Gaigin's Japanese Art Swords



Izumi no Kami Fujiwara Kunisada - Inoue Shinkai


This sword comes with an attribution from the late NTHK to second generation Kunisada who was also know as Inoue Shinkai, one of the most famous and skilled sword smiths of the Shinto period.

Chikuzen Nobukuni Yoshinao Ken
This ken was made as a Temple Dedication by Yoshinao in the early Shinto period.  The sword is of very good quality representing his best effort.
It has never had a mekugi ana 
drilled in the tang and is ubu.  It is nicely inscribed with a poem and a 
prayer, and the smiths name.

Sadamune -Toshinaga Tanto
This very important tanto has a Honami signed sayagaki dated in the late 1800’s attributing this sword to Sadamune 
the son of perhaps the most famous Japanese sword smith Masamune.  
It also has NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon papers with an attribution to Toshinaga, Sadamune’s son, and Masamune’s grandson.  
The sword displays the very similar work styles of Sadamune as well as his son and student Toshinaga.
This is a magnificent tanto.  It is done in the style of the early Soshu Tanto.  
It is wide and has a very nice shape with a wide and deep hataraki with large nie and large black chikei.  The tanto has a 
nagasa of 28.6 cm and a total length of 39.2cm.  



This sword has attribution to shodai SADATSUNA in Sekishu  province from the Iwami no Kuni, who was the son of NAOTSUNA, one of MASAMUNE's 10 disciples (genius smiths).  


Norishige Ko-dachi

with Gold Court Tachi Koshira



This is a very old blade with a signature that is hard to read. 

The sword has a very faint character for the second kanji in the mei so I submitted it to the NBTHK for shinsa and it was papered to Norishige.  


Nobukuni Tanto

Juyo Token

This superb meito was made very early by Shodai Nobukuni as it shows many of the Rai and Ryokai characteristics as indicated by the sayagaki of Tanobe Michihiro of the NBTHK.  This sword was the property of Date family.  Date Masamune,  presented this sword and mounts to the family of his son and heir's mother at the time of his birth in 1600.  The sword is mounted in period mounts with gold fittings with the Date family mon prominently displayed on the habaki, kozuka and menuki.  The sword comes with the original lacquer storage box as well as the arsenal box from the Date family arsenal with the inventory dates and information on the inside of the box cover.  A very unique and important item.


Naginata Naoshi

This sword comes with Tokubetsu Hozon certificate from the NBTHK and sayagaki by Tanobe Michihiro sensei attributing this sword to the Hoju.  The Hoju worked in the mid Nambokucho period and produces blades that were the favorite of the warrior monks of the time.  This sword is an excellent example of the weapons of the 13th century, and has been very well cared for over the years.


Ko Mihara Tachi

This sword is accompanied by a certificate from the NBTHK as well as sayagaki by Tanobe Michihiro sensei. 

This is a wonderful sword in very fine condition from the late Kamakura period.

 Shikkake Norinaga Tanto

Juyo Token

This superb Juyo tanto, mounted in Tea Ceremony mounts with solid gold fittings is by the founder of the Shikkake school, shodai Norinaga. 

As the sayagaki by Tanobe Michihiro of the NBTHK states this is an exemplary work of this smith and a text book tanto of this famous smith and school.


Kanetsuna Tanto

Omori School Mounts

Signed: Kanetsuna

This is a powerful tanto with very fine workmanship.  The sword is tempered with a flamboyant hitatsura.  The hada is masame on the ura and mokume on the omote, accompanied by Tokubetsu Hozon origami from the NBTHK.

The sword is mounted in silver and gold mounts in a roaring wave design.  This style of waves and dragons was a favorite design of Omori Teruhide and is probably by him or one of his disciples.  The deeply carved fuchi, kashira, kurikata, kojiri are all heavy silver and carved in high relief with the gold dragon interwoven ito the design.  This is a very elegant and unique set of mounts and fittings.  The kozuka is on suite and the kogatana is signed.  The tsuka has menuki of large heavy gold dragons, large nodule same, and black ito.  The saya is of the best quality, with a wave design in the irushi lacquer on the lower half of the saya and the upper portion is smooth.  The koshira is mounted with a wooden tsunagi.  This is a very fine sword and matching mounts.

