMAS Shepparton's skipper, Comdr. Sharpey-Schafer. At the surrender of Bouganville Island this sword, that was an ancestral sword some 400 plus years old, was the sword of a Reserve Kamikaze Lieutenant, originally based in Kure Military Base of Hiroshima Prefecture. Original name label attached and historical label [English translation] included. In 1942, Bougainville was occupied by the Japanese, and was used as a base to attack Guadalcanal and other Allied territory. The 3rd Marine Division landed on the west coast of Bougainville in November 1943, and shortly afterwards the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay was fought between cruisers and destroyers of the U.S. Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Americans routed the Japanese and were never bothered again in this area by the I.J.N. It took a concerted Allied land offensive between November 1943 and April 1944 to occupy and hold the part of the island along the western shore in an area called "Torokina". The Americans set about establishing a wide defensive perimeter, draining swamps, and building multiple airfields for defense, and for attacking the Japanese on New Britain Island. The Marines were replaced by US Army troops. The Japanese infiltrated the mountains and jungles of Bougainville, and launched a counteroffensive against the Americans in 1944. The critical focus of their attack was at a place called "Hellsapoppin Ridge" by the Americans. In repulsing this attack, the American soldiers and airmen broke the back of the Japanese Army on Bougainville. The survivors retreated to their bases on northern and southern Bougainville, and the Americans left them to "wither on the vine" for the remainder of the war. During the 1943-45 period, more than 17,500 Japanese soldiers were either killed in combat, died of disease, or died of malnutrition. In 1945, the Australian Army took over occupation from the Americans, and Australia resumed control of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, which became a United Nations trusteeship. Combat operations on Bougainville ended with the surrender of Japanese forces on Bougainville on 21 August 1945. The Empire surrendered in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. The last phase of the campaign saw 516 Australians killed and another 1,572 wounded. 8,500 Japanese were killed at the same time, while disease and malnutrition killed another 9,800 and some 23,500 troops and labourers surrendered at the end of the war. Three Victoria Crosses were awarded during the campaign, one to a Fijian and two to Australians. Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu of Fiji received the award posthumously for his bravery at Mawaraka on 23 June 1944. Corporal Reg Rattey received the award for his actions during the fighting around Slater's Knoll on 22 March 1945, while Private Frank Partridge earned his in one of the final actions of the campaign on 24 July 1945 during fighting along the Ratsua front. Partridge was the only member of the Militia to receive the VC which was the last of the war to an Australian
Early, Koto Period Kô Katchushi Iron Sukashi Mon Katana Tsuba Sword Guard Uchigatana tsuba are known as Kô Tosho (sword smiths), Kô Katchushi (armour smiths) and Ji Sukashi tsuba. In regards to Kô Tosho and Kô Katchushi tsuba, it is generally thought that the Kô Tosho sword guards were introduced in or around the early Kamakura period [1192-1396ad] and were for the most part, the product of sword smiths. Kô Katchushi are thought to be a secondary line of work produced by Armour makers. The general theory is that these guards came into production at either the end of the Kamakura period or the early Nambokuchô period. Both Kô Tosho and Kô Katchushi tsuba are also known as Mon-sukashi which refers to an openwork method used in their design. Shapes are pierced in negative silhouette into the flat body of the guard. The image is defined by the removal of the iron from the base.
Edo Era 17th to18th c. Samurai Laced Armour 16 Ken Suji Bachi Kabuto, A Superb Early to Mid Edo Samurai Helmet Kabuto of 16 Plates 16 plate goshozan suji bachi kabuto. Probably 17th-18th century. A 16 ken [plates] Suji bachi, which is a multiple-plate type of Japanese helmet bowl with raised ridges or ribs showing where the 16 tate hagi-no-ita (helmet plates) come together at the five-stage tehen kanamono [finial], with the fukurin [metal edges] on each of the standing plates. The mabisashi [peak] lacquered and it has a four-tier lacquered iron hineno-jikoro [neck-guard] laced with dark blue. Unlined.Chain mail over silk Kote [arm armour] with plate Tekko [hand armour]. Fully laced and plate Sode [shoulder armour] Fully laced four panels of Haidate [waist armour] Fully laced Kasazuri [thigh Armour], with Suneate. This armour is absolutely beautiful. Japanese armour is thought to have evolved from the armour used in ancient China and Korea. Cuirasses and helmets were manufactured in Japan as early as the 4th century.Tanko, worn by foot soldiers and keiko, worn by horsemen were both pre-samurai types of early Japanese cuirass constructed from iron plates connected together by leather thongs. During the Heian period 794 to 1185 the Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of armour worn by the samurai known as the dou or do. Japanese armour makers started to use leather (nerigawa) and lacquer was used to weather proof the armor parts. By the end of the Heian period the Japanese cuirass had arrived at the shape recognized as being distinctly samurai. Leather and or iron scales were used to construct samurai armours, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) which these cuirasses were now being made from. In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armour makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours).Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms. The era of warfare called the Sengoku period ended around 1600, Japan was united and entered the peaceful Edo period, samurai continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status but traditional armours were no longer necessary for battles. During the Edo period light weight, portable and secret hidden armours became popular as there was still a need for personal protection. Civil strife, duels, assassinations, peasant revolts required the use of armours such as the kusari katabira (chain armour jacket) and armoured sleeves as well as other types of armour which could be worn under ordinary clothing.Edo period samurai were in charge of internal security and would wear various types of kusari gusoku (chain armour) and shin and arm protection as well as forehead protectors (hachi-gane). Armour continued to be worn and used in Japan until the end of the samurai era (Meiji period) in the 1860s, with the last use of samurai armour happening in 1877 during the Satsuma Rebellion. The armour has some affixing loops lacking and will need attention to fully display. Stand for photo display only not included. This armour has areas of worn and distressed lacquer and areas of cloth/material that are perished due to it's great age as would be expected.
Edo Period Iron Mokko Katana Tsuba Circa 1690 Iron plate tsuba in mokko shape with omote and ura surfaces showing multiple kiku stamp designs..Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
Excellent Gunto Mounted Katana by Takada Shigeyuki Circa 1624 A superb WW2 mounted Shinto katana by Fujiwara Shigeyuki (Takata), 17th century. He is a highly rated smith in Hawleys index of Japanese swordsmiths [30 points] and the blade is in full polish and shows a very sophisticated sugaha hamon. As our regulars know we specialise in ancestral bladed WW2 Japanese officers swords, seeking and buying more of these type of Gunto mounted swords than any other dealer in Europe. Therefore, because you may see a dozen or more at any one time in our galleries for sale, please do not assume they are commonplace, as less than 1% of all Japanese officers in WW2 were priveledged to carry such ancient bladed swords. It is just we purposefully seek and find such swords due to our continued and determined efforts to do so. This smith is a fine master and it would be unlikely that you could ever find a better example of his work mounted in such fine and untouched fittings as this sword. An absolute beauty.
