Object Title

Sword (katana)

Sword (katana)



Object Number



Presented by a private donor, 10 July 2002. Formerly part of the collection of her husband.

Physical Description


The blade is shinogi zukuri with a torii zori, considerable fumbari and a tang that tends to 'kick upwards' in the ancient manner. The whole impression is one of supreme grace. The hada is classic Gassan ayasugi which dominates the chu suguba hamon to the extent that the nioi deki is not really visible except in the boshi where it develops into sunagashi and a ko maru shape with a modest kaeri. The tang is long, tapered and curved, with kesho yasuri and a kurijiri end. There is a scuff mark in the monouchi on the ura side of the blade.


Dimensions: The nagasa is 689 mm, the sori being 19 mm and the length of the tang being 183 mm. The width of the blade at the machi is 31 mm, that at the yokote being 18 mm and the length of the kissaki being 27 mm. The length of the hilt is 262 mm, that of the scabbard being 784 mm. Weight: blade 0.72 kg, shirasaya 0.35 kg

Inscriptions and Marks

The blade is dated on the omote Showa 8th year 12th month a lucky day. The main signature reads Osaka ju nin Gassan Sadakatsu kinsaku followed by a kao. On the reverse it reads Kotaishi denka gotanjo kinen - to commemorate the birth of the Crown Prince (subsequently the Emperor Akihito)


Places Japan

Bibliographic References

I Bottomley, An introduction to Japanese swords, Leeds, 2008: 15


Gassan SadaKatsu was the son of Gassan Sadakazu who saw the abandonment of sword wearing but continued his craft, despite the difficulties, until regonised by the Emperor Meiji and given remit to make swords for the Imperial household. Sadakatsu has here reverted back to a pure Gassan style of blade and produced a great work with superb ayasugi hada. About 1930, a dealer called Nagahara of Osaka produced a book called 'Nippon Toh' (copy in the library) advertising swords by Sadakatsu and obviously aimed at Europeans and Amwericans. In it is a list of the more important blades made by Sadakatzu up to 1929. A long sword blade mounted as a court tachi in gilded silver cost then £200. Alternatively a prospective buyer could buy a tanto blade in the Gassan tradition, in shirasaya, for £30 or in the Soshu tradition for £55 - to judge the quality of the forging.
27.11.2015 - shirasaya in fabric bag in TOL Lanthorn Tower- 2-54 on top of unit. BC