Naotane Tachi

Naotane was one of the most famous and skilled smiths of the revival, or ShinShinto period.  He was born in 1788 in Uzen Yamagata, was called Soji Minobei, and has the go of Taikei and died at the age of 79 in 1857.  He was a student of Suishinshi Masahide, and later served Lord Akimoto, the same as his teacher.  He received the title of Chikuzen no Daijo in about 1821, about the time this sword was made.  He later changed his title to Mino no Suke in 1848. 

Naotane was very skilled in producing swords in the style of all five of the Koto traditions.  His fame and skill surpassed that of his teacher, Masahide.  His best work I think were done in the style of the Bizen Den and Soshu Den.  This tachi is in the style of Bizen Kagemitsu. 

This sword has a beautiful, bright hada displaying the characteristic uzumaki hada  that is seen in the ha of swords made by Naotane.   He was particularly skilled at reproducing the kataochi gunome choji temper with long ashi and utsuri, in the style of work of made by Bizen Kagemitsu during the Kamakura period.   The hataraki in this sword is beautiful and strong with very bright nie and nioi throughout.  There are long strands of ji nie throughout the ji.  The kissaki is medium long and is tempered in a midare and is very elegant and done with skill.

This tachi displays the great skill of this smith.  It has the characteristic black lines woven through the hada in the ha area and the flowing sunagashi and kinsuji and the dark patches of o-hada in the ji he was know for.  The sword has Bo-hi that is very well carved and extends through the tang. 

The shape of the tachi is very elegant, and reminds one of the swords of the Kamakura period.  

The sword has a gold habaki and is mounted in shirasaya with sayagaki by Tanobe Michihiro sensei who indicated on the saya that "this sword is rare, important and precious"

The nakago has very fine yasurei and the signature is carefully inscribed .  The nakago is signed and dated tachi mei, Shoji Chikuzen Daijo Taikei Naotane and bears his Kao, and is dated Bunsei 7 or 1824.


There were two famous smiths who signed Kuniyuki.  One was the son of Kuniyoshi, and the founder of the Rai school who worked during the early 1200's during the Mongol invasions and the other was a member of the Echizen Rai group and worked during the later part of the Nambokucho period circa 1365.  I am uncertain as to which smith made this tanto but in either case he was very skilled.  There are long strands of ji nie in the style of the Rai and very powerful and prominent utsuri.


Genshoke Chikanori

Genshoke Chikanori worked in the ShinShinto period from about 1818 to 1864 or just about till the time of the abolition of wearing swords in Japan.  He was a very skilled smith and is highly rated, Chujosaku by Fujishiro sensei. 

This is a special order sword, making it very unique.  This sword was ordered by a Daimyo as a gift for a friend of his grandson, who was also a Daimyo.   It is inscribed with the special order instructions.  "Because my (outside) grandson Tomita Tomosada requested it, I let sword smith Chikanori forge this blade as a gift for Nagaben's family Saito Masamitsu".

The sword is a long blade, and is a very elegant, 79.4cm or 31 5/16 inches cutting edge and a massive106.3cm total length or 41 7/8 inches.  The blade is tempered in nioi decki and has a lot of activity in the hataraki.  There are patches of large and coarse ara nie present and there are strand of long ji nie in the hada.  The temper is a gunome choji and there is ashi.  The medium long kissaki is tempered with a boshi that has a small turn back and is very elegantly executed.  The hada is a bright and tight itame with areas of loose o-hada reminiscent of Naotane' style.  The tang is ubu, full dress, and is extensively signed Mito ju Genshoke Chikanori and dated Ansei third year (1857), and inscribed with the special order instructions.

The sword is mounted in shirasaya with silver habaki and sayagaki by Tanobe Michihiro sensei and also comes with tachi koshira with tsunagi. 