Fabulous Japanese Large Sasaho Yari Polearm, With Rare Socket Head, Signed. Edo period probably Shinto signed Kiyo Tsugu. A much larger and heavier head than usual, and as opposed to a long tang it has the earlier type of socket mount to affix over the pole haft. With original pole and iron foot mount, and blade saya cover. Large leaf shaped blade. The martial art of wielding the yari is called sojutsu. A yari on it's pole can range in length from one metre to upwards of six metres (almost 20 feet). The longer hafted versions were called omi no yari while shorter ones were known as mochi yari or tae yari. The longest hafted versions were carried by foot troops (ashigaru), while samurai usually carried a shorter hafted yari. Yari are believed to have been derived from Chinese spears, and while they were present in early Japan's history they did not become popular until the thirteenth century.The original warfare of the bushi was not a thing for "commoners"; it was a ritualized combat usually between two warriors who may challenge each other via horseback archery and sword duels. However, the attempted Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281 changed Japanese weaponry and warfare. The Mongol-employed Chinese and Korean footmen wielded long pikes, fought in tight formation, and moved in large units to stave off cavalry. Polearms (including naginata and yari) were of much greater military use than swords, due to their much greater range, their lesser weight per unit length (though overall a polearm would be fairly hefty), and their great piercing ability. Swords in a full battle situation were therefore relegated to emergency sidearm status from the Heian through the Muromachi periods
Fine & Beautiful 17th Cent. Japanese Samurai Daimyo Efu Tachi of Nobukuni Now beautifully repolished revealing it's wonderous hamon. A very good 17th century Shinto blade signed Minamoto Nobukuni Yoshikatsu, Enpo period circa 1670, from the great Chikuzen Nobukuni school of smiths. Efu tachi, also called Hoso tachi, were [made in the Edo period] and originally only worn by the highest ranking daimyo and officials of the court. Efu tachi have a shitogi tsuba [with single side ring]. These are generally considered the to be the highest rank tachi mountings. Efu (Hoso) tachi were made from the late Koto period onwards and are distinguished by the shitogi tsuba, so named because it is in the shape of a rice cake by that name, offered in Shinto rituals, though with the addition of external rings. Most have two rings, but this has one. The tsuka is purposefully not bound with ito [silk wrap] and is of very good quality same, of good mixed patinated colour with some large nodules. Decorated with menuki of frogs and traditional rice barrels. The whole tachi is covered in samurai clan mon some of the aoi leaf and others of a design of octopus legs. All placed of nishiji pure gold flake lacquer. The family tree, so to speak, of the Nobukuni School is as follows; Yoshisada Keicho - Kanei 1624 Founder Chikuzen Nobukuni School Yoshitsugu Keicho-1596 |________________________ _____|___ ____|___ Yoshisada(2) Kanbun 1661 Yoshisuke Tenwa 1681 Yoshitsugu Kanbun 1661 Yoshimasa(1) Kanei 1624 Yoshihiro(1) Kanei 1624 ________ ____|___ _______ [this tachi] Yoshikatsu Enpo 1673 Yoshisada Meiwa 1764 Yoshikane Enpo 1673 Yoshimasa(2) Kanbun 1661 Yoshihiro(2) Genroku 1688 Yoshihiro __________ ____________________________| ____|_______________________ ________ Yoshimasa(3) same as Yoshimune Shigesada Yoshikane Yoshitsugu Tokugawa AOI leaf Shigekane Genroku 1688 ~ Gen-Roku 1688 ~ _________| to Kyoho 1716 ____|____ ____|____ _______ Kanetsugu Shigehisa Kyoho 1716 Yasutoshi Kyoho 1716
Fine Shobu Zukuri [Iris Leaf] Blade Katana Circa 1580 Signed Tadahiro An ancestral bladed samurai sword last used by an officer of the Emperor Hiro Hito in the Pacific War, and surrendered at their defeat. Mounted in very fine condition WW2 officer sword fittings, and now beautifully polished. The iris leaf form of blade is aesthetically one of the most pleasing and beautiful of all early blade types, with it's shinogi running almost the full length of the blade, and certainly one of the scarcest and more normally seen on wakazashi or tanto, and very aree to see on a full katana. This type of sword blade has an exceptional cutting ability, as first demonstrated against the Mongol invaders of 1274 and, especially in 1281. It has been said that this style of sword proved incredibly effective against Mongol armour in Kublai Khans attempted invasions, but of course sword training bears some instruction to the cutting of armour in combat, usually the flesh of the man beneath it, however it's form would indeed be relatively more effective at penetration of armour plates than the more traditional blade form. Many of the sword battles took place directly on the Mongol ships on the shores of Hakata Bay (Kyushu area). This is a fine early blade from the Koto era and bearing one of the great family names of master swordsmith Tadahiro. Most of his first kanji is obscured but the second is easily recognised
GIFT VOUCHER A Gift Voucher is often the ideal solution to leave the decision of the item to choose to the person you wish to gift. They are available for all values, from £20 upwards, and as required, and are entirely bespoke to the recipient. All are unique and customised for each and every occasion. They are priced in the gallery but you can specify an alternative amount in the 'comment' section in the Webstore Order page.
Imperial Japanese WW2 Officer's “Koa Isshin Mantetsu Steel" Officer's Sword Koa Isshin Mantetsu saku in original polish with near perfect original WW2 fittings. One of the desirable, signed Koaisshin Mantetsu swords. Signed blade, Koaisshin Mantetsu, dated Showa Mizunoe Uma Shu, or “Year of the Showa Horse in Autumn” (Autumn 1942). The hilt had not been removed since 1945, and it was effectively jammed in situ, so it took three days to remove in order not to harm the sword in any way. It has been said, a Koa Isshin would, in the right hands, make mincemeat of chain mail and probably seriously damage modern plate armour. Koa Isshin swords are superb, high quality, cutting instruments that exceeds all but the very best Koto nihonto for effectiveness. They are, in short, amongst the best blades that Japan has produced. Koa Isshin swords are therefore highly valued by martial artists and much sought after. A sword in as good a condition as it is possible for a WW2 combat sword that has seen use. In 1937, an innovation in the process of steel production enabled the Dairen Railway Factory to begin the production of sword blades for the Imperial Japanese Army. Dairen was also known as Port Arthur, a strategically important deep water harbour located in Manchuria, China that became a Japanese possession after the Russo-Japanese war. The reputation these swords gained as durable, reliable, effective cutting blades drove a large demand for them. In 1939, with production increasing the Dairen Railway Factory mark was replaced with the signature “Koaisshin Mantetsu”. Mantetsu literally translates as “Manchurian Steel”. The swords were dated using the zodiac cycle system of Jikkan/Junishi and the season, rather than a standard Nengo system. It would seem, to judge from a comparison of the hardness, that the Koa Isshin was deliberately based on the swords of the 2nd generation Muramasa. Mantetsu subjected their prototype sword to an appraised cutting test. The company did not tell the appraiser what the sword was. The appraiser identified it on the basis of its cutting ability as a Koto sword forged by Tadayoshi of Hizen; he considered that only a Tadayoshi sword could cut like that. Encouraged by this, Mantetsu established a sword factory and began production of swords in November 1937. Two swordsmiths, Takeshima Hisakatsu and Wakabayashi Shigetsugu, were invited to the Mantetsu facility to teach sword making to the workers. Shigetsugu returned to Japan before the end of the war and became Rikugun Jumyo Tosho. Initially the swords were signed "Mantetsu Kitau Tsukuru Kore". The name "Koa Issin to" was coined in March 1939 by Yosuke Matsuoka, the outgoing president of Mantetsu. In 1944 the Imperial Army sponsored a Shinsaku-to Exhibition (newly made sword exhibition) on the grounds of the Yasukuni Jinja. One of the many sections was for "Koa Isshin" blades made by different smiths as a patriotic gesture. Koaisshin swords have quite a following and are very desireable among collectors and practitioners who place high regard in them as functional, effective blades. As a result, they are becoming increasingly difficult to acquire, especially in good condition. The nakago is cycle dated. Mitzunoe-uma 1942 and the blade bears tiny close combat marks to the top edge. These could be removed with specialist polishing or left as honest combat signs.
