Antique Sword Similar to Togakure Ryu Style

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu' started by Dunc, Jun 17, 2018.

  1. Dunc

    Dunc Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    After many years of looking for a suitable antique sword to buy I finally found this

    It was made in circa 1590 and I really like the deceptive nature of the design (shorter blade, standard handle). The old saya is almost standard length reinforcing the perception that the blade is longer

    It’s crazy fast to draw :)

    If anyone recognises the mon represented on the tsuba or has a way to trace it then I’d love to find out which family it represents


    It has a few combat scratches on the outside flat of the blade

    Here’s the comparison to my standard iato


    And here’s the tsuba design

  2. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    So cool to have something with so much history! I'm jealous. :)

    How is the approximate age verified? Is there some kind of certificate of authenticity or something?
  3. Dunc

    Dunc Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    I bought it from a well respected dealer in antique arms and armour - no one wanted it because of it's unusual size :)

    They gave me certificate of authenticity etc, but TBH it's pretty reliant on their reputation and assessment - It's inspired me to build a better knowledge myself
    David Harrison likes this.
  4. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    I wonder if the shortened blade is due to breakage or damage and then having a new poinr ground in or if it was made that way from the start?
    Plenty of European short swords, IIRC, started life as longer swords and were adapted.
  5. Dunc

    Dunc Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    It's possible, but I think unlikely - the blade itself is thinner than most longer blades and the dealer said he thought it was made that way

    Chisa katanas (basically the same blade dimensions) are common(ish) and were used by people who spent a lot of time indoors - usually they have shorter handles and saya 'though which is what made this one catch my eye
    Smitfire likes this.
  6. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Woop Brilliant! Couple of questions.

    Did it come with a slightly longer sageo cord?

    Is the Tsuba rougher on the Grip-Side?
  7. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Needs a square tsuba!
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  8. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Lets not even go there.... shhhhhh...just appreciate the nice sword and the history.
  9. Dunc

    Dunc Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter


    Didn't come with a cord, and not sure about the tsuba - I'll check when I get home - may I ask why?
  10. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    In one of Gingetsu Itoh's books Ninjutsu no Gokui (1917) he states

    " when moving stealthy over a tall wall, the sword is propped up against it and the tsuba is converted into a step. The tsuba should be a bit larger than normal and the smooth surface roughened so that waraji sandals do not slip on it"

    This is in the chapter where he discusses variations of items not discussed in the Shoninki, presumably because if people manning the checkpoints knew what details to look for it would raise suspicions. I saw the same claim made somewhere else...(can't recall where) that it was in the context of rainy weather which was perfect for infiltration, but the sandals and the sword had to be modified so that if it was used as a foot rest you wouldn't accidentally slip off a smooth wet tsuba.

    Bear in mind that in Katori Shinto Ryu their tradition on anti-ninjitsu maintains that the Tsuba on shinobi is made of leather so that it doesn't make a sound. so its not a hard specific rule, just that there would be a detail that might be different.
  11. Dunc

    Dunc Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    The tsuba is very rough & not polished at all - so much so that I caught a nail on it (as I'm used to my iato which has a smooth tsuba)

    Not sure if that's both sides or just one - I'll check
  12. pgsmith

    pgsmith Valued dismemberer

    Hey Dunc,
    To know if it's been shortened, look at the boshi. This is the part of the hamon (hardened edge of the sword for others reading) that turns back at the tip. If it follows up and around the tip, then it was made that way. If it runs off the front without following the tip up, then it has been shortened due to damage. Some swords are shortened from the tang, but those are shortened on purpose rather than due to breakage.

    I would be very interested in seeing the tang, as that will indicate the approximate age of the blade. It will also tell us whether it was originally made for the double handed tsuka that is on it, or was originally made for a single hand tsuka.. Have you taken the handle off yet?

    Also, the four diamond crest, which is part of the tsuba design, was traditionally related to the Takeda family.
    Dunc and David Harrison like this.
  13. Dunc

    Dunc Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    Here’s a few pics of the boshi, tsuba and tang
    The boshi has had a tough time by the looks of it and the hamon is quite faint so it’s really difficult to say whether it follows the curve or not

    1EDF681B-1F48-45EE-848F-4C5E3B5E1342.jpeg C6B232B4-42C1-40FC-A969-28E7BFFCF5C2.jpeg BCE41532-E7B2-4229-A1D6-854683DE099F.jpeg
  14. pgsmith

    pgsmith Valued dismemberer

    Hey Dunc,
    Here's what I see, please bear in mind that I'm only a sword dabbler. A serious collector could tell you more, and more accurately also. :)
    The age seems appropriate given the amount of black rust on the tang (nakago) and the fact that the original hole for the mekugi is drifted in, rather than drilled. If you notice it isn't smooth and even as the sides of the second hole are. The second hole indicates that the sword was indeed shortened. They have apparently filed back the machi (the notches where the habaki fits) probably because one either broke, or wore down too much from a poor fitting habaki, and so had to make a new hole so the mekugi would fit between the diamonds on the wrap correctly. The boshi appears to me to turn back at the tip, so it doesn't appear to be shortened due to breakage.

    The length of the nakago is sufficient for a two hand tsuka, so it is possible that it was originally made to use the size tsuka that is currently on it. The sword has been shortened, but not by much. The end of the tang (nakago Jiri) being flat indicates that it was cut off when the sword was shortened. Nakago jiri are generally shaped in some way and are usually only flat when they've been cut off. Not to say that some aren't actually made that way (there are ALWAYS exceptions to any rule in Japanese swords), just that it is unusual.

    It's a nice sword! It could stand a good polish, since it looks like its been a while since the last one. For an antique Nihonto like that one, they start at about $150/inch, and the entire sword is probably worth less than it would cost to have it professionally polished. An amateur polish would cost less, but stands a good chance of ruining the sword permanently by removing too much steel and leaving gaps in the hardened edge or ruining the original lines of the sword. I say enjoy it as it is, and make sure whoever gets it next understands that it is a historical artifact and not just another old sword. :)
    aaradia, David Harrison and Dunc like this.
  15. Dunc

    Dunc Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    Thank you!
    Very interesting
  16. yorukage

    yorukage Valued Member

    Very cool sword, I'm not much of a sword forging and modification expert for historical swords beyond the basics, but from what I do know this looks like it could be legit. Have fun with it (even if just for display).
  17. Dunc

    Dunc Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    Here's Soke describing the characteristics of the ninja to

    Outward appearance doesn't differ much from a regular katana
    Tsuba typically the popular four petalled type (not square)
    Long cord
    Shorter blade than a regular kanata: typically between 19 & 22 inches (& shorter that the scabbard suggests)

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