What is Torokusho?

  • Torokusho is a license or a registration card of the Japanese sword and matchlock. In Japan, anyone can possess a Japanese sword and matchlock without any permission but the weapons are required by the law to get a license from a local prefectural government for official identification purposes.
  • The license is issued to only a genuine forged Japanese sword or matchlock. A replica, foreign sword, or sword which not made in the traditional way such as inferior SHOWATO(昭和刀) cant be licensed.
  • The license must be returned to the local prefectural government when a sword leaves Japan, so most of the collectors outside of Japan might have never seen the license.
  • The license law started in 1951 but most people didn’t follow it at first due to the false rumor of the sword confiscation. In order to encourage the law, the government asked the influential upper-class families to have their sword licensed. It means that a sword with the license issued in 1951 could be from the people of the high social rankings but most of them are now possessed by museums. The Torokusho issued in 1951 or with the lower registration number is referred to as Daimyo Toroku(大名登録) also.

What’s written on Torokusho?

torokusho japanese sword

Above: Illustration of a Torokusho.
*The format slightly varies with time and prefectures but the contents are usually the same.

A: Name of the local prefectural government.
B: Registration number.
C: Item classification(KATANA(), WAKIZASHI (脇差), TANTO (短刀), etc.)
D: Blade length.
E: SORI(反り).
F: Number of MEKUGI-ANA(目釘穴).
G: Inscription in the NAKAGO() *if the sword is unsigned, attribution is given to a school or a particular smith.
H: Note.
I: Name of the local prefectural government.
J: Date of issue.
K: Stamp of the local prefectural government.

*The bottom row is used for a matchlock.

L: Item classification
M: Matchlock length.
N: Barrel length.
O: Matchlock bore size.

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