Impressive and Beautiful Wakizashi Signed Musashi ju Fujiwara Suketaka This Shinshinto period sword has a spectacular looking blade with a gloriously beautiful hamon. The fittings fushi kashira are Higo style, inlaid with silver. The original Edo period saya has a kodzuka pocket fitted with a very nice Edo kodzuka of a patinated copper handle with a takebori flying crane and a half moon. The Edo iron sukashi tsuba depicting the three commas mitsudomoe. They represent magatama. Magatama are curved, comma-shaped beads that appeared in prehistoric Japan from the Final Jomon period through the Kofun period, approximately ca. 1,000 BC to the 6th century AD. The beads, also described as jewels, were made of primitive stone and earthen materials in the early period, but by the end of the Kofun period were made almost exclusively of jade. Magatama originally served as decorative jewelry, but by the end of the Kofun period functioned as ceremonial and religious objects. Archaeological evidence suggests that magatama were produced in specific areas of Japan and were widely dispersed throughout the Japanese archipelago via trade routes.
Iron Round Katana Tsuba With Amidayasuri and Wave Rim Koto period circa 1550 with very finely chisseled designs. Tsuba are usually finely decorated, and are highly desirable collectors' items in their own right. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only craft was making tsuba. They were usually lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectors items, they were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) crafted onto a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudo. In a duel, two participants may lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position from which to strike the other down. This is known as tsubazeriai pushing tsuba against each other.
Japanese Armour and Helmet Piercing Dagger Signed Yoshimitsu Circa 1390 Very fine suite of Edo fittings inlaid with gold and silver with a signed tsuba. Original Edo lacquer saya decorated with multi coloured lacquers. Saya fitted with a kodzuka utility knife and a pocket for a kogai. An ancient Samurai Tanto with an Armour piercing, single edged, triangular section mu-zori blade made around 1300 to 1400 a.d. in the Kamakura to Nambokochu era. Used throughout the great Warring era of Japan's ancient and turbulent history. In nice polish showing typical narrow hamon of the era. The Kamakura period [ Kamakura jidai 1185–1333] is a period of Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura by the first shogun, Minamoto no Yoritomo. The period is known for the emergence of the samurai, the warrior caste, and for the establishment of feudalism in Japan. The Kamakura period ended in 1333 with the destruction of the shogunate and the short reestablishment of imperial rule under Emperor Go-Daigo by Ashikaga Takauji, Nitta Yoshisada, and Kusunoki Masashige. The Kamakura period marks the transition to land-based economies and a concentration of advanced military technologies in the hands of a specialized fighting class. Lords required the loyal services of vassals, who were rewarded with fiefs of their own. The fief holders exercised local military rule
Japanese WW2 Officer's 'Comfort Bag' With Soap Case and Soap Still Present. Souvenirs of an allied soldier fighting in the Pacific War campaign in WW2. A mighty rare thing in many ways. An original, military, Imperial Japanese Army issue khaki drawstring comfort bag for toiletries with all it's army markings, but it still contains it's original plastic [artificial mother o'pearl] soap box and it's unused bar of military issue soap with impressed kanji markings.
Japanese WW2, Silk, Imperial Rising Sun Flag. Souvenir of WW2 War Veteran In superb condition. Excellent light as a feather silk. The far scarcer allied soldiers souvenir flag from the Pacific War campaign. The is not the common Japanese flag brought back as a souvenir such as the regular, so called, Japanese 'meat ball' flag, of a simple orange circle on a plain white ground. This is the scarcer Rising Sun Flag. The flag is 37 x 25 inches
Katana Hizen kuni Dewa no kami Yukihiro Circa 1670 Made For the Nabeshima All original Edo fittings to compliment the blade. 1670 Iron Higo mounts with pure gold inlaid Imperial chrysanthemum mon to the fushi and kashira. Round iron 1670 Edo tsuba. Original Edo period lacquer saya. Yukihiro was a swordsmith of Hizen province, and as we believe this sword was made by him around 1670, he was making his swords for the Nebeshima at this time, so we believe it is very likely this was created intially for one of that family clan. He was the Second son of Hashimoto Yoshinobu. Yukihiro acquired the title of Dewa Daijo in 1648 and was ranked up to Dewa (No) Kami in 1663. He travelled to Nagasaki to learn under Hisatsugu and Tanenaga who were highly informed about western steels brought to Japan by the Dutch. Yukihiro also studied Bizen-den style under the swordsmith that belonged to the Ishido School and sometimes added the character Ichi to his signature. Later he became a retained swordsmith of the Nabeshima family and lived in Nagase town. He passed away in 1683, aged 66. The clan controlled Saga Domain from the late Sengoku period through the Edo period. The Nabeshima clan was a cadet branch of the Shoni clan and was descended from the Fujiwara clan. In the late 12th century, Fujiwara no Sukeyori, a descendant of Fujiwara no Hidesato in the 9th generation, received the title of Dazai Shoni (equivalent to that of vice-governor of the military government of Kyushu) from Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo, and the title became the family name. The clan played an important role in the region as early as the Muromachi period, when it helped suppress opposition to the Ashikaga shogunate's control of Kyushu. It did not take the name Nabeshima, however, until the late 15th century, when Sh?ni Shigenao established himself at Nabeshima in Hizen province (today part of Saga City, Saga prefecture). Later, in the Sengoku period (1467-1603), the Nabeshima were one of a number of clans which clashed over the island. The Nabeshima sided with the Ryuzoji clan against the Otomo clan, though this ultimately ended in failure and the death of Ryuzoji Takanobu at the 1584 battle of Okita Nawate. Several years later, however, the Nabeshima recovered power and prominence by aiding Toyotomi Hideyoshi in his 1587 invasion of Kyushu; Nabeshima Naoshige was granted the region of Saga as his fief, as a reward for his efforts. Naoshige also contributed to Hideyoshi's invasions of Korea in the 1590s. The clan initially aided Ishida Mitsunari against Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Sekigahara Campaign in 1600. However, they switched sides to support the Tokugawa, who were ultimately victorious, before the campaign had ended, battling and occupying the forces of Tachibana Muneshige, who was thus prevented from contributing directly to the battle of Sekigahara. Though regarded as tozama daimyo ("outside" lords), and assigned particularly heavy corvee duties, the Nabeshima were allowed to keep their territory in Saga, and in fact had their kokudaka increased. The clan's forces served the new Tokugawa shogunate loyally in the years which followed; they remained in Kyushu during the 1615 Osaka Campaign as a check against a possible rebellion or uprising by the Shimazu clan, and aided in the suppression of the Shimabara Rebellion of 1637. In recognition of their service, members of the clan were granted the prestigious family honorific name of Matsudaira in 1648, Matsudaira being the original Tokugawa family name, the ruling Shogun of Japan for almost 300 years. 29.75 inch blade from tsuba to tip. Overall 39 inches long in saya
