S103. Katana by Bizen Yokoyama Sukeyoshi 横山祐義


S103.  Military mounted katana by Bizen Yokoyama Sukeyoshi.  Signed, “Bingo Fukuyama Han Yokoyama Sukeyoshi.  Bizen Tomonari Go Ju Hachi Dai” (58th generation of Ko-Bizen Tomonari) and dated, “Keio San Nen Ni Gatsu Hi” (a day in February, 1867).

Nagasa:            27 ¾”     70.2 cm.

Sori:                 5/8”      1.7 cm.

Nakago nagasa:     8 ¼”   20.9 cm.

Moto haba:     1 3/16”   3 cm.

Saki haba:    7/8”   2.2 cm.

Moto kasane:    ¼”   .7 cm.

Saki kasane:    3/16”   .5 cm.

Overall length in koshirae:    41.5”   101.5 cm.

Tori sori, chu kissaki, muji hada (so fine it’s almost not there), regular gunome hamon worked in nioi, becoming a notare komi boshi with ko maru and medium long kaeri.  Ubu, 1 mekugi ana.  This is a large, heavy blade.

The smiths of the Yokoyama school were the last organized group in the Bizen tradition; their work, up to the Meiji era, made Bizen the longest lasting of the 5 Gokaden.  This sword was taken to WWII, witnessed by the Gunto koshirae, but it probably didn’t see much action; it is in amazing condition.  There are a few faint scratches and light stains on the blade but no chips in the edge or anything you would call a defect and no rust.  The polish, which might be the one the sword was given when it was made, isn’t perfect but all activity is clearly visible.  The leather cover for the saya has remnants of paper labels in a couple spots, it has been chafed in one area near the bottom, and it has shrunk down a bit so the snaps no longer line up.  The leather has not darkened with age, there are no stains, and the stitching is as new.  The handle fits perfectly, the same’ is celluloid (sometimes found on military mounts) and the wrap is 100% intact.  The sword comes with a cloth surrender tag, which I haven’t translated.

I’m including pictures of the sword lying on a page in Nihonto Zuikan so you can compare the signature and work.  The Kanji of the signature match and what’s more, the work in the blade is nearly identical.  This sword is a bit longer than the one in the book and the boshi in the book is suguba with ko maru while my boshi is the classic San Saku boshi of Bizen in Kamakura, but the work is spot on.

I bought this sword from the family of the man who brought it home from the war; new to the market.  3 pounds, 2 ounces.  $4,200.

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