HACHIDAI   c. 1854



Please note, this particular sword is a rare example within the works of the Hizen school. 

It is a very rare piece in that it's sori and kissaki are quite atypical in respect to the standard and regimented Hizen-To criteria.

Yet, make no mistake it is a legitimate Hizen work as evidenced by the Tokubetsu Hozon rating given by the NBTHK.

This special order Katana presents an elegant and impressive sugata.  The sori is slightly more pronounced at 2.188cm (0.875") and the boshi is either a very long Chu-kissaki or O-kissaki, which is not unheard of, but slightly longer than the typical Hizen-To. The Hada is a typically beautiful Konuka or Hizen Hada. Konuka hada is nothing more than an extremely tight ko-itame with ji-nie, which was perfected by, and became the Hizen Tadayoshi School trademark. The Hamon is a typically skilled chu-suguba with faint ko-ashi and nie. The Nakago is again typical for school and smith, being long and thin with kuri-jiri. The Yasurime has a slight katte-agari.  It is signed goji-mei or five characters. Thanks again to Robertshaw's book, The School of Tadayoshi, and the information contained within, I was able to surmise this Katana was forged between 1837 and 1839.

For comparison to another Hachidai Tadayoshi, click the following link: http://www.aoi-art.com/sword/katana/10080.html

T The atypical forging features of this Hizen Tadayoshi Katana makes it not only extremely rare, but a highly important piece.

The Hizen Tadayoshi school of sword smith's needs no introduction, and are highly prized worldwide.

 It all began with the Shodai Tadayoshi who was born in 1572, and known as Hashimoto Shinsaemonjo. Shodai Tadayoshi at age 25 became an apprentice to Umetada Myoju in Kyoto, who is known as the founder of the Shinto Sword. The "Tada" character was given to him by Umetada. After a three year apprenticeship Tadayoshi returned to his home in Hizen Province, where he set up the Hizen Tadayoshi Kaji. The Hizen Tadayoshi Kaji extended through nine mainline generations, ending with the death of the 9th generation Hizen Tadayoshi in 1880.

This Katana was forged by the Hachidai or eighth generation Hizen Tadayoshi. Hachidai Tadayoshi was born in 1801, and known as Hashimoto Shunichiro. He was the son of  Rokudai (6th gen) Tadayoshi's daughter. He was adopted by the Nanadai (7th gen) who had no children, in order to continue a legitimate blood heir ship.  The 6th and 7th generations both died when the Hachidai Tadayoshi was around sixteen years old, and apparently deshi Tadayuki not only ran the school but mentored the Hachidai Tadayoshi until he was old enough to manage the school on his own. Hachidai Tadayoshi and Tadayuki maintained a close relationship until the death of Tadayuki in1844. Hachidai Tadayoshi was also known to have produced guns and cannons at the request of the Daimyo Nabeshima Naomasa. 

Hachidai Tadayoshi, at the Daimyo Nabeshima Naomasa's request performed a sword making demonstration in 1851. He was one of only two Tadayoshi smith's to ever demonstrate the art of sword forging to such a high ranking samurai as the Daimyo. Not only were the works of the Hachidai Tadayoshi recognized and revered by the Daimyo during his lifetime, but his reputation as an exemplary sword smith continue today.

Roger Robertshaw, author of the book "The School of Tadayoshi", is one of the foremost authorities and collectors of the Hizen Tadayoshi School. Without his diligence most of this information would be unavailable to non Japanese readers. Though put of print, I highly recommend any collector or potential collector of the Hizen Tadayoshi School to do their best to find and obtain a copy of this book.

In his book "The School of Tadayoshi", Mr. Robertshaw states, "One of the favorite swords in my collection is by the Hachidai (8th gen) Tadayoshi with the classical sugu hamon, konuka hada, etc.. Such a sword attests to the enduring quality of even such a late generation smith, as this talented artist undoubtedly was".



Disclaimer: I hesitate to include this information as I have no tangible proof for others.  What I know is that I was taken by my old partner in Fukuoka to Saga to this man's family estate where I purchased this sword directly from his great grandson.  I tried to persuade him to give me some written documentation in order to have tangible provenance. My only guess is that he refused he felt he was losing face for selling a family heirloom and wanted no proof of such, but that is mere speculation on my part.  Bottom line' the sword is what it is, a great example of Hachidai Tadayoshi's work and it is priced solely on this merit. This information is provided as I felt readers might find it interesting. Nothing more, nothing less.


This Katana  was not only made as a special order by a mainline master of one of the most outstanding sword schools ever, but was owned by one of the most prominent figures of modern Japanese history, Taneomi Soejima. The sword was originally commissioned by the father of Taneomi Soejima, a high ranking Samurai of the Saga Clan. This Katana was passed down through several generations until it was purchased by myself directly from the great-grandson of  Taneomi Soejima, a politician in modern day Saga Prefecture.

 Taneomi Soejima originally joined the "Revere the Emperor and expel the Barbarians" Movement with his brother. First, he taught Japanese classical literature at Kodokan school. But then after studying Western sciences, he was gradually coming round to the view of opening of the country. He took an active part in the diplomatic work at that time. He solved many problems, such as the border problem of Sakhalin, the territorial dispute of Okinawa and Taiwan, and other disputes. He worked as the vice Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. After he was defeated over the controversy of the conquest of Korea, he joined the Movement for founding the Diet made up of members elected by popular vote.

Taneomi Soejima was one of "The Seven Wise Men of Saga", who created modern Japan. At the time of the Meiji Restoration(1867~) there were seven great men who contributed to the establishment of modern Japan. The Saga feudal lord, Naomasa Nabeshima, introduced European technology and culture, helping to bring about Saga's development. Yoshitake Shima contributed to the exploration of Hokkaido. Tsunetami Sano established the Japan Red Cross. Taneomi Soejima served as a Diet member and as foreign minister. Serving as minister for civil affairs, education, and justice, Takato Oki set up the educational system. Shinpei Eto created the basis for the justice system. Serving twice as prime minister, Shigenobu Okuma also established Waseda University.
These men from Saga had immeasurable influence on the formation of today's Japan.



In his book "The School of Tadayoshi", Mr. Robertshaw states, "One of the favorite swords in my collection is by the Hachidai (8th gen) Tadayoshi with the classical sugu hamon, konuka hada, etc.. Such a sword attests to the enduring quality of even such a late generation smith, as this talented artist undoubtedly was".

If you study or collect Hizen-to don't miss the opportunity to own this rare piece of Japan's history.


 The Atypical forging features of this Hizen Tadayoshi Katana makes it not only extremely rare, but a very important piece.

This sword was awarded Tokubetsu Hozon papers by the NBTHK. 

It is an attestation of not only the legitimacy of the mei but also to the flawless quality of work displayed in this piece.









NAGASA: 60.96cm (24")

OVERALL: 78.74cm (31")

MIHABA: 3.17cm (1.25")

KASANE: 0.635cm (0.25")

SORI: 2.188cm (0.75")