Katana Signed Tsuda Omni no Kami Sukenao 1688. A Top Shinto Smith A beautiful yet understated Katana by one of the great names in antique samurai sword making. Signed Tsuda Omni no Kami Sukenao and dated 1688 nakago, with the last two kanji lacking due to shortening. A simply wonderful sword by the adopted son of another sword blade smith that we are also offering. The saya is a black kanshitsu ishime nuri lacquer and a superb crayfish form iron sayajiri [scabbard bottom mount]. Osukashi pierced iron tsuba, and varjira menuki. Beautiful polish blade showing an undulating notare hamon. Sukenao served his apprenticeship in the workshop of Sukehiro I, and soon became the student of Sukehiro II. Sukehiro II, recognizing Sukenao's extraordinary talent, placed him in the position of foremost student. Sukehiro II had other students: Hiromasa, Suketaka, and Sukemune, to name a few. However, Sukenao was the only one who was able to step forth from the aura of fame surrounding his sensei, and be recognized for his own ability. It was during these years that he presumably married the young sister of Sukehiro II. It is also apparent that he was regarded as more of a son than a son-in-law, thus the theory was formed that he may have been the adopted son of Sukehiro I. Sukenao used the surname of Sukehiro "Tsuda," indicating a very close bond between them. 40 inches long overall, blade 27.5 inches long tsuba to tip
Ko Tosho School [Swordsmith Made] Mumei Katana Tsuba Circa 1400 The strong, softly lustrous metal and very well cut, the large Hitsu-ana, and the antique chisel marks around the Hitsu-ana are all characteristic indications of early-Muromachi period works. Carved openwork clan mon. The Hitsu-ana, made when the guard was first produced, suggests that it is a work of the time of Yoshimitsu. A well worked and hammered plate. According to tradition, it says each time a Tosho made a to-ken, he made a habaki with his own hands, and at the same time he also added a single tsuba such as this. The earliest Tosho tsuba are referred to in Japanese as Ko-Tosho “old sword smith” and date from the Genpei War (1180-1185) to middle Muromachi Period (1400-1500). During the late Kamakura Period large Ko-Tosho tsuba were developed and were used mostly as field mounts for odachi by high-ranking Samurai during and after the Mongol invasion of Japan in Genko Jidai (1274-1281 ) in the Muromachi Period (1336-1573) the Ko-Tosho tsuba became even more common with the development and popularization of the onehanded sword uchigatana as the only sword of Ashigaru. The most common design characteristic, next to the plain flat plate, for Ko-Tosho tsuba is kosukashi the simplistic use of small negative silhouetted openwork. The most common openwork designs are of mon (family crest), sun, moon, tools, plants, Buddhist, Shinto and sometimes Christian religious symbols. The plates iron is characteristically of a good temper, having good hardness and elasticity. The plate is made of local iron forged by the swordsmith or apprentice, the same as for Japanese sword blades. 74mm
Koto Era, Shibui Battle Katana Signed Masakuni Circa 1500 Five hundred years old with all original Edo fittings, very fine quality carved shakudo mounts and a fine o-sukashi Koto ere tsuba. The blade has a most fine and delicate irregular gunome hamon in it's original polish. Gilt menuki. Signed nakago but very difficult to read due to it's great age. Original lacquer Edo saya. The first use of "katana" as a word to describe a long sword that was different from a tachi is found in the 12th century. These references to "uchigatana" and "tsubagatana" seem to indicate a different style of sword, possibly a less costly sword for lower ranking warriors. The evolution of the tachi into the katana seems to have started during the early Muromachi period (1337 to 1573). Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the "katana" signature were made. This was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style" (cutting edge up). Japanese swords are traditionally worn with the signature facing away from the wearer. When a tachi was worn in the style of a katana, with the cutting edge up, the tachi's signature would be facing the wrong way. The fact that swordsmiths started signing swords with a katana signature shows that some samurai of that time period had started wearing their swords in a different manner. However, it is thought by many, that as many as 70% of katana made were never signed at all. Blade 28 inches long tsuba to tip, Overall 39 inches long in saya.
Koto Wakazashi Used By a Samurai Serving the Lord of Kaga, Maeda Toshiie Circa 1570, wakazashi with original Edo fittings in bronze and Edo lacquer saya with clan mon. O sukashi tsuba of dragon in iron with gold centred flowers. Very fine blade with wonderful and beautiful hamon. Used by a samurai in the service of the great samurai general and daimyo, the Lord of Kaga, Maeda Toshiie. Toshiie began his career as a member of the akahoro-shu, the unit under Oda Nobunaga's personal command. He later became an infantry captain (an ashigaru taisho ) in the Oda army. During his military career, Toshiie made the acquaintance of many important figures, such as Hashiba Hideyoshi, Sassa Narimasa, Akechi Mitsuhide, Takayama Ukon, and others. Toshiie also was a lifelong rival of Tokugawa Ieyasu. After defeating the Asakura clan, Maeda fought under Shibata Katsuie in the Hokuriku area. He was eventually granted a han (Kaga Domain) spanning Noto and Kaga Provinces. Despite its small size, Kaga was a highly productive province which would eventually develop into the wealthiest han in Edo period Japan, with a net worth of 1 million koku thus, it was nicknamed Kaga Hyaku-man-goku Toshiie benefited from a core group of very capable senior vassals. Some, like Murai Nagayori and Okumura Nagatomi, were retainers of long standing with the Maeda. After Nobunaga's assassination at Honno-ji by Akechi Mitsuhide and Mitsuhide's subsequent defeat by Hideyoshi, he battled Hideyoshi under Shibata's command in the Battle of Shizugatake. After Shibata's defeat, Toshiie worked for Hideyoshi and became one of his leading generals. Later somewhere during this time he was forced to fight another of his friends, Sassa Narimasa. Narimasa was greatly outnumbered and felled by Toshiie, following the major Maeda victory at the Battle of Suemori Castle. Before dying in 1598, Hideyoshi named Toshiie to the council of Five Elders to support Toyotomi Hideyori until he was old enough to take control on his own. However, Toshiie himself was ailing, and could manage to support Hideyori for only a year before he died as well. Toshiie was succeeded by his son Toshinaga.
Magnificent 500 Year Katana, Fit for a Shogun, Dedication to God of Wealth A 500 year old Koto period blade, with carved horimono of a dragon, a Vajra [lightning bolt] and an ancient ken sword on one side, the Shin-no kurikara, and a line of four kanji and a Buddhist bonji on the other. The bonji translates to a dedication to Diakokuten, [the God of Wealth]. All of the Edo koshirae are around 50% larger than normal and the whole magnificent sword was either made to be presented to a samurai general [equivalent] or from one, to his shogun or daimyo. Swords of such magnificent proportions were often highly significant gifts to be bestowed by, or upon, those of the highest Japanese status and regard. The presentation of swords was especially prevalent during the Sengoku-jidai as an important means of cultivating close bonds between a lord and his retainers. Such exchanges between Shogun and Daimyo [clan lords] became ritualized during the Edo period. The Shogun might present such a sword upon the occasion of a Daimyo inheriting a fine and valuable estate. Daimyo treasured these swords as family heirlooms but might return them to the Shogun many years later to celebrate a most auspicious occasion. This magnificent and ancient sword has the symbol of the dragon throughout it's design, including a pure gold decorated dragon in relief, wrapped in a spiral around the hilt [tsuka] in place of the more usual silk ito [wrap]. The koshirae [suite of fittings] are fine forged iron decorated with pure gold inlaid dragonflies, the magnificent forged iron and gold inlaid tsuba, is signed, and has another matching dragon inlaid in pure gold, chasing the pearl of wisdom in clouds, and the original Edo period cinnabar red lacquer bear two golden aoi mon with ken [noble clan crests]. A revolution took place from the time of the Kamakura shogunate, which existed with the Tenno's court, to the Tokugawa, when the samurai became the unchallenged rulers in what historian Edwin O. Reischauer called a "centralized feudal" form of government. Instrumental in the rise of the new bakufu was Tokugawa Ieyasu, the main beneficiary of the achievements of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Already powerful, Ieyasu profited by his transfer to the rich Kanto area. He maintained two million koku of land, a new headquarters at Edo, a strategically situated castle town (the future Tokyo), and also had an additional two million koku of land and thirty-eight vassals under his control. After Hideyoshi's death, Ieyasu moved quickly to seize control from the Toyotomi family. Ieyasu's victory over the western daimyos at the Battle of Sekigahara (October 21, 1600, or in the Japanese calendar on the 15th day of the ninth month of the fifth year of the Keicho era) gave him virtual control of all Japan. He rapidly abolished numerous enemy daimyo houses, reduced others, such as that of the Toyotomi, and redistributed the spoils of war to his family and allies. Ieyasu still failed to achieve complete control of the western daimyos, but his assumption of the title of shogun helped consolidate the alliance system. After further strengthening his power base, Ieyasu installed his son Hidetada (1579–1632) as shogun and himself as retired shogun in 1605. The Toyotomi were still a significant threat, and Ieyasu devoted the next decade to their eradication. In 1615, the Tokugawa army destroyed the Toyotomi stronghold at Osaka. Blade 27.25 inches tsuba to tip, overall 43.5 inches long in saya, tsuka 12 inches, tsuba 3.75 inches
Most Attractive Samurai Yari Spear Blade in Shira Saya and Oshigata Scroll Signed tang and in full polish. A Samurai Sankaku su Yari Polearm. Probably Shinto period in nice order overall. Yari is the Japanese term for spear, or more specifically, the straight-headed spear. The martial art of wielding the yari is called sojutsu. A yari can range in length from one meter to upwards of six metres (3.3 to 20 feet). The longer versions were called omi no yari while shorter ones were known as mochi yari or tae yari. The longest versions were carried by foot troops (ashigaru), while samurai usually carried a shorter yari such as this example. Yari are believed to have been derived from Chinese spears, and while they were present in early Japan's history they did not become popular until the thirteenth century.The original warfare of the bushi was not a thing for "commoners"; it was a ritualized combat usually between two warriors who may challenge each other via horseback archery and sword duels. However, the attempted Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281 changed Japanese weaponry and warfare. The Mongol-employed Chinese and Korean footmen wielded long pikes, fought in tight formation, and moved in large units to stave off cavalry. Polearms (including naginata and yari) were of much greater military use than swords, due to their much greater range, their lesser weight per unit length (though overall a polearm would be fairly hefty), and their great piercing ability. Swords in a full battle situation were therefore relegated to emergency sidearm status from the Heian through the Muromachi periods. Around later half of sixteenth century, ashigaru holding pikes (naga yari) with length of 4.5 to 6.5 m (15 to 22 feet) or sometimes 10 m became main forces in armies. They formed lines, combined with harquebusiers and short spearmen. Pikemen formed two or three row of line, and were forced to move up and down their pikes in unison under the command.Yari overtook the popularity of the daikyu for the samurai, and foot troops (ashigaru) used them extensively as well Various types of yari points or blades existed. The most common blade was a straight, flat, design that resembles a straight-bladed double edged dagger. This type of blade could cut as well as stab and was sharpened like a razor edge. Though yari is a catchall for spear, it is usually distinguished between kama yari, which have additional horizontal blades, and simple su yari (choku-so) or straight spears. Yari can also be distinguished by the types of blade cross section: the triangular sections were called sankaku yari and the diamond sections were called ryo-shinogi yari. Sankaku yari (triangle spear) had a point that resembled a narrow spike with a triangular cross-section. A sankaku yari therefore had no sharp edges, only a sharp point at the end, but all the edges was hamon hardened with a tempered edge. The sankaku yari was therefore best suited for penetrating armor, even armor made of metal, which a standard yari was not as suited to. Blade and tang 412mm, blade 15cm
Most Attractive Traditional Samurai Sword Blade, Shinshinto In Shirasaya Mounted in it's bespoke storage mount. Absolutely perfect for fully re-mounting to create a fine traditional samurai sword. In full Edo polish with a good undulating hamon. 19th century. A similar handmade blade, if commissioned today from one of the twenty or so approved traditional Japanese swordsmiths, would cost from £8,000 to £12,000. It would also require a wait of up to two years, so in that respect alone, this fine blade is of exceptionally good value. Blade 24.8 inch
Please View One of The Best Selections Of Original Samurai Arms in Europe Please View One of The Best Selections Of Original Samurai Arms in Europe Over the past 38 years I have personally supervised our company's determination to provide the most interesting, educational, yet not too intimidating, gallery of original Japanese Samurai weapons, helmets, sword fittings, polearms, muskets and armour. Principally concentrating on a combination of age, beauty, quality and history. Thanks to an extensive contact base [built up over the past 80 years or more] that stretches across the whole world, including collectors [both large and small], curators, academics and consultants, we have been very fortunate, that this effort has rewarded us with the ability to offer, what we believe to be, the most comprehensive selection available in Europe. Although we would never arrogantly credit ourselves to be experts on Japanese Nihonto, for, quite simply, some of the most learned scholars studying this art all theirs lives often only scratch the surface of the knowledge to be learnt in this field, we have always loved history of the Samurai and admired and envied their unparalleled beauty. Our Japanese weapons vary in age up to 700 years old, and are frequently some of the finest examples of specialist workmanship ever achieved by mankind. We have tried to include, within the description of some items, a brief history lesson [for those that are interested, and may not know] that will describe the eras, areas and circumstances that these items were used in. We have tried our utmost to be informative and interesting without being too academic in order to keep the details vibrant, fascinating yet not too complex. Please enjoy, with our compliments, our Japanese Gallery. It has been decades in the creation, and we intend it to remain interesting and informative, hopefully, for decades to come. Mark Hawkins [Partner].
Sakazuki. A Footed Circular Wine Cup of Gold Lacquer Signed Hira Yoyusai Edo period (19th century), signed Yoyusai (1772-1845), footed, circular cup of gold lacquer in gold hiramaki-e on fundame ground. Decorated with an Imperial court cap, a war fan, a pole arm and a tied sack. In the period Kwansei, 1789 to 1801 C.E., Koma Kwansai Inouye Hakusai, and Hara Yoyusai were the most famous artists, the first of whom was foremost in the delicacy of his work, but was comparatively unknown. Nakayama Komin was a distinguished lacquerer who worked in Edo and learnt the art from Hara Yoyusai (1772-1845). Yoyusai and other 19th-century lacquer artists including Koma Kansai and Zeshin, Nakayama Komin turned to famous early masterpieces of Japanese lacquer for inspiration. A superbly executed piece of finest artwork, showing remarkable skill for the minutest detail. Hiramaki-e, in Japanese lacquerwork, gold decoration in low, or “flat,” relief, a basic form of maki-e. The pattern is first outlined on a sheet of paper with brush and ink. It is then traced on the reverse side of the paper with a mixture of heated wet lacquer and (usually red) pigment. The artist transfers the pattern directly to the desired surface by rubbing with the fingertips, a process called okime. In the next step (jigaki), the pattern that has been transferred is painted over with lacquer—usually a reddish colour. A dusting tube is used to sprinkle gold powder on the painted design while the lacquer is still wet. When the lacquer is dry, superfluous gold powder is dusted off, and a layer of clear lacquer is applied over the gold-covered design. When dry, it is polished with powdered charcoal. A second layer of lacquer is added, allowed to dry, and given a fingertip polish with a mixture of linseed oil and finely powdered mudstone. The hiramaki-e technique, which dates from the latter part of the Heian period (794–1185), was preceded by togidashi maki-e, a technique in which not only the design but the whole surface is covered with clear lacquer after the sprinkling of metal powder; the lacquer is then polished down to reveal the design. During the Kamakura (1192–1333) and Muromachi (1338–1573) periods, hiramaki-e tended to be overshadowed by takamaki-e (gold or silver decoration in bold relief). It came fully into its own only in comparatively modern times. During the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1574–1600), hiramaki-e artists often left the sprinkled gold powder unpolished in a technique called maki-hanashi (“left as sprinkled”). A very beautiful piece by the master or an homage to Yoyusai bearing his name. 5" diameter across 1 1/3rd inch high
Shinto 'Banzai' Katana Signed Sesshu ju Suketaka In untouched 'sleeper' condition for over 140 years. Made around 1770. Very rare sword to bears the inscription 'Banzai' on the tang one side, and the smith signature to the other, Sesshu ju Suketaka [Osaka] in cursive script. The blade has a good undulating gunome hamon that should look beautiful with re-polishing. The tsuba has a fine sukashi piercing of a mon, and the rays of buddha design. It also has yotsuma mon menuki for a samurai of the Minamoto clan, especially by the Uda Genji, decendants of Emperor Uda. They eventually separated into many clans The ancient coarse iron Higo school fuchi kashira bear a most charming rabbit with some gold highlights. Mon of Maruni Sumitate Yotsumei Circle and Four Eyelets on the Edge of the Uda Genji. The Chinese term was introduced to Japan as banzai in the 8th century, and was used to express respect for the Emperor in much the same manner as its Chinese cognate. Even earlier, however, according to the Nihongi, during the reign of Empress Kogyoku, A.D. 642, 8th Month, 1st Day: The Emperor made a progress to the river source of Minabuchi. Here, she knelt down and prayed, worshipping towards the four quarters and looking up to the Heaven. Straightway there was thunder and a great rain, which eventually fell for 5 days, and plentifully bedewed the Empire. Hereupon the peasantry throughout the Empire cried with one voice: "Banzei" and said "an Emperor of exceeding virtue".
Shinto Samurai Sankaku su Yari Polearm [Spear], As used as Kago Yari The small kago sankaku yari, was a yari [spear], mounted on a short stabbing pole, and kept within a palanquin, within a small rack, that could be accessed instantly to defend the person carried within the palanquin [whether it be a daimyo or samurai for example] from an outside attacker attempting to harm or rob them. Extremely effective and efficient when used in the trained hands of an exponent of yari combat. Nice polish, Edo era, single small edge nick [see photo]. Set in Shira saya handle. A small three side bladed yari as could typically be mounted as kago yari. Picture in the gallery depicting a Samurai coming out from his palanquin when facing an assailant, his left hand is obscured for him to reach the kaga yari concealed in it's rack inside Samurai Emerging from a Palanquin by Toyokuni III/Kunisada (1786 - 1864)
Simply Beautiful Shinto Chisa Katana Signed Katsutsugu Circa 1650, with original Edo shakudo mounts, including signed kodzuke decorated with a flying crane and full moon, and its signed kodzuka blade bears an horimono, the signed fushi is decorated with a superb cockerel with fine shakudo plumage, the kogai is inlaid with silver scrolls representing clouds. Original Edo lacquer saya of the finest quality decorated with tiny rectangular slices of abilone shell over black lacquer and beneath clear lacquer. The blade is grey and should be repolished to show its true beauty. The tsuba is chisseled with a nanako ground and deep relief takebori carved flower heads in silver and gold. Wakizashi have been in use as far back as the 15th or 16th century. The wakizashi was used as a backup or auxiliary sword; it was also used for close quarters fighting, and also to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi toshi, the chisa-katana and the tanto. The term wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of "wakizashi no katana" ("sword thrust at one's side"); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set.The Chisa Katana is a slightly shorter Katana highly suitable for two handed, or two sword combat, or, combat within enclosed areas such as castles or buildings. As such they were often the sword of choice for the personal Samurai guard of a Daimyo, and generally the only warriors permitted to be armed in his presence. Chisa katana, [Chiisagatana] or literally "short katana", are shoto mounted as katana. Blade 22.75 inches from tsuba to tip, full length in saya 32 inches
Stunning Clan Mon Tanto Between 600 to 700 Years Old All original, superb quality Edo fittings and mounts [1596-1868]. Gold embellished dragon design, and signed, kodzukatana utility knife. The blade is Nambokochu and is in super polish with a typical thin suguha hamon of the period. Giant ray skin covered hilt with three clan mon menuki covered in pure in gold. Carved buffallo horn kashira and saya mounts. One patron mon will likely be the dominant mon and the others from conjoined allied clans, through marriage, and subserviant retainer families. Mon may have originated as fabric patterns to be used on clothes in order to distinguish individuals or signify membership of a specific clan or organization. But by twelfth century Japan, sources give a clear indication that heraldry had been implemented as a distinguishing feature, especially for use in battle. It is seen on flags, tents, weapons armour, and equipment. Like European heraldry, mon were used on the battlefield and mon served as army standards, even though this usage was not universal and uniquely designed army standards were just as common as mon-based standards ( sashimono, uma-jirushi). Japanese traditional formal attire generally displays the mon of the wearer. Rules regulating the choice and use of mon were somewhat limited, though the selection of mon was generally determined by social customs. It was considered improper to use a mon that was known to be held by someone else, and offensive to use a mon that was held by someone of a high rank. When mon came into conflict, the lower-ranked person sometimes changed their mon to avoid offending their superior. The mon held by the ruling clans of Japan, such as Tokugawa's hollyhock mon and the Emperor's chrysanthemum mon, were legally protected from unauthorized usage. Occasionally, patron clans granted the use of their mon to their retainers as a reward. Similar to the granting of the patron's surnames, this was considered a very high honour. Alternatively, the patron clan may have added elements of its mon to that of its retainer, or choose a completely different mon for them.
Stunning Japanese Katana Signed Kiyomitsu Circa 1390-1440 Ancient Nambokochu to Muramachi era katana. All original Edo fittings and saya. A simply beautiful sword fully mounted with koshirae that have representations of all manner of birds, from a hawk to flying cranes, and cockerels with hens. Pure gold overlaid menuki of a cockeral. Beutifully chisseled o sukashi tsuba in copper depicting a hawk. The blade has a typically early period narrow sugaha hamon. To many of us in the West, the movie image of the samurai in his fantastic armour, galloping into battle on his horse, his colourful personal flag, or sashimono, whipping in the wind on his back, has become the very symbol of Japan, the Empire of the Rising Sun. And, truly, to the samurai of real life, nothing embodied his warrior’s code of Bushido more than his sword, considered inseparable from his soul. Indeed, a sword was considered such a crucial part of a samurai’s life that when a young samurai was about to be born, a sword was brought into the bedchamber during the delivery. When the time came for an old samurai to die — and cross over into the ‘White Jade Pavilion of the Afterlife’ — his honoured sword was placed by his side. Even after death, a daimyo, or nobleman, believed he could count on his samurai who had followed him into the next world to use their keen blades to guard him against any demons, just as they had wielded their trusty weapons to defend him against flesh-and-blood enemies in this life. The legendary 16th century samurai warrior, said by many to be the best ever, Miyamoto Musashi, was a great exponent of single handed sword wielding, using two shorter swords as this one, simultaneously. Within his book, Musashi mentions that the use of two swords within strategy is mutually beneficial between those who utilize this skill. The idea of using two hands for a sword is an idea which Musashi disagrees with, in that there is not fluidity in movement when using two hands — "If you hold a sword with both hands, it is difficult to wield it freely to left and right, so my method is to carry the sword in one hand"; he as well disagrees with the idea of using a sword with two hands on a horse, and/or riding on unstable terrain, such as muddy swamps, rice fields, or within crowds of people.
Superb Edo Period 17th Cent. Samurai Armour Gosuko [Not Helmet] 17th century full do, front and back & plates of iron over lacquered [fully laced] and chain mail and steel plate arm defences. Shown with a suitable helmet for display, but the armour is not for sale including this helmet. During the Heian period (794-1185), the Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of armour worn by the samurai known as the dou or do. Japanese armour makers started to use leather (nerigawa) and lacquer was used to weather proof the armor parts. By the end of the Heian period the Japanese cuirass had arrived at the shape recognized as being distinctly samurai. Leather and or iron scales were used to construct samurai armours, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) which these cuirasses were now being made from. In the 16th century Japan began trading with Europe during what would become known as the Nanban trade. Samurai acquired European armour including the cuirass and comb morion which they modified and combined with domestic armour as it provided better protection from the newly introduced matchlock muskets known as Tanegashima. The introduction of the tanegashima by the Portuguese in 1543 changed the nature of warfare in Japan causing the Japanese armour makers to change the design of their armours from the centuries-old lamellar armours to plate armour constructed from iron and steel plates which was called tosei gusoku (new armours). Bullet resistant armours were developed called tameshi gusoku or (bullet tested) allowing samurai to continue wearing their armour despite the use of firearms. Please note the helmet is not with the armour. The silk lacing on the breast and back plate is 400 years old and very frayed throughout.
Superlative Imperial Japanese“Koa Isshin Mantetsu Steel Officer's Sword One of the highly desirable, signed Koaisshin Mantetsu swords. Signed blade, Koaisshin Mantetsu , dated Showa Mizunoe Uma Shu, or “Year of the Showa Horse in Autumn” (Autumn 1942). It has been said, a Koa Isshin would, in the right hands, make mincemeat of chain mail and probably seriously damage modern plate armour. Koa Isshin swords are superb, high quality, cutting instruments that exceeds all but the very best Koto nihonto for effectiveness. They are, in short, amongst the best blades that Japan has produced. Koa Isshin swords are therefore highly valued by martial artists and much sought after. A sword in as good a condition as it is possible for a WW2 combat sword that has seen use. In 1937, an innovation in the process of steel production enabled the Dairen Railway Factory to begin the production of sword blades for the Imperial Japanese Army. Dairen was also known as Port Arthur, a strategically important deep water harbour located in Manchuria, China that became a Japanese possession after the Russo-Japanese war. The reputation these swords gained as durable, reliable, effective cutting blades drove a large demand for them. In 1939, with production increasing the Dairen Railway Factory mark was replaced with the signature “Koaisshin Mantetsu”. Mantetsu literally translates as “Manchurian Steel”. The swords were dated using the zodiac cycle system of Jikkan/Junishi and the season, rather than a standard Nengo system. It would seem, to judge from a comparison of the hardness, that the Koa Isshin was deliberately based on the swords of the 2nd generation Muramasa. Mantetsu subjected their prototype sword to an appraised cutting test. The company did not tell the appraiser what the sword was. The appraiser identified it on the basis of its cutting ability as a Koto sword forged by Tadayoshi of Hizen; he considered that only a Tadayoshi sword could cut like that. Encouraged by this, Mantetsu established a sword factory and began production of swords in November 1937. Two swordsmiths, Takeshima Hisakatsu and Wakabayashi Shigetsugu, were invited to the Mantetsu facility to teach sword making to the workers. Shigetsugu returned to Japan before the end of the war and became Rikugun Jumyo Tosho. Initially the swords were signed "Mantetsu Kitau Tsukuru Kore". The name "Koa Issin to" was coined in March 1939 by Yosuke Matsuoka, the outgoing president of Mantetsu. In 1944 the Imperial Army sponsored a Shinsaku-to Exhibition (newly made sword exhibition) on the grounds of the Yasukuni Jinja. One of the many sections was for "Koa Isshin" blades made by different smiths as a patriotic gesture. Koaisshin swords have quite a following and are very desireable among collectors and practitioners who place high regard in them as functional, effective blades. As a result, they are becoming increasingly difficult to acquire, especially in good condition. This example is probably the one of the nicest we have seen. The nakago is cycle dated.
The Lanes Armoury Probably The Largest Militaria Webstore in The World Happy New Year To All Our Clients and Regular Readers. Thank you all for your loyal and most valued custom through 2016, and we wish you a Healthy and Prosperous New Year. This website contains over 15,500 full page colour photographs, with fully descriptive and historical text for each and every original item, for your delectation and perusal. A selection second to none and as varied as one can imagine. Original pieces of history from ancient Persia to Medieval Japan. Covering all of the British, European and worldwide eras of conflict from the past 3000 years, with weaponry, armour, militaria and books from the bronze age to WW2. Certificates of Authenticity supplied with every purchase.
Very Nice Katana Signed Kaga Sadatsugu Circa 1550, Kabuki Fittings It is said he came from the line of Kashu Ietsugu. The fittings are superb, fine quality, and of iron a Higo style russetted ground with shibuishi embellishments of a kabuki mask, gunsen war fan, court cap and stick of bells [suzu]. The fittings are all original antique Edo, and only the leather covering to it's original Edo wooden saya shows it was last used by an officer in WW2. The blade is simply beautiful, especially for a 450 year old example. Kabuki symbology is scarce and most popular when seen on Japanese sword koshirae. It is very attractive indeed, and reflects the ancient connection between Japanese theatre and it's popular subject of plays of famous samurai warfare and legendary conflicts. The Tsuba is engraved with the symbolic chrysanthemum on flowing water the revered Kikusui mon [chrysanthemum on water] of the Kusunoki clan and the Minotogawa. Antique original Sadatsugu smith made blades in swords of all kinds [Katana, Tanto, Wakazashi] have, on occasion, been regularly recorded with this symbol, either engraved on the tang or on koshirae, and we have seen it at least four or five times before over the past recent decade. One couldn't say for certain they are all connected, but the coincidence is quite intriguing. Kusunoki is one of the most highly regarded men of ancient Japanese samurai history, renown for his loyalty, although reviled as a traitor for a while due to his rebellion from the powers of the time. After the full-scale introduction of Neo-Confucianism as a state philosophy by the Tokugawa Shogunate, Kusunoki Masashige, once-called a traitor by the Northern Court, was resurrected with Emperor Go-Daigo as a precursor of Sino centric absolutists, based upon the Neo-Confucian theories. During the Edo period, scholars and samurai who were influenced by the Neo-Confucian theories created the legend of Kusunoki and enshrined him as a patriotic hero, called Nanko or Dai-Nanko who epitomized loyalty, courage, and devotion to the Emperor. Kusunoki later became a patron saint of sorts to the World War II kamikaze, who saw themselves as his spiritual heirs in sacrificing their lives for the Emperor. The history of kabuki began in 1603 when Izumo no Okuni, possibly a miko of Izumo Taisha, began performing a new style of dance drama in the dry riverbeds of Kyoto. It originated in the 17th century. Japan was under the control of the Tokugawa shogunate, enforced by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The name of the Edo period derives from the relocation of the Tokugawa regime from its former home in Kyoto to the city of Edo, present-day Tokyo. Female performers played both men and women in comic playlets about ordinary life. The style was immediately popular, and Okuni was asked to perform before the Imperial Court. In the wake of such success, rival troupes quickly formed, and kabuki was born as ensemble dance and drama performed by women—a form very different from its modern incarnation. Much of its appeal in this era was due to the ribald, suggestive themes featured by many troupes; this appeal was further augmented by the fact that the performers were often also available for prostitution.Sambaso is an auspicious ritual dance of ancient origin which was intended to appease the gods and bring good fortune. The Sambaso is supposed to have originated in the 9th century as a religious dance to thwart earthquakes. The Sambaso dance was performed at the beginning of the New Year at the start of the Kabuki season and before certain Noh plays, and it has served as a prelude to theatrical performances since the establishment of theater in Japan. The dancer wears a high hat with a red sun disc on either side, and he carries and shakes a rattle with bells. The sound of the bells was an important part of the Sambaso’s dance, and his dancing figure is said to be auspicious for good times. Suzu bells were once used to drive off demons. (A similar cluster of bells is on display at the Museum of Noh Artifacts in Sasayama, Japan.) The leather WW2 combat protection could easily removed and the traditional lacquer beneath restored to it's original antique apperance. Full length 37.75 inches in saya, tip to tsuba blade length 25.75 inches
We Offer One of The Largest Selections Of Original Samurai Arms in Europe Over the past 40 years I have personally supervised our company's determination to provide the most interesting, educational, yet not too intimidating, gallery of original Japanese Samurai weapons, helmets, sword fittings, polearms, muskets and armour for sale. Principally concentrating on a combination of age, beauty, quality and history. Thanks to an extensive contact base [built up over the past 80 years or more] that stretches across the whole world, including collectors [both large and small], curators, academics and consultants, we have been very fortunate, that this effort has rewarded us with the ability to offer, what we believe to be, the most comprehensive selection available in Europe. We have always loved the history of the Samurai and their weaponry, and we have long admired and envied their skill at creating the unparalleled beauty of samurai swords. Our Japanese weapons vary in age up to 700 years old, and are frequently some of the finest examples of specialist workmanship ever achieved by mankind. We have tried to include, within the description of most items, a brief history lesson [for those that have interest, and may wish to know] that will describe the eras, areas and circumstances that these items were used in. We have tried our utmost to be informative and interesting without being too academic in order to keep the details vibrant, fascinating yet not too complex. Although we would never arrogantly credit ourselves to be all-knowing experts on Japanese historical Nihonto, for, quite simply, some of the most learned scholars, studying the art of nihonto all of their lives, often admit to only scratching the surface of the knowledge to be learnt in this extraordinary field. Please enjoy, with our compliments, our Japanese Gallery. It has been decades in the creation, and we intend it to remain interesting and informative, hopefully, for decades to come. Mark Hawkins [Partner].
Wonderful Koto Era, Shibui Battle-Sword Katana, Signed Masakuni Circa 1500 Five hundred years old with all original Edo fittings, very fine quality carved shakudo mounts and a fine o-sukashi Koto era tsuba. The blade has a most fine and delicate irregular gunome hamon in beautiful polish. It has gilt menuki under the Edo silk wrap. The blade is signed on the nakago as usual but it ius very difficult to read due to it's great age. Original lacquer Edo saya. "Shibui" is a Japanese sword term translating to 'quiet'. The idea is that the sword is dark, subtle and reserved and made perfect for all forms of combat without being over decorative, in order not to overtly attract attention, especially at night. The first use of "katana" as a word to describe a long sword that was different from a tachi is found in the 12th century. These references to "uchigatana" and "tsubagatana" seem to indicate a different style of sword, possibly a less costly sword for lower ranking warriors. The evolution of the tachi into the katana seems to have started during the early Muromachi period (1337 to 1573). Starting around the year 1400, long swords signed with the "katana" signature were made. This was in response to samurai wearing their tachi in what is now called "katana style" (cutting edge up). Japanese swords are traditionally worn with the signature facing away from the wearer. When a tachi was worn in the style of a katana, with the cutting edge up, the tachi's signature would be facing the wrong way. The fact that swordsmiths started signing swords with a katana signature shows that some samurai of that time period had started wearing their swords in a different manner. However, it is thought by many, that as many as 70% of katana made were never signed at all. Blade 28 inches long tsuba to tip, Overall 39 inches long in saya. Some old rayskin losses under the ito.
WW2 Katana, Mukansa Rated Smith Signed Echigo Kuni [junin] Mitsuoki Tsukuru As usual, we have spared no expense in having this sword restored. A fine Japanese army officer's sword with duluxe polished rayskin and lacquer covered saya, signed and dated WW2 on the nakago. All the mounts are matching numbered. Swordsmith Mitusoki Endo was born in 1904, [Meiji 37]. His real name was Jinsaku Endo. He lived in Niigata city, and he studied the method of forging by himself. He joined the Nihonto Tanren-sho of Hikosaburo Kurihara in 1935. Then he worked actively in Showa era. He was honoured most frequently in the Shinsaku-to exhibitions. In 1939 he made swords for the 700th anniversary of the death of Emperor Gotoba. Rated Ju Ju Saku, he was officially recognized Mukansa in 1981. Mukansa meaning: "without judgment", meaning that his swords are of such a level that they are displayed at the annual contemporary sword smith exhibition without examination of a panel of judges; no further awards will be granted, since the swords are above competition. He offered his swords for Ise-jigu shrine and Yasukuni-jinjya shrine, too. He had his signature ; "Endo Mitsuoki", "Mitsuoki", "Echigo-no-kuni Numataru-junin Endo Mitsuoki", "Echigo Mitsuoki". Clipping from the Index of Japanese Swordsmiths by Markus Sesko in the gallery. To be selected as a Mukansa currently, a swordsmith must win the Prince Takamatsu Prize, more than 3 times, and the Tokusho, more than 5 times. Candidates awarded the Tokusho more than 8 times are also considered. These tokusho includes the following 6 prizes: Prince Takamatsu Prize, Bunkacho Minister Prize, NBTHK President Prize , Kunzan Prize , Kanzan Prize , Japanese Swordsmith Association President Prize . 39 inches long overall, blade 27 inches long tsuba to tip