The saya is irushi lacquer with crushed abalone shells, and the fittings are  shakudo carved with leaves and vines, as are the o-seppa.  There are gold crossed hawk feather mons on the fuchi, kabuto gane, kojiri and hangars as well as on the hangar buttons made of dark and heavy shakudo.  The menuki are three large mons, the center one being the crossed hawk feathers.  The tsuba is signed and dated " Takasaki shi Shumon, o Sasamizu Getsumichi Tsukuru, Toki Taisho Rukunen Shichigatsu"  transalated "Orered by Mr. Takasaki, made in response by Sasamizu Getsumichi August 1917" and also indicates the koshira was special ordered.

Four sets of Tanto Koshira

These mountings are illustrated in the book Edo Tanto Koshira.  One of the mountings is cased and accompanied by the blade for the mountings and the other three are just koshira with tsunagi.

1.  Tanto koshira illustrated on page 18 top.

Aikuchi koshira, with shibuichi fittings on suite and authentic.  Carved with leaves and vines pattern.  The saya and tsuka are of wood, finished ina wood burl pattern.  There is a mon on the saya, and the same mon is on the handle of the kozuka.  The sageo cord is finely braded purple and white silk braded, and is authentic to the mountings.

 2.  Tanto koshira illustrated on page 39 bottom.

Aikuchi koshira, with finely carved horn fittings.  The saya is black lacquer with a silver mekugi.   There is an iron  wari-bashi with gold inlay of holly and a mon.  The sageo is a finely woven  white and purple silk.

3.  Tanto koshira illustrated on page 41 top.

Aikuchi koshira with finely carved shibuichi fittings.  The shibuichi fittings have a nice and rich patina, and are carved with a leaves and vines pattern.  There is an unusual kurikata shaped like a fan with a ring to hold the sageo which is a purple and cream colored silk and is original.  The mekugi are  shibuichi and are carved with a mon over very fine silk string wrap.  The blade is mounted with split shibuichi wari kogai and is decorated with the same mon as the menuki.

4.  Tanto with koshira illustrated page 67 top.

Very fine aikuchi koshira in perfect condition, with black irushi lacquer.  The saya and tsuka are beautifully decorated.  There are two rabbits in gold takamakie amongst reeds and flowers done in green gold and brown takamakie and on the tsuka has a takamakie silver moon amongst the clouds.  The koshira is accompanied with a tanto in shirasaya.  It is in perfect polish, with a very strong and beautiful flowing itame hada.  The temper is billowing gunome midare in nioi decki in a crab claw pattern.  The boshi is a long turn back, and the blade is mume and appears to be Koto or early Shinto.   The  blade and koshira are in a presentation wooden case.  A very unusual set of mountings and high quality sword. 


Mito Sukemitsu

This is a very elegant sword by the sword smith who was called Yokoyama Zenjuro, and who signed his works Mito Fujiwara Sukemitsu.  He became the personal smith of the Mito Daimyo.  It is thought that he came from the Bizen Yokoyama school and this work is an example of the Bizen Yokoyama style of work.  . The blade is just under 27 inches in length and is ubu with two mekugi ana, and was made at the end of the Edo period.  The shinogi zukuri blade is forged with an itame hada with bright patches of ji nie and a wide gunome midare with a wide and bright nie decki with  hamon long strands of sunagashi and kinsuji and is very well done with lots of activity.  There is also yo and ashi in the hamon.  The kissaki is medium and the boshi is jizo with hakekake and is very well done showing the skill of this smith. 

The sword is mounted in very nice saya with gold leaves and wines over black irushi lacquer with gold mons on both sides.  The fuchi kashira are of very high quality shakudo nanako with gold and silver chrysanthemums, the menuki are shakudo of boxes with gold cords, there is very tight gold ito over very large knobbed same, and the tsuba is iron with leaves and vines.  The sword is accompanied by shinteisho from the NTHK , attesting to the maker and quality of this blade.  A very nice sword and